Harry Potter

Purdue to host intercollegiate Quidditch tournament

Why do all the awesome things happen after graduation?!

Purdue University is hosting an intercollegiate Quidditch tournament from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 24), just days before the world debut of the final Harry Potter film, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

The Hogwarts-looking Windsor Halls will serve as the backdrop as caped contestants chase gold-clad human snitches and launch balls through custom-made hoops, all while dashing around on broomsticks trying not to be leveled by bludger-bearing beaters.

Several colleges will send players, including Purdue, Ohio State, Loyola University Chicago, Illinois State, Ball State, Bowling Green State University, Carthage College, Miami of Ohio and Transylvania University. Purdue’s invitational tournament is scheduled for the same week as the DVD and Blu-ray release of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” Ultimate Edition, the movie in which Harry and Ron Weasley attend the Quidditch World Cup.


Of course, if the Harry Potter universe was real, my complete ineptitude in gym class would probably translate over into not being able to fly at all. Though if Ravenclaw can still have a decent team, maybe not all magical nerds are unathletic.


Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

Are you a Harry Potter fan? And a skeptic? I command you to go bookmark this fanfiction and read it immediately (well, immediately after blogathon is over). It’s called Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. It’s set in an alternate universe where Harry’s adoptive father is an Oxford professor, and thus Harry is extremely well trained as a skeptical thinker.

I know what you’re thinking. “Come on, fanfiction, Jen? Didn’t you graduate middle school years ago?” But trust me – if you’re one of those people who liked to over analyze the Harry Potter universe, you have to read this fic. I’ve spent many geeky hours pondering the possible genetic inheritance pattern of magical ability. Or how horrible the English and critical thinking skills of wizards and witches must be if they stopped their traditional education at age 11. If you haven’t thought these things, you will now. For example, here’s a snippet of Harry pondering about the economy of the Wizarding World:

So not only is the wizarding economy almost completely decoupled from the Muggle economy, no one here has ever heard of arbitrage. The larger Muggle economy had a fluctuating trading range of gold to silver, so every time the Muggle gold-to-silver ratio got more than 5% away from the weight of seventeen Sickles to one Galleon, either gold or silver should have drained from the wizarding economy until it became impossible to maintain the exchange rate. Bring in a ton of silver, change to Sickles (and pay 5%), change the Sickles for Galleons, take the gold to the Muggle world, exchange it for more silver than you started with, and repeat.

Wasn’t the Muggle gold to silver ratio somewhere around fifty to one? Harry didn’t think it was seventeen, anyway. And it looked like the silver coins were actually smaller than the gold coins.

Then again, Harry was standing in a bank that literally stored your money in vaults full of gold coins guarded by dragons, where you had to go in and take out coins out of your vault whenever you wanted to spend money. The finer points of arbitraging away market inefficiencies might well be lost on them. He’d been tempted to make some sort of snide remark about the crudity of their financial system…

But the sad thing is, their way is probably better.

On the other hand, one competent hedge fundie could probably own the whole wizarding world within a week. Harry filed away this notion in case he ever ran out of money, or had a week free.

Not only is it hilarious, but it’s also full of such good information that it works as a primer to skeptical thinking. Read until Chapter 5 to give it a chance, and if you don’t like it by 10, give up. It’s a quick read, but dangerously addictive.

Thanks to Jesse Galef for showing me this right before Blogathon, thus ruining many hours of productivity for me.

This is post3 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

Geeky quickfire!

Questions from formspring.me:

Which Ninja turtle do you prefer?

Donatello, of course! How could the scientist not be my favorite? I’d always choose him in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turles video game for NES. I still remember how accomplished my friend and I felt if we made it to the skateboard level (we were in 1st grade, cut us some slack).

And just to prove my TMNT/art geekiness, I own this shirt:
So I hear we shall see Harry Potter nude in the next movie…could be wrong. The perv in me so wants to tho ;D

Hm, I’m torn. On one hand, I was never a fan of Harry in the books. He annoyed the living crap out of me. Pretty much all of his characteristics were the antithesis of traits I look for in a guy, so I never understood the Harry fangirling. On the other hand, I’m always for gratuitous male nudity, especially within my geeky fandoms. That and I like Daniel Radcliffe – he seems intelligent, witty, and humble. You know, traits that actually are attractive to me.

