Harry Potter: Isn’t 007 the most powerfully magical number?

Years after Hogwarts, Harry Potter is the top Auror in the Ministry of Magic. The Death Eaters are gone. But what happens when an international Dark wizard ring rises out of the shadows, and Auror Potter must join forces with his muggle opposite number in MI6? If anyone’s interested in exploring this question, I offer the following titles to help get you started…

  • For Your Mad-Eyes Only
  • A View To Avada Kedavra
  • From Azkaban With Love
  • License To Curse
  • On Dumbledore’s Secret Service*
  • The Auror Who Loved Me
  • Thunderbroom
  • The Man With The Golden Wand
  • Dragons Are Forever
  • Octopeevesy
  • GoldenSnitch
  • The Wizarding World Is Not Enough
  • You Only Die Seven Times
  • Quidditch Royale
Potter. Harry Potter.

Potter. Harry Potter.

*Actually, On Hermione’s Secret Service is funnier because it sounds very close to the original title.


Dream Images

A bridge through a dark space, made of luminescent energy. The bridge is a simple flat rectangle, perfectly sturdy, about two meters wide. There are no rails or supports, and the bridge is so long, and the void it crosses so dark, that one cannot see one side from the other.

A huge, underground edifice. Encountered deep beneath the surface, after a long climb down. It is in a clearly ancient architectural style in an enormous subterranean chasm; it can be viewed from above from a ledge on the way down. Its size and design inspire awe and fear; surely no surface creature has ever been down here before. But then, who built it?

A long-abandoned island city, viewed from afar. The buildings are all ruined, the streets overgrown with weeds. No one has set foot here in ages. But despite the dereliction of the place, the green plants juxtaposed with half-standing towers leads one to think that the place could be rebuilt.

A room, deep in the insides of a massive starship, where all the walls look like the insides of a modern computer. Literally covered in microchips and circuitboards, this is the brain of the starship. To fix a malfunctioning component would require a ladder and a magnifying glass.

An anthill on a grass-covered highway median. The ants who live there have never ventured outside the median for generations upon generations, for they would surely be crushed by the high-speed traffic. The fact that there is even life outside their little grassy island is totally unknown to them.

A small sign on a streetcar, asking travelers to yield their seats to the elderly and infirm. The commuters see that sign every day. Their eyes gloss right over it. Someone spent an afternoon just deciding what font the lettering should be.

A basement corridor in an old building that’s since been put to better use. No one goes into the basement anymore except to access a few key rooms. No one ever goes into that corridor. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it; there’s just no reason to.

A basement of a community center, with a closed door leading to a staircase down. The children play in this community center all the time, and sometimes activities are held in this basement, but they are told never to open that door. Some children have peeked, and know the stairs go down somewhere. But no one has ever gone down there.

A tiny pothole in a paved elementary school play yard. Every night, at midnight, the pothole changes shape. One day it’s a circle; the next a triangle; the next a square. It’s always slightly irregular, so one cannot be sure that it’s really changing. But it is.

A secret set of footholds along the edge of a royal palace. They lead down from the prince’s bedchamber to the royal woods beyond. No one but the prince knows they are there, but he did not make them. His great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather did, when he was a boy.

A book in a big public library that no one has ever checked out. The book contains the rules to a game that’s long been out of print. The book was donated by a family whose two boys used the book to play a make-believe game. But they did not own the game, nor did they follow the rules properly.

A secret room, hidden away in a certain chain store. Step into the room, and the doors slide closed, revealing a map of all this store’s locations. Touch one of the other locations. The room vibrates for many seconds. Then it stops, the doors open. It looks like you’re in the same store. Until you leave the store, it’s hard to tell, but you’re actually in the location you selected.

A tiny island, a minuscule mound of land no more than 40 square meters in area. Nothing but ocean around it. The island is a little grass-covered hill, with a circular hole at the very top that’s maybe a meter wide. The hole seems to go down forever. The geographic coordinates of this island are 31.78° S, 144.77° W.

