Fun/Entertainment: January 2008 Archives

Amazon.com has a page reviewing J.K. Rowling's The Tales of Beedle the Bard, which she wrote out by hand, distributed four copies of to people important to her, and sold the fifth to the highest bidder (with the proceeds donated to charity), and the highest bidder turned out to be Amazon. Unfortunately there's no way to read these stories for yourself, since it's not (at least at this point) being published (and I know of no plans ever to do so. One of them, at least, is already present in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and it plays an important role in the plot of that book, but the others are new (although I believe all the titles were mentioned in that book).

It consists of five short fairy tales told in the wizarding world of Harry Potter. A few elements of magic as Rowling conceives of it do appear, but mainly these can stand alone as simply good fairy tales. I was less impressed by "The Wizard and the Hopping Pot" (although it may be better as a story than the impression I get from the review), but the other four strike me as very well-conceived stories with excellent moral lessons, often with nice twists at the end, excellent ironies, and so on.

Many of the things I appreciate about her books seem to be in these stories as well, especially in "The Fountain of Fair Fortune" and "The Warlock's Hairy Heart", which serve as illustrations of what great virtue and its opposite, respectively. The latter tale strikes me as something Edgar Allen Poe could have written. It's impressive that she managed to turn her title "Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump" into what's not just a plausible story for such a name but a fun romp illustrating a nice moral lesson. "The Tale of the Three Brothers" is, of course, not new to those who have read the seventh Harry Potter novel, but it is a great fairy tale in its own right, and that one we can actually read in its published form (which apparently differs in a few details from the handwritten version in this work).

I really wish these end up being published so we can all read the actual stories. Until then, I do appreciate having the Amazon reviews. I'm glad they ended up with the fifth copy.

24 in 1994

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What if the show 24 had been made seven years earlier with the technology of that time?

It's pretty funny and brings back a lot of memories of what things were like. I just realized that my students in 1994 were the ages my kids are now and would therefore have almost no memories of the technology of that time.

The other day I set out to make a burrito wrap with whatever ingredients I could find. I spread a little sour cream on it, put some ham lunch meat laid over that, sliced some Colby-Jack cheese to put on top of the ham, and topped it off with some of Sam's homemade cranberry sauce spread over the top. When I told Sam, she didn't have any problem until I mentioned the cranberry, which led simultaneously to incredulity and disgust. But it was really, really good. I even went and made myself another one. The next day when we had some rice in the fridge I added that to the mix and had a few more.

It reminded of me of the times I've found myself running out of cream cheese in the middle of making a bagel sandwich. What I do then is spread peanut butter on the rest of the bagel before putting the ham and cheese (ideally provolone) in the middle. Oh, and it's almost always a blueberry bagel unless it's near Christmas (when it's sometimes cranberry). It's nowhere near as good as the cranberry ham and cheese wrap with sour cream, particularly the version with rice. But cream cheese, peanut butter, ham, and provolone on a blueberry bagel has got to be tasted to be judged. Feel free to call it disgusting once you've had a few bites.

Religious Satire Poll

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Christianity Today is conducting a poll about people's favorite religious satire website. I encourage voting for The Holy Observer.

Gary Cleland reports on a strategy at winning Rock, Paper, Scissors. [hat tip: Geekpress]

Apparently the advice assumes your opponent knows that most people choose rock and that your opponent accordingly chooses paper to beat your rock, so you should choose scissors.

But how many people engage in that reasoning? You might as well conclude that your opponent would choose scissors on the above reasoning and then choose rock or that your opponent would add in that iteration and then choose scissors to beat the opponent's paper. It's ridiculous. The only way this will work is if you have real empirical evidence about how much reasoning of this sort certain kinds of people engage in and some ability to figure out which category your opponent would be in. But no one can do that. It's true that it's not quite a game of chance, just as poker isn't. But that doesn't mean there's any rational way to win.

Of course, what you really ought to do is not play Rock, Paper, Scissors at all. It's much better to play Rock, Paper, Scissors, Spock, Lizard.

December License Plates

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It's time for another low-effort post listing off the multitude of license plates I noticed last month. It would have been on the high end even without a trip to New York City and Baltimore at the end of the month, but I got a few rare ones added during those travels.

U.S. States: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin

Other U.S.: District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. government

Canada: Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario, Quebec

There are nine U.S. states that I didn't see any license plates from in December. I saw one of them on January 1 in a supermarket parking lot and another this morning on my own street.

Missing from previous two months: I saw Montana in November and North Dakota and Utah in October. Those were the only three October and November had that I didn't see in December. So there are six U.S. states that I didn't see in any of the three months I've chronicled so far (although one of them is already in January's list, so there are really only five I haven't seen since I started doing this).

Additions not in previous months: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Nevada, Puerto Rico, US government, Manitoba, New Brunswick

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