Kept on tap? 供应充足

2020.09.11

Reader question:

Please explain “kept on tap”, as in this sentence: “Here, facial masks and other essentials are kept on tap, as we don’t want anyone running around without a mask on.”

My comments:

They keep facial masks and other essentials in ample supply and within easy reach. Anyone who wants them can have them, readily, without difficulty.

That’s what keeping facial masks on tap means.

Tap, as in tap water. You turn the water tap, and water flows out of a pipe, smoothly, without difficulty and seemingly inexhaustibly.

Tap is any such device that allows you to draw liquid or through a spout out of a barrel or other container. By the tap, the flow of liquid or gas can be controlled. Some pubs, for example, offer beer on tap, and that means any time you want a beer, the bartender draws a cup for you through the tap on a big barrel containing the stuff, freshly brewed.

In our example, the speaker says at their place, a hospital or clinic, they keep a lot of facial masks and other equipment in ample supply. Patients will have easy access to them. That way, no one will ever get panicky for fear of having to go without a mask.

All right, here are media examples of things being or being kept on tap, meaning they’re freely available or on schedule to occur:

1. When I was a kid I remember traveling to Springfield, Illinois for vacation. My sister Debbie and I stayed with my grandfather one summer and went to a family reunion where we fed the ducks and geese in this historic park. Today I took a walk with my daughter and she too fed the ducks with left over bread crumbs. One beautiful, but greedy Mallard gobbled up most of the leavings.

We stopped at this site that was only constructed in 2010. The pergola and Iron Spring was restored in honor of Otto Wenneborg by his daughter. The rock out front of the site shared that he thought the spring offered restorative and healthy benefits from the iron and mineral mix. At one time, the water had been kept on tap at the once famous, but now gone, Leland Hotel because of belief that it was beneficial for its cure of rheumatism, gout, and indigestion.

Many others over the years have enjoyed Washington Park. Located on the west side of Springfield, this 150-acre site was added to the Springfield Park District in 1901. The park website shares, “This is one of the historic parks, developed as termini of the urban trolley line in use at the time. Designed by Ossian Simonds, noted for his naturalistic style of landscape design, the park is on the National Register of Historic Places. Its design and many features date back to its original development.”

I wish I could have ridden on that trolley and heard the words of visitors to the park so many years ago. A poem that Otto Wenneborg wrote is engraved on the rock in front of the Iron Spring and his first stanza invites visitors to reflect on the beauty of this public place:

“When the leaves are ripe and golden

And their edges trimmed with red,

And the hybrids of the forest are looking for their winter bed

Then I marvel at the beauty

And the One that put it there…”

- Iron Spring at Springfield’s Washington Park, by Cindy, TravelingAdventuresOfAFarmingFirl.com, September 18, 2012.

2. High winds and heavy rain pounded the region Monday, as gusts of nearly 70 mph took down trees and wires, and affected more than 42,000 customers, officials said.

Gusts topped 68 mph in Orient, according to the National Weather Service in Upton, which said a high wind advisory remains in effect until 8 p.m. The rain, which ended early evening, reached 1.72 inches in Muttontown, the weather service said.

The storm forced the closure of five mobile COVID-19 testing sites and damaged a commercial building on Milbar Boulevard in Farmingdale, officials said.

...

Strong, gusting winds will remain Tuesday, though the weather service is predicting mostly sunny skies and highs in the mid-to-upper 50s. Showers return Wednesday, when temperatures reach only into the high 40s.

Sun is expected again Thursday and Friday, though showers are possible Friday night. Mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-to-upper 50s are on tap for next weekend.

- Long Island weather: Thousands without power in high winds, Newsday.com, April 13, 2020.

3. With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to rage, people all over the world are — perhaps like never before — paying rapt attention to the views of experts. Terms such as “R” and “superspreader” — previously confined to labs and conferences attended by the eminent — have become commonplace in conversation. In part, this is down to politicians insisting that in making their decisions on combating the virus they have been “led by the science”. But it could also be because at a time of uncertainty, anxious people cling to the apparently clear messages offered by the scientists standing — at a social distance, of course — alongside their political masters.

The problem with this is that there is no one science any more than there is any one economics or politics. As we have seen throughout this crisis, even epidemiologists cannot agree on how many people have contracted the disease or the numbers that might fall victim to it, let alone how to control it. And then there are all the other views on what the effects of a prolonged lockdown might be on not just the economy but also on mental health, physical health (as a result of non-virus related conditions not being detected or treated), society and community in general.

However, rather than being a concern, this range of opinion is to be welcomed. Utilized properly, it should contribute to better decisions being made. In a just-published book that looks impeccably timed but has apparently been in the works for a while, academic Vikram Mansharamani does not attempt to denigrate experts. Instead, in Think For Yourself (Harvard Business Review Press), he urges readers to realize that they operate in increasingly specialized “silos” that mean that they are increasingly cut off from different viewpoints and can therefore lack perspective. In a complex world where the sheer amount of information available threatens to overwhelm us all they more and more focus on ever smaller areas and lose sight of the bigger picture. Depth of expertise is much more valued than the broad knowledge of the generalist.

Mansharamani is not the first to attempt to bring experts to book. Michael Gove, the Conservative politician who was one of the architects of the U.K.’s departure from the European Union, was quoted as saying that the public had “had enough of experts”. In a recent interview, Mansharamani suggested that Gove’s argument was more nuanced than it had been portrayed (Gove has explained his thinking here) and really amounted to asking questions of experts rather than just accepting what they said. Indeed, one of the key prescriptions in the book is “Ask lots of questions, play Devil’s Advocate.”

But the virus is not the only contemporary issue on which Mansharamani and his fascinatingly wide-ranging book offer a different approach. Another of the author’s prescriptions for helping leaders cast off the tyranny of experts and think for themselves is to “triangulate perspectives.” By this he means looking at issues from a range of angles. Perhaps if those in positions of authority could put themselves in the shoes of others, they would be better able to understand arguments of those behind the Black Lives Matter protests.

Not that the thesis is limited to political matters. In a short section on accepting an invitation to talk to groups of business people in Omaha, Nebraska, he relates how as a son of Indian immigrants raised on the East Coast of the U.S., he jumped at the chance to see another part of the country and used it to learn about the cattle industry for research he was doing on global agricultural markets. The people to whom he was introduced not only provided him with a lot of information but, as he puts it, “were as interested in learning about me and my views of the world as I was about them and their views.” So much so, in fact, that they became friends and agreed to address some of his students, and at the end of the session asked the students for their views on the future of the meat industry. “Understanding that every perspective is biased and incomplete, imagine how workers, customers, suppliers, spouses or friends might think about your chosen action. Use every opportunity to learn from those with different backgrounds,” he writes.

Mansharamani accepts that in an age of information overload and many distractions, it is tempting to outsource our thinking. But this is dangerously short-sighted. He recounts the tales of how slavishly following satellite navigation systems quite literally leads drivers up blind alleys and worse. But more seriously, with the technology companies to which this thinking is outsourced increasingly powerful, there is a risk of acting against our own best interests. “We need to retake control, which means we must learn to lead,” he writes, adding that experts must be kept “on tap, not on top.”

- Why Leaders Need To Gain A Change Of Perspective, Forbes.com, June 22, 2020.

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About the author:

 

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

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