Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Stress Mess Tuesday

Today I got out of bed a few minutes later than usual, got ready, and went up to RPCC for breakfast. Upon arrival I decided that my time would be most usefully spent studying, so I guzzled a mug of coffee, grabbed a banana, and walked down to the lecture hall extra early. There I finished rereading the Locke assignment, and then reviewed the New Testament readings until nine.

Today Professor Kramnick lectured more on the philosophy of Locke regarding government, property, and rights. I found it easier to follow that most of his other lectures because Lock is easier to read that the other authors, and because Professor Kramnick repeated the same points several times over using different words. It's a good thing that Locke is easier to understand, because we were told today that he would be on tomorrow's prelim, contrary to what we were told yesterday.

In discussion, we continued to clarify Locke's thoughts. We also learned of his rather hypocritical life - although he wrote against slavery, he also included it when he created the constitution of South Carolina. Before lunch, Vijay passed out copies of a previous prelim so that we'd know what we're up against. Although it listed multiple questions to choose from for every required answer, it was still quite intimidating.

At lunch I ate my grilled cheese and yogurt with the Freedom and Justice cohort minus Sue, who was scheduled to eat with Professor Kramnick, and plus a few of our classmates. We more or less studied while we ate, since the stress of the upcoming exam was increasing by the minute.

Seth Peacock
Our guest speaker was called Seth Peacock, and his story was even cooler than his name. He first sketched out his early life as a son of a single mother, who graduated high school due only to the administration's questionable passing practices, then as a truck driver, then as a community college student jarred into focus by his mother's death of cancer, then as a graduate of Cornell Law School employed in a downtown law firm. His life story was hugely inspirational, but the case he described to us was depressing. He'd been hired to prosecute a police officer who'd purposefully driven in such a way that the client, handcuffed on a barely legitimate charge in the backseat, was smashed into the sides and plexiglass screen of the car, causing deep bruises and broken glasses. Upon reaching the police station the client had tried to complain about the officer, who'd also called her names based on assumptions about her sexuality, only to have her claim disregarded, even though police officers are required to file complaints like that. Mr. Peacock fought for years in the local, state, and federal courts, eventually winning his client about fifty thousand dollars. However, he emphasized to us that we should question the justice of the settlement because even in the "hippie, Birkenstock-wearing local region" (the entire class laughed and turned to look at Professor Kramnick), and despite the credibility of his client and video footage, the authorities refused to prosecute a police officer simply because of his uniform. Furthermore, the settlement money and the salaries of the policeman's lawyers came from the pockets of taxpayers, and the policeman didn't have to pay anything, do any time, or even apologize. The justice system, said Mr. Peacock, is essentially an economic organization.

When introducing Mr. Peacock, Professor Kramnick had said that this would be a particularly real-world instance of the concepts we're studying. After the lecture I found myself a little disillusioned.

It rained so hard everything looked blurry.
After the lecture, I went with Carla, Kevin, and four of our classmates to a study room in Olin Library, where we tried to buckle down and organize our notes into a studiable quantity. After about half an hour I'd created a chart of the basic concepts as viewed by the five authors we'll seeon the test tomorrow, and because there were a few blank boxes I went to see Vijay, who was at office hours in the cafe one floor above. Then I sat with Sue and studied until a bit before six, when darkening clouds and bouts of thunder suggested we should get back to our dorms before it rained. Unfortunately, we didn't make it too far before it started pouring, and we had only my flimsy umbrella to share between us. I returned to North Balch fairly soaked. Soon I left for dinner, armed with rain jacket and umbrella, but found the skies already clearing.

At lunch we sat with the same classmates we'd studied with, and worried about the prelim ad nauseam. My usual pasta with Alfredo sauce and bean salad, accompanied by a swig of coffee for studying and followed by frozen yogurt, were just the same as usual.

Once back at North Balch, I settled down to blog and study. I hope to feel confident enough in the material my midnight to sleep then, so that I won't be too loopy tomorrow.

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