Now if someone invents a time machine and we get a Younger Alan Rickman nude scene, then I’ll join you in flailing.


I’ll show you something even better:Ah, the bad decisions we made at age 17. As a funny side note, we had no idea who that person in the Pikachu suit was.

James Randi = Dumbledore

The atheist blogosphere is overflowing with coverage about the news that James Randi has come out as gay. Like everyone else, I want to congratulate him on being brave enough to make this public. It’s a bit sad that he had to wait until he was 81 to do so, but I think that really shows the progress that’s being made for LGBT people.

But that’s all been said before. I have something much more important to say.

James Randi totally is Dumbledore1. Both are known for their awesome magic skills
2. Kickass white beards. ‘Nuff said
3. Wise, old men that many people respect
4. In charge of movements against stupidity/lies/evil
5. Excessive amount of middle names: “Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore” and “Randall James Hamilton Zwinge”
6. Both have a younger brother and younger sister
7. Gay

If only I knew if Randi had a fondness for sweets or enjoyed a good pair of socks…

Anti-Porn event – emotional appeals and dangerous misinformation

*I apologize for this post being so long. If you want to read the most humorous parts, scroll down until you get to the quotes from the former porn actress, Shelly. They’re the “highlight” of the show.

As many of you know, last night I attended Porn and Popcorn, a Christian anti-pornography event hosted by the Stewart Cooperative, the Purdue Student Union Board, and other various Christian organizations and local businesses (Chick-Fil-A was one, nothing too surprising there). Oddly enough, about 25 other members of the non-theists joined me. At least I had an excuse of “this will make a good blog post,” but I think they’re all just a bit masochistic. Or in it for the free pop and popcorn, which we received without bursting into flames or being struck with lightening.

Proof I wasted my time going to this thing

We settled down on Slayter Hill, a big open air amphitheater on campus where you just sit on the grass to watch the stage. There were about 600 – 1000 people there (wide range, I know, I’m not good at guestimating crowds). The band was already playing (not well, but playing), and I was amazed that they weren’t playing Christian rock. Actually, the fact that they were singing songs I enjoy unnerved me a bit, because I suddenly heard the lyrics from a different perspective (Wait, this is about God and not his girlfriend?!). They even had about 10 female groupies in front of the stage jumping around with their hands in the air. Eventually they had 20 people holding hands and skipping around in a circle, at which point the giggling began.

As we were waiting for the real show to start, they had PowerPoint slides cycling through with what would be the only “scientific” facts of the entire show:

  1. “90% of kids age 8 – 16 have seen porn.” What a wide age range. I’d love to see the distribution of that, because I’m sure the vast majority of those numbers come from the older kids. When you have a skew like that, you can’t just keep including a lower age for shock tactics.
  2. “True or False: 18-24 year olds are the highest users of internet porn like www.fuckedtube.xxx – False. 12-17 use porn the most.” Wow, shocking. Maybe that’s because 18-24 year olds are actually having sex and are less curious about human sexuality because they’ve already learned about it? Oh wait, no, we’re supposed to be in shock that middle and high schoolers are looking at sexual things. Sorry.
  3. “Women are more likely to act out their sexual urges, like casual sex, multiple partners, or affairs.” Um, no. Buss 2006 summarizes the many studies that show men desire casual sex more than women, and both sides would engage in the same amount since they need to be doing it with someone, assuming heterosexual sex. Men and women would on average have the same number of partners, but men desire more. This is why many men enjoy sex phone lines that can be discovered at https://www.live121chat.com/ to keep their sex drive sated. Laumann et al 1994 found that 25% of married men and 15% of married women had an extramarital affair at some point in their marriage. Nice try with the lies to slander women.

