Counting to Ten

Thanks to modern technology, most ‘news’ is beaten to death within hours of its release, and if you’re like me, you’d probably like to escape from it and the myriad of opinions that accompany it, for a day (maybe two). On that note, I would like to start off by apologizing for writing this in the first place. I’ve heard enough about Duck Dynasty and Phil Robertson to last a lifetime, and the last thing I would normally want to do is throw any more mud into the water; yet here I am, about to do just that. Thus, this post is an exercise in hypocrisy as I throw my hat into the very ring that I hate (when occupied by others) to flog that proverbial dead horse…


Sorry about this old boy, but you know how bad their aim is with blasters…

When I was younger, sometimes I would lose my cool. I had somewhat of a short fuse, and every once in a while… I can’t be the only first-grader to run away from school to avoid the consequences of having beaten up a friend during a high stakes game of soccer-baseball… can I? OK, that’s besides the point, but after incidents such as those, there was a lesson my parents endeavored to impart: count to ten.

When someone gets on your nerves; don’t punch him in the face, count to ten.

When someone says something hurtful; don’t give the first retort that comes to mind, count to ten.

When someone’s being a downright a-hole; don’t decapitate him with your Katana, count to ten. (Unless he’s a zombie. In that case don’t count, there are probably a lot of decapitations in your future – you’ll need the practice).

Its simple. All too often people don’t take time to think; instead they simply react. We’re emotional creatures and when someone hurts us, we want to hurt them back. Our fight or flight instinct is roused, and we take their eye in payment for our tooth. In other words, we escalate things. It’s the third law of motion, except that the reaction normally isn’t equal or opposite: its greater.

There is a scene in one of my favourite shows that illustrates this point better than I ever could, and I quote:

Henry: For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. Who?
Young Gus: Isaac Newton. Third law of motion.
Henry: And how does that apply to the nature of man? Anyone? Shawn?
Young Shawn: You push, they push back.
Henry: Correct. Why?
Young Shawn: Because man is a stupid creature who would rather fight than use its brain.
Henry: And what idiot said that?
Shawn & Gus: You did.


In case you don’t know what I’m talking about… well this probably won’t help, but these are two of the guys in the quote, just not young…

Its natural. We’re human, we react without thinking, seek retributive justice, we want the last laugh, but just because its natural doesn’t make it right. As Louis Fischer wrote: “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” [A1]

So, getting back to the Duck Dynasty kerfuffle…

When Mr. Robertson’s opinions became public knowledge, did GLAAD count to ten and think; “Maybe there’s a way we can deal with this in a civilized manner?” No, they called for his head. When A&E got wind of the backlash did they count to ten and think; “Maybe there’s a way to appease the gay rights advocacy groups without enraging the fan base of our most popular show?” No, they kicked him to the curb. And when the fans learned of Mr. Robertson’s indefinite hiatus, did they count to ten and think; “Maybe there’s a way we can deal with this in a civilized manner?” No, They called for A&E’s head.

All I see is a series of reactionary retaliations that only succeed in ensuring the propagation of more hate, and in making any beneficial resolution impossible.

It is within an organization like GLAAD’s rights to call for Mr. Robertson to be punished. Does that make doing so smart? Its Debatable. It is also within a corporation like A&E (or whoever owns A&E)’s rights to let Mr. Robertson go in order to protect the corporation’s image. Does that make doing so smart? It certainly doesn’t appear so. Finally, it is within the rights of the fans (and others) to raise all hell in response to A&E’s actions. Does that make it smart? No, the snowball has gotten too large, and picked up too much momentum for smart to even be an option.


This would have been a good indicator of how I felt at the beginning of this post…

At some point over the course of the last week or so (has it even been that long?) any one of these players could have taken the time to count to ten and decide that maybe non-escalation would be a good policy for a change. Because when you push someone, they push back, and this normally goes on until somebody lands a K.O., and I don’t know about you, but as for me, that’s a lot of ugliness I’d rather avoid if it’s at all possible, especially if it could all be avoided by simply listening to our parents and counting to ten.

(I should also apologize for telling anybody to listen to their parents. I may never have been more hypocritical in my life…)

Update-Dec 23: I realize now that it may be ‘count to three’ and not ‘count to ten’… did anyone else grow up with this advice? And if so, can you help me figure out which is right?


