Saturday, 18 February 2017

The letter and (sad) spirit of the law

Someway today i was bitten by the writing bug, that was while driving home from saturday shopping... so i've spent the afternoon reading a little about how U.K, law are formatted and writing this..

Part one: the letter of the law.

Muggle Children Future Protection Act 1904

An Act to make provision for the welfare and future of muggleborn minors and the recognition of the parental authority of their muggle relatives and guardians; to make provision for a complete knowledge of the new society their charges enter and let them make an informed decision about their future; to make provision for the consequences of said decision.

Be it enacted by the King most excellent Majesty and with the advice of the Lords Magical and Spirituals and the Wizengamot, in this present assembled and by the authority of the same, as follows.

  1. Muggle parental authority recognition and rationale of the law
    1. The Wizard Society recognizes the parental authority of muggle parents or guardians as legally appointed (from now known as Parental Figures) over muggleborn minors. Until the minor is of age the Parental Figures have the final word in their charges life choices.
    2. The age considered to establish the minor status is the one established by Wizard laws for Wizard and Witches.
    3. To exercise their right Parental Figures need to know not only how the Wizard Society works but, even more, how their charges are adapting and integrating. This body recognize that many muggleborn minors often omit and hide a great part of their experiences from their Parental Figures.

  2. Wizard Inspection of Full Experience
    1. A procedure to give a precise and complete knowledge of the current wizard life of muggleborn minors to his or her Parental Figures and let them decide on the Minor stay in Wizard Society is created as stated by the following provisions:
    2. The procedure will be known as “Wizard Inspection of Full Experience”, in short W.I.F.E.
    3. The W.I.F.E. execution shall make use of extreme security procedures and provisions as it will determine the entire future and well being of a minor.
    4. The parties involved in the execution of W.I.F.E. are:
      1. The muggle Parental Figure (or Figures) requiring said W.I.F.E. execution ;
      2. The muggleborn Minor for which the W.I.F.E. execution is required
      3. A Representative for the Ministry of Magic.
      4. A Potion Master qualified for the administration of Veritaserum as mandated by the Veritaserum Act of 1502
    5. Any muggle Parental Figure may require, at any time, the execution of the W.I.F.E. procedure for any muggleborn Minor he or she is in charge of. Said request shall be addressed to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, to the attention of the Underage Affairs Office.
    6. Acknowledging that said Parental Figures may not be proficient with wizard communication means and could find difficulties in reaching the Ministry by wizard means, that request for the execution of W.I.F.E. will be accepted by said office in the widest way as for the medium and wording of the request, being those of wizard or muggle origin.
    7. Any other Ministry department receiving a communication that could be considered a W.I.F.E. procedure request shall reroute said request to the Underage Affairs Office and shall not refuse or discard said it.
    8. The Underage Affairs Office worker in charge of the W.I.F.E. execution shall name a Ministry Representative.
    9. The Representative shall act as go-between between the muggle Parental Figures and the muggleborn Minor to better the understanding by said Parental Figures of the new society the Minor is becoming part of during the execution of the W.I.F.E. procedure.
    10. The Underage Affairs Office worker may name any able adult wizard or witch subject to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland law as Ministry Representative. As in most cases the Minor will be a student at some magical school it is suggested that the Representative should be the Parental Figure of a classmate of said Minor.
    11. The Underage Affair Office worker shall name the Potion Master in charge of the Veritaserum use.
    12. If not already Ministry Officials, the Representative and the Potion Master shall sign a Non Disclosure Agreement to not divulge anything learned during the proceeding of the W.I.F.E execution and to respect any decision the Parental Figures will make.
    13. The Underage Affairs Office shall schedule for the W.I.F.E. execution within 30 (thirty) working days of the reception of the request and shall promptly notify the parties involved.
    14. The notification to the muggle Parental Figures shall be made by muggle means.
    15. The notification to the muggleborn Minor shall be charmed with a compulsion charm keyed to the age of the Minor to ensure the collaboration of said Minor to the execution of the W.I.F.E. procedure.

