Thursday, April 22, 2010


Political Mayhem Thursday: Making things right

On Sunday, I was in New Haven, Connecticut for the memorial for one of my heroes. Prof. Dan Freed of Yale coaxed, inspired, instructed, and guilted me into my passion for sentencing. It was an incredible gift. I have had other mentors, such as IPLawGuy and Judge Jan DuBois, but Prof. Freed was the one who most shaped my true vocation.

The service was held in the main auditorium at Yale Law, followed by a high tea. There were eight speakers: Robert Post, the dean of Yale Law; Kate Stith, a Yale Law Prof.; Lawrence Young, a Yale Med. Prof.; Ron Weich, the Assistant Attorney General; Geoffrey Shields, the Dean of Vermont Law; Sofia Yakren, of Beldock, Levine, and Hoffman, Judge Nancy Gertner; and Peter Freed, who is a psych. prof. at Columbia. They all gave moving and meaningful remembrances; Judge Gertner even quoted this post from the Razor in her exceptional talk.

There was one story arc that ran through many of the remarks. Prof. Freed worked very hard in the 1970's to help reform federal sentencing. One of his more significant contributions was to organize conferences at Yale that produced reform recommendations. Some of those recommendations, in fact, formed the basis for the federal sentencing guidelines. In a way, then, Dan Freed was one of the fathers of the guidelines.

He was not a part of the sentencing commission, itself, though, and that was a great tragedy. The guidelines that resulted were not what would have resulted had his guiding voice been a part of that process. Soon after the guideline era began, Professor Freed saw the problems in this new machine-- he heard the grating noises before many others and began his critiques of this product of his own conferences.

It's remarkable, really-- he spent much of his career critiquing something he had helped create, a project that would have been the crowning achievement of most careers. There is such greatness in that humility-- that he saw the flaws without defensiveness, and let his legacy be his prophetic voice.

Which of our current public figures should do the same? Who would you love to see critique his or her own work, and work to change what they helped to make?

I think George Bush should admit that he busted the budget, and ask that it stop now.
You should admit that the new jeans are a huge improvement! I have additional suggestions.
I'd like to see George Lucas and Steven Spielberg called to account for their crimes.
This comment has been removed by the author.
Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin - for his let them do what they want on Wall Street attitude. Both as Treasury Secretary and as a Senior Advisor at Citigroup. This man owes me a lot of $$$$
Jack in the Box, for their teriyaki bowls.
I am very ready to haiku re your pants.
Newt. His reactionary "revolution" has helped destroy what he professes to love about this country: civil public discourse.
Ben Roethlisberger?
Hippies, for everything.

The Rolling Stones, for pretty much everything they did after "Some Girls", but Keith Richards doesn't have to apologize for anything.

Philadelphia Eagles fans for, well, pretty much for being born, but more specifically for cheering when "The Playmaker" Michael Irvin's career ended at their stadium. They will never be forgiven.

The people that made the most recent Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Movie for getting it oh so very, very wrong.

ABC for giving Bill Maher a political talk show fifteen years ago.

MSNBC for putting Keith Olbermann on the air.

FOXNews for putting Bill O'Reilly on the air.

CBS for canning Dan Rather. Seriously, comedy has never recovered.

Bruce Springsteen for writing the line "Just wrap your legs 'round these velvet rims, and strap your hands across my engines." Seriously?
RRL has reminded me... the music biz has quite a few sins to atone for. Let me grab a hammer and some nails.

