Boing Boing 

Fact-checking the RIAA's claim that the number of working musicians fell by 41%


Matthew Lasar's long Ars Technica feature, "Have we lost 41 percent of our musicians? Depends on how you (the RIAA) count" does an excellent job of digging into RIAA CEO Cary Sherman's claim that the number of working musicians in the USA has declined by 41 percent. After checking the RIAA's math, Lasar finds a gigantic discrepancy between the figures they cite and the conclusions they reach. But then Lasar delves further into the underlying sources, as well as government and industry stats, and finds that basically, the number of musicians working in America may have slightly declined, but is also projected to rise.

It is worth ending this cautionary tale with a review of the BLS's own occupational handbook projection for musician/singer employment in the near future. Note that the handbook cites a much higher employment figure for both trades in 2010 than mentioned in the above tables: about 176,200 musicians and singers. That's because it comes from the Bureau's National Employment Matrix, I was told, which adds additional data sources.

Employment for musicians and singers is expected to grow by ten percent over the decade—"about as fast as the average for all occupations," the government notes:

The number of people attending musical performances, such as orchestra, opera, and rock concerts, is expected to increase from 2010 to 2020. As a result, more musicians and singers will be needed to play at these performances.

There will be additional demand for musicians to serve as session musicians and backup artists for recordings and to go on tour. Singers will be needed to sing backup and to make recordings for commercials, films, and television.

Have we lost 41 percent of our musicians? Depends on how you (the RIAA) count

Hey, little deathlings: it gets better

Caitlin Doughty, host of AskAMortician has a message to the "little deathlings" out there who face social disapprobation due to their fascination with death and dying: it gets better. Life as a mortician, coroner, or affiliated professional is good and rewarding. PS: I just discovered AskAMortician and I am as happy as a pig in liquefying corpses!

It Gets Better, Morbid Kids! (via The Mary Sue)

Quant: leaving finance made me happy, you should try it


Cathy "Mathbabe" O'Neil is a former finance-industry quantitative analyst who escaped her former career and has advice for other quants looking to do something better with their lives. She works in a startup now, and offers a fascinating study of the contrasts between finance culture and startup culture:

First, I want to say it’s frustrating how risk-averse the culture in finance is. I know, it’s strange to hear that, but compared to working in a start-up, I found the culture and people in finance to be way more risk-averse in the sense of personal risk, not in the sense of “putting other people’s money at risk”.

People in start-ups are optimistic about the future, ready for the big pay-out that may never come, whereas the people in finance are ready for the world to melt down and are trying to collect enough food before it happens. I don’t know which is more accurate but it’s definitely more fun to be around optimists. Young people get old quickly in finance.

Second the money is just crazy. People seriously get caught up in a world where they can’t see themselves accepting less than $400K per year. I don’t think they could wean themselves off the finance teat unless the milk dried up.

Telling people to leave finance (via O'Reilly Radar)

(Image: Antarctica: McMurdo Station Finance - 50c, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from elisfanclub's photostream)

Why aren't you turning potatoes into cash RIGHT NOW?


Potato chips,
how my mouth just drips
,
Crunch, crunch,
I don't want no lunch,
All I want is potato chips.

No matter where it is,
You'll always find a bag around,
You can be at a bar or a picnic,
Even a baseball ground.

Jazzaroonie!

Okay, some more job opportunities.

Read the rest

There's BIG MONEY in STENOGRAPHY


I love how anachronistic this ad for earning big bucks by learning steno is -- among the obsolete elements contained in it are dictation, shorthand, shorthand gadgets. It's true that continuous speech recognition, autocomplete and pocket recording devices are their descendants, but they're none of them "exciting careers."

With Stenotype, the world’s fastest shorthand, you can qualify for one of today’s top-level secretarial positions. This modern machine shorthand is a synonym for highest speed and accuracy in thousands of executive offices and important places everywhere. Your Stenotype machine uses only 22 symbols…types an entire word at one stroke.. .”takes” in plain English letters… provides clean, easy-to-transcribe records for permanent future reference.

