The Null Device
The Harry Potter books might not be a Christian or Libertarian allegory; they may just be gay (or even just queer):
The interplay between the world of magic and the world of Muggles in the Potter books is identical to how queer historians and sociologists describe the interplay between the closeted gay world and the mainstream world, particularly in the days before the gay-liberation movement. Homosexuals were everywhere, yet heterosexuals usually could not see them. Gay bars looked just like straight bars from the outside. Gay people invented elaborate codes, often in language, dress, and deportment, so they could recognize one another but not be seen as abnormal by the heterosexual Muggle world. In his book Gay New York, historian George Chauncey writes of the "invisible map" that exists in all cities that enables queers to find fellow travelers and assembling places: people and places usually invisible to the unknowing heterosexual. This is precisely the situation in the Potter books, where Hogwarts, Diagon Alley (where the magic shops are), 12 Grimmauld Place (the meeting place of Order of the Phoenix), Azkaban Fortress, and even magical buses and trains that run out of major terminals exist in the middle of large cosmopolitan cities and yet remain invisible to Muggles who simply cannot see them.
Even if the gay thing is a bit far-fetched (and I'd put it on a par with the Lockhart-is-Philip-Pullman rumour or the alleged Objectivist government-interference subtext), the article makes a very valid point: the reason the God-botherers don't like these books have less to do with sorcery and witchcraft and more to do with their message against social control and indoctrination:
Children, before they are completely socialized, have vibrant imaginations and often a very finely tuned sense of alternative possibilities. They are, in a very real sense, queer. They have to be taught how to become "civilized." Socialization involves mastering table manners and politeness, but it also concerns learning how to conform to the worlds most terrible ways. Children have to learn racism to hate or fear certain people because of how they look; they have to be taught that work is far more important than play and that pleasure is always suspect; they have to be taught that there is only one correct way to worship God and everyone else is going to hell; they have to learn that heterosexuality is the only acceptable form of sexual behavior, and that some forms of sexual pleasure are wrong. They are taught to be normal whatever that may mean within the terms of the prevailing culture. They are taught to be Muggles. Is it any wonder evangelical Christians find the Harry Potter books threatening?
(via Largehearted Boy)
I was wondering: is there a XML/RSS schema/namespace/&c for publishing lists of upcoming events (i.e., gigs, performances, film screenings and the like)? I think there should be something like that; that way, artists and/or venues could publish lists of upcoming events on their sites in the format, and others could use aggregators to automatically gather their favourite artists' gigs and what's on at their local haunts into customised gig guides.
I'd write one up myself, only my XML-fu is probably not yet up to it.