Re: Big Brother Is Employing You

1

I resent the implication that only rich people are allowed to get high.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 5:39 AM
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I enjoy the implication that fantasy football is as disreputable as drug use.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 5:41 AM
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I'm amused by the two high school students getting stoned before school this morning, sitting on the side of their house which has no windows, meaning sitting right by where our kids traipse down the stairs to the driveway. They looked awkward but I seriously don't care if the HPs see someone smoking pot.

(There's a new family of seven that just moved in, next door to us, in a tiny two bedroom house. Maybe 800 square feet? This house is an absolute rathole. It went unoccupied for the first 3-4 years I lived here, and I was stunned when they decided to "renovate" rather than tear the thing down. At least the kids have a big yard to run around in.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 5:46 AM
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The thing that baffles me about people on the right is that they can get all in a frenzy about the government mythically taking away their rights (by providing health care or services?), and they are perfectly complacent about corporations stomping all over their civil liberties.

But Heebie-Geebie, it's not stomping over your civil liberties if both parties freely negotiate contracts with each other on equal footing and in good faith, which is exactly how private sector employment works.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 5:50 AM
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Based on Facebook, I think most of the people upset that the government is taking away their rights by providing health care are senior citizens who are actually upset that the government is providing health care for somebody else.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 5:53 AM
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Speaking of managing, I'm now supervising three people. It's getting old because I can't think of a good way to say, "Talk to me less often but do what I'd want you to do more often."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 6:05 AM
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Have them pee in a cup?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 6:06 AM
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Not that I think counting key strokes is the answer. I'm leaning more toward cultivating an air of mystery/mild personality disorder.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 6:06 AM
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7: For what people assume me are sound medical reasons, we have a very large supply of urine and urine collection items in this office. My favorite part of new employee orientation is, "That's the fridge for lunch, the other one is for urine."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 6:09 AM
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Assume s/b assure.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 6:10 AM
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upset that the government is providing health care for somebody else

My impression as well. Specifically, black somebody elses.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 6:28 AM
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The linked article is so important and terrifying.

There's a really insightful Cory Robin post on Crooked Timber now too that makes similar points. Basically, libertarians don't care about actual freedom; what they want is the ability of hierarchical, feudalistic private institutions, particularly employers, to do their thing without interference. Your ultimate libertarian right is the right to sell yourself into slavery.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 6:34 AM
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Halford without intense, end-to-end monitoring of everyone's (online) activities we may never know if people are illicitly enjoying Game of Thrones.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 6:46 AM
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I would trade that for a fairer overall workplace, with strong union protections and an end to employment at will, if that's the deal on offer!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 6:57 AM
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Anyhow, I can't figure out how most of the examples in the linked article describe anything at all different from basically standard Taylorization. Because now there are headsets?

Most of the things in that article aren't new. A woman who worked at a call center discovered that the mean length of her phone calls and the number of phone calls she answered were tracked by the company? Those innovations date to like two minutes after the invention of call centers.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 6:57 AM
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14: uh if I could offer that deal I would do so in about negative a billion seconds.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 6:58 AM
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15 -- I don't know if it's "new" so much as just a lesson in the progress of unchecked Taylorism, advancing rapidly as workers' bargaining power decreases, and with no serious hope of improvement.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 6:59 AM
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Seriously though some of these examples are goofy:

Kronos tracks when employees come to work, when they leave and which ones have high rates of absenteeism.

O no what brave new world that has time clock-punching technology in it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:00 AM
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17: well okay, but the examples they give are by and large things that most people have accepted, if sullenly, for years if not decades. Companies block certain websites? Companies monitor employees' work emails accounts? Companies use a radio to tell the forklift driver where to go? Companies that run call centers check if the people who work there are taking calls and how quickly they're managing them? Companies track when and if their employees arrive at work? These things are maybe sort of regular. Should they be? I dunno, I would be happy to not have web blocking and email monitoring software, but I bet most people would find them pretty anodyne out of context.

And some of the examples are seriously good ideas. Cameras in the ICU so that doctors can monitor and improve on patient care? HOW COULD THEY!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:04 AM
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I in fact worked at a call center in the late 80s as a teenager, and I was relentlessly monitored. After I gave notice, I got in trouble on my last day for working so little -- they threatened to send me home early without pay. Though they weren't too fascist about bathroom breaks, which might be a consequence of the current high unemployment rate.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:09 AM
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Part 1 of that series really does a much better job of making the general-purpose case that conditions are shitty, particularly for low wage or blue collar workers, and that it is due to attempts to boost productivity.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:10 AM
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Cameras in the ICUOR so that other doctors can monitor and improve on patient care?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:12 AM
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Monitoring employee's social media is particularly odious. I'd delete my facebook and Google+ accounts before letting my employer have access to them. More realistically I'd lie and say I'd deleted them, change identifying information like picture and birthdate so it looks like I'm somebody else, and keep using them.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:14 AM
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Though they weren't too fascist about bathroom breaks, which might be a consequence of the current high unemployment rate.
There's a correlation between the unemployment rate and how much people have to pee? I keep something about the workforce micturition rate going down.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:16 AM
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9: Moby sells urine and urine accessories!