Even if you’ve had trouble with ordinary shorthand, you can quickly become proficient in Stenotype. Notes are so much easier to take and read. You learn at home, in your spare time. The cost is remarkably low, and the machine itself is included with your course. Take the first step toward an exciting high-pay career today. Mail coupon for free Stenotype booklet. LaSalle, 417 S. Dearborn, Chicago, Illinois 60605.

EARN BIG PAY IN AN EXCITING CAREER – Stenotype Operator (Nov, 1965)

Job insecurity in America: a terrified nation of disposable workers

Alternet's new series on "job insecurity" opens with a frightening and infuriating piece from Lynn Parramore, who paints a picture of a nation where the new normal is to be marginally employed, in terror of a coming layoff, haunted by unshakable student debt, and in a continuous, panicked search for work, all at once:

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Our capitalist endeavor was supposed to make us safe from the vagaries of weather conditions and arbitrary events that harassed our ancestors. But somehow we’ve ended up more worried than ever.

Anxiety disorders now plague 18 percent of the U.S. adult population –- a whopping 40 million people. Only half that number are affected by mood disorders. The drug alprazolam — familiar by its brand name, Xanax — was prescribed 46.3 million times in 2010, making it that year’s bestselling psychiatric drug. Prozac, the happiness-and-optimism pill, has been pushed aside by a medication meant to just help you get through the day without collapsing in a puddle of anxiety.

It’s easy to see the appeal of popping a Xanax. A recent survey by the American Psychological Association paints a picture of workers on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

* Sixty-two percent say work has a significant impact on their stress levels.
* Almost 50 percent indicate their stress levels have increased between 2007 and 2008.
* Forty-five percent of workers say job insecurity has a significant impact on stress levels.

...When we fear the hatchet will fall, when the future is a fog, when we’re paralyzed by powerlessness, we start to flip out. We pile on more work than we can handle. We don’t take sick days when we need them. We start fueling up on coffee and cigarettes, and dropping the things that are good for us, like leisure activities and trips to the gym. Under chronic stress, our immune systems start to buckle from “overresponsivity.”

Job Insecurity: It’s the Disease of the 21st Century -- And It’s Killing Us (via Naked Capitalism)

HOWTO become a security expert, Bruce Schneier style

Brian Krebs is conducting a series of interviews with computer experts on how they got into the field and what they'd advise others to do if they want to break in themselves. The first one, an interview with Thomas Ptacek, ran last month. The latest is from Bruce Schneier:

In general, though, I have three pieces of advice to anyone who wants to learn computer security:

* Study: Studying can take many forms. It can be classwork, either at universities or at training conferences like SANS and Offensive Security. (These are good self-starter resources.) It can be reading; there are a lot of excellent books out there — and blogs — that teach different aspects of computer security out there. Don’t limit yourself to computer science, either. You can learn a lot by studying other areas of security, and soft sciences like economics, psychology, and sociology.

* Do: Computer security is fundamentally a practitioner’s art, and that requires practice. This means using what you’ve learned to configure security systems, design new security systems, and — yes — break existing security systems. This is why many courses have strong hands-on components; you won’t learn much without it.

* Show: It doesn’t matter what you know or what you can do if you can’t demonstrate it to someone who might want to hire you. This doesn’t just mean sounding good in an interview. It means sounding good on mailing lists and in blog comments. You can show your expertise by making podcasts and writing your own blog. You can teach seminars at your local user group meetings. You can write papers for conferences, or books.

How to Break Into Security, Schneier Edition

Supreme Librarians in Metaspace: the comic


Matt sez, "The School of Library and Inoformation Management at Emporia State University (Kansas, USA) unveiled a comic book aimed at generating newfound excitement for librarianship and increasing the awareness of the many opportunities that an MLS/MLIS degree can provide. From the same team that created Library of the Living Dead and Monster Clash, Supreme Librarians in Metaspace is a promotional comic that highlights the many facets of librarianship in a quirky, tongue-in-cheek manner. This resource encourages librarians around the world to take a look at the profession in a new light. And maybe have a laugh or two while doing it."

Supreme Librarians in Metaspace (Thanks, Matt!)

Safecracking


Ken Doyle, a professional safecracker who's been practicing his trade since 1978, explains the ins and outs of safecracking to McSweeney's Suzanne Yeagley:

Q: How often do people get locked in vaults?