  3. Execution of the W.I.F.E procedure.
    1. The execution of the W.I.F.E. procedure shall be performed in a warded room in the Ministry of Magic in any of its current venues. The ward should bar any magic but potions and any form of physical harm in said room.
    2. Before entering the designated room the Minor shall surrender his or her wand to the Representative for the duration of the W.I.F.E. procedure.
    3. The Representative shall explain to the Minor and to the Parental Figures the nature of the W.I.F.E. procedure and how full disclosure to the Parental Figures will only be in the Minor future and well being interest.
    4. The Potion Master shall examine the Minor to establish and administer the lowest dose of Veritaserum needed by the Minor as for the Veritaserum Act of 1502. During the following questioning the Potion Master shall keep checking the Minor health for any adverse effect by the serum.
    5. The Potion Master shall ask the Minor if he or she is in posses of any potion and shall establish if said potions may pose a threat to the execution of the W.I.F.E procedure. Should dangerous potion be unveiled the Potion Master shall destroy them immediately.
    6. The muggle Parental Figures and only the muggle Parental Figures may proceed to ask questions to the muggleborn Minor. The Representative may suggests questions to the muggle Parental Figures.
    7. Only when the Parental Figures declare to have concluded their questioning the Representative shall ask one question to the Minor, this question being: “Are there any experiences in your stay in Wizard Society that you haven't mentioned to them, today or in any other occasion, that could influence in any way the decision of your Parental Figures ?”. This question may be reworded in any way the Representative believe would be better understood by the Minor. After the Minor answers the Parental Figures may ask more questions.
    8. Due to the potential length of the questioning, but at the undisputed judgment of the Potion Master, supplemental doses of Veritaserum may be administered to the Minor.
    9. Once the questioning is terminated the Potion Master shall administer the Veritaserum Antidote and examine the Minor for any adverse effect.
    10. Once the questioning is terminated the Parental Figures shall be left alone with the Minor in the warded room where they shall come to a decision regarding the future of the Minor stay in Wizard society.
    11. The decision have to be made inside that room to protect the Parental Figures by inconsiderate actions by the Minor were said Minor should not recognize the wisdom of the Parental Figures decision.
    12. Once made their decision the Parental Figures shall inform the Representative of their decision.

  4. Conclusion of the W.I.F.E. procedure
    1. If the Parental Figures decision is for the Minor to continue his or her life inside the Wizard Society the Minor will be so permitted.
    2. If the Parental Figures decision is for the Minor to continue his or her life inside the Wizard Society the Representative shall return the wand to the Minor.
    3. If the Parental Figures decision is for the Minor to continue its life inside the Wizard Society the costs of the Veritaserum and its antidote shall be on their account. If the Potion Master is not a Ministry employee his or her honorary shall be on their account.
    4. If the Parental Figures decision is for the Minor to continue its life inside the Wizard Society they have the option to ask for the Minor to be obliviated of all the W.I.F.E. execution procedure.
    5. If the Parental Figures decision is for the Minor to leave the Wizard society they shall choose how the leaving will be performed as for the Renounce to Magic Law of 1203. The Representative shall help the Parental Figures to choose in the interest of the Minor future. Accounting for the age of minors the suggested solution shall be complete obliviation as for provision 5.3 of the Renounce to Magic Law of 1203.
    6. If the Parental Figures decision is for the Minor to leave the Wizard society they may choose to be obliviated of any experience and contact they ever had with the Wizard society as an alternative they may ask to be Imperiused to never reveal the existence of Wizard Society.
    7. If the Parental Figures decision is for the Minor to leave the Wizard society any procedure costs will be on Ministry account.
    8. The Representative shall report in writing the proceedings of the W.I.F.E. execution to the Underage Affairs Office worker in charge of the procedure within 2 (two) working days.
    9. In observance of the “Ministry Worker Regulation Act” of 1644 Representatives are reminded that in the report shall be registered every action any person subject to United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland wizard law that can considered a crime for further investigation.
    10. If the decision was for removing the Minor from Wizardry Society minor infractions to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland wizard laws by the Minor shall be condoned in sight of his or her future life long absence from Wizardry Society.
    11. If the decision was for removing the Minor from Wizardry Society the Representative shall surrender the Minor's wand to the Underage Affairs Office worker in charge of the procedure for its destruction within 2 (two) working days.

Part two: the (sad) spirit of the law.

Coming home from work in late June Emma and Dan Granger found a quite heavy envelope in their mailbox, Its sender was stated as the "Underage Affair Office".
It was quite an inconspicuous designation but they knew its origin, it came straight out from the Ministry, the Ministry of Magic and it could be the solution of all of their recent concerns about their only daughter.

