Work life balance… sort of… May 19, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Workers Rights.
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For an example of how workplaces are changing in the contemporary period there’s no better example than the statistic earlier in the month that 80% of Irish employees access social media at work. Okay, the report by William Fry law firm, is not perhaps quite as scientific as might be hoped for, but purely anecdotal observation of public and private work places suggests that the ubiquity of the mobile is now complete, or almost so.
Can’t say I blame people, work is, in large part for many, tedious. Anything that helps get people through the day is probably no bad thing. It also perhaps, indicates that the discipline of work places is now somewhat different to what it used to be.
I’d love to think that this is a sign of good things more generally, but I’m a little dubious. Perhaps because I see no real efforts societally to democratise working lives, again either in public or private workplaces. Most are run along lines that the most Stalinist command economy would look upon with envy. Autonomy is limited – and increasingly curtailed. Less union membership and unions that seem detached from workplace concerns adds to this.
So while there are changes, and some are better, some unfortunately are worse.
Take the following from the SBP and also reported in the Irish Times:
Irish workers spend an average of 56 minutes per working day on social media sites
More than 80 per cent of Irish employees access social media sites at work, spending an average of 56 minutes per working day on such sites, a new report has found.
Again, this is unsurprising. I asked an IT person in a place I worked about Facebook access and their take was that most people in the place had it on in their browser all day long.
Another employment, and this tallies with data that ‘more than 46 per cent of Irish employers do not have a social media policy in place, leaving them open to internal disputes, abuse and potential litigation’, was very unkeen to impose any sort of internet/social media policy, not least because middle and upper management had discovered the – ahem – joys of the internet and weren’t keen to see access to them curtailed.
Around 40 per cent of companies have imposed bans on employees accessing sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
But, for there is a but…
…as the majority of employees access social media from personal devices, the value of imposing absolute restrictions is limited, the report says.
In a way it’s an example of a brilliant contradiction within capitalism, between the near all pervasive push by social media/internet providers to encompass all our lives all the time, or as much as is humanly possible, and the requirements of individual workplaces – and perhaps the economy as a whole – to operate without interruption.
I’m sceptical in the extreme about Google glasses, but assuming they did catch on I wonder if and how that would be policed in workplaces.
What is the experience of people generally in relation to social media in workplaces?
Spring 2013 edition of Resistance May 19, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.
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Articles from the Spring 2013 edition of Resistance can now be read online at the ISN website: www.irishsocialist.net. Print copies are available in Dublin’s Connolly Books and in Solidarity Books of Cork—or if you’d like us to send you a print copy, just email email@example.com.
Views from Clare Daly and Henry Silke on what comes after the break-up of the ULA.
Colin Coulter on Northern Ireland’s dysfunctional political culture.
Sráid Marx on the abolition of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.
Andy Storey on Ireland’s predatory role in Africa.
And Ed Walsh on the legacy of Hugo Chávez.
Sometimes I feel like giving up… May 19, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
…as when I read the following about the spat at the Constitutional Convention over the issue of the abolition of the Seanad. Bad enough to read the following:
Some 57 per cent of members voted against a proposal that the convention should write to Taoiseach Enda Kenny asking for its terms of reference to be changed so as allow it to discuss the issue. Forty-one per cent voted in favour and 2 per cent had no opinion.
But the excuses…
Sorcha O’Neill, one of the 66 ordinary members of the convention, said she disagreed with “how the convention is being hijacked for a specific purpose” and was worried that it could cause a precedent. “The Seanad definitely does need looking at, but not this hijacking,” she added.
Another member, Owen Finnegan, said: “I don’t see the point in going down this road if a referendum is taking place in September.”
Whatever one’s views about the issue of abolition, and people can in all sincerity take different sides… the Constitutional Convention… The clue is in the name… (whatever the extremely expedient terms of reference)…
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“Most Banks Do Exactly What You Expect………We do Exactly What You Want” from a 1998 GAA Match Programme an Ad for Anglo Irish Bank.
From the left to where…. May 18, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Crazed nonsense..., The Left.
An interesting and not unsympathetic review of Melanie Phillips new memoir. Philips is a strange one. Strange, I remember her output in her ‘left’ phase in the Guardian and it was pretty good. And I saw the shift first hand through its pages, as it were, a shift that was remarkable for its distance. It’s not, to me at least, that she moved from left to right, that’s an old old story and played out all around us. It’s more that the positions she has adopted in that move have been so far right.
Difficult not to feel that her career has been one subsequently of deliberate provocation shot through with utter strangeness. The rhetoric she has adopted, and one need only consult her wiki page to see some good examples of same is deeply dispiriting for its sheer unnecessary belligerence.
But also depressing is the boilerplate nature of her discourse – the alarm bells always start ringing for me when I read the phrase ‘cultural Marxism’ in relation to… well, just about anything to be honest. The last straws? Perhaps what Stonewall and many of us consider to be utterly bigoted behaviour in relation to mentions of LGBT people in various lessons and the absurd cookie cutter rhetoric of her thoughts on Barack Obama.
In a way the above encapsulates her move from reasonable and proper questioning to something entirely different indeed.
Huh? What’s the Technical Group got to do with it? May 18, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Uncategorized.
Meant to post this up yesterday, but one could not fail to notice the way in which Fianna Fáil spokesperson Niall Collins managed to turn the mention by Alan Shatter that Mick Wallace TD was ‘let off with a warning’ [and no penalty points] by a Garda last year into a simultaneous (and gratuitous) attack on the Technical Group.
