Thursday, April 25, 2013

If I Had 17 Million Dollars

I was in math class today learning about geometric series. We were working on a problem about winning the lottery, and I think we were supposed to get 17 million dollars a year for 20 years, and we had to figure out the future value of that money. But the problem aside, what would I do if I won 17 million dollars?
I asked my friend Jacob, who was sitting next to me, what he would do, and he said that he would buy a bunch of telescopes and then donate the rest of his money to NASA. He likes space.
So I thought about it for a bit, and I decided that I would travel. I would go to all the places that I want to visit, like Scotland and Wales and Turkey and Greece and Ethiopia and Antarctica and Peru and basically the whole entire world. I'd also probably go to Harry Potter World, or, better yet, just go to the actual Hogwarts and learn magic.
Then, when I come back, I'd go to Scotland and buy a castle and live in the highlands. I just think that Scotland is a beautiful place with all those mountains. So that's where I would live.
In my castle, I'd build my own library (if it didn't already have one) where I would keep all of my books and whenever I'd feel like it, I'd just go and read.
I did go through a couple of minutes in class when I wanted to build myself an underwater castle, but I thought that that might be a little extreme. And anyway, if I had an underwater castle, it would be hard for people to come visit me because they would probably need a SCUBA license to get down there.
So by the time that I've traveled the world, bought myself a castle in the highlands, and built myself my own personal library, I don't think I'd have that much money left. But then, I'd just get 17 million dollars (or 16.04 million dollars in present value assuming 6% interest rate) the next year, so it'd be all good.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Why Russia Started WWI

A couple of weeks ago, my history teacher announced that we were going to have a debate in class, and the topic we were debating was "which country started WWI?" Now, obviously, there's not one single country that did start a world war, but we were supposed to find one country and blame it for everything. We could discuss anything from the 1880's to August 4th, 1914.
My group got stuck trying to defend Germany.
So, as you might imagine, Germany has a lot of dirt on it (which I might discuss another time). So we decided to blame Russia.
But before we got to the research, we started to form alliances with other countries, and by the end of the week or so, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Serbia, Britain, and France were all in an alliance against Russia. At this point, I basically predicted that France and Britain would bail on us and join Russia, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
So we started to do research. We researched Germany through books like Germany's Aims in the First World War by Fritz Fischer and The Guns of August and The Proud Tower by Barbara Tuchman. Then, I went to my local library and checked out practically every single book about WWI and the events leading up to the war so that nobody else from the other groups could get them.
We were paranoid, a little (sort of like Germany in the late 19th century!) that everyone was going to backstab us, so we had to research everyone.
And now, here is why Russia started the war.
Russia had a lot of motive. It wanted to start a war so that it could acquire the straights. The straights were important to Russia because it was one of the only ways to get out into the ocean that didn't freeze for half of the year.
Also, there's the question of Russia's military. Now we all know that Russia is a gigantic land mass full of tons of people, but it's military in 1914 consisted of 1,284,000 men (according to Fritz Fischer) sitting on the Austro-Hungarian boarder. That seems pretty threatening to me.
Then, there's mobilization. During this time, mobilization of an army meant war. Nobody mobilized if they didn't want war. Russia was the first country to mobilize it's army. It was even warned by the British and French foreign ambassadors Buchanan and Cambon that if the Tsar mobilized, that would push the Germans to declare war. And yet, Russia still did it, and look what happened. Germany invaded Belgium.
Russia started encouraging the Serbian plotters in 1912 and in 1914, the Tsar promised the Serbians arms and ammunition. Since there was a cultural tie between Russia and Serbia, Apis believed that when the assassination of the Archduke would cause war, that Russia would support Serbia.
Then, there's the secret diplomacy with France. People get suspicious with a secret diplomacy, and that's never good.
Of corse there's more than this, and we elaborated more on this stuff. But the debate went well. Russia got kicked out first, and then Serbia, and then France was trying to get us out of the debate, but we stalled them and then the debate ended, so we didn't get kicked out. What I thought was particularly amusing was when someone on the Russian team said something like "mobilization doesn't mean war," and Serbia, Austria-Hungary and Germany all said at the same time "YES IT DOES!!" Eventually, the debate ended up just being a shouting match between the countries. But at least Germany didn't get kicked out.

On a completely different note, by Laughing at Dragons got picked as one of the best personal blogs of 2013 by TYWKIDBI, which is very exciting. YAY!

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Shipping, it seems, is a very important part of internet culture. So here, I'm going to share some of my favorite ships.

Lizzy Bennet and Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice
Neville and Luna from Harry Potter
Tobias and Tris from Divergent
Eowyn and Faramir from Lord of the Rings
Katniss and Peeta from The Hunger Games

11th Doctor and River Song from Doctor Who
Sherlock and Watson from Sherlock (yes, yes, Moffat, please please make it happen, and while we're talking about making things happen, can season 3 please come out BEFORE 2014??)
Patrick Jane and Theresa Lisbon from The Mentalist
Daisy and Alfred from Downton Abbey

Thursday, April 11, 2013


I was practicing piano today, when something very strange happened. I got a phone call.
Now, you might not think that that isn't very strange, but that's not the strange part. Though, nobody ever calls me (except my mother), so it was a little out of the ordinary.
No, the weird thing is what happened when I picked up the phone. I said, "hello?" like any normal, sane individual would do (because I'm a normal, sane individual), and the reply was "Charlotte? Charlotte? CHARLOTTE?? CHARLOTTE!!!"
I'm not Charlotte, lady.
So I replied with, "I'm sorry, I think you have the wrong number," and the reply was, "NO, YOU'RE LYING TO ME!"
So then I just hung up. The person then proceeded to call me back, but I didn't answer.
The thing is, I really wanted to answer with some snarky comment, but since I'm bad with coming up with those on the spot (I always think of them when I'm in the shower), I didn't. Though I kind of did want to call this person back and yell some random name back at them, but I didn't want to get into anything sticky.