Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I have finally finished reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

And I would like to ask you, who have also finished this book, how inspired was the casting of Alan Rickman?

Spoilers ahead.

Really.

Stop reading if you have not finished the book.

I’m serious.

Stop now.

Okay…

Lots has already been said about the book. Snape on this side, Snape on that side. Dumbledore meant him to do it. He didn’t. Etc. I fall into the camp that Snape had to do it, because of the Unbreakable Vow. In addition, I think Dumbledore meant him to do it. (It has been said that Dumbledore would never have pleaded for something so transient as his life.) I think they knew it had to come to this. I think Dumbledore delayed Draco so that Snape could do the deed (remember, Draco has not yet killed, so he is still redeemable). I think he incapacitated Harry so that he would not prevent Snape from doing it. I think that Harry is wrong when he says that while there have been a long line of people standing before him to protect him (James, Lily, Sirius, Dumbledore) that he is now alone. I think Snape is there, too.

Furthermore, I think that the final conflict, the final emotional conflict in the series will not be between Harry and Voldemort, but rather between Harry and Severus Snape. I’m sure Harry’s clash with Voldemort will be the last thing that happens, but I think it will not be the emotional center of the last book. But the moment when Harry learns that love is in fact the strongest power, blah blah blah, will be when he confronts Snape. Good or bad, Snape is the crux of Harry’s finally becoming the wizard he needs to be to defeat Voldemort.

Or at least, that’s how I would write it.

Now if Ms. Rowling would just get a move on.

“The colour of heartache”

One of the more beautiful descriptions in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is that of a particular box, described as being “the colour of heartache.” I have, just this minute, finished the book (well ahead of schedule I might add, what will I do the next three nights?) and as I am prone to do, I find myself thinking and writing with affectations lifted from the book.

It was good, and it was worth it.

It starts off, for the first few hundred pages, a little slow. But it is very immersive, and the characters you meet begin to grow and change in interesting ways. Not that they change, in fact, nobody really changes in the book–I think it is one of the themes–they are just revealed to be other than you thought they were. But as you are incessantly battered by the language and the custom and the manner of these people, you begin to be drawn in by them.

I am partial to historical fiction, and this is a good part that.

I found myself, at the end, skipping portions of paragraphs in a rush to know what happens, and the ending does not disappoint. I do wish to have someone to speak with about it… so if you’ve read it, drop me a line. If you’ve not, but were thinking about it, give it a try, it is surely in Libraries by now. Unless they’ve all been bought up!

I do much like the version I have, all hardcover and black, with the paper edges torn roughly (a deckle-edge, I am told). It has a note on the type in the back, and a table of contents in front, oh, and an embossed raven on the spine. For a book that is, most certainly, about books in no small degree, it is lovely.

Skyangel (cue Godlight!)

We got a bit of junk mail the other day, you remember junk mail? The kind you get in your actual, physical, RL mailbox? It was from Skyangel, a “a complete system of family-friendly television & radio channels.” It seems to be a satellite system to which you can subscribe for just $150 a year.

What do you get for that? Well a lot of radio stations with “God” in them. But on the television side, you get twenty “family-friendly channels,” including such pleasing favorites as: Hallmark Channel, PAX, HGTV, Spirit, Worship Channel, Faith TV, Total Living Network, Liberty Channel, Cornerstone, Golden Eagle (perhaps their corporate tune is voiced by John Ashcroft?), and Catholic Familyland.

And, actually, I don’t have a problem with any of that. Got $150 burning a hole in your pocket and an extra dish? Go to town. Enjoy your family-friendly programming.

What I do have a problem with is their sole “news” channel. Fox News. Because, of course, it is fair and balanced. And so family-friendly.

How do you help people if they can’t see you because of the blinders?

It’s not a war, you morons!

Get this through your stupid skulls, you right-wing morons. The “War on Terror” is not a war, and it can’t be won. Do you actually believe we can kill every single one of the terrorists? Do you think if we just kill enough of them and they will come out one day waving white flags to surrender? Do you actually believe we can capture them all and stuff into a black hole in Cuba?

Get real. Terrorism is not something that can be beaten by force. Of course you have to keep it in check with force, of course you have to defend your self with force, but this idiotic rhetoric that we can “win” the war on terror by killing all the terorists is just right-wing justification for greed and proselytizing. Don’t get this confused with guerilla wars, those are over territory, and can be ended one way or the other. Terrorism is a fight over ideas, and there is no way to extinguish ideas. All you can do is hope to make them scarce, and to provide better ideas as alternatives.

