Coursera Week #2 Recap

I just finished week 2 of my Coursera course, and I am exhausted. The assignment was around 70 pages of reading–two chapters from the book–plus the lecture and 3-4 articles that were just “recommended reading.” I’ve been taking notes of the reading and pretty much ignoring everything else, honestly. This week’s material covers IP, a subject I covered fairly extensively in law school, so maybe I’ll try relying more on the lectures.

So, it turns out that the 14-day deadline for the quiz was just for the first quiz; all the subsequent quizzes have a 1-week deadline. I just made the deadline for Week 2 because it took so long to get through all the reading. (Seriously, most of my law school assignments weren’t this long and involved!)

The content is still fine—the book is informative and thorough, and the few lectures I’ve watched were clear and easy to follow. I’m not crazy about the emphasis on forum participation, though. I reviewed the class policies last weekend, and it turns out that participation in the forum is a significant portion of the grading. Forum participation is based on number of posts, upvotes, starting threads, and some other criteria, but basically, I have to make 20 posts in order to get full credit. Meh. The class is so big that forum participation is difficult. I’m looking for smaller threads to participate in; I should be able to meet the requirements, but even if I don’t, it’s not like I’m taking the class for credit.

I’m not following along with the case study as well as I should—it’s been hard enough to get through the reading. My goals for next week are to work more on the case study and watch all the lectures.  Hopefully, doing these things will help me strike the balance between the readings and the social aspects of the class.

Coursera Course, Week 1

I signed up for a course on Coursera almost a year ago, and it finally got underway. Of course, it started the same week I was on vacation, so I’m a week behind, but I just started Week 1. It’s interesting so far–the professors are using a mixture of video and e-textbooks. I hope I can stick with it over the next six weeks or so!

I’m going to try to blog about the course, too, to get me writing again and to help me decide how I feel about these courses. Thus far, my approach to the course has been to read the textbook and take notes, and then watch the lectures. I’ll try to track how (or whether) my approach evolves over the next few weeks.

Impressions after completing Week 1:

– The forum appears to be mostly useless. It’s a huge class, with some threads having more than 500 posts, and a lot of the thread topics are questions that are easily answered if you read the material. In other words, it’s about as useful as the Blackboard forums I had in college.

– The textbook chapters run a little long, but not too long. It contains legal terms and jargon without explaining all of them—I could see where that could get confusing for non-lawyers or people not acquainted with these terms. That makes me a little nervous about starting the Computer Science class I signed up for…

– The course material seems daunting (a textbook chapter, four lecture videos, a discussion forum, a case study, AND a quiz?,) but it really isn’t that bad. The lectures are all less than 5 minutes each. The first quiz was short, and you could take it up to 3 times. It took me under an hour to do it all, and the deadline for the quiz was really generous–about 2 weeks.

– The course is using Bitstrips for images. No. No no no no no.

I’m going to start Week 2 tomorrow so I can get caught up with the rest of the class. I like it so far, and I think the course does a good job of providing information and giving you chances to apply what you learned in different problems and case studies. It’s somewhat similar to how my IP professor in law school ran lectures. I like it.

Variety: Disney Owns 6 of the Top 10 Licensed Franchises

Variety: With Star Wars and Princesses, Disney Now Has Six of the Top 10 Licensed Franchises

This was a little mind-blowing. Disney was the #1 licensor in the world last year, which speaks to the amount of Disney-related licensed products on the market—apparel, toys, flatware, bedsheets, etc. I was surprised that Winnie the Pooh and Cars were such big franchises for Disney, above Spiderman, even, but then I remembered all the Pooh Bear preschool merchandise and that Cars Land is still fairly new.

I’m looking forward to seeing how Disney manages its Star Wars licensees. I wonder whether they’ll continue to reissue figures the way Hasbro did in the past few years. This became common practice over the past few years, and I know a lot of collectors that stopped buying figures because they didn’t want to buy the same figure in a different packaging. In any case, I thought this article was interesting. I hadn’t really thought about licensing in this way before.


Disneyland Club 33 Video

My friend, Jimmy Burns of Angry Dog Studios, made this video of our visit to Club 33 in Disneyland last summer. Six of us (three couples) went to Disneyland after Anime Expo and had the opportunity to eat at Club 33. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I’m so happy he put this together.

(Cross-posted to my costuming blog.)

Arizona State University’s law school establishes law firm for recent graduates

To Place Graduates, Law Schools Are Opening Firms (New York Times)

Arizona State University has created a law firm for graduates who can’t find jobs in the horrible law school job market. The story said that the Dean wanted to follow a model like a teaching hospital, and I think it’s a good idea, especially for students who didn’t get a chance to take a clinic in law school. Of course, something like this will pad law school employment stats (and I suspect that was a big factor for creating this firm,) but I think it will help young lawyers, so I can’t see it as a bad thing.

