Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Do Not Touch that Soda Can, Unless You Want to Go to Jail

Mr. Roth during guest lecture today.
Today was one of those regular days where my alarms are purposely set up to wake me up at an unreasonably early time only to get me into the mood of waking up. Except today happened to be one of those days where my urge to hit snooze overpowered my common sense and thus I got up around 7:40 AM. As you probably know by now, I'm not a morning person and I take my time getting ready for school--but this time I hurried it up a bit. I didn't eat breakfast this morning (feels like high school again) which I regret because I need caffeine (it may sound funny but it's reality). 

The lecture today was on Karl Marx and only Marx. Drawing upon Professor Kramnick's lecture, Marx lived in the 19th century and essentially created the political ideology of communism. If you are unfamiliar with Marx, you probably have heard ill things of communism. Let me reassure you, true communism is not as bad as it seems, and was actually skewed and distorted by horrible leaders such as Lenin, Mao Zhedong Ho Chi Minh, etc. In reality Communism was basically a political system that assures everyone only receives as much as they put in, no is allowed to accumulate vast amounts of wealth and essentially everyone could own property. In a sense, it was a retake on Lockean ideals translated in the times of the industrial revolution. Karl Marx lived in a time where industry began growing at an unprecedented rate, population was booming, trade was increasing, monopolies forming, etc. He immediately saw the exploitation of the workers (proletariat) and how factories should be allowing the workers to get what they put in. Marx's reasoning was radical for the time and his idea of the last form of government to come forth was that of a communistic one. This was because he saw the eventual degradation of big industry, where the proletariat would rise up and take matters into their own hands.

The discussion session with Vijay focused on what Marx meant by alienation and estrangement in terms of product, labor, oneself and that with other men. Marx explained how the assembly line was practically making the workers mindless zombies, how they couldn't afford the products they made, how they didn't put personality into the product and how competition tore people apart in the real world. It was all so interesting and we are going to discuss it more tomorrow

Our lecturer for today was Nelson Roth, who works as apart of a council for Cornell and served as a attorney for Shirley King in a murder case. The case is honestly too gruesome for details, but the main focus was that her fingerprint was "found" on the gas can that was used to unsuccessfully burn down the Harris household, in order to cover up the evidence. The fact of the matter was that her fingerprint was fabricated by the county D.A. and used to put her into jail. Later investigation by Nelson Roth himself would prove that she was innocent and not only that, many other cases conducted by New York State Police were invalid. It practically showed the extent as to what the police were willing to do for "justice". Concerning my title, as I'm sure your curious, it refers to the demonstration that Mr. Roth gave when he took a student's fingerprint from a soda can he nonchalantly told the student to hold. He showed everyone how simple it was to take someone's fingerprints and essentially frame the evidence.

Right after the guest lecture, a group of us went to the Uris Library, which contains another library within it named after a president (I forgot which one) that has an awesome historical interior. There were walkways that cross from one side of the library to the next. A little after 4:00 PM I went over to Vijay for his office hours and he went over my essay and told me exactly how to restructure my essay and what to change for my thesis. Doesn't seem like it's too much to do, but I can never be sure.

Moving on, I went back to my dorm and fell asleep. Then I woke up around 6:25 PM, refreshed my eye contacts and then braved the fierce rain outside. I ran through the rain with my rather flimsy Totes umbrella and still got wet. After dinner, I had about 3 and a half hours worth of political conversation in three different instances. The first lasted for about two hours with a classmate of mine that I never talk to because he's in the other discussion group. Mateo explained why he was such an avid scholar of communism and explained to me pretty much all of the main points of the Communist Manifesto in ways that I hadn't thought of before, later on he also commented how he lives in D.C. and actually goes to the same high school the president's daughters attend. Later on, for the fun of it, I had a giant argument between what was better: I defended communism while my roommate a very strong conservative republican defended with all his might. I am personally not a communist or even affiliate myself with any party at all but this debate made me realize how passionate some people are over their political beliefs--even at 15 years old. Later on, for about now almost 4 hours we talked about major issues of the world including foreign relations, the future of the U.S., equal right for women, etc. The thing that kept conversations going was that just about everyone here actually cares about politics and has personal opinions. I'm going to sleep now before I die, okay bye.

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