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« Liberal Outrage: March 2014 | Main | Liberal Outrage: May 2014 »

Liberal Outrage

Pervasive bias

"Regular" racism may be making a comeback, but Matthew Yglesias reminds us that internalized institutional racism is the bigger problem.


By fnord12 | April 30, 2014, 12:44 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link



When Technology Makes It Too Easy to Stay Connected

Fnord12 recently linked to a Mother Jones post about French unions banning work emails after 6pm.

A study done in the States has shown that this constant tether to work via our smartphones a) lowers an employees job satisfaction and b) is unnecessary for productivity.

Perlow suggested they carve out periods of "predictable time off"--evening and weekend periods where team members would be out of bounds. Nobody was allowed to ping them. The rule would be strictly enforced, to ensure they could actually be free of that floating "What if someone's contacting me?" feeling.

The results were immediate and powerful. The employees exhibited significantly lower stress levels. Time off actually rejuvenated them: More than half said they were excited to get to work in the morning, nearly double the number who said so before the policy change. And the proportion of consultants who said they were satisfied with their jobs leaped from 49 percent to 72 percent. Most remarkably, their weekly work hours actually shrank by 11 percent--without any loss in productivity. "What happens when you constrain time?" Lovich asks. "The low-value stuff goes away," but the crucial work still gets done.


...

For even starker proof of the value of cutting back on email, consider an experiment run in 2012 by Gloria Mark, a pioneering expert on workplace focus. Mark, a professor at the University of California-Irvine, had long studied the disruptive nature of messaging, and found that office workers are multitasked to death: They can only focus on a given task for three minutes before being interrupted.

...

Mark's and Perlow's studies were small. But they each highlight the dirty little secret of corporate email: The majority of it may be pretty useless. Genuinely important emails can propel productive work, no doubt, but a lot of messages aren't like that--they're incessant check-ins asking noncrucial questions, or bulk-CCing of everybody on a team.

...

Only a handful of enlightened firms have tackled this problem companywide. At Bandwidth, a tech company with 300-plus employees, CEO David Morken grew tired of feeling only half-present when he was at home with his six children, so he started encouraging his staff to unplug during their leisure time and actually prohibited his vacationing employees from checking email at all--anything vital had to be referred to colleagues. Morken has had to sternly warn people who break the vacation rule; he asks his employees to narc on anyone who sends work messages to someone who's off--as well as those who sneak a peek at their email when they are supposed to be kicking back on a beach. "You have to make it a firm, strict policy," he says. "I had to impose it because the methlike addiction of connection is so strong."

Employers definitely need to stop thinking it's ok to encroach on their employees' personal time. Just because you don't have a life doesn't mean you get to take mine.


By min | April 29, 2014, 9:23 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



The FCC wants you to wait for it

Pay to Play comes to the internet.

Obama appointee Tom Wheeler, the FCC Chairman, has a blog post explaining why the ruling isn't what we think it is, but it's not clear to me that he's addressing the real concerns. I left a comment saying as much, but so far it's been throttled:

I've never needed the FCC to approve me before!

P.S. The New York Times editorial board is not so assured by Wheeler's assurances.


By fnord12 | April 25, 2014, 8:09 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



"This should not be confused with civil disobedience...This is outright anarchy"

I hope libertarian hero Cliven Bundy's latest statements require only condemnation, not refutation, but the "blacks were better off during slavery" sentiment seems to be bubbling up more and more. So here's Ta-Nehisi Coates reminding us about the realities of slavery. And (via another Coates post) a reminder that things didn't get all better right after slavery (far from it). Compare the experiences of those black landowners to the Bundy family who, if Clive isn't lying, got their land thanks to a Federal government initiative and are now feeding their cattle at subsidized rates (and not even paying those rates). If Bundy really did see unemployed black people in Las Vegas, the reasons might be traced back to that discrepancy.


By fnord12 | April 24, 2014, 10:32 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Just in time

Now that solar panels are cheap, the only thing stopping us from using them are the millions of dollars that the Koch brothers are going to spend to make sure we don't.


By fnord12 | April 22, 2014, 2:20 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Paul Krugman on Bill Moyers

Following up on the oligarchy paper below, here is Paul Krugman and Bill Moyers discussing a similar topic (the paper is referenced at the end). It's 20+ minutes long.

Paul Krugman also references the paper in this blog post.


By fnord12 | April 21, 2014, 10:29 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Princeton study says US is no longer a democracy

According to TPM's summary, it says we've been an oligarchy going back to the 1980s. Haven't read the long-ish report yet.


By fnord12 | April 18, 2014, 3:50 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Good news on solar panels

Krugman:

One front many people didn't take too seriously, however, was renewable energy. Sure, cap-and-trade might make more room for wind and the sun, but how important could such sources really end up being? And I have to admit that I shared that skepticism. If truth be told, I thought of the idea that wind and sun could be major players as hippie-dippy wishful thinking.

But I was wrong.

