Three Wise Guys

By Joe Heim, Justin Rude and Dan Zak
Sunday, December 2, 2007

Have a question for the Three Wise Guys? Send it to and await their words of wise-dom.

Dear Wise Guys:

I listen to a CD from one of my favorite artists (Vernon Reid) a lot. Maybe three times a week on average. I think it is worth more than I paid for it ($0), because apparently it is a bootleg. The tracks are not available online. Should I destroy the CD since I did not pay for it and have no right to its aural fruits, should I find the guy's agent and mail him a check for $15, or should I just keep listening?


Joe: This is your lucky day, Dave. Instead of turning you in to the Recording Industry Association of America or Homeland Security or whoever polices these things, we e-mailed your question to Vernon Reid (of Living Colour fame) directly. Here's his response: "The moral quandary that the reader is dealing with is one that I wish more downloaders would engage in. . . . I guess my answer is that if he feels that it's worth $15, then he should pay for it as if he were a Radiohead fan buying "In Rainbows" -- paying what he feels it's worth. I'm happy that this listener took the time to engage his conscience with regards to the ethical responsibilities that exist between artist and fan. . . . If he decides to pay for the CD, he should send the check and the CD to me. If he does, I'll personally autograph it and send it back with one of my guitar picks."

Dave, we'll e-mail you Vernon's address so you can take him up on his offer. How's that for reader service?

Dear Wise Guys:

Some of us on Daily Kos are wondering how many people have to show up at the Senate for the pro forma sessions? Just some maintenance people to open the building? Who's going to go in to work for 30 seconds here and there from now to Christmas?


Dan: You crazy wonks. Just one senator must show up, says assistant Senate historian Betty Koed, though he or she is often accompanied by a bare-bones floor staff that may include a parliamentarian, journal clerk, legislative clerk and reporter of debate (who must be fantastically bored during the seconds-long pro forma session, a brief meeting in which no business is conducted; it's usually held to satisfy a constitutional obligation, but in this instance the Democratic chamber is gaveling in and out to stop President Bush from making recess appointments).

As far as opening the building every couple of days this holiday season, that's no problem. There's a key in the fake rock by the back door.

Wise Guys Follow-Up

Justin: Last week's question about the best way to recycle compact disc jewel cases drew more suggestions from readers, including several mentions of Freecycle ( The Web site devoted to giving away unwanted but useful items has a D.C. group with more than 12,000 members. Other ideas: handing them over to a library, university music department or record label. Just don't forget to call first to make sure they want them.

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