Thursday, June 10, 2010

Value Meal or Last Meal: Jay Leno and the Death Penalty

BROOKLYN, New York -- I never thought that this blog would get dragged into the insipid mire of America's Late Night Wars, but Jay Leno has forced my hand.

While the various programs may jockey for ratings, in terms of quality, the winner is so obvious that it pains me that this is even a conversation i
n America. Jay Leno is a mean-spirited hack. All the hosts, from Grand Master Letterman, to my beloved Ferguson, to oft-forgotten Kimmel, go after the low-hanging fruit of celebrity scandal, but Leno poaches exclusively in this preserve. Watch his monologue, and you will find that almost without exception, every single so-called joke is a vicious personal attack.

Now, this blog was not created to rush to the defense of the likes of Lindsay Lohan (she does cocaine! Ha!) and Jon Gosselin (he's sort of fat and balding! Double Ha, Jay!), but a recent segment on The Tonight Show did go after some defenseless people in a misguided stab at humor: America's death row inmates.

Jay unveiled a bit this season (he calls it "one of my new favorites"), "Value Meal or Last Meal," in which he offers up a menu of items, and then invites the audience to guess whether this is a prisoner's last request or a combo dinner option from a chain restaurant. The two times I have seen the bit, the offerings have indeed been revolting concoctions from Applebee's and Chili's, not death row fare. To me, this indicates that Leno is happy make light of the desperate situations of men and women who are facing certain death at the hands of the state, but he is too cowardly to openly mock them, instead turning his sights at the last moment onto fast food restaurants. The meals are usually enormous and enormously unhealthy, and the crowd seems to believe that the big reveal will be that this is a last meal, not a value meal. This whole segment plays on the notion that death row inmates are overweight simpletons who choose to spend their last moments stuffing their faces with fried food. It degrades their deaths and trivializes a monstrous practice. As for the innocent victims of the executed, all I will say is that you do not need to demean one life to celebrate another, and Jay Leno is not championing victims' rights with this bit.

Now, if Leno wants some really funny material, one of the most hilarious last meals of all time must have been that of Rickey Ray Rector. Rector, executed in 1992 by the state of Arkansas, asked for steak, fried chicken with gravy, cherry Kool-Aid and a slice of pecan pie. Nothing about that meal seems outwardly funny – he didn't order grotesque amounts of fried foods, as Leno finds so hilarious, nor did he order anything bizarre or exotic. No, the gut-busting part is his dessert – you see, Rector was so severely mentally handicapped that he set aside his piece of pie to save for later, believing that as soon as this whole ordeal was over, he would be back in cell where he could enjoy his dessert in peace. That right there is comedy gold, Jay.

There are other options that would fit Jay's sensibilities nicely. He could make a joke about the fact that inmates in the federal death row in Terre Haute, Indiana have to place their orders for their last meal at least seven days prior to their execution date – "That federal bureaucracy is such a nightmare!" Or how about the fact that many states mandate in their execution protocols that prisoners eat their last meal at least several hours before the death penalty is administered. This is largely to maintain the atmosphere that a pseudo-medical procedure is being carried out, much like you are not supposed to eat the day before major surgery. Jay could riff on this with a zinger like, "Hey, I'm going to die anyway, I don't care if I throw up a little bit on my shirt!"

Finally, Leno has got to do this segment about Edward Earl Johnson, a 26-year-old man executed by Mississippi in 1987 for the murder of a sheriff, a crime of which many believe he was innocent. His final two weeks of life, including his last meal, were documented in the film 14 Days in May. He ate his last meal surrounded by friends and family in the Parchman Prison Farm. Leno could use this moment to really run with his family restaurant/death chamber dichotomy – "Is this guy in prison or at a Bennigan's?!"

If you can't stomach a second more than is absolutely necessary of Jay Leno, fast forward the clip below to the 6:00 mark to see the segment from the May 28 episode of The Tonight Show.

Should Jay Leno decide to use any of this Grade-A material I have written for him, I would expect an invitation to The Tonight Show, where I plan to behave like this when he ruins it with his horrid delivery.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Russia Today Thinks British Bobbies Are Violent Stormtroopers

BROOKLYN, New York -- A few people have recently pointed out to me that Kremlin-owned cable channel and propaganda mouthpiece Russia Today (full disclosure: I briefly worked at Russia Today) has released a series of controversial advertisements promoting it's supposedly contrarian coverage.

