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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality - What if Harry was smarter than Ender? (Page 10)

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Author Topic: Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality - What if Harry was smarter than Ender?
Raymond Arnold
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Okay I'm still a little unclear on why Harry has to keep the Patronus thing a secret. My understanding is that most people DON'T have the conviction that Harry has in human potential, so even if they know what Harry did they wouldn't be able to duplicate it. AND because the regular way of defeating Dementors is a sort of accidental placebo effect, telling the world would simply make most people have a harder time doing it?

And the bit with Quirrel is simply that while there MIGHT not be anything wrong with telling him, he should hold on for now just in case?

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sinflower
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Yes. You are correct.

Most people can escape the thought of the inevitability of death by thinking of something intensely happy. It distracts them. But if they realize that what they're doing is distracting themselves from the thought of death, then it won't work anymore. It's like "don't think of a pink elephant."

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Seatarsprayan
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I liked the fic a lot more in the earlier chapters before I knew who the author really was and before his anti-death philosophies got heavily into the story.

I'd be just fine with defeating death if I was sure the cure wouldn't be worse than the disease, but we have six billion people here now and if we eliminated death but didn't have resources and their allocation worked out, there would be a vast increase in net suffering, and I'm not sure that alive-but-in-torment is better than death.

If I could take a pill and remain young and healthy forever, if aging were no more, I would sure do it. Provided that I could still die later if I really, really wanted to, by, say, flying a spaceship into the sun, then I'd definitely grab immortality with both hands.

For EVERYONE to do it, right now, is a bit more of a problem.

But defeating death, as a thought experiment, is definitely interesting. I'm surely not on Dumbledore's side in this, but that's easy, since he is such a straw man on this subject.

I think the author's beliefs about eliminating death is actually possible, and indeed inevitable, to be laughable, however. I mean, I'm fine for people to try it. I just don't think they'll succeed, and to see them so sure ("if you don't pay to have for your kids' cryonics insurance, you're a horrible parent") is pretty much Flat Earth Atheism at its finest. And the author knows about that trope, and even referenced it in one of his Author's Notes, but doesn't really believe it applies to him. Because He Actually *Is* Rational. Okay.

It's also obnoxious, and not rationalist at all, for Harry to still be so cocksure about his beliefs even though it has barely been six months since he learned about the magical world. I mean, magic. Really. A whole world and history to learn and explore and he's still sure he has answers? He didn't believe in souls before, I don't expect him to believe in them just because a wizard says to, but how about really doing some research? He says he'll listen to Dumbledore's data, but he is mainly trying to pick it apart, and should be cognizant enough to realize that Dumbledore might have info he isn't willing to share.

On the other hand, believing in souls and the afterlife while eschewing all religion doesn't really make sense. I wouldn't believe it either. But I'd prefer to do some more Science on the subject than Harry seems to be willing to do.

So... how did Harry survive as a baby then, if Lily didn't actually sacrifice herself? She tried to cast the killing curse and got killed, that's not the same thing as the book, so the protection of love shouldn't have applied.

Does Quirrell need the Philosopher's Stone? Is Voldy still on the back of his head, or are they just fully integrated, or what?

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Raymond Arnold
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I don't think the author or anyone else actually believes we should just all become immortal, right now, without regard for the consequences. The point is that overpopulation/resource management are problems to be solved, not insurmountable obstacles.

quote:
But defeating death, as a thought experiment, is definitely interesting. I'm surely not on Dumbledore's side in this, but that's easy, since he is such a straw man on this subject.
Did you read the author's notes on that chapter?

quote:
So... how did Harry survive as a baby then, if Lily didn't actually sacrifice herself? She tried to cast the killing curse and got killed, that's not the same thing as the book, so the protection of love shouldn't have applied.
I do wonder this. I suspect that this particular incident (and the prophecy surrounding it) are the primary changes made to the HP-verse, and that we won't be learning exactly what happened till near the end.