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:16 AM
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22: that'd be great, sure, yes. Aren't surgeries often filmed for various reasons in any case?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:16 AM
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+hearing


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:17 AM
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23: yeah the asking for social media passwords is really shitty and should be stopped forthwith. That and the GPS on the personal car (even though that guy was presumably using his car for work and was, in fact, cheating the company) were the two where I was like "oh, fuck that".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:18 AM
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On the other hand, the social media password thing is very new as a public issue (first came to light last year), it's already banned in six states and eight others have bills that have been introduced, and Facebook threatened to sue employers who ask for employee facebook passwords. So we'll see, but I doubt it's going to get enshrined the way (for instance) time clocks have.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:20 AM
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16: -31.71 years? I like the internet because even the effort of opening a calculator app is spared me. Of course this answer comes from Yahoo Answers or something and is probably vastly wrong, but fortunately: who cares?

If I had to be productive, I think I would perish.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:24 AM
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Just remember the number of seconds in a year is pi times ten to the 7. So yeah, about 30 years.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:27 AM
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I have all these weird unit conversions in my head now after the last couple projects I've worked on. I was inordinately pleased to learn that one parsec per megayear is almost exactly one kilometer per second. Damned astronomers and their wacky units.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:29 AM
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I wonder if my productivity correlates at all with keystrokes. Probably not.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:32 AM
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29 -- Our Senate passed such a provision this time, but the House killed it last month.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:33 AM
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But what if companies use machines to GRADE your email, and fire you if your email gets an F? I heard they can do that, you know.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:35 AM
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This recent article in The Nation about drug testing was kind of interesting. Apparently the drug testing industry is pushing very hard to have regular drug testing of all kids in school. Because I'm an idiot, I somehow hadn't realized that drug testing basically doesn't catch anything except marijuana use. So yes, let's work very hard to keep kids from using the least harmful drug they could possibly get into! That'll have good results, I'm sure.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:36 AM
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Just remember the number of seconds in a year is pi times ten to the 7.

Only for circular years.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:37 AM
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32: A millimeter per microsecond is a kilometer per second, which corresponds to a specific impulse of about 100 seconds. I've been pickled in that set of units for the past three months. Not quite as cool as a parsec per megayear, though.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:42 AM
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That Nation article is disturbing. The pharmaceutical executive who makes her 49-year-old son take a urine test!


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:48 AM
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things that most people have accepted, if sullenly, for years if not decades

I remember Ellen Ulman, in Close To The Machine writing about being asked by a small business owner to put a keystroke counter (and recorder) on the computer of his administrative assistant (in the min-90s). She vaguely tried to talk him out of it, but didn't succeed, and left thinking that it was clearly driven by the technology -- he wanted it because it was easy to do, not because he suspected her of anything.

It was a memorable moment in the book. I don't see my copy, or I would transcribe it.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:50 AM
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36: Operation Golden Flow is an excellent name for a drug testing scheme.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:51 AM
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Because I'm an idiot, I somehow hadn't realized that drug testing basically doesn't catch anything except marijuana use.

Anecdotally, it was a massive problem when drug testing was introduced in Scottish prisons, because it could detect cannabis use in the preceding week, but everything else only for the last 24 hours. So everyone stopped using pot (which made them peaceful and relaxed) and started using cocaine etc (which made them violent).


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:52 AM
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This excellent article about new-school designer drugs and the people who appreciate them (really, it's great. Explains the same things about bath salts and the decline of acid and so on that I've tried to, but with more and better words) has an amusing sidebar about how some of the most vigorous experimenters are people in the military, who are subject to reasonably stringent random drug testing and are enthusiastic about finding ways around it (it's not hard).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:56 AM
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but the examples they give are by and large things that most people have accepted, if sullenly, for years if not decades.

The techniques have been around for a long time. What's new is that it's been ratcheted up during the Great Recession, and more and more companies are seizing on the paradox of increased productivity with fewer workers as a means to grow their profits.

I see this in both Jammies and my job. Jammies has worked for the same company for twelve years. They fired a bunch of people in his group since 2008, without replacement, and he's now doing the job that used to be done by three people, and feeling super stressed out and unable to stay on top of it.

I see it with the secretarial staff at Heebie U - they consolidate positions when someone retires, instead of hiring someone new. Same with faculty - we lost three adjuncts last year for various normal reasons in the math department, and didn't hire any. Literally everyone fulltime in the math department - besides me - has taught an overload this semester. I've absolutely refused to, because I think I'd come apart at the seams.

(The new vice-provost has been amazing about this, actually, and supports me in not teaching overloads, and is documenting and addressing the ways in which everyone is overworked. I love her so much.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 7:59 AM
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I used to work in call centre management [and previously as a front-line drone]. Some of the tracking stuff could be pretty intrusive. When I worked at a bank, they were dicks about it. I remember having a huge argument with one boss about my time logged off between calls. I didn't have _any_, as I could touch-type and could complete all the relevant logs while I was on the phone to the customer. She was clearly looking at someone else's data, or there was a machine error. But, 'computer says no'. I think I may have even skated close to a formal warning on it. I also got dinged a couple of times for taking longer than X minutes to take a piss.

