Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The carrot or the stick?

Well call me schooled.  I always thought this phrase originated in Mexico with Porfirio Díaz before the Mexican Revolution.  But maybe that's because I'm a Latin American historian and all I know are facts (or apparently falsities) about Latin America.  According to Wikipedia, arbiter of all things true, it originated in 1948.  In The Economist, for the love of all things holy.  How boring.  The theory behind the carrot and the stick is that a person (or donkey) can be motivated by either positive (carrot) or negative (stick) reinforcement.  In today's post I'll debate the benefits of both.

The Stick:
Yesterday I picked up a Stick of my own.  Both Maddy and Alice are very jealous that I am allowed to bring sticks inside and they are not.  Of course,  mine don't splinter and get caught in everyone's socks.  And I'm not a dog.  So, well, I win.  The Stick is a rolling thing that you can roll.  All over your body (with the exception of your shins!  NEVER ROLL IT ON YOUR SHINS!  Or at least that is what the enclosed literature says).  It mashes out kinks and knots and I hope it loosens up my calves a little.  You know what would also loosen up my calves?  Stretching.  But that's free and not nearly as interesting looking.  So let's scotch that idea.

Here I am applying the Stick to my calves:

As you can see, Maddy is wondering if this Stick is worth wrapping her old lady choppers around.  What Maddy is not wondering is how this will feel passing through and out of her digestive system.  She never thinks of that when sizing up sticks or mulch.  Instead she happily chomps away and then grimaces and yelps when I need to pull a lumber yard's worth of kindling out of her butt on our walks.  But I'm not bitter.  Really.

The Carrot:
Here I am applying a baby carrot to my calves.  Note Madison is not around, which is surprising considering baby carrots are her favorite snack.  Actually everything is her favorite snack with the exception of bananas (not crunchy) and lettuce (crunchy but flavorless).  In terms of effectiveness for loosening up the calf area, I would have to go with the Stick. 

With the baby carrot, I have a pleasant and relaxed expression on my face.  By contrast, with the Stick I have an oh-God-this-thing-is-turning-my-lower-legs-into-chopped-meat/ wow-this-is-really-working-out-the-knots expression on my face:


So, advantage Stick for stretching out lower calves.  How about in terms of appetizers?  Which would make a more impressive crudité at your next company event?

The carrot: a tasty and crunchy treat.  Note: do not serve carrots after rolling them over your calf.  They are slightly salty.

The Stick:  Not such a mingle- or dental work-friendly kind of appetizer.  Perhaps would be better after a long braise.

So, advantage carrot for tasty appetizers.

Overall, I think the Stick takes the lead though with its other superpowers.  

Can be used as a cheerleading baton.  I know I look more like a soccer hooligan here or like I stepped out of a Clockwork Orange but this too is an advantage to the Stick.  It is more menacing than a baby carrot.

Can be used in your sunset years after you are crippled by running.  And by my sunset years I mean about 6 months from now.  On a good day.

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