quote:
souls
This was something I think Harry made clear that was pretty reasonable: he DID initially assume there was some kind of afterlife when he learned about ghosts, and then subsequently was incredibly disappointed. If some truly compelling evidence came along he might revise his opinion, but in the meantime he's erring on the side of caution for purely emotional reasons (which is not necessarily an irrational thing to do).
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Seatarsprayan
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quote:
Did you read the author's notes on that chapter?
I did, actually. I don't think Dumbledore is the strawiest of straw men ever, but I think he was a little strawier than the author thinks he is.
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Raymond Arnold
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I think I agree with that statement.
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Armoth
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Well this is kinda crazy - my close childhood friend was just set up with the Eliezer Yudkowsky's (the author's) little sister. We're huge fans of his fanfic and it was entirely random. Funny stuff.
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sinflower
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Weird! What's she like? ... Wait, that's gossiping, isn't it. Never mind.
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Raymond Arnold
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Huh.
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Rakeesh
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I was just thinking about the last chapter, and Harry thinking it was time he got the other side's slant on the whole Voldemort vs. Dumbledore angle and that made me think back on the story and it made me remember...y'know, for all Draco had made some very serious progress towards not eventually becoming an awful person, well, he is the product of an upbringing that leads to jokes like, "Hey, pushing mudbloods down stairs and/or raping them to teach them lessons would be good ways to have fun and/or teach lessons."
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Armoth
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quote:
Originally posted by sinflower:
Weird! What's she like? ... Wait, that's gossiping, isn't it. Never mind.

He didn't go out with her yet...
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Raymond Arnold
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Excellent chapter is excellent. Well worth the wait. Author says it was one of his least favorite chapters. I don't know if it's accurate to say it was one of my FAVORITES ('cuz, you know, if I listed each chapter that I considered a "favorite" I'd list at least half of them), but it was definitely up there. I thought it was a much more realistic "Draco's world is falling apart" chapter than the series where he learns about genetics.

Edit: [gossip]So Armoth, how'd the date go?[/gossip]

[ September 25, 2010, 03:06 PM: Message edited by: Raymond Arnold ]

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Raymond Arnold
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I particularly like that the word for "turn the lights off" is "Dulak."
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Rakeesh
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I was a bit surprised Harry didn't mention, or think, of the most obvious (or so it seemed to me) explanation for Dumbledore's murder of Narcissa: someone - such as, y'know, Voldemort - posing as Dumbledore, doing so, and then making the threat. Now I'm not saying that's what actually happened, but it is certainly possible, particularly since the pair of them, Dumbledore and Voldemort even in this story seem to have some matched capabilities and either would be able to completely overpower and trick the elder Malfoy in such a way. How better to both win House Malfoy's support forever, and ensure its undying enmity towards Dumbledore for an equal duration?
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Raymond Arnold
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Very possible. I didn't think of that specifically, so I'm fine with Harry not having thought of it either. (Also, given how emotionally unstable Draco was at the time, Harry had legitimate cause - both as a friend and as a rationalist mastermind - to not say it out loud at the moment).

This is the first time I've actually liked the sheer number of changes in this story. Because we know that we CAN'T take anything for granted, we do have to seriously consider that Draco might be right. Even if we're pretty sure that he's wrong.

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Seatarsprayan
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Yeah, I like this chapter more than the last several, that's for sure. I don't believe Dumbledore would burn Narcissa alive and boast about it. Not that it couldn't be true, but I doubt it, it wouldn't be very good storytelling to change things up *that* much.

Draco is so screwed up that he can't even say "it sucks that your mom got murdered." I mean, she was trying to protect a baby. A baby. Does Draco think that Harry should be dead? If not, he's already going against the Death Eaters just as much as acknowledging that Lily's death was sad. I wonder why Harry didn't point that out.

Personally, it's pretty unbelievable that someone that has been conditioned his whole life to think rape is appropriate for enemies has the capacity to start questioning their beliefs as much as Draco is in this fic, but then again stranger things have happened, I suppose.

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King of Men
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Well, does Draco really believe that, or does he just say it thoughtlessly in imitation of his elders? He's not a hardened criminal, after all, he's just a kid. And at that, I suspect his father (as written in MoR) would not mess about with raping anyone, he would just kill. I think of Draco as being like a young soldier all gung-ho to kill the gooks and slants; he won't be so eager when he sees his first napalmed village. Then it depends on who is nearby at the time. If it's someone evil, or at any rate someone he can't confess his doubts to so he'll feel he has to keep up the facade, then he'll crack a joke about crispy critters or something, and come to believe it himself. If it's not someone he has to keep up the tough-guy act for, he might be able to express his remorse.

Simiarly, if you take the same kid - if he's at all imaginative - and expose him to different world views, cracks can form. I don't think Draco is being converted at all easily, here.

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Raymond Arnold
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I thought Draco's initial acceptance of muggleborns being genetically identical to purebloods was unrealistic (lord knows I've given friends FAR more compelling evidence than Harry gave Draco, on things that they already accepted the basic premise of, and they didn't bat an eye). But if we're already taking that as a given, I thought the newer chapter was pretty realistic.
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Ecthalion
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I really like the story. Its well written and it is fun to read. I even like some of the changes (Harry and Hermoine should have been in ravenclaw and Ron always struck me as annoying.)

