I’ll go help too, vicariously

The joys of teaching at Birkbeck occasionally include emails from students like this

Hi Fred,
I’ve just accepted a 12 month contract to work in Sierra Leone as operations manager for [redacted]. Their focus is to improve the resilience of the Sierra Leone health service post ebola. Started induction in their London office today, will fly out to Sierra Leone 1st July.
I’m still planning to complete my dissertation for first week in September, though would be grateful if we could skype for meetings!
Best wishes
S
Sent from Samsung Mobile on O2

Hansen: even 2 degrees sinks coastal cities

statueoflibertyunderwater
Politicians in Paris will try, if that’s not too kind a word, to find an agreement that will hold down temperature increases to 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels [+2C].

Still too much, says James Hansen, of NASA (retired) and Columbia University, who has been warning us about this since 1981 or so:

• The last time Earth was +2C, 120,000 years ago, sea levels were 6-8 meters higher than today. 2 degrees would lock that in, the only question being how fast we would get there.
Hansen88Temps Continue reading

Ordinary surveillance, inequality, and fear

Our friends Giorgio and Gemma, visiting here from Rome, had this impression from a recent trip to New York: workers in New York are scared. Security staff enforced seemingly trivial rules – don’t step across this line – in a way that they couldn’t explain otherwise.

Workers watch you so nervously when they themselves are watched closely and their jobs are insecure. Continue reading

Arnold Schwarzenegger stopped for riding a bike without a helmet

Frederick Guy:

From The Age (Melbourne) via Systemic Failure.

Originally posted on Systemic Failure:

The idiotic Australian helmet law strikes again:

Melbourne police officers succeeded where scores of action movie villains have failed when they stopped Hollywood tough guy Arnold Schwarzenegger in his tracks on Monday.

The intervention began after photographs began circulating on social media of the American actor, bodybuilder and politician riding one of Melbourne’s blue share bikes. The Terminator and Predator star was wearing bike-matching blue shorts, but not a bicycle helmet.

“I saw a group of cyclists riding ahead of me and we just went up to do a routine intercept,” Senior Constable Gillson told Fairfax Media on Tuesday.

“Then we noticed that Arnold Schwarzenegger was in the crowd. “We spoke to him briefly and had a little chat with him about the reason why I pulled him over.”

The constable said he often chose to educate tourists from countries without helmet laws rather than fine them.

Someone needs educating, and it isn’t…

View original 2 more words

Fast food ≠ low pay

Continuing the fast food theme (yum): BK in the USA vs. BK in Denmark, fast food work can provide living wages, if the institutional environment is right. Read the report by Liz Alderman and Steven Greenhouse in the New York Times.
The fast food restaraunt is an organizational technology designed to use low cost labor – a restaurant that can operate without any employee who knows how to cook! Continue reading

San Francisco escaping zero (hours)

Two weeks advance notice, or you get paid more.

Image from silentsketcher.deviantart.com, via Fast Food News.


San Francisco is the latest American jurisdiction to find an answer to what are called, here in Britain, “zero hours contracts”. As reported by Claire Zillman in Fortune:

[San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, which is also the city council of that city+county] voted unanimously on Tuesday [25 November] afternoon in favor of measures aimed at giving retail staffers more predictable schedules and access to extra hours. The ordinances will require businesses to post workers’ schedules at least two weeks in advance. Workers will receive compensation for last-minute schedule changes, “on-call” hours, and instances in which they’re sent home before completing their assigned shifts.

Continue reading