Back to Post [A1]: This quote is normally attributed to Mahatma Gandhi; however, there is no evidence of his ever having said it. Louis Fischer first used this phrase in order to explain Gandhi’s concept of Satyagraha, a non-retaliatory philosophy, in an early biography of the Indian leader. It has also been used by Martin Luther King Jr. in his book Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story.


Incongruous Expectations

As I write I am serenaded by the melodious whine of an air compressor, the pitchy buzz of a reciprocating saw, and the staccato ‘tac tac’ of a nail gun. My folks are having new windows put in, and I am left pondering the seemingly incongruous expectations we place on those who make their living performing manual labour; namely, the perfection that is expected from those to whom a pittance is paid.

My father, ever the attentive consumer, has been pointing out, and asking questions about, some of the imperfections he’s noticed as the windows are installed. Now he has every right to complain, and should; this work is costing him upwards of $30,000, and that’s no small sum. However, how much of that 30 grand do the installers, who in addition to labouring all day in the sun must now listen to said complaints, see? Expecting perfection for 30 G’s is a right, but to expect it from someone making a couple bucks over minimum? I don’t know. If you’re expecting to get what you pay for, than those expectations must be balanced between the value expected from $30,000, and the value assigned to the slightly-more-than-minimum-wage employee.

When programmers (or whoever was to blame), probably paid [let’s say] double the salary of a skilled labourer, manage a fiasco like the Diablo III launch, shouldn’t one expect double the error 37’s from the latter? I’m not suggesting that the salaries for these two jobs should be comparable. The former go through much more school and training, and deserve higher salaries. As someone who has designed and built interlock patios, I understand that jobs requiring manual labour are not the most difficult, and the wage paid for them reflects that. However, it takes time and practice to master anything (as evidenced by the numerous incredibly botched interlock jobs done by do-it-yourselfers one can see in almost any neighbourhood), and most labourers aren’t being paid to master, they’re being paid to get by (as evidenced by the numerous botched interlock jobs done by poorly run companies that I have had to repair). Expecting perfection from said workers can only be deemed excessive when their salaries constantly tell them they are incapable of it.

By no means should one not expect good work, a $5,000 patio should look like a $5,000 patio, just like a video game designed to played should be playable, but one should also keep in mind that perfection cannot (or at least should not) be expected of someone who is being paid for shit.

Get the Cameras out of the Dressing Room

It was a bigger story than Marc-André Fleury’s inability to stop a puck, ‘James Neal: Headhunter’, or Jonathan Quick shutting out the President’s Trophy winners. Yes, I’m talking about Sydney Crosby Vs. the glove of Vorachek, apparently the most captivating saga since Ilya Bryzgalov Vs. the Bears, quickly eclipsing Shea Weber mistaking Henrik Zeterberg’s helmet for an egg-shell.

Since when is this even a story? Since when did hockey become so boring that a glove becomes a bigger story than the player supposed to be wearing it? Yet commentators spewed their indignation over the incident, whilst reporters seemingly thanked God for finally having something compelling to ask the superstar. What did they expect, an admission of the incredible immaturity of his actions? An apology? Something other than the scripted, PC, or cliché answers always given by athletes during interviews? Sports media has become so drama obsessed that the commentary is gradually morphing into People Magazine, crying wolf at gossip that isn’t there. Jersey Shore won’t be back for a sixth season, thank goodness we have the NHL to pick up the slack!

This glove incident is the pebble that starts an avalanche, so inconsequential that it barely deserves an eye-roll, yet somehow deserving of a Kimmo Timonen slash and the eventual ejection of both him and Kris Letang. The only thing less mature than Crosby’s glove antics were the reactions to it. Reactions that include not only the brawl, but the media’s over infatuation with, and over exposure of, the incident.

Its ridiculous, but nothing new. Last year Roberto Luongo got more attention for “pumping someone’s tires” than for the Jekyll & Hyde nature of his goal-tending, while during the season, self-proclaimed ‘hockey experts’ cared more for Tim Thomas’ (who deserves kudos for standing up to the media’s hounds) political views than for Bruins’ struggle with a similar identity crisis. It is a sad story that is by no means restricted to hockey, but is indicative of the problems with a modern media in which Question Period is simply an audition for the 6-O’clock News, and court rooms are more important for boosting ratings than for dispensing justice.

So get the cameras out of the locker rooms. The players rarely, if ever, have anything new or insightful to say. And while we’re at it, get them out of the House of Commons, if only to create the illusion that QP actually serves a purpose. At the end of the day, the only people who will truly miss the drama are those who are paid to talk about it, and hockey, not to mention politics, will be better off for it.