Scrimgeour’s characterization never made much sense to me. I always figured that a battle-hardened ex-Auror wouldn’t be the type to care about fake appearances and goofy politics.
Looking at modern militaries, though, maybe Scrimgeour’s characterization is right on. As I understand it, the farther up you go in the US military, the less you advance by being good at militarying and the more you advance by being good at politics – which I guess is why you often see high ranking generals and admirals in Presidential Cabinet positions. So kudos to JKR for realism but I still don’t have to like it!
I have always liked “pensieve” as one of JKR’s cleverer plays on words. Depending on how you pronounce it, it sounds like “pensive,” which means “thoughtful” – a very appropriate descriptor for anyone using such a magical device to organize their thoughts. The word “pensieve” itself is a compound of the root of “thought” in multiple romance languages (pensée en français, pensiero in intaliano – and possibly others?) and “sieve,” a sifter or strainer. So “pensieve” literally means “thought sifter.” The verb I most closely associate with a sieve is “to sift.” As such, although it isn’t terribly original, I propose to use “to pensift” to describe the action of using a pensieve.
Regarding the wonkiness of Slughorn’s altered memory, I always read it as a physical manifestation of the damage that had been done to it by Slughorn. Previously, “healthy” memories have been described as silky and flowy / liquidy. It makes sense then that a damaged memory might exhibit a damaged “molecular” structure as well, inhibiting its flowiness. Becca in my book club has a different idea that the memory – like the person who gave it – doesn’t want to be shared so actively resists.
Chapters 18 & 19:
The bezoar isn’t the only payoff from Harry’s first potion lesson. In Philosopher’s Stone, Harry loses a house point for his cheek. In Half Blood Prince, he earns 10 points for sheer cheek. It’s like he made a cheek investment with a 10x return over five years – not bad!