The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

All hail to the mighty Empirar, a story for the ages

There once was a man from Peru
Who was making his corn-farming debut
He needed four plots
But four open spots
Never, ever, was he to accrue

– Thucydides, sent from my Blackberry by AT&T

Allow us to take you on a journey …
Once upon a time, in a place not far from here, there stood a kingdom abundant with all the riches of exotic lands. Population: about 1600. A primarily agrarian commune, it was up for the masses to farm its fertile lands. However, not all the land was equally arable. And thus the problems ensued …

Twice a year, for the fall and spring harvests, the villagers would journey for three fortnights to see the Empiràr, who rested comfortably in the Chrystal Palace. Contrary to widely held opinions, it was up to Him to decide who received good lands, and who got the bad ones.

And what lands they had! The villagers’ cup overfloweth with a cornucopia of offerings, as far as the eye could see. Bountiful harvests came from any crop imaginable, maize, rye and even Near Eastern wheat (not offered every year). And so the villagers, mouths agape, picked and chose among the plots for four of their very own. But which of these plots to choose? Should they take 100 acres of land that will be easy to farm? Or should they work harder on 200 or more acres and reap the reward in the end? Most wanted to farm four plots, while some were satisfied with three. But they feared mightily they would end up with two, and would not be able to produce enough crops for themselves farming part-time, not satisfying the Empiràr’s own requirements.

To everyone’s surprise—and completely against the established fable standards—the Empiràr did not let the elderly choose first. By this point, their health, suffering from extreme cases of senioritis, should have precluded them from farming any plots larger than 200 acres. The elderly pleaded to the Empiràr, with every ounce of determination, to let them farm 100 acres. But the unyielding Empiràr would hear none of this, placing them on multiple 400-acre plots.

Merchants passing through the town would talk of distant lands where the acreage is distributed electronically. Far away, the elderly get to choose first, based on their merits—and years of investments—while the youngest apprentices would go last, eagerly awaiting their future promotions. The villagers would listen, and listen carefully, but most would not even consider such an unbelievable idea. It seemed too good to be true, they would tweet. But unbeknownst to them, indeed it was.

The Empiràr had heard of, and even visited, those lands. But he remained unwilling to change either his course of action or others’ during the predistribution period. Villagers, weary from the journey to sign over ownership of new lands, would beg the Empiràr for respite. Time and again, the Empiràr would defend his system, declaring that the process was efficient for the time being. The elderly mused that the lands of their youth, the lands they fondly remembered, were limitless. To that, the Empiràr countered that there are limits even where there are no limits, befuddling both the villagers and Himself alike. And in this mutual state of confusion, everyone lived happily ever after.

Cheers to the Almighty Empiràr!

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