Above the Law: The Practice of Doing Free Work

Brian Tannenbaum:

The one question to ask yourself when debating doing free work is:

Why is this client coming to me?

If the answer is that they know you, then you have to think about what they would do if they didn’t know you. They would hire another lawyer. That lawyer would charge them money. That lawyer wouldn’t feel bad. I’m not saying that all of these clients are looking to take advantage of you, but the ease of these types of clients coming to you should not mean that you give away your time and expertise. These are the potential clients that you sit down with and ask, “Why are you coming to me?,” and, “What would you do if you didn’t know me?” At that point, you can address the need to be paid — something — for your time. It’s not about this client, it’s about the other — paying — clients. This is time you can never get back.

This doesn’t just apply to the legal profession, but I keep finding myself being distracted and frustrated by acquaintances—not even close friends—who send me Facebook messages asking a “quick legal question.” And every time this happens, it’s pretty clear that these people assume I have a level of knowledge that I just don’t have–that MOST lawyers don’t have. None of us knows ALL the law, and every time someone asks us a question, we have to do a significant amount of research in order to answer it effectively. For me, that’s time I could be spending writing posts for paying clients or drafting motions for my internship.

It’s hard not to be insulted when people ask for free legal help, and this may not be fair, but the more that I know someone, the less angry I am to receive messages. I guess it’s just different when a best friend asks for some help as opposed to when someone I haven’t spoken to since high school does it. (And yes, that actually happened to me.)

Look, I spent a lot of time and got into a LOT of debt to become a lawyer. If you didn’t contribute to that in some way (including emotional support), then I don’t owe you free legal advice OR legal research. Cause research takes a long time to do thoroughly, and like I said above, that’s time I could be working for paying clients. And if I’m not working for another client, that’s time you’re taking away from whomever I’m spending time with, especially on a weekend.

Before you ask me or one of your other lawyer friends for free advice, think about how you would feel if someone asked you to do a bunch of work for them for free. Be considerate and remember that I’m struggling to pay off student loans, and try to realize that it’s a little rude of you to assume that I’m going to use my training and specialized skills for nothing in return just because we are friends/went to high school/share similar interests.

If that offends you or you think I’m being greedy, then starting thinking of it this way: The next time you ask me for free legal advice, you’re going to get what you pay for.

Forever A Loan

I got a notification today that it was time to repay my loans. I’ve been in forbearance for a while because I just can’t cover my loans on top of my rent and other bills. When I logged into the site, I was informed that half of my loans have been transferred to another servicer.

So I log onto the new servicer’s website and not only do I have a payment due next week, it’s for WAY MORE than I ever paid with my old servicer. So I’m trying to frantically apply for income-based repayment and maybe forbearance, but they won’t let me do anything electronically the way my old servicer would. Argh. I email them, and they don’t respond today… we’ll see if they respond tomorrow. I tried calling them, too, but the line was busy. I have no idea what I’m going to do. Hopefully I’ll talk to them tomorrow, and I’m definitely going to get my stuff submitted to them (I learned that I could fax stuff instead of mailing it–everything on their website says to MAIL STUFF TO THEM, which is absolutely ridiculous. So at least I can fax them stuff.)

At the moment, I have no faith whatsoever in this company not to completely screw my loans up. I searched for a reason why these loans (and not my others) were transferred, and I found this article:

Apparently, the health care law required federal loans to be serviced by non-profit servicers. Which has fuck-all to do with healthcare, but WHATEVER. We had to pass it so we could find out what was in it, and here we are… additional taxes for real estate purchases and non-profits poorly servicing millions in student loans…

Sara R. Ellis: Copyrighting Couture: An Examination of Fashion Design Protection and Why the DPPA and IDPPPA are a Step Towards the Solution to Counterfeit Chic

I’m sure I posted about this article when it was published, but it’s still an interesting and relevant read. It was written by one of my former classmates, Sara R. Ellis, and it’s available at SSRN:

Copyrighting Couture: An Examination of Fashion Design Protection and Why the DPPA and IDPPPA are a Step Towards the Solution to Counterfeit Chic

Deadspin: Shawn Johnson Retires, Raises Issues of Body Types in Gymnastics

The post isn’t as sinister as the headline makes it out to be, but there is something behind the argument that the leaner gymnasts are often fawned over. Svetlana Khorkina was the first person who came to mind when I read this–she was a Russian gymnast at the 96 Olympics (and others) who the commentators often Oo-ed and Ah-ed over because she was SO TALL. Oh, she’s SO TALL that Uneven Bars was really hard for her! And she’s SO TALL and graceful on Floor Exercise! I was shocked when I learned that she’s 5’5″.I also thought of the difference between female college gymnasts and the female Olympic gymnasts. It always drove me crazy that by the time a female gymnast hit college, her Olympic prospects were pretty much gone, but many male gymnasts went on to compete in the Olympics after college. A lot of the gymnasts I saw at college meets were stockier; I’m sure there were some lithe ballerina-types, but the ones I remember were curvier. (Of the two body types, I’m definitely on the stockier side, so don’t read this as being a negative judgment.)When I think of gymnasts, I usually think of the more powerful, “athletic” body type, even though I do love gymnasts like Nastia Liukin. I hate that Shawn Johnson felt like she weighed too much during the Beijing Olympics. 😦 I guess I’m lucky that my coaches, parents, and teammates never put any emphasis on weight. I would never have thought to judge my favorite gymnasts based on how they look.

