Thursday, December 22, 2011

10 Free CLE Opportunities!

Another Newsletter on free Continuing Legal Education....

4freeCLE: The Free CLE Newsletter!Dec 21, 2011
Recorded Online Credit
Most of these events are approved for credit in several jurisdictions, or eligible for credit via reciprocity. If your state is not listed, getting credit may be as simple as checking with your state bar association and, perhaps, filling out a form.
Free CLE Before Year End 

Live Online Credit
The menu is getting thin as the year winds down, but this one may be worth a try:

A Big Thank-You To ...
...all our providers of free Continuing Legal Education, especially Brown Winick - You are making a difference!
Would you like a free mention in this newsletter? You can earn the thanks of the community and a link to your website by being the first to  email the editor with news of a free CLE. This includes events that you or your organization may be putting on yourself.
Happy Holidays - let's give ourselves the gift of education!

For Email Marketing you can trust

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Kris' Awesome Tomato Soup

What A Tomato!
Kris wins this week's soup-off at Big Al's, using home-canned tomatos + fresh basil. The competition was tough with six awesome entries, but in the end, the Free Beer was hers!
The full story: Big Al's is a little brewery a few blocks from here that includes a family-friendly tap room. One Sunday, the bartender brought in a crockpot of soup to share, which was much appreciated, but one of the customers uttered the fatal words, "Ok, this is good, but I can make better."
The Throw-Down Was On!
Next week, they both brought in their best, and so did another customer. Now, every Sunday, a bunch of us brings in soup, based on the ingredient randomly selected the week before. Everyone samples anonymously and votes; winner gets a beer and bragging rights.
Here's Kris' winning entry:

  • Saute some scallions or green onions, and a cup of diced parsnip in some butter.
  • Add water and cover, steaming the mix until the parsnips are soft.
  • Add a jar of home-grown tomatoes, a box of tomato stock, and enough water to give you the right consistency.
  • Add some chopped-up fresh tomatoes (this time it was grape tomatoes, but use whatever's good right now) and bring it all up to serving temperature.
  • Shortly before serving, throw in some fresh basel, which should be chopped up until it is like tea leaves; you want the basel to steep in the soup, releasing its flavor while softening into edibility.
  • That's it. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Thinking about Mark Pagel and Infinite Stupidity

Innovations in
Fitness Equipment
A really smart guy is Mark Pagel ...
"... a Fellow of the Royal Society and Professor of Evolutionary Biology; Head of the Evolution Laboratory at the University of Reading; Author Oxford Encyclopaedia of Evolution; co-author of The Comparative Method in Evolutionary Biology."
... and he just wrote a great article entitled Infinite Stupidity over on Edge, where the smartest people go to talk smartly. His basic thesis is that there may be evolutionary factors reducing our general intelligence, because as our effective groups increase in number, the fraction of us who need to be genuinely creative decreases.

But rather than have me paraphrase his article badly, go read it. I'll wait.

So what do you think? I came across this article courtesy of David Brin's "Contrary Brin" blog, and Dr. Brin dissects some of the historical data Page uses to come to a very different conclusion. You should go read that too - it's fun!

But me?  I think Pagel's discussion goes astray where he asks, "Do we need more innovators in a larger social group?"

This question uses "need" to cover a really complex social construct. To look at cases: a stable tribe in a stable environment may flourish with zero innovation; a tribe in an unstable environment may flourish only if it has a lot of innovation; in this sense the concept of "need" may have a simple meaning, but the answer to the question is different in either case. A small tribe that impacts its environment very little may "need" very little innovation to flourish, whereas a large tribe that alters its environment grossly, and/or comes into conflict with other tribes, may "need" much more innovation merely to survive.

And it's still not entirely clear what "need" means; if it's something like economic demand for innovation, then we see at once that half the analysis is missing: the concept of "supply". Even if the Demand (or "need") for innovation were to drop as tribesize increases, the supply may increase, and therefore the amount of innovation produced, if the cost of the factors of production fall.

