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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The television show “Deadliest Catch” depicts commercial crab fishermen in the Bering Sea. Another, “Dirty Jobs,” shows all kinds of grueling work; one episode featured a guy who inseminates turkeys for a living. The weird fascination of these shows must lie partly in the fact that such confrontations with material reality have become exotically unfamiliar. Many of us do work that feels more surreal than real. Working in an office, you often find it difficult to see any tangible result from your efforts. What exactly have you accomplished at the end of any given day? Where the chain of cause and effect is opaque and responsibility diffuse, the experience of individual agency can be elusive. “Dilbert,” “The Office” and similar portrayals of cubicle life attest to the dark absurdism with which many Americans have come to view their white-collar jobs.

Is there a more “real” alternative (short of inseminating turkeys)?

High-school shop-class programs were widely dismantled in the 1990s as educators prepared students to become “knowledge workers.” The imperative of the last 20 years to round up every warm body and send it to college, then to the cubicle, was tied to a vision of the future in which we somehow take leave of material reality and glide about in a pure information economy. This has not come to pass. To begin with, such work often feels more enervating than gliding. More fundamentally, now as ever, somebody has to actually do things: fix our cars, unclog our toilets, build our houses.

When we praise people who do work that is straightforwardly useful, the praise often betrays an assumption that they had no other options. We idealize them as the salt of the earth and emphasize the sacrifice for others their work may entail. Such sacrifice does indeed occur — the hazards faced by a lineman restoring power during a storm come to mind. But what if such work answers as well to a basic human need of the one who does it? I take this to be the suggestion of Marge Piercy’s poem “To Be of Use,” which concludes with the lines “the pitcher longs for water to carry/and a person for work that is real.” Beneath our gratitude for the lineman may rest envy.

This seems to be a moment when the useful arts have an especially compelling economic rationale. A car mechanics’ trade association reports that repair shops have seen their business jump significantly in the current recession: people aren’t buying new cars; they are fixing the ones they have. The current downturn is likely to pass eventually. But there are also systemic changes in the economy, arising from information technology, that have the surprising effect of making the manual trades — plumbing, electrical work, car repair — more attractive as careers. The Princeton economist Alan Blinder argues that the crucial distinction in the emerging labor market is not between those with more or less education, but between those whose services can be delivered over a wire and those who must do their work in person or on site. The latter will find their livelihoods more secure against outsourcing to distant countries. As Blinder puts it, “You can’t hammer a nail over the Internet.” Nor can the Indians fix your car. Because they are in India.

Post comments Edit:

Read on at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/24/magazine/24labor-t.html
Credit to author: Matthew B. Crawford

This is my intro because in 15' when I joined I never bothered to post. It articulates part of my journey pertaining to motorcycles far better than I could ever have, plus I see no intrinsic value for any reader of this post to know who I am and/or what I do. (Besides the obvious fact that I work on bikes)

Apologies for my trumpian self-aggrandization. :D
 

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It is a cut and paste The Case for Working With Your Hands - The New York Times It's another attempt to add value to work by overstating the intellectual and spiritual aspects of working on motorcycles. Think Zen and the Art updated for modern hipsters who can't be bothered to read an entire book so it was boiled down to an essay. It should come with every set of pods and Firestones.

Scott
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
It is a cut and paste The Case for Working With Your Hands - The New York Times It's another attempt to add value to work by overstating the intellectual and spiritual aspects of working on motorcycles. Think Zen and the Art updated for modern hipsters who can't be bothered to read an entire book so it was boiled down to an essay. It should come with every set of pods and Firestones.

Scott
Really? This really hits home for me. It's really perspective if anything not overstating anything, or maybe you don't have the credentials to know what he's talking about.
 

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or maybe you don't have the credentials to know what he's talking about.
An internet pissing contest, how exciting. Have you ever worked in a real motorcycle shop? There is nothing spiritual or intellectual about it. It's about finishing tasks quickly and moving to the next one. Any contemplation will literally lose you money. If you want inner peace working on motorcycles make it your hobby not your occupation.

Just so you understand, I criticized the work not you for posting it. If you liked it that's fine. I didn't and that's fine too. Don't be so defensive about someone else's work.

Scott
 

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Maybe I am missing something here but did Flip really just post an article as if it were his own without appropriate credit to the author? At best that is plagiarism and at worst it's Trumpian self aggrandization. As farmer put it so succinctly. WTF? Unless of course, Flip is actually the original author.

If he is not then he is stealing others work to make himself appear smarter than he is and a justification for trying to make a living flipping bikes to make it sound romantic and noble.

There is true value in all labor and in our knowledge based society where we know less and less about everything useful in life, we have a totally screwed up compensation scheme where the Only stakeholders considered are shareholders. So the rich get richer and the poor get the picture. copyright Midnight Oil.

What people want to know is who is Flip and what credentials does he have? Is he a philosopher or and Engineer perhaps or just a dipstick with a need to try to impress others?
 

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Yea, no acknowledgement of where it came from right up front is a bad move. It's not like an opinion on it or even repeating it in ones own words.
 

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Speaking as someone who has been blessed with the choice, and the opportunity to chose, I have worked with my hands, and with my brain, and various combinations of both, all my life; both working for others, and being self-employed. To top it off, I've written a book about the bike bits, based on my personal experience.

I didn't read the entire article in the original post here (dizzy head from strange penicillin and cough meds), nor have I read the much-touted "Zen" book, or the "shopcraft as soulcraft" book; but I do get a sense that some people simply have a personal attitude that does not allow them to accept the work of others, no matter how well and carefully it is presented, and other people have far less critical minds that accept drivel as gospel. I fall somewhere in the middle, and appreciate people who've taken the time to write extensively on any subject, when it is done well.

Bottom line for me is still loving what I do (restoring and repairing motorcycles), even though doing it for a living is not as fun or profitable as almost any other work I've done.
 

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Only made it 1/2 way through and my ADD got the best of me. Some interesting thoughts. Here is mine... all that education gone to waste. Which credential leads you or the writer to use a Phillips screwdriver on JIS fasteners. No wonder you dread removing case covers. I'm a high school drop out btw..... an escapee from the Ritalin fog, but I can take pride in the fact (trying not to sound too boastful) that I know how to use a screwdriver.
 
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