Saturday, March 29, 2008

Workplace Spying

Here's a tale of bosses spying on workers.
Lidl has been discovered spying on its staff. The German supermarket chain is accused of "Stasi methods". I find it irritating that the Grauniad, in its sometimes patronising way, thinks its readers require a reminder that the Stasi were the East German secret police. Note to Guardian: we are intelligent people and we know who the Stasi were.

The story says
The detectives' records include details of precisely where employees had tattoos as well as information about their friends. "Her circle of friends consists mainly of drug addicts," reads one record. The detectives also had the task of identifying which employees appeared to be "incapable" or "introverted and naive".
In the Czech Republic
A female worker was forbidden to go to the toilet during working hours. An internal memorandum, which is now the centre of a court case in the republic, allegedly advised staff that "female workers who have their periods may go to the toilet now and again, but to enjoy this privilege they should wear a visible headband".

Recording how a German employee identified as Frau M spent her break, one report read: "Frau M wanted to make a call with her mobile phone at 14.05 ... She received the recorded message that she only had 85 cents left on her prepaid mobile. She managed to reach a friend with whom she would like to cook this evening, but on condition that her wage had been paid into her bank, because she would otherwise not have enough money to go shopping."
It is just wrong that any employer should snoop into the private lives of its staff. These practices breach laws on freedom of movement and freedom of expression. What makes management believe they can override the rights of workers?
Lidl said "the purpose was "not to monitor staff, but to establish possible abnormal behaviour". So "establishing possible abnormal behaviour" makes snooping a legitimate management activity? What is "possible abnormal behaviour"? And could we have some more "abnormal behaviour".

Thursday, March 20, 2008

At First It Was A Rumour

Somewhere in Canary Wharf a chap in a three button single breasted Boss suit whispers to a colleague, wearing a double breasted Armani suit. "I say, I was having a drink at lunch with old Pongo. He said he knows someone who works as an accountant at HBOSH who told him that HBOSH is bust."

Armani suited chap says, "If HBOSH is bust then their shares will fall and we can sell short and clean up".

And that is just what three button single breasted Boss suit chap and double breasted Armani chap did.

These two chaps acted on inside information to trade in shares.

Unofficial information has to start somewhere. Any information about a company that is not a public announcement has to come from people either inside the company or from their associated advisors. That makes it inside information and trading on inside information is illegal.

What is the legality of acting on information you thought was inside information but was just a load of cockamamie airy fairy fantasy? Can Armani suited chap be prosecuted for insider trading?

And what is to be done with the whole rotten edifice of parasitic financial trading?

Sure, in a capitalist system there is a place for raising funds for worthwhile, and not so worthwhile, enterprises. But most trading is just a parasitic activity that benefits no-one bar the traders involved.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Jazz And A Monday Lunchtime

This Monday lunchtime I found myself in town. Buzzing in my head were some jazz riffs so I popped into a record store and decided to buy some jazz to fill the gaping lacunae in my cd collection.

Found a great cd Jutta Hipp with Zoot Sims.

Took a chance on someone I had never heard before. Got it home. Listened. And wow. It's moving. It's emotive. And it's got feeling. Listen.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pi day

Today is the 14th of March, or as the Americans put it 3/14. That's an approximation to Pi and that's why today is the day some people celebrate Pi.

Here's the first million digits:
And here's a start
1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209 7494459230781640628620899862803482534211706798214808651 3282306647093844609550582231725359408128481117450284102 7019385211055596446229489549303819644288109756659334461 2847564823378678316527120190914564856692346034861045432 6648213393607260249141273724587006606315588174881520920 9628292540917153643678925903600113305305488204665213841 ...
Go on. Take a look.