However, when I was in call centre management, while we occasionally used the numbers to prod someone who was slack or much slower than other people, largely we [junior management] used the numbers to prod senior management into hiring more people. Or at least to lay off the front line people on the targets, as it was clear from the data that there was no way in a million years the targets were legitimately achievable.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:08 AM
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They fired a bunch of people in his group since 2008, without replacement, and he's now doing the job that used to be done by three people, and feeling super stressed out and unable to stay on top of it.

Somewhat ditto for me. I've been promoted a couple of times, and whereas previously they'd have hired people to do the old jobs, I've largely ended up continuing to do some of the old things on top of what I do now. There was rumoured to be a policy of deliberately leaving jobs vacant, and delaying the authorisation to appoint within HR, too, in order to save a few £s.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:10 AM
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more and more companies are seizing on the paradox of increased productivity with fewer workers as a means to grow their profits.

It's not a paradox, at least in the short to medium term. Say you have two people doing approximately two people's regular amount of work, you fire one and give their responsibilities to the other. Even if the remaining person only manages to do some of that extra workload, their measured productivity (=output per worker/unit of labour cost) has increased dramatically.

Now this approach may harm the overall quality and even quantum of work, but it practically guarantees an in increase in productivity (absent confounding factors such as a decline in other investement).


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:14 AM
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Wait, I'm still not clear on the math. Leave out the techniquese, please.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:16 AM
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There was rumoured to be a policy of deliberately leaving jobs vacant, and delaying the authorisation to appoint within HR, too, in order to save a few £s.

Explicitly admitted at my employer. Doesn't save them money because we just have to use freelancers. But that's a different budget of course....


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:19 AM
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The pharmaceutical executive who makes her 49-year-old son take a urine test!

Auuuuuuuuuuugh!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:21 AM
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51

If you have no employees at all, but some work happens to spontaneously occur, your productivity is infinite.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:22 AM
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I have no monkeys sitting at any type-writers, but I've still got hope.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:28 AM
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Apparently the drug testing industry is pushing very hard to have regular drug testing of all kids in school.

We are become a nation of high school assistant principals.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:29 AM
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The techniques have been around for a long time. What's new is that it's been ratcheted up during the Great Recession, and more and more companies are seizing on the paradox of increased productivity with fewer workers as a means to grow their profits.

Well, sure. Except, as Ginger Yellow points out, it's neither new nor a paradox. It's just that worker rights have been eroded and the economy is shitty so people are going back to doing things the shitty way they did a hundred years ago, or whatever.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:36 AM
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Hooray. Now I can wear my 80s pants.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:36 AM
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55 to 53.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:37 AM
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I really hope five more people can explain to me why the word "paradox" was sloppy, because it's a really fine point that it saves you money to pay fewer people. I'm just not grasping it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:38 AM
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Would it help if I first reminded you that I was a man and then explained it?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:40 AM
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Also, there's a point that the paradox has specifically increased as a strategy during the Great Recession. Yes, it's not new and why bother talking about the return of robber barons. I guess we're done rehashing old topics.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:41 AM
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Ohio HB59, the new general budget bill, allows the boards of any Ohio state higher ed institution to raise teaching loads by two courses a year. We are desperately trying to convince people that this shouldn't apply to those of us who are already teaching 5/5.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:42 AM
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5/5 is only one, no wonder people think professors are too pampered.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:44 AM
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Good luck, Rob. That's shitty.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:48 AM
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Manby mansplains manradoxes.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:59 AM
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64

At my old firm, we got keyclick counting in the early 90s. Not to worry about productivity, but because some vendor thought we could charge for it. Clients were overjoyed.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 9:06 AM
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Next step: Drug testing used to support expensed drug use.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 9:09 AM
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Well, it's not like the drug dealers are giving receipts.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 9:13 AM
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64 is crazy. (Not CC, the clients.)


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 9:16 AM
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To the OP, people are willing to put up with employer drug testing etc because they need the money and have no leverage. Just like welfare recipients.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 9:18 AM
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Well, there is some joy to be had in telling your service professionals that there's no way on earth you're ever going to pay a charge like that, and if it ever appears on a bill again, there won't be any further billing.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 9:21 AM
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To the OP, people are willing to put up with employer drug testing etc because they need the money and have no leverage. Just like welfare recipients.

That's different. Of course they put up with it because they have to. But why do they (on the right) not think the practice is a violation of their civil liberties?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 9:23 AM
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70: Because it hasn't occurred to them that anybody wants to test middle-aged white people with college degrees?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 9:26 AM
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I'm missing something and don't understand the keystroke charge. In addition to hourly billing there was a per-keystroke charge?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 9:29 AM
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71. I think Heebie is commenting on the supine pusillanimity of the middle aged white people when they are asked to piss in a bottle.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 9:32 AM
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I won't accuse anyone of mansplaining if they spell out "supine pusillanimity" for me.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 9:36 AM
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The idea of pissing into a bottle from a supine position is disgusting.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 9:39 AM
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I've never had a drug test, though I have had my fingerprints taken at most of my jobs.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 9:39 AM
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I guess it wouldn't be so bad with a stent, but that's not what we're talking about, is it?


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 9:40 AM
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Kronos tracks when employees come to work, when they leave and which ones have high rates of absenteeism.

