What I’m Reading (Mar. 9)

By Chuck Dinerstein, MD, MBA — Mar 09, 2023
The language police The printing press Are we working too little or too much? Will a nap help?
Image by vifra from Pixabay


“The guide’s purpose is not just to make sure that the Sierra Club avoids obviously derogatory terms, such as welfare queen. It seeks to cleanse language of any trace of privilege, hierarchy, bias, or exclusion. In its zeal, the Sierra Club has clear-cut a whole national park of words. Urban, vibrant, hardworking, and brown bag all crash to earth for subtle racism. …The poor is classist; battle and minefield disrespect veterans; depressing appropriates a disability; migrant—no explanation, it just has to go.”

I’ve written about the language policing of physician notes, and it is everywhere. As this article, The Moral Case Against Equity Language, in the Atlantic states,

“Equity language doesn’t fool anyone who lives with real afflictions. It’s meant to spare only the feelings of those who use it.”


While on the topic of words, here are some contemporary thoughts when new technology made it possible for words to scale, the time when the printing press was invented.

“Bacon discussed the printing press in his seminal work, The Advancement of Learning (1605), where he identified three inventions that had changed the world: gunpowder, the compass, and the printing press. He acknowledged that these inventions had enabled the expansion of human power, discovery, and communication, but he also warned that they had also introduced new dangers, errors, and corruptions.

He wrote: “But these three [inventions], perhaps, have fallen out by a certain fatality or providence of such a kind, that though they have added much to human power, they have not much increased human goodness; nay, rather, the first and last have furnished men with the means of doing more mischief, and the please say more second has made them more vain and arrogant.”

From Marginal Revolution, Who was the most important critic of the printing press in the 17th century?


Shifting gears a bit, consider the famous adage that if one does work that one enjoys, you never work a day. Since the Puritans, work has been essential to American identity.

“In his latest book, Work: A Deep History, from the Stone Age to the Age of Robots, anthropologist James Suzman offers some context for why we’re so driven to work, and some suggestions for how we might make that drive less self-destructive. He starts, unexpectedly, with basic thermodynamics: The whole universe is slinking toward an inevitable heat death, as entropy increases and energy dissipates. What we call work is, in its most basic form, an intentional transfer of energy, a way of further spreading out heat. Per Suzman, complex life forms emerged “because they more efficiently dissipate heat energy than many inorganic forms.” The urge to transfer energy is built into living things at the molecular level. We are the universe refrigerating itself.”


From Nautil.us, We’re Killing Ourselves with Work


I get up very early and work till mid-day. Then a bit of lunch and, more often than not, a bit of a nap – channeling Leonardo DaVinci or our neighbors in the Southern Hemisphere

“Afternoon napping used to be a fixture in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and East Asian societies, providing a respite from high outdoor temperatures and to accommodate for sleep patterns, such as waking up very early in the morning for prayers. However, with economic development, air-conditioning and the emergence of work schedules aligned to those in Western Europe and North America, the practice has declined in many countries where it was once common. In most Western societies, a nap would mean sleeping at the workplace, but this is often frowned upon and carries the connotation that one is not putting in effort or is being slovenly – for instance, in 2019 the US government formally banned any federal employees from napping at work.”

From Psyche.com, How to nap

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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