Big Hollywood discovers “Terrifying New Trend”–Adult My Little Pony Fans

In a huge case of “can’t tell if trolling,” Kurt Schlichter at wrote an article about how adult fans of “My Little Pony” are a huge threat to our society.

No, I’m not joking: “Terrifying New Trend: Grown Men Who Dig ‘My Little Pony.'”

This pretty much sums up the post:

I don’t even know what to say, you guys. I’m usually not one to play the “There are Bigger Things To Worry About!!!” card, but… seriously? There are people who are producing outright propaganda and media outlets that air it under the guise of “unbiased reporting,” but the Worst Thing In The World, the Thing We Need to Worry About, is My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic? It doesn’t even air on basic cable. This is one of those stories that makes me sigh and think, No wonder people think conservatives are fun-hating, judgmental assholes. And then I’m driven to drink.

Honestly, the only good things about Schlichter’s post are the comment threads full of reasonable adult fans who call him out on his bullshit, and the people who respond and say, “Oh, okay, maybe I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, Person Who Has Actually Watched the Show.”

There are a lot of things to criticize bronies about—I don’t identify as a “brony” because I generally don’t associate with fandoms—but just liking the show isn’t one of them, especially if you haven’t watched it yourself. There are tons of articles on the Internet that already explain why adults are drawn to the show, so I’m not going to re-hash all of that. And part of me thinks that Schlichter’s post is so melodramatic and ridiculous and blatant link-baiting that it’s not even worth engaging. (And that’s why I’m busting out the macros!)

But the part where he talks about the lessons that Captain Kirk can teach to boys? “…that violence is an important option for defeating evil, that individual dignity is worth fighting for?” Those lessons are taught in My Little Pony. The former was covered particularly well in last week’s episode–the Mane Six ponies had to fight their way through a hoard of evil changelings to get to the Elements of Harmony. One of the ponies was used as a cannon! The show teaches that you have to be assertive and that sometimes, words aren’t enough to overcome your obstacles. The latter lesson is dealt with all the time as each pony (and Spike) struggles with her various problems: Fluttershy’s friends try to coerce her into being who they think she ought to be; the Cutie Mark Crusaders are growing up and trying to figure out what their talents are in the face of bullying; Spike saves an unborn phoenix from destruction by a few asshole pubescent dragons who just want to smash its egg. (If that’s not “fighting for individual dignity,” I don’t know what is. And it’s arguably Pro-Life, to boot! :P)

The show isn’t without other redeeming values, even if it does skip over the classic conservative message of promiscuous sex with strange alien ladies (wait… what?) Three of the Mane Six ponies manage businesses, one of which is a family farm. The “super-girly” pony? Is a fashion designer who runs her own boutique and sews the clothes she shells. The “main character” is smart and obsessed with reading and learning. Capitalism! Entrepreneurism! The importance of Family and Self-Education! Clearly this show is a threat to traditional American values.

She's probably reading the pony-equivalent of Marx!

I guess I’m just disappointed to see the conservative blogosphere jump on the Hate Wagon over My Little Pony because I am a fan and I’m all too used to people hating on things I like without giving it a chance. (As well as the aforementioned feelings of this is why people hate conservatives, stop shooting yourselves in the feet *headdesk*) That happens all the time to geeks, and I guess I figured that most bloggers are geeks and as such, they’d be more accepting of other fandoms. But no, they’ve spent all week complaining about bronies and how threatening they are to the masculinity of the nation.

I guess, overall, I just think that they’re stupid for writing off all MLP fans using all the classic tropes–perpetual virgins, perpetual children, pathetic guys who live at home with their parents, etc. It reminds me of the football fans who flood our Dragon*Con hotels and spend the weekend judging us for wearing costumes while they wear football jerseys, sundresses, and sometimes face and body paint to support their fandoms teams. It’s total obliviousness, and while it’s double-facepalm levels of stupid, it’s also a little hilarious.

Because while you’re being judgmental and telling jokes at our expense, we’re having fun. And it’s way more fun to participate in something you enjoy than it is to stand around and be negative, judgmental jerks.

Photo by Jimmy Burns of Angry Dog Studios.

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