They were pretty punk when they recorded Black Angels, but you never know who's going to get coöpted by The Man.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 9:43 AM
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I've always assumed that any employer with the faintest idea of what it is I do all day would fire me immediately -- I mean, it'd be the only reasonable thing to do. On the other hand, they've all seemed reasonably pleased with my output. Reading stories like this, I've always kind of wondered what happens when a valuable worker gets busted as an egregious time-waster: do people get fired despite doing good work, or does the panopticon develop discreet holes?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 9:44 AM
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I waste most of my time sitting around waiting for data to process. Just took 13 minutes to run an analysis of 6 million data points. If they don't want me to waste time they should buy me a supercomputer.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 9:48 AM
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Have you ever considered more parsimonious models?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 9:51 AM
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73, 75, 77; Rule 34.

There's a book out now on the loss of resilience and robustness when you design a system without slack. Possibly called 'Slack'.

What infuriates me about the rhetoric in the linked articles is that everyone earnestly says `well, in today's economy', but mentions that firm profits are up, so the problem in the economy would seem to be unemployment and under-spending. Which funnel we seem determined to spiral down, now that the public stabilizers are acting like short-term businesses.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 9:54 AM
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I once wrote `Compiling' on an eyemask for office naps. (It was true, too.)

My ignorant mental model of sleep is that we are compiling, or at least defragmenting. Yesno?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 9:56 AM
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What's a model?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 9:56 AM
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78: I might actually prefer that world to the world of the last Kronos performance I saw (although I enjoyed the heavily distorted electric pipa at the end). If I wanted to spend a week or more supine prostrate in despair, I would subject myself to this.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 9:56 AM
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What do you do with data that takes 13 minutes if you don't model it?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 9:58 AM
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84 made me laugh.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 10:00 AM
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Halford, go find an old man and ask him about the wonders of unbundling. And about who was stroking keys in the law firm of the 1980s.

Heebie, they'll tell you it's not a civil liberties violation because the person agreed to it. Just like the myriad 4th Amendment cases you can read where the defendant is unable to suppress the [gun/drugs] found after the defendant consented to a search. Or maybe they'll just say it's not state action.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 10:10 AM
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I'm running it through some data pipelines, joining common fields, filtering & flagging records that pass the filters, and generating new columns from ratios of existing ones. So it actually isn't modeling in the sense of fitting/optimizing/minimizing anything.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 10:14 AM
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79: Do you remember the Bloom County when Bill the Cat failed his drug test?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 10:21 AM
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90: Verdict: Drug addict. But not expendable. Probation recommended.


Posted by: Opinionated W.A. Thronhump III | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 10:39 AM
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Can you have a filter without a model?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 10:44 AM
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If you try to order a filter without a model number, we can't be guarantee you get the right part.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 10:46 AM
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My ignorant mental model of sleep is that we are compiling, or at least defragmenting. Yesno?

Not really. Writing to disk and compressing, maybe? If you're really desperate for an analogy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 10:55 AM
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Also earlier I was just trying to mansplain to heebie than manpart 1 of the dudicle bro-series did a much better job of manillustrating the impact of the broturn of robber bardong style management pracdickces.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 10:56 AM
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82.2: This is a hobbyhorse of mine. Too highly optimized systems are brittle, and that's a very general rule. I will have to read this book, as it seems likely to confirm what I already believe, which is always nice.

I think you can formulate an explanation for the cycle of growth followed by crisis that seems to be a feature of capitalism in terms of the optimization/brittleness model. If so the remedy is to introduce something akin to a viscosity into the system, like regulation and taxation or some other feature that prevents excessive optimization for conditions that inevitably will change.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 10:59 AM
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96.1: I have lately been thinking about how social insurance and monetary policy and taxation and so on can be conceptualized as regularization terms on an economy that is essentially a predictive model of real-world supply and demand; their role is to prevent overfitting of the model to past data to keep from catastrophic failures of generalization at some future point. The only problem with this analogy is that I think the set of people who need to be convinced of the usefulness of the foregoing who would also find this model useful is close to zero.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:02 AM
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98

From the obituary of NYT reporter McCandlish Phillips -- a reminder of the "good old days" --

He did not smoke, drink, curse or gamble, each of which had been refined to a high, exuberant art in the Times newsroom -- the last of these to such a degree that at midcentury the newspaper employed two bookmakers-in-residence, nominally on the payroll as news clerks.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:10 AM
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I bought an occasional CD until about a year or two ago, but I've now basically given everything up for Spotify, which is amazing, and although it does suck for artists it's probably the viable and inevitable way forward. Vinyl and download code is nice but my basic consumer attitude these days is eh fuck it listen to it through Spotify.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:19 AM
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God damn it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:20 AM
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What is Spotify?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 11:21 AM
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It's a model.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 12:25 PM
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No, see, heebie, it's a filter.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 12:25 PM
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QUIT CONDESCENDING ME!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 12:31 PM
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Not to pick on anarchists, whom I usually like, but the male anarchist/crit theorist sitting next to me during my pre-conference working group last week seriously spent five minutes explaining, to a room with at least four feminist theorists, about "this amazing concept from bell hooks: intersectionality."

Rob: A 5/5 is daunting enough--I can't even imagine a 7/7!