These ads have appeared in airports in the UK, but airport operators in the United States rejected them. A compromise was struck, and Russia Today was allowed to use ads the simply bore the phrase "Politically Incorrect" – I'm not sure if this is some sort of pun, or if it's in reference to the censored ads, which the American audience have never seen. Either way, the revised ad somehow makes less sense than original. The ads superimpose seemingly opposite images over one another – the most controversial of these ads depicted US President Barack Obama and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and asks, "Who poses the greater nuclear threat?" The rest of the ads can be seen here.

The Ahmadinejad/Obama advertisement is ridiculous (especially considering that Obama has articulated a sincere desire to rid the world of nuclear weapons); the AK-47/camera is interesting, if trite; and the insurgent/soldier is compelling, if wholly biased and politically opportunistic.

Perhaps the most interesting of this series of ads is the last one (above), depicting a policeman and some sort of tattooed hooligan or activist; it asks, "Who is more dangerous?" It is a valid question – protesters, both peaceful and not-so-peaceful, are routinely suppressed with overwhelming and disproportionate force all over the world. Russian law enforcement is one of the worst offenders in this regard, as the government frequently resorts to violence and arrests to silence critics of the regime. However, this advertisement clearly depicts a British police officer. British policing is not without its problems, but for the Russian government to depict a British officer as a baton-wielding skull-cracker is the height of absurdity. Who's more dangerous? Neither – the answer is these guys:

Unfortunately, censoring these ads may have been the best thing for Russia Today. These propaganda images lay bear the obvious biases of the network; the scrubbed ad just positions it as an "alternative" new source. The network is part of Russia's soft power offensive. The Kremlin has tried to sell the network as similar to news outlets like the BBC or Deutsche-Welle, which are at least nominally government-owned but remain editorially independent. In addition to providing news about Russia to an English-speaking audience, the network was also founded with the mission of countering negative views of Russia in the foreign media (this mandate also extends to news outlets for the domestic market). Of course, the hand of the Kremlin could not be more obvious in its editorial positions or its news coverage. No matter what advertising campaign RT runs in the US, it is unlikely that anyone but the most uninformed contrarian (like their own employees) will turn to it for news. This may be, as my compatriot said, "largely due to prejudice, but that doesn't mean it's wrong."

Of all the bad things that the Russian government does, running a poorly-produced propaganda cable channel is probably one of the most benign, and probably short-lived. To spread its gospel of a "multi-polar world," Russia Today offers its feed to satellite providers and public broadcasters for free, and it has no advertisements, meaning all of the channel's costs are paid straight from government coffers. With the country's finances in poor shape, the regime may see rapidly diminishing returns on its propaganda investment when budgets for public services are squeezed.

But then again, I'm wasting my breath. This is all just propaganda.

Thanks to my friends for their many insightful comments on this issue, some of which have been lifted for this post. Check out more commentary on this story on Sean's Russia Blog.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Medvedev Promises Police Reform, But Proposals Are Off the Mark

BROOKLYN, New York -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is talking tough about police reform.

On Thursday, Medvedev dismissed two high-ranking officials in the Interior Ministry, as well as 16 regional ministry officers, 15 of whom are generals. According to the Russian daily Kommersant, half of these dismissals were tied high-profile incidents of police criminality and corruption, while the rest were the result of scheduled position rotations within the ministry.

The changes were announced in a speech before senior officials of the Interior Ministry, in which Medvedev said the country needed to "cleanse this evil from the state and municipal structures."

(Agence France-Press translated that phrase as "cleanse the state structures of evil," which could be interpreted to mean that Russia's security agencies are "state structures of evil." The original Russian phrase was, "очистить государственные и муниципальные структуры от этого зла." Either way, I think the misinterpreted phrase is closer to the truth.)

Among other reforms announced by the president was a plan to cut the Interior Ministry's bloated general staff in Moscow by half from its current size of 20,000. He also called on Prime Minister Vladmir Putin to draft a sweeping reform proposal for the country's law enforcement agencies, which is to be submitted to parliament by December 1. Medvedev stated that he would maintain personal control over the reform project, but giving Prime Minister Putin a central role is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house.

