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Random Potter thoughts - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Random Potter thoughts
As I try to avoid engaging with a big, giant fanfic roughly seven weeks before it's likely to get conceptually jossed, I've just been thinking random thoughts.

  • Umbridge is right about at least one thing--why in the world is Harry in his fifth year before he finds out what the law is on using defensive magic? Granted, it shouldn't have been wasting his time that far down the line, but given how quick the Ministry is to punish infractions, you'd think they'd have gone on from first year on about, "This is when it's okay to use defensive magic, and this is when you ought to call in someone else." Hmm. Maybe they get money off of the fines imposed or something...

  • If Sirius was in the tropics, a week and half is pretty quick flying back and forth for Hedwig. Of course, owls obviously have some way to be immediate, as Harry gets them within minutes of the Dementor thing in OotP. Maybe there's something like an owl floo system. So what's the hang-up? Was it just the distance, or did Hedwig have to do some major league problem-solving to find Sirius?

  • Nobody even interviewed the kids or Lupin about Sirius's escape? I'm trying to decide whether that was the Ministry being idiots or Dumbledore trying to deflect attention, since they wouldn't be believed anyway.

  • Do Gobstones champions (and other minor extracurriculars) get House points, or is that just for academic success, behavior, and flashy stuff like Quidditch?

  • Did they charge admission for outsiders to watch the Triwizard Tournament? Could be a good reason Lupin never showed up. Unless Dumbledore had him off doing something else entirely.

  • When did Mad-Eye retire? They talk about it sometimes like he's been retired for a long time, other times like he's just kind of "between jobs" ("He starts his new job..." as opposed to "He's going back to work..."). And of course, we know that Dark Wizards were tracked down after the war ended, and that was only 13 years before GoF. Charlie, who's Tonks's age, met him when he went to work with Arthur, but we don't know how old he was. Enquiring minds, and all that.

  • With humans off-limits prior to Aragog's death, what were the Acromantulas feeding off of in the Forbidden Forest? Unicorns? Deer?

  • Phineas must have been a kind of young Headmaster, by Hogwarts terms. The tapestry has him around the same age as Dumbledore, and Dumbledore followed Dippet, who was quite old in the vision Tom showed Harry, and I had the impression he'd been there a while. Was Phineas right before him? Or did the Black family pull some strings to get a young whippersnapper in high office?

  • We know that Minerva's glasses become markings when she transforms; do other things, like wands, also become markings for Animagi? Maybe that would be a way to tell an Animagus from a true animal... somewhere, it has a wand marking.


Okay. Thus endeth the random thoughts.
27 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: June 2nd, 2007 05:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
JK Rowling is inconsistent?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 2nd, 2007 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Could be, but we're still stuck with it. May as well come up with good retcons.
torturedbabycow From: torturedbabycow Date: June 2nd, 2007 05:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
But.. we want you to engage the giant fanfic!

I was going to have intelligent comments too. Because you ask fun questions. But it's summer, and my brain has turned off. I've only left the house once (no wait, twice) since Monday, and have been getting fabulously high scores on random online games... Something tells me I was waay beyond burned-out at the end of the semester.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 2nd, 2007 05:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
But.. we want you to engage the giant fanfic!

So do I. I actually sat down and outlined the first six chapters or so over dinner last night. Can I avoid the jossinator? If I don't, will people be annoyed at me for dropping it?

Sigh. Well, it would be an alternate PoV of Goblet, so there's a lot that's already there to not be messed with.
torturedbabycow From: torturedbabycow Date: June 2nd, 2007 06:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I may eat my words, but I think I'd rather have some incomplete fic than no fic at all. And you don't generally come up with really outrageous ideas, so I think you stand a decent chance of being able to continue even after DH. :)
norilou From: norilou Date: June 2nd, 2007 09:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree. I would love to read that. It sounds interesting. You can always drop the story or go back and edit if things change to much.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 2nd, 2007 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
My thought on Umbridge isn't so much that the students are supposed to know when defensive magic is and isn't acceptable> Most of us have some general ideas about when we can defend ourselves under Muggle law and when we can't without knowing details about that law. An example I once read is that it can be considered a case of battery if you threaten someone with a weapon (say a bat) but don't hit them IF the person was aware you were waving the bat in a threatening manner. If you weren't seen, it doesn't count - because no one was threatened by your action.

