7 Quick Takes (11/19/10)


I may have a five hour problem set due at nine am, but that will have to wait, because tonight is…

…the premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

and I’m off to the midnight showing.  With bells on.

With the books done, and only one movie left, if you’re looking for more Potter stories, you can’t do better than Eliezer Yudowsky’s ongoing story Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.  Yudowsky’s story focuses on a version of Harry that was raised in a loving, science-oriented family.  As a result, Harry is a lot more creative and confident and Yudowsky raised the complexity and brilliance of Voldemort’s plans to match.  Get a few chapters in and you won’t be able to put it down.

(Yudowsky writes philosophy as well as fanfiction.  Currently, Luke from Common Sense Atheism, is blogging through some of Yudowsky’s work)


Outside the realm of Harry Potter, you can find a different, bizarre world to explore in a short cartoon by Jack Kirby titled:

It’s totally bizarre, and you can read the whole thing at io9.


If you’re looking for a chance to do some applied magic, you may want to take a crack at The New York Times‘s deficit calculator.  You can pick from a menu of spending cuts and tax increases to wipe out the federal deficit.  It’s easier than you might expect, if you forget what how obstructionist the new Congress will be.  (Here’s the solution I picked)


Earlier this week, I wrote about the morality of military engagement, and if you’re interested in the data on the rates of soldiers deliberately shooting wide to avoid killing other people, Cracked.com identified instances of this phenomena in Star Wars.

In that same military ethics post, I referenced the old practice of sin-eating.  It turns out that that practice didn’t die out as long ago as I thought.  The BBC has an interesting article on the efforts of a English village to restore the grave of the village sin-eater, the last one in England.


Andrew Sullivan, blogger at The Daily Dish, ran a confusing letter from a Catholic mother this week, during the run up to the elections to choose the new leader of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.  She wrote:

I was quite proud of my sixteen-year-old son, who after completing two years of confirmation preparation wrote his letter to the Bishop telling him quite proudly why he did not want to become confirmed as an adult in the current church….

Our son attends mass, helps when he can when he is home from college, and works with a local parish near his school. He still considers himself Catholic but cannot in good conscious swear to obey the tenets of the current church.

I consider him a good Catholic – in fact a better Catholic than I – because I had doubts as a teen but got confirmed anyway because I didn’t want to disappoint my parents. His faith is strong, but his desire to build a better church is what keeps me teaching and trying to live up to his example. He is the reason that I believe the American Catholic Church will become in the future a separate branch, rather than Roman Catholic.

I can understand why someone might disagree with the teaching of the Catholic Church and wish to leave or to see it altered.  But I can’t understand why someone would hope for fissure in the Church, rather than a reform of the whole.  Seems to miss the point of a small c-catholic church.


This weekend is the beginning of my Thanksgiving break, and it kicks off with the annual Harvard-Yale Game.  This year, the best Game t-shirt, hands down, went to the Yale Record, which printed shirts that read “Only my hatred of Harvard can overcome my apathy for football.”

Today, I have an op-ed in the Yale Daily News discussing the serious consequences of concussions (common in football) and how attending football games can make us culpable for promoting a dangerous game.

[Seven Quick Things is a blog carnival run by Jen of Conversion Diary]

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  • I loooooove Harry Potter! The premiere was Wednesday here in Belgium, but I haven't been yet. I'm waiting untill my sister comes over from England so we can go together.Yudowski's book sounds interesting. I'll try to find it over here._I'm trying to bring Kate home. Please help me find her family!http://thisjourneyofmylife.wordpress.com/category/home-is-where-the-heart-is/kate/

  • @thisjourneyofmylife: I can't fathom your patience! The Yudowski story is online, not in print, so you won't have trouble finding it in Belgium. Click here to start reading it.

  • Thanks! It's been ages since I spent time on fanfiction.com … So looking forward to this.