Civics lesson

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Driver’s ed

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Why do we park on driveways and drive on parkways?


It’s worth noting this is the third time I’ve made a joke about parking and orthogonality.  I wouldn’t have thought those two things would go so well together…

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Nine, ten, never sleep again….

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Twenty-four more days 'till new Doctor Who

Is it weird that that was my first thought upon seeing this whilst walking my dog?

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I'm probably going to Hell for this, or possibly the Phantom Zone

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Hipster Captain America

The Ant-Man movie officially ends “Phase 2” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so it seemed fitting to have Hipster Captain America review the Phase 2 Movies.

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The Avengers eat a snickers

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Color me tickled

Scene: the Bugs are coloring their children’s menus.

Butterfly: Hey sister, what do you get when you mix yellow and blue?

Ladybug: Green.

BF: No, blellow!  HAHAHAHAHA!

LB: Ha. Ha.

Me: Or yoo, I suppose.

LB: Sure.  Okay, what do you get when you mix pink and blue?

BF: Um…

LB: Blink.

BF: Yeah…Or poo!

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Severus Snape and the Order of the Potions

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, just after the bit where the Scooby Gang Hogwarts Three (Harry, Ron, and Hermione) discover that evil forces are after the titular stone and before the bit where Harry vanquishes the face of Voldemort with the power of love (to the rejoicing of Huey Lewis fans everywhere), there is the bit where the kids must best a sequence of chambers guarded by homicidal three-headed dogs, homicidal shrubberies, homicidal flying keys, homicidal chess pieces, and a logic puzzle involving bottles.

If you don’t remember this last challenge, that’s probably because it didn’t make it to the movie, partly because watching someone solve a logic puzzle is only slightly less boring than reading about someone solving a logic puzzle, but mostly because the problem, as described in the book, is incomplete.

“Dude, Wizard Sudoku sucks.”

In the book, after the giant chess match, Harry and Hermione enter a room that immediately seals up both entrances with magical fire, purple flames on the door leading back out they way they came, and black flames on the door leading forward to the hiding place of the Sorcerer’s Stone.  The room is empty except for a table with a line of seven potion bottles and a note that reads as follows (the line numbers are included by me):

(1) Danger lies before you, while safety lies behind,
(2) Two of us will help you, whichever you would find,
(3) One among us seven will let you move ahead,
(4) Another will transport the drinker back instead,
(5) Two among our number hold only nettle wine,
(6) Three of us are killers, waiting hidden in line.
(7) Choose, unless you wish to stay here forevermore,
(8) To help you in your choice, we give you these clues four:
(9) First, however slyly the poison tries to hide
(10) You will always find some on nettle wine’s left side;
(11) Second, different are those who stand at either end,
(12) But if you would move onward, neither is your friend;
(13) Third, as you see clearly, all are different size,
(14) Neither dwarf nor giant holds death in their insides;
(15) Fourth, the second left and the second on the right
(16) Are twins once you taste them, though different at first sight.

So one potion of the seven provides a means to exit through the black fire; one provides a means to exit through the purple fire; two do nothing; and three will kill you.  However, as it turns out, the only way to know if the potion you’ve picked will work is to actually walk through the magic fire in question, so you risk char-broiling yourself if you pick the wrong potion (assuming, of course, you don’t straight-up die from the poison).

Hermione quickly realizes it’s a logic puzzle devised by the school’s resident potions master and all-around dick Severus Snape, and sets out to to use the clues to figure out which bottle will send her back through the purple fire (to alert the school officials) and which will send Harry forward through the black flames (to battle with He-Who-Had-Not-Yet-Become-Ralph-Fiennes).

“At least in this move I got to have a nose!”

I did the same thing, only to be befuddled by the fact that at no point does the novel tell the reader anything about the sizes of the bottles, which seems like a rather crucial piece of information what with it being the whole point of third clue in the poem.

Interestingly enough, though, on the assumption that Snape’s clues do, in fact, specify a unique solution to his potion puzzle, it is nevertheless possible to solve it — that is, to determine the precise locations of the Go-Back and Go-Forward potions!

Why don’t you give it try, and then I’ll show you the solution after the jump.

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