This just cracks me up.
I want to emphasize something before I tell this next story — I change jokes all the time to make them funnier, but I NEVER change things that actually happened to me in order to sharpen the humor. I tell true stories as well as I can tell them but I keep them true, in all details, to the very best of my ability as far as my memory will serve me. The Starbucks barista yesterday who wrote down my name as “Danny” really did finish off her self-congratulatory rant about how she couldn’t stand people who weren’t careful to spell other people’s names right, by turning to me and asking, “Can I get you anything else, Danny?” If I were reading it on somebody else’s blog I would suspect them of adding the last sentence just to make the ending be perfect…but she really did add that all by herself. And I never “improve” true stories, because otherwise, when life DOES give you a perfect ending, nobody will believe it was really true.
I emphasize that because today I sat amongst a group of stereotypically obnoxious parents-of-child-athletes and not one, but TWO of the obnoxious gentlement provided me with perfect endings, in a single episode — and I don’t want people think I made it up.
Sally wanted to go see her eight-grader friends play volleyball at our local middle school this afternoon. I had to do some work on my laptop anyway and figured I could do that while sitting on the top row of gym bleachers as easily as I could do it at home; so I agreed to take her and her friends Colleen and Paderick (who, as you can tell from those names, are very proud of their Iranian heritage). I myself didn’t know any of the kids who were playing, nor any of their parents, and so I simply sat down at the first convenient empty spot and started to type.
Unbeknownst to me, I had chosen to sit in the de facto visitors’ section. And the parents who were travelling with today’s visiting team (which out of pity shall remain nameless on this blog), were, shall we say, enthusiastically verbal. Mostly they were yelling encouragement to their daughters, which is an activity I wholeheartedly support. One gentleman in particular, though, had a lot to say about the officiating, even though if memory serves I thought, every single time, that the linesmen had gotten the calls right. As he is going to be a recurring character, let’s give him a name — say, “Ralph the Mouth.”
Unfortunately their daughters were not very good at volleyball and were behind 7-0 before getting their first chance to serve, and let’s just say they never seriously threatened to extend the set to three games. The first game came and went quickly, and while the visitors made a little better showing in the second game, still it was 16-9 before long. I wasn’t exactly engaged in the game but I did feel kind of sorry for the team in blue, and when they would get one of their rare good plays I went ahead and cheered for them, secure in the knowledge that I would not offend Sally since she was being very careful to stay at the other end of the gymn lest anyone thing she had come to the game with her dad.
And then we got the first and only real volleyball play of the day (it was eighth grade, after all) — one of the Fort Settlement players, late in a particularly long point, foresaw that one of the visitors was going to try a quick tip over the net, leaped in front of her, timed her leap just right, and actually got a perfect block. This drew an appreciative roar from the admiring throngs on the home end of the bleacher…but then the head linesman disqualified the point on some technicality or other from the rulebook.
Now I know very little about volleyball and certainly know nothing about the rules for eighth-grade girls. But there’s something I’ve seen often enough to recognize it — it’s when a coach who knows the rules very well, sees a referee invoke a rule wrongly, and he tries to remind the official of what the rule is, but the official (this is particularly common in middle-school athletics) doesn’t know what the rule is and is too stubborn to admit it, and the coach just can’t believe that it’s not a mere misunderstanding that can surely be straightened out if he can just explain it clearly enough…ai-ya, you feel sorry for the guy, but you just want to say, “Dude, if they were really good at this, don’t you think they’d be officiating at some higher level, like, you know, high school junior varsity?”
In this case, the Fort Settlement coach spent at least five full minutes trying to enlighten the head linesman, going so far as to pantomime himself from one side of the court to the other in personal demonstrations of how the position rules are altered in the case of certain sequences of passing…I had no idea what he was talking about since I couldn’t hear him and know practically nothing about the rules, but I was kind of amused by his naivete as regards human nature. He was so obviously not going to accomplish anything, bless his heart. But the Parents Of Visitors around me were in a bad mood already (which I could understand, as seeing your kids get their butts kicked tends to do that), and they were definitely Not Amused. They began yelling at the coach to shut up and sit down. Ralph the Mouth in particular — you know, the gentleman who had been the most vocal critic of the officials up to that point – was particularly incensed by the delay and particularly non-decibel-challenged in his advice. The gentleman just to my left, whom I’ll call Buster, chose to wax philosophic: “What’s the big deal? It’s just one point, in one set, and you’re ahead anyway. Just let it go, for God’s sake! Let it go! It’s just ONE POINT!”
