mindstalk: (CrashMouse)
I re-read the first three novels last week, and have started the fourth. Observations:

* It is a fast and easy read, it feels like I'm zipping through in no time.
* It feels like we barely see Quirrell, especially as a teacher. But then, we see very little of any classes in the first book.
* Arthur Weasley seems feckless as a person and silly in his ignorant Muggle-enthusiasm but he's pretty competent as a wizard, making a flying TARDIS car, and casually repairing Harry's glasses.
* Rowling's naming wordplay is still great. Yes, it's 'childish' compared to Tolkien or Hodgell, but it works, and there's so much of it.
** "Quirinus is also used as an epithet for the Roman god Janus"
* I remember thinking Harry/Ginny came out of the blue when I first read the 7th book, but Ginny's crush on Harry is pretty starkly obvious from book 2 on. Harry's interest, I dunno. I still favor Harry/Luna myself.
* People often say the Wizarding World is stagnant but there are a lot of counterexamples. One early one is broomsticks, which get better and better over the course of the first few books. Possibly too much so, for something they've been using for centuries. Also, the werewolf suppression potion Snape make for Lupin was a recent discovery, postdating their time at Hogwarts.
* What's with Crookshanks the intelligent cat?
* Owls have some convenient deep magic to be able to find people otherwise in hiding but not be abused to reveal their location or deliver a letter bomb. Well, maybe you could do the latter. [Edit: reading the wikia, there is in fact magic you can use so owls don't find you.]
* First book is 350 pages, 4th is 750. :O

And finally... so, more obsessed minds than mine have grappled with the Wizarding World demographics, but some things leapt out at me. It's very explicit that there are 5 boys in Harry's Gryffindor year, and 20 broomsticks in a two-House flying class. Assuming uniformity, this points to 40 students a year, 280 for the whole school. Given the number of teachers we see, and that one teacher will teach a subject for all seven years, this fits.

Assuming an average lifespan of 150, that'd be 40*150 = 6000 wizards in Britain. Maybe up to 12,000 if you assume severely damaged demographis due to Voldemort.

IMO this fits too. 6000 is a large town or small city by medieval standards, certainly capable of supporting a fair number of businesses, especially given that wizards are quasi-post-scarcity in mundane ways. They don't have an actual city, but with Floo and Apparate teleportation they can basically be a distributed city. The economy is Vague but being based largely on doing magical services for each other fits. Having a top-heavy government for the population kind of fits; you've got a heavily armed population with a lot of free time and a lot of secrecy, leading to high regulation and high "keep them busy". No idea how that's paid for, though.

Some oddities though. 200 people show up on Slytherin's side in a Quidditch match, but maybe they were from outside the school.

If most people don't break their wands much, Ollivander's main business would be supplying 40 students a year. But he's best in the world, maybe he gets a lot of international business. And if 1% of British wizards break or lose their wand a year, that'd be another 50+ wands a year.

6000 wizards in Britain implies 600,000 in the whole world. 100,000 showing up for the World Cup would be 1/6 of the population! But again, middle-class population with teleportation.

JKR apparently has opined 1000 students at Hogwarts and 3000 wizards in Britain, which is an insane population distribution. 1/3 of the population would be in the 11-18 age range. That's not a high life expectancy. Having gone to a 900 student college, I'll say Hogwarts does not feel like that to me.

I'm assuming a modern age pyramid, stable population, tapering off in the mid-100s. One fan disagrees, noting that wizards died of Dragonpox, and suggesting that while wizards have great healing magic when it comes to injuries, they may be subject to diseases, magical or even mundane (how many are vaccinated?) As well as a rather higher death rate from violence, what with being a population of gunslingers, Voldemort being the most feared Dark Lord of the century... implying more Dark Lords. (We *know* of Grindelwald.)

Other questions:

* How do they get food and raw materials? You'd think they magic it up, but the last book sai they can't live on conjured food, IIRC. Though magic could steal food or tranform biomass, I'd warrant.
* Do pure-bloods like the Malfoys and Weasleys, or Dumbledore, even exist as far as British bureaucracy is concerned? Harry and Hermione should, 'just' living a rich secret life, but what about others? Do their houses exist on Muggle records of title, or are they all mentally invisible to Muggles? We're told Hogsmeade is the only all-wizard community, implying everywhere else wizards have Muggle neighbors, but their deep ignorance of Muggle life belies that. The Malfoys have a manor, but the Blacks had a "don't notice me" house right in London.
** Likely this simply doesn't stand up well to critical thought.
mindstalk: (Homura)
Yesterday I somehow found a recommendation of a particular Doctor Who fanfic author. I checked out their work and lo, it is good. I read all of their pieces with characters I knew and liked almost all of those. They're all short; by far the longest is a 13,000 word Jack Harkness story spread over four chapters. Some are outright drabbles.