A: More often than you’d think and bank PR departments would like.

...

Q: Do you ever look inside?

A: I NEVER look. It’s none of my business. Involving yourself in people’s private affairs can lead to being subpoenaed in a lawsuit or criminal trial. Besides, I’d prefer not knowing about a client’s drug stash, personal porn, or belly button lint collection.

When I’m done I gather my tools and walk to the truck to write my invoice. Sometimes I’m out of the room before they open it. I don’t want to be nearby if there is a booby trap.

Q: Why would there be a booby trap?

A: The safe owner intentionally uses trip mechanisms, explosives or tear gas devices to “deter” unauthorized entry into his safe. It’s pretty stupid because I have yet to see any signs warning a would-be culprit about the danger.

Over the years I’ve found several tear gas devices in safes and vaults I’ve opened. These devices were marketed with names like “BEAVER” and “BADGER.” There are safecrackers that collect them.

Interviews With People Who Have Interesting or Unusual Jobs (via Schneier)

(Image: It Is Not Often That I Find A Sealed Safe On The Footpath, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from infomatique's photostream)

75p/h on the high seas (tipping optional)

What's worse than making 75p/h working on a cruise ship owned by Carnival? Having your employers withhold your tips unless you hit performance targets. "Yes, the minimum wage is more than we pay, but this is a global industry, our businesses have to remain competitive."

Redditor with an air-travel pass will become an upvoted summer bindlestiff

Generique is a redditor with a BSc in forensic science, no job, and an unlimited US air-travel pass for the summer (he has a family member who works for an airline). He's volunteered to go anywhere and do anything, based on Reddit upvotes, to have an "epic summer adventure."

Want me to hand deliver a letter to someone across the country or overseas? Attempt to help you with homework? Volunteer at your organization for a day? Need an extra pair of hands to do that landscaping project you've been putting off for months? Know a sweet hiking spot but have no one to go with?

I will attempt to complete the highest voted tasks to the best of my abilities (IE they take place in destinations I can reach- most major cities worldwide except and almost any US destination, and I don't get an unlucky string of fully booked flights). Be sure to say the city your request takes place in. Feel free to assign me random adventures where ever you live.

Need help getting something done? I have unlimited flight benefits this summer and want to spend the month of May helping out Redditors. (self.AskReddit)

Valve employee manual describes the greatest workplace I've ever heard of


Valve's employee manual may just be the single best workplace manifesto I've ever read. Seriously: it describes a utopian Shangri-La of a workplace that makes me wish -- for the first time in my life -- that I had a "real" job. It is so goddamned good that I couldn't pick just one (or two) passages to quote.

Why do I need to pick my own projects? We’ve heard that other companies have people allocate a percentage of their time to self-directed projects. At Valve, that percentage is 100.

Since Valve is flat, people don’t join projects because they’re told to. Instead, you’ll decide what to work on after asking yourself the right questions (more on that later). Employees vote on projects with their feet (or desk wheels). Strong projects are ones in which people can see demonstrated value; they staff up easily. This means there are any number of internal recruiting efforts constantly under way.

If you’re working here, that means you’re good at your job. People are going to want you to work with them on their projects, and they’ll try hard to get you to do so. But the decision is going to be up to you. (In fact, at times you’re going to wish for the luxury of having just one person telling you what they think you should do, rather than hundreds.)

How does Valve decide what to work on? The same way we make other decisions: by waiting for someone to decide that it’s the right thing to do, and then letting them recruit other people to work on it with them. We believe in each other to make these decisions, and this faith has proven to be well-founded over and over again.

But rather than simply trusting each other to just be smart, we also constantly test our own decisions. Whenever we move into unknown territory, our findings defy our own predictions far more often than we would like to admit. We’ve found it vitally important to, whenever possible, not operate by using assumptions, unproven theories, or folk wisdom. While people occasionally choose to push themselves to work some extra hours at times when something big is going out the door, for the most part working overtime for extended periods indicates a fundamental failure in plan- ning or communication. If this happens at Valve, it’s a sign that something needs to be reevaluated and corrected. If you’re looking around wondering why people aren’t in “crunch mode,” the answer’s pretty simple. The thing we work hardest at is hiring good people, so we want them to stick around and have a good balance between work and family and the rest of the important stuff in life

Sometimes things around the office can seem a little too good to be true. If you find yourself walking down the hall one morning with a bowl of fresh fruit and Stump- town-roasted espresso, dropping off your laundry to be washed, and heading into one of the massage rooms, don’t freak out. All these things are here for you to actually use. And don’t worry that somebody’s going to judge you for taking advantage of it—relax! And if you stop on the way back from your massage to play darts or work out in the Valve gym or whatever, it’s not a sign that this place is going to come crumbling down like some 1999-era dot-com start- up.