An old park bench. Once a old jogger with an undetected heart condition felt a pain in his arm, staggered over to the bench, sat down, and died. Another time a pair of young lovers sat next to each other on the bench, confessed their true feelings to each other, and kissed. Their initials are carved into the wood at the exact spot where the jogger’s head rested. It is an old bench. The city is thinking of replacing it.

Halloween Scientists

I think I’ll dress up as a scientist for Halloween. But which one?

My first reflex was to go as Pavlov. I may or may not go as Schrödinger, but I feel a pull towards Newton. Einstein would be a relatively good costume! My friend has naturally selected Darwin, and another friend has a burning desire to go as Bunsen. Going as Niels would be a Bohr. I heard a number of people are going as Avogadro, and a there’ll be lot of Henry Ford costumes that are exactly the same. There’s a pair of identical twins going as Watson and Crick. I’m sure a Franklin costume would be electrifying, but if you want to do something revolutionary, go with Copernicus. Or for something really shocking, try Tesla! Edison would also be a bright idea, but my mother suggested Freud instead. Too bad Mama will not let me go as Galileo.

Maybe I’ll go around as Johannes Kepler, or perhaps Alexander Graham Bell is called for. A tiny part of me wants to go as Planck though. Someone needs to explain to me how to dress as Feynman. If I could just make a Turing costume I could dress up as anything. I tried a Rontgen costume but you could see right through it. I wish I were hot enough for a Celsius costume or sexy enough for Kinsey. Maybe the cure is to go as Alexander Fleming. Heisenberg might work, but I’m uncertain. You know, a Carl Sagan costume would be pretty far out, or I could see myself dressed as Edwin Hubble. If you don’t mind making a big project out of it, you could make a J. Robert Oppenheimer costume. I heard Ernst Mach would work, but someone beat me to it. Maybe I’ll just go out with a bang as Alfred Nobel. Wait, I know — Eureka! Archimedes!

C++ Lulz

Inspired by this site, which was posted on Facebook by a friend of mine. Do not try actually running this.

goto school;
if (rich) {
    private int ernational_school;
} else {
    public char ter_school;

if (sat_score == 2400 && rich) {
    goto yale;
    bool aboola;        

long day;
double shift;
try {
    volatile short temper;
    throw fit;
} catch (hell) {
    goto pieces;
    return badge;
switch (career){
    case solved:
        private int vestigator;
        auto mechanic;

Top 20 Judah Maccabee FACTS

Just spreading some holiday cheer. Credit for all of these goes to me. You’re welcome.

  1. Judah gives his kids nothing but chocolate gelt for Hanukkah, and they never complain. The gold foil is 24 carat.
  2. It was Judah’s idea to put that ninth candle on the menorah, just to make things a little more exciting.
  3. How did they make more olive oil in only eight days? It took seven days to collect all the olives, and one day for Judah to crush them in his bare fists.
  4. Judah Maccabee doesn’t have to deliver presents. He just glares at the gifts and they go where they’re supposed to.
  5. The three wise men also tried to visit baby Judah Maccabee, but they weren’t on the guest list.
  6. The only reason there’s a “war on Christmas” is that nobody’s brave enough to attack Judah Maccabee’s holiday.
  7. King Antiochus was about to set fire to a Torah scroll, but Judah Maccabee snuck up behind him and took his Torah. The King said something about burning the Torah, and Judah was like “Dude you HAVE no Torah” and ran off.
  8. Judah Maccabee was the original Inglourious Basterd. He’s going to be doing one thang, and one thang only: killin’ Seleucids.
  9. There are lots of mall Santas. There is only one Judah Maccabee, and you do not sit on his lap.
  10. Hanukkah was supposed to start on the same day as Christmas, but Judah got tired of waiting.
  11. Judah Maccabee can play with dreidel BEFORE it’s dry and ready.
  12. Judah can eat a sufganiyah (jelly donut) without getting any of it on his face.
  13. Judah Maccabee knows the correct English spelling of “Hanukkah.”
  14. Judah Maccabee doesn’t have to cook latkes. Potatoes are so scared of him, they hide themselves in frying pans just to get away.
  15. No other holiday hero besides Judah Maccabee has ever been described as a giant, fire-breathing lion. (Chapter 3 of 1 Maccabees, look it up.)
  16. Judah Maccabee’s SUV gets eight times the MPG of your Prius. (It runs on used latke oil.)
  17. Judah once spun a dreidel so hard it didn’t fall for 8 days. Then it landed on gimel.
  18. Three words: “STOP. Maccabee time.”
  19. Judah doesn’t object to Hanukkah bushes. They make great kindling for when you don’t have any oil.
  20. 2100 years ago, the Seleucid Empire of King Antiochus contained what is now Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, together with parts of Turkey, Armenia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. Today, there is no Seleucid Empire. But Judah Maccabee’s people are still here.