The show opened with a nicely produced video set to some hip hop music (dude, they get us) about how horrible sex and porn is. It’s true that some people can become addicted to porn. But this problem can be solved by visiting pornaddiction.com and learning about the help available. They had some skeevy looking guy taking of advantage of what I have to think was a thirteen year old girl, especially since they had toys and children’s drawings everywhere. Afterward the pastor* comes out and tells us this is a reality (*Side note: I just want to make it clear that these are the “good” Christians who say Jesus loves everyone, only God judges, love the sinner hate the sin, yadda yadda). Yeah, sexual abuse of children is a reality, but it has nothing to do with pornography and should not be used as an emotional tool. But that’s the only tool they have. The entire two hour presentation contained nothing but emotional arguments and personal stories – those “facts” I listed above were as close as you get to “science.” To illustrate my point, here are some of the scare tactics they used at the beginning (bold is their arguments):

  • Senior citizens are the highest porn users. Doesn’t that make you want to throw up? Wow, way to marginalize an entire group of people for being sexual. Oh wait, that’s the whole point of this presentation.
  • A mother called us saying her 8 year old son stumbled upon a porn site. Yeah, he “accidentally” found a site like fuckedgay just by going on the internet. Rigggghttt.
  • Porn destroys the economy because you’re wasting your money on it. This said right after they tell us how porn is a multi-billion dollar institution. Doesn’t that mean it would be stimulating the economy? (EDIT: Apparently even Gingrich agrees with me)
  • When this anti-porn Christian group went to a porn convention, everyone their loved and accepted them. Therefor they’re doing the right thing. Could you imagine a Christian convention accepting a porn group? Or maybe people at porn conventions are more liberal and open minded, and accepting of people who are different than them?
  • Men feel terrified and guilty that they have to hide porn from their wife. Maybe you shouldn’t marry someone who’s so uptight and anti-sex that she’s not cool with you watching porn. Some great communication you have in your marriage there.
  • Porn is a gateway drug to child porn. What. No.

They then brought out a former porn producer to talk about how he saw the light, quit the porn industry, and became a Good Christian. Every story he told didn’t shed any light on the evils of porn – it just showed that he was a giant douche bag. He cheated on his wife multiple times before even getting started in porn. He secretly was a porn producer for 3 years without his wife’s knowledge, and then when she found out, she left him. It’s not porn that ruined your marriage – it’s that you’re a lying dick who was duping your wife. He then went on and on about how he ruined all of these women’s lives and tricked them into porn, how in between shoots they would curl up in the fetal position and suck their thumb, how they needed surgery to correct the sexual things he made them do. I’m going to call Bull Shit on all of this, but even if it was true, that just further reflects on the guy’s character, not porn – he’s a giant insensitive ass.

Pastor: What did you think of our group when you first saw it?
Porn Producer: I thought you were a porn site making fun of Christians, and I thought it was a great idea!
Us: *laugh* …*realize we’re the only people laughing, go quiet*

He then went on to tell the story of all his inner turmoil because of porn (no, because you’re a jerk) and how he used to be a troll at Christian forums. But they were all so nice and even though they banned him they kept telling him over and over again that they would pray for him. And eventually he prayed that God would give him sign.

Pastor: At some point you need to give up.
Us: …

His car broke down and while the mechanic told him it was something wrong with the spark plug, he knew it was God. And that’s when he stopped being an atheist and accepted Jesus. …Yeah, buddy, if you’re asking God for signs and you’re willing to believe events with rational explanations are signs, I’m inclined to believe you weren’t an atheist. Stop trying to make us look bad. He then went on to say how he was at peace, which including crying and puking… uh, okay, sounds real peaceful to me.

Porn Producer: There are bad Christians, but not a bad God.
Josh: Because there’s no God
Me: *high five*

These sort of emotional, personal stories went on all night: they never presented any scientific studies or even included possible credentials they have (anyone have a degree in Psychology? no?). It even included a video of Pornmobile Confessions where people talk about their porn problems while riding in the backseat of a Mini Cooper at night. Their main argument is that they get people writing them all the time about how porn has ruined their lives. Um, have you heard of sampling bias? You only see the people who have been negatively affected by porn because those are the only people who are contacting you. The vast majority of people have had a neutral or positive experience, but you don’t see them because you’re not seeking them out. I’m sure some people really have had negative experiences with porn, but they’re blowing it way out of proportion.