Posted by: J,Robot | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 12:42 PM
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Do you really think someone in your condition ought to be typing in all caps?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 12:43 PM
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Quite condescending, me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 12:43 PM
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With my suddenly swollen fingers, caps are about all I can manage. Didn't Homer have a mashing stick to address this problem?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 12:46 PM
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|| Our state House is currently debating whether to repeal our unconstitutional anti-sodomy laws. The repeal is going to pass, but not before some folks have gotten a chance to show their colors. |>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 12:46 PM
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How sudden, heebie? You know to watch for swelling, headaches, etc.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 12:58 PM
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109: Has someone suggested that they should at least have the decency to put it off for a week or two out of respect for Margaret Thatcher?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 1:00 PM
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109: Our likely GOP gubernatorial candidate, Ken Cuccinelli, has advocated bringing back sodomy laws in VA. He's a precious specimen, our Ken is.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 1:05 PM
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97: You mean the cardinality of that set is close to zero.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 1:05 PM
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QUIT CARDINALITIZING ME


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 1:14 PM
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Well, you should watch the Schimmel sisters tonight.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 1:17 PM
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105: I mistrust anarchists who sign on for the whole critical theory deal. First of all, you know all their teachers are bourgeois Fabians, so how much anarchism is really going to get discussed/thought about/enpraxised in those seminars? Secondly, most of them don't really do shit as far as activism. Or they'll have like one project that they trumpet loudly and get all worked up about, but they don't actually participate in anarchist communities. Thirdly, it's almost a guarantee that they are going to retire from any anarchist activism when they get their PhD. My late friend j/oel o/lson was one of the few anarchist grad students/professors who resisted all of those things to emerge as a real force for change in both the academy and the streets. Sigh.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 1:21 PM
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Reading stories like this, I've always kind of wondered what happens when a valuable worker gets busted as an egregious time-waster: do people get fired despite doing good work, or does the panopticon develop discreet holes?

Depends. I know a designer who was half an hour late three days out of five for a couple of years. Finally they changed her schedule from 9-5 to 10-6. Now she's usually about 15 minutes late.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 1:26 PM
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|| 64-36. The only no vote from our local delegation (which is 8-2 D) is the R who's planning to run against Max Baucus in '14. |>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 1:35 PM
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110: It just got noticeably hotter here in the past few days, and my fingers and feet have definitely responded. My blood pressure and other indicators are all okay, though.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 1:52 PM
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In libertarian Russia, you watches you.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 2:43 PM
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Writing to disk and compressing, maybe?
I'm not convinced that there's any good evidence of this.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 2:55 PM
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105: Haha, of all the subjects to mansplain. And bell hooks has got to be covered in an intro course, right? I mean, if I know who she is, and I've only read a couple of books on the subject, then jeez.


Posted by: LizSpigot | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 2:57 PM
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||

Sigh. NMM to Paolo Soleri. I did get to meet him once several years ago. He was a bit faded, but still funny and brilliant.

||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 3:00 PM
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Lot's of things sleep, even when they haven't learned anything and don't have very rich internal lives. W, for instance, probably sleeps.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 3:09 PM
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The lion sleeps.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 3:14 PM
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121: that's fine. It's an analogy. What would evidence mean? The actual proces I was trying to analogize has plenty of support.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 3:16 PM
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And if whatever sleeping animal has a hippocampus, it's likely learning something over the course of its life, if only "might be food that way" and "might get eaten this way".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 3:19 PM
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I had a hippocampus, but the hippos just wound up cutting class and hanging out by the gym doors smoking cloves.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 3:20 PM
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Do you know why "hippopotamus" and "hippocampus" both start with "hippo", Natilo? It sure is fascinating!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 3:23 PM
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Is it inane? 'Cause I was mostly going for inanity rather than fascination.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 3:25 PM
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It's fairly inane.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 3:26 PM
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Having read the Wikipedia entry, I am now incensed that the Danish anatomist Jacob Winsløw's suggestion to call the hippocampus the "ram's horn" was not followed. That's so typical, you know. Danish anatomists never get any respect.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 3:29 PM
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Hungarians win everything.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 3:32 PM
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Hippo means gray lumpy thing?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 3:32 PM
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Pretty much.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 3:38 PM
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The high is 88° today. I'm wilting.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 3:43 PM
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Will nobody post about "Accidental Racist"?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 3:56 PM
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There's a right way and a wrong way to flatter your FPPs into posting things, VW.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 3:59 PM
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I'm well aware there is a large amount of research focussed on finding evidence for this theory and churning out papers, but I think that's more because it was an exciting hypothesis, not because it was well founded.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 3:59 PM
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139 to 137, obv.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 4:01 PM
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Sleep is a pretty drastic change to go through every night, and mental performance degrades very rapidly when you don't have enough. Is it really credible that that happens because you haven't had a chance to consolidate the days memories?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 4:02 PM
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Anyway, it's up, because it really is an irresistible topic.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 4:05 PM
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They'd just add two courses a year, not two courses a semester, so my load would be a mere 6/6.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 4:36 PM
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139 and 140 are pretty fucking stupid. You go ahead believing what you feel, chief.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 4:41 PM
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Yeah! Who's the tool that posted 140?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 4:42 PM
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Oops. Not you, heebie-chief.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 5:00 PM
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Mighta been my twin, hanki-chief.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 5:03 PM
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Okay, 141 is stupid. Can you explain why it's stupid?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 5:53 PM
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It's not a paradox, at least in the short to medium term. Say you have two people doing approximately two people's regular amount of work, you fire one and give their responsibilities to the other. Even if the remaining person only manages to do some of that extra workload, their measured productivity (=output per worker/unit of labour cost) has increased dramatically.