The climate change panel, in its usual deadpan prose, notes that "many RE [renewable energy] technologies have demonstrated substantial performance improvements and cost reductions" since it released its last assessment, back in 2007. The Department of Energy is willing to display a bit more open enthusiasm; it titled a report on clean energy released last year "Revolution Now." That sounds like hyperbole, but you realize that it isn't when you learn that the price of solar panels has fallen more than 75 percent just since 2008.

Sounds like maybe Min can soon build her own microgrid.


By fnord12 | April 18, 2014, 3:02 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



None dare call it a recovery

Democratic strategists warn politicians to not use the word "recovery" in the upcoming election year to avoid seeming out of touch. If only those "strategists" were around back in 2009 when President Obama was pivoting away from economic recovery and towards deficit reduction back in 2009 when we had 8%+ unemployment. You can't magic that away now with your choice of phrasing.

Tangentially, and also looking at this Obama Urges Dems to Defend Obamacare post, why is it that Democrats always seem to have their strategy sessions in a public forum? The Republicans always manage to march in lockstep without any McConnell Urges Repubs to Advocate Lower Taxes articles. But with Democrats you always get these "oh, maybe we shouldn't say 'recovery'" and "hey guys, maybe you ought to stick up for our signature program of the past few years because if people don't like it they're going to vote for the Republicans anyway" type of articles.


By fnord12 | April 18, 2014, 10:01 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Kevin Drum on Donald Rumsfeld's taxes

About as much snark as you could possibly fit into one blog post.


By fnord12 | April 17, 2014, 1:31 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Filibuster lawsuit challenge loses

I've long felt the filibuster rule in the Senate could be challenged as unconstitutional, since it effectively denies the Vice President his constitutionally defined right to break a tie vote. But this lawsuit seems to have gone about it the wrong way. I would think the Vice President would have to sue, and he'd have to name as the defendant the Senate or the Senate Majority Leader or something like that. Instead, the liberal group Common Cause sued Joe Biden. On first blush this made absolutely no sense to me, but on consideration i guess the idea is that the Vice President is also President of the Senate (according to the constitution; in practice not so much). And some of the co-signers on the lawsuit were Democratic congressmen whose bills failed to pass in the Senate due to the filibuster. So the lawsuit wasn't quite as crazy as it first sounded to me. But they still lost the case due to lack of standing, since if Biden isn't claiming his constitutional rights are being violated, there's no legitimate grievance. So you'd really need the White House to bring this lawsuit. That's never going to happen, of course. And not just because of my usual "Democrats aren't fighters" complaint. Challenging the law on constitutional grounds is something mainstream people in either party would laugh at (although i wish Josh Marshal wouldn't relish the loss so much, especially since it lost on lack of standing instead of the merits).


By fnord12 | April 16, 2014, 10:34 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Gee, i'm sure glad *we* don't have white collar unions

I'd sure hate for this to happen here.


By fnord12 | April 11, 2014, 9:41 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2)| Link



Inflation is in the mind

Kevin Drum expands on Paul Krugman and Tyler Cowan wondering why people are so worried about inflation at a time when a) there isn't any and b) it would actually do us some good. Judging from what i've seen in comments sections, there's also the fact that you can't disprove inflation (not that i've personally tried, mind you. It's bad enough that i read comments sections on political blogs). Show people whatever charts you want, the response will be "Are you crazy? Haven't you seen the price of gas/milk/comic books/etc.?" By the time you've explained that there are unique circumstances for those particular commodities that don't reflect an overall rate of inflation, you've already lost anyone's interest, especially if someone else is telling them that we're having all this inflation because the Fed is "printing money".


By fnord12 | April 8, 2014, 9:12 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



In his own world

Charles Koch makes an Ayn Randian rant against his "collectivist" enemies while the rest of us wonder if a market-based Rube Goldberg-esque health care system designed by the Heritage Foundation is going to work.


By fnord12 | April 3, 2014, 11:50 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



When are we going to give it up on Cuba?

Why is our government so obsessed with Cuba? It's a sickness. We've done a lot of bad stuff in the world, but with Cuba it just gets downright weird, from exploding cigars and beard removal powders to fake twitter programs. If we legitimately wanted to see reforms, we could accomplish so much more by normalizing relations with them, relaxing travel and trade restrictions, but there seems to be a bipartisan consensus that we have to "win" by destroying their current government. It's madness and it's been completely ineffective and i can't understand why we're still doing it.

Now that this latest program (which Senator Leahy correctly calls "troubling") is out in the open, it'd be nice to have an in-depth review of our policies, but that's highly unlikely. The bipartisan consensus means there's no opposition on this, and my own Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat, is one of the worst on this topic. And it's not really an issue that regular voters are going to get up in arms about. So on it goes...


By fnord12 | April 3, 2014, 11:03 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



Time to roll it up and go back to Monarchy

Latest Supreme Court ruling further kills campaign contribution limits. Because money is speech. And billionaires just have bigger mouths than you.

Now we can all watch every politician cater to the whims of billionaires and their preferred terms for the West Bank.


By fnord12 | April 2, 2014, 12:22 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (0)| Link



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