Tag Archives | Work

The Most Boring Culture On Earth

Kottke on the indigenous Baining people of Papua New Guinea, who when awake scarcely do anything but work, out of the belief that unstructured fun is a waste of time. One wonders if we are drifting in their direction:

The Baining eschew everything that they see as “natural” and value activities and products that come from “work,” which they view as the opposite of play. Work, to them, is effort expended to overcome or resist the natural. To behave naturally is to them tantamount to behaving as an animal. The Baining say, “We are human because we work.” The tasks that make them human, in their view, are those of turning natural products (plants, animals, and babies) into human products (crops, livestock, and civilized human beings).

They do not allow infants to crawl and explore on their own. When one tries to do so an adult picks it up and restrains it.

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Don’t Work So Much – It’s Better For Everyone

Anders Hayden writes at The Solutions Journal:

Since the Industrial Revolution, two main motivations have driven the movement for work-time reduction. Free time away from the job improves individual well-being, while reducing work hours can cut unemployment by better distributing the available work. These historical motivations for work-time reduction have been joined by a new rationale: the need to reduce the impact of human societies on the environment.

The urgency of reducing humanity’s impacts on the earth is well documented. Estimates of our ecological footprint suggest that we need 1.5 planets to sustain current consumption practices, while studies of humanity’s “safe operating space” have concluded that we have already crossed some critical planetary boundaries, including safe levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Two dominant responses to this threat have emerged. One has been to carry on with business as usual, pursuing endless economic expansion while downplaying or denying the severity of environmental problems.

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What Research Says About Working Long Hours

90 HRS/WK AND LOVING IT!Via DevOpsAngle:

Facebook COO Sharyl Sandberg has kicked up a mini-controversy by admitting to Makers.com that she leaves the office at 5:30PM every day, and has done so for years. In the Valley, where work is a religion, leaving early is heresy.

Earlier this week “Jon” published The 501 Developer Manifesto, a call for developers to spend less time working.These calls for less time at the office are counter balanced by a recent talk by Google executive Marissa Mayer at an 92|Y event. Mayer dismissed the phenomena of “burn out” as resentment and boasted of working 130 hours a week at times.

Research suggests that Sandberg is probably the more productive executive, and those 501ers may be on to something. In a lengthy essay titled “Bring back the 40-hour work week,” Alternet editor Sara Robinson looks at the history of long working hours and reminds us why the 40 hour limit was imposed in the first place: working more than 40 hours a week has been shown to be counterproductive.

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Job Seekers Being Asked for Their Facebook Login Details During Interviews

Facebook LoginDisturbing. Emma Barnett reports in the Telegraph:

Justin Bassett, a New York-based statistician, had just finished answering some standard character questions in a job interview, when he was asked to hand over his Facebook login information after his interviewer could not find his profile on the site, according to the Boston Globe.

Bassett refused and withdrew his job application, as he did not want to be employed by a business which would invade his privacy to such an extent.

And it’s not only job applicants, even people already on the job are being asked. More from the Telegraph:

While Lee Williams, an online retail worker from the Midlands, told The Telegraph that he was asked by his managing director for his Facebook login details, after his boss had looked him up on the social network and could not see any details about him as his privacy settings were locked down.

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City Introduces “Sex Tax Meters” For Prostitutes

800px-10.3010_Torino-nightlife.v2Inspectors may be pulling prostitutes off the streets in Germany. Not because they’re trying to lower crime rate, but because they haven’t been paying their income taxes. Via Reuters:

Prostitutes in the German city of Bonn must carry a ticket purchased from a new parking meter-like machine while working the streets or face hefty fines from tax authorities in a scheme launched on Monday night.

In Germany, ladies of the night pay income tax — the level of which varies from region to region — but compliance is difficult to enforce with women seeking business on the street.

Germany’s first “sex tax meters,” from which prostitutes can purchase a ticket for 6 euros ($8.72) per night, will ensure the tax system is fairly implemented, a city spokeswoman said.

“Inspectors will monitor compliance — not every evening but frequently,” the spokeswoman told Reuters.

