Knitting Harry Potter Scarves

I have knitted several of these. The one pictured is my personal Ravenclaw, in blue and bronze. The films use blue and silver for Ravenclaw, but every True Ravenclaw knows the colors are really blue and bronze. The finished scarf is about 10′ long. One day, I’ll take better pictures of it, under proper lighting.

The pattern is adapted, with significant alterations, from a pattern that appeared at a site called atypically.knit, which, alas, no longer exists.

CO 114 sts in MC on 16″ US4 circular needles. Use whatever CO method you prefer, I use a cable cast-on. Your CO edge will be covered by tassels when you’re done, so it doesn’t really matter.

Set your row marker.

*[Knit in the round for 36 rows in MC.

Switch to CC, knit 4 rows.

Switch back to MC, knit 6 rows.

Switch to CC, knit 4 rows.]

Repeat from * 13 more times (until you have 14 pairs of CC bands).

Knit 36 rows in MC. Bind off.

I have 14 tassels on each end (I chose that number for symmetry – it’s impossible to tell how many tassels are on the on-screen scarves). Just cut 10 or so equal lengths of yarn per tassel, pull them all through at roughly equal intervals and loop ‘em. I recommend blocking. Gives a nice smooth finish.

I use Brown Sheep Nature Spun sport weight 100% wool yarn. Here are colors:

Ravenclaw:
–MC: N04 Blue Knight (Blue)
–CC: N94 Bev’s Bear (Bronze)
(Use 107 Silver Sage for CC if you want one like in the movie)

Slytherin:
–MC: N25 Enchanted Forest (Green)
–CC: 107 Silver Sage (Silver)

Gryffindor:
–MC: 200 Bordeaux (Red)
–CC: 308 Sunburst Gold (Gold)

Hufflepuff:
–MC: 305 Impasse Yellow (Yellow)
–CC: 601 Pepper (Black)
(You can switch these – I can’t remember how they looked in the movie)

If you want to be hyperpedantic, stills from the Blu-Ray disc show that the scarves in the film are actually [35-8-4-8]*14-35, not [36-4-6-4]*14-36, but I think the latter looks better.

Edit: I neglected to mention yarn quantities.

You will need a cone of MC and four balls of CC. A cone equals 10 balls. My source for cones has dried up, but your local yarn shop may be able to order it.

Are TSA Screenings Custodial?

Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), requires that law enforcement officers read certain warnings to suspects before subjecting them to custodial interrogation. Failure to do so renders the defendant’s statements elicited thereby inadmissible in court. One of the key factors in determining whether Miranda applies to a particular situation is whether that situation is “custodial.” The standard for whether a situation is “custodial” is basically this: if the person is not free to leave, the situation is custodial.

In this article, A regional TSA spokesperson out of Miami is quoted as saying that “once a person submits to the screening process, they can not just decide to leave that process.”

I contend therefore that the TSA screening process is now admittedly custodial, and that Miranda may now apply to all questions asked of passengers by TSA agents at airport security. Of course, travelers should probably not rely on that and make potentially incriminating statements to TSA agents, whether they’ve been Mirandized or not. I doubt TSA will be Mirandizing people.

Practically, the above-quoted statement is definitely evidence that the TSA process is becoming more and more adversarial. It is not merely infringing of passenger’s rights–it threatens future violations as well. I know that if I am ever called upon to fly (and the circumstances would have to be dire to get me on a plane), I will not be answering TSA questions. Instead I will be unambiguously invoking my right to not make a statement and to have an attorney present during any further questioning.

The Autumnal Unpleasantness

This will in all likelihood be my only commentary on The Autumnal Unpleasantness. If you don’t know what that is, try and keep it that way.

First this tweet:

These tweeps are all great values to me (in no particular order): @earl3d @dianahsieh @tenure @treypeden @mwickens @shlevy @rationaljenn

And also, this DM I sent to Trey:

And that remains the sum of my evaluation of the matter. I know that the events have been of very significant importance to people about whom I care. But the fact remains that the whole affair, including the questions of who made the error, how, and why, does not affect me personally. I am not an academic, and I am not an activist. I am not a philosopher in the heavy sense of the word. I live according to my judgment, and judging this simply hasn’t been relevant.