Already in her first year at Hogwarts, in this incredible and almost unreal Wizardry society they suspected she was lying to them. Just after two months of school, starting around Halloween of that first year, her letters became colder, more guarded and almost standardized. They were sure something big happened but the extraordinary answer they got "I've made two friends, they are great!" would not have been the reason for such changes, or at least not if she just got a couple, ok, her first couple of friends, instead of doing something big, big and wrong with them.
Each month, letter and year was worse and now after her third year at Hogwarts they were absolutely sure that she was hiding something, not just something but a lot and this was driving them crazy and desperate for answers, for the truth!

A couple weeks ago they found themselves reminiscing about a little leaflet, almost hidden in that life changing letter she received three years ago, the letter that changed their life. They went to their home office and found it in Hermione's school related folder: it was a brief explanation, strangely almost in faded black ink while the rest of the letter was bright and colorful explaining about a way to insure that muggle Parental Figures (that would be them) could really know how the life of their charges in Wizardry Society was. They needed to know, they could accept magic, they could accept they daughter not becoming a dentist but they could not accept their daughter becoming a liar!

So they wrote the request for the W.I.F.E. procedures and mailed it to the 64423 PO box, London.
It seemed that the Ministry of Magic worked fast, as the letter was a summon to the Ministry itself, Underage Affair Office, level 5, room 5017 where the W.I.F.E. would be held in a couple days.

"Ok Dan, could you give Hermione her summon, please and tell her the Representative is Lucius Malfoy"

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

The Paradox

I'm seated alone in a big light grey couch, in front of an unlit fireplace and a led tv above it, in a luxurious cabin in the wood between mountains, with the front wall made almost only by glass.  Depressed by the recent news about the attacks in Paris, reflecting on the nature of humankind i stay there, motionless for some time in the little light dawn is spreading around. With a sight I turn on the tv without really watching it, but in a few minutes a new special edition of the news starts and with some trepidation i give it some attention.
But it is not about Paris, it is not about more death, alien spaceships are quickly approaching earth.

I'm now on a hill, near the city the alien spaceships decided to approach and with the few others that have the ability to fly on our own we start to fly toward the the city.
From the long sharp ships a couple little (in comparison to the ships) vehicles depart.
They are something halfway between advertising balloons and airships and are en route to the city center, where a lot of skyscraper and narrow streets, just a few meters larger than those vehicles are, dominate the city-scape.
I arrive flying in the city just as one of those airships gets trapped in one of the streets. The vehicle is so soft that not even a window of the building it touch is broken, but still the airship comes to a stop.

A couple aliens, very human-like but still different enough to feel alien, exit the airship and enter the otherwise unoccupied and a little run down building through one of the window.
I've entered the building, probably from an open window on the upper levels as I'm now going downstairs to reach the aliens. Suddenly i stop and sit on the stairs and start crying big fat tears, silently sobbing and gulping down each breath.
After a while one of the aliens, a male if you stick to human standards, reach me from the lower floors. He stops and looks at me, before having to answer some communication device and i someway know he is speaking to his father (that is also his commander) that is bothering him for some reason or another. I see/feel/know how annoyed he is by his strict father. Someway he dismiss him and look back at me, wondering and silently asking why I'm crying.
Between sobs i answer that I'm so happy, happy and relieved that i could meet them, that i was always sure that aliens existed but that i thought i would never be able to meet them, I try to explain him the Fermi Paradox. And i keep crying, even if we are now smiling at each other.

A. N.
This is mostly a dream i had just one or two days after the attacks in Paris in November 2015 that i had to write down and now found on my pc.
If you want to know how the alien looked like they were a gentler, less animalesque version of the Thundercats, basically humans with something feline in them.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

The Tablecloth Game

It is late summer and the night starts to fall a little earlier each day so there is already some darkness, enough for mystery but not enough for real fear. At the outdoor table a family of four seat: Mum, Dad, the Kid and his Sister.

The end of dinner is approaching and with it the Kid is becoming restless, both for what he hope would happen and for trying to hide its excitement. In a few minutes they could play the Tablecloth Game, their game, only him and his Dad, neither his Sister nor even Mum could play it as only the two of them knew the rules. The first and most important is surprise: it all started as a Dad prank and it have to simulate one now.
At last dinner ends. Mum starts to bring dishes and cutlery away from the outdoor table and Sister is quietly looking around as if searching for someone or something hidden that is calling her, only her. Perfect setup for the Tablecloth Game. Dad takes the pink tablecloth and shake it outside the balcony to toss away the crumbs and, come on, oh come on, yes! Dad does not fold it but with a mischievous smile approaches the Kid that is faking indifference with all of his strength.

