Let us return, for a moment, to the specific ideology of leisure. Rest, relaxation, escape and distraction are, perhaps, ‘needs’: but they do not in themselves define the specific exigency of leisure, which is the consumption of time. Free time is, perhaps, the entire ludic activity one fills it up with, but it is, first of all, the freedom to waste one’s time, and possibly even to ‘kill’ it, to expend it as pure loss (this is why it is insufficient to say that leisure is ‘alienated’ because it is merely the time necessary to reproduce labour power. The alienation of leisure is more profound: it does not relate to the direct subordination to working time, but is linked to the very impossibility of wasting one’s time).
 The true use-value of time, the use-value which leisure desperately tries to restore, is that of being wasted. The holidays are this quest for a time which one can waste in the full sense of the term, without that waste entering in its turn into a process of calculation, without that time being (at the same time) in some way ‘earned’. In our system of production and productive forces, one can only earn one’s time: this fatality weighs upon leisure as it does upon work. One can only ‘exploit [faire-valoir] one’s time’, if only by making a spectacularly empty use of it. The free time of the holidays remains the private property of the holiday-maker: an object, a possession he has earned with the sweat of his brow over the year; it is something owned by him, possessed by him as he possesses his other objects — something he could not relinquish to give it or sacrifice it (as one does with objects in making gifts of them), to yield it back up to total availability, to that absence of time which would be true freedom. He is tethered to ‘his’ time as Prometheus was tethered to his rock, tethered to the Promethean myth of time as productive force.
 Sisyphus, Tantalus, Prometheus: all the existential myths of ‘absurd freedom’ are reasonably accurate representations of the holiday-maker in his setting, with all his desperate efforts to imitate ‘vacation’, gratuitousness, a total dispossession, a void, a loss of himself and of his time which he cannot achieve, being, as he is, an object caught up in a definitively objectivized dimension of time.
 We are in an age when men will never manage to waste enough time to be rid of the inevitability of spending their lives earning it. But you can’t throw off time like underwear. You can no longer either kill it or waste it, any more than you can money, since they are both the very expression of the exchange-value system. In the symbolic dimension, gold and money are excrement. It is the same with objectivized time. But it is, in fact, very rare — and logically impossible in the current system — for money or time to be restored to their ‘archaic’, sacrificial function of excrement. That would really be to deliver oneself of them in the symbolic mode. In the order based on calculation and capital, things are, in a sense, precisely the opposite way about: objectivized by it, and manipulated by it as exchange-value, it is we who have become the excrement of money, it is we who have become the excrement of time.
 Thus, everywhere, in spite of the fiction of freedom in leisure, ‘free’ time is logically impossible: there can only be constrained time. The time of consumption is that of production. It is so to the extent that it is only ever an ‘escapist’ parenthesis in the cycle of production. But, once again,this functional complementarity (variously shared out in the different social classes) is not its essential determination. Leisure is constrained in so far as, behind its apparent gratuitousness, it faithfully reproduces all the mental and practical constraints which are those of productive time and subjugated [asservi] daily life.

Jean Baudrillard, The Consumer Society

A Japanese nursing-care service provider requires Filipino job applicants sign a statement absolving the company of any responsibility should they die in Japan, the statement obtained by Kyodo News showed Saturday.

”…in case of loss of life of the undersigned through natural circumstances while in Japan, I release, waive and forever discharge Juju Corporation, its officers, directors, representatives or employees from any action for sums of money or other obligations arising,” the statement said.

There have been complaints from Filipino employees about harsh working conditions, while another document showed Juju Corp. in Higashiosaka, Osaka Prefecture, had one employee work on night duty 13 times one month.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has started a probe into why the company had its employees sign such a statement, written in both Japanese and English, as well as its working conditions.


The most recent government data show there are about 155,000 technical interns in Japan. Nearly 70 percent are from China, where some labor recruiters require payment of bonds worth thousands of dollars to work in Japan. Interns toil in apparel and food factories, on farms and in metal-working shops. In these workplaces, labor abuse is endemic: A 2012 investigation by Japanese labor inspectors found 79 percent of companies that employed interns were violating labor laws. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare said it would use strict measures, including prosecution, toward groups that repeatedly violated the laws or failed to follow its guidance in their treatment of technical interns.

Critics say foreign interns have become an exploited source of cheap labor in a country where, despite having the world’s most rapidly ageing population, discussion of increased immigration is taboo. The U.S. State Department, in its 2013 Trafficking in Persons report, criticized the program’s use of “extortionate contracts”, restrictions on interns’ movements, and the imposition of heavy fees if workers leave.