“I have more young men to throw at this bloody fight than you do” is not a winning idea. “My walls are so high you will never get in (and I won’t ever come out)” is not a winning idea. “We love the Iraqi/Afghani/brown people, but don’t touch my sister” is not a winning idea.

Believe me, smart people know this. George Bush knows this, but he continues to mislead and betray the American people, and the American spirit.

Wake up, America. This is your future. We can’t beat the terrorists by killing everyone.

Buzzer the Washing Machine

Buzzers on clothes dryers are ubiquitous, but nobody seems to be putting buzzers on the washing machines.

I understand that the dryer buzzes because of all those clothing care labels that say, “Tumble Dry Low. Remove Promptly” But frankly, we use it to remind us that we have to switch loads around. But there are times, when we put a load in the wash, and forget about it for hours (or days, or even a few days… ick). A buzzer on the washer would help us.

So go ahead, someone (Kenmore, we buy a lot from you), steal this idea and get it done.

Buying Blue

Back during the ill-fated election, I remember coming across a web site that purported to show the “blueness” of companies, relating their political donations ot their shade of blue or red. Last week, I thought to look for it again, and whether it is the same site or not, I found BuyBlue.org. I’ve read up on their methodology, and while a little simple (they are trying to expand it from solely political donation history to also include corporate practices and employment policies) it certainly is a good place to start.

And so we are. Starting, I mean. We won’t be able to completely cut out the red (though we could if only there was a Costco in the neighborhood), we will try to minimize it.

Today we bought an iPod shuffle for our new running habit, and we bought it at CompUSA, a company that does not give any political donations at all. Target gave $135,000 dollars (78% of it’s political donations) to Republicans in the last election cycle. Best Buy gave $45,000 (100% of its contributions) to Republicans.

We were shocked at Target’s status. We always thought that it was a liberal company, what with being from Minnesota and all. Also on the “Say it ain’t so” list: ACE Hardware, Krispy Kreme, Lowe’s, Petsmart, Williams-Sonoma, Wendy’s, Petco, IHOP, Walgreen’s, and Wells Fargo.

And on the blue list, I was relieved to see: Barnes & Noble, Burlington Coat Factory (home of Baby Depot), Caribou Coffee (which just opened up near us), Google, Jamba Juice (that one’s for you, Denny), Levi Strauss (just bought some), Linens n Things, Panera, Apple, Hilton, Gap, Netflix, and Frontier Airlines.

So today, we spent money at Younkers (only 11% Blue, sigh), Panera (100% Blue, yay!), and CompUSA (non donating) so far. Tiffany is out looking for some more clothes, so she may swing us further red.

I’d like to point out that a lot of Business, especially the larger companies, naturally gravitate towards the conservative side of the spectrum. That’s fine when the President is a fiscal conservative. But when he is socially AND fiscally irresponsible, I just can’t stand by.

So we are trying. Money where my mouth is.

Just the fish

I approach the deli counter at our local grocery store (which is, admittedly, in Nebraska), after having hunted in vain through their display cases.

Me: “Excuse me, do you have any lox?”

Guy: “Uh.”

Me: “You know, lox, like for bagels.”

Guy: “Do you mean, um, like padlocks?”

Me: “Whu?”

Guy: “Um.”

Me: “No, like smoked salmon.”

Guy: “Huh, well, um,” he looks at his displays hopelessly, “Maybe you should try the meat counter,” he gestures over to the land of pork, beef, and chicken (and pale, undernourished seafood).”

Me: “Okay, thanks.”

Oh, Sandra

Another reason I hate programming: I was so wrapped up in it yesterday that it wasn’t until Ken messaged me that I became aware of Sandra Day O’Connor’s decision to throw away years of moderation in the Supreme Court.

Her reasons for resigning have not yet become clear, but it had better be something life threatening. Because by resigning now, she has virtually assured us of a conservative court for years, maybe even decades to come. Sure, she was appointed by Reagan, and she’s conservative (at least relative to me) but on a Court that is already right-leaning, she was a swing-vote moderate whose most conservative views were on issues of Federalism, where I could give her a pass.

I just hope the Democrats (you listening, Harry Reid?) find a spine on this one. The last “stand” they made on the filibuster was a total sham, the “compromise” they reached did what exactly? Oh, right, it allowed the Republicans to get a pass on Priscilla Owens. I’m not exactly sure what the Democrats got for that… a pat on the butt?

I would like the party supposedly representing 49% of the American people to actually stand up against George Bush.