Okay, here goes. This is doomed to fail, but I’m going to say it anyway, and see if I can actually surprise everyone, including myself, by sticking with it:
I will not use the World Wide Web for the next 96 hours.
You might think this is about the bar exam, and my desperate need to cram instead of procrastinate. You might think it’s just the logical extension of my previous announcement that blogging will be light because I’ll be studying. But you’d be wrong. This about something much more important: Harry Potter. (”[He] needs to work on [his] priorities.” –Ron Weasley.)
I gather that the alleged leak of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows onto the Internets via BitTorrent is, in fact, real. I say “I gather” because I’ve deliberately avoided reading articles or blog posts about the leak, because I’m deathly afraid (pun intended) of accidentally stumbling across spoilers — even unintentional/implicit ones. (I assume the MSM isn’t explicitly reporting who dies, but often times, reporters telegraph information they know but can’t say, like exit polls on election day. I’m guessing there will be some allegedly “spoiler-free” articles that will nevertheless make it pretty easy to surmise whether Harry lives or dies. Anyway, better safe than sorry.)
In any event, now that the cat’s out of the bag, I fear it’s only a matter of time before I accidentally stumble upon some information I don’t want to see, whether via Drudge or Fark or some blog or news article, or via my own website’s comments (as almost happened today), or via some other source I don’t anticipate. Maybe not — maybe I’d remain blissfully ignorant — but it isn’t worth the risk. The only surefire way to avoid accidentally learning the truth on the Web is to, well, totally stop using the Web until I arrive in Denver in four days (at which point I will have presumably finished the book during our day of travel). Hence my pledge — which, of course, has the beneficial side-effect of freeing up extra bar-study time for the remainder of the week.
Even if I stick with my pledge, it won’t totally eliminate all risk, of course. There is also the possibility of accidentally overhearing something in person, verbally. Indeed, it occurs to me that Saturday morning’s midnight book-release parties are now fraught with peril. Some of the Potter fans in attendance will have had it spoiled for them already, but even if (as I would anticipate) those fans are generally respectful and don’t spill the beans for others, all it would take is one a**hole — out of a crowd of hundreds — to walk in and yell, “________ dies on Page __!” to ruin it for everybody. In other words, the real-life equivalent of this afternoon’s troll. And there are a lot of a**holes in this world. I bet it will happen somewhere. I just hope it’s not at my store.
But while I can’t totally protect myself from such accidental revelations, I can at least ensure that I won’t learn the ending online. That means not checking my own site’s comments for four days, but hey, now that my Inquisitorial Squad has been empowered to monitor comments, I don’t need to check them myself. So I won’t.
I guess I should qualify my promise insofar as I’ll probably need to use the Web a few times for purely functional things like printing out directions on Google Maps and the like. As for blogging, I’m sure I’ll post a few things via cell phone. But beyond that, I vow to stay off the Web for the next 96 hours, starting at midnight.
How long do you think I’ll last? Make your guesses in comments. :)
Oh, and in case this wasn’t clear already, NO POTTER SPOILERS, dammit. Those go here.
This is Brendan Loy, signing off. See ya Saturday.
I’ve been thinking lately about the electoral implications of a possible Rudy Giuliani candidacy — specifically, the fact that Rudy could potentially win New York (especially if he’s running against someone other than Hillary), which, it seemed to me as I initially considered it, would be pretty much “game over” for the Democrats. I mean, can the Dems win an electoral-college majority without New York?
Well, last night I did the math. One significant fact that I’d forgotten is that New York’s E.C. representation has fallen significantly from the 36 that I had in my head. That number was correct in the 1980s; it was 33 in the 1990s; and now it’s 31. But that’s still a lot of votes, and they’re votes the Dems are used to being able to just depend on without any effort. Not so if Rudy runs, methinks.
If Rudy’s the nominee and wins New York, the Democratic candidate could win both Florida and Ohio… and still lose the presidency, 270-268. (Heh. Ouch.) To win without New York, even with those two big-kahuna states in their corner, the Dems would need one additional Bush state, with New Mexico (5) or Iowa (7) being the most obvious possibilities. (Alternatively, if the Dems win New Mexico and Iowa, and also Missouri, they wouldn’t need Ohio — just Florida.)
Of course, it isn’t just New York’s 31 electoral votes that Giuliani could threaten to yank into the Republican column. As my dad pointed out when we talked about it on the phone last night (yes, this is what my father and I talk about… heh), Rudy could also put New Jersey’s 15 votes in play. If the GOP could capture NY and NJ, the Democrats would have a lot of ground to make up: they’d need Florida (27), Ohio (20), and 17 votes from some combination of New Mexico (5), Iowa (7), Missouri (11), West Virginia (5) or some other states — maybe Nevada (5), Colorado (9) or Arizona (10)?
Anyway, the point is, it’s not impossible for the Democrats to win without New York and New Jersey, but it’s not easy, either. And in any event, Rudy would certainly expand the list of “battlegrounds” by making those states reasonable GOP targets. All of which could make a Giuliani candidacy very interesting.
Okay, dorky electoral-college nerdiness over, back to the bar.
P.S. You can play around with the Electoral College math yourself here.
In order to decrease the likelihood that trolls will be able to ruin the fun for everyone with Harry Potter spoilers, I have devised a straightforward process for quickly moving any offending posts to “That Which Must Not Be Blogged.” Anyone not currently a guestblogger who would like the power to do this (i.e., to get rid of any spoiler posts that you happen to stumble upon), shoot me an e-mail at brendanloy [at] alumni.usc.edu. Current guestbloggers, you’ll be hearing from me later today. :)
Some troll, who probably found his/her way to my blog via the New York Times blog article linking to “That Which Must Not Be Blogged,” just posted a bunch of Harry Potter 7 spoilers in various threads. Luckily, I saw them quickly and, immediately realizing what they were, stopped reading them and moved them to the proper thread (while literally holding my hand in front of the screen, so that I wouldn’t see what was written).
I will be taking various steps to hopefully prevent such things from occurring again in the next few days, but unfortunately, there are a lot of a**holes on the Internet, and there’s only so much I can do to combat them. As such, I cannot guarantee that spoilers will not appear where they shouldn’t, at least for a brief period of time.
If you want to guarantee that you won’t stumble upon any spoilers, the safest course of action is to not read ANY comments on this or any blog until after you’ve read the book. For that matter, you should probably stop surfing the Internet altogether and turn off the TV for the rest of the week. Now that the book has (apparently) been leaked on BitTorrent, lots of people are going to find out the (alleged) ending, and even well-meaning folks may inadvertently let something slip (explicitly or implicitly). And of course, as this afternoon’s incident proves, plenty of jerks will deliberately try to ruin everyone’s fun.
In any event, I beg the good faith of regular readers on this blog. I realize this whole situation is a major “don’t stick peas up your nose” temptation for those who scorn Potter fans as a bunch of obsessed nerds, but for the love of all that is holy, please resist it. (Obviously, anyone who doesn’t resist it will be instantly and permanently banned from the blog, as the aforementioned New York Times troll already has been.)
Just in case this isn’t already clear, don’t post spoilers in comments on this post! This thread is for discussing this issue without revealing anything about the book. Spoilers go in “That Which Must Not Be Blogged.” Thanks!
P.S. Also, don’t stick peas up your nose! :)