...Valve pays people very well compared to industry norms. Our profitability per employee is higher than that of Google or Amazon or Microsoft, and we believe strongly that the right thing to do in that case is to put a maximum amount of money back into each employee’s pocket. Valve does not win if you’re paid less than the value you create. And people who work here ultimately don’t win if they get paid more than the value they create.

Valve Handbook for New Employees

TOR is hiring

Runa from The Onion Router -- a privacy and anti-censorship tool used around the world -- writes, "We are looking for another dedicated core developer to join our team. Your job would be to work on all aspects of the main Tor network daemon and other open-source software. This would be a contractor position for 2012 (starting as soon as you're ready and with plenty of work to keep you busy), with the possibility of 2013 and beyond. Please see the website for details and information on how to apply."

SOPA-fighting champs DemandProgress want to hire a lead writer

DemandProgress, the activist organization that was one of the main movers in the history-making fight against SOPA, is looking to hire a "Lead writer," who lives in NYC (or can relocate). Co-founder Aaron Swartz explains,

It’s a pretty incredible job: you’ll be leading a new lab to try to pioneer innovative ways of thinking about what works in online campaigning. And because it’s so experimental, it doesn’t require a whole lot of experience—in fact, not having any preconceptions might be a plus. It’d be perfect, for example, for a smart kid straight out of college.

They've also got some internships available.

Incredible opportunity: looking for a writer

Nested layers of temp agencies allow WalMart's supply chain to shave pennies through terrible, illegal working conditions


Dave Jamieson has a long investigative feature in the Huffington Post about the lives of subcontracted temps in the American warehouse supply-chain. Jamieson describes a world of nested layers of temps -- "temp agencies that supervise temp agencies that deal with temp agencies" -- providing layers of plausible deniability for the titanic corporations on whose behalf all the work is conducted. The agencies are "fly-by-night," operating from "garages, convenience store parking lots and, in one case, a Super 8 motel room," which means that it's nearly impossible for workers to get redress for illegal treatment.

Combined with the economic downturn and the cuts to employment benefits and the social safety net, this creates a perfect storm for horrific working conditions in the warehouses that serve the largest companies in America, such as WalMart. Workers are illegally docked pay, denied access to toilet facilities (one worker interviewed for the story describes how she got a bladder infection because she wasn't allowed to use the toilet while working), paid less than minimum wage, and billed for their own pre-hire background checks.

Meanwhile, the companies at the top of the chain are thriving, turning over great profits even in the midst of recession, and claiming no responsibility for the working conditions that their subcontractors' subcontractors workers endure -- despite the deliberate creation of this many-arms'-length relationship for the purpose of dodging liability.

Six lumpers at the warehouse filed a class-action lawsuit on the heels of the state investigation. Everardo Carrillo and his co-workers say they've been moving Walmart goods in a warehouse where the temperature regularly climbs to over 90 degrees, walking in and out of 53-foot-long steel containers that get even hotter baking in the Southern California sun. After working for a set hourly wage, the workers claim that a year and a half ago they were switched to a piece-rate pay plan -- an arrangement largely out of a bygone era. Their bosses told them they would earn "much more money" under the new scheme, which paid them according to the container, but their earnings actually fell, according to the lawsuit.

The workers claim it was never made clear how their pay was supposed to break down -- an allegation apparently bolstered by the state's investigation. They claim that when they complained about their confusing paychecks, their supervisors responded by sending them home without pay or refusing to give them work the following day. The lumpers were working on a temp basis. According to the lawsuit, the majority of workers were direct hires as recently as 2006; now, three out of every four workers are temps.