What i'm rather confused about is why there seems to be so many differences with other characters in Harry'a world. The original premis seemed to simply be "Harry wasn't brought up by horrible people." I dont see how that would make Dumbledore or Maconagal or Quirrel/Voldy (i am of course still under the assumption taht Voldy is firmly entrenched on the back of his head) or even Harry's parents different from the original series.

It seems that he changed them just to push certain agendas or beliefs, which is his right, it being his fic.

I never got the impression that Dementors were death or even the fear of death. I always got the sense that they were the embodiment of deep, ultimate dispair and depression. You feared them because of how they made you feel, which was sad, hopeless and empty.

I am also not sure what i think about his views on death. Im fairly certain i dont want to live forever, though if there were a way to travel between stars/galaxies and see everything then maybe i would.

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Jenos
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quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
I thought Draco's initial acceptance of muggleborns being genetically identical to purebloods was unrealistic (lord knows I've given friends FAR more compelling evidence than Harry gave Draco, on things that they already accepted the basic premise of, and they didn't bat an eye). But if we're already taking that as a given, I thought the newer chapter was pretty realistic.

Do you think forcing Malfoy to do the experiment himself might have changed his acceptance for it? Instead of just showing a study he made Draco actually be involved in the scientific process. I can imagine the poignancy of the information was more when you yourself prove that something is true.

Then again, Malfoy blindly accepts Mendelian genetics at Harry's word, which confused me.

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Raymond Arnold
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Quirrel's Rule 34:

quote:
Become an Animagus. It's totally useful.
Rule 34 of the Evil Overlord list:

quote:
I will not turn into a snake. It never helps.

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Hobbes
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I think it's interesting that the author uses the meaning and implications of sentience much the way I, a religious person, would use the meaning and implication of spirit.

Hobbes [Smile]

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Raymond Arnold
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I actually am a little annoyed that Harry's going through all kinds of hoops to avoid hurting animals that can talk, without putting much thought into whether they can feel pain and how they're farmed.
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Hobbes
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I think there's been a lot of pretty non-rational things stuck into this story, which doesn't bother e until he goes off on these kicks about what terrible people us irrationals are (which I have to be due to being religious). Still, not enough to keep me from enjoying the story which is being offered to me at no charge. So I'm satisfied.

Hobbes [Smile]

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Ecthalion
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Im still not sure how certain things have changed in this world that should seemingly be left alone. Hes gone through great pains to keep referring to the non-forbidden forest. How rationally has that changed in the HP universe?
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Raymond Arnold
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I got the impression that there was some parts of the forest that were not forbidden. That didn't seem to particularly contradict the canon-verse. Other things have changed though, and that's just how he's decided to go about the fic.
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Rakeesh
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quote:
I actually am a little annoyed that Harry's going through all kinds of hoops to avoid hurting animals that can talk, without putting much thought into whether they can feel pain and how they're farmed.
Honestly, that strikes me as a pretty believable piece of self-centeredness, because I'll be frank, I don't personally much care about how much pain animals feel and how they're farmed unless it's brought to my attention - the latest chapters have mentioned this, after all - but I do care an awful lot about how things like me - sentient creatures, that is - are treated or mistreated. Harry has another blind spot he himself can conceive of, but hasn't recognized.

Or perhaps his frosty side just isn't very concerned, really as sometimes I must admit I wonder if I ought to be either, since after all I'm perfectly fine with killing and devouring them.

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Rakeesh
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Well, this last chapter was certainly interesting. It's getting more and more unbelievable, though, that Harry will continue associating with Quirrel without consciously recognizing the long-term seductions going on here at many levels.

A rationalist Twilight fanfiction which was linked in Less Wrong's profile. I haven't read it yet, but the concept certainly sounded interesting. I read Twilight and found it pretty damn bad, but hearing the author of Methods of Rationality describe it as 'not quite the same style' as his sounded intriguing.

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sinflower
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I read "Luminosity." It's good. It has a more "even" tone than HPMoR. It's less over the top, more conversational and introspective.
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Raymond Arnold
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I don't think Harry's at all unaware of Quirrel's manipulations. He's biased in favor of Quirrel, certainly, so he may be missing the full extent of how creepy he is, but he's aware that the man is dangerous, much smarter than Harry is, and not particularly admirable when it comes to actually being a good person.

In this chapter, I wonder what would have happened if Harry had just sat down next to Padma at the library and said the exact same things to her face to face.

