Monthly Archives: April 2007

Big Sky Today

Big sky today. The clouds billowed as far as I could see, and their white highlights and black lowlights edged the gray centers that spilled into the light blue voids. It reminded me of late fall, but there was no chill or possibility of snow. It was just big. I wanted to get out of my car and stretch my arms and breath deep. I wanted to jump and see how close I could get to the soft gray edges, but why today when the clouds are bigger and higher than ever?

University of Michigan Admissions

In 2003, three years after I had been admitted to the University of Michigan, the constitutionality of the points based admissions process was challenged. The case, Gratz v. Bollinger, reached the Supreme Court. The admissions process was held to be unconstitutional because it was not narrowly tailored enough to not violate the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment of the United State Constitution.

You need 100 points to be admitted.

Academic factors (100 points):

  • 80 – High school GPA
  • 12 – ACT or SAT score
  • 10 – Quality of high school
  • 8 – Strength of high school curriculum

Non-academic factors (40 points):

  • 10 – In-state resident
  • 4 – Alumni relationships
  • 1 – Outstanding essay
  • 5 – Personal achievement
  • 20 – Other, including
    • Socioeconomic disadvantage
    • Underrepresented minority
    • Athletic recruitment
    • Provost’s discretion

Looking back, I spent way too much time on my essay.

I Read Harry Potter

After vehemently abstaining from Harry Potter books for years, I must now admit to succumbing to their magical-mystical-mumbo-jumbo. I’ve read* the first three in the last two months and am a third of the way through the fourth book.

And although it’s tough to admit, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each book. However, after starting the fourth, I’ve realized how dull the first three were. It’s like the J.K. Rowling took a writing class before starting the fourth book, and just in time. I was getting sick of the repetitive plot cycle of books one thru three.

I’m hoping to finish the first six books before the seventh comes out in July. The seventh book happens to be the last Harry Potter book ever, which is a good thing. No longer will I be chained to this absurd reading list of dark children’s books.

*By “read” I mean that Skye has read them to me while I drive.

What About the Kid?

I’m reviewing for my Constitutional Law final and I’ve just gotten to Personal Liberties: Abortion under the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Specifically, I’m briefing Roe v. Wade, which for the handful of people who don’t know, is a case concerning whether a Texas law that banned abortion under almost all circumstances was constitutional. The Court held that the law impinged on the woman’s right to privacy as a fundamental right.

That’s all old news. I’m just wondering who Roe’s kid is and how he/she feels about not only almost being aborted, but also about being the outcome of such a landmark case.

More on Personal Timelines

Mark Cuban wrote (link):

Our past, and really our profile was defined by the contents of shoeboxes and milkcrates. The places where we kept old papers, pictures, grades, notes we passed to the girl we had a crush on.

Over the last few years, its evolved to the equivalent digital placeholder. Its on Flickr, photobucket, Myspace, Facebook, wherever we host and store all the digital pictures, videos,blog entries , comments and discussions we participate in that we share publicly. Or its in an email database that is hosted or backedup online that we may or may not choose to make public.. And these are just the elements we self maintain.

Our lives are being documented , cataloged and indexed whether we like it or not. But since its a relatively new phenomena, there really isnt much history out there . Our pasts, even of high school kids has far more offline and out of the reach of search engine spiders, than online.

All of this is very true and there is very little we can do to stop it. Information is power, and it flows more freely than ever today.

Academic Cred?

Robin Hanson posits that we go to school both to learn and to get credentials for learning. Depending on the type of person you are, the value of either may vary.

The basic assumption is that credentials indicate how much you’ve learned, however I believe there is a flaw in this reasoning. Credentials (grades, test scores, etc.) may indicate how much you have learned, but more likely they indicate how well you are able to learn. And from my experience the later is as important as the former. I read somewhere that education exists to teach us to tolerate undertaking tasks that we abhor. That’s a bit pessimistic, but there is some truth in it.

Are we hired for our knowledge or for our ability to acquire knowledge? It probably varies based on the position. High skill positions will likely require you to implement the tools acquired while in school, however a firm often requires you to reformat your knowledge. In other words, if you’re better able to adapt and learn their process you will excel.

Hanson suggests to grad students that they focus on content instead of format. That is great advice that I wholeheartedly agree with, however my personal experience is mixed. Compelling content was vastly more important that the format it was presented in when I worked at a digital entertainment company. Whereas in law school there is a huge amount of emphasis on format and structure – it’s suffocating at times, yet it is in the interest of clarity and efficiency.

The balance between learning for the sake of learning and learning to excel often conflict, and that has proved to be one of the most difficult things to cope with in law school. But the pursuit is rewarding and keeping the big picture in mind helps when you lose focus of the content and get stuck in the format.

Free Throws and Short Putts

Basketball free throws and short putts are two of my favorite moments to watch when there is a lot on the line. I’m a golfer and not a basketball player, but the singular pursuit of trying to make a free throw free from physical contact to win a game by a single shot seems very similar to trying to make a short putt in golf. Both shooting free throws and stroking a short putt require simultaneous awareness of your actions and the consequences that may result, and both are easiest when your able to “go through the motion” as you would if there were nothing on the line. It’s interesting to watch and see who holds up and who “chokes.”

Best President of My Life

The other day someone asked me how I would rank the US Presidents during my lifetime? At first, it seemed like an easy question. Only four guys to put in order. But the more I thought about it, the more disoriented I became. Look at who I have to choose from: Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, William Clinton, and George W. Bush. Although all four of these men are deserving of the respect that should be granted to a president, they are by no means great presidents. Not like Washington, Lincoln, or even Roosevelt.

Further clouding my decision is the fact that I don’t remember a single thing Reagan or the elder Bush did. I was far more interested in Cheeze Whiz and Voltron than politics. And Clinton, I couldn’t vote for. Although he was entertaining and the economy did well during his terms (more likely a coincidence than a causation). And while the current president has had a lot to deal with, he’s brought some of it on himself.

There is no clear winner, but here is my list from best to worst:

1. Reagan
2. Bush I
3. Clinton
4. Bush II

Spring Fever

Spring fever is coming late this year due to the Nor’easter NH was blessed with last week. I’ve been waiting to sit inside studying and wish I was outside playing Frisbee. However, I’m finding it easier to tolerate here because there are less people enjoying the nice weather. During my days at the University of Michigan, simply walking to class was excruciating. It seemed like half of the school population was on the “Diag” playing, tanning, and laughing while I had to go sit in an economics class touching on the finer points of antitrust policy in the basement of an un-air conditioned building.

I’m whining, I know. And I apologize for that. But here is where I redeem myself…

My spring fever is only mild to medium this year, and this is oddly satisfying.

China: Cleaning Their Internet

CNN reports (link):

Chinese President Hu Jintao on Monday launched a campaign to rid the country’s sprawling Internet of “unhealthy” content and make it a springboard for Communist Party doctrine…

I will be studying intellectual property in China over the summer. The idea of censoring the content so that it better conforms with a doctrine seems to run against the principles of free thought, imagination, and entrepreneurship that I regularly associate with cutting edge technology.

I’m beginning to think I have big issues with such an approach. However, I’m keeping an open mind as to the possibilities and hope to be surprised when I’m actually there.