If I read LL, which I probably will, I will judge its content then, not before, and I will base that judgment on the book’s content, not its pedigree. Moreover, I will only bother to read it if I think it will have some value to me; that is, if it will improve my ability to live. A good theory of induction would very likely do that, so I am interested. But the commentary (to use that word quite broadly), including that of LP, DH, YB, JM, CB, and even that of my friends the Drs. H, SL, TP, and RH, has failed to interest me. I recognize that the subject matter of The Unpleasantness has been of great importance to the lives of people I value, but it just hasn’t been for mine. Throughout I found myself more concerned for the well-being of the people I prefer to call my friends.

New Apartment

I move in December 3. The bedroom is above, and is open on the large living area.

Electricity is a Mystery

A few months ago, Gus posted a link to an image purporting to be a scan from a children’s science textbook:Gus was skeptical of the image’s authenticity. Obviously the image had been altered to show a gun in the girl’s hand rather than what the hairdryer that was probably in the original. But the text was partly believable as genuine fanaticism. To see if Poe’s Law was really at work here, I did a little research and discovered that the book was apparently genuine. I tracked down a copy and bought it to be sure:It was published by Bob Jones University Press as a 4th Grade science textbook for use in Christian schools. Here’s the page from the FailBlog image:

You won’t find the book on Bob Jones University Press’ Website anymore, because shortly after attention was drawn to it by the above page scan, they removed the second edition from their Website, replacing it with a redirect to the third edition, which has very different text. BJUP makes the third edition’s chapter on electricity available as a free preview on their site. Before the second edition was removed from the BJUP site, the preview chapter was the first one, on the history of the moon, which I present here:

The book does not discuss the scientific method at all. The only treatment of methodology is found on p.2, in the “History of the Moon” chapter above:

Science can be defined as “information gained by using our senses.” Faith means “holding beliefs without seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, or touching the proof of them.”

When the moon came into being, were there any people there to get facts through their senses? Then do all our ideas about where the moon came from rest on science or faith? What anyone believes about the beginning of things rests on faith, not science.

That’s it. No mention, even in a grade-school way, of deduction or induction. A flat rejection of reason. In the opening paragraphs of a science textbook.

The book has no hierarchy. It is arranged haphazardly. The table of contents looks like this:

  1. History of the Moon
  2. Insects, Arachnids, and Myriapods
  3. Electricity
  4. Plants
  5. Length, Area, and Volume
  6. Digestion
  7. The Moon’s Structure and Motions
  8. Animal Defenses
  9. Light
  10. Machines
  11. Trees
  12. How Earth’s Crust Wears Down

This appears to me to be deliberately disorganized so as to prevent students from making connections between the topics discussed. But I suppose it could also be a result of a profound misunderstanding of the empirical scientific method. It’s scattershot.

That such a book was ever used by anyone to attempt to teach science to children is simply appalling.

How I Got Here

Last time, I told you that I got myself a lovely job with Ardiwa, the American Retirement and Disability Insurance and Welfare Administration*. Here’s the story of how I got it.

Since being admitted to the bar in Key Midwestern Swing State, I practiced general law out of my mother’s house in Greater Northeast Key Midwestern Swing State City. I lived (and still live) with her because it was cheaper that way while I was looking for something steady to pay off my crippling law school debt. As it turned out, the market for legal jobs was grossly overestimated by my school’s career planning office when they were begging me to attend four years ago. The private sector legal job market also took a massive nose dive after Obama was elected, but the far-left legal academic establishment can’t be excused for failing to predict that. They should have warned me. Maybe I would have stayed away from law school altogether. Or maybe not. It has been, despite the lack of steady work, damn fun being a lawyer.

So I was living out of Mother’s house, doing sporadic business. Mostly what could be considered elder law: wills and trusts drafting and modification, health care powers of attorney, that sort of thing. A few other issues. Low-dollar contract disputes. Personal property damage. I wanted to get into bankruptcy and I was studying internet law with the hope of expanding in that direction. Not much administrative work, and I had never done any Ardiwa claims.

In April (yes, April), I found a listing for an opening for an attorney advisor at a new Ardiwa hearing office to be opened “eventually” in Lesser Northeast Key Midwestern Swing State City, where I went to law school. They were apparently going to hire a bunch of people and open a new hearing office down there in order to help relieve the workload on the hearing office in Greater Northeast Key Midwestern Swing State City. Apparently the worse the economy gets, the more disability claims get filed with Ardiwa. Funny how that works.