While the housecleaning and tough talk about corruption are somewhat heartening, I remain skeptical (an opinion I've expressed before here and here). In the past several months, the country has been rocked by shocking criminal acts by police officers, including well-publicized beatings, mysterious deaths, and a not-so-mysterious video-taped mass killing. Some commanding officers have lost their posts as a result of these incidents (though not their jobs or their pensions), but almost none of the guilty officers have seen the inside of a courtroom, and jail time seems like a remote possibility.

One thing that Medvedev said betrays a fundamental misunderstanding (or, more likely, an intentional misinterpretation) of how democratic policing works and how the country's law enforcement structures should be reformed. While his principal target of reform should be dismantling the police's culture of corruption and bringing dirty cops to justice, he has taken elsewhere: clearance rates.

"Only one in every two crimes is cleared annually. There are over 1.3 million unsolved crimes in Russia each year, and a quarter of these are serious or very serious crimes," he said Thursday.

The clearance rate is the proportion of reported crimes that lead to an arrest –they are "cleared" when the case is turned over to the courts for prosecution. The political reasoning behind Medvedev's statement is clear – people want the police to solve more crimes, because they think it will put more criminals in jail and will make them safer. It is true that solving more crimes is a good thing, but setting your sights on clearance rates is highly problematic.

Clearance rates are easily manipulated. Especially within an embedded culture of corruption, there is a powerful temptation to doctor figures. This can be done in two basic ways – by not filing reported crimes, thus reducing the overall crime figures, or by making knowingly erroneous arrests, which moves the case off the police department's ledger and into the hands of prosecutors. Medvedev said about these supposedly paltry numbers, "Most importantly, behind [these figures] lie the fate of real people – of victims, their loved ones, their family members." He should remember that there are also countless victims of bad police work and police corruption who get caught up in this chase for ratings.

Law enforcement agencies in the Soviet Union were obsessed with clearance rates, and every department was mandated to keep theirs at 95% or above until that target was scrapped in the 1980's. This is an impossible figure, but like so many other statistics in the USSR, it was doctored and fudged, often by ignoring crime reports, planting evidence, throwing innocent people in jail, and coercing confessions through torture. None of these things are acceptable from police in a democratic society, yet they were and remain commonplace in Russia.

No up-to-date statistics are available on Russia's clearance rate nationwide (if you can find them, please let me know), but the regional figures fluctuate wildly and are highly unreliable. For certain crimes, like murder, many jurisdictions report preposterous rates of 90 to 100%. Regardless, Medvedev's ballpark figure of 50% is absurdly high – if he believes that it is too low, then it suggests that he is not aiming for accurate, accountable figures, but the phantom rates of the Soviet days that will dupe citizens into thinking that the police keep them safe.

By comparison, in the United States, 45.1% of violent crimes were cleared in 2008, and 17.1% of property crimes (theft, burglary, etc.), according to the FBI. America's law enforcement system is by no means perfect, nor is it fundamentally broken like Russia's – so why are the figures so low? Because the clearance rate only tells a small part of the story. It does not tell you how officers go about solving crimes, and whether they do it legally.

Boosting clearance rates can be part of a successful crime control strategy, but only part, and not when corruption is so widespread. Cities like New York used clearance rate targets to reduce crime, but the NYPD also meticulously maintains its databases and they are subject to regular audits. Even then, the system is prone to manipulation, and many have criticized the department for being too focused on clearance and crime rate numbers. Statistics are only worthwhile if they are accurate and reliable, and even then, they are only part of the answer.

Medvedev's focus on police reform is admirable, and it is certainly more genuine than the promises of his predecessor, who remains irretrievably entrenched in the rottenness of the Soviet security apparatus. But this endeavor looks doomed to repeat the mistakes of past reform efforts by focusing on top-down, statistically-driven initiatives that pay no attention to the institutional problems of Russian law enforcement.

