Off Topic: The Heart of a Tin Man

Magic players analogous to the blue section of the color pie get a lot of flack. Haters hearken those of us as soulless robots. Animated computers bent on Pro Tour and forum domination. Asperger Syndrome, Autistic disorders, and possibly psychopathy are a few psychological disorders to represent the vile blue mage. Such talk hurts my feelings. The common thread is a lack of empathy with a heaping dose of intelligence. It isn’t too hard to find the machine analogy scarily accurate. Hollywood has vilified the nature of machines with its cylons, borg, and the black sheep of the family constantly trying in vain to kill John Connor. It is somewhat unfair. To understand, read further for resistance is futile.


Sometime ago during my internship, an emergency occurred. The staff thought it a splendid opportunity for myself to get involved as a learning opportunity. I took up the task and proceeded with methodical accuracy. The process was hastened due to the circumstances. Pressure was immense, but I kept focused knowing the importance of my work. Not once did I misstep in my labors. After some sweat and hard work, it was completed. I smiled inwardly at my excellent workmanship. I reveled in it for the remainder of the day. A challenge had been presented to me and I had succeeded. When I returned the following day, I was called up to the office. My teachers were assembled in the room. Adrenaline rushed through me at the possible unfortunate events to come. Did I do something wrong during emergency yesterday? A probe began about my activities from yesterday’s emergency. I answered accurately and honestly. After some time, I was finally informed my work had been perfect and the work I had performed was not in question. What was being questioned was my motive behind my work. It was felt my reaction to the emergency was not suffice for I did not convey a deep sense of compassion. It wasn’t my attention to detail or my craftsmanship on trial. It was my heart.

Suffice to say, it all worked out. In summary, I simply reminded them in one form or another of my something abbreviated EMT. Regardless, before that moment I never considered my line of work to have an emotional aspect. I believed my job was to provide the best information possible to the best of my abilities. Emotions were not part of the requirements to perform my duties. Not that I don’t have an emotional aspect to me. My job is part of the code I live by. It isn’t emotional. It is the right thing to do. The code I live by heavily influences my life. So much so, my wife has spent some time talking to 911 as I assist at an accident until the proper emergency services arrive. Motorcycle accidents, girl hit by car, and girl hit by bus, you know, the usual. Sure, a part of me cares. The true drive behind my philanthropy is my moral code. I don’t think it is cool to simply drive by an accident and do nothing. Besides, I have the training and the skills to perform the actions needed for those events. Not stopping to help is just unacceptable.

Cylons Are from Caprica, Vulcans Are From Vulcan

A few psychological texts refer to sympathy and empathy as key components for human beings to develop morals. It is one of the few things I have learned that I disagree with on a philosophical level. Emotions are helpful in developing morals. I just don’t think they are vital. A proper code of conduct can be rationalized and postulated. Proper proofs can be developed. I’m not saying they are great and to be idolized. Bad codes are still codes. Psychopaths aren’t supposed to have moral codes. They do have one. Some just don’t like it if they find themselves on the wrong end of it. The important part is whether those codes are for good or evil.

This whole article makes me appreciate blue’s ally colors with black on the one side and white on the other. Splash blue with a little black and Cylons, Borg and Terminators are constructed. Toss in some white and we get Data, Vulcans, Seven of Nine and sweet Sonny. Each has a set of laws or commands that guide their actions. For some reason we think black aligned androids are bad because they try to annihilate the human race. Wimps. It is survival of the fittest. In any case, it is the great gem scifi continuously tries to tackle in the scripts of Hollywood. The idea of robots having souls and whether they could ever be considered “human” is now almost cliché. The more these robots act and treat humans with kindness; the more we think of them as human. Bad bots are more or less thought of as evil machines. Kindness and self-sacrifice it seems is the bar to which robots should be measured. It is a fair comparison. Humans don’t senselessly kill one another and only treat each other with kindness.

Three Laws of Robotics

There are only three things to understand about robotics. Do they want to kill you, do they want to help you, or are they simply neutral blue? Science fiction aside, most blue players think of you as a foe, friend or someone they simply don’t care about. It isn’t emotional. Let me explain. When I sit down at an FNM, my opponent is a foe and nothing personal. At an EDH, I am neutral. I don’t care who wins or loses. At multiplayer casual, it is about friends and good times. The outcome can change with the circumstance to situation. As I try to put forth my thoughts, it makes me realize trying to use Magic to explain Magic really sucks.