When asked if a Schneider executive could be interviewed about allegations from temp workers in its warehouses, a spokesperson sent HuffPost a statement, saying its labor suppliers are "separate corporate entities": "The only legal avenue which Schneider has to enforce their compliance would be to terminate the contract with these vendors. We have no plans to terminate the contracts with our vendors; our expectation is that they will comply with all applicable statutes, regulations and orders."

Walmart, whose products the workers were handling, also kept an arm's length from the charges. When HuffPost reported on the state investigation and lawsuit in October, a Walmart spokesman said the retailer is "not involved in this matter." When a similar lawsuit was filed in April in Illinois -- again, naming low-level companies contracted to move Walmart products -- the company asserted its distance from the allegations then as well, a spokesman noting that "the facility isn't operated by Walmart nor are the people who work in it employed by Walmart."

The New Blue Collar: Temporary Work, Lasting Poverty And The American Warehouse (Thanks, Deborah!)

(Image: Beautiful Day at the Walmart store in Gladstone, Missouri, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from walmartcorporate's photostream)

Hilarious memoirs from the HR department: chapter 15 of "Let's Pretend This Never Happened"

Jenny Lawson, creator of the Bloggess blog, has posted a long and extremely funny excerpt from her forthcoming book Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir). The excerpt, from chapter 15, details Lawson's bizarre experiences working in a corporate HR department, coping with the terrible behavior of the employees, the awfulness of the corporate bureaucracy, and the absurdly bad job applications she received.

When I was in HR, if someone came to me about a really fucked-up problem, I’d excuse myself and bring in a coworker to take notes, and the employee would relax a bit, thinking, “Finally, people are taking me seriously around here,” but usually we do that only so that when you leave we can have a second opinion about how insane that whole conversation was. “Was that shit as crazy as I thought it was?” I would ask afterward. It always was. Sadly, HR has very little power in an organization, unless the real executives are on vacation, and then watch out, because a lot of ass-holes are going to get fired.

There are three types of people who choose a career in HR: sadistic assholes who were probably all tattletales in school, empathetic (and soon to-be-disillusioned) idealists who think they can make a difference in the lives of others, and those of us who stick around because it gives you the best view of all the most entertaining train wrecks happening in the rest of the company.

People who aren’t in HR always assume that people who are in HR are the biggest prudes and assholes, since HR is ostensibly there to make sure everyone follows the rules, but people fail to realize that HR is the only department actively paid to look at porn. Sure, it’s under the guise of “reviewing all Internet history to make sure other people aren’t looking at porn,” but people are always looking at porn, and so we have to look at it too so that we can print it out for the investigation. This is also the reason why HR always has color printers, and why no one else is allowed to use them. Because we can’t remember to pick up all the porn we just copied. This is just one of many secrets the HR department doesn’t want you to know, and after sharing these secrets I will probably be blackballed from the Human Resources Alliance, which is much like the Magicians’ Alliance (in that I don’t belong to either, since I never get invited to join clubs, and that I’m not actually sure that either of them exist). Regardless, almost immediately after starting work in HR, I started keeping a journal about all the fantastically fucked-up stuff that people who aren’t in HR would never believe. These are a few of those stories:

Last month we decided to start keeping file of the most horrific job applications handed in so that we’d have something to laugh at when the work got to us. We now officially have twice as many applications in the “Never-hire-these-people-unless-we-find-out-that-we’re-all-getting-fired-next-week” file than we have in the “These-people-are-qualified-for-a-job” file. What’s the word for when something that started out being funny ends up depressing the hell out of you? Insert that word here.

UPDATED: Excerpt of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir) [Amazon]

(via JWZ)

America's 55-hour work weeks ruin workers' lives and don't produce extra value for employers


Sara Robinson's written an excellent piece on the productivity losses associated with extra-long work-weeks, something that has been established management theory since the time of Ford, but which few employers embrace today. Americans are working longer hours than they have in decades, sacrificing their health, happiness and family lives, and all the data suggests that those extra hours are wasted -- resulting in hourly productivity losses that offsets the additional hours worked. Everybody loses.