UPDATE: For more on the topic of policing statistics and fudging the numbers, check out this post from Peter Moskos on his blog, Cop in the Hood - "Juking the Stats."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Sergei Magnitsky Murder: Siloviki Circle the Wagons

BROOKLYN, New York -- It has been more than two months since the death of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who died in police custody after being refused medical attention. Magnitsky represented British investor Bill Browder, founder of Hermitage Capital Management, in a case involving a huge tax fraud allegedly perpetrated by Russian police officials and uncovered by Mr. Magnitsky. He had spent nearly a year in pre-trial detention, imprisoned without charge by the very people he accused of perpetrating the fraud against his clients and the Russian government.

Were it not for his British citizenship, Mr. Browder himself could have wound up in similar circumstances. He has been refused entry to Russia since 2005, despite the fact that he runs one of the largest investment firms in the country and has been a tireless booster of investing in Russia. He is not a political activist or human rights campaigner; instead, he champions investors' rights, which are also severely trampled in Russia. He refused to play by the crooked rules of the coterie of Kremlin insiders and current and former members of the security services, the so-called siloviki, who control business in Russia. Magnitsky was a tireless advocate of his client's interests, and he was murdered because he refused to flee the country or commit perjury by implicating himself or his client for the crimes of his captors.

Since this case became an international sensation (though only after Magnitsky's captors had succeeded in killing him), President Dmitry Medvedev has done some house cleaning, firing top prison officials who oversaw Magnitsky's detention and non-existent medical treatment (he died of untreated pancreatitis and gall stones, not a heart attack and toxic shock as the government claims). As for the men who orchestrated the fraud and arrest, Viktor Markelov, a sawmill foreman and likely a bit player in the $230 million tax fraud, was convicted in April 2009 of stealing government funds (his conviction was in fact based on the investigative work of Magnitsky himself). The two police officers who orchestrated the whole affair, Lt. Col. Atryom Kuznetsov and Maj. Pavel Karpov, have been reassigned to desk jobs at the Interior Ministry, and no charges are pending against either one. Not a penny of the $230 million has been recovered.

This is how things usually work in Russia when a scandal like this breaks. The government offers up a few sacrificial lambs – this time in the form of Moscow prison director Vladimir Davydov and 19 other prison officials and the fall guy Markelov – but it always protects its own in the police.

For more details on the Magnitsky case, read Bill Browder's letter published in Foreign Policy in December. You can also listen to an interview with Browder from The Economist, which I highly recommend.

Hermitage has set up a website, Law and Order in Russia, which chronicles this entire ordeal and contains a wealth of documents related to the tax case and Mr. Magnitsky's detention, all of which have been translated into English.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

More Hockey: Playing and Watching the Game Outdoors

BROOKLYN, New York -- Hockey was meant to be played – and watched – outdoors. On New Year's Day, the National Hockey League pulled off another spectacular Winter Classic, an outdoor game between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers at historic Fenway Park. I was not able to make it to Boston for those festivities, but this past weekend I did make the trip to Beantown to see college hockey rivals Boston University and Boston College face off at Frozen Fenway.

It seemed a bit sacrilegious that my first visit to Fenway would be to see a hockey game – a lifelong Red Sox fan, I've never seen them in their home ballpark – but you could not ask for a better atmosphere for a hockey game. As my brother and I shivered through three periods, and temperatures dropped to 15F, we did not complain that we had to watch the game through binoculars from the bleachers, or that the public address announcer kept talking during play. That's acceptable in baseball, but not okay in hockey – once the puck drops, the PA, organ, and infernal jock jams must all cease so that the crowd can hear the swish of the skates and the crack of the puck off of stick blades and boards. Our sightlines were not great, but they did a great job micing the ice; and I'm fine with an obstructed view seat, if that view is partially blocked by the Pesky Pole.

The trip to Fenway brought back memories of places both very near to and very far from my home. Playing shinny on local ponds was a big part of growing up, and quite a few of the rinks I played on in youth hockey in Connecticut were outdoors. But this was the first time I had been to an outdoor hockey game since I lived in Russia. While in Irkutsk, I was a rabid follower of our local bandy club (not exactly hockey, but close), Baikal-Energia. 15,000 fans braved temperatures that dipped well below freezing – at their most recent home game, against Stroitel Syktyvkar, the official game time temperature was -13F – on a regular basis. I guess I have grown soft and used to the warmth and comfort of an NHL arena; so had most of my fellow spectators in Boston, as the crowd had thinned out significantly by the third period. What we all needed was a few belts of honey pepper vodka and some slices of salo, a type of Ukrainian salted pork fat. Neither was on offer at the concession stands, however; just beer, which promptly froze in the plastic cups.

