June 2003 Archives
Tune in to RTHK3 tomorrow morning at 11:00 am for a prelude to Wanchai Live.
I've just finished re-reading Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, and I've noticed a few details I missed in my first read. One of the themes is Harry as a leader. This is quite noticeable in a few scenes towards the end of the book:
- Everyone follows Harry to the Ministry of Magic, despite doubts or not being able to perceive their mode of travel. They will follow him, because he is their leader. I think this will have serious echoes in books six and seven. Harry is now a force to be reckoned with in the Wizarding world.
- In the Ministry of Magic, Harry's team line up behind him and draw wands together. Imagine the wedge shaped formation of the Ur-Viles from the Thomas Covenant books. Or, if you haven't read them, imagine that Harry is in front of a triangular formation of his friends. "Wands out!" *Snick*.
- At King's Cross, Harry and Arthur Weasley lead a bunch of Harry's friends over to talk to the Dursleys. Again, the wedge thing, this time Arthur and Harry are leading it.
- Harry leads the Dursleys out of the station.
Of course, there are other clues. I think that the Muggle world and the Wizarding world may need to come closer together, now that there are so many people with a foot in both camps. I also think that Harry and Snape have a closer connection than is previously known. And that Petunia Dursley is not what she seems.
Prediction: Petunia Dursley, nee Evans, like her sister Lily Potter, nee Evans, was also at Hogwarts. she was romantically involved with Severus Snape, but she rejected him and was expelled for some reason. This has lead to Snape's refusal to allow Lily to intercede on his behalf when required, and contributed to his hatred of Potter: his ex-girlfriend's sister has taken up with his tormentor. Meanwhile, Petunia was expelled for doing something very nasty, so she has to live as a Muggle. This explains why she knew instantly what Dementors were and where they guarded, and may explain [SPOILER]'s Howler: "Remember my last, Petunia". Last what? Line of the letter? Condition of not revealing her magical abilities to a husband who would disown her if he found out?
Petunia: "Harry, give me your wand!"
Harry: "Aunt Petunia, you want my what?"
Petunia: "Give me your wand Harry, I need it to do the Unforgivable Curse I was expelled from Hogwarts for."
Harry and Vernon together: "What?! You were at Hogwarts?!"
Petunia: "Malfoy! AVADA KEDAVRA!"
So, when's book six coming out? Next Tuesday, huh?
I'm guessing in less than two years: maybe this time next year, as Rowling's already started writing it. She does have a small baby though, and I know how hard it is to get anything done with an infant in the house.
(updated to remove a spoiler or two.)
Well, it's coming around again and here's the timetable so far:
|Saturday 28 June 2003|
|1400||Pull your socks up||DIU|
|1500||Wig & Em||Shallow Falls|
|1600||Firefly Conspiracy||Dave O'Brien|
|1700||Mr Softee||The Retro Years|
|1800||Hei Sha||Time Raider|
|1900||Mind Your Head||Mydriff|
|2200||Thinking Out Loud||The Bastards|
|2300||9th State||Dave Colquhoun|
|Sunday 29 June 2003|
|1300||Another Life Story / Spermatic Chord||-|
|1600||The Small Corner Band||Tornier|
|1700||Da Guelos||Whence He Came|
|1800||Milk and Cookies||Los Tabernacos|
|1900||2 Tonnes||Papa Jack|
|2000||The Macs||After Hours|
|2100||Deja Blue||One Crowded Hour|
|2300||Beats Working||Pok Guys|
Chinglish is the peculiar language spoken by Hong Kongers when they're trying to speak English and are not hampered by any great knowledge of the language. Seen tonight: Out of Order of the Gate - referring to the apartment complex gate being broken.
One of my other favourite examples is actually quite pleasant: To Be Cautious Of Opening Door, which is very lyrical. You must have the following philosophical attributes to stand in this location buddy!
I was just thinking about the whole issue of knowing that someone was going to die in HP5 and it would be upsetting and I came to an interesting conclusion: You're meant to be afraid that anyone could die at any moment.
JK Rowling has been very public that someone was going to die, and that it was very upsetting for her to write it. This is almost the theme of all the marketing. When you read the book, you're always thinking that one of the main characters could die at any point. It creates a real tension and drags you into the story. It makes each encounter very real: every time there's a conflict you're going "Oh no! It's not *him* (or *her*) is it?" Perhaps this is to bring you, the reader, into the mindset of the Wizarding world now that Voldemort is back.