That's my paraphrasing of a theoretical case, so don't anyone go waving bats around on my say so.

However, I think Umbridge's legal argument goes in a different direction.

Umbridge doesn't ask when it's RIGHT to defend yourself, she asks when it is LEGAL. Umbridge, while at Hogwarts, represents the law and chages it to fit her interests.

In other words, she has redefined justified and nonjustified violence to be whatever she says they are.

It's all right for her to attack someone because she represents the authority with the right to define when it is all right to attack.

It is not all right for someone to fight back even in defense of innocent lives if she says it isn't.

The Dementor attack on Harry and Dudley shows this mindset at its fullest. The Dementors WERE still under Ministry control at this point (or, at any rate, were more than happy to carry out this particular order). By the measurement Umbridge uses in her class, she was perfectly right to do so and Harry was completely in the wrong. She had the AUTHORITY to give orders to the Dementors. Harry, in her view, did not have the legal authority to use magic off school grounds, in a Muggle neighborhood, and in front of a Muggle. Although she isn't the one who said it, I think she was in complete agreement with the idea that Harry got off on a "technicality," a loophole in the law that should have been closed.

Ellen
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 2nd, 2007 08:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I guess I'm thinking less along moral lines than along the lines of, if this is the way the Ministry is behaving, wouldn't it make sense to inform the kids of it before they get themselves into serious trouble? It's like the seatbelt law in driving--you may agree with it, disagree with it, think it's an insane intrusion on driving privacy... but if you don't know about it, you're going to end up getting fined.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 3rd, 2007 02:07 am (UTC) (Link)
I know and, in general, I agree. The one of the few things I enjoyed about book 5, however, was analyzing things about the wizarding world's legal set up and also looking at the mindset of some of the Ministry.

Normally, I wouldn't cut a character to ribbons for trying to teach characters laws they should know about. I tend to cleave pretty tightly to the letter of the law myself (I like to think of that as being a bit more like Hermione than Umbridge, but you never know).

Still, when I asked myself what I got if I dumped my ideas about obeying the law and all that and just looked at what Umbridge _said_, it was pretty disturbing. I think her mindset is a bit sociopathic, to be honest. The moral reasoning behind law and social structures don't mean anything to her. I really believe she sees them only in terms of a tool to exercise power. Fudge, at least, is blind more out of cowardice. He's burying his head in the sand because he's so unprepared to cope with the idea of Voldemort's return.

For Umbridge, on the other hand, I think she went into the Ministry to get power and I think she enjoys power for what could only be called petty, evil reasons. Harry represents a threat to the power structure and, hence, a threat to her place within that power structure. The argument put foreward in one of the books she assigns - that many wizards define defensive magic to justify what are really offensive spells - seems at least partially valid.

However, asking myself what that meant _to Umbridge_ gave me an answer I still find pretty disturbing, but it fits her actions so perfectly. To her, none of the things she does are wrong - not the torture pen or the threatened use of Crucio - because she's the one who's doing them. The only time we see her hesitate is when she is considering whether Fudge will back her up on the use of an Unforgivable.

But, yes, the average Hogwarts' student's legal knowledge seems to be limited to knowing they aren't allowed to do magic away from school and that they aren't allowed to apparate before they pass their test. They should get a bit more training than that.

Ellen
a_t_rain From: a_t_rain Date: June 2nd, 2007 08:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
[quote]Phineas must have been a kind of young Headmaster, by Hogwarts terms. The tapestry has him around the same age as Dumbledore, and Dumbledore followed Dippet, who was quite old in the vision Tom showed Harry, and I had the impression he'd been there a while. Was Phineas right before him?[/quote]
Also, did Phineas retire young or die young? (In my fic-verse, he was poisoned at a staff meeting, but I'm quite sure that won't be canon.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 2nd, 2007 08:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
It may not be canon, but it's so perfectly Potter...!
lessthanpie From: lessthanpie Date: June 2nd, 2007 08:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
My mental image of the owl floo system has owls shooting through something like those vacuum tube things at a very high rate of speed and coming out at the end with their feathers all ruffled. It is amusing me greatly. :)

