looks, brains & everything

Holy hell, I have a lot of stuff to catch up on. But! Term is over and all my friends are disappearing home, so I’ll have nothing to do except Mass Effect, introspection, census collecting and self-absorbed blogging.

Law & Societies.

As previously namedropped, I have fallen in totally with the new and very professional Law for Non-Law Society. One of their few-but-excellent events so far was a Commercial Awareness Workshop, inviting a couple of cool people from Bond Pearce; it was really genuinely interesting, as well as confirming (again) that this recently-chosen law path is one that I’ll enjoy. More on that and the BBC in another post for (hurr) posterity. Having not embarrassed myself too much there (I think…) and having got to know a couple of members of the outgoing committee and offered to build and run a website for them, I was encouraged to apply for a committee position in the AGM; while the website thing was my main aim, this sounded a great idea, as I really want to help the outfit in any way I can. Initially applied for newsletter admin, then changed to treasurer at last minute, as I’m already treasurer of Warsoc and know what I’m doing there. So, after elections for many positions (Sam Lear lost President to Derrina, but, despite his belief that you never win VP after losing Prez, did in fact get to be VP. Which I think is about the best result possible, as they were both fantastic candidates and choosing between the two was not fun.) Eventually, Treasurer, against a chap called Scott who seemed much like me. I went outside and he gave a speech; and then he went outside and I gave a totally off-the-cuff speech having agonised over one for hours and then thrown it away. Then we both got absolutely grilled in front of the society, far more questions than any other position; friends who got to see both speeches said this was because we were both clearly awesome and there seemed to be so little between us. My answers were characterised more by cockiness than consideration, as I was on a massive sleep-debt high and barely coherent. Turns out that competence > cockiness, and he won. I then went for newsletter admin, against four other people, but I didn’t care nearly as much and it showed; that went to Lauren, who I vaguely knew from a History module last year, and will definitely do a good job.

I had prepared vast trays of flapjack, but in the end decided to hold them off until after all votes on me had been passed, as if I got any positions I wanted them to be a result of my treasurin’ (or, well, electioneering) skills rather than my baking skills. Possibly a mistake. But the flapjack went down very well in the aftermath.

Genuinely not unhappy with the results; best man probably won in all cases. I’ve talked to the new president, and my services in site building/maintaining will still be available, just no thankless (yet official!) paper-pushing. So I’ll definitely call that a win, and well done to the new committee – and in particular Derrina and Sam, our new Prez and VP; may their reign be glorious, and may death come swiftly to their enemies.

Vietnam.

I attended, at one day’s notice, a VIETNAM MASTERCLASS with a Major-General (retd.) Zabecki. This man did three tours in Vietnam, starting off as an actual nineteen-year-old grunt rifleman and working his way up through the ranks (which for those not aware of military matters, is seriously rare; most high-ranking officers start as low-ranking officers, not grunts), retiring as a two-star general and deputy Chief of Staff. He is now a highly respected military historian and editor of Vietnam Magazine. Before the lecture started I went up and asked him some questions (shouting a little, as you have to with a man who’s spent years in the artillery.) He told me about buckshot rounds in his M79 at Tet, of his reaction on being issued an M16 after being trained on M14s, and of being one of the first soldiers issued the XM148 – which was such a pain to use that his apparently ended up getting accidentally run over by an APC. His lecture led off with “The most cherished beliefs about the Vietnam war ain’t so,” and, informative right through, mockingly derided crap books, with hilarious quotes: “‘The door gunner of an AH-1G gunship scans the ground for a target.’ AH-1G. That’s a Cobra. Cobras don’t have door guns. Hell, Cobras don’t even have doors.” It was fun throughout, and Peter Gray told me that I’d have Zabecki’s help for my dissertation, if I so desired. If this is a department attempt to placate me, it’s working (though given my complaining made it to the front page of the final issue of Redbrick, they might not see it that way.)

My dissertation; thanks to much in depth Q&A with Rob, rather than the department’s literature or general emails being any help to anyone, I think I really do understand what’s meant of me. However, I’m not doing great at proving it: my dissprep essay, due to time miscalculations and hubris, given how much well previous work-under-pressure essays have gone, was not quite up to snuff when I handed it in after the usual adrenaline-high caffeine bender. Good enough that I think – hope – it still ought to be worth something in the low-to-mid-60s, and good enough that it probably wasn’t worth taking the 5% hit in order to polish it off and hand it in a day late. I’m not worrying too much. Fortunately, I do have enough good marks banked to be pretty much assured a First this year, unless something goes hideously wrong; it’s mostly annoying because I’ve never handed anything quite worth a First (several past essays have been tantalisingly close) to Rob, and of all my academics, he’s the one I most want to impress and probably the one I’m doing the worst job of doing so.

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