And with the people who did have bad experiences with porn, those were all caused BECAUSE OF THEIR RELIGION. People feel guilty/scared and hide porn from loved ones, and it ruins their marriage because of bad communication. People feel guilty for being sexual beings or need to turn to porn for their sexual curiosity. You know where this guilt comes from? RELIGION. If conservative Christians didn’t beat over your head that sex was so evil to begin with, people wouldn’t be having these problems. We’d have comprehensive sex education and open dialog about human sexuality so little kids wouldn’t have to turn to the internet for information. We wouldn’t feel guilty for engaging in normal sexual activity. We’d be able to talk about sex with our loved ones before marrying them and finding out they have incompatible viewpoints.

It’s like Christians have fabricated the problem of sex so they can come down and fix it. And that’s the only solution or “reasoning” they give: Jesus. All they repeated is that you need to follow God’s plan and be a pure person. “Jesus died and can help you,” but they don’t say how. They never give a single other reason other than God. What about people who aren’t Christians? What’s their incentive to stop watching porn? I guess they either forget us non-Christians even exist, they figure we’re a lost cause, or they see this as a good method to get us to convert to Christianity. The Religiosity Level was through the roof at this point as they told people to give themselves up to Jesus, and I really expected them to ask people to come up on the spot, but they didn’t.

And as an important side note, this whole beginning piece came off as very demeaning towards women. All women were painted as fragile children who couldn’t make their own decisions and were duped into porn. I never heard the pastor or the porn producer refer to females as women or ladies – they always called them “girls.” Whether you were a helper in their movement, a porn actress, or the producer’s wife – you were “Girl.” Way to show some respect to adult women.

Then the night took drove right past Religiousville and took a right into Bizarroland. They brought out Shelly, a former porn actress who talked so nonsensically that the whole audience (not just us) was murmuring in confusion and convinced that she was either high or that her brain was permanently warped from years of drug abuse (which she later admitted to). Her talk was not only rambling, but incredibly sexist and racist, which was even more ironic coming from a black female. It was so rambling that I can’t form coherent paragraphs about what she was saying, so here, have some lovely statements:

  • “Women were created as helpers. Isn’t it lovely how Christianity can brainwash you into subordination? Why do women take this shit?
  • “Chosen virginity” Apparently those times you lose your virginity when you were a confused heathen don’t count. You get to start over when you’re Christian again!
  • “Once you start having sex, God’s plan doesn’t want you to stop.” Or maybe you don’t want to stop because you realize how nice sex is. What does that have to do with God’s plan? If he doesn’t want you to have premarital sex, why would he keep you going unless his plan is flawed?
  • “If he can’t pay for the movie, he can’t pay for the rent! You don’t want him!” What the fuck? So that’s all women want in a man – support? I rarely have had guys pay for dinner because we usually split, but if he does, I’ll usually pay for dinner sometimes to. I can’t imagine the idea of a boyfriend paying my rent. My parents raised me to be able to take care of myself without a man, thank you very much.
  • She was introduced to masturbation by her African Studies Professor, who said it was the best way to have an orgasm. She also supposed he was sleeping with half of the students. First of all, what is the purpose of pointing out he was an African Studies Professor? Second of all, since when is it okay to make wild libelous claims that you give absolutely no proof of?
  • “Think of a clean glass of water. Now imagine greasy finger prints all over it, like I was just eating fried chicken. That’s what masturbation is.” …I don’t know what’s more disturbing here, the fried chicken comment, or the fact that masturbation is considered dirty.
  • Many women like masturbation more than sex, and that ruins their sex life. Therefore masturbation is bad. Or maybe their lack of communication ruins their sex life because they’re too ashamed to tell their partner what they enjoy.
  • “Women were created to receive.” …Feminist rage in 3…2…
  • God created sex so you could be one with your partner. Every time you have sex, you’re creating oneness with that n

    ew person, so you’re fracturing your soul into pieces. OMG SEX CREATES HORCRUXES. That’s really how Voldemort was doing it, but Rowling had to keep the book rated PG-13. Man, so does that mean when I reach 7 sex partners I’ll become all powerful? Sign me up!

