Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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At Work: Sunday musings…11/20/2022

1 Rafter. The name of a group of turkeys. Another nonsensical, can’t make it up animal fact, however appropriate the timing.

2 Bullseye. “That’s like drawing the bullseye after you already shot.” Dr. Vinay Prasad.

It almost doesn’t matter what facts you are espousing, this one rings true, especially in this fraught world in which even basic science has been politicized. Prasad was discussing research on cancer in this instance; he is a noted scold of the scientists and physicians who have been in the public eye with all manner of science driven by expedience, not the scientific method.

This applies to any and all research. Literally anything you can measure or test. Science, real science, is declaring your hypothesis, your target if you will, BEFORE you shoot.

3 Diversity. Oh my. Oh my, my, my. As quoted in the WSJ on November 5th, David Lat said the ultimate “quiet part” out loud on diversity in highly selective schools at all levels. In an essay first published on Substack.com he describes what “diversity” actually means for elite preschools and elementary schools in NYC, ancient prep schools in New England, and the likes of Harvard and UNC which are now appearing before the Supreme Court defending their diversity efforts.

These schools are seeking “visual diversity”.

Mr. Lat has done the heretofore unthinkable by saying this out loud and giving us his thoughts at a skin-deep level (Mr. Lat is Asian-American; he opines that White-Americans have greater visual diversity than do Asian-Americans and other people of color). I’ll let you search for the essay on WSJ or Substack if you wish.

4 4-day. As in 4-day work week. Or, for that matter, remote work. Pundits of all sorts have been bleating about the elevated “humanity” of the 4-day work week and remote work. As if any employer who fails to acknowledge that their workers can achieve whatever their job entails in less than 5 days each week is somehow inhumane. That the workers will be more empowered, more “seen” if they can do their job from whatever spot on the planet they may find more to their liking than the home base of their employer. I’m calling BS on this point of view coming from the navel-gazers of the intellectual crowd, the “digital class” who simply refuse to acknowledge that a massive percentage of people with jobs do not simply sit in front of a computer and think.

Like the lovely woman who did such a fantastic job cleaning the hotel room I stayed in last weekend in NYC.

I work in healthcare. My day job is eye surgeon. Like almost everyone in healthcare, in order to do my job I must be physically present. There is nothing inherently of greater importance or somehow more noble about my particular “gotta be present” job. The EMT who was killed in Cleveland last night, run over while tending to a car accident victim, could not have done his job from behind a screen at home. The police officers at the scene, likewise. The butcher, the baker, and the candlestick makers? Ditto. And if we all only go to work 4 days each week instead of 5, either someone else must fill that slot or the work doesn’t get done.

This has been sticking in my craw for a very long time. There is an unspoken but very real dismissal of work done face to face by at least the most outspoken of the digital class. It borders on contempt in some instances. In the command and control world that these folks wish they were running it’s as if each one is the proverbial engineer designing the cockpit for a new fighter jet and failing to remember that in order for it to fly there needs to be a pilot sitting in that seat. Woe be it unto the test pilot who is the first one to point out the effect of this oversight to those same engineers.

We may begin to make more stuff in the United States now that all of the keyboard captains of industry have realized that a far-flung supply chain may not be in their, or the country’s, best interests. Surely there will be more robots in the factories that build our stuff than there was at the start of the Industrial Revolution, but to make the factories run men and women will need to come out from behind their screens and, you know, build stuff. With their hands. Right there, on the line, in person.

They matter, too.

All work has nobility. If one worker works less, another must be there to complete the job. In the service industries such as retail, hospitality, and yes, healthcare, on location is where the job gets done. Please don’t try to tell me that we should be more concerned about how inhumane it is to make an engineer at Facebook–I’m sorry, Meta–work 5 days a week in the office. Doctors and nurses, firefighters and police officers, and that lovely woman who made my stay in a tired, old Mid-Town Manhattan hotel a bit brighter all deserve to be acknowledged, supported, and celebrated.

We are all there when you need us.

I’ll see you on Thanksgiving…

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