School

Thoughts on Proposition 8

The following is a short response for an in-class quiz we had today in Introduction to Law. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 and so I was pretty excited to be able to take a stab at determining its validity. Since the following was an in-class quiz, it should not be considered as a thorough argument. I picked a response format similar to a Supreme Court Majority Opinion.

The facts being evaluated are two fold: A) Is Ms. Sykes sill married? and B) Is California’s Proposition 8 allowed under the United States Constitution.

In the matter of Ms. Sykes current marital status, several facts must first be established. We will assume that Ms. Sykes was legally married to another person of the same sex under California State law and such marriage was valid and recognized. Second, we shall assume that Proposition 8 is now a part of the California State Constitution and in full effect. Finally we shall assume that, for the purposes of this question only, Proposition 8 is constitutional.

Article 1, Section 10 of the United States Constitution states, in part, that “No state shall…pass any…ex post factor law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts.” The rule prohibiting ex post fact law is not applicable in this instance because the issue does not deal with anything criminal. That is to say, Proposition 8 does not make same sex relationships illegal, it just does not deem a marriage between people of the same sex as valid or recognized.

The second part of the quited Article 1, Section 10 address the obligation of contracts. Marriage is the joining of two people to become one. Taxes are filled jointly, property is owned jointly, and certain legals privileges exist between spouses because of their joint operation. In fact, for a marriage to be legal, both parties must sign documents that, for all intents and purposes, is a legally binding contract. To allow for the passing of a law which impairs the obligation of that contact is thus unconstitutional. Held: Under Article 1, Section 10 of the United States Constitution, Wanda Sykes is still married and her marriage is valid and recognized in the State of California.

In the matter of the constitutionality of Proposition 8, it would seem that the afore argued point would be significant cause to declare the proposition as unconstitutional as it is written. However, we shall endeavor to further prove this point. The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution states, in part, that “No state shall…deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protect of the laws.” This amendment and the subsequent Brown v. Board of Education (347 US 483, 1954) ruling lay the groundwork. It would seem self-evident that denying the marriage of two people because of their sex would be denying them equal protection under the law. It was not that long ago that a black person was not legally allowed to marry a white person or that black children and white children were to be educated in separate but “equal” schools. We fine this law to be no different in its meaning or intent: to disenfranchise a particular class of individual because one thinks lesser of them.

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Marathon Exam: The FE/EIT

  • Mines

I’ve been getting a lot of support and questions about how I did on the exam. So I suppose that I should file a report on my FE/EIT exam experience, which I’ll reference just as the EIT herein.

I’ve been slowly preparing for this exam since the beginning of the semester. Most weeks, I went to a 2 hour EIT prep course offered by Mines. About a week and a half ago, I checked out one of those large test prep books from the library: Fundamentals of Engineering : The Most Effective FE/EIT Review : For the Morning & General Afternoon Tests. I mostly thumbed through the book in my free time, familiarizing myself with the exam format and types of questions that might be asked on the exam.

I went to bed early on Friday night and woke up early on Saturday morning – 4:30am. I stopped at Perkins on my way in and grabbed breakfast.

The exam was at the Colorado Convention Center. There were three of us getting extended testing time. This meant that instead of 8 hours of testing, I could theoritically be testing for 12 hours.

After about 30 minutes of instructions and bubbling, I finally got my first glimpse of the exam. The AM section had 120 problems each worth 0.5 points. Six hours of time to complete the AM section meant that I had to complete each question in three minutes on average. We were also supplied with an EIT Reference Handbook which was over 100 pages of all the equations we would need for this exam. I flipped through the first few pages of the exam and was pretty excited to see that I was familiar with just about everything.

Most questions were along the lines of:

A jet aircraft is flying at a speed of 1700 km/hr. The air temperature is 20 deg C. The molecular weight of air is 29 g/mol. What is the Mach number of the aircraft?1
(a) 0.979
(b) 1.32
(c) 1.92
(d) 5.28

and

2

It was just a matter of looking in my handy-dandy book and finding the equation, pluging the numbers in, and bubbling in A, B, C, or D. And that’s what I did for five hours in the morning.

I got an hour and half break for lunch before returning for the PM section. The PM section is a bit different because you get to pick the topic you want to take. For me, that meant either General or Electrical exam. After looking through both sections, I decided to take the General exam. This basically meant more of the same. The questions were a bit harder this time, which was reflected in the fact that we only had 60 questions, each worth a whole point.

Four hours later and I was done. Nine hours of total testing. I had been awake for almost 14 hours. I was mentally, emotionally, and physically drained of energy. It was the ultimate marathon for an engineer.

And despite the fact that I was completely worn out in every metric, I enjoyed the challenge. I enjoyed proving to myself that I could do it. I hope I don’t ever stop challenging myself – although I hope I continue to pick reasonable challenges.

I also want to thank all those who were praying for me. I don’t think I could have done it without you guys.