Unlike previous Winter Classic events, the NHL decided to leave the ice down in Fenway for a full month, making it accessible for public skating and youth, high school, and college hockey. That is, for those who could afford it – two hours of ice time cost high schools upwards of $20,000, meaning only wealthy private schools could have the privilege of staging a game there. Nonetheless, the rink's extended stay was a big success, and the league hopes the next host of the event will make similar accommodations. Connecticut hockey fans had a lot to cheer about; not only did Avon Old Farms and Taft square off on the Fenway ice on December 21, but the honorary captains for the BC-BU game included two of the state's greatest players: former Eagles standouts and NHL stars Craig Janney (of Enfield) and Brian Leetch (Cheshire).

Outdoor hockey used to be ubiquitous, and even though leagues are staging more and more outdoor games, fewer and fewer kids are growing up playing on natural ice. I was lucky to play a few games last year at an outdoor rink in Nederland, Colorado, located at 8,500 feet amidst beautiful mountain scenery, but few have such a privilege. Interestingly, no Stanley Cup final has ever been held outdoors. Even in the early days of the trophy, when the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada battled for the title, all the deciding games were held inside. When the Montreal Hockey Club won it for the first time in 1894, they played at Victoria Rink, which opened in 1862. Even when the cup was contested in far-off Winnipeg in 1896, the city hosted the games in the recently-constructed, 2,000-seat Granite Rink. The Vancouver Olympics are fast approaching, where the hockey tournament will be staged at the Canucks' home, GM Place. When the Games were held in Cortina d'Amprezzo in 1956, all the on-ice events were held at the open-air Stadio Olympica (which has since been covered), including the Soviets' gold medal game victory over the United States (Canada finished with the bronze, though their goaltender was Denis Brodeur, father of the team's current backstop, Martin).

As for the game we watched outside, the Terriers dominated most of the way. A late rally drew the Eagles within a goal, but they came up short, and BU earned some bragging rights with a 3-2 victory. Let's hope this great tradition continues, and more fans and players get to experience the game out in the open.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hockey and Nationalism Should Be Kept Apart

BROOKLYN, New York -- Tuesday was an historic day for American hockey. The United States defeated Canada in the final of the World Junior Hockey Championship, winning just the second gold medal in the country's history. Canada had been aiming for history themselves; having won the tournament five years in a row, a sixth consecutive gold would have set a new record of dominance. Instead, the US came out on top in an end-to-end overtime thriller that was without a doubt one of the most exciting hockey games I have seen in years.

Meanwhile, my friend Gene sent me this blog post from The New Republic by Adie Tomer, which relates an idea by everyone's favorite pop psychology maven, Malcolm Gladwell, about how to fix the National Hockey League. Apparently, I have not been experiencing enough diarrhea of the mouth, so I subjected myself to reading his interview with serial ego-blogger and self-referential nincompoop, ESPN's Bill Simmons. Simmons and Gladwell think it would be totally radical if the NHL were realigned into two 12-team conferences divided equally between the US and Canada. Not only would this endow hockey-mad Canada with the six more franchises it richly deserves, but it would also set up an awesome "border war" in each Stanely Cup final, stoking national pride and making everyone from sea to shining sea (in both countries) totally excited about hockey, regardless of which cities are represented in the final.

So, how are these two things related? Well, if this national showdown would be so awesome for hockey, why does nobody in the US care that we just had a cross-border battle for the ages? Not only does Tomer make no mention of it (his commentary was posted the day of the final), but it was totally ignored by the national media (ESPN only mentions it on their NHL page, not their main page). The reason is that the appeal of teams isn't just limited to their respective cities; the appeal of hockey in the US is limited, period.

While there are lots of deserving cities in Canada without NHL teams, and lots of undeserving American ones with them, this hare-brained idea will do little to help hockey. Fewer teams in the US might be better for the overall health of the league, but it won't do much to grow the game in the US. Gladwell and Simmons' idea of creating national buzz about the Stanley Cup final is already true in Canada, as it's non-stop national news whenever there is a Canadian team in the final or even the conference final.