1. Hair metal. Yessir. Some washed up producer has some 'splaining to do.

2. The inventor of the "boy band."

3. MTV. All of it. Forever.

4. Metallica. There's "selling out" and then there's what you did. Also, Lars should be fed to circus monkeys.

5. Cowbell; why is there not more of you? I've got a fever.

6. Fender, Ibanez, Gretsch, Jackson, Schecter, and Hamer. Basswood is not a tone wood, and single-coil pickups are weak.

7. John Mayer -- cliff diving is an appropriate hobby for you.

8. Rolling Stone magazine -- thou shalt not mix rock and pop.

9. Paul and Ringo -- it's not fair that you two survived the longest.

10. Ozzy Ozbourne -- your children are embarrassments to your dark legacy, Ozz.

11. Fred Durst -- just stop.

12. Kanye West -- autotuners should not work that way.

13. RIAA -- your corporate thuggery has nearly killed music.

14. Indie music and hipsters -- you were never cool, even ironically, and have destroyed all underground music scenes forever with your pretentiousness and idiocy

15. Canada -- Bryan Adams, Celine Dion, Nickelback... What gives, eh?

16. American Idol, for everything.

17. Lady Gaga, for reinvigorating pop music when it was finally dying.

18. Courtney Love. You know what you did.

19. Layne Staley, for dying too soon.

20. Jane's Addiction, because I really hate this band.
I second both of Lane's comments, RLL's too, and the first anon re: Clapton. I own many of his records & CDs recorded after 1972, but rarely listen to them.

As for political figures, yes, it would be nice if retired politicians or even currently serving politicians would and could say.... Ooops, you know, I messed that up pretty bad.

But they rarely do. Apparently LBJ did, at least in private, but he only lived four years after he left office. Eisenhower admitted to some mistakes too.

Senators and Congressmen in safe seats have been known to change their minds or admit mistakes, but that's rare.
That Slap-chop guy. That thing sucks.
I second the George Lucas comment.
I find Vince from Slap-Chop to be incredibly sexy. And George Bush. But not Newt.
I'm now waiting for Lane to apologize for what he said about hair metal (you don't like Crue? GNR?) and what he said about Jane's Addiction.

Rush is from Canada.

Celine Dion is from Canada.

Do those two balance each other out, or will it be forever doomed to be half awesome, half impossibly lame?

I have my own:

1) George Lucas, for giving the world comic relief CGI sidekicks.

2) People who fail to see the humor in the works of Douglas Adams, for existing.

3) Any person who has a YouTube account marked as a "Partner", for bringing new meaning to the phrase "sell out".

4) Whoever decided that you can't rob the bank in Monopoly.
I would like to voice my total
approval of Micah's comments
regarding Rush.

By the way, are there people that
don't find the works of Douglas
Adams funny? If so, I feel very
sorry for those people.

Who is Douglas Adams?

And ok - I get not liking Bryan Adams; it's a girl thing. I like Bryan Adams - always have and always will.
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, one of the truly great sardonic novels of the 20th century. That's who Douglas Adams is.
I can't stand Axl Rose's voice, and Slash is overrated. Tommy Lee is a scourge on the face of the earth. Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro are talentless hacks, and "Been Caught Stealin'" is an affront to the art of the guitar. Geddy Lee's voice is about six registers too high.

Douglas Adams, on the other hand, is a legend. The secret, RRL, is to bang the rocks together.

(For an awesome rock experience, I recommend the songs "A Horse Called Golgotha," "Steel that Sleeps the Eye" and "War, Wisdom and Rhyme" by Baroness, or anything from The Sword's "Age of Winters" or Mastodon's "Crack the Skye." That is music.)
Axl Rose is one of the greatest voices in rock music. Slash isn't overrated for what he is, an excellent rock/blues guitar player in the vein of Aerosmith. The last two and a half minutes of "Rocket Queen" is the best two and a half minutes of music in the 80s. And "Appetite for Destruction" is one of the 25 greatest albums ever made.

And if you can listen to "Mountain Song" and still dislike Jane's Addiction then I don't know what to do for you.

And what about the voice of Geddy Lee? How did it get so high? I wonder if he speaks like an ordinary guy...

Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so.
Pitting Joe Perry against Slash is a crime, sir! I don't doubt Slash's skill, per se, but his writing and riffs are... uninspired. Contrast him with other blues/rock guitarists playing hard rock, like Jimmy Paige. Slash could never hold a candle to Paige's musicality.

I expect Geddy Lee's voice is high because he huffs helium straight from the tank just to get himself to normal.