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  1. http://www.cyberbuzz.gatech.edu/tbpi/docs/FE/Fluid_Mechanics_SP2007.pdf 

  2. http://inside.mines.edu/fs_home/knelson/EIT Electrical Review Solutions 2006.pdf 

Barack Obama

  • Mines

I’m about a week late in blogging this, but such is the case when more important things arise. In any event, Obama was at the Colorado School of Mines last Tuesday. I managed to get four hours of sleep before I arose at the crack of 6am. I was on campus just before 7 and then proceeded to wait another hour and a half before we (the working press) were able to get in.

Kind of ridiculous if you ask me.

We finally did get in. I got setup and the waiting started. Several times, people would stand up and share some reason why they were going to vote for Obama and everyone would cheer and applaud. A woman, who I was told was part of the Avenue Q cast, also sang a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.

The program finally got underway:
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Kyle Caskey, president of the CSM Young Democrats, lead the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.

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Jacob Smith, Mayor of Golden.

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John Hickenlooper, Mayor of Denver.

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Bill Ritter, Governor of Colorado.

And then there was some waiting. We were running a little bit a head of schedule and Obama was running a little bit (well, 30 minutes actually) late.

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Federico Peña, former Mayor of Denver, filling the time.

Finally, the program got started:
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Peggy Roach, a local woman from Lakewood, has the pleasure of sharing her story and then introducing Senator Obama.

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Senator Barack Obama quites the crowd.

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Senator Barack Obama.

Don’t forget, there are always more pictures (and video) over at Flickr: Barack Obama at the Colorado School of Mines

Best guess is around 2300 spectators in attendence. Not terrible traffic. I had two classes canceled because of Obama and two more canceled because a professor missed his connection at JFK. Surprisingly, there were very few protesters.

See also: The Oredigger: Barack Obama at Mines

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Ticket #9540124 is a Winner!

While the Colorado School of Mines isn’t sponsoring the event (as the Obama campaign paid for the use of the facility), Student Activities was able to get a hold of and raffle off 140 tickets to students this morning. On a whim, I put my name in the hat. And I won.

Ticket #9540124 is a winner!

But wait, didn’t you just write a scathing letter to the CSM president despising him for allowing this event to happen? you might ask.

I did. And I stand by that letter. However, when life gives me lemons, I try my damnedest to make lemonade. It’s an old cliché, but usually true. Tomorrow morning, I will be putting on my photography/press hat and taking pictures for the Oredigger, making the best of the circumstances.

It’s also worth nothing that a large part of my decision and ability to do this is the fact that my first class was canceled, which will help to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety of tomorrows hoopla. It’s still going to be crazy though.

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An Open Letter to President Scoggins

Bill Scoggins, the President of the Colorado School of Mines, sent out the following email today:

Dear Mines Community:

I am pleased to report that Barack Obama’s campaign staff has rented Lockridge Arena in the Student Recreation Center for a community gathering, free and open to the public, on Tuesday, September 16. Doors will open at 7 a.m., and the program will begin at 9:30 a.m. We were in talks with the campaign for two days, and an agreement was reached Friday evening.

Since many national media representatives will cover the event, this is a tremendous opportunity to showcase our campus, students, faculty and staff–and the exciting work we’re doing here at Mines.

I am proud we were selected as the venue for this event, as it reflects our growing recognition as a leading, world-class research university. Tuesday’s event will increase our visibility even more. I am also proud that we were contacted by Senator McCain’s campaign staff earlier this summer. Although they chose another location for their event at that time, we welcome further inquiries from them about renting a facility at Mines. We should all be proud that our campus is a place where national policies are discussed.

Of course, an event such as this will cause some inconvenience to our Mines community. I feel it’s worth it and think you will agree. We expect 2,000 guests, plus media and VIPs, on Tuesday morning–with everything back to normal by noon. For those morning hours, however, you can expect parking to be a challenge. Please plan to walk, bike, carpool, and get an early start to campus that day. And plan to be patient.

I know many of you will want to attend the program. We have been given a limited number of tickets. This is not a Mines event–the Barack Obama campaign has rented space on our campus to host a public event. Information about the limited tickets provided to Mines will be announced via email later today or early tomorrow morning.

Together we will make this a positive, memorable event.

Thanks for your support,

Bill Scoggins

Initially, I was rather ecstatic to have a major political candidate on our campus. However, after reading Mr. Scoggins email and finally letting the reality of the situation set in, I realized this was bad. This was very bad. I’m going to vent in this open letter, because frankly, I don’t know what else to do.

Dear President Scoggins,

I do not agree with you. I think this event will cause quite a bit more than “some inconvenience to our Mines community.” And I do not feel it is worth it.

And lest you think that the rest of this letter is a rant from some Republican who just doesn’t want to see Mr. Obama on our campus, I can assure that this letter is not that (nor am I a Republican). My political standpoint has nothing to do with my frustration with your decision, nor should it.

I believe you showed an incredible lack of good judgment in bringing the Obama campaign to campus.

