January 24, 2005

You Call it Chocolate, I Call it Addiction to Gambling*

by Armen

The online casino that is the law school grade information system has just opened and everyone is hoping to come out a winner. Much like every other casino, the same rules apply: House always wins and the odds are against you, unless you find a single deck blackjack table that allows you to double down on a split.

There are many other casinos just like it. Some have flashy fountains (even if they don't dance to music) or wireless internet access in classrooms, others have low limit tables, but only relatively speaking of course. All universally have high stakes to begin with (think future career, earnings potential, mate, etc.) So all the players approach the casino with high anxiety and incredible superstitions, sometimes these develop long before one's eyes are set on the casino of choice.

But we all approach the same game. Parts of it are eerily familiar with other common casino games, but it doesn't quite encompass a single game. Almost everyone knows the basic strategy before any gaming takes place. Once the wheel is spun, however, people place their bets. Like gamblers in a cheesy Downtown Vegas casino, law students fall into several, predictable categories. The most noticeable are the ones who game at the margins. Most of their effort is to make sure that they come out the winner in the event of a tie. A push just is not good enough for them. They hit at 18 and piss off everyone else at the table. (In law school talk these are the people who aim to get the higher grade in the event of a tie in exam scores by participating in class to the best of their lungs' abilities).

The next group bets on the ultimate outcome. Within this group there are two subgroups. First there are those who bet that seven will not come. No matter who's rolling the dice, we all have an equal chance of winning or losing from the outset. Your lucky streak is my lucky streak. So on and so forth. Naturally, this brings us to the second group who bet that seven will come. They bet against you. You think that you're the shit by rolling 11's and hard 10's? Well screw you, they still bet against you. And you know what? The odds are with them. They are betting with the house that eventually, you will be like the multitudes before you who have done no better than the curve.

The next group consists of those who use unorthodox methods to alter the odds from the onset, collectively known as suckers. The cheaters fall into this category, though rarely do they escape the all seeing-eye of the Honor Code. Others spend "intimate" time with the dealer or shower him with gifts (see e.g. title of post). Often these people are so fascinated by a slight showing in their favor that they will interpret a glitch in the system as a sign that their unorthodox methods are working. To them I say, keep using outlines in Swahili.

The last group are the luckies. They enter the house expecting nothing, and walk away with the cars, comps, dealers, hookers, and anything else in between. Oh yeah, buffets.

Of course, all bets are off once you pull the slot and none of the lines win. Maybe next pull. There's always that chance, that hope...you too could walk out with an oversized cardboard check.


January 24, 2005 5:10 PM | TrackBack

The only universal truth in law school grading is that the losers insist that results are "random," even when they get the same grades semester after semester.

Posted by: Law Student at January 24, 2005 8:48 PM

I was thinking of a different universal truth in law school grading - that there's always someone who thinks that every success is an excuse to be an asshole. The upside is that there are plenty of others who can work hard & succeed without shitting on everyone else - and those ones tend to help each other out.

Posted by: another law student at January 24, 2005 9:18 PM

Bearlink? BEARLINK? In MY day we got our grades the old fashioned way: we ran around to all the department offices, uphill, both ways, in the snow*, to find the nearly-illegible xeroxed dot-matrix print-out of the grade report for each class taped up on the wall, listing our grades by our student ID numbers. Sometimes we even needed to find EACH INDIVIDUAL professor's office in order to track the grade report down, all the while praying that we wouldn't get stuck in the elevator in Barrows or hopelessly lost in Dwinelle. And we had to bring a ruler to make sure that the grade we were reading was really on the same line as our own SID, as we craned our necks into positions the human spine was never intended to attain because the reports had clearly all been hung up by someone humungously tall who was standing on a ladder.

Kids today... they don't know how easy they've got it with their bleedin' Internet sites...

</crotchety apparently old(?) blue>

* OK, no snow.

Posted by: Cathy at January 25, 2005 4:16 PM

I have to turn to S&M vocabulary to describe the joy that is Berkeley IT in some future post. Preview: If there ever was a pressing case that CS/Engineering rankings don't mean anything, this is it.

Posted by: Armen at January 25, 2005 5:33 PM

But at least you have Internet (albeit not in your classrooms...) I still have nightmares about Fall '92 class registration with that which was known as TeleBEARS {shudder}. Imagine everything you probably hate about using the Berkeley IT infrastructure, but having to do it over the phone. Without enough phone lines to support the volume.

Maybe that's why I'm so keen about the wireless. Packet-switching can be a beautiful thing...

Posted by: Cathy at January 25, 2005 8:47 PM
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