In high school, I was a wrestler for all four years. I was decent. The thing I remember most was those six minutes of silence. It was myself against a person bent on instilling as much pain as possible unto me. As the match started, the world went quiet. My mind focused solely on winning. Nothing else mattered. I didn’t hear the cheerleaders, the parents screaming, or my teammates shouting. It was just my opponent and myself going head to head and darn it, I was going to beat him. It didn’t matter who he was or the pain I was going to inflict upon him. A time or two, my opponents got the better of me. Fractured an arm, severely sprained an ankle, and dislocated an elbow. I instilled my own share of pain. Dislocated a guys shoulder once. He was also a friend. It wasn’t because I was angry. It was because we were on the mat. In such circumstances, we were no longer friends. He was my opponent and I was going to hurt him. We talked many times in the years to come and shared a laugh or two off the mat. The injury wasn’t personal. It was about winning.

Crunching the Numbers with the Amish

Since I wrote about red some time ago, I thought I give the other colors a shot. When I first sat down to write about blue, I could have gone many directions. The easiest stance would have been to talk about the blue mage’s objective thinking, appetite for facts, and sheer awesomeness. Sure, some or all of it may be true. It just seemed silly and unhelpful to have adorned my super hero outfit of Captain Obvious. However, where would such an article get us? In the end, I felt the other people of the colored spectrum were more important. People born of yearnings, feelings, and natural charisma have a difficult time understanding the Tin Man. They were born and raised with those abilities. Blue players on the other hand lack some or all of those skills. The whole scenario reminds me fondly of the Amish: those cuddly medieval wannabes. From my years working with them as customers, they know more than the average person would assume. Yet, there are many facets of life the Amish simply can’t comprehend. They weren’t raised to know the intricacies of the Internet, cell phones, and most notably, time travel. Anyone such as the Amish just can’t comprehend something they are oblivious to even though it exists. So when you other colors talk to us “Amish” about mushy feelings and proper social behavior: you might as well be talking to us about surfing Internet.

Just because we are Amish robots, doesn’t mean there is a lack of things to talk about or things we will fail to comprehend. Robots still know when people are being jerks or going out of there way to be nice. Most robots value friends and human life. Even though we have a Microsoft emotion chip instead of the Apple Feely 3000, doesn’t mean we will fail to understand tragic events, happy moments, and a good old fashion pun. We just won’t get emotional about it. Reminds me of when I stopped at a motorcycle accident. I was driving to the in-laws with the wife when we saw it happen a half a mile ahead of us. After the event, I learned the steering on the bike had locked up entirely. My wife knew I would stop and started dialing 911. I ran out of the car and began doing my thing. Once the man was in the ambulance and away, I actually knew some of the First Responders and stayed to chat awhile. Blood rinsed off my hands, I got back in the car with the wife and continued driving. As we drove, my wife began to discuss the matter with some questions.

Wife: Are you okay?
Me: Fine, why?
Wife: You aren’t talking.
Me: Just watching the road.
Wife: Only making sure you are okay.
Me: Why wouldn’t I be?
Wife: That whole thing back there was somewhat intense.
Me: Yeah, and...
Wife: I would be a little frazzled after something like that.
Me: I did what I needed to do.
Wife: So...your not in the least upset?
Me: Nope. It did bother me that I forgot one thing.
Wife: You messed up?
Me: Well, not really. It didn’t matter in this situation, but I did forget.
Wife: Nothing bothering you mentally in the least?
Me: Nope.
Wife: Okay.

The Great and Powerful Oz

At the end of The Wizard of Oz, the Tin Man was informed he always had a heart. I always thought it more symbolic than people gave it credit for as they watched the movie. The Tin Man didn’t literally have a heart. The Tin Man did show kindness, appreciation, and other positive attributes. In a sense, he had a heart of gold. His actions revealed his human nature. This brings me back to the point I consistently keep hammering. The reason I keep reiterating my point is because I feel blue is constantly berated for being emotionless. Lack of emotions does not equal lack of compassion. When I have stopped to help people in dire need, I am always amazed at the numerous people who avoid those situations. I am at times simply a robot, but I stopped to help. In doing so, I’ve watched car after car go by without even hitting brakes once. In stopping, regardless of my lack of emotion at times, I feel I am much more human than those who just drive right on by.


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