Japan faces a worsening labor shortage, not only in family-run farms and factories such as Kameda but in construction and service industries. It is a major reason that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration is planning a further expansion of the trainee program.


Police in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo have used tear gas to break up a protest against the football World Cup, hours before the opening match.

At least one person was arrested and five others were injured, three of them journalists.

Protesters had tried to block a road leading to the stadium where the opening ceremony will take place.

Further protests are planned in other Brazilian cities over the expense of hosting the tournament.


More than two-thirds of people who work for the city of Los Angeles live somewhere else, a Los Angeles Times analysis suggests.

Out-of-towners are especially common among those charged with keeping Angelenos safe from crime and fire. Only 21% of Police Department employees live in Los Angeles, and 16% of Fire Department workers call the city home, according to the analysis of city data showing where workers receive their paychecks.

Experts say the high numbers point to forces that continue to push people out of the city, including pricey housing and poor impressions of the public schools.Workers who make more money are much more likely to live in Los Angeles than those with lower incomes, the analysis shows. Nearly 48% of the highest-paid employees live in the city, compared with 20% of the lowest-paid.


With labor costs rising rapidly in China, American manufacturers of all sizes are looking south to Mexico with what economists describe as an eagerness not seen since the early years of the North American Free Trade Agreement in the 1990s. From border cities like Tijuana to the central plains where new factories are filling farmland, Mexican workers are increasingly in demand.

American trade with Mexico has grown by nearly 30 percent since 2010, to $507 billion annually, and foreign direct investment in Mexico last year hit a record $35 billion. Over the past few years, manufactured goods from Mexico have claimed a larger share of the American import market, reaching a high of about 14 percent, according to the International Monetary Fund, while China’s share has declined.

“When you have the wages in China doubling every few years, it changes the whole calculus,” said Christopher Wilson, an economics scholar at the Mexico Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. “Mexico has become the most competitive place to manufacture goods for the North American market, for sure, and it’s also become the most cost-competitive place to manufacture some goods for all over the world.”


A previously unpublished account from inside the strike at Taiwanese shoe manufacturer Yue Yuen obtained by Reuters shows that supervisors were the first to challenge senior plant leaders about the social insurance contributions that became the focus of the dispute. Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings declined to comment.

The involvement of managers underscores the growing complexity and unpredictability of labor relations in China. A generation of long-serving migrant factory employees is starting to retire just as the economy slows and the spread of social media makes strikes easier to organize.

[…]

Managers have been orchestrating strikes during international deals for years, lawyers said. “It happens all the time” that managers encourage workers to strike during an international transaction that affects a company’s Chinese operations, said Jonathan Isaacs, special counsel with responsibility for Chinese employment and labor issues at law firm Baker & McKenzie in Hong Kong.

In many cases “the reason an M&A transaction, layoffs or restructuring goes sideways or causes labor unrest is that the local management were disgruntled and riled up the rank-and-file workers”, he added.


The home foreclosure crisis staggered the US economy and led to the Great Recession six years ago. Now — finally — new housing is under construction. But it’s not single-family homes that are going up, but mostly apartment buildings. And Wall Street is going into the rental business. Meantime, many homeowners, especially blacks and Latinos, are still underwater. What does this new form of housing “recovery” reveal about the economy? Does it contain the seeds of another recession?

The proposed settlement is the culmination of a nearly three-year effort by warehouse workers to address wage and labor violations that they said were endemic in the logistics center, part of a massive industry in Riverside County.

Besides Wal-Mart, dozens of retailers and contractors operate numerous warehouses and distribution centers in the Inland Empire to move goods from and to Southern California ports. The industry accounts for about 114,000 jobs in the region, according to trade economist John Husing.

The warehouse workers group sued Schneider in October 2011, and later added Wal-Mart, winning a key victory.

Judge Christina A. Snyder of U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled in February that Wal-Mart could be named as co-defendant in the lawsuit based on evidence that it could be held accountable as a joint employer.

The lawsuit argued that Wal-Mart exercised tremendous control over warehouse operations, including setting productivity metrics and safety standards.



The Secret History of Life-Hacking - Pacific Standard

Variations on a blog post called “50 Life Hacks to Simplify Your World” have become endlessly, recursively viral, turning up on Facebook feeds again and again like ghost ships. Lifehacker.com, one of the many horses in Gawker Media’s stable of workplace procrastination sites, furnishes office workers with an endless array of ideas on how to live fitter, happier, and more productively: Track your sleep habits with motion-sensing apps and calculate your perfect personal bed-time; learn how to “supercharge your Gmail filters”; oh, and read novels, because it turns out that “reduces anxiety.” The tribune of life hackers, the author and sometime tech investor Timothy Ferriss, drums up recipes for a life of ease with an indefatigable frenzy, and enumerates the advantages in bestselling books and a reality TV show; outsource your bill payments to a man in India, he advises, and you can enjoy 15 more minutes of “orgasmic meditation.”

