Third Time is the Charm

I’ve tried to keep my mouth shut, but I can no longer let certain things go by without comment. I am quite sure I will offend some of the True Faithful, but that cannot be helped.

I am here today to speak aloud these words: J K Rowling is wrong. In fact, not only is she wrong about two things she thinks that she got wrong, but actually got right; Rowling is also wrong about something she thinks she got right, but actually got completely wrong.

Many would have you believe that the wrongs J K Rowling has unleashed on the world are something along the lines of an inappropriately out of the closet Dumbledore, the traumatic death of Dumbledore (for entirely unrelated reasons to his homosexuality), rampant incipient Satanism and Witchcraft, and any number of those sorts of things. But, no. I’m fine will all that, as should you be as well. I’m talking about more important issues here!

Three strikes and you’re out, right? You know that thing where you write something the first time and then try to re-write it but nothing is better than the first thing you wrote, only now you’ve lost that because of your subsequent changes? Yeah. That. Someone needs to take the pen out of J K Rowling’s hand. She’s drunk and should go home. Let me demonstrate:

The First Wrong of J K Rowling

Oh, so many moons ago, I read that J K Rowling no longer liked the opening to the first book. I can’t quite just now find a reference. But, what I remember is that she wished she had re-written the opening of the first book to be more obvious in genre setting and quicker into the story, instead of the way it appears in print.

She is wrong.

The opening is delightful in how it starts out normal and slowly the increasing number of owls reveals to the reader and the character of Mr Dursley just how abnormal the world really is. I know that there is advice out there, I forget from whom, about making clear in the very first sentence what genre one is in, but I absolutely adore the way normality melts away in the opening of the first book. Moreover, we get to be present at the very moment when Mr Dursley’s sanity dissolves and he becomes unhinged. And, I will abide no loose talk about changing that feature.

The Second Wrong of J K Rowling

Recently, J K Rowling has publicly stated that Harry and Hermione should have gotten together, and she regretted that they didn’t. This is an idea which should be killed in its crib … but, um, successfully this time.

She is wrong.

First off, even if Hermione wanted to end up with Harry at any point, there is no way that Hermione would have stabbed her friend Ginny in the back like that. In order to double-cross Ginny like that Hermione would have to become a selfish narcissist instead of who she was, and that would have been against her very character, and if allowed would have been the beginning of the end for everyone, because without a good-at-heart Hermione everything would have fallen apart and fizzled into infinite darkness under the real Dark Lord.

But, I’d argue that the fact that Harry and Hermione didn’t end up together is part of what helped Harry not turn into his father, and merely repeat the same story as the previous generation acted out. And, all the other characters would have fallen into enacting the same systemic failures demonstrated in the flashbacks and revelations about how completely shitty the Marauders really were to everyone else. Ginny saved Harry, not the other way around; because it was in Harry’s relationship with Ginny that he became a fully functioning and feeling adult; and it was always in Hermione’s hands how this entire story unfolded.

You think I’m overstating that? Let me put it this way: Harry had absolutely no apparent talent of his own until he discovered he was a natural at Quidditch. And, there is no way that Harry would have ever been discovered and joined the team if Hermione hadn’t used a fully functional and useful spell to repair Harry’s glasses in the very first book so Harry could actually see anything at all.

And, there’s no way Hermoine would have ended up with someone with a complete absence of actual magical aptitude … um, okay, at least Ron could play chess and throw gnomes like nobody’s business! And, red hair! They made beautiful babies, so shut up!

In fact, I bet, by the end, Hermione full and well realized that without the Horcrux in his head, Harry Potter was nothing more than a magically inept, whiney rich jock who liked to beat up on goth kids. There’s no way she would have gone for someone like that … well, you know, after she learned her lesson from how it didn’t work out with Victor Krum, anyway.

The Third Wrong of J K Rowling

J K Rowling lost the plot in the end. Yes, the entire end of the series was screwed up. Harry was no hero, for reasons I think I’ve already detailed. So, the only other kid left, and someone mentioned specifically in the books as fulfilling the same prophecy as Harry supposedly did: Neville Longbottom.

Rowling would have you believe that Harry was the hero and saved the day after coming back to life, a pathetic attempt to twist the actual truth and instead turn Harry into a risen Christ figure.

She is wrong.

In fact, without the stolen power of the Horcrux in his head and the overly patient coddling of whiz kid Hermione and the army of people around him doing all the actual work, Harry Potter would have been nothing better than how Neville Longbottom is portrayed throughout most of the series. But even still, the truth will out. You cannot deny that Neville Longbottom steps up, grows a pair, and stands up to Voldemort, and if he had half as much preparation as Harry did there’s no telling what he could have done. Probably have sealed things up behind the scenes of book three while Harry was busy being freaked out about what turns out to be his escaped petting zoo godfather.