Now this approach may harm the overall quality and even quantum of work, but it practically guarantees an in increase in productivity (absent confounding factors such as a decline in other investment).

See, this just doesn't match up with my actual experience. I've lived through plenty of cost-cutting in three different fields and this is just not what happens.

Here's an example: A library circulation desk has three staff members, at three computers. Their job is primarily to check people's items in and out, renew things, attend to fines, answer run-of-the-mill questions, etc.

If you take away one of those staff members, the other two don't necessarily serve more patrons (if we're using that extremely crude definition of units of service).

Sure, the two remaining workers can speed up. But that doesn't mean "more patrons served effectively." For one thing, patrons will also self-select away from the now-longer line (choosing to go home without items), will get fewer items than they otherwise would, and will fail to ask questions or make requests that they want.

Library staff, feeling rushed, will skip doing important things like collecting fines and renewing people's expired cards, thus creating more friction and backlogs. Some patrons who normally stand at the desk and wait for their returns to be checked in will abandon that practice, thus increasing the number of improperly scanned items and arguments over fines.

Even if the *only possible metric* you looked at was "items scanned per hour," it is just not my experience that cutting staff leads to any greater productivity from Workers #1 and 2. They can only use one computer at a time in any case. Cutting an extra worker just means fewer hands to go fetch returns, sort items, and empty carts.

This isn't hypothetical. This is my actual experience.

To be clear, I'm not saying it *can't* happen that you fire a worker and save money while increasing the remaining workers' productivity -- I've seen that happen too. I'm disputing that this is necessarily what *will* happen.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 6:59 PM
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141 Is it really credible that that happens because you haven't had a chance to consolidate the days memories?

It kind of seems like by "credible" you mean "plausible", in which case: yes?

The hippocampus comes from a word for "sea horse", right? Except it kind of looks like it should mean "field horse". What's up with that?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:07 PM
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150.last: apparently it means something like "sea monster horse" in Greek.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:11 PM
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Oh it seems to be from Greek instead of Latin? Different root than the English word "campus", at least based on cursory googling. If only we had a classicist around who could 'splain everything.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:14 PM
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It's definitely a greek word, yeah. What I want to know is what kind of demented weirdo looks at a deep interior piece of a brain and says "aw, look, a seahorse!"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:16 PM
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Anyhow the mechanism by which memory consolidation happens -- and how the lack of that affects task performance, and the different things the hippocampus is probably for -- is (are) totally fascinating, but I'm going to keep it to myself because PSSH STUPID SCIENTISTS DON'T KNOW NOTHIN WITH THEIR HUNDREDS OF MUTUALLY REINFORCING RESEARCH PAPERS ACROSS MANY FIELDS.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:20 PM
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PSSH STUPID SCIENTISTS DON'T KNOW NOTHIN WITH THEIR HUNDREDS OF MUTUALLY REINFORCING RESEARCH PAPERS ACROSS MANY FIELDS.

I swear one of these days I'm going to murder one of my colleagues who always responds to being told the well-known results of an active field of research with a skeptical smirk and "really? eh, I don't know. doesn't sound right."


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:23 PM
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"Doesn't pass the smell test, mmm?"

YES KUHN WOULD HAVE SEEN THIS YOU DIPSHIT


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:25 PM
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Today he held up a seminar for about 15 minutes while everyone tried to get him to accept a simple fact that's been in textbooks for 30 years in a field only slightly different from his own.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:26 PM
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On the other hand when my advisor talks about how you have to develop an instinct for what science is true and what can be ignored because it's definitely bullshit I believe him, because he is exactly Yoda.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:27 PM
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157: hah, that's awesome. We have those. There's one guy who kind of hangs around our lab for providing the only empirical evidence for something famous that is, as it turns out, bullshit, who turns up for talks and gets really involved in trying to debate the merit of points that no, honest, everybody has agreed on for twenty years now.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:28 PM
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er the first "for" should be "having gained the privilege by virtue of".


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:33 PM
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Also there's the lady who is famous for having taught an animal to do amazing, unlikely things but who is not otherwise terribly expert in our field who always chimes in to relate the topic to work with animals, no matter how unlikely the connection might seem to everybody else.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:34 PM
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totally fascinating
Huh, that doesn't sound like the answer to a stupid question.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:37 PM
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That's right. That's why it's not the answer to the question you asked, which was essentially "why should I believe the existing scientific consensus when I think it sounds all dumb and stuff hurr hurr fart." Which for all I know comes from you knowing way more thn me about memory, REM sleep, and the hippocampus, but sure came like you being an ignorant dumbass and expecting me to do all the fucking work of educating you because why I don't know.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 8:39 PM
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I think you can formulate an explanation for the cycle of growth followed by crisis that seems to be a feature of capitalism in terms of the optimization/brittleness model. If so the remedy is to introduce something akin to a viscosity into the system, like regulation and taxation or some other feature that prevents excessive optimization for conditions that inevitably will change.