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Hobbes
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quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
I don't think Harry's at all unaware of Quirrel's manipulations. He's biased in favor of Quirrel, certainly, so he may be missing the full extent of how creepy he is, but he's aware that the man is dangerous, much smarter than Harry is, and not particularly admirable when it comes to actually being a good person.

In this chapter, I wonder what would have happened if Harry had just sat down next to Padma at the library and said the exact same things to her face to face.

Yah, it all seemed pretty involved. Even if he was convinced that she wouldn't listen to him directly (which, in the context of the story, I'm not sure I believe) Harry is certainly friends with enough people he could find one she would hear out that he could've sent to he with the message. Which is of course exactly what she thinks he did only with a ghost for some reason and with him going to a lot more work to do it.

Hobbes [Smile]

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Rakeesh
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quote:
I don't think Harry's at all unaware of Quirrel's manipulations. He's biased in favor of Quirrel, certainly, so he may be missing the full extent of how creepy he is, but he's aware that the man is dangerous, much smarter than Harry is, and not particularly admirable when it comes to actually being a good person.
I know Harry is aware Quirrel is manipulating him. He's consciously recognized that more than once, if I remember. It just seems he goes long periods without seeming to recognize, or at least this is my impression, "Hey, I've just toed about a half-dozen lines I would have thought were awfully disturbing a month or two ago without batting much of an eye," and it's happening on a pretty consistent basis after his consultations with Quirrel, that's all.

I guess it keeps coming back to the way Harry seems to have read so much fiction early in the story, and even viewed some of what was happening around him in those terms. Quirrel is...pretty alarming in such settings, as well as lots of rationalist ones. It's just strange to me that Harry seems intermittently aware of just how suspicious and frightened he ought to be of Quirrel, such as the scene recently where he got a real palpable sensation of menace and dread.

I'm not sure if it's simply not occurring to him right now, or he's actually not thinking about it, or what. Perhaps it will be explained. Quirrel is, of course, quite out of Harry's weight class in many things, though, so he could be using some magical hoodoo.

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sinflower
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quote:
but he's aware that the man is dangerous, much smarter than Harry is, and not particularly admirable when it comes to actually being a good person.

I think Harry is aware that Quirrel is dangerous and not a particularly good person, but I don't think he thinks Quirrel is much smarter than him. Which may be part of the issue-- if he realizes that Quirrel has ulterior motives, but thinks he's got it under control.
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Rakeesh
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quote:
I think Harry is aware that Quirrel is dangerous and not a particularly good person, but I don't think he thinks Quirrel is much smarter than him. Which may be part of the issue-- if he realizes that Quirrel has ulterior motives, but thinks he's got it under control.
That's the other thing. I don't think Quirrel is much smarter than Harry, if he is at all. But it certainly appears to me that Harry is, well, enormously, gigantically less experienced (obviously) in the sort of grappling they're doing, for all that his particular approaches to problems give him very unexpected advantages. I guess I keep waiting for Harry to remember that it wouldn't have been a good idea for Frodo to have been dropped right at the bottom of Mt. Doom just a week or two after getting the One Ring because if he had, it would've promptly overwhelmed and destroyed him.
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dabbler
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He couldn't have just sat her down and told her. He had to scare her, in order to learn the things to tell her.
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Rakeesh
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He's Harry Potter in MoR. He could've been quite scary just sitting down normally, and quite persuasive enough without attempting to be actively scary.
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dabbler
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I don't think so. She was freaked out when she returned to the dorms. A close friend sitting calmly next to her earnestly telling her why bullying is bad doesn't lead to her pouring out her deepest fears to Harry.

Her confusion and fear, suspecting Harry but not knowing how, in addition to Harry making a point of being very nice is what resulted in her talking to him.

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Rakeesh
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You're telling me Harry Potter, in this story, couldn't have found words while sitting in his own skin to get her to listen? That's...pretty unlikely to me, dabbler.
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dabbler
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He could have found the words, but would those words have prompted her to then tell him those same things an hour later? Remember he doesn't actually know any of it until she tells him.
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Raymond Arnold
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I actually wasn't even all that weirded out by the notion that Harry would just GUESS that stuff with a cold read and a little investigation. I did think the way it played out was more realistic though.
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Raymond Arnold
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Rereading chapter 29, noticed this line:

