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The Case for Working With Your Hands


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I don't disagree with you regarding societal (at least middle class) attitudes towards trade jobs in general. But I don't think boutique makers are perceived as being in the same category.

 

My thoughts exactly. The New York Times regularly lionizes people who work with their hands- as long as it's college kids working on organic farms, or crafting handmade knives in Brooklyn. Or, you know, chefs.

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Right.

 

I have a lot of respect for people who make a good living through hard work at something like plumbing.

 

I just don't see what it has to do with an academic who does boutique work over the weekend because he enjoys it and has found a bunch of wealthy patrons.

 

I just don't see how a dilettante's view tells you anything useful about the subject matter.

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I just don't see how a dilettante's view tells you anything useful about the subject matter.

Maybe he can write about it in a scholarly way? And make informed comparisons b/w technical work and academic work? I thought it well described the imaginative, intellectual and skilled aspects of mechanics.

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He does the 'hands' stuff in his spare time. He's still an academic.

Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, U. of Virginia.

 

 

Right.

 

I have a lot of respect for people who make a good living through hard work at something like plumbing.

 

I just don't see what it has to do with an academic who does boutique work over the weekend because he enjoys it and has found a bunch of wealthy patrons.

 

I just don't see how a dilettante's view tells you anything useful about the subject matter.

 

According to Crawford himself, the motorcycle repairs are his main occupation & he does the academics & the writing in his spare time. How far we can trust that image is another question, of course.

 

He sounds like he's far from being a dilettante. Insofar as the subject matter is somebody who knows the guts of motorcycles extremely well & has a bit of an inferiority complex about that, & also happens to be quite articulate, he's very useful.

 

I would submit that he's much more of a dilettante in the corporate world & his views there are less than useful as well as less than interesting. In that area the piece is overblown.

 

Are there really that many thwarted auto mechanics & electricians who've been forced into college & corporate careers by peer & parential pressure? Is this truly a burning issue?

 

Crawford reminds me of one of S's brothers, who has repaired transmissions in Maine for almost 40 years. He's had to evolve with the times, he got into the business when it was all about tinkering & scouring junkyards for the right spare parts. He's had to take classes to learn how to operate the computerized diagnostic machines that are necessary if you want to work on modern transmissions. He's nowhere near as articulate as Crawford, but there's no way I would ever knock his intelligence. It's just a different sort of intelligence & that's all there is to it. Is this such a momentous discovery in 2009?

 

Sometimes the Times' editors seem to live in a very small bubble.

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Are there really that many thwarted auto mechanics & electricians who've been forced into college & corporate careers by peer & parential pressure? Is this truly a burning issue?

 

I don't know what it's like in the rest of the country. But in L.A. middle class kids are placed on college bound tracks. Trade school is not presented as an option by parents, teachers or counselors. They tend to be discouraged from taking trade electives like woodshop (woodshop is still offered here at some schools).

 

Boutique trades like culinary arts, fashion or design are a bit different, but still not first choice. If parents are fine with culinary school the kids are going to a Le Cordon Bleu program school, ART Center, C.I.A. or Europe, they're not going to Trade Tech. My friend's daughter wants to learn fashion design, "we must send her to Paris".

 

A job training and mentorship program is supposed to start at the Pomona Fairplex. So far what I've seen or read looks terrific. But everyone in education who talks about it always says things like "it's for kids who aren't doing well in school or maybe they come from cultures that don't value education".

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  • 2 weeks later...

The NY Times continues its gushing praise of the Crawford book with a review by Francis Fukuyama.

 

Book Review

 

Letters, however, are decidedly more mixed. One writer observes that his affluence allowed him to walk away from a white collar job, and will allow him to do the same with the blue collar job. Another notes that Crawford has defined his motorcycle job (hours, rates etc) in ways that are not available to most workers, white collar or blue collar.

 

Letters

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