So it starts, Dad quickly covers the Kid with the tablecloth and kidnaps him in its arms, spins a few times around and goes downstairs into the garden. He spins around a few more times and walks away trying to distracts the now ghost masquerading Kid with a little tickling. The walk last less than a minute, but under the tablecloth it is much longer and borderline scary.
Then Dad stops and gently puts down the Kid on his feet and ask "Where are we ?"
This is their Game, a little scary blind trip into the garden and then the wonder and little scare of not knowing where he is.

But today the Kid knows the answer, today he knows. Under the tablecloth, today he noticed something, or, to be precise, the lack of something.  There was no rose smell, so they should have turned right after coming down the stairs.  Then, then there was the metallic sound when he was put down and Dad's arms are circling his legs and not his shoulder. He knows.
Many would say that it is not a nice place, someone (Mum will never know, obviously) may even say that it was highly unhygienic, but at the moment it is better than  a throne, a throne on top of the world, just because today HE KNOWS.
Raising the tablecloth over his head, and, if he is lucky it would cover his Dad head he cried "I'm over the garbage can! We are at the garbage can!"
And indeed they were.

Dad, freeing himself from the tablecloth strengthen his hold on the Kid legs and bring him to the floor. The Kid just run away, going back to the stairs and back into the balcony (disrupting his Sister meticulous scan of the neighborhood) and through the door to find Mum to let her know about his success. It would be a long time before he would be able to calm down and go to sleep... something Mum probably would be speaking about to Dad later, with a little glare and a not so little smile.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Interesting in translation vol. 4: Smarter than me

Something i came up a few days ago, originally in italian. Let see if it works in english too... you tell me.

Smarter than me

It was said it would be updated
but it wasn't. On the contrary, I lose it.
We are speaking about Facebook,
something worth a withdrawal crisis!
But maybe it's just that:
my cellphone is,
really, a smartphone.

The original italian:

Lui e' piu' furbo di me

Dice che lo aggiorna,
ma poi non lo fa, anzi resto senza.
Parliamo di Facebook,
roba da crisi d'astinenza!
O forse semplicemente
il mio cellulare lo e',
smartphone veramente.

And now some observation:
The biggest issue was the gender. A phone, being an inanimate object require neutral gender pronouns in english, immediately giving away that we are speaking about an object while in italian, not having a formal neutral gender, the inanimate nature of the subject can't be noticed until the final reveal).
In italian there are a couple rhymes too (senza/astinenza and semplicemente/veramente), something i will not touch in english as my pronunciation is something horrible, practically it is only a written language to me... and it seems there are no good rules to sort out how a written world should be spoken in english ;-)

Sunday, 20 March 2016

The new ward

After a few silent months of absence silly inspiration struck and so here we have "The New Ward".  Obviously whatever you recognize is owned by JKR ;-)

She wouldn't tolerate this anymore. She already spent hundreds of pounds in repairs in less than a couple years and could not, well, would not face such expenses again, especially as she wasn't the one responsible for the damage. Yes, yes, in the end she was always refunded but it was a matter of pride and principle now.

And this is the reason she is spending another Sunday in her office in the Department of Mysteries, hidden between old books and sheets of parchment full of notes and diagrams.  Harry and Ron already got preoccupied and tried to get her to spend her Sundays in a better way, "Just sleeping them out would be better" was Ron tactful input to that discussion. She assured them that she needed to do it, that she can't let her Dad gift get ruined as she promised she would not repair it by magic and tinkering too much with it the muggle way would ruin it in the end.

But today would probably be the last Sunday she will spend in this project as the results of her test run of last night were finally a success.
She used a mild disillusion charm on herself and tried her new ward while walking up and down some of the darkest and most drunkard laden streets of London (just don't let Harry and Ron knew about this or she would not hear the end of it) and no one ever got in contact with her, even when she started running straight toward the most drunk of them, they just got more alert, looked straight at her and then moved out of her way.

Yes, the new ward was ready, it was a portable ward combining a couple common charms, a little tweaked Notice Me Not (that now could be really called Notice Me Now) and a wide spectrum sobering charm good against most of the attention lowering causes like sleep, alcohol and drugs. The nature of magic itself would take care of the other main attention thief, no cellphone would work when hit by the ward, at least until it would stay in the affected area.

It was good enough she decided, now she could go home and finally apply it on its intended target. No, no one will ever bump on her car anymore. She may even end up publishing something abut her new Wake Up And Look At Me ward.