One of the cool things about civilization is that it cuts the cost of innovation; if you spend a week crafting a new type of spear that fails utterly, the penalty is no longer starvation. (This doesn't mean that innovations can't be extremely expensive for society, but the individuals innovating on the project can lead comfortable lives while doing so, even if their innovations fail, e.g. lots of people drew paychecks from the Apple Newton.) Since 1789, we even have bankruptcy in part to encourage such risktaking!

In addition, the utility of small innovations or partial innovations increases as pool of people to share it with grows. Let us say that I have an idea for chipping a better spearpoint but it has a design flaw at the joining with the haft; today my design partner in Sweden can now spot that flaw and fix it.

Pagel offers Facebook as an example of a decreasing ratio of creativity-to-participants, but I'm not sure the data bears him out. It's true much of the internet is copyed, e.g. we all share humor and music. Because the rewards of crafting really good humor is greater than pre-internet, there is a vast competition to produce more and better stuff to share. Remember when your options for humor were three channels of sitcoms? When your music came from whoever paid the DJs for rotation time? There is undoubtedly more and better visual and musical art being created today than ever before!

Look at boardgames. I was a 60s kid and there were maybe a couple dozen board games, and very few in the strategy realm. Avalon Hill produced a couple title in a year.
Today, thanks to cheap printing, internet sales, and Kickstarter, we are in a golden age of board game design. There are probably more board games/card games coming out every year than existed in my childhood (you have 1 day to join the Schlock Mercenary game project!)

The game environment in particular may address the concern expressed by
@Twisted Scottish Bastard
"... a financial/reward structure available for them, to let them create their ideas in the real as opposed to the virtual."

Microfinancing is working for creative projects. You no longer have to sell your comics to Marvel/DC, your games to Avalon Hill, your shoe designs to (uhm, sorry, I don't know if anyone would take them!) to get them into the hands of consumers, who will reward you or punish you.

I am not accustomed to being an optimist, and I'm certainly far from as smart as Pagel, but the future is bright.
Today's email from Michael Moore says so much that makes sense that I'm just gonna reprint it ... you should read it in full:

A Man in Tunisia, a Movement on Wall Street, and the Soldier Who Ignited the Fuse ...a letter from Michael Moore

