During the Q and A after a 2004 lecture at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, denounced the USA’s relationship with Uzbekistan as an affront to civilized human rights norms and a threat to the democratization of neighboring states. With a fellow from Uzbekistan’s foreign ministry sitting behind me. Probably would have moderated my rhetoric a little if I’d known that.
Suggested to the Belarussian ambassador to the US that folks might be more willing to donate to his country’s efforts to recover from Chernobyl if it weren’t such a corrupt, repressive and screwed-up dictatorship that no one could be sure the money would be spent properly.
Gave the Syrian ambassador to the US a headache. I think he was tired of people asking why his government blew up Rafik Hariri.
Talked my way into a “young leaders” videoconference at the World Bank, purely because I wanted to be able to grab lunch at their cafeteria. It’s a great cafeteria!
Crashed the student protests at Gallaudet University in my first week of law school, because I’d heard the kids were getting pepper-sprayed. Talked my way into the building they’d taken over. This was not, in retrospect, the smartest thing I’d ever done.
Okay, one last thing, just because I thought it was funny: I’ve been a huge fan of Judge Kozinksi, out on the 9th Circuit, for years. Brilliant writer, often funny as hell. Very smart on copyright law, absent the odd kerfuffle with Betamax. He was giving a lecture on copyright law in my first year of law school, and I was psyched. So psyched that I shanghaied all my friends into going. So psyched that I printed out a copy of another speech he’d given on copyright law - back in the early nineties - so that I could ask him to sign it.
You might be able to guess where this is going. I’m sitting in the lecture hall, absolutely psyched, a copy of Judge Kozinski’s old speech right in front of me. Judge Kozinski strides to the front of the room, and begins …
To give that very same speech. Word for word. Well, almost - there was a slightly blue joke in the old text, which he left out. And he said DVD instead of VHS. But, otherwise, a perfect recitation of a nearly twenty-year-old speech - which had been billed as a speech on copyright law in the 21st century.
So, what else could I do? I walked up to Judge Kozinksi after the speech, and asked him to sign my printout of his earlier speech - which had the date typed in big, bold font. And he signed it!
Wish I still had that printout. End-of-year locker cleaning is a pain.