Just for the record, I did go and listen to "Mountain Song" again, thinking that maybe I'd missed something. While marginally less annoying than "Jane Says" or "Been Caught Stealin'," Perry Farrell's voice, backed up with that god-awful repetitive chord structure of 90s alternative, leaves me wanting something more.
Anyone insulting GNR will have an official enemy in me.
Anything you say in the future will be met with the response of "yeah, but this guy hates GNR so we can't trust anything he says as being logical"
Well, yes, Slash is not as good as Jimmy Paige. But his riff writing is unoriginal? Uninspired? "Paradise City"? "Sweet Child of Mine"? "Welcome to the Jungle"? I mean, those songs contain three of the most instantly recognizable guitar hooks in all of rock music. And those are just the popular songs on Appetite. And Izzy did a lot of the writing, but Slash was the better player.

And I don't only compare him to Joe Perry, I think, especially if the question is who the better writer is, that Slash is better.

We will have to agree to disagree about Jane's I suppose. Though if your problem is with repetitive chord structures then I think you just don't like rock music (unless it is being played by metalheads who are more interested in proving how many notes they can cram into each song and how many double bass drum rolls they can pull off to worry about whether the song is actually any good).
You have me confused with modern thrash/speed metal that has forsaken the metal credo of virtuousity with a purpose. I much prefer (as with the bands I listed) a slower, more sedate form of Black Sabbath-influenced metal that relies on slower-but-heavier playing. I also enjoy Scandinavian and Celtic folk metal, which combines traditional Celtic and Nordic instrumentation with songs about being Vikings and pillaging the British, which is awesome. The only "double-bass lots of notes" metal I enjoy is black metal, but that's because I enjoy what they do with dissonance and unconventional song structures.

For instance, on my iPhone right now, I have three albums by Blue Oyster Cult, two by Finnish folk metal band Korpiklaani, one by Swedish Viking metallers Ensiferum, Averse Sefira's "Battle's Clarion," Baroness' "Blue Record," Mastodon's "Blood Mountain" and "Crack the Skye," and The Sword's "Age of Winters" and "Gods of the Earth." And, shamefully, a few Dragonforce songs because they play fast enough to make Steve Vai and Yngwie jealous.
Lane-- these are the people who build Saabs and that stuff at Ikea? Weird.
No, they're the angry, socially awkward sons and daughters of the people that make Saabs, cook for puppets, and build Ikea "furniture." They typically have long, unkempt hair and give themselves ridiculous names like "Ingrid" or "Fjorgerson."
Is there something wrong with long, unkempt hair? And don't call me "Ingrid."
I believe the traditional Swedish rejoiner is "Bork, bork, bork!"
GnR is derivative crap. The world would be no different today if GnR had never existed and Axl Rose and Slash parked cars on Sunset Strip.

Led Zeppelin, featuring James Patrick Page, changed the world.

Hitchhiker' Guide is a great book for the first 2/3's or so, but then it.... kind .... of... runs... out of steam... The sequels all have interesting bits, but he really should have quit while he was ahead.
Appetite is a remarkable album. And
bands should not be judged by the
reach of their influence (even
though I would argue GNR's is quite

I agree on Zep and Page. I never
compared GNR to Zep, that was Lane.

And I just vehemently disagree on
Hitchhiker's, but then again my
favorite book is Motley Crue's "The
Dirt", so my opinion may not be that


Hitchhiker's is a book that gets more brilliant on every reading.

And yes, its plot structure is nontraditional. It is pretty much one big beginning and one big ending, with absolutely no middle.

Also, you've got to feel sorry for Douglas Adams. After not publishing a book since 1992, he finally had some great ideas (as evidenced by the people who raided his Mac after he died), but, right as he was about to flesh one or two of them out, he died of a heart attack in 2001. At age 49.




Was away for a few days, but just thought I'd throw in, to the nobody who will read this, that Robert McNamara did this as well, most famously in *The Fog of War*
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