The Null Device


Pinkness and horror: In today's globalised, just-in-time marketplace, many IT workers are coerced into working 50-to-60-hour weeks. This is done by scheduling meetings early and late in the day (often required to teleconference with the head office), and when employees are "downsized", the work is spread around other employees. This is helped along by a high unemployment rate, and fear that if one doesn't put in 60 hours for the team, the next guy on the dole queue would be more than happy to oblige.

"A classic comment is 'you're not a team player' which means that team players work long hours and then go to the pub or the workplace social, extending the work hours even more. The twentysomething, university-educated, sports-car-driving, inner-city, one-bedroom-apartment-dwelling manager has very little understanding of why a family person spends an hour getting home, has to pick up the kids or the shopping before 6pm, and not work 60 hours a week. There's a chasm between the ones who understand and the ones who don't - the ones with a life outside work and ones without."

One consequence of this, and such employees' lack of time for a life outside of work is the rise in the popularity of online dating, now no longer confined to geeks and the socially awkward:

"Almost 20 per cent of those professionals using RSVP are IT workers," Mulcahy says. "They're used to the Internet for time-saving services and convenience, so it's natural they turn to online dating for spicing up their love life."

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A Grauniad piece looking at the explosion of obesity in America, and the factors that caused it (mostly bad design and unintended consequences).

For a start, in some parts of the country, Americans have eliminated not merely the need to walk, but even the possibility of it. "I'd love to be able to walk to the store, pick up some milk and come home again, but our towns don't really allow that," laments Mary Gilmore, a dietician in Meridian. The distances are too great, the pavements non-existent. In the sprawling suburbs and small towns, public transport is often as rare as in an English village. In any case, it is almost impossible to carry the milk: it usually comes in gallon containers (a US gallon is four-fifths of a UK gallon). In a country where the cost of packaging exceeds the cost of the food, buying any other way is far more expensive.

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