I bet Hedwig had to do some owl P.I. work (Hedwig, P.I. Another amusing mental image that means I really ought to go outside or something. :P) to find someone lying as low as Sirius must have been. Otherwise, the Ministry could have just sent one of own owls to find him, and manhunt over.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 2nd, 2007 08:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Rowling has said that they can't do that, but hasn't explained exactly why, so the vacuum tube theory works as well as anything else! ;p

I will now spend all day not thinking about a snowy owl driving a Ferrari around Hawaii, while having flashbacks to her service in Vietnam.
tdu000 From: tdu000 Date: June 2nd, 2007 08:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
House points, in my experience of the system in the real world, usually work in two ways: reward/ behaviour modification of students and house success. There is usually a complicated calculation system in place to compensate for unequal numbers of students in the houses (not evident at Hogwarts but maybe the jars do it magically). The reward and BM is usually up to the discretion of the teacher. If the teacher involved isn't keen on the house point system they don't have to use it but usually the kids are very enthusiastic about house points, especially the younger ones, so it tends to be successful.

The other way it works is that a number of points are given for any inter-house activity. These are set and not left up for individual teachers. In an interhouse cross country, for example, there would usually be a set number of points awarded just for competing (the more kids who'll have a go, the more points) and then extra ones to each kid who gets a poisition and then ones for the overall house winner. If it's an inter-school cross country, no house points are awarded as that would be devisive within the school team.

So for gobstones, I'd say there would be points for winning an inter house competiton (if officially sanctioned by the school) but not for captaining the school team.

JKR seems to use the house points in just the same way they are used in muggle schools in Britain (and Australia!), except for the fact that some Hogwarts teachers use them unfairly. What she doesn't show is that many students don't give a toss about their house, other than individual friendships, by the age of fifteen or sixteen. Maybe it lasts longer at a boarding school.
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: June 2nd, 2007 09:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Maybe they get money off of the fines imposed or something...

Well, if it's anything like the way the Muggle government dishes out praking tickets, then yes.
keestone From: keestone Date: June 2nd, 2007 11:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
(Vaguely waves hands. . . )Well, they're magic owls, but instead of having pointless magic distinguishing features (a la playing jump rope with their tails), they actually have a useful ability like the house elves' ability to Apparate without a wand. Popping into the air over large expanses of water freaks them out though, and long hops are exhausting. Hedwig took a very roundabout route to the tropics.

Gobstones is purely extracurricular, but the gambling is fierce; Filch is conspires with Peeves to keep the professors from finding out how high the stakes are because he makes a tidy profit. A group of the more independent and more academically-minded students (mostly Ravenclaw seventh years) have staged a minor rebellion against the school's implicit bias valuing quidditch over learning, and the unhealthy competition between houses. They are taking over the quidditch pitch with a Wizarding version of Ultimate Frisbee. The Weasley twins were recruited to develop a frisbee that teases -- and occasionally sabotages -- the players. Gred and Forge may love quidditch, but they agree that people take it too seriously, and they were happy to help develop a game for people who want to have fun and relax, not compete as if it were life and death. The opposing teams often end up working together against the frisbee, and brooms are optional. The true competition is finding out who can come up with the most ridiculous team name. (The Ravenclaw seventh years admit absolutely nothing about a certain summer weekend at the house of one of the muggleborn students, a computer that Giggles, and lots and lots of firewhiskey.)
keestone From: keestone Date: June 2nd, 2007 11:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh yeah . . .

The mainstay of the acromantula diet is a certain species of giant moth. The moth's natural prey are foxes and badgers. Acromantulae adapted well to the Forbidden Forest and now have as stable niche in the ecosystem.


(I may soon disown my brain. It's not working in any of the ways it should be right now. Ireland. England. Victorian period. Folklore. Children's Literature. Fairy Tales.)
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 3rd, 2007 01:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Hee! These are great - sounds canon to me!
aebhel From: aebhel Date: June 4th, 2007 01:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
The opposing teams often end up working together against the frisbee.

Oh, so very Potter...
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: June 2nd, 2007 11:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
We know that Minerva's glasses become markings when she transforms; do other things, like wands, also become markings for Animagi?

Rita Skeeter's spectacles did too. Wands might, although a slight stripe or ridge or whatever probably wouldn't be very noticeable.