And it was about that time, to my immense (but carefully private) amusement that Ralph the Mouth hollered, setting a record for volume in the process, “Come on, Coach, shut up and sit down and stop setting such a bad example for the kids!!”
I stopped trying to think about Black-Scholes derivatives and turned my full attention to relishing the situation. The merest glance at Ralph the Mouth was sufficient to assure myself that irony was the furthest thing from his mind. I was curious to see whether he could top himself — and a moment later he suddenly pointed at a tie-bedecked gentleman at the other end of the gym and asked his wife, “Hey, isn’t that their principal?” Not waiting for a response, he answered his own question: “I think it is. Why doesn’t he stop that idiot? Can’t he see his coach is an embarassment to their school? He should go make his coach sit down. In fact I think I’ll go talk to him.”
And to my delight, he actually rose to his feet, made his way to the base of the bleachers, strode purposefully to the far end of the gym, and with a certain abruptness addressed himself to the gentleman with the tie, over whom he towered by at least six inches. I am no lip-reader, but I presume that he asked, “Are you the principal?” and I definitely saw the principal nod his head and saw his mouth form the words, “Yes, I am.” And sure enough, Ralph the Mouth proceeded, with much gesturing and emphasis, to demand that the principal go intervene in the (still-ongoing) debate between the coach and the head linesman. I could see the expression on the principal’s face getting more and more incredulous, though still carefully polite, and I could see expression on Ralph the Mouth’s face getting more and more frustrated as the principal dealt with him in pretty much exactly the way the head linesman was dealing with the coach. It was like a ballet with dueling, but synchronized, pas de deux on two separate ends of the stage.
Eventually the coach gave up and went back to his seat, and Ralph the Mouth gave up and came back to his, with dissatisfaction on all sides except mine — this was turning out to be much more interesting than your average everyday eighth-grade volleyball game. Play picked up again, with the score now 16-10. Fort Settlement made it 17-10, and then they served out of bounds to give the visitors a freebie, but then the visitors lost the next point…and about that time Ralph the Mouth realized that the scoreboard now read 18-10 rather than 18-11. Being Ralph the Mouth, he immediately let the world know about it, and the rest of the Parents Of Visitors quickly joined in.
Now I didn’t object to this at all because they were quite right; the scoreboard operator had clearly forgotten to change the score after the Fort Settlement service error. But the people down on the court had all obviously tuned out the Parents Of Visitors long before this point, and the scoreboard didn’t change.
And who was the person who was most miffed by this? Not, as you might have guessed, Ralph the Mouth — no, it was Buster. You remember, Buster the philosopher, who had encouraged the coach to get a sense of perspective and stop obsessing over what was after all “just a single point, in a single set”? The next four or five minutes, I kid you not, went about like this…
BUSTER: IT SHOULD BE ELEVEN!!
[Ten or fifteen seconds go bad without the scoreboard's changing.]
BUSTER: WHERE’S OUR ELEVENTH POINT?!? YOU FORGOT TO CHANGE THE SCORE!
BUSTER: HEY! HEY! WHERE’S OUR ELEVENTH POINT??
[The vistors score, and the scoreboard changes to show 18-11.]
BUSTER: THAT SHOULD BE TWELVE! IT SHOULD BE TWELVE!
BUSTER: TWELVE!!!!!! TWE-E-L-LVE!
[The home team scores. The scoreboard now reads 19-11.]
BUSTER: WHERE’S OUR TWELFTH POINT!?
[Point to the visitors. 19-12.]
BUSTER: THAT’S WRONG! THAT’S WRONG! IT SHOULD BE THIRTEEN!
BUSTER: YOU FORGOT A POINT! WE SHOULD HAVE THIRTEEN!
BUSTER: WHERE’S OUR THIRTEENTH POINT?
[Another point for the visitors. 19-13.]
BUSTER: THAT SHOULD BE FOURTEEN! FOURTEEN!
BUSTER [deciding to introduce some variety in his speechmaking, and waving his iPhone about madly]: I HAVE IT ON VIDEO RIGHT HERE!! I’LL PROVE IT!! YOU FORGOT A POINT!!