“Fianna Fáil holds no brief for Mick Wallace, but the issues raised by Shatter’s intervention are bigger and more important than party politics or the hypocrisy of the Dáil Technical Group. They include the security of citizens’ private information, the right to due process and the use of private details for political purposes,” Mr Collins said.
Up to their old tricks again, so.
Another band from The Paisley Underground (part of which is explained in the first clip below).Theres a bit on The Paisely Underground in a Previous TWIMBLT on Green and Red and a decent article on them and the Paisely Underground from The Guardian here too.
They produced three studio albums of which I have their second one ‘Explosions in a Glass Palace’ and also a live album ‘Beyond The Sunset (live in Tokyo 1984)’. A friend had the first album ‘Emergency Third Rail Power Trip’ which was good but I much preferred the almost psychedelic ‘Explosions in a Glass Palace’. There were some great songs on it ‘You are my friend’ and ‘No Easy Way Down’ being my favourites. The third and last studio album ‘Crashing Dream’ which a friend had I wasn’t a huge fan of. The guitar had gone from jangly to almost folksy at times and while it was good, it wasn’t what I expected from a Rain Parade Record.
Having formed in 1981, they split in 1986 after the release of ‘Crashing Dream’ which was their first and only major label album. One time member David Roback has been a member of Opal and another TWIMBLT artist and one of my musical constants Mazzy Star.
The Rain Parade reformed in 2012
A glancing blow… May 18, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Astronomy, Science.
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…is expected from a Coronal Mass Ejection from the sun which occurred when four massive X-class solar flares were produced on Monday. The CME’s from three didn’t move in the direction of this planet, but the fourth did and that will impact in that ‘glancing blow’ today with the Earth’s magnetic field.
Also causing temporary radio blackouts, AR1748 is likely not finished. Still forecast to have a significant chance of producing strong flares, the active region is rotating into more direct view across the Sun’s nearside.
Good to know.
Video/Film of Dublin City 1930′s, 1940′s, 1950′s May 17, 2013Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.
Saw this shared on Facebook this evening. Alas there’s no detail as to the origin of the film but its interesting all the same.
and a drive down Mespil road and along by the canal one fine day in September 1957
The cost of austerity… wounding society May 17, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, The Left.
Mentioned in yesterday’s Guardian… the new book by senior health researcher at Oxford, David Stuckler and assistant professor of medicine at Standford, Sanjay Basu – The Body Economic, which makes the argument that:
…more than 10,000 additional suicides and up to a million extra cases of depression have been recorded across the two continents since governments started introducing austerity programmes in the aftermath of the crisis.
Those are the tragic (and avoidable) first order effects, in a sense, but there’s more:
In the United States, more than five million Americans have lost access to healthcare since the recession began, essentially because when they lost their jobs, they also lost their health insurance. And in the UK, the authors say, 10,000 families have been pushed into homelessness following housing benefit cuts.
…most extreme case, says Stuckler, reeling off numbers he knows now by heart, is Greece. “There, austerity to meet targets set by the troika is leading to a public-health disaster,” he says. “Greece has cut its health system by more than 40%. As the health minister said: ‘These aren’t cuts with a scalpel, they’re cuts with a butcher’s knife.’”
Worse, those cuts have been decided “not by doctors and healthcare professionals, but by economists and financial managers. The plan was simply to get health spending down to 6% of GDP. Where did that number come from? It’s less than the UK, less than Germany, way less than the US.”
That is a crucial point. The decisions taken have not been based on concepts of the public or societal good, but according to very narrow – and given the push back against the conceptual foundations of austerity – and deeply flawed political/economic policies. And how could it be otherwise in societies where the economic is now reified to a point where it appears to sit above democratic accountability.
Consider our own experience where political party after political party sought legitimation from the public vote merely to (and cheerled by a media infatuated with orthodox socio-economic approaches). The Green Party and the Labour Party are merely the most egregious examples of same. But all in government across the past five years share that feature.
Stuckler and Basu make a distinction between recession and austerity:
Such phenomena, he says, “are just a few of many effects we’re seeing. And with all this accumulation of across-the-board, eye-watering statistics, there’s a cause-and-effect relationship with austerity measures. These issues became apparent not when the recession hit Greece, but with austerity.”
Because in recessions efforts were made to mitigate the worst of the situation whereas in austerity the situation is considered to be virtuous in and of itself (whether the line is that it is a ‘necessary’ evil or not).
And they note that:
Investment in intensive programmes to help people return to work – so-called Active Labour Market Programmes, well developed in Sweden (where suicides actually fell during the banking crisis) but also effective in Germany – were a factor that seemed to make a big difference.
Maintaining spending on broader social protection and welfare programmes helped, too: analysis of data from the 1930s Great Depression in the US showed that every extra $100 of relief in states that adopted the American New Deal led to about 20 fewer deaths per 1,000 births, four fewer suicides per 100,000 people and 18 fewer pneumonia deaths per 100,000 people.
There’s more and it’s essential reading. Not least the way in which the data from the UK where the ‘austerity’ approach was adopted in perhaps the most politically opportunist way possible, suggests increasing numbers of suicides driven by economic context, and the dangers to the very fabric of the NHS.
And as Stuckler notes:
[He] finds this all in stark and depressing contrast to the post-second world war period, when Britain’s debt was more than 200% of GDP (far higher than any European country’s today, bar Iceland) and the country’s leaders responded not by cutting spending but by founding the welfare state – “paving the way, incidentally, for decades of prosperity. And within 10 years, debt had halved.”
By the way, worth noting that Stuckler is an economist as well as a public-health researcher.