  • Do any of you watch soap operas? *looks at audience* A DUDE watches soap operas? Man, we’re going to need to have a talk. Yes, because you’re not conforming to your gender stereotypes! Oh, she then went on to say soap operas were evil, which I guess I’ll agree with to an extent.
  • “Non-married sex is fake, it’s counterfeit. The devil came up with it.” …Yeah, around this point she started invoking the devil. I have to admit this made me really uncomfortable. I mean, I’ve heard a lot of ridiculous religious things before, but just something about someone going on about the devil’s influences and truly believing he exists unnerves me. It’s such a convenient excuse for all the bad things you do that it absolutely absolves you of personal responsibility or control.
  • I had four abortions because my friend told me they were an option. Yes, blame your friend for your irresponsibility. Four, really? I mean, I’m pro-choice, but at a certain point you have to learn to be responsible. Maybe if she had proper sex education she would have known how to properly use contraception.
  • I had such bad self esteem that I would sleep with any guy who complimented me to thank him. Yeah, how is this porn’s fault and not some serious issues you have? Go see a Psychologist, not Jesus.
  • I was sleeping with this gangsta guy who was had seven girlfriends at once. Again, what does this have to do with porn? This just shows that you made really poor life choices and have bad self control when it comes to sex.
  • I was a wedding planner for my best friend, and I slept with the groom. Okay, what are all of these stories illustrating other than you’re uneducated about sex, out of control, have severe psychological problems, and are a horrible friend? Oh, that’s right, they’re setting you up to be incredibly hypocritical:
  • To connect with an unbeliever is to connect with the devil. and “If he can’t be a faithful to God, he can’t be faithful to you.” Yep, can’t go a whole Christian event without bashing the atheists. This quote made me fume. I just listened to a bunch of Christians go on about how they cheated, had promiscuous sex, kept giant secrets from their spouses, got STDs, did drugs, had abortions, etc etc – but that’s all okay because they found Jesus. But those atheists? They have no morals, so they’re all going to cheat on you. What a bunch of fucking shit. Our whole group was sitting their in awe of how morally bankrupt these people were, because we’re actually good, honest people, and then they go and say we’re the cheaters. Or as my agnostic friend said, “My current girlfriend (atheist) is the first one to not cheat on me, compared to all the Christians I dated.” PSUB is going to get quite a few unhappy emails about how they’re sponsoring events that slander non-believers with unfounded lies. I yet again had the wonderful feeling of being an outcast; that if I introduced myself to random people at Purdue and they found out I was an atheist, the vast majority would instantly not like me. But if you can believe it, that wasn’t the quote that upset me the most that night:
  • “Protective sex is a joke.” Wow. I can’t think of a more horrible thing to be telling a crowd of 18-25 year olds. This is just plain irresponsible and dangerous. Again, I can’t believe PSUB would sponsor an event that could have a severe detrimental affect on the health of students at Purdue. I…I’m really left without words.

After they basically had to kick Shelly off the stage because she ran over her time and refused to stop talking, they went right back into the Christian rock band. That’s right, no time for questions. But you know what, it doesn’t really surprise me. This type of religion isn’t about asking questions or thinking for yourself. The event was to give you a biased view (no one pro-porn there) and to tell you what to do and how to think or else God will be very disappointed in you. I guess I was naive to assume they would encourage any intellectual discussion.