Gladwell keeps harping on the mismanagement of the NHL, but the fact that the Phoenix Coyotes are a mess does not give his ideas any more credence. Here is one of his nonsense analogies about how to improve hockey:
I was once in Brazil when Brazil was playing Argentina in soccer, and the entire country was in a state of advanced hysteria. I was at a conference and they stopped the proceedings, in the middle of the day, so everyone could go watch the game. Unbelievable. That's what happens when you combine sports and national loyalties. Can you imagine this happening every spring?
Perhaps this would be a better idea if Canada shared a border with Sweden or Russia, but even these countries cannot match Canada's obsession with hockey or its sheer output of talent. The Coyotes should definitely move back to Canada, and Gary Bettman should have been fired many, many years ago, but drawing analogies between the hockey rivalry of the US and Canada and soccer matches between Brazil and Argentina is ridiculous (see my point above re: diarrhea of the mouth). And we really need this in hockey:

I think this realignment is an idea dreamed up by an American (Simmons) who likes the example of Green Bay – a small town with a big professional franchise – and thinks it would be quaint to have NHL teams in places like Saskatoon and Winnipeg. Practically speaking, not only is it tough to decide which 12 of the 24 US franchises should be cut (once you get past the usual Sunbelt suspects, it gets much harder to decide), but it's hard to find six more Canadian cities that could support a $200 million+ hockey franchise, especially considering that Toronto won't let anyone into their southern Ontario fiefdom, which contains most of Canada's larger cities (my picks were Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Quebec City, Halifax, Hamilton and Victoria, hypothetically speaking).

Gladwell's other idea is that Canadians "secede" from the NHL and run their own league. Many Canadians have in effect done this. Instead of trekking to the league's six Canadian outposts, they watch junior hockey in their hometowns, where 17- to 20-year-olds ply their trade in the Western, Ontario and Quebec Major Junior Hockey Leagues, and in the various junior A and B circuits across the country. Canadians may be happy to spend their ticket dollars on their local youngsters, but they still tune in every Saturday night to watch Hockey Night in Canada. If the NHL is to remain the world's pre-eminent hockey league, it needs the revenues that large US markets and American TV networks and advertisers provide.

Lastly, I would like to take aim at a larger point made by Gladwell and expounded upon by Tomer, and that is that melding sport and national pride is a good thing. Why do we need to inject nationalism into the NHL? It is a cosmopolitan league with players from around the world who are embraced by their adopted cities across North America. The Washington Capitals are captained by a Russian, the Ottawa Senators by a Swede. The Montreal Canadiens are without a captain, but their three alternates are two Americans and a Russian; Toronto is in a similar situation with a Czech, an American and a Canadian wearing the "A" on their sweaters. There are plenty of opportunities for players to wear their national colors, such as the annual IIHF World Championships (another non-event in North America), the WJC and the Olympics.

Sport may on occasion be a peaceful proxy for actual confrontation between nations, but nationalism and sport often make for a dangerous combination that can boil over into real violence. Just watch the soccer hooligans at this summer's World Cup in South Africa. Hockey has been largely free of fan violence on this continent, but there were a pair of ugly nationalism- inspired incidents during the 2002-03 NHL season, when Montreal Canadiens fans booed "The Star-Spangled Banner" in response to the invasion of Iraq; Florida Panthers fans responded by booing "O Canada" at their own arena. We don't need to encourage that nonsense every year at the Stanley Cup final. The World Junior Championship has also experienced that nationalist boobirds, when Canadian fans in Vancouver in 2006 jeered the American squad while cheering on their traditional rival, Russia. Booing teenagers is always a classy move. I have made my opinions about the Olympics well known here and elsewhere – they just provide another tool for xenophobes and bigots to manipulate national sentiment, and international events are no less sullied by corporate advertising and fraud than the professional athletic circuits. But the vocal fans in Vancouver should add a little flavor to the usually tame Winter Olympics, especially during the hockey tournament.

I will admit to feeling a great deal of pride in my country when John Carlson netted the game winner in Saskatoon last night, but I would be far happier to see the Boston Bruins Slovak captain Zdeno Chara hoist the Stanley Cup. Let's keep nationalism out of the NHL, and let's keep people who don't know what they're talking about out of hockey.