That's how long "Harry Potter and the Order Of The Phoenix" is.
I woke up early, intending to go out and get it. At six AM, I rang my parents, who were busy celebrating their Fortieth Wedding Anniversary. I must have sounded pretty bleary. I decided to not go down to Dymocks to get HP5 after all, so I slept for a while.
At about 1130, I wandered into Central to the Dymocks in Princes Building. To my small astonishment, there were no crowds there and there were plenty of books left. I had somewhat expected the books to fly off the shelves (well, not literally: "Accio HP5!"...). The manager there said that there had been a small queue at 7AM, when they opened, but there wasn't a great rush. I just strolled in, picked up a copy, chatted to the manager for a bit while paying for my copy and strolled back with my nose firmly pressed in Chapter One: Dudley Demented.
You can see the time above? I've just finished it. I did take a few breaks for eating, and other stuff, but mostly I've been ploughing my way through it all day.
So what did I think of it? Well, it's been obvious from about book 3 (Prisoner of Azkaban) on, that the series is growing up with Harry. It's getting darker and darker and the childlike innocence of the first two books, which are very black and white in moral terms, is replaced by the ambiguities of how the real world works. Book 4, Goblet of Fire had some dark moments, but it was a trilling canary of chirpy happiness compared to Order of the Phoenix. There's oppression and angst, thuggery and romance, misery and death in this volume.
So, who dies? Well, it's... Old Ben Kenobi. Or is that the wrong book? Page 160 got me going for a while though.
"Luke^WHarry, I am your father..."
Nope, there's nothing that cheap or hackneyed in it. There are a lot of questions answered which were raised in the last few books, and there are more questions asked of our hero. Maybe James wasn't quite the nice guy he was painted...
An excellent read, damn well written and deeply, deliciously, darkly subversive for a children's book. I would guess that JK Rowling taken a leaf out of the Terry Pratchett Guide for writing for young adults: "Never, ever be condescending. Your heroes are just regular people who happen to not be grown ups. They're not simpering innocent Enid Blytons archetypes." There are no 'lashings of ginger beer' in this world. There are lashings though, and some butterbeer.
Go buy it: Not that JK Rowling needs the money, but just to encourage good story-telling.
So, when's book 6 coming out? Next Tuesday?
Nope, HP5 isn't a new calculator, or a new computer from Hewlett Packard. It's a reference to the next Harry Potter book: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which is due out on Saturday, June 21, 2003. I've been waiting for this book for a few years now, so I hope it's going to be good. I really liked the third and fourth in the series, although I think the first two are quite juvenile. However, it's pretty clear that each book is written for about the age of the protagonists. I.e. "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" is written from 11 year olds.
(It's '...and the Sorcerer's Stone" for Americans, because *American* editors think American kids are too stupid to know what a Philosopher is. This is nothing to do with Brits looking down on you Americans; it's American editors who regard their own customers as ignorant morons. If you think you have it with Potter Books, go check out pTerry Pratchett for someone who writes excellent books for young people (and people of all ages), and who has some scathing comments on the way books are sold in America. (It took a long time of people actually buying his books from England, before American publishers actually figured out that people might be interested. But then they put completely *sucky* covers on them. It's almost like American publishers don't want Americans to buy pTerry's books. Are they afraid they'll go: "But these are clever, insightful, and humourous, as well as being damn well written. Whatever happened to the insipid drivel we've been used to?")
Any road up (You can tell I've lived in England for *way* too long), I'm currently reading through the first four books in the series, in preparation for snarfing the fifth one on Saturday morning. As a guide to my reading speed, I started the series on Sunday, and, reading in bed and on the MTR, have finished the first two books already. Now, I just have about 1500 pages to go through before Saturday. I may finish too early.
Nope, it's not one of my political rants. Gizmo's motherboard expired today. I was trying to install a Southbridge fan, and must have shorted out the power circuit - the board went dark. I was not able to get it working with any of the various Socket 370 processors I have lying around, so I transferred all the essential bits and pieces to the other case along with my trusty old Asus P2B motherboard. I have one of my 1Ghz PIIIs running in that at the moment (with a slocket). That's a little unstable at a 133Mhz FSB, so it's at 100Mhz. That gives me a 750Mhz PIII, which will have to do for a while. I really should upgrade further, but I don't want to spend too much money at the moment.