You should look into resilience theory. (There's also apparently something called "resilience theory" in child development research that gets a lot more google results than the socio-ecological version I was looking for.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04- 9-13 10:23 PM
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I think you can formulate an explanation for the cycle of growth followed by crisis that seems to be a feature of capitalism in terms of the optimization/brittleness model. If so the remedy is to introduce something akin to a viscosity into the system, like regulation and taxation or some other feature that prevents excessive optimization for conditions that inevitably will change.

You could formulate it anew, or you could simply copy long passages from Karl Polanyi.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 4:21 AM
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sifu definitely ate his pissed-in wheaties today!


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 4:22 AM
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Maybe he didn't sleep well.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 4:28 AM
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161: And you're surprised that some people are excited find seahorses in brain structures? Maybe she's from a long line of somethings.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 5:44 AM
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Sifu, the standard you're arguing for here is surely not just "experts agree", is it? Experts agree on false things all the time in economics, for example -- economists all agreed that the minimum wage hurt employment until Card and Krueger. Michael Jensen, an economist at Harvard, once said that the efficient market hypothesis is the best-established fact in all of social science, a quote economists liked to repeat approvingly up until about the time of the Nasdaq bubble.

Skepticism towards ideas you don't like (i.e. "that don't smell right") is pretty worthless, but experts are as capable of collective delusion as anyone else.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 5:50 AM
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Skepticism towards ideas you don't like (i.e. "that don't smell right") is pretty worthless, but experts are as capable of collective delusion as anyone else.

Sure! And the memory consolidation hypothesis could easily be wrong (most if not all models of brain function probably are wrong). But pooh-poohing a massive, well-supported research literature because you think people are just trying to crank out papers is stupid, and saying that a theory must not have any validity because you don't find it credible is stupid, and neither makes me inclined to argue back that no, no, all of the people doing work in this area actually aren't clueless charlatans, especially when I've already googled a couple of reasonably well written, publicly available papers with dozens or hundreds of cites. It felt too much like farting in my face and asking me to rebut; why would I engage with that on a question I find interesting?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 6:07 AM
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169: but we're talking about experts here, not economists.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 6:16 AM
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I'm always torn on this issue, I totally hate the Internet "if you can't respond to my objections in five minutes in a blog comment, I will choose to disregard years of research by experts" thing. OTOH Walt is right, and also "I dont explain, respect my authority!" always comes across as a lame rhetorical move even if it's a reasonable one.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 6:27 AM
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N.B. I could care less if Eggplant respects my non-existent authority on this topic.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 6:30 AM
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... and, by the evidence, he could care less about the scholarly work that's been done, which is all I could really speak to anyhow. So, fine! We move on.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 6:32 AM
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This conversation is really weird.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 6:35 AM
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I'm not seeing the weirdness, at least not in a literature-based way.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 6:36 AM
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Sifu, nobody can read that research literature. It is impossible to read if you aren't a researcher in the field. I know because it's true of my research as well.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 7:20 AM
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I didn't read the papers because I wasn't at a computer all yesterday (so perhaps not the best time to troll, but), and I don't have time right now, but reading the first paragraph of the first paper I come to this: "the brain uses the same limited neuronal network capacities for the immediate processing and long-term storage of huge amounts of information &em; mutually exclusive functions that cannot take place simultaneously in these networks". Isn't the mutually exclusive part completely false?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 7:48 AM
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Anyway, 139 was mostly trolling and I certainly didn't mean to imply the field is full of charlatans. I do suspect that this hypothesis has driven the research, and the evidence found so far has been weak. You've read much more of the literature than I have (so I am curious about your answer to 141), but what little I have I haven't found convincing. It's very hard to disambiguate the positive effects of sleep from the negative effects of sleeplessness. The effects people find that I've seen are not limited to, and only loosely correlated with sleep.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 7:52 AM
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177: Literature on which I've been a coauthor is very easy to read because I'm a comprehensible kind of guy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 7:57 AM
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Some responses on a quick read of the first half:
Massive question begging in the introduction, already mentioned.
Then we go to memory tasks, sleep versus wakefulness, post-training and pre-recall. All these experiments are just as consistent with wakefulness being actively harmful, and sleep being neutral, for retention. This may seem like a semantic game, but bear in mind that saying "sleep contributes to hippocampus-dependent memory consolidation" is a ways away from saying sleep is for that purpose. Sleep is pretty clearly beneficial for performance of a wide variety of tasks.
Skipping a bit about stages of sleep and explicit and implicit memories, which I've not come across and will take further thought, they end with the observation that during slow wave sleep patterns of spikes and EEG in the hippocampus and the cortex are correlated, with various leads and lags. One of the problems with this type of measurement is that it is extremely noisy, or at least appears so. If you add in some uninterpretable (by us, not necessarily the brain) background activity a relationship that might still be there disappears. I could be wrong, but couldn't this sort of interplay always be present and only show up when activity quiets and settles into these large scale coherent bursts?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 10:34 AM
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That was me, obvs.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 10:35 AM
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"the brain uses the same limited neuronal network capacities for the immediate processing and long-term storage of huge amounts of information &em; mutually exclusive functions that cannot take place simultaneously in these networks". Isn't the mutually exclusive part completely false?

