Sunday, September 28, 2008

An Allegory

Crowned in 1894, Russian Emperor Nicholas II went down in history as one of the worst rulers Russia ever had. A champion of liberalism, Nicholas called the first parliament Russia ever had, the State Duma, in 1905. He appointed Sergei Witte Prime Minister, a first for Russia, which had hitherto been ruled autocratically by its Tsars and Emperors. He issued the October Manifesto, promising civil liberties, universal male suffrage and freedom of religion among other things. The following year, he further abandoned the autocracy that had served his country so well by introducing the first ever Constitution of Russia.

Nicholas' reckless liberalisation of Russia's polity reversed the sensible autocratic reforms of the Emperor Nicholas I, who ushered in the "Autocracy, Orthodoxy and Nationalism" policy after the Decembrist Revolt of 1825. The unprecedented openness allowed the unfettered forces of political expression to expand and gain new adherents. Radical new parties, such as the Social Democratic Labour Party (famous for its extremist, or Bolshevik, wing) were formed. The extreme liberal ideology championed by the Emperor encouraged anarchists, who assassinated among others Sergei Witte and numerous members of the aristocracy.

The Emperor used a shock-doctrine to force his policies on an unwilling policies. The October Manifesto and 1906 Constitution, for example were enacted after the disaster of the 1905 Russo-Japanese War. At the outbreak of the Great War of 1914 (known to us as the First World War), Nicholas doubtless planned to use the emergency situation to force more liberal programmes on an unwilling public. However, his extreme liberalism finally bore fruit in February 1917, when a political crisis of unexpected proportions forced his government out. In the November of that year, a further crisis engulfed Russia as the Bolsheviks launched a further revolution. The following year, Nicholas himself succumbed to the revolutionary forces he had unleashed.

What was worse, the trend of liberalisation of thought to which Nicholas had contributed meant that the contagion of revolution spread across the world. Within three decades, all of Eastern Europe and large part of Asia were part of the new world order that replaced the stable polities of the 19th Century. If Nicholas had only stuck to the tried policies of his predecessors (Nicholas I and Alexander III in particular) and avoided a programme of political deregulation, the Russian Empire might have survived to this day.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

In which my girlfriend totally pwned me

So last night, I was watching Reason's coverage of the Presidential Debates (with commentary by Bob Barr, which was awesome). They were showing it live, and the webcast had a chat thread going on by the side. Now I'm a regular reader of Reason's Hit and Run blog, and if there is one thing about that website that is better than the quality of the writing, it is the quality of the comments. So there I was, reading and participating in the awesome chat thread. Somewhere along the way, someone made a comment comparing Obama with ManBearPig. I responded with the following comment (reproduced from memory, since they don't seem to have saved a transcript):
If you're going to make Southpark references to Obama, how can you not mention Night of the living Homeless? "CHANGE!! CHANGE!!!"
Now I think that was pretty funny, and apparently so did a couple of the other participants. They like it so much, in fact that I was nominated, and seconded for a thread win. (A thread win is a tradition on Hit and Run's comments, given to an especially awesome or funny comment. Naturally for a libertarian blog, it is conferred by acclamation.) I was elated, of course. So elated, in fact, that I changed my status on Gtalk to
I won a thread on Reason. Bow to me, lowly mortals!!
Confident in my supreme awesomeness, I went to sleep. When I woke up, I saw that my girlfriend had sent me the following cartoon:

Thrifties = Christies for the cheapSo yeah. I suffered such extreme pwnage that I had to stay home all day to recuperate. When you get pwned so completely, there is but one thing to say and that thing is orz. But I bet right now you're wishing your girlfriend was as cool as mine.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Public Service Announcement - I

Years ago, I read in a Bournvita Quiz Book* that milk is excellent for cleaning ball point pen writing/stains. Well, the other day I had a ball point leak in my pocket, and got a bunch of ink over my phone. I tried cleaning it out with milk, but here's the thing: it DID NOT WORK. The stains are still there, and I'm out a couple of ounces of precious milk (milk is very precious when you have to lug gallon jugs of it 9 blocks over from Bhawani Cash and Carry).

So kids, do not believe everything you read in Bournvita Quiz Books. Derek O'Brien can be, and has been, wrong.

This Public Service Announcement brought to you by the BCQC.

[* I realise it looks bad for me that I read BQC books, especially since my admission last week that I bought a Backstreet Boys album. But hey, I got it for free (for qualifying for the BQC, no less). What did you want me to do, not read something I got for free?]

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

A Haunting Tale of Opportunity Cost

I just remembered that in the year 1999, I bought the album Backstreet's Back for the sum of Rs. 125. Rs. 125, at the rate of 3.5% annually (which is what I might have earned if I left the money in my savings account) would have worked out to Rs. 170.36 today. At the current exchange rate, that works out to about $4. Which is the price of a gyro on pita at Sammy's Halal food stall.

Thats right. My foolish decision to purchase that execrable album has left me poorer by one gyro on pita today.