(114 & 115a) Production Notes

Well, here it is. Sticking the landing is always the hardest part, and after a certain point you lose all objectivity. I hope this works.

EDIT 9/17/15 – As some of you noticed, the website had a major crash a couple days ago. OMG that was stressful. I had to completely wipe and reinstall WordPress, and revert to backups from a month ago. Basic functionality looks to be back, and I’ve rebuilt the last few posts. Still some more work to do, but now it’s mainly cosmetic. Whew! Unfortunately that means the comments from the last few posts are lost. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who commented to let me know that the episode turned out OK. :) I’m glad it worked!

113 – Final Exam

Final Exam

Original Text

SFX: Hiss, Splat

Music: 28 Days Later Theme, by John Murphy

The restrictions list:

1. Harry must succeed via his own efforts. The cavalry is not coming.
Everyone who might want to help Harry thinks he is at a Quidditch game.

2. Harry may only use capabilities the story has already shown him to have;
he cannot develop wordless wandless Legilimency in the next 60 seconds.

3. Voldemort is evil and cannot be persuaded to be good;
the Dark Lord’s utility function cannot be changed by talking to him.

4. If Harry raises his wand or speaks in anything except Parseltongue,
the Death Eaters will fire on him immediately.

5. If the simplest timeline is otherwise one where Harry dies –
if Harry cannot reach his Time-Turner without Time-Turned help –
then the Time-Turner will not come into play.

6. It is impossible to tell lies in Parseltongue.

Within these constraints,
Harry is allowed to attain his full potential as a rationalist,
now in this moment or never,
regardless of his previous flaws.

Of course ‘the rational solution’,
if you are using the word ‘rational’ correctly,
is just a needlessly fancy way of saying ‘the best solution’
or ‘the solution I like’ or ‘the solution I think we should use’,
and you should usually say one of the latter instead.
(We only need the word ‘rational’ to talk about ways of thinking,
considered apart from any particular solutions.)

And by Vinge’s Principle,
if you know exactly what a smart mind would do,
you must be at least that smart yourself.
Asking someone “What would an optimal player think is the best move?”
should produce answers no better than “What do you think is best?”

So what I mean in practice,
when I say Harry is allowed to attain his full potential as a rationalist,
is that Harry is allowed to solve this problem
the way YOU would solve it.
If you can tell me exactly how to do something,
Harry is allowed to think of it.

But it does not serve as a solution to say, for example,
“Harry should persuade Voldemort to let him out of the box”
if you can’t yourself figure out how.


(113) Production Notes

The thing about greatly reducing the pitch of a voice to anonymize the speaker is that if you do it to a whole bunch of people, they all sound very similar and it’s hard to tell them apart. For purposes of anonymity, I suppose this is a feature. But for the purpose of a podcast, it’s a bug. You want the voices to be distorted, but still discernible as different people. So I used a number of different distortion methods to alter the Death Eater voices, but still leave them distinct. I’m going to claim that Voldemort’s observation of Mr. Honor’s quickly transfigured armor and jury-rigged Voice Distortion Charm applied to the majority of the Death Eaters, so they all had their own unique distortion charm rather than a uniform one.

I’m going back to every-other-week for the remainder of the podcast. If my calculations are correct, and there are no major complications, the final episode will air the last week of December. Which is a hell of way to set myself up for a Planning Fallacy fail. But you gotta have goals!

WorldCon was AWESOME, I’m gonna go again next year.