Nobody even interviewed the kids or Lupin about Sirius's escape? I'm trying to decide whether that was the Ministry being idiots or Dumbledore trying to deflect attention, since they wouldn't be believed anyway.

I had to deal with that for my long Tonksfic, because it sounded odd to me too. The answer I came up with is that Dumbledore and Lupin put their heads together after he came out of the Forest after his transformation (and just before his resignation) and cooked up a version of events to tell the Aurors that left out Sirius's Animagus ability while mentioning Peter's, and persuaded them that the kids should be left alone as they actually might have been Confunded (wihtout saying so directly). Fudge, anticipating serious trouble from the Daily Prophet when it was known that he'd let Sirius escape basically under his nose, was quite happy to go along with anything that poured a large vat of whitewash over the whole affair, and actively worked to block any detailed investigation of what happened.
gloryforever From: gloryforever Date: June 2nd, 2007 11:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
# Did they charge admission for outsiders to watch the Triwizard Tournament? Could be a good reason Lupin never showed up. Unless Dumbledore had him off doing something else entirely.



Or maybe he just hadn't recovered from the big scandal that it must have been his coming out as a werewolf? Or maybe it just happened that it was a full moon at one (or more) of the tasks?

lilacsigil From: lilacsigil Date: June 3rd, 2007 04:18 am (UTC) (Link)
My theory on glasses being part of the transformation (when there's no evidence that James Potter's were) is that the animal is shaped by your self-image, not by your inherent character or appearance. McGonagall's glasses are part of her self-image, so they're present on the cat; James's might not have been, hence no markings have been described on Prongs. It also indicates what Peter thought of himself - unworthy, low, small, but a survivor. It's a strange thing for a teenager to think.

Having been at a school with house points, absolutely everything counts, but sport counts the most. We had drama, music, debate, art, craft and dozens of other things, but interhouse swimming sports, athletics and team sports (hockey, soccer, cricket etc.) were worth more. It sucked. Points could be deducted for bad behaviour, but not awarded for good behaviour, though points were given at the end of each term based on every students' marks in every subject, so I suppose academic performace was rewarded that way.
From: tunxeh Date: June 3rd, 2007 06:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Umbridge is right about at least one thing--why in the world is Harry in his fifth year before he finds out what the law is on using defensive magic?

For one thing, because we find out (from JKR's web site?) that the laws against underage magic (which the defensive magic thing you mention is part of) are mostly an afterthought, applied primarily against muggle-born students. Wizarding households are expected to police themselves and it's enough for the muggleborns to be warned very sternly not to use any magic. But if there is any kind of formal introduction to wizarding law for muggleborns, Harry doesn't get it, because he isn't thought of as muggleborn in the wizarding world despite living as one.
eir_de_scania From: eir_de_scania Date: June 3rd, 2007 08:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
*Umbridge is right about at least one thing--why in the world is Harry in his fifth year before he finds out what the law is on using defensive magic? Granted, it shouldn't have been wasting his time that far down the line, but given how quick the Ministry is to punish infractions, you'd think they'd have gone on from first year on about, "This is when it's okay to use defensive magic, and this is when you ought to call in someone else." Hmm. Maybe they get money off of the fines imposed or something...

***The wizard-born learn it at home, and the poor Muggle-born are supposed to pick it up as they go along. Just like anything else in the wizarding world.

Phineas must have been a kind of young Headmaster, by Hogwarts terms. The tapestry has him around the same age as Dumbledore, and Dumbledore followed Dippet, who was quite old in the vision Tom showed Harry, and I had the impression he'd been there a while. Was Phineas right before him? Or did the Black family pull some strings to get a young whippersnapper in high office?

***Wouldn't surprise me if they did! But mostly I think it's the usual case of JKR maths.Unlike many fanfic writers she never consider if her timelines are valid or not.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 4th, 2007 02:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, if you don't want to start another big fanfic before DH comes out,what about a new chapter or two for 'Of A Sort'? I don't think anyone would say no to that.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 4th, 2007 04:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oh Yes, Please!

You could do Tonks' sorting, or finish Neville's, or anyone!

Sara Libby
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: June 4th, 2007 07:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Oh Yes, Please!

Well, I don't know why in the world I haven't finished Neville's--I've just got a hang-up about it at this point!--but I did Tonks's quite a long time ago.
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