Life-hacking wouldn’t be popular if it didn’t tap into something deeply corroded about the way work has, without much resistance, managed to invade every corner of our lives. The idea started out as a somewhat earnest response to the problem of fragmented attention and overwork—an attempt to reclaim some leisure time and autonomy from the demands of boundaryless labor. But it has since become just another hectoring paradigm of self-improvement. The proliferation of apps and gurus promising to help manage even the most basic tasks of simple existence—the “quantified self” movement does life hacking one better, turning the simple act of breathing or sleeping into something to be measured and refined—suggests that merely getting through the day has become, for many white-collar professionals, a set of problems to solve and systems to optimize. Being alive is easier, it turns out, if you treat it like a job.

In fact, one thing that’s striking about this culture of self-measurement and self-optimization is how reminiscent it is of a much earlier American workplace fad—one that was singularly unpopular with the workers themselves.


We might be fascinated by cities, but we tend to see them in dichotomous ways. On one hand, they are held to be the key to economic growth and increased prosperity. There is a well-established school of city utopianism as exemplified by what Harvard economist Ed Glaeser calls “the triumph of the cities”. This notion of world cities as nodes in a network of transnational flows of capital, people and ideas is central to the neoliberal agenda.

But there is also a dystopian view of cities (typically associated with sub-Saharan Africa) as being chaotic, and a focus of poverty and violence. The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s capital Kinshasa, with a population of 9 million, is described by Belgian anthropologist Filip De Boeck as “a city that is in and of itself elsewhere, invisible”. In development policy, cities were (and to a degree still are) seen as malevolent, sucking in productive people from rural areas and undermining agricultural production, the basis of economic development.

The reliance on western models of urban planning and containment has resulted in a catastrophic failure to manage the growth of cities in many low- and middle-income countries. Most development policy has lacked a specific urban perspective, with the result that cities have grown haphazardly in the face of irresistible migration and population growth. Urban policy, where it existed at all, has sought membership of the elite of global cities pursuing high-value real estate development and prestige projects while ignoring the needs of the poor, who are an essential component of city economies.


The Social Network (2010) - Hacking and drinking scene

Eduardo Saverin: What’s going on?
Mark Zuckerberg: They have ten minutes to get root access to a Python web server, expose its SSL encryption and then intercept all traffic over its secure port.
Saverin: They’re hacking.
Zuckerberg: Yes, all behind a Pix Firewall Emulator. But here’s the beauty.
Saverin: You know I didn’t understand anything you just said, right?
Zuckerberg: I do know that.
Saverin: So, what’s the beauty?
Zuckerberg: Every tenth line of code written, they have to drink a shot. And hacking supposed to be stealth, so every time the server detects an intrusion, the candidate responsible has to drink a shot. I also have a program running that has a pop-up window appear simultaneously on all five computers. The last candidate to hit the window has to drink a shot. Plus every three minutes they all have to drink a shot.
Saverin: What part of interns’ job will they need to do drunk?
Zuckerberg: You’re right; more relevant test might be to see if you can keep a chicken alive for a week … that was mean.
Saverin: …there,
Zuckerberg: .. What is this?
Saverin: …I opened a new acount and put $18,000 in it, Will that get you through the summer?

At the 500 Club bar in the heart of the Mission district here, patrons are banned from wearing Google Glass. Two miles up the hill at the hospital at the University of California, San Francisco, a lung surgeon wears Glass to assist him as he operates.

The contrast illustrates both the challenge and opportunity for Google as it plans to sell its Internet-connected headwear to the public later this year. Consumers have been wary of Glass. Yet it is finding more enthusiastic acceptance in the workplace: in medicine, law enforcement, manufacturing and athletics.

[…]

It will not necessarily be an easy sell. The privacy concerns about Glass could be an even bigger issue in certain work settings, said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Consider meetings in which sensitive information is exchanged, for example, with a doctor or financial adviser.

Yet in many cases, he said, there are fewer privacy concerns about Glass in the workplace.

“I can think of a whole bunch of professions where Google Glass makes a lot of sense and poses almost no privacy risk at all and could be really valuable — everything from engineering to car repair to architecture to lumberjacking,” Mr. Rotenberg said. “But what’s interesting about all of those professions is that you’re not actually interacting with a customer.”