Comment Carnival | The Island of Isolated Egos

The following post is about Internet drama involving two parties. The first is Notch (AKA Markus Persson), creator of the popular game Minecraft (over 4 million copies sold) and founder of the indie game company Mojang. The second is a group of Brits (foremost Simon, Lewis and Hannah) that have a podcast on YouTube called Yogscast. A huge part of their videos are centered around Minecraft, including "Let's Plays" of adventure maps, release updates, mod spotlights, and a long-running adventure series. They've made themselves pretty famous off of these videos, and have introduced plenty of people to Minecraft.

For the official release of Minecraft, Mojang decided to hold a convention in Las Vegas. Minecon sold out their 4500 tickets for the two day convention. One of the events was a panel and signing held by the Yogscast crew. The overall conclusion was that Minecon was fun, though chaotic and disorganized - common for a first-time convention. Right after the con ended, as the Yogscrew was about to board their intercontinental flights back home, Notch let loose a series of Tweets that sparked a massive battle in their respective fanbases:

The Five Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration

I've been re-reading the Harry Potter series recently. I think it's a fantastic fantasy series, mostly because Rowling does such a wonderful job of tying everything up so neatly. By the time I'm done, I'm not left with many nagging questions, and I can actually enjoy the world she has created without being assailed by my pedantic side too much.

One of the few questions that remains is about the so-called "Five Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration." As stated in the novels, there are five things that cannot be conjured or, I think, made via transfiguration. In the novels, only one is explicitly named, leaving four more for me to guess at. What could they possibly be? I've been over and over it and come up with a few possibilities for the Five Exceptions:


Naturally, as this is the one that is discussed in the Deathly Hallows:

"My mother," said Ron one night, as they sat in the tent on a riverbank in Wales, "can make good food appear out of thin air." [...]

"Your mother can't produce food out of thin air," said Hermionie. "No one can. Food is the first of the Five Principal Exceptions to Gump's Law of Elemental Transfigur-"

"Oh, speak English, can't you?" Ron said [...]

"It's impossible to make good food out of nothing! You can Summon it if you know where it is, you can transform it, you can increase the quantity if you've already got some -"

The food problem is also mentioned later in the same book, when Neville is talking about the Room of Requirements. The Room can supply everything they need, except food. This exception makes a few other things clear, like why house elves are usually in the kitchen and Sirius Black resorted to eating rats when he was hiding in a cave near Hogsmeade. (Although it doesn't make it clear why everyone just doesn't carry around a few crumbs of bread or something, if you can magically "increase the quantity" of food, and the implications of the "you can transform it" line is unclear.)

This critical passage gives us some clues for what the others may be. We now know what sort of "traces" the remaining four Exceptions will leave in the wizarding world. We need to look for things that seem rare or unique, or that have seemingly unnecessary economies. From these criteria, there are a few that are evident from simple logic.

Metals or elements

This one is the easiest. There are two possibilities for a wizard currency: the currency itself is heavily protected with charms such that any forgeries are detectable, or the currency is made out of a substance that cannot be created magically. In Rowling's universe, the currency is made of metals:

Griphook unlocked the door [...] Harry gasped. Inside were mounds of gold coins. Columns of silver. Heaps of little bronze Knuts.

"All yours," smiled Hagrid. [...]

"The gold ones are Galleons," he explained. "Seventeen silver Sickles to a Galleon and twenty-nine Knuts to a Sickle..."

Each of these elements (gold, silver, copper, and others) has to be impossible to create permanently, or else there is a constant danger of forgeries that threatens the wizarding world's economic system. The latter is quite clearly not the case: at no point in the novels is it ever suggested that anyone be suspicious of any money they are given. (The same seems to apply to gemstones, too!)

The exception here is leprechaun gold, which evidently has the same properties of regular gold currency except that it disappears after a period of time. We are introduced to leprechaun gold in The Goblet of Fire, where Ron pays Harry in leprechaun gold, gathered from the Irish Quidditch mascots. Evidently it's not common knowledge that leprechaun gold is fake (probably because leprechauns aren't native to Great Britain!) Ludo Bagman, on the other hand, knowingly pays of his gambling debts with leprechaun gold. In the Deathly Hallows, a bank goblin is overheard muttering to himself, "Leprechaun gold" while examining a Galleon - Goblins, a race that is skilled with metals, seem to have little trouble telling them apart.

Kitties and Crossdressing

A very belated Happy Halloween to you!

This Halloween kind of snuck up on us, and we didn't get nearly as into it this year as we normally do. Only a few decorations got put up, and only a few days before Halloween. T didn't really have a costume this year (again)... He carried around a styrofoam ball and went as hydrogen. (We played with the idea of leaving the styrofoam ball at home and saying he was a to-scale hudrogen atom, but figured that would be too obscure.)

None of my other friends had a costume, because apparently I'm the only cool person. (Okay, that's not fair. We went to a pub with a cute Pikachu and a Phantom of the Opera-esque guy.)

It also doesn't help that Halloween fell on a Monday, so I think everyone got their partying/dressing up out of the way over the weekend. (The weekend that saw our first snow of the season! Figures it would be a wet, ugly one) When I went to school on Monday dressed as a tuxedo cat, I was the only person I saw on campus who was in any sort of costume. I only saw one family Trick or Treating, and only two houses that were decorated.

I am disapoint.

We finally finished watching all of Stargate Atlantis, and I was hunting around for costume ideas, when I thought Ronon Dex would make a fun costume.

Sadly, due to lack of tools and money, I didn't get to do it the way I'd have liked to - for one, I would be missing his gun and knife... really iconic parts of his character. But, the rest of it seemed like it would be fun to make from scratch, so I went for it. It didn't turn out perfect - I would have needed to do lots of leather working for it to look genuine - but I'm happy with my results. I learned a lot along the way, and if I ever go to a convention I'll definitely improve and add on to this costume. I had fun trying to stay "in character." Seeing as how I'm terrible at being straight-faced and surly, I just spent the whole night trying to sit like a man by not crossing my legs.
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"Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect."