Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Firm-specific skills and working from home

 One of the central features of the debate about working from home is that it leads to the loss of random, but productive, encounters with colleagues. I’ve responded with the observation that some of my best research ideas have come from largely unplanned encounters on the Internet.

It’s just struck me that there is a conflict here between the interests of workers and those of firms and managers.

Firm-specific skills and working from home

Inside jokes

The writers of Yes Minister, Veep and Utopia would be in awe of the champagne comedy coming out of the inquiry into Victoria's bungled hotel quarantine. Chris Eccles, the Department of Premier and Cabinet secretary, was quizzed on Monday over an alleged deal to use private security instead of Defence Force officers.

Question: “Are you able to say why you don't seem to have thought it appropriate to have drawn to the attention of those who were running the program that there was this ... source of support available from the ADF?” Eccles: “I'm not saying that I didn't. I'm saying that I'm not aware that I did or I didn't.”

Divide and rule

Eccles's clear-as-mud answers reminded us of two salient quotes from Sir Humphrey Appleby himself. “Clarification is not to clarify things. It is to put one's self in the clear.” And: “Civil servants have an extraordinary genius for wrapping up a simple idea to make it sound extremely complicated.” Timeless.

Book Launch: Behavioral Insights


The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has published information based on leaked suspicious activity reports (SARs) filed by banks with the US Department of Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

The ICIJ said the leaked FinCEN documents include more than 2,100 SARs, as well as other sensitive US government documents, reported by banks to FinCEN between 1999 and 2017. The SARs identify more than US$2 trillion in transactions that were reported by the banks.

The ICIJ has not published the totality of the leaked information but it has provided examples from various jurisdictions to illustrate how money can flow around the world via networks of correspondent banks. For example, the ICIJ has set out a sample of 204 transactions extracted from the FinCEN files that show how suspicious transfers totalling around $170m flowed to and from Australia. These transactions were processed via 3 US-based banks, which filed SARs with FinCEN.

The ICIJ said the documents were originally obtained by BuzzFeed News and shared with the ICIJ. While SARs reflect details of certain transactions that banks are required to report to FINCEN, they are not necessarily evidence of criminal conduct or other wrongdoing, the ICIJ said. For its part, FinCEN has previously stated that the unauthorised disclosure of SARs is a crime that can compromise law enforcement investigations.


At an arm's length': ICAC hearing into former NSW MP Daryl Maguire begins

Fast Company – “…To get a sense of how far smoke from the current wildfires is traveling, you can turn to a number of interactive maps and data tools that let you track smoke conditions in real time. I’ve rounded up some useful options below:

  • AirNow: This fire and smoke map is “designed to provide the public with additional information on levels of particle pollution” and includes data from a number of government sources. Find it here.
  • NOAA: This map from the agency’s Office of Satellite and Product Operations includes regularly updated data from satellites. Find it here.
  • Esri’s Active Wildfire Story Map: I highlighted this map in a post last week for tracking fires. It also has an overlay option to track smoke. Just check the “smoke forecast” box. Find it here.
  • NASA: The space agency’s blog post from yesterday includes satellite imagery from before and after the winds shifted eastward. Although the images are not interactive, they underscore how national weather patterns can have a huge impact on air quality. Find it here…”

Facebook Accused of Watching Instagram Users Through Cameras Bloomberg

Privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo is growing fast Bleeping Computer

How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism, a New Book by Cory Doctorow OneZero

 Tattoo artists in Japan no longer need medical licenses.

The RCMP in Alberta have charged a 20-year-old British Columbia man with speeding while he was asleep at the wheel of a Tesla electric car.

Messi vs. Massi: “Footballer Lionel Messi can register his name as a trademark after a nine-year legal battle, the EU’s top court has ruled

Day one of voting the polity that is Fairfax

The making of a Harvard department chair(somewhat depressing, actually).  “Nearly half of the 40 department chairs in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences received tenure within Harvard and nearly three-quarters have been teaching at the University for more than 15 years, an analysis by The Crimson found.”

The importance of protein folding, with a role for citizen scientists too (New Yorker).