Monday, February 3, 2014

Ron Weasley sucks

Finally. JK Rowling's admitted what readers of Yudkowsky's continuum have long known: Ron Weasley sucks. Well, she didn't quite put it that way - she said instead that Hermoine should never have wound up with Weasley. Which is true, because Weasley sucks.

In Harry Potter and the Methods Of Rationality, Potter was trained in the methods of science and rationality before discovering magical Britain. And so he decided to approach magic scientifically to see how it worked. Great fun.

Here's how Yudkowsky's continuum dealt with Weasley. Harry meets him in Chapter 7. We don't hear from him much after that. Which is as it should be.
"Cor," said the red-haired boy, "are you really Harry Potter?"
Not this again. "I have no logical way of knowing that for certain. My parents raised me tobelieve that my name was Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres, and many people here have told me that I look like my parents, I mean my other parents, but," Harry frowned, realising, "for all I know, there could easily be spells to polymorph a child into a specified appearance -"
"Er, what, mate?"
Not headed for Ravenclaw, I take it. "Yes, I'm Harry Potter."
...
[After Ron explains Quidditch]: "So let me get this straight," Harry said as it seemed that Ron's explanation (with associated hand gestures) was winding down. "Catching the Snitch is worth one hundred and fifty points? "
"Yeah -"
"How many ten-point goals does one side usually score not counting the Snitch?"
"Um, maybe fifteen or twenty in professional games -"
"That's just wrong. That violates every possible rule of game design. Look, the rest of this game sounds like it might make sense, sort of, for a sport I mean, but you're basically saying that catching the Snitch overwhelms almost any ordinary point spread. The two Seekers are up there flying around looking for the Snitch and usually not interacting with anyone else, spotting the Snitch first is going to be mostly luck -"
"It's not luck!" protested Ron. "You've got to keep your eyes moving in the right pattern -"
"That's not interactive, there's no back-and-forth with the other player and how much fun is it to watch someone incredibly good at moving their eyes? And then whichever Seeker gets lucky swoops in and grabs the Snitch and makes everyone else's work moot. It's like someone took a real game and grafted on this pointless extra position so that you could be the Most Important Player without needing to really get involved or learn the rest of it. Who was the first Seeker, the King's idiot son who wanted to play Quidditch but couldn't understand the rules?" Actually, now that Harry thought about it, that seemed like a surprisingly good hypothesis. Put him on a broomstick and tell him to catch the shiny thing...
Ron's face pulled into a scowl. "If you don't like Quidditch, you don't have to make fun of it!"
"If you can't criticise, you can't optimise. I'm suggesting how to improve the game. And it's very simple. Get rid of the Snitch."
"They won't change the game just 'cause you say so!"
"I am the Boy-Who-Lived, you know. People will listen to me. And maybe if I can persuade them to change the game at Hogwarts, the innovation will spread."
A look of absolute horror was spreading over Ron's face. "But, but if you get rid of the Snitch, how will anyone know when the game ends?"
"Buy... a... clock. It would be a lot fairer than having the game sometimes end after ten minutes and sometimes not end for hours, and the schedule would be a lot more predictable for the spectators, too." Harry sighed. "Oh, stop giving me that look of absolute horror, I probably won't actually take the time to destroy this pathetic excuse for a national sport and remake it stronger and smarter in my own image. I've got way, way, way more important stuff to worry about." Harry looked thoughtful. "Then again, it wouldn't take much time to write up the Ninety-Five Theses of the Snitchless Reformation and nail it to a church door -"
And the best part: after Ron tells Harry to tell Draco to go away:
Harry counted to ten inside his head, which for him was a very quick 12345678910 - an odd habit left over from the age of five when his mother had first instructed him to do it, and Harry had reasoned that his way was faster and ought to be just as effective. "I'm not telling him to go away," Harry said calmly. "He's welcome to talk to me if he wants."
"Well, I don't intend to hang around with anyone who hangs around with Draco Malfoy," Ron announced coldly.
Harry shrugged. "That's up to you. I don't intend to let anyone say who I can and can't hang around with." Silently chanting, please go away, please go away...
Ron's face went blank with surprise, like he'd actually expected that line to work. Then Ron spun about, yanked his luggage's lead and stormed off down the platform.
"If you didn't like him," Draco said curiously, "why didn't you just walk away?"
"Um... his mother helped me figure out how to get to this platform from the King's Cross Station, so it was kind of hard to tell him to get lost. And it's not that I hate this Ron guy," Harry said, "I just, just..." Harry searched for words.
"Don't see any reason for him to exist?" offered Draco.
"Pretty much."
The whole world anxiously awaits the arrival of Chapter 102. I will provide no further spoilers. But if you thought that Ron Weasley sucked, you really need to read HPMOR. Start with Chapter 1.