No, per this work and a lot of follow-up. Basically if you have a neural network you can either be good at learning things quickly or you can be good at avoiding interference; that is, if you want to be able to learn information rapidly (after seeing something once or twice, say) then you are by definition going to run the risk that new things you learn will overwrite old things you learn. This might turn out to not be true but nobody has yet built a neural network model where it is.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 10:51 AM
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saying "sleep contributes to hippocampus-dependent memory consolidation" is a ways away from saying sleep is for that purpose. Sleep is pretty clearly beneficial for performance of a wide variety of tasks

Sure. But where this all started, if you'll recall, was a quest for a useful computer metaphor for what happens cognitively during sleep. Consolidation is both important and also a pretty good candidate for a computer metaphor, which is why I mentioned it, and why I have certainly not made (and wouldn't make) the claim that sleep is only about consolidation.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 10:55 AM
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ut couldn't this sort of interplay always be present and only show up when activity quiets and settles into these large scale coherent bursts?

Maybe. In the absence of converging evidence that would certainly be a concern. But I only picked two highly-cited papers from the first page of google results on a massive literature; if you go here, for instance, you'll see some of the breadth of the work that's been done.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 10:58 AM
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if you want to be able to learn information rapidly (after seeing something once or twice, say) then you are by definition going to run the risk that new things you learn will overwrite old things you learn

Hence the utility of the one-hit professor in the back of every seminar.

I think of that period of each Q&A as `the running of the hobby-horses', and can generally enjoy it for looking at the topic from many angles, however silly they usually are.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 10:58 AM
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There's a lot of things exising neural network models can't do. Approximate a brain, for one.
Also, in that sentence they're not contrasting quick memorization with with slow, more stable inference. They're claiming one can't be conscious ("immediate processing") and consolidate memories ("long-term storage of huge amounts of information").


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 10:59 AM
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I wasn't questing for a computer metaphor, I was querying the utility of my naïve one. I've quite enjoyed the result, though.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 10:59 AM
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There's a lot of things exising neural network models can't do. Approximate a brain, for one.

No kidding. And if all they were claiming was that one specific model can't do both of those things, then that would be a fairly devastating counter-argument.

Also, in that sentence they're not contrasting quick memorization with with slow, more stable inference. They're claiming one can't be conscious ("immediate processing") and consolidate memories ("long-term storage of huge amounts of information").

Essentially the same thing in this context.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 11:01 AM
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... well, closely related, anyhow.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 11:01 AM
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184: Okay, if all you're claiming that some learning happens during sleep I can't disagree. That paper is making a stronger claim.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 11:02 AM
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I'm claiming that (the consensus of the research community, which I basically buy, is) consolidation of episodic and explicit memory in the hippocampus is an extremely important role of sleep, and may be the primary role of REM sleep, and likely (in its absence) causes a lot of the cognitive problems that you see in serious sleep deprivation. Also, it is probably the single most important impact that sleep has on cognition.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 11:07 AM
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189: Hang on, you were offering the example of neural network models as evidence that there was a fundamental conflict. I'm responding that a performance deficit in those models is not evidence that such a problem is exhibited by actual brains. Especially when this deficit is not the one under discussion, but is only a closely related one.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 11:09 AM
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193: right. Neural network models as a general-case model for the operation of the brain. That is, the claim is that there is no way to build a neural network model -- even at a scale and complexity that is unavailable to us -- which is a single, homogeneous system that can simultaneously manage one-shot (or limited trial) learning and also avoid catastrophic interference. It's a general claim that applies to the brain insofar as the brain is effectively conceptualized as a neural network, not a claim about one particular model or class of models.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 11:14 AM
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What exactly is Obama trying to fund, when he says "map the brain", by the way? I have been wondering.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 11:17 AM
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In the absence of converging evidence that would certainly be a concern.
My problem is that a lot of the evidence I've seen suffers from this same sort of problem.
consolidation of episodic and explicit memory in the hippocampus is an extremely important role of sleep, ... and likely (in its absence) causes a lot of the cognitive problems that you see in serious sleep deprivation
What about the progression of cognitive problems throughout a day and into the night suggests this? I'm honestly very curious. This consolidation is taking place when we are awake as well. How does this process account for relatively constant performance during the day followed by a steep decline in basically every measure of performance?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 11:18 AM
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195: yeah it's a puzzle. I think people in the brain sciences world are hoping "everything", rather than "this one somewhat hopeless project that's not a very good idea even if it does work".

196.1: if you are concerned about noisy measures of correlation maybe the natural sciences are not going to be congenial for you.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 11:26 AM
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194: Let me reset. As I read it, they are claiming that an existing, single, non-homogeneous system of neurons can't both maintain consciousness and consolidate memories when it clearly does. Countering that crude, homogeneous copies can't is irrelevant.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 11:41 AM
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Let me reset.

Maybe a brief nap would work.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 11:52 AM
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195: yeah it's a puzzle. I think people in the brain sciences world are hoping "everything", rather than "this one somewhat hopeless project that's not a very good idea even if it does work".

Yeah, boy howdy.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-10-13 11:54 AM
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