I recently built a PC for my brother-in-law for about HK$2600. It was a P4 Celeron 2Ghz with 80Gb disk and 17" monitor. I did donate a few spare parts I had lying around, but the Motherboard (PC Chips M935LU) has quite a lot on board (audio, video, USB 2.0, network) that I didn't need any cards at all. It's not bad, although I think the Celeron P4 is much slower than the Pentium P4. I think that the cache is a lot smaller. This Mobo also takes SDRam as well as DDR, so I was able to save a bit on that.
I might go a similar route when upgrading gizmo/mojo (I have no windows machine at the moment, which is a pain when it comes to scanning: XSane doesn't support my Slide Scanner.
GW Bush flung from a Segway. First the pretzels, and now a Segway - is everything ganging up on Dubya?
I don't know who the hell www.genericas.com is, but they're probing my web server. I've blocked them permanently, and may null route them. Checking that someone else's web server is up every two minutes is abusive behaviour.
If you've been trying to find the website and it hasn't been working tonight, it's because I've been trying to revive some old SCSI disks by freezing them, then hot-plugging them and trying to read the data. It mostly worked, apart from the one which sounded like a chainsaw starting up. It did entail a lot of reboots, however. Linux is ok with a SCSI device being plugged in, but not being plugged out.
In bread-related news, I've started using Allinson's yeast, and it's got a lot more oomph, and a very distinctive taste. I'm almost tempted to try and make beer with the stuff...
I'm disgusted: TVB News just showed highlight of the days dragon boat races and completely ignored the races at Stanley. Stanley hosts the one of the biggest festivals on the day with 136 teams this year. Why didn't TVB cover it? Because they'd have to show Non-Chinese competing?
I'm sitting at home now, about two hours after getting home from a long day in Stanley. It was a very successful day for the Scott Wilson Sea Dogs. We placed second in the Expatriate Men's Category A Plate Final. That's a bloody brilliant result, and we were on excellent form all day. We placed seventh in the Stanley Combined Bowl Final, but we were severely outclassed.
Competitions in Hong Kong generally have four competitions: Cup, Plate, Bowl and Shield. This is basically so that you don't end up competing with people who are vastly better than you or vastly worse. There is no fun in competing when you're coming last by a huge margin, and there's not much value to a win you didn't even have to work for. This is further refined in Stanley Dragon Boating by having A-class and B-class divisions, where the B-class are guys who do it for fun (like us normally) and the A-class are guys who take it really seriously. These divisions mean that the optimum strategy is to get in there and paddle your heart out. This is exactly what you want in a race - none of this 'strategic placing' nonsense. We were bumped up to the A-class after the organizers decided that we've had strong teams for many years now. So coming second in the Plate final is a stunning achievement.
And we did it with a perfect race. A tight start - four long deep strokes to get the boat moving forward, followed by twelve short, fast strokes to accelerate the boat up to racing speed, and then into a racing stroke with a rate of about three strokes per two seconds all the way to the finish line. Our timing was sharp across the boat and from front to back, which is the absolutely critical skill for paddling a dragon boat. You can have all the power in the world, but if you're not paddling together, you're wasting your time. We had a tight crew of well trained paddlers, most with many years of experience, and all with the will to go hell for leather and damn the torpedoes.
Just changed the index page so that it shows the last ten entries rather than the last five. This keeps things on the index pages a bit longer and probably helps my already good google.com rating.
Just saw an ad on the TV for a compilation CD of hopeful songs, the proceeds of which go to some charity. The songs are meant to show the indomitably spirit of Hong Kongers. They include "We shall overcome (someday)", and "Always look on the bright side of life". That last is the one from the "Life of Brian", you know, the one they sing when they're all nailed to crosses about to "draw their terminal breath". I don't think Hong Kong's quite that bad yet, but maybe someone knows something I don't...
Tomorrow is Dragon Boat day - the Tuen Ng festival of rice dumplings and hard paddling. I'm going to be down in Stanley from Oh-dark-thirty, as is my usual habit. This year, our first race is at 11:30, but it's easier to travel down to Stanley before the racing starts. Also gives me a chance to get my gear out to our Junk, so I don't have to worry about it. The beach is always heaving with people and very, very hot. This year, there's construction work on the beach (rolls eyes), so there will undoubtedly be massive confusion and turmoil there. Me, I'll be out on the junk, with a flask of coffee and some fresh bread.
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