We then left and went to Qdoba to eat food and rant, and I’m sure some of the arguments we came up there were far more intelligent than the things I have just said. But I’m getting to the point where thinking about this depresses me, so I’m going to leave the rest of the insightful comments to you guys, and give you some funny highlights from the event:

Pastor: What better truth than the Bible?!
Non-Theists: *giggle*

Pastor: God wants to come inside you!
Friend: Woah, kinky

Shelly: *first comment* Sex outside of God’s intention is desicration.
Me: … *feeling insane at this point, lays down, covers face with notebook, and has a stifled tear-producing giggle fit, which in turn makes all the other members giggle inappropriately*
Friend: Jen’s down! Jen’s down! Monya [Treasurer], you’re our first in command now!

Shelly: How many of you are virgins?
Audience: *some people put hands up*
Shelly: I mean a real virgin. Oral sex and anal sex and masturbation count.
Audience: *everyone puts hands down*

Shelly: What’s that one guy’s name with the long flowing hair?
Me: (from all the way in the back) FABIO!
Shelly: Yeah, Fabio! He’s used as a sex symbol –
Non-theist females: Ewwwww Fabio

Shelly: Any of you ever want to admit to having a roach in your apartment?
Me: *only person in audience who raises hand*
Shelly: Yeah, you live it up, girl!
Me: …Wait…IS SHE TALKING ABOUT MARIJUANA? I MEAN THE INSECT! *horrified, lays down in grass dying laughing along with all the other Non-Theists*
Minutes later
Friend: Jen! Now she’s talking about bugs! Either she was always talking about cockroaches or she just got confused mid metaphor.
Me: Knowing her, it’s the latter.

Shelly: How many of you girls have asked a guy what his life goals are before dating him?
Non-Theist girls: *raise hands*
Shelly: Only you four? You go girls! (Yeah, those evil, corrupt atheists…)

Shelly: How many of you have had one of those crazy drama girlfriends?
Some Non-Theist girls: *raise hands*
Angry Christian nearby: Faggots

Yeah, that last one wasn’t funny – just wanted to illustrate what we’re dealing with at Purdue.

Hooray lab work

*Minor Harry Potter 6th movie spoilers bellow*

Thanks Mark and Vanessa for standing in for me with a couple nice posts. I don’t thank you, however, for playing Rock Band in the other room while I must continue typing away. Sadness. I had to run to work for a bit to see if my DNA extractions were finished (they weren’t, sigh). No PCR dance was done, but the night is young and I haven’t yet reached my maximum caffeination level.

And if you want to know what working in the lab is like… For those of you who have seen the sixth movie, you know the first potion classroom scene? Where Hermione’s hair comically gets frizzier and frizzier from the fumes and stress (until it’s the level of frizziness it’s supposed to be according to the books)? Yeah, that pretty much happens to me all the time.

…Real post next update, sorry.

This is post 18 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

Omg Harry Potter

I’m off to go stand in line with my friends for the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Gleeeeee! Crossing my fingers that it’s an Alan Rickman filled movie, since Snape is kind of important in this one. Just a bit.

No costume this year, just wearing my Republicans for Voldemort shirt. Really should have gotten the Wizard Pride shirt, but I guess it’ll have to wait for Movie 7. That’s where all the Dumbledore/Grindelwald gayness happens anyway.What, what costume did I wear before? Because I have no shame, here you go (click for larger):

Yep, me as Hermione. Woo. That was at the release for the 6th book back when I was 17, the summer before my senior year of high school. I still have my SPEW and Prefect badge somewhere. That was four years ago…yikes. I’m going to go run to the movie theater before I start feeling old.

In honor of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince…

Here’s some old artwork I did in 2005, when I had just finished reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I call it the Half-Blood Prince of All Cosmos (click here for larger version on deviantART):

Oh the good ol’ days of coloring things with a mouse.

A billion points to anyone geeky enough to get both references.

An orgasm a day keeps the doctor away says NHS to students

The UK’s National Health Service has created a pamphlet for all students that you’ll never see in the US:

“Under the heading ‘an orgasm a day keeps the doctor away’, the leaflet says: ‘Health promotion experts advocate five portions of fruit and veg a day and 30 minutes physical activity three times a week. What about sex or masturbation twice a week?’

The advice, which also claims regular sex is good for cardiovascular health, has been circulated to parents, teachers and youth workers.”