Judoon translation problems http://www.whofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=42857

why a police box http://www.whofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=42792

alien view of Earth http://www.whofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=43183

Captain Jack Harkness joins the TARDIS
http://www.whofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=43209
http://www.whofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=43389
"I remembered a line from a story, something about the point of
Winterfest being that, if you were very good and very lucky, you could
grow up to be Grandfather Holly. (Or Father Christmas, or San' Nicalos,
depending on your tradition.)"

Leela and the audio recorder http://www.whofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=46430

Blon Slitheen egg http://www.whofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=44989

Vashta/Jenny metabolism http://www.whofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=46708

Jack and Alonso http://www.whofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=45542

"Maps Written in Code" http://www.whofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=48320

Martha/11th/other http://www.whofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=47140

11th/cooking http://www.whofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=49024

Rory gets a gift http://www.whofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=44198

healing the crack http://www.whofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=45670

regenerations http://www.whofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=47402
http://www.whofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=42809

Rory the Roman, and stuff http://www.whofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=42931

a rescue http://www.whofic.com/viewstory.php?sid=53134

***

Totally unrelated is a Ginny Weasley piece I read today. More of a perspective shifter than a story, but still nice. http://www.tor.com/2016/10/31/women-of-harry-potter-ginny-weasley-is-not-impressed/
mindstalk: (Witch)
Man, this book is painful to re-read. Dumbledore's an idiot for not explaining anything, Harry's an idiot for forgetting Sirius's communication mirror, Snape's an idiot about Harry, Sirius is an idiot about Kreacher, James was a big bully... plus Fudge being an idiot and Umbridge just being so utterly horrible.

And yet dim memory makes me fear that #6 will be even worse on the smart people being dumb front.

On the upside, I remember when I read #7, at the end I kind of wondered who Ginny was and why Harry was hooking up with her. She hadn't made much impression, with books years apart by the end. Re-reading the books close together though, yeah, she's there a lot, not part of the Holy Trinity but in the penumbra, and often in the plot.

I still kind of ship Harry and Luna, though. Ginny's a nice girl and all but I don't really care about her; Luna made a much bigger impression, back in the day, and seems to have more chemistry with him on page. I'm tempted to look up Luna fanfic, except I also fear how bad it could be.

Huh, I have a Harry Potter tag already. I wonder why? *checks* Oh, Methods of Rationality.

HP:MOR

2012-Mar-22, Thursday 22:39
mindstalk: (YoukoRaku1)
Guess I'm officially following the Methods of Rationality now. Curse you, Yudkowsky!

I totally understand someone not liking it; I'm not going to go around saying how awesome it is. But my interest has been caught.
mindstalk: (rogue)
I finally took a stab at Homestuck. I went "ehhh".
I finally took a stab at Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. I'm most of the way through. It's not perfect, it's got its moments of smugness, Mary Sueness, character clumsiness, or cultural arrogance. It also has a fair number of clever takes in it, and is full of CS and physics and SF reference I get because I've read the same stuff Eli Yudkowsky has. I'm actually surprised on the SF front, like when I saw the witch named Dorotea Senjak. And Dumbledore having read Lord of the Rings because Muggleborn students *would* compare him to Gandalf was brilliant.

I'll also give some credit for fanfic Harry not being perfect. He's super-rationaist and getting beyond implausible for an 11 year old -- Eli should really have fast-forward to age 15, say, except then he'd lose his take on Quirrel -- and super genius and all, but also pretty *stupid* in some realistic ways.


Anyway, so in the HP universe there's this horrible Azkaban, with Dementor guards, who drive people to depression and insanity. Really horrible and inhumane, and it seems to speak very ill of wizarding society.

Dementors are also called indestructible (outside of Mary Sue fanfic action.) And while the Wikia doesn't confirm this, in the fanfic they erode matter or magic containing them, so Harry's clever plan of encasing one in titanium and concrete and burying it deep beneath the earth would not in fact necessarily work for very long.

So I wonder if Azkaban is a devil's bargain. Not just about cruelty to prisoners, but about bribing indestructible monsters to stay away from society. Its formation might even be a bedrock of magical (or any) civilization, allowing people to live their lives in peace rather than getting attacked by Dementors in the middle of the night at random. But on the subject of Azkaban fanfic Harry's been pure moralist, without a touch of utilitarian dilemma.

Per the concrete, I thought about possible alternatives. Like imprisoning the Dementors and tasking wizards with maintaining the wards. Though if you've got 100+ Dementors and want say 3 shifts of guards it might take a fair chunk of wizarding society to keep them contained. But what price morality, eh?

Then I realized Azkaban could *be* a prison for the Dementors as well, one with prisoners thrown in to keep them happy and not trying to get out...

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