Saturday, December 17th, 2011
It's Saturday night and I didn't want the day to end before I sent out this note to you.
One year ago today (December 17th), Mohamed Bouazizi, a man who had a simple produce stand in Tunisia, set himself on fire to protest his government's repression. His singular sacrifice ignited a revolution that toppled Tunisia's dictator and launched revolts in regimes across the Middle East.
Three months ago today, Occupy Wall Street began with a takeover of New York's Zuccotti Park. This movement against the greed of corporate America and its banks -- and the money that now controls most of our democratic institutions -- has quickly spread to hundreds of towns and cities across America. The majority of Americans now agree that a nation where 400 billionaires have more wealth than 160 million Americans combined is not the country they want America to be. The 99% are rising up against the 1% -- and now there is no turning back.
Twenty-four years ago today, U.S. Army Spc. Bradley Manning was born. He has now spent 570 days in a military prison without a trial -- simply because he allegedly blew the whistle on the illegal and immoral war in Iraq. He exposed what the Pentagon and the Bush administration did in creating this evil and he did so by allegedly leaking documents and footage to Wikileaks. Many of these documents dealt not only with Iraq but with how we prop up dictators around the world and how our corporations exploit the poor on this planet. (There were even cables with crazy stuff on them, like one detailing Bush's State Department trying to stop a government minister in another country from holding a screening of 'Fahrenheit 9/11.')
The Wikileaks trove was a fascinating look into how the United States conducts its business -- and clearly those who don't want the world to know how we do things in places like, say, Tunisia, were not happy with Bradley Manning.
Mohamed Bouazizi was being treated poorly by government officials because all he wanted to do was set up a cart and sell fruit and vegetables on the street. But local police kept harassing him and trying to stop him. He, like most Tunisians, knew how corrupt their government was. But when Wikileaks published cables from the U.S. ambassador in Tunis confirming the corruption -- cables that were published just a week or so before Mohamed set himself on fire -- well, that was it for the Tunisian people, and all hell broke loose.
People across the world devoured the information Bradley Manning revealed, and it was used by movements in Egypt, Spain, and eventually Occupy Wall Street to bolster what we already thought was true. Except here were the goods -- the evidence that was needed to prove it all true. And then a democracy movement spread around the globe so fast and so deep -- and in just a year's time! When anyone asks me, "Who started Occupy Wall Street?" sometimes I say "Goldman Sachs" or "Chase" but mostly I just say, "Bradley Manning." It was his courageous action that was the tipping point -- and it was not surprising when the dictator of Tunisia censored all news of the Wikileaks documents Manning had allegedly supplied. But the internet took Manning's gift and spread it throughout Tunisia, a young man set himself on fire and the Arab Spring that led eventually to Zuccotti Park has a young, gay soldier in the United States Army to thank.
And that is why I want to honor Bradley Manning on this, his 24th birthday, and ask the millions of you reading this to join with me in demanding his immediate release. He does not deserve the un-American treatment, including cruel solitary confinement, he's received in over eighteen months of imprisonment. If anything, this young man deserves a friggin' medal. He did what great Americans have always done -- he took a bold stand against injustice and he did it without stopping for a minute to consider the consequences for himself.
The Pentagon and the national security apparatus are hell-bent on setting an example with Bradley Manning. But we as Americans have a right to know what is being done in our name and with our tax dollars. If the government tries to cover up its malfeasance, then it is the duty of each and every one of us, should the situation arise, to drag the truth, kicking and screaming if necessary, into the light of day.
The American flag was lowered in Iraq this past Thursday as our war on them officially came to an end. If anyone should be on trial or in the brig right now, it should be those men who lied to the nation in order to start this war -- and in doing so sent nearly 4,500 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to their deaths.
But it is not Bush or Rumsfeld or Cheney or Wolfowitz who sit in prison tonight. It is the hero who exposed them. It is Bradley Manning who has lost his freedom and that, in turn, becomes just one more crime being committed in our name.
I know, I know, c'mon Mike -- it's the holiday season, there's presents to buy and parties to go to! And yes, this really is one of my favorite weeks of the year. But in the spirit of the man whose birth will be celebrated next Sunday, please do something, anything, to help this young man who spends his birthday tonight behind bars. I say, enough. Let him go home and spend Christmas with his family. We've done enough violence to the world this decade while claiming to be a country that admires the Prince of Peace. The war is over. And a whole new movement has a lot to thank Bradley Manning for.

Michael Moore
There are people who don't like Michael Moore because he's kinda lumpy looking; he doesn't wear a nice suit, he doesn't have Mitt Romney hair and he doesn't stare into a camera and tell you that you should be afraid of dark-skinned people from other countries. Those things are important if you like being fooled by the people who profit from fooling you.
But if you're one of those people who don't like being fooled, Moore is the man to watch; he is quite simply the most effective non-fiction filmmaker of our time, and he tells truths that people don't want to hear.

Another Issue of the free CLE Newsletter ...

... on the plus side, my free CLE Newsletter has something like 100 subscribers ( addition to over 700 Twitter followers, who get the material 140 characters at a time).
On the minus side, the 1st item in the latest issue has now posted that it is full up. I don't know that I can take credit for that, but  I may have done my part. Anyway, FWIW, here's the current issue:

4freeCLEDec 15, 2011

Free CLE Before Year End 

Live Online Credit
If you need a few more credits before the end of the year, try some free online programs! Most of these events are approved for credit in a number of jurisdictions. If yours is not listed, contact your state bar to see if you can apply for credit; it may be as simple as filling out a form!
Recorded Online Credit
The subject matter of most of these programs are not state-specific, so getting credit may be as simple as viewing the program and filling out a form with your state bar association.
Live Credit
Live events are excellent opportunities to network with like-minded professionals, while earning valuable credit. Unless otherwise noted, events are free and open to the public, and provide credit in the state in which they occur. 
A Big Thank-You To ...
Again  Richard Clem, of Clem Continuing Legal Education, wins the weekly "Thank You!" for alerting me to the Iowa program above! Be sure to check out his "Need CLE Credits Before December 31? Don't Panic!".
You too, like Richard, will earn the thanks of the community and a link to your website by being the first to email the editor with news of a free CLE. This includes events that you or your organization may be putting on yourself!