Thursday, September 19, 2013

Science Discovers The Three Laws Of Earmarks !!!

American political scientists were astounded today by the announcement of the three laws that completely explain earmarks in Congressional Spending:

  1. My earmarks are reasonable and necessary for the health and safety of our community. 
  2. Your earmarks, if you are a member of my political party are questionable, but possibly defensible. 
  3. Earmarks inserted by anyone in another political party are wasteful, abusive and corrupt.

"This explains everything," said a spokesman for the Earmarks Study Institute (federally funded by special appropriation since 1988). "It is not necessary to study the actual content or impact of any particular earmark to determine whether it is worthy and helpful to our nation; you only need to know who proposed it."
Pundits applauded the discovery of these laws. "Formerly, we were sometimes inconvenienced by having to determine whether an earmark was funding the fight against a dread disease, or a literal bridge to nowhere," said one retired Congressman now working at the Talking Heads News Service. "Now, we can decide whether to support or deride an appropriation merely by looking at the (R) or (D) affixed to it!"

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

#Goodnews - Why Was It So Easy to Recruit #Lawyers for Free Work? (#probono)

(Awesome pig art by a neighbor)
Why does bad news get more attention than good news? It's something in the way we think, I suppose.
Anyway, today we had to close registrations on a pro bono program that I have been recruiting for (I'm gonna be cagey about names and dates because I don't want to get swamped with more volunteers than we can handle). 
We set a target number of lawyers that we wanted to get some free work ("pro bono") out of. That's right: 
  • FREE WORK. 
  • From LAWYERS.
Conventional wisdom says that either concept is hard to sell and putting them together should be impossible, but that has not been my experience. You CAN recruit lawyers to do free work, you just have to approach them in the right way.
So a couple of weeks ago I started a fairly low-key campaign to recruit a bunch of lawyers for a new pro bono program. We had an upper limit of the number of recruits we wanted; you absolutely do NOT want to recruit more than you can use, because it's a waste of time for them and volunteers who services don't get used have a right to be a little pissed off.
We gave ourselves two months to recruit our number, and started with a few quiet notices to attract the  most motivated. Later on, we figured, we'd see where we were and reach out a little deeper into the pool of recruits to activate those who weren't looking to do pro bono. Maybe do a few cold calls or whatever.
Today we checked our recruitment numbers, and we are essentially full. We have a couple of spaces left open but need them for a few targeted recruits that we had been saving for later. Whoo-hoo! 
Let me emphasize:
  • FREE WORK
  • From LAWYERS
  • Basically FULLY RECRUITED after a couple of weeks
  • After a fairly low-level campaign (a couple of web posts and a couple of emails).
Can you imagine the response we'd have gotten if we'd, I don't know, SPENT SOME MONEY ON RECRUITING?
Ok, I know this is just one data point. Maybe the world really is going downhill and everything's getting worse.
But I don't think so. On the evidence, people really want to make the world a better place. We just have to talk to each other and get organized.

Why are the Gundamentalists Blaming Clinton for the Navy Yard Shootings?

Following the latest mass shooting there is much fake outrage about "disarming" our military personnel on base. The relevant Dod Directive is AD-A272 issued February 25, 1992 under President George H W Bush (who unlike most of today's conservative leadership had actual combat experience). The copy circulating on the internet has a 1993 overstamp which has fooled many into blaming President Bill Clinton (not that he wasn't going to get the blame anyway, but I digress ...) http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a272176.pdf



(n) The worship of guns; a modern religion based on buying, owning, carrying and shooting large numbers of firearms in situations where they are not really necessary.
Gundamentalism promises to free you from the meaninglessness of everyday life by letting you stroke long hard objects and make loud noises while fantasizing about killing your enemies.

The Key to 10 Minute Blog Posts: Organization

After writing more than 2000 blog posts in the past five years (mostly on my 4freeCLE blog, but many elsewhere), I have found one key to being able to write a worthwhile blogpost in 10 minutes or less: Organization. If you think you can just sit down and crank out something that is worth the time without having a clear structure first, then you are either a genius at the level of Robin Williams or Woody Allen, or you are delusional. And if you're a genius, then why are you reading this article?

The first element of Organization is a clearly defined goal. Your blog must have a purpose that you can define in a few words, and toward which you can make progress that you can measure. For example, you may wish to create a collection of your 300 favorite recipes. The collection is a goal; you can measure progress toward it by counting the number of recipes you have posted. If you post one recipe a day, which surely is a reasonable number, then within a year you will have met your goal. Won't that be nice?

The next thing you need is structure for your blog posts that supports your progress toward your goal. The structural elements you need are time, content and format. You must set a time at which you will create your blog post; typically this is a type of day, such as 6:30 am, but it can also be tied to some event, such as when you are on the bus home after work. The important thing is to set a time and practice creating a blog post every day so it becomes a habit. A source of content is necessary because if you sit around looking for content, you'll blow through your 10 minutes without even start writing. Find a content source, such as your recipe pile or the adventures of your pets, that either generates a new thing to write about every day, or that has enough back material that you'll be able to reach your overall goal. Finally, you need a blog post format structure that frees you from having to waste time figuring out the particular design of each post. For example, you might have a blog format that consists of one uploaded picture, a caption for that picture, a first sentence that describes the picture, a short paragraph telling when and where you took the picture and why, and a final paragraph talking about what the picture means to you. With a structure like that, you have split your work into tiny, manageable chunks that are easily tossed off - and quickly!

Finally, and most importantly, you must practice. Practice, practice, practice. There is absolutely no substitute for building experience by doing a task ten thousand times. Set yourself the goal of creating at least one 10-minute blog post a day, every day, for one year. The first few may be hard; hitting "publish" after 10 minutes may be embarrassing. However, after you have done this 100 times or 300 times, your work will improve and eventually it will be very good. Why not try?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

4freeCLE: Free CLE Webcasts & Events! September 15, 2013

4freeCLE: 
Free CLE Webcasts & Events!
September 15, 2013
In This Issue
September Webcasts
October Webcasts
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Delaware
District of Columbia
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virgin Islands
Virgina
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Other States
Archive

September Webcasts
mother-child-laptop.jpg
Webcasts Bring CLE To You!
How can you tell if a particular webcast has been approved for credit in your state? If the sponsor reports that it has applied for credit in a state, the webcast is included in that state's listings. For other states, you you may be able to apply for credit through your state's credit-granting authority. 
Whether you get credit or not, you can access these webcasts anywhere you may be for the sake of the free education!

October Webcasts

 

CLE State-by-State
Keep On Learning!
Each of these programs can earn you credit, at no cost, in the state in which it is listed. 
In some cases, the programs require that attorneys attending apply for credit via reciprocity or other rules; check with the credit-granting authority in your state.

Alabama

Alaska

Arizona

Arkansas

California

Colorado

Delaware

District of Columbia

Florida

Georgia

Hawaii

Idaho

Illinois

Indiana

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana

Maine

Minnesota

Mississippi

Missouri

Montana

Nebraska

Nevada

New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota

Ohio 

Oklahoma

Oregon

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

South Carolina

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Vermont

Virgin Islands

Virginia

Washington 

West Virginia

Wisconsin

Wyoming

Other States
According the the ABA, the following states have no mandatory CLE requirement: 
  • Connecticut 
  • District of Columbia 
  • Maryland 
  • Massachusetts 
  • Michigan 
  • South Dakota.
Attorneys there may still find CLE programs substantively useful, but I have not focused on finding free resources for those states in the absence of a requirement.
 
 

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