quote:
"You win a cookie! So they dragged poor Bill Weasley off to St. Mungo's and it turned out to be a pretty standard schizophrenic break, it just happens to some people, especially young men around what we'd consider college age. Guy was convinced he was ninety-seven years old and had died and gone back in time to his younger self via train station. And he responded perfectly well to antipsychotics and is back to normal and everything's fine now, except people don't talk as much anymore about Sirius Black conspiracy theories, and you don't ever ask the Weasleys about the family rat."
quote:
Guy was convinced he was ninety-seven years old and had died and gone back in time to his younger self via train station.
What are the odds that this is not a joke/silly-fact, but a clue?
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Rakeesh
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Well, I admit I did expect the last twist of the new chapter, but not because I deduced it but simply for meta reasons, heh. There was one pretty alarming line about reading minds, though.
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Raymond Arnold
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What's fascinating to me is I have no idea whether Bellatrix is actually innocent. "Bellatrix was abused/tortured to be turned into the creature she is and Quirrel genuinely wants to help her" is just as fascinating a story as "Quirrel is manipulating Harry into freeing the most dangerous criminal in Azkaban."

I'm actually a little worried that we are nearing the end of the story. I had assumed that the final chapters (coinciding with the end of the school year) would involve a massive Dementor attack, with Harry holding them off either by himself or with help from friends who have figured-out/been-told the secret.

In retrospect the whole story has been building towards a trip to Azkaban ever since chapter 27. I would not be surprised if that was where it ended (or at least climaxed).

(I was a little unclear - do we know if Harry and Quirrel are heading to Azkaban right now, or will they be preparing for it over the next few weeks? If the latter, then there's time for the whole is-Dumbledore-evil storyline building up and getting resolved at about the same time).

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Rakeesh
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Well, it's still up in the air whether Bella is innocent, but this goes a long way towards removing any lingering doubts I had as to whether Quirrel was.
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Shigosei
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quote:
Originally posted by Armoth:
Well this is kinda crazy - my close childhood friend was just set up with the Eliezer Yudkowsky's (the author's) little sister. We're huge fans of his fanfic and it was entirely random. Funny stuff.

The following was just posted with the latest update:

quote:
The Channah Challenge

My younger sister Channah Y., currently a senior at Stern College, recently went on a date with a boy who turned out to be reading Methods of Rationality. She's always wanted a famous older brother and keeps bugging me to hurry up and become famous already, but even after this latest episode, she's having trouble believing that I'm making progress. So I bet her that at least three people would come up to her and say "Big Brother is watching you" or if you prefer, "Your big brother says hi", if I put out the word to my readers. Deadline is Thanksgiving and the first three people to do it get cameos. Further details in profile.

Hmmmmm...
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Raymond Arnold
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Yeah, was intrigued by the "date" discussion as well.

My two favorite paragraphs, for two different reasons:

quote:

The second cell he looked at contained only a skeleton.

And behind the bars of the third cell he saw Bellatrix Black.

Something precious and irreplaceable inside Harry withered like dry grass and vanished forever.

and

quote:
This was it, this was the day and the moment when Harry started acting the part. His first true adventure, a dungeon to be pierced, an evil government to be defied, a maiden in distress to be rescued. Harry should have been more frightened, more reluctant, but instead he felt only that it was time and past time to start becoming the people he had read about in his books; to begin his journey toward what he had always known he was meant to be, a hero. To take the first step on the road that led to Kimball Kinnison and Captain Picard and Liono of Thundera and definitely not Raistlin Majere.
It's the "Liono of Thundera" that really sells it.
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Ecthalion
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Oh world 3 level 2.....
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Armoth
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quote:
Originally posted by Shigosei:
quote:
Originally posted by Armoth:
Well this is kinda crazy - my close childhood friend was just set up with the Eliezer Yudkowsky's (the author's) little sister. We're huge fans of his fanfic and it was entirely random. Funny stuff.

The following was just posted with the latest update:

quote:
The Channah Challenge

My younger sister Channah Y., currently a senior at Stern College, recently went on a date with a boy who turned out to be reading Methods of Rationality. She's always wanted a famous older brother and keeps bugging me to hurry up and become famous already, but even after this latest episode, she's having trouble believing that I'm making progress. So I bet her that at least three people would come up to her and say "Big Brother is watching you" or if you prefer, "Your big brother says hi", if I put out the word to my readers. Deadline is Thanksgiving and the first three people to do it get cameos. Further details in profile.

Hmmmmm...

That's him [Big Grin]

This is hilarious...

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rivka
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If I may be so indiscreet . . . should there be another date, not only is he an obvious candidate to be one of the three, if you can get him to play along, you can have a chance as well.
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Raymond Arnold
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I don't think he counts as one of the three: obviously his knowledge of the Methods was insufficient to impress her, so reminding her isn't all that helpful. Armoth would count - as long as she didn't know (at the time anyways) that he was her date's friend. So if he can just arrange to be at the same restaurant at the same time without looking too obvious, that should be good.

Tee hee. This is fun.

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