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The Myth of Work Vs. The Reality of Abuse

ProductionVia Modern Mythology:

In the wake of yet another collosal political and social disappointment, I’d like to touch on an issue which, frankly, could be the topic of a book. And it’s a book that, if it hasn’t been written already, should be written. It needs to be written, and more importantly, it needs to be talked about.

Every culture has myths about work. What is acceptable for an employee or employer, what the nature of that relationship should be. It is in the benefit of the employer to have myths throughout the workforce that tie their very identity and sense of self worth into how well they meet that employers demands, and if there aren’t forces in place, either enforced through government oversight or the unionization of the workers in some configuration, these myths can run rampant. There is, after all, a word in Japanese for working one’s self to death. (They also apparently have a word for eating one’s self to ruin. But that’s another story.)

(Matt Damon speaks out on the importance of teachers):

This process is not inherently good or bad. As I said in the chapter on initiation in The Immanence of Myth, the prescriptive nature of indoctrination may sound ominous, but many of us know what humans become when left to be feral creatures. They can hardly be called human, at all.

However, this process can still break down in any number of ways…

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United States Becomes Sweden’s Third-World Outsourcing Destination

FURNITURE JOBS“It’s ironic that IKEA looks on the U.S. and Danville the way that most people in the U.S. look at Mexico,” Street said.

When a large multinational corporation is looking to cut costs, what does it do? Send jobs overseas to a less modernized country — one where salaries are a fraction of those at home and the law provides few rights or protections for workers — and watch the profits roll in. We are speaking, of course, of Sweden’s IKEA, and Virginia, USA. Is this our economic future? Current reports:

Here we are, folks. Sweden’s third-world sweatshop. IKEA takes advantage of the destruction to our economy caused by outsourcing jobs by outsourcing their own jobs to the U.S. — and paying less than the workers in Sweden get ($8 in the U.S., $19 + better benefits in Sweden, for making the same products), about 50% of what the median income is in Danville (the town where IKEA’s sweatshop is located), with much stricter and abusive practices in the Danville facility, and with many less rights.

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More Americans Work For the Government Than In Manufacturing, Farming, Fishing, Forestry, Mining & Utilities Combined

Charlie Chaplin in 'Modern Times'Stephen Moore writes in the Wall Street Journal:

If you want to understand better why so many states — from New York to Wisconsin to California — are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, consider this depressing statistic: Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government.

It gets worse. More Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined. We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers. Nearly half of the $2.2 trillion cost of state and local governments is the $1 trillion-a-year tab for pay and benefits of state and local employees.

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Are Women Developing Immunity to the Sexual Harassment ‘Virus’?

TaxiScienceDaily reports:

Sexual harassment may have become so commonplace for women that they have built up resistance to harassing behavior they consider merely “bothersome,” suggests a provocative new study by Michigan State University researchers.This effect, said lead investigator Isis Settles, may be similar to the way people build up immunity to infection following exposure to a virus.

“When women view sexual harassment as bothersome, it doesn’t seem to be associated with distress,” said Settles, associate professor of psychology. “In some ways this suggests that sexual harassment is such a widespread problem that women have figured out ways to deal with it so it doesn’t interfere with their psychological well-being.”

For the study, which appears in the research journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, the researchers examined surveys of more than 6,000 women and men serving in all five branches of the U.S. military.

Sexual harassment was a problem for both sexes, the study found.

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A Bad Job Damages Your Mental Health As Much As Unemployment

Mike RoweWrites Tim Barribeau on io9.com:

Being unemployed is generally regarded as detrimental to your mental health, with the prevailing wisdom being that gainful employment will fix you right up. Unfortunately, according to research published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, a crappy job can be just as bad — if not worse — than unemployment.

Analyzing more than 7,000 working-age Australians across a great number of data points, the researchers found that people defined good jobs as ones that provided a defined social role and purpose, friendships, and structured time (among other things). Being hired into these kinds of jobs resulted in an overall improvement in mental health. Conversely, those in jobs that offered little control, were very demanding, and provided little support and reward lead to a general decrease in mental health.

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