In fact, even still, Harry died. That Harry died killed Voldemort’s horcrux in his head and left both Voldemort and Harry relatively powerless, there’s sympathy and contagion between these two that people only vaguely realize, after all. As the inaccurate Rowling version of events unfolded, unless Voldemort went completely off the rails and challenged Harry to a Quidditch match … (Hey, dumber things have been known to happen, people!) there really was no longer any chance for Voldemort at all, really just a matter of time, if he didn’t simply die at that moment the last Horcrux was broken, by Voldemort killing Harry, who is merely a functional and folkloric double of himself. And Harry should have stayed dead, or transformed into the Dark Lord he was always incipiently to become, which would have left Neville Longbottom to fulfill his destiny as the person referenced in the prophecy as the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord, i.e., to kill Zombie Harry, back from the dead to assume his rightful rôle in the succession scheme of evil! And, in a beautiful Delphic-style twist, the assumption that the Dark Lord mentioned in the prophecy refers to Voldemort is simply a mistake only revealed in hindsight: the one who lives is Neville and the Dark Lord is actually what snivelly rich jock Harry of the future cycle of the generational system would become! And, there was some guy named Voldemort who died too, but no one really remembers what he had to do with anything.

And, shit, people, just look at pictures of Neville nowadays and just try to tell me that guy doesn’t look like a real Big Goddamned Hero who pretty much towers over Harry, who went off to become some kind of Auror, like, pshaw, whatever, prance around like a naked pony on stage, and write Beat poetry.

Smaller Than The Largest Dwarf

On the National Geographic website, there’s an article about poor Pluto being found less rotund than Eris:

“The beleaguered former planet has been dwarfed again by a new study that finds its neighbor Eris is significantly bigger.

That makes Eris—formerly known as 2003 UB313 and then Xena—the largest so-called dwarf planet in the solar system.”

So, the big winner here is Eris. I mean, in an article about Eris, she’s the largest dwarf. How much more Erisian can you get than being officially a competitive contradiction?

Hail Eris! Kallisti!

Necromancy and the nightly news

I happened to be watching the local news while on a trip to Portland, and there was a fearmongering story about the “Zombie Hackers” that take over people’s computers. Almost all of the footage of actual computers showed Apple machines, like an old tangerine iMac and Powerbooks … not, you know, the actual machines that are the problem, namely anything with an operating system from Microsoft on it.

But, it looks like the cover up has begun. When I went to go search out the story in Google using the terms “zombie hackers portland nbc” the first link is to a “Special report: Zombie hackers” posted at 10pm on May 2nd, but the very next day the story is posted in a modified form as “Criminals use “Bots” to hijack PC’s” which removes references to the Zombie Hackers.

Now, what I want to know is why the Powers That Be don’t want us to know about the evil undead Hackers out there? And, moreover, if the hackers are zombies, then I want to have someone thinking to ask who the necromancers are that are raising up these undead with computer skillz.

Instead of covering up this horror, we should all be on alert for the necromancers behind it all!

Hide the dynamite!

Via Fark, “The Sun Online – News: Giant owl attacks drinkers

A GIANT owl that devours foxes and small deer is terrorising shoppers and drinkers in a town centre.

It launches itself off high roofs and swoops on passers-by with talons outstretched.

Late-night shoppers and revellers even take taxis to avoid falling “prey” to the eagle owl, which has a 5ft wingspan.

OMG. This could only get worse if that owl gets its talons on some dynamite. Good thing I’m on the same side as the dynamiting owls and rabid attack lobsters … until their “sudden but inevitable, betrayal” …

Oh, woe. It’s … it’s just like Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, only … um, with more animal diversity.

First Snuffleupagus, and now Elmo?

As if my childhood wasn’t shattered enough by my investigative analysis showing that Snuffleupagus is a mob enforcer, now I hear that Elmo is a mule smuggling illegal drugs?

Via Boing Boing, USNews.com: News: Bad Guys

We start with a bust that somehow eluded me, of an alleged meth trafficking ring that had the gall to recruit Sesame Street’s Elmo to smuggle its dastardly dope.

Personally, I think it’s obvious that the death of Mr. Hooper was the beginning of the fall of Sesame Street into decline. After Mr. Hooper’s death, the candy store must have started to sell candy, if you know what I’m saying.

I have always suspected there was something infernally wrong with Elmo, and now my fears have been proven true.

What is up with Zune graphics, anyway?

So, apparently, I ‘m not the only one to notice there’s something strange about the graphics that are being used with the Zune, because Boing Boing notices some installer zen, and some other reader’s comment is linked wondering about the very same porno image I posted about earlier.