Anyway, they needed people, so I applied. I sent in my application packet on April 22, 2010. I mailed it off to some place in Chicago, actually, because that’s where some district human resources peopleguy has his office. A very good friend of mine from law school (The Vegan, capital T, capital V) also applied for the same position, as well as a number of other people I knew from law school. I heard nothing until May 12, which is, in retrospect, not really all that long. I got a call asking me to come in for an interview that Friday, May 14th. (My birthday is May 17th.) What a lovely gift! An interview! The last one I had saw me flying down to the very nibbly end of the nipple on the bottom of Texas. And I didn’t get that, obviously. The Vegan also got an interview. I never heard about any of the others.

I hate interviews. I hate them because the only feedback you get is in the form of either an offer or a rejection. Never any explanation of what went right or wrong, so no way to know what to keep doing and what to change in order to get better. And of course you cannot really write to the interviewer after the fact to ask how it went. They won’t reply, because if they do, and say something with any kind of content, they’ll get sued. Stupid lawyers and their stupid lawsuits.

Anyway, the interview was awkward. I felt good about it, then not so good, and eventually miserable. It was held at the Greater Northeast Key Midwestern Swing State City hearing office because the Lesser Northeast Key Midwestern Swing State City office hadn’t opened yet. It was with the hearing office’s chief judge, who didn’t say much the whole time, and the hearing office’s office manager, who said quite a lot. He spoke for a long time about the job and what it was like to work for the federal government. He explained that there was a union, but membership was voluntary. The interview was mostly unstructured. The questions he asked me were rather scattershot. It was hard to tell how it was going. They took my fingerprints. They thanked me for coming. They told me I’d hear something within a month. I wrote my follow-up letter when I got home, and that was that.

I heard nothing. Either way. For a long time.

On around June 17th, I found another listing for the same position at another hearing office–this time all the way down in Greater Southwest Key Midwestern Swing State City. I applied for that one, too. The packet got sent to the same person to whom I had sent the first one. That’s what the listing said to do, so I did it. A very nearly identical packet. In fact, I think I only changed date, location and announcement number on the cover letter.

Another month of silence. Actually, I have it written down that I applied for the same position at yet another hearing office–this one in Greater Northwest Key Midwestern Swing State City–on June 22. Again to the same HR peopleguy in Chicago. I don’t really remember that, but I have the letter here right in front of me, so I must have sent it.

On Monday, July 12th, The Vegan sent me a text message telling me he had gotten a call at approx. 2:00pm offering him a position at the hearing office in Lesser Northeast Key Midwestern Swing State City. The next few hours were really, really awful for me.

The next few days were even worse.

By Friday, I was a mess. And that’s when the letter came. I think. I don’t save those things.

It took them two months to tell me they didn’t want me. Sigh.

Then things got weird. Here are the cogent facts so far: I applied to the same HR peopleguy three times with nearly identical application packets; I got rejected after an iffy interview; and everyone was taking their sweet bloody time about everything.

The following Monday, I get another letter from the same place as what sent me the “thanks, but no thanks” letter the Friday before. That was very bizarre. I open it up and there’s no letter inside. No explanation. Just a photocopy of another job posting, this time for (yet again) the same position in the hearing office in Greater Northeast Key Midwestern Swing State City.

CONFUSED!

Ok, so I took it as an invitation to apply at that office. Which I did when that posting opened for applications on August 1. I sent my packet to (yet again) the same HR peopleguy in Chicago. Same letter. Same resume. Same everything. That makes four. It went out with the mail on August 2.

That very evening I got a call asking me if I could please come to an interview in Greater Southwest Key Midwestern Swing State City that Thursday (August 5th). Of course. No, there is no need to do it by phone, I will happily drive the four hours there and four hours back for a simple 30-minute interview. No, of course it is no bother. No, I am quite sure.

I tried during this interview to do things differently from the first one. I was more assertive. I demonstrated my knowledge of the position. I asked challenging questions. This interview was structured. The office manager asked me questions off a prepared list. They were the typical ones (“Describe a time when you realized you did not have enough information to complete a task you were assigned.”) and I provided the proper responses. All went well. The office manager remarked that there was a union, but that membership was voluntary. The fingerprint cards were there, but they didn’t take my fingerprints. They thanked me for coming. I drove home. I wrote my follow-up letter when I got home, and that was that.