It’s a heresy now (good luck convincing your boss of what I’m about to say), but every hour you work over 40 hours a week is making you less effective and productive over both the short and the long haul. And it may sound weird, but it’s true: the single easiest, fastest thing your company can do to boost its output and profits — starting right now, today — is to get everybody off the 55-hour-a-week treadmill, and back onto a 40-hour footing...

By 1914, emboldened by a dozen years of in-house research, Henry Ford famously took the radical step of doubling his workers’ pay, and cut shifts in Ford plants from nine hours to eight. The National Association of Manufacturers criticized him bitterly for this — though many of his competitors climbed on board in the next few years when they saw how Ford’s business boomed as a result. In 1937, the 40-hour week was enshrined nationwide as part of the New Deal. By that point, there were a solid five decades of industrial research that proved, beyond a doubt, that if you wanted to keep your workers bright, healthy, productive, safe and efficient over a sustained stretch of time, you kept them to no more than 40 hours a week and eight hours a day.

Evan Robinson, a software engineer with a long interest in programmer productivity (full disclosure: our shared last name is not a coincidence) summarized this history in a white paper he wrote for the International Game Developers’ Association in 2005. The original paper contains a wealth of links to studies conducted by businesses, universities, industry associations and the military that supported early-20th-century leaders as they embraced the short week. “Throughout the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, these studies were apparently conducted by the hundreds,” writes Robinson; “and by the 1960s, the benefits of the 40-hour week were accepted almost beyond question in corporate America. In 1962, the Chamber of Commerce even published a pamphlet extolling the productivity gains of reduced hours.”

What these studies showed, over and over, was that industrial workers have eight good, reliable hours a day in them. On average, you get no more widgets out of a 10-hour day than you do out of an eight-hour day. Likewise, the overall output for the work week will be exactly the same at the end of six days as it would be after five days. So paying hourly workers to stick around once they’ve put in their weekly 40 is basically nothing more than a stupid and abusive way to burn up profits. Let ‘em go home, rest up and come back on Monday. It’s better for everybody.

Yes, you can squeeze out some extra productivity with sporadic overtime pushes in the busy season (though the returns diminish -- 80-hour weeks aren't twice as productive as 40-hour ones), but if you turn "sporadic pushes" into business as usual, you're just paying for the same work to take place over more hours while destroying your workers' lives. You may not care about the latter -- not if you've got five more applicants lined up to take the jobs of the workers who drop at their desks -- but even so, why pay more for less?

Bring back the 40-hour work week (via Beth Pratt)

(Image: Luigi Antonini speaks with a foot-sore picketer during the Dressmakers' strike for overtime pay, as supporters look on., a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from kheelcenter's photostream)

Miserable working conditions in ecommerce packing facilities

Mother Jones's Mac McClelland goes underground at an unnamed ecommerce packing facility in a rural American town and reports on the terrible, back-breaking working conditions that are compounded by continuous verbal abuse, unsafe working conditions, mandatory overtime, and humiliating disciplinary procedures.

At lunch, the most common question, aside from "Which offensive dick-shaped product did you handle the most of today?" is "Why are you here?" like in prison. A guy in his mid-20s says he's from Chicago, came to this state for a full-time job in the city an hour away from here because "Chicago's going down." His other job doesn't pay especially well, so he's here—pulling 10.5-hour shifts and commuting two hours a day—anytime he's not there. One guy says he's a writer; he applies for grants in his time off from the warehouse. A middle-aged lady near me used to be a bookkeeper. She's a peak-season hire, worked here last year during Christmas, too. "What do you do the rest of the year?" I ask. "Collect unemployment!" she says, and laughs the sad laugh you laugh when you're saying something really unfunny. All around us in the break room, mothers frantically call home. "Hi, baby!" you can hear them say; coos to children echo around the walls the moment lunch begins. It's brave of these women to keep their phones in the break room, where theft is so high—they can't keep them in their cars if they want to use them during the day, because we aren't supposed to leave the premises without permission, and they can't take them onto the warehouse floor, because "nothing but the clothes on your backs" is allowed on the warehouse floor (anything on your person that Amalgamated sells can be confiscated—"And what does Amalgamated sell?" they asked us in training. "Everything!"). I suppose that if I were responsible for a child, I would have no choice but to risk leaving my phone in here, too. But the mothers make it quick. "How are you doing?" "Is everything okay?" "Did you eat something?" "I love you!" and then they're off the phone and eating as fast as the rest of us. Lunch is 29 minutes and 59 seconds—we've been reminded of this: "Lunch is not 30 minutes and 1 second"—that's a penalty-point-earning offense—and that includes the time to get through the metal detectors and use the disgustingly overcrowded bathroom—the suggestion board hosts several pleas that someone do something about that smell—and time to stand in line to clock out and back in. So we chew quickly, and are often still chewing as we run back to our stations.