19 comments:

  1. To be honest you need to read HPMOR even if you don't think Ron Weasley sucks, it's just that good.

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  2. Couldn't this just as easily be "why Harry Potter sucks?" After all, e.g., Harry didn't actually question the idiotic rules of Quidditch.

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  3. Go write your own book. Leave Harry, Ron, Hermione and Hogwarts alone. If you don't like the story, leave. You can't change it. Ron was 'normal', Hermione may have had a mothering complex --- so what? Read the books and enjoy them --- just as millions have done.

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  4. Don't come here to read the funny parody if you think it's immoral. Just go chase after the crowd of millions and do whatever they do. Look, a cliff!

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  5. Eliezer did write his own book. It's linked above.

    I'll guess that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies isn't a favorite of yours either?

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  6. I have to be honest, I think Ron is a good man endowed with less fundamental talent, and a resulting insecurity. There is nothing wrong with that - I thought one of the strengths of the book was the fact that Harry respected Ron for the fact he was a good person, rather than a talented and ambitious one.

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  7. To be fair, Ireland did win the Quidditch World Cup despite Bulgaria catching the snitch, so the game is more than two seekers. And the seekers are interacting with each other and the beaters.

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  8. And what happened after Harry was sorted into Slytherin house?

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  9. Ron isn't entirely without merit, sure. But that he'd immediately be the fast friend of the hero-type? HPMOR's continuum is just better. Later parts in HPMOR have a few heroic bits for Ron, but I don't want to give away spoilers.

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  10. I'm not going to provide spoilers. Go read!

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  11. Interesting stuff. I read the tale as fairly left-leaning, so having the hero compelled to work with a blue collar, hard working, character instead of those endowed with talent seemed consistent with that.

    Given the recent talk about assortative mating as a cause of changes in the distribution of income, the idea of Ron and Hermione together may not mesh well with our world - but with the narrative JK looked like she was going for it seemed appropriate. As she says though, it may be more of a fantasy than she initially realised.


    Poor old Ron!

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  12. Have you read HPMOR yet? You'll like it. The treatment of heredity and mudbloods is really good.

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  13. Slytherin wannabes the lot of you

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  14. I haven't read HPMOR yet, but I hope it points out the idiocy of Bulgaria's seeker trying to catch the snitch when his team was over 150 points down-- in ending the game at that point, it's like selling at the bottom of the market, like you're reacting to a probably temporary paper loss by making it a real loss. Bulgaria's Seeker should immediately have changed his strategy to trying to prevent the other team's Seeker from getting it.

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  15. I think HPMOR is great, but I'd just like to point out that Harry's parents were killed when he was one, so his mother couldn't teach him anything when he was five. (The alternate-reality thing about Petunia marrying someone else would presumably not change Voldemort's timetable for homicide.)

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  16. Presumably when he said "his mother" it meant adopted mother, not genetic mother. Given the overall context.

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  17. My take was that you needed someone who was a klutz to counterpoint that Harry wasn't. And every good hero needs a sidekick. I'm assuming that it was too obvious for Harry and Hermoine to end up together, therefore the switch to Ron.

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  18. If you are a rational utility maximiser and you get utility from winning but disutility from continuing to play a match well after exhaustion has set in, there has to be a critical value of the probability of your team reducing the points gap to less than 150 below which the rational strategy is simply to go for the glory of catching the snitch.

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