[Another point for the visitors. 19-14.]
BUSTER [returns to his rhetorical comfort zone]: THAT SHOULD BE FIFTEEN!! FIFTEEN!! WHERE’S OUR FIFTEENTH POINT?
At this point, you have no idea how hard I was having to resist the urge to turn to Buster and say, “What’s the big deal? It’s just one point, in one set. Let it go!!” Or, rather, how hard I would have been having to resist the urge if he hadn’t been so much bigger than I was.
But alas, all good things must come to an end. Fort Settlement called a timeout; and during the timeout the scoreboard was updated to read 19-15, thereby placating Buster; and when the teams returned from the timeout competitive normalcy seemed to be restored; and shortly therafter Fort Settlement made it to 25 and the teams lined up and shook hands and everybody, including myself, began to gather belongings and make for the exits. I hibernated the laptop, put it in its bag, zipped up the zippers, caught Sally’s attention and beckoned her over to me, established that we were all ready to go, and grasped the handle of my laptop bag. And then I happened to look back one last time to the far end of the gym.
And there I saw Ralph the Mouth, having cornered the principal once again in order to renew his philippic in re the coach’s intolerable behavior in talking too long to the head linesman, once again wearing an expression of outrage, gesticulating and grimacing and pointing at the court and then at the benches and then back at the court and then at the principal himself for good measure, setting his Good Example For The Children to the bitter end.
SCENE: The Peril and his newly-22-year-old daughter go to Starbucks for a celebratory birthday coffee break. The barista is a pleasant-looking lady in probably her mid-thirties.
BARISTA: What can I get you folks?
PERIL: I’ll take a venti latte, please.
BARISTA: Venti latte…can I get your name?
BARISTA [carefully writing "Danny" on the cup, to the discreetly shared amusement of the Peril and Kristina]: Thanks. And you, miss?
KRISTINA: I’ll take a grande vanilla latte, please.
BARISTA: No problem. And your name?
BARISTA: Is that Kristina with a K, or a C-H?
KRISTINA: With a K.
BARISTA [writing the name on the cup]: Got it. Sorry, I just always want to get the spelling right. [The Peril and Kristina catch each other's eye and quickly look away, suppressing smiles.] I can’t stand it when people misspell names, can you? [Doesn't wait for an answer, which is good as the Pierces don't trust themselves to talk] It just drives me crazy. I mean, I suppose it’s not really that important, it’s just a big pet peeve of mine when people misspell names; so I’m always careful to get it right. [Turns to the Peril, as Kristina turns to gaze intently at the pictures on the opposite wall while making curious choking noises] Can I get you anything else, Danny?
My daughter is in labor; so I’m working at a Panera Bread in Katy instead of at the office today. On the drive over I was listening to a sports show and the host was complaining that his listeners were trying to hold him to too high a standard. “I get so many e-mails starting, ‘No matter what you and other so-called experts say…’ But, hey, I never espoused that I was an expert!”
Hm, that’s an interesting employment of the term “espoused,” there. But I just noted it mildly in passing, agreed with the host that it would certainly be unreasonable for anyone to credit him with expertise, and would have forgotten it by tomorrow…
…except that the guy at the next table here at Panera Bread just reminded me of this morning’s sports guy, in the act of topping him. Panera Warrior here was talking about how to improve the employee training section of his company’s website and suddenly came up with an idea that really excited him, “Why don’t you impregnate some videos in it?” Um…I have no idea what that means, but I’m pretty sure it’s illegal in China.
Whitey Herzog, talking about modern major-league baseball players back in 1992: “I just don’t understand it. I never saw so many unhappy millionaires in my life.”
1992 was, of course two years before the baseball strike that caused the cancellation of the World Series, that caused me to go on strike myself the following year by refusing to watch a game all year, and that, as it turned out, put an end to my life as a serious baseball fan — once I got by without it for a year, I never went back. The quote that summed up the baseball players’ attitude as I perceived it came from whining, self-pitying Pete Incaviglia: “People think we make 3 million and 4 million a year. They don’t realize that most of us only make 500,000.”