I think I got the “thanks, but no thanks” letter for that one only a week later. Like I said, I don’t keep those things.

I had forgotten about the application I sent for the job in Greater Northwest Key Midwestern Swing State City, so I wasn’t too broken up about never hearing anything back from them. This was the point in the timeline when I should have heard something, but didn’t. I’m still not sure what happened there.

Another month of silence.

Thursday, September 9. Would I care to come back (yes, they said “back”–they knew I had been there before) to the Greater Northeast Key Midwestern Swing State City hearing office on Tuesday for another (yes, another) interview with the same (yes, the same) chief judge (but not the talkative office manager from last time), this time for the position in that office?

I found out later that interviews had actually started on Wednesday. I have many theories as to why I got the call on Thursday. They are all pretty fantastic.

This time, the interview was very brief. Fifteen minutes. It was just with the chief judge. The same one from my earlier interview. He asked what I had been doing since my first interview, and whether I was still interested in working for Ardiwa. I answered. He remarked that there was a union, but that membership was voluntary. He said I’d hear something either way soon, because there was a big federal hiring freeze starting October 1, so they needed to get all the new hiring done before the end of the fiscal year. He thanked me for coming.

At this point, I was confused, frustrated, and a little angry. I mean, I didn’t express those emotions in the interview, of course, but they affected my actions. Specifically, as the interview was ending and I realized how short it had been, I decided to ask a really dangerous question. I asked why I had been called back after not being offered the earlier job. The answer I received was cryptic:

I called you back. That should tell you everything you need to know.”

They took my fingerprints. I left. I wrote my follow-up letter when I got home, and that was that.

One week–one week!–later, I got an offer.

*A fake name, so search engines don’t find this post when searching for Ardiwa’s real name.

On the Thing Into Which I Have Gotten Myself

Right then. So. I got a job. And I’d bet someone is wondering what kind of job it is. So I will tell you.

First, keep in mind a few things. I have a law degree, which was very expensive. I owe approximately $100k on it still. I have a law license in Key Midwestern Swing State, which I have had and tried to use since November of 2009. The current national government has seen fit to completely destabilize the private job market by making the future so unpredictable that private employers won’t risk making new hires in any positions, let alone attorney positions which, whether in a firm or in-house, are very expensive and tend to be long-lived. Instead, the current national government has decided to “create” jobs by using confiscated money to fund new Federal employee hires in the administrative state. The Federal government has become the only significant consumer of new attorney legal services.

By now, you have figured out that I have taken a job with the Federal government, and that it isn’t with one of the less obnoxious governmental bodies. Perhaps you will label the preceding paragraph as rationalization. After literally hundreds of resumes and half a dozen unsuccessful interviews, and a disturbing lack of an ability to generate my own business, the extreme dissatisfaction with my situation has led me to accept a position that, under ideal economic and political conditions, I would never even have to consider taking. Because it wouldn’t exist.

My position is with a federal administrative organization which I will refer to here as the American Retirement and Disability Insurance and Welfare Administration, or Ardiwa. Those of you who know my Secret Identity from the Book Face will undoubtedly already know Ardiwa’s true name. My purpose in using a pseudonym here is, as always, to prevent searches from returning hits based on entries of the real name.

This is not to say that I will be blogging about things I shouldn’t be. It is merely that I prefer to keep my political opinions out of the office, where the audience is significantly different from the audience for whom I prefer to write on this blog.

My job with Ardiwa is to draft legally sufficient decisions, based on findings by administrative law judges, concerning whether claimants are entitled to receive disability benefits under Ardiwa’s disability insurance or welfare programs. I do not make the decisions. I merely defend the decisions made by the ALJs using the law available to me. It is the kind of work I enjoy (writing legal opinions) and it is steady and predictable. I will do well at it, and in that way, hopefully, put the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act loot used to fund my position to as good a use as the system will presently allow.

I have a lot more to say about the job itself, federal employment in general, how I got the job, and a number of other topics on which I have made notes, but have not yet had time to write. Please watch this space, as I anticipate having a great deal more to say about this subject in the future.