Saturday, November 6, 2010

Autumn's Halfway Over

With 88 days between the equinox on September 23 and the solstice on December 21, we are considered halfway through the relevant seasons

(autumn or fall in the northern hemisphere; spring in the southern hemisphere) on this day.

I wish I had seen this last week (to post it) - it's a very creepy video

Six Flags could probably recoup there money just charging for a tour of the place as is.

November 6, 1948 -
Sylvester in his prime, Kit for Cat, premiered on this date.

I'm working this side of the street. Now scram. Beat it!

November 6, 1981 -
One of Terry Gilliam's critically acclaimed features, Time Bandits, premiered on this date.

Either you 'get' Terry Gilliam's work and you like it or you don't and you hate it.

Today in History (There will be a quiz at the end) -
On November 6, 1911, Maine became a dry state.

How a state with 3500 miles of shoreline could dry out in a single day is beyond me, but I can't always expect to understand the historical information I gather. It may just have been a really low tide.

On November 6, 1923, the price of a loaf of bread in Berlin was reported to be about 140 billion German marks.

And yet when we think of fine baking, we tend to think of France—clearly, we have done the Germans wrong.

The October Revolution, also known as the Bolshevik Revolution or the November Revolution, was the second phase of the Russian Revolution of 1917, the first having been instigated by the events around the February Revolution. The October Revolution was led by Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks with the Mensheviks, Left Socialist-Revolutionaries and anarchists. It was the first Marxist communist revolution in history. Apparently communists don't have a firm grasp on dates.

On evening of October 23, 1917 (by the Julian calendar still in use in Russia at the time; November 5 by the current Gregorian calendar), the Russian Revolution took place, bringing the first Communist government in the world to power, under the control of Vladimir Lenin. There had been a semi-Democratic government in Russia since 1905, with the Czar (Tsar or Tzar) sharing power with a parliament. But the Czar had grown increasingly unpopular ( owing to the fact people couldn't agree on the spelling of his name and had to learn Cyrillic to spell it anyway), especially since the beginning of World War I. The Russian army was poorly equipped and poorly led (they were usually issued a sharpened stick and a rotten potato and led by men who knew how to correct address the head of their nation but wouldn't tell the unwashed masses), and Russian soldiers were slaughtered in the thousands by the Germans. World War I also disrupted the economy and created huge food shortages. Inflation raised the prices of available goods by more than 700% in just three years

(borscht only had become so expensive, that people had taken to drawing pictures of bowls of the beet soup and serving them to their starving children).

Soldiers began deserting the Russian Army and many of them went to St. Petersburg, where food riots broke out in the winter of 1917. There were demonstrations calling for an end to the war and an end to the Czar's rule. To prevent revolution, Tzar Nicholas II stepped down from the throne on March 15th, 1917 and he was replaced by a provisional government.

That summer, Russia experienced a brief taste of true democracy. Freedom of speech was granted to both individuals and newspapers for the first time. All political and religious prisoners were given amnesty. And all citizens were given the right to vote in secret ballot elections and to refer to the Tsar as that 'old Russian bastard'. But the provisional government decided to continue fighting in the extremely unpopular war against Germany, and that helped fuel opposition groups.

In April of 1917, Vladimir Lenin crossed the border back into Russia for the first time in ten years. He had been in exile in Switzerland, plotting how to start a socialist revolution. Lenin's argument was that capitalism had started the World War, and that the workers in the trenches fighting the war should turn their guns away from each other and instead fight a civil war to overthrow their leaders and take rightful control of their governments.

New political parties began to spring up. The second most popular party was, "Stay drunk all day with hot Russian chicks" party. Surprisingly, this was not the most popular party. Lenin's political party was called the Bolsheviks, and their slogan was "Peace, Land, and Bread." With the continuing unpopularity of the war, they quickly became the most popular political party in the country.

Lenin was accused of being a German spy by the provisional government in July 1917, so he had to go underground.It made party meeting very uncomfortable and dirty, to boot. In order to attend a meeting of the Bolsheviks in late October of that year, he had to wear a disguise (as Queen Victoria) and sneak through the city streets. He made it to the meeting undetected, and after a heated ten hour debate, he persuaded a majority of his party to launch an armed takeover of the country.

Lenin gave the order for the workers' militia to seize government buildings on this day in 1917, and the coup met almost no resistance (as there was little to no soap available for the workers, they were quite greasy). Official films made much later showed a huge storming of the Winter Palace and fierce fighting, but in reality the Bolshevik insurgents faced little or no opposition and were practically able to just walk into the building and take it over - more people were killed in the shooting of the film October than in the actual revolution. Then next day, Lenin was elected chairman of the Council of the new Soviet Government. Overnight, he had gone from a fugitive in hiding to the leader of the revolutionary government in the largest country in the world.

Lenin believed that a communist country would need to be ruled at first by a military dictatorship, but that once communism took hold, people would be so happy with the new system that most of the coercive elements of the government would wither away, and society would become a classless, stateless paradise. He also believed that bathing next to an Armenian gave you cooties (go figure). He said, "While the State exists there can be no freedom; when there is freedom there will be no State."

His vision never came to pass.

Russia would remain a totalitarian police state for most of the rest of the twentieth century.

For some reason President Boris Yeltsin, waking up from a four month vodka tasting competition, decided to celebrate the anniversary of the storming of the Winter Palace by outlawed the Communist Party on this date in 1991.

And so it goes

Psst, don't forget to set back all of the clocks in your house before you go to bed tonight. Also if you're running the marathon tomorrow - begin carbo-loading

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