I know that crappy ads stick in our minds more than decent ones, but if a graphic design makes you just … bliss out on the bizarreness while the only thing that runs through your head is Lewis Black’s voice moaning, “WTF?!” … can that be a good thing?

I certainly don’t feel compelled to buy a Zune and probably even less so now. It’s just embarrassing to watch. It’s like the socially inept getting a rare chance in the spotlight but really screwing it up. All I can think of is getting as far away from the Zune as I can so that none of the ick rubs off on me.

The looking glass is smeared with grease, and Alice didn’t “fall” in … she got duped and was tripped as part of some high school hazing during her freshman year …

Update (16nov06 @ 12:55am):

Jeff Reifman, or some cohort of his, over at Idealog thinks these ads are designed to get people to talk about the Zune by using crappy ads that get people talking about the ads instead of about the product. The trashbin of advertizing history is full of campaigns that made that mistake.

But, could it be some devious strategy? Okay, sometimes a pipe is just a pipe, folks. However, if a pipe is … suggestive, then let us ponder the notion that it is not a successful strategy to be laughed at in scorn. Just ask anyone that’s ever been in high school about that.

However, let us also ponder that I am not the target audience for ads that reek of sweat and cheap beer and passing out in a pool of … I don’t want to know what. Maybe that does work for someone; someone not me. I just hope they wear protection … who knows where that product has been, and with how many partners. Yuck. I hope there’s current STD test results in the box along with the abusive EULA and BSDM DRM. And, why would anyone want the kind of partner that refuses to negotiate a safety word?

I might feel sorry for the underdog in the market, but I sure don’t have much sympathy for the sloppy drunk that spills beer on me trying to get to the front of the stage only to fall down when everyone is looking.

Update (17nov06 @ 6:26am):

Oh yeah, let the spoofing begin. BoingBoing is on this one. You know, the slightly sepia toned pictures connote nasty nicotine and coffee stains, old and busted, and used up.

See also: How to get ahead in advertising.

How to get ahead in advertising …

Okay, so, I keep seeing these ads for the Zune. Other than that there’s a kind of pathetic quality to the ads themselves which just shows how uncool Microsoft is at heart, I swear to you that every time I see this ad I catch myself wondering why [insert mainstream site] is running ads for pornography.

I mean, seriously, just look at this ad and tell me what she’s doing isn’t bow chicka wow wow. Which makes the headline on this post an unfortunate pun. (Then again, is there any other kind of pun?)

But, back to being uncool, these ads are like others I might expect trying to sell cheap beer. Then, again, that segues quite nicely back into the conversation of porn in advertising.

Oh, don’t even get me started on the phenomenally sexualized Halloween costumes for children that were being advertised this year … I don’t care how much hormone those kids are getting in their milk these days, it’s just wrong to dress kids like hookers. (If I were more uncouth, I’d point out that it’s also false advertizing. You know, there ought to be a law against falsely advertizing for illegal services.) Might as well just go all out and buy them pole dancing kits for Christmas. And, no, a hooker costume that comes in children’s sizes is not a category error (unless it’s for Munchkins which is just bait-and-switch, another example of nasty business tactics!), although that pole dancing kit looks like fun, yeah?

(Reminds me that a bunch of people I know are talking seriously about taking a pole dancing workout being offered by a Pilates studio in Oly … Now, if only someone had thought of making porn an exercise program decades earlier, just think of all the culture war we could have avoided. Oh, and, yeah, I know someone did think of it, really.)

And while we’re at it, just to get our minds off the subject of costumes, what’s with the space invader chic over at Honda? Check out the background image they are using on their Fit pages:

Must be awfully hard to drive, what with having to avoid the earthbase laser cannon fire on the highway … Wow, talk about road rage. It’s relentless, wave after wave of small Honda cars! PANIC!

Rube Goldberg’s criminal sparrow

Via USATODAY.com – Prosecution sought in death of domino-toppling sparrow:

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch animal protection agency demanded prosecution Tuesday for the shooting of a sparrow that knocked over 23,000 dominoes during an attempt to set a world record.

The ill-fated bird flew into an exposition center Monday in the northern city of Leeuwarden, where employees of TV company Endemol NV had worked for weeks setting up more than 4 million dominoes in an attempt to break the official Guinness World Record for falling dominoes.

The common house sparrow — of a species on the national endangered list — was chased into a corner and shot by an exterminator with an air rifle.

“Under Dutch law, you need a permit to kill this kind of bird, and a permit can only be granted when there’s a danger to public health or a crop,” said agency spokesman Niels Dorland. “That was not the case.”

They thought it was a domino demonstration, but they ended up creating a recreation of Mousetrap. The only way this sequence might have been better is if the sparrow had been a cyclone started by the moving wings of a butterfly.