Yale Splash Halftime Report: You Are A Pirate

My pirates class was a success. Due to some no-shows,the class ended up having only 17 people, but I think they all had a good time, and I know for a fact they all got an enormous amount of candy. I overestimated the amount of time it would take them to come up with answers for my discussion questions, so I nearly ran out of material. Fortunately, I had the idea of throwing it open for questions, and I got some good ones. Mostly they asked about what kind of weapons the pirates used, which is not something I would have thought to talk about, but did have the answer to.

I used PowerPoint, but only to display the discussion questions one at a time. I also had an intro slide. After taking attendance, I loaded it up. “In this class I will lecture for two hours using a simple PowerPoint presentation.” Next slide. “NOT.” Next slide. “We’re going to play a game.” There were general cheers at that. I had three bags of candy to give out for answering questions right, but since there were only 17 people, I used only two bags. At first I gave out candy from a bag that had things like Airheads, sucking candy, Smarties, and mini bags of Swedish Fish. I allowed people to trade candies if they didn’t like what they had, which a lot of people didn’t. Let’s face it, a lot of that stuff is lame.  Halfway through I announced that I would be switching candy, and brought out a bag of Hershey’s chocolate, Whoppers, Kit Kat, and Reese’s Cups. That got another cheer.

The class definitely lost steam by the last half hour, but that was okay, since they all had tons of candy by that point. They did pretty well in general on the questions, although the “come up with rules for your ship” question got some… intriguing responses. Examples: “Don’t throw anyone overboard without the Captain’s permission,” and “Anyone who breaks the rules gets no rum.” I don’t think they did very well at the true/false section, either. A lot of them were shocked that pirates did not make people walk the plank, and that they did not bury their treasure. There was one ringer who knew a lot about pirates, but not most of what I was talking about. And he got the question about pirates keeping parrots wrong — pirates did indeed have parrots aboard their ships, as a form of treasure. Parrots are valuable.

Anyway, they all had a good time, as did I. My other class, Functions and Other SAT Stumpers, is in two hours. It won’t be anywhere near as fun, particularly since my mom convinced me to give them a short quiz halfway through. I’ll just have to bribe them with my leftover bag of Tootsie Rolls.

Evil Motives

As I’ve said before, I have a habit of judging works of fiction by their bad guys. I therefore pay a lot of attention to my own bad guys. One thing I initially had trouble with, but have since gotten good at, is coming up with motivations for the bad guys. After all, even if you’ve come up with a memorable and dangerous supervillain, you still have to be able to answer the question of, “Why is he being evil?” Here, therefore, is a list of possible answers to that question, with examples in parenthesis. There are, of course, other examples than the ones I list.

Warning: Many of these links are to YouTube videos. There will be sound.

  1. Wants to take over the world (Sauron, Emperor Palpatine, and Voldemort all qualify, but Pinky and the Brain are this straight up)
  2. Wants to destroy the world (the Burning Legion)
  3. Instinctively attempting to feed (the Tarrasque, most zombies)
  4. Instinctively attempting to defend itself or its kind (the Horta)
  5. Doing it for sport (the Joker)
  6. Wants money (Gordon Gekko)
  7. Wants revenge (Nero)
  8. Wants to destroy a specific group (There was this one German guy whose name escapes me) Continue reading