Monday, April 15, 2019

Big Ghosts and thieves always watch and monitor the little ghosts and thieves

WSJ: How You Can Lead Horses — And Your Faculty — To Water AND Get Them To Drink

In a hay-strewn pasture outside Philadelphia, a team of 12 undergraduates from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School has spent the better part of two hours trying to outthink a pair of horses.

To put it bluntly, they’re getting owned.

Dallas and Disney have gladly allowed these future business leaders to pet them, brush their coats and ply them with fistfuls of hay. But they haven’t gone anywhere near the circle of swim noodles the students hope to lure them into.

With three minutes to go, Amy Qu, a junior, dispenses with the pleasantries. She walks up to Dallas, a 1,000-pound paint gelding, and begins scolding him. “Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do!” she says.

Whenever I read Big Brother stories I’m reminded of Kubrick’s The Shining. RS "Sam" Gwynn introduced a related poem, “Bone Scan,” by noting that the title refers to skeletal scintigraphy, which gives you “a very nice picture of what you’re going to look like in about two-hundred years”:

“Shadows surround me, building in the air

Like clouds, were I inclined here to compare

My kingly state to portents in the sky.

I could say the expected: I could lie,

Claiming our long-term forecast will be fair.

“So, family and friends, do not despair.

Shadows mean nothing. There is nothing there.

Knives will find nothing wrong. Still, I know why

                   Shadows surround me.

“The night my father died, I moved my chair
Close to his bed to touch his meager hair
While shadows gathered in his room that I
Might gather I was not too young to die.
Now, circuits close. A tunnel beckons where
                   Shadows surround me.”

Is workplace surveillance about improving productivity or simply a way to control staff and weed out poor performers? 
Courtney Hagen Ford, 34, left her job working as a bank teller because she found the surveillance she was under was "dehumanising". Her employer logged her keystrokes and used software to monitor how many of the customers she helped went on to take out loans and fee-paying accounts.
"The sales pressure was relentless," she recalls. "The totality was horrible."
She decided selling fast food would be better, but ironically, left the bank to do a doctorate in surveillance technology. . .
More than half of companies with over $750m (£574m) in annual revenue used "non-traditional" monitoring techniques on staff last year, says Brian Kropp, vice-president of research firm Gartner.
These include tools to analyse e-mails, conversations, computer usage, and employee movements around the office. Some firms are also monitoring heart rates and sleep patterns to see how these affect performance.
BBC News - How does it feel to be watched at work all the time?

Brett Evans, via Inside Story
Employers are exercising an extraordinary level of control — overt and covert — over their workers.

UK businesses using artificial intelligence to monitor staff activity
UK business owners are using artificial intelligence to scrutinise staff behaviour minute-to-minute by harvesting data on who emails whom and when, who accesses and edits files and who meets whom and when.

Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk about It)
By Elizabeth Anderson | Princeton University Press | $44.99 | 224 pages
Lab Rats: Why Modern Work Makes People Miserable
By Dan Lyons | Atlantic Books | $29.99 | 272 pages
Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley
By Emily Chang | Penguin | $26.99 | 320 pages

Most people spend most of their time in slavery. They live in a world of subordination, obeisance and arbitrary decrees; they must endure loyalty oaths, surveillance and the soul-destroying vagaries of dictatorship; they suffer under the burden of potential exile; they are vassals, shunted from fiefdom to suzerain and back again.
Do you recognise this world? You do? Maybe you’re a Czechoslovak or North Korean dissident, or a refugee who fled Stalin’s Russia. Or maybe you’ve just got home from work.
“Most workers,” argues the American philosopher Elizabeth Anderson in her provocative new book, “are governed by communist dictatorships in their working lives.” When we enter our workplaces we enter a system of private government. And it’s not a pretty sight: the private governments of the past were run by leaders who took power by force or by birth; the private governments of today are run by CEOs.

On the one invisible hand, eye, Welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism

Time thieves can become time fraudsters in the right conditions. Protect your employees and organizations by suggesting to top management and human resources departments that they embed sophisticated time-tracking software, procedures and training.

And on the other invisible hand, eye, A growing subtle threat of time theft in the workplace jeopardizes developing organizations, according to time-keeping software companies. Employees can unknowingly and casually steal time. Or they can willingly and fraudulently malinger. Time theft can morph into serious crimes, such as payroll fraud schemes. (See the sidebar, Ghost employees haunt organizations' payrolls.)

Time thieves, if they see opportunities, can commit more serious crimes, such as the ghost-employee payroll fraud scheme. A “ghost employee” is someone on the payroll who doesn’t actually work for the victim organization. Through the falsification of personnel or payroll records, a fraudster causes paychecks to be generated to a non-employee, or ghost. The fraudster or an accomplice then converts these paychecks. The ghost employee might be a fictitious person or a real individual who simply doesn’t work for the victim employer. When the ghost is a real person, it’s often the perpetrator’s friend or relative.

IRS Turns to Automation Amid Shrinking Workforce
In the coming months, the agency plans to deploy a tool that would automate a significant portion of its vendor compliance process. The tech, which cost only USD $190,000 to build, could potentially free up tens of thousands of hours for employees to spend on more meaningful work.

 Gwynn is a poet of comic realism. Much of the wit derives from looking unhappy reality in the face, without posturing. There is another side to Gwynn’s work. We risk misunderstanding by calling it “religious,” and “spiritual,” that mushy word, will never do. “Christian” is close, though in a thoroughly nondenominational, non-dogmatic sense. He asked the audience if any of us were step-children or had step-parents. Then he read “Something of a Saint” (Dogwatch, 2014), a poem about the man he called “the most famous stepfather in history” – Joseph (the Joiner, as Joyce called him), Mary’s husband. Here is the tenth of the poem’s thirteen four-line stanzas:


“So they nailed Him to the dogwood cross his own stepfather made,

And I shook with shame to see Him as I hid there in the shade,
Where I heard the lamentations that my dying stepson made
In the darkness of the noon on Calvary.”

CODA: My father Jozef was the Joiner who married the best cook in the world Maria ...