What I'm Reading (July 14)

By Chuck Dinerstein, MD, MBA — Jul 14, 2022
An excellent commencement address; after all, it is the season Living with pain “Because we live in the past when we are online, we will find ourselves fighting over the past.” The downside of letting machines do our work.
Image by Wolfgang Eckert from Pixabay

“There are times when I’m walking down the street in New York, just feeling the force of the earth on my feet, and the sheer improbability of this chain of events stops me in my tracks: None of this had to be. It was not inevitable. You are all not inevitable. You did not have to be here. I certainly didn’t have to be there, because I wouldn’t even exist, were it not for a ten-year-old boy who had to bury his mother on the side of the road.”

Those are the words of Jad Abumrad, the creator of RadioLab, one of my favorite podcasts, from his commencement address at CalTech. It is worth the read, which you can find here courtesy of Marginalia. But to really capture the moment, after all, Jad is a speaker of words just as much as a writer, listen to the address here on SoundCloud.


“The fear generated by the memory of pain made me choose not to do things that I loved because I feared the pain might be intolerable. Or, more accurately, I fooled myself into believing that -- to keep the pain at bay -- I needed to concentrate on it every single minute, when (in fact) by doing so, I achieved precisely the opposite effect. When my professional activities were insufficient to distract me, I went to sleep to seek an alternative universe, since (for some strange reason) I did not suffer from neuropathy in my dreams. I prayed that -- once banished by the night -- my neuropathy might have resolved by the morning. But that profound wish was never fulfilled.”

Dr. Milton Packer is a constant columnist on Medpage Today and a senior researcher; as it turns out, he is also a patient with chronic pain. Let’s listen to his story. Every Day, I Live My Life in Pain

On the Internet, no one knows that you are a dog, and

“On the internet, we are always living in the past.

The internet, as a mediator of human interactions, is not a place, it is a time. It is the past. I mean this in a literal sense. The layers of artifice that mediate our online interactions mean that everything that comes to us online comes to us from the past—sometimes the very recent past, but the past nonetheless.”

And so begins what I found to be a short worthwhile discussion of one of the Internet’s bugs, or features, depending upon your view. We should strive to live in the now; the Internet foists the unchangeable past upon us and at the same time tries to predict and shape our future.”

From the Convivial Society, We Are Not Living in a Simulation, We Are Living In the Past


“Here is what I want to say: as with biological ecology, so with social ecology. Consider Ibram X. Kendi’s dream of a Constitutionally-mandated Department of Anti-Racism (“comprised of formally trained experts on racism”) that ceaselessly and universally monitors society for signs of racism. Consider also the state of Florida’s recently-passed law decreeing that “classroom instruction and curriculum may not be used to indoctrinate or persuade students to a particular point of view inconsistent with the principles of this subsection,” including this principle: “Meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are not racist but fundamental to the right to pursue happiness and be rewarded for industry.” Both the dream and the law operate according to the same logic: that one’s vision of the common good is best achieved, if one happens to hold power, by deploying the mechanisms of the administrative/bureaucratic/legal state to eliminate social impurities.”

In our push to mechanize our work, there are unintentional consequences, including a loss of human scale and the rise of predictable monocultures. From the Hedgehog Review, Mechanization and Monoculture

Chuck Dinerstein, MD, MBA

Director of Medicine

Dr. Charles Dinerstein, M.D., MBA, FACS is Director of Medicine at the American Council on Science and Health. He has over 25 years of experience as a vascular surgeon.

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