The Null Device
In 2004, an anonymous writer calling herself "ea_spouse" posted a letter detailing sweatshop-like working conditions at video game company Electronic Arts, at which her partner worked, complaining that the company deliberately kept schedules in "crunch time", obliging employees to put in 85-hour weeks with no paid overtime, and thus that her partner came home physically and mentally fatigued. Now, ea_spouse has revealed her identity; she is one Erin Hoffman, married to former EA developer Leander Hasty. If you've ever played "Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle Earth", you have experienced the fruit of this chap's gruelling labours:
On Hasty's second day of work, the team was sucked into a six day-a-week "crunch,'' an intense work period. By September, the team had to work 13-hour days, seven days a week.
The exhausted team members started making mistakes and getting sick. For Hasty, the stress triggered an allergic reaction that resulted in stomach problems and chronic headaches. He dropped 10 pounds and turned pale.
They desperately wanted to ditch EA. But they didn't have the $5,000 to repay the signing bonus.The good news is that the essay led to a class action by video-game industry employees against EA, which has apparently resulted in working conditions in the industry improving. (It doesn't say how much they have improved by, though, and whether anybody in their right mind would be drawn to the industry if they knew about it works now.) Hoffman and Hasty (who now work at an independent game studio) are continuing their activism for video-game developers' rights, and are setting up a web forum for developers to discuss issues at their workplaces.
Seen on the care instructions label attached to a piece of clothing from Swedish retailer H&M:
What I'm wondering is: why are Americans advised to "wash with like colors" while Britons are instructed to "wash with similar colours"? Would there be any danger of anyone fluent in either dialect misunderstanding the other? Is "similar" in this context a conspicuously un-American usage, or "like" a shocking mangling of the Queen's English?
When he handed down the ruling in the Da Vinci Code plagiarism case, Mr. Justice Peter Smith could not resist byt embed his own coded message into it:
The first clue - the word claimants with the s in italics - is found in paragraph one of the document. In the next paragraph, the m in claimant is italicised. Read together, the italicised letters in the first seven paragraphs spell out the self-referential legend "Smithy code".
After the "Smithy Code" series, there are an additional 25 jumbled letters contained on the first 14 pages of the document, Mr Tench said.This isn't the first instance of judges having a bit of fun with the presentation of their rulings:
Although some of the more creative members of the bench have occasionally been known to write their judgments in verse or rhyming couplets, few have gone to the same cunning lengths as Mr Justice Smith. "It's not really something that you expect from a judge," Mr Tench said. "Someone said to me: 'Isn't that rather irresponsible?', which I thought was a rather joyless reaction. It just shows that our judges are human."
As politicians and wowsers decry the evil, corrupting influence of video games, Tom Standage (author of The Victorian Internet) looks at the moral panics created by previous new technologies and media:
"The free access which many young people have to romances, novels, and plays has poisoned the mind and corrupted the morals of many a promising youth; and prevented others from improving their minds in useful knowledge. Parents take care to feed their children with wholesome diet; and yet how unconcerned about the provision for the mind, whether they are furnished with salutary food, or with trash, chaff, or poison?"
- Reverend Enos Hitchcock, Memoirs of the Bloomsgrove Family, 1790
"Many adults think that the crimes described in comic books are so far removed from the child's life that for children they are merely something imaginative or fantastic. But we have found this to be a great error. Comic books and life are connected. A bank robbery is easily translated into the rifling of a candy store. Delinquencies formerly restricted to adults are increasingly committed by young people and children ... All child drug addicts, and all children drawn into the narcotics traffic as messengers, with whom we have had contact, were inveterate comic-book readers This kind of thing is not good mental nourishment for children!"
- Fredric Wertham, Seduction of the Innocent, 1954
"The effect of rock and roll on young people, is to turn them into devil worshippers; to stimulate self-expression through sex; to provoke lawlessness; impair nervous stability and destroy the sanctity of marriage. It is an evil influence on the youth of our country."
- Minister Albert Carter, 1956
(via Boing Boing)