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.


Stop read­ing if you have not fin­ished the book.

I’m seri­ous.

Stop now.


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.