Otto von Bismarck: Politics 101

In my history class at school, we recently covered the topic of the unification of Germany, and I think I need to draw attention to this subject. There are two main points which are demonstrated by this series of events: Firstly, Otto von Bismarck was a genius, and second, history can be comedy gold. The level of deceit and trickery at play is astonishing, and somewhat reminds me of Town of Salem, in that Bismarck kept enough secret that nobody really knew what he was up to.

After discussing Germany’s unification in class, we were assigned to draw up a graphic representation of how they unified the nation. This is mine. Apologies for the penmanship.IMG_20170310_131332855 A.jpg

I’ll explain more or less what’s going down, beginning in the top left and following the purple arrows. First off, Prussia invited Austria to attack Denmark and take back some land that apparently was traditionally property of the German peoples. Bismarck reassured the Austrians that if Denmark wanted to retaliate, they would have to come through Prussia first, so the Austrians were entirely safe. This also meant that the Austrian military would have to march through Prussia, and the Prussians would have every opportunity to identify their generals and observe their strategy.

When the Austrians reached the border of Denmark, the Prussians said, “Go get ’em!” and the Austrians did just that. Meanwhile, the Prussians sat back and watched. After Austria took the agreed area from Denmark, it was divided between Prussia and Austria. Note that Prussia took the northern half, leaving Austria’s territory sandwiched between Prussia and a Prussian exclave.

The Prussians sent small guerrilla units to harass the new Austrian enclave, in order to provoke Austria into a larger retaliation. Naturally, Bismarck covered it up so that Austria looked like the aggressor. Austria declared war on Prussia, and, because Prussia had been gathering military intelligence this whole time, surrendered seven weeks later. Prussia took Venetia from Austria, and gave it to Italy. (That was a deal that had been worked out in secret beforehand between Prussia and Italy.)

Prussia now had won some of its closest neighbours’ support in unity, but the southern German states remained unimpressed. To remedy this issue, Bismarck saw fit to create a problem for the southern states, then remove said problem to look like he’s helping. This problem was, of course, the French. Prussia forged a telegram from the French government talking shit about the southern German states, and published it. This got the German states riled up, and got the French riled up. Prussia decided to step in as the hero, and beat up the French.

The Prussians wiped the floor with France’s military and took a whole bunch of stuff. The southern German states were impressed, and convinced to join the union. They then changed their flag around and called it Germany, and everything was great for the next few decades.

Groggy Musings on Minecraft

I feel somewhat reluctant to talk about Minecraft, as it really seems to be an overdone topic, and because it’s half past midnight and I really have very little to say, but upon further thought, I remember that I’m writing for my own benefit, not for other people’s enjoyment. Minecraft is a game that I will always think fondly of. When I first played it in 2012, it was on my birthday. I had a few friends round, and one of them downloaded the client and logged in with his account so I could try it. I was instantly captivated; to me, at least, the freedom of building any structure in any place, and walking around inside said structure, was unprecedented. The closest I can recall seeing before was the LEGO Digital Designer, which was considerably less fluid to use and didn’t allow for the exploration aspect of Minecraft.

I recall that the first thing I built was a bridge. I used cobblestone stairs and slabs, with regular cobblestone being used as a pillar in the middle. It was only two or three blocks wide, across a small stream, but it felt like such an achievement. I had made a bridge, entirely by my own design, and it seemed effortless! One of my first endeavours in Minecraft was a castle floating in mid-air. I started with creative mode, and didn’t really take to survival until a while later.

Looking back at how the game was when I first got into it, it’s really changed quite a lot while keeping the same fundamental theme, and that is quite an achievement. Some people argue that adding more content is unnecessary and a waste of time, because the game was already good before. To some extent, I agree. I certainly understand the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, but having more options is always nice. Some of the new blocks are quite useful, even if only for decoration.

One thing about Minecraft, however, will never change. The ability to create whatever you want. That is precisely why I love this game so much. With a bit of time, I can make a castle from scratch, and it will be my castle in every way. Not just that it belongs to me, but that it was entirely my design. Even with the limit of Minecraft’s blocky nature, it’s rather a restorative practice to have a semi-tangible visualisation of an idealistic residence. All the hard work of mining and crafting pays off with an end result that truly feels like a home. Sure, I have a home in the real world. I have places where I feel at home in the real world. But I didn’t design any of those. It wasn’t my work alone that made them exist, and that takes quite a lot away.