Once the owners and fans realized how much economic damage they had done themselves by destroying the fans’ goodwill, they tried to recapture audiences by colluding on the steroid era, with the ridiculously artifical McGwire/Sosa home run race. That temporarily got attention, but once the fans caught on, it simply caused even more disgust. And Monday night, when I took Kai out to watch Monday Night Football at the local sports bar, the MLB playoffs were on…on about two of the fifty televisions in the place, with all the speakers blasting the sound feed from the football game that owned all the big screens. Congratulations, MLB. You earned it.
Wait, did that sound bitter?
I have a friend who is looking at what Assad has been doing in Syria and drawing parallels with 1941, just as I and other friends of mine (most of which friends were Republicans, of course) saw some parallels between Saddam Hussein and Hitler back in the day. So here are the principles I would generally apply, though case-by-case it can of course be hard. You’ll note that I actually think it is rational for Republicans generally to be willing to support Republican Presidents, but not Democrats, in overseas adventuring, and rational for Democrats generally to be willing to support Democratic Presidents in their overseas adventuring (though at this point I can’t imagine any rational person looking at Obama’s personal track record and wanting to let him within a thousand miles of any place where military decisions are being made), but not Republicans.
1. There are no moral obligations at the governmental level that are not delegations of morality that fundamentally exists at the individual level; nor does any action that would be evil in the absence of an official government become moral just because a democracy or “sovereign state” does it instead of a private individual. (Just because the fallacy of hypostasization is endemic in political discourse doesn’t mean WE have to be silly enough to fall for it.)
2. If a man sees a weak person being beaten or robbed or bullied or raped by somebody else, and he can stop it but doesn’t, he has no business calling himself a man at all. This isn’t politics, this is simple manhood. (To this day I don’t understand how any of the men at École Polytechnique de Montréal could prefer to walk out of the room as cowards rather than die as men, nor can I imagine half a hundred Oklahoma men meekly walking out of a room to leave ten women at the mercy of an obviously deranged gunman rather than charging him en masse a la Todd Beamer and company.)
3. But if you’re going to try to help, you first have to make sure you aren’t about to make things worse. And at the governmental level, a big part of the answer to the question, “Are we about to make things worse?” has to do with the answer to the question, “Is our current President competent?” (Naturally Democrats will generally be more inclined to think Democratic Presidents competent and Republican Presidents incompetent, and Republicans will naturally see things oppositely; and therefore it is NOT necessarily partisanship that causes the average American to support foreign wars when his party is in power and oppose them when the other guys are running the show — and I wish to heaven that both sides would be charitable enough not to constantly accuse other people of “partisanship” at the drop of a war resolution.) Not only that, but another big part of the answer is, “Are any of the possible outcomes actually good ones?” Or, to phrase it differently, “Are there good guys and bad guys, or is it just a matter of picking which set of bad guys will win?”
4. In Middle Eastern countries outside of Israel, only rarely is there a conflict in which one can hope the good guys will win — because usually both sides either are already controlled by evil people, or else the side that temporarily has the good guys on it will be coopted by bad guys before you can shake a stick three times. The only way for the good guys to win is for good guys from outside the Middle East to be willing to take over and run things for long enough to establish a change in culture similar to the changes the United States brought about in post-WWII Germany and Japan. And that’s a helluva high price to pay; so you better have a good chance of winning AND a reasonably large number of non-Islamist, largely secular and Westernized moderate Muslims ready to be helped by an outside power.
