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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Miscellanea, including a rant and Harry Potter questions

Someone actually looked at my blog recently, which inspires me to stop proscrastinating and post. Actually, I can blog and procrastinate simultaneously, as I have literally a pile of work to do (exhibits to review).

As I was contemplating writing this, it occurred to me that someone should cobble together and market a gizmo allowing one to dictate and transmit draft blog posts while driving. Hands-free, please.

I've promised a rant and some Harry Potter questions -- I feel more like the latter, so it'll come first.

SPOILER ALERT! These questions may imply plot points in the seventh HP book!
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Hope that's enough >'s....

I've finished the last book, reread the second, am rereading the first, and am VERY glad that Rowling is likely to write an encyclopedia. I am not ready to un-immerse myself.

Rowling has done interviews and at least one long chat in which she's answered various questions the book didn't answer. I was pleased that she answered one of mine: what's the Hufflepuff common room like?... However, I have a few left:

--Why does Dumbledore repeatedly show and declare SO much trust in Hagrid? He's completely goodhearted, of course, but his judgment is very unreliable. (Examples aren't limited to his persistent tendency to underestimate the dangers posed by various magical creatures. When Harry encounters Draco Malfoy in a shop -- I forget in what part of which book -- Hagrid is wrongly confident that Draco wouldn't cause trouble in such a public place.)

--Why (other than for literary reasons) does Dumbledore usually refer to "Voldemort" rather than "Tom Riddle"? Wouldn't it be useful for V's origins to be more widely known? And doesn't Dumbledore believe in calling things by their real names?

--How did Dumbledore defeat Grindelwald? The usual way to defeat an owner of the Elder Wand is by underhanded stealth (e.g. murdering the owner in his sleep). One hopes that wasn't Dumbledore's approach, and I believe there are references to a climactic duel -- but how would he defeat someone wielding the Elder Wand in a duel?

--This may be a plot hole: Voldemort thought he was the only one to know about the Room of Requirement. Therefore, when he hid the tiara there, there can't have been any other hidden possessions in the room. But when Harry hid his (Snape's old) Potions book in that room in Book Five, there were generations' worth of hidden possessions there. Voldemort can't have specified a hiding place no one else could discover, because Harry saw the tiara there, without knowing what it was. Did all the other hidden items accumulate after Voldemort's time? Seems unlikely, given the quantity and the age of Hogwarts.

Please add more questions in Comments!

... OK, the rant. You've heard (read) this song before -- here's another verse.

It appears that we now have a growing societal problem with Vitamin D deficiency, attributable to people following all the advice to avoid exposure to sunlight. (Here's a link, and another, to a couple of the articles on the subject.) I find this nicely symbolic of the effects of our societal obsession with safety. As in this instance, it is often simplistic, short-sighted, focusing on one or two trees and ignoring even the possibility of a forest.

The sun has historically been a symbol of life. We've been telling people to hide from it. It fits. We've trained the younger generations to spend all their time poised to recognize and protect themselves from one supposed hazard after another. That attitude is fundamentally inconsistent with a spirit of exploration and innovation -- and even with enjoying the everyday incidents and pleasures of life. A pervasive and constant fear of death ends up, in effect, as fear of life.

OK, who's next on the soapbox? Be sure it isn't too high, and that it's been inspected for its weight-bearing properties....

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