Ha. I think US classrooms would explode (with rage, not orgasms) if this sort of thing was passed out by NIH. While I agree teaching sex positivity is a good thing, and that orgasms are even better (woo orgasms), their track record doesn’t sound so good:

“It came to light just a week after it emerged that teenagers who took part in a £6million Government initiative to reduce teenage pregnancies were more than twice as likely to fall pregnant as other girls.

The scheme tried to persuade girls not to get pregnant by handing out condoms and teaching them about sex.”

Hmmm…when we have abstinence programs the girls come out the same as the ones not in the program, not worse. Are brits just particularly rebellious or something? Were they cheap and handing out expired condoms? Who knows.

Obviously plenty of Brits are upset about this, but I’m just kind of apathetically amused. Except for the picture they use in the article:

Come on, how long are we going to stereotype Slytherins as the naughty British pupils?* I bet those Gryffindors have just as much as passionate unprotected sex, if not more.**

*Jen has Harry Potter on the brain because she’s going to the MIDNIGHT SHOWING TOMORROW WOOOO!!
**Ravenclaw would totally be the smartest about sex. Go Ravenclaw!

Harry Potter is an atheist – hooray!

Okay, okay – it’s just Daniel Radcliffe who plays Harry Potter – not the fictional boy wizard himself. But still pretty cool. Daniel has always mentioned that he’s not particularly religious, but in his latest interview with Esquire he officially “comes out” as an atheist.

“In an interview with Esquire magazine, Radcliffe risked the US box office prospects of the new Harry Potter film by declaring himself to be an atheist.

In a pronouncement that will dismay America’s religious Right, which has long voiced suspicions about Potter’s “anti-Christian” message, the 19-year-old actor said he did not believe in God.

He also expressed his admiration for Professor Richard Dawkins, the prominent atheist and bete noir of Evangelical Christians.

Radcliffe has been reticent on the subject of religion in the past, but in an interview to promote the latest instalment in the film franchise, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, released on July 15, he said: “I’m an atheist, but I’m very relaxed about it. I don’t preach my atheism, but I have a huge amount of respect for people like Richard Dawkins who do. Anything he does on television, I will watch.”

He joked: “There we go, Dan, that’s half of America that’s not going to see the next Harry Potter film on the back of that comment.”

JK Rowling’s stories of the schoolboy wizard are taken very seriously by some Evangelical Christians in the United States. One of the largest Christian groups in the country, Focus on the Family, denounced the books as “witchcraft”.”

I wasn’t one of those fangirls who immediately thought Daniel Radcliffe was some sort of hottie. I was way too preoccupied oggling Alan Rickman (and I still am). But I have to admit, Dan has really grown on me. He’s getting cute now that he’s not jail bait anymore, and every time I hear him in an interview he’s witty, intelligent, and nice. But now he’s an out atheist and a fan of Richard Dawkins? Definitely going up on my list of cute famous atheist guys I have no chance with!

Is a battle ever too hard to even bother?

I mentioned a couple of days ago that our student group was going to start fighting religious aspects of our public university’s graduation program (I didn’t get many comments, so I’m going to assume you all just sort of passively agreed with me). I sent out an email to our club for feedback, and I received a lot of great advice on who to contact, various things to consider, etc. Most of the feedback was positive and contained the humble comment that this was going to be a difficult battle. I’m fully aware of that, especially knowing Purdue. It’s an extremely conservative university, and it…well, generally ignores any student activism that takes place about its policies.

But I received one email that was a bit of a downer from a staff member at Purdue (who I know to be an atheist activist). He said the Provost would surely politely blow us off, promising to look into it but never speaking to us again. I thought, yeah, so what? I know it’s going to be difficult and we’ll have to deal with bureaucratic bullshit, but we know what to do. He then told me to not even bother, and to spend the club’s efforts doing projects we could actually succeed at.

Well boo on him.