5. The political process in the United States makes competent Presidents the exception, rather than the rule; so the default position for a skeptic such as me is to be opposed to foreign adventuring. The last President to be genuinely effective in foreign policy, in my opinion, was Ronald Reagan. The first Bush would have declared the Gulf War a success but since he didn’t finish the job and thereby made the humanitarian horrors of Hussein’s post-Gulf-War career possible — and made something like the Iraq War as inevitable as World War II became as a result of the foolish provisions of the Treaty of Versailles — I give the two-faced jerk a C at best. And as for Shrub…well, he was Shrub, and I say that as somebody who supported (with much trepidation, all-too-well justified in the event) the Iraq War. I can absolutely understand if Democrats didn’t think Shrub was smart enough to run the Iraq War; I was worried about him myself even though I thought we had a once-in-a-generation opportunity to do something genuinely transformational in Iraq, and while he surpassed my expectations in the war itself, his handling of the aftermath was catastrophically stupid. See my next point…
6… which is that there is absolutely nothing of fundamental moral value, or of long-term political usefulness, in Democracy-with-a-capital-D, which to American politicians since at least the time of Woodrow Wilson has been inexplicably a talismanic phrase thought to have limitless political power, and which Shrub (Molly Ivins’s untoppable nickname for “the little Bush”) in particular seemed to think would cure all the problems of the Middle East. This, despite the fact that all of the Founding Fathers (who, unlike the modern politician operating on the painfully limited intellectual level of a Kerry or a McCain or a Bush or an Obama, had read their Aristotle and studied their history) knew perfectly well that pure democracy is a terrible way to run any country and that it ensures injustice against the minority at the hands of the mob; which is why they went to such great lengths to make sure the Constitution did NOT establish a democracy. What is of value is the protection of the individual’s liberty and property — the rule of law and the suppression of violence and fraud. A government that effectively protects the ordinary citizen’s life, liberty, and property from criminals within and invaders without, without itself turning into a plundering machine that confiscates the individual’s property and fences in his liberty and (if he protests) cuts short his life — such a government is a legitimate government even if it is a dictatorship (though no dictatorship will fit that description for very long). A government in which every single thing it does is done as a majority vote, in a pure and genuine democracy, has absolutely no legitimacy whatsoever to it if it fails to protect its citizens and instead engages in plundering and oppressing the politically powerless. BUT — the only way to have a good and just government last for any significant period of time at all, is to have a culture in which the average individual values his neighbor’s rights. In the long run the culture wins, no matter what the form of government.
Therefore I believe that under the following circumstances, we have a moral obligation to act in defense of oppressed citizens of evil regimes:
1. When we have reason to believe that the “oppressed” citizens are not just as willing to oppress their neighbors, if given the chance, than their neighbors are to oppress them. Thus, for example, anybody who wishes to intervene against the Israelis on behalf of the Palestinians needs to explain to me his basis for believing that the Palestinians, if they gain power over the Jews, will treat the Jews who fall into their hands better than the Israelis have treated the Palestianians who live in Israel.
2. Let us assume that we have decided that there really are good guys and bad guys. Then the next question is, can we hope to actually save the good guys? Do we have the military capability? And — let’s face it — can we afford it? (The answer to that question is very different in our present situation than it was in 1941 or in 2003.)
3. And if so, since it’s generally the case that in saving some good guys we cause other good guys to die, how high is the up-front price going to be in terms of innocent casualties who suffer as collateral damage, and brave soldiers and their families who pay the ultimate price? In particular, how high is the risk that we’ll unwittingly turn into the 21st century’s version of the people who assassinated the Archduke of Serbia? (Considering that Obama has, as usual, gone to a lot of trouble to make sure our enemies have plenty of warning, and that both Russia and Iran have been actively moving assets into place for retaliation against us, I’d say that risk, while still small, is higher than it was in 2003.)
4. And even if it looks like we could stop the current problem…what then? If you take out Saddam, who fills that power vaccuum? If you take out Assad, who fills THAT power vaccuum? (Not to mention that Obama has already said that regime change is not even one of our goals.) Are you going to go to massive amounts of expense of both national resources and lives (both ours and those of innocent noncombatants who die in the chaos of war)…just so that somebody just as bad as the current evil guy can take over and start oppressing a different set of women and children? Or are you actually willing to solve the problem, which will almost certainly mean taking over the country and running it for however long it takes to change the culture?
We actually did solve the problem in Germany and Japan, and the Bush administration and State Department appeared willing to go in for full-scale cultural change in Iraq (though not competent enough to bring it about). I thought Iraq was the best chance in half a century to establish a nation in the middle of the Muslim Middle East in which individual human rights could actually be protected and which could show the oppressed peoples of the Middle East that the road to prosperity and peace and happiness was the road away from Islamism, and while I didn’t think it would be easy, I thought we should either take our shot then or else get the heck out the Middle East and stay out. Well, we had Bush, one of the worst judges of character in the history of the Presidency, and his disastrous choice of Jay Bremer to oversee the rebuilding of Iraq; and instead of doing everything in our power to establish law and order and security in the country we defined success in terms of purple fingers, and within a year Iraq had gone from passionately pro-American to intransigently anti-American, and the moment of opportunity was lost. If any of my Democrat friends want to tell me that in gambling that Bush’s intelligence would be up to the job I was a fool, well, I can’t blame them…only, it’s not that I thought Shrub was a foreign policy genius, only that the stars were aligned as they had rarely been before and might never be again.