The days blend into each other. But it's near the end of my third day that I get written up. I sent two of some product down the conveyor line when my scanner was only asking for one; the product was boxed in twos, so I should've opened the box and separated them, but I didn't notice because I was in a hurry. With an hour left in the day, I've already picked 800 items. Despite moving fast enough to get sloppy, my scanner tells me that means I'm fulfilling only 52 percent of my goal. A supervisor who is a genuinely nice person comes by with a clipboard listing my numbers. Like the rest of the supervisors, she tries to create a friendly work environment and doesn't want to enforce the policies that make this job so unpleasant. But her hands are tied. She needs this job, too, so she has no choice but to tell me something I have never been told in 19 years of school or at any of some dozen workplaces."You're doing really bad," she says.

I'll admit that I did start crying a little. Not at work, thankfully, since that's evidently frowned upon, but later, when I explained to someone over Skype that it hurts, oh, how my body hurts after failing to make my goals despite speed-walking or flat-out jogging and pausing every 20 or 30 seconds to reach on my tiptoes or bend or drop to the floor for 10.5 hours, and isn't it awful that they fired Brian because he had a baby, and, in fact, when I was hired I signed off on something acknowledging that anyone who leaves without at least a week's notice—whether because they're a journalist who will just walk off or because they miss a day for having a baby and are terminated—has their hours paid out not at their hired rate but at the legal minimum. Which in this state, like in lots of states, is about $7 an hour. Thank God that I (unlike Brian, probably) didn't need to pay for opting into Amalgamated's "limited" health insurance program. Because in my 10.5-hour day I'll make about $60 after taxes.

I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave (via MeFi)

Jobs of the medieval city

Here's a neatly categorized and tantalizing list of medieval urban professions, including the criminal trades.

silk-snatcher - one who steals bonnets

stewsman - probably a brothel keeper - "since the words stew and stewholder both mean a bawd, I'm guessing that a stewsman would be a brothel-keeper as well. Whether bawdry counts as a criminal activity varies at different times and places."

thimblerigger - a professional sharper who runs a thimblerig (a game in which a pea is ostensibly hidden under a thimble and players guess which thimble it is under)

eggler - an egg-merchant

fool

Knifeman - one skilled with a knife; specifically, a soldier trained to disembowel horses

What did people do: in a Medieval City? (via Kottke)

Ten-year employee fired for skipping lunch to work

Chicago real estate company Equity Lifestyle Properties Inc. fired a receptionist named Sharon Smiley for violating company policy and working through her lunch break. She had worked for them for ten years. Because she was fired, she was ineligible for unemployment benefits.

After a protracted legal battle, she won her benefits claim.

After being fired, Smiley learned she was ineligible for unemployment benefits because she had been discharged for misconduct connected with her work.

She appealed to the Illinois Department of Employment Security's board of review three times, was denied, then took her case to a circuit court. That court ruled Smiley, who did not challenge the firing, was eligible for benefits.

Smiley received a check with a lump sum on Nov. 28 for several months of unemployment, a percentage of her previous salary. Then she received a check every two weeks for $528 until she obtained her latest job last month.

The appellate court of Illinois affirmed the circuit court ruling Jan. 11, saying the "insubordination arose from [Smiley's] efforts to perform additional work for [her employer], beyond what was required of her," as first reported Monday in the Chicago Tribune.

Chicago Woman Fired for Doing Work at Lunch Wins Unemployment Claim (via Neatorama)

Be an international policy fellow at the EFF

Here's a sweet gig: the Electronic Frontier Foundation is soliciting applications for its annual Google Policy Fellowship,"an opportunity for undergraduate, graduate, and law students to work alongside the international Policy team on projects advancing debate on key public policy issues."