At what point do we just sit down and shut up because doing anything would be too difficult? Because it would likely lead to failure? Even if we can’t get the obnoxious “Amen” singing removed, our fight is at least symbolic. We’re showing the university that we don’t agree with what they’re doing, and we’re showing others who agree with us that they’re not alone. I mean, you could have told all the Anti-Prop8 protesters to just go home, because judges obviously aren’t going to be swayed by some signs (well, hopefully), but should they have? No, I don’t think so.

I think this is a problem the atheist movement faces a lot mostly from the outside – people asking why we’re so angry, what’s the point, don’t we have better things to do? It’s just a bit disheartening when I hear a fellow atheist telling me “Don’t bother.” If we don’t bother, who will? If the national government wants to institute a time for prayer in school, do we just sit back and say “Well Big Brother is too strong. No way they’d listen to us,” and throw our hands up in the air? No, we try our damnedest to fight it.

I think this can all be summed up by one of my favorite quotes:

“Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” – Albus Dumbledore

This club has waited two years building up our good reputation before attempting something that will likely piss off the campus. Now’s the time to do what’s right.

Harry Potter and the Horrible Video Games

There’s a new interview over at IGN about the 6th Harry Potter game for Wii. It looks like the new game will be just as craptacular as the 5th on. Yes, I bought the 5th Harry Potter game for Wii, but let me take a moment to explain myself. I’ve been a rabid Harry Potter fan since I first started reading the books when I was 11. Upon buying my Wii, there were practically no other games out other than Wii Sports and Barbie Ice Princess or whatever other junk they’re trying to sell to broaden the Wii’s target audience (to include 5 year old girls, apparently). While desperately scanning Gamestop’s selection, my eyes paused on Harry Potter. The conversation in my head went something like this:

“Don’t do it,” said Logical Jen. “It’s a mass marked piece of crap meant to have 12 year olds waste their mommy’s money.”

“But, but,” pouted Fangril Jen, “it’s Harry Potter. And for Wii! I can wave my Wiimote around like a wand and be magical!”

“It’s fifty dollars-“


And so I wasted 50 dollars. I amused myself for about an hour by flying a table around the Gryffindor common room and into the faces of my classmates. After that I was seriously disappointed that I couldn’t set everything on fire. If you give me a wand and the ability to make things spontaneously ignite, I don’t want to just light a fireplace. I want a Slytherin first year running around in fear. And honestly, would that be all that different than the chaos that goes on in the books? I’ll even settle for Filch chasing me around for being bad – as long as it’s realistic!

After the initial glee of foolish wand waving, however, I realized the game had absolutely no plot. It was an endless list of pointless mini games sending you from one end of the castle to the other. Not only that, but the Wiimote controls were so shoddy that you couldn’t even perform the spell you wanted half the time. I can go on and on about how horrible the game was, but I’ll sum it up in saying it is the only video game I’ve ever sold back to a store. Even Super Monkey Ball has somehow managed to stay on my shelf (it’s a great dust collector).

So why am I ranting about a game I gave up on over a year ago? Because it looks like EA Games is doing absolutely nothing to make the new Harry Potter game any better. I know I shouldn’t be surprised. I know this is just an easy cash machine for them, and making real gamers happy isn’t their goal. But it’s the principle of the matter.

They can potentially use the Wii Motion Plus to get great control for spell movements…but do they? No.

They can have endless amounts of interesting things to include from the book…but do they? No, they’re “true to the movie,” which is like saying it’s Harry Potter filtered through yet another level of shittiness.

They’ve had extra time to work on the game since the movie was pushed back…but do they? Of course not (Though it may have been beyond that point, I’m cranky, so I don’t want to give them the benefit of the doubt). Why try to make a game excellent when mediocre still makes you money?

I know my whining isn’t going to do anything about it, but it still annoys the hell out of me how games (and movies, and books, etc) will sacrifice quality for money. It’s the same reason why we’ll never see an full story Pokemon game for Wii. While it would be piss-your-pants amazing, Nintendo can make just as much money pumping out simpler sequels for their hand held systems. I just ask that someone stops me from buying Harry Potter 6 for Wii before the rabid fangirl in me takes over.