But now comes Syria…and where is the opportunity?????? On the one side you have Assad, on the other side you have an insurgency dominated by…Al Qaeda. What do you solve by doing…well, anything? Where are the moderates that you had in Iraq and could hope to cooperate with?
Syria is an ongoing tragedy. But it has BEEN an ongoing tragedy for two or three generations — just as Iran is an ongoing tragedy (why in God’s name Obama chose to rush into recognition of that regime rather than supporting the secularist pro-democracy pro-American party is something nobody has ever adequately explained to me), just as Kurdistan (one of the most governmentally corrupt places on earth, to America’s shame) is an ongoing tragedy, just as Yemen and Saudi Arabia are ongoing tragedies, just as Afghanistan has been an ongoing tragedy pretty much ever since God created the Hindu Kush. Middle-Eastern Muslim culture is deeply, deeply dysfunctional. The core problem in the Middle East was not Hussein, was not the Ayatollah, was not Ahmadinejad, and is not Assad. It isn’t even Al Qaeda. The individuals come and go but the culture is as twisted and dysfunctional as ever. If you aren’t going to remake the culture, then nothing you do will solve the problem. Bush was willing to attempt to remake the culture, but didn’t have the intelligence that such a task would have taken. Is there any reason to think Obama is even willing to make the attempt — or indeed, that any person who was ever optimistic about the Arab Spring (a movement that was obviously doomed to failure from the instant of its conception) has yet come to grips with the reality that the culture has to BE changed in the first place? And if Obama does see it, and does want to stimulate such a cultural change in Syria…where is the opportunity for such a change at this point?
If we thought there was a reasonable chance to genuinely make a change and permanently exorcise the evil, then I would think we would have a moral obligation to at least try (if we could at all afford it — which, considering that we owe literally more money than the entire money supply of the world, I seriously doubt). We had the opportunity to do that in World War II, at least for Western Europe and Japan. We did it in South Korea, and had an opportunity to do it in Vietnam (ask the Vietnamese boat people whether they think Assad is any worse than the North Vietnamese, and ask the Cambodians how they think Assad stacks up to Pol Pot), though in the end we didn’t get the job done (whatever the reasons, which is an argument I don’t want to start). And we had, I think, a chance in Iraq; but we unluckily had a President who simply wasn’t up to the task. (Again, any Democrats who wish to say “I told you say” may do so without offending me at all; Shrub amply justified your doubts.)
But where is that opportunity in Syria? I just don’t see it, myself. Therefore the tragedy in Syria seems to me, as much as it breaks my heart to say, to be a tragedy about which there is literally nothing we can do. And even if there WAS the opportunity for the kind of cultural change that is the only thing that can make any real difference, that kind of change requires a level of cost and commitment that the American people, after all these years of expense and loss of life in Iraq and Afghanistan with so little to show for it, simply wouldn’t have the stomach to pay.
So I don’t think we should do anything in Syria, and therefore I think Obama should simply shut up and quit trying to act tough when nobody in the world thinks America is willing to walk the walk to back up our talk. If you have a big stick, you can speak softly; but if you have no stick at all then the only thing to do is to not speak at all.
But I sure can understand the feeling that we OUGHT to do something.
Champion stupid dude of the day: Lavonte David, the Tampa Bay dude who pushed Geno Smith for absolutely no reason and thus put the Jets in field go range with seven seconds left. One of the stupidest plays I’ve ever seen in any sport on the professional level.
But if you want to see the biggest accumulation of stupidity, how about:
1. Clay Matthews hits Kaepernick out of bounds to give the Forty-Niners a first down after they were stopped for a fourth-and-two inside the ten. Stupid.
2. But then Joe Staley comes and bails Matthews out by starting a fight, drawing his own flag, and turning the dead-ball automatic-first-down penalty on Matthews into offsetting penalties. Welcome to fourth down again, you moron.
3. BUT THEN the officials said, “Offsetting penalties…replay third down.” Say WHAT? I’m sitting there thinking, “Have they changed the rules???” Um, no, you just have hopeless morons who don’t know the rules calling the marquee game in the NFC. UnbeLIEVable. How do THESE guys have jobs????
Yeah, we’re all professionals here…