Silicon Valley job fair for people who want jobs in India

This weekend, Silicon Valley's premier convention venue is hosting a job fair -- for people who want to work in India:

A job fair at the San Jose Convention Center this weekend is focused on helping companies recruit Indian workers who may in the U.S. on a visa by informing them about the professional and economic opportunities back home.

Organizers also stressed that the job fair is also open to anyone who is interested in working in India.

Among the companies involved in the job fair are: Flipkart, an Indian online shopping company; consulting firm Accenture; and Amazon.com, which runs development centers in Indian cities.

Others include: McAfee, which is now part of Intel; SmartPlay Technologies, an Indian semiconductor firm; InfoTech Enterprises, an Indian engineering design firm; Indian manufacturing firm Jindal Steel & Power; Tata Motors; San Jose-based Synapse Design; and UST Global, an IT services firm.

Looking for work? Here's a job fair touting tech openings in India

MakerBot is hiring

A sweet gig for NYC-based makers and hackers and 3D printing enthusiasts: MakerBot is hiring support technicians: "To work for support is to be right in the thick of all that is MakerBot — if you find 3d printing exciting, this is the place for you. Send your resume today — that is, if you’ve got what it takes."

Boss creates "Guess who I'm going to fire next" contest

William Ernst, owner of the QC Mart chain of stores headquartered in Bettendorf, Iowa, has lost a court case against an employee who claimed benefits after quitting. Ernst had created a contest that invited his employees to guess who among them would be fired next, and a cashier named Misty Shelsky quit. Ernst tried to get out of paying her benefits, saying that people who voluntarily leave their positions are not entitled to unemployment pay. Administrative Law Judge Susan D. Ackerman sided with Shelsky, calling the contest "egregious and deplorable."

New Contest – Guess The Next Cashier Who Will Be Fired!!!

To win our game, write on a piece of paper the name of the next cashier you believe will be fired. Write their name [the person who will be fired], today’s date, today’s time, and your name. Seal it in an envelope and give it to the manager to put in my envelope.

Here’s how the game will work: We are doubling our secret-shopper efforts, and your store will be visited during the day and at night several times a week. Secret shoppers will be looking for cashiers wearing a hat, talking on a cell phone, not wearing a QC Mart shirt, having someone hanging around/behind the counter, and/or a personal car parked by the pumps after 7 p.m., among other things.

If the name in your envelope has the right answer, you will win $10 CASH. Only one winner per firing unless there are multiple right answers with the exact same name, date, and time. Once we fire the person, we will open all the envelopes, award the prize, and start the contest again.

And no fair picking Mike Miller from (the Rockingham Road store). He was fired at around 11:30 a.m. today for wearing a hat and talking on his cell phone. Good luck!!!!!!!!!!

(via Lowering the Bar)

(Image: Ultimate Anal Douche Hygienic System easy to clean Rectal Syringe, Amazon)

Control-freaky dress code at a boutique


From a recent trip to Vegas, a clandestine photo of a directive to employees at a boutique in Caesar's Palace from a crazy, crazy control freak.
As this is Fall...no more flip flops. You cannot wear Sindys, Cintias or Ladys by themselves.This should be a no-brainer. Dark denim jeans. No Exceptions. We work for a high-end fashion company.

Your hair should be styled. You must wear makeup to work. You need to have a manicure and a pedicure. No broken nails and toenails unpolished. Do not come to work looking unkempt.

Especially piquant is the ritual of requiring each employee to sign, like a perp signing a confession that's been beaten out of him.

Barista's "Starbucks Rant" song gets him fired

Chrissizle was a barista at Starbucks who wrote and recorded a ranty, funny song about his job and posted it on YouTube. It "went viral" (oh, how I hate that phrase!) and he got fired.

Welcome to starbucks
my name is Chris
I'll be your barista for the day
Can i make a drink for you miss?

I know you've had a shitty day
well so have I
I really don't want to care
but I get paid to try

Hello rich white lady,
I already know what you want
you want a skinny vanilla latte
young debutaunt

Barista fired after 'Starbucks Rant Song' goes viral