While you believe that this is “a tremendous opportunity to showcase our campus, students, faculty and staff – and the exciting work we’re doing here at Mines” and to tout us to the “many national media representatives [that] will cover the event,” I cannot fathom the horribleness that awaits me and my fellow students on Tuesday.

Are you completely blind to the amount of pressure and stress we’re under already? I have 19 credit hours with 10.5 hours of class on Tuesday, I’m going to have a freaking aneurysm.

We do not need the added stress of having to deal with the logistical issues associated with bringing the next potential President of the United States of America to our campus with less then two months until the election in a swing state. Secret Service, national media, local media, VIPs, the 2000+ people that will be flooding our campus. Need I continue?

Let me give you a picture of what I see: CSM is a school of about 3300 undergraduates. Now, for about 5 hours on a Tuesday morning, we’re going to instantaneously increase the number of people on campus by almost 60%. That’s 60% more cars, which we don’t have parking for and cannot handle. That’s 60% more people walking around campus. That’s 60% more commotion while I’m trying to freaking study!

Our school cannot simply absorb that many people and still function as a school!

Please tell me again how this is a good idea?

And then there’s the fact that all of this went down on a late Friday evening and not an official word about it until Sunday morning? Why was there such pisspoor communication? Why was the student body not consulted before hand? Should we expect more disruptions like this in the future?

I fear that making amends will be tough on this one. Yes, the ideal thing to do would be to cancel Tuesday’s event. But we both know that probably won’t happen. I honestly think the next best thing to do is cancel school for at least Tuesday morning and have classes resume around 1pm. While I’m not a fan of this solution, I believe it is the one that will cause the least amount of stress and disruption for all parties involved.

Cordially,

Andrew Ferguson

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Obama Coming to Colorado School of Mines

I shit you not, the Barack Obama will be giving a speech at the Colorado School of Mines (yes, my Colorado School of Mines) THIS Tuesday at 9:30am.

From my.barackobama.com:

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16
EVENT WITH BARACK OBAMA
Colorado School of Mines
Lockridge Arena
1651 Elm St.
Golden, CO
Doors Open: 7:00am MDT
Program Begins: 9:30am MDT

This is pretty cool and I’m going to try and attend, but I have to ask: How is our school going to conduct classes with all the security that Obama now has? Also, why hasn’t the school sent out an email about this?

Hat tip to Tim Weilert for posting a note on Facebook pointing this out.

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You’re Gonna Want to Read All of This

Today is the beginning of fall semester; my last fall semester. I’m aware that this is monumental moment, however I can’t quite bring myself to really believe that this is it: the beginning of the end of 17+ years worth of education1.

And yet it is.

This past summer has been amazing in many ways. I had some amazing conversations with some amazing people, both in my personal life and at work. I still don’t have the future planned out, but that’s okay.

At the end of my high school graduation speech, I quoted a famous Churchill line, “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” I think I was about four and a half years too soon on that remark.

This, my friends, really is it. I’m getting ready to write the last chapter in a book I like to call Andrew Ferguson: The First 23 Years.

Thus I think it’s fitting that while I work on closing this chapter and book in my life, I am able to announce the title of my next book – Andrew Ferguson: The Boeing Years.

As my third internship with them was coming to an end, Boeing elected to offer me a job for after graduation.

I accepted.

After some time off to catch a breather, I’ll be returning to my group sometime in the late summer of 2009.

So, stick around. This year is going to be crazy-awesome and as Frank Sinatra sang,
The best is yet to come, and, babe, won’t that be fine,
You think you’ve seen the sun, but you ain’t seen it shine

1 I would actually argue that learning is a lifelong adventure. I hope to never stop being educated. So really, this is the end of my formal education – at least for the time being.

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Almost Screwed the Pooch

  • Mines

I had brunch today with Ben, Mike, and company. I happened to be talking with Mike about my classes for this semester (Mike is a fellow EE, although he graduated in May). I mentioned that I was taking Introduction to Law and Legal Systems, which is a 200-level class. Mike then pointed out that I need to be taking 300-level LAIS classes to fulfill my graduation requirements.

Well crap. I was kind of looking forward to that class.

With less then two days before the start of Fall semester, I got back on Trailhead and found a 300-level LAIS class to take: Modern European Literature
From lais.mines.edu:

This course will introduce students to some of the major figures and generative themes of post-Enlightenment European and British literature. Reading, discussion, and writing will focus on fiction, poetry, drama, and critical essays representing British, French, Germanic, Italian, Czech, and Russian cultural traditions. Engaging these texts will foster understanding of some of the pivotal philosophical, political, and aesthetic movements and debates that have shaped modern European society and culture. Thematic concerns will include the French Enlightenment and its legacies, imperialism within and beyond Europe, comparative totalitarianisms, the rise of psychoanalytic theory and existentialism, and modernist and postmodern perspectives on the arts.

Never a dull moment in my life.

Update: Looks like the rules have channged.

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