Modern World: Update
Three stories in the NYTimes caught my eye today. First: In this wacky modern world we live in, we no longer know when we're working and when we're not.
“...if you don’t feel you can turn around and say ‘I’m on my lunch break and I’ll get to it later.’ If you have to jump on every e-mail that you get then you’re on call, and that isn’t a lunch break.”
What if that same message comes over a BlackBerry or cellphone when you are technically off the clock? “BlackBerry time is work time,” said Dan McCoy, a partner in the employment practices group of Fenwick & West, a law firm. “It absolutely counts.”
The law has long and consistently excluded commuting from hours worked.
But as commutes grow longer, and workers use time on the train (and, heaven help us, in the car) to tap on their laptop or BlackBerry, the exceptions are starting to define the rule. And while those most likely to be working while commuting are exempt-category workers like managers, experts say, the need to bring the office onto the bus is creeping into the lives of workers qualified for overtime, too.
Americans are the most productive workers in the world I hear. That means we do the most for the least. Aren't we spiffy? Or is it fools? Certainly not "slaves"... But we are weird. Another story tells us that we've all convinced ourselves that our lives are TV-reality-show narratives in need of recording, to the extent that men are now hiring "stalker photographers" to secretly catch the "look on her face" as he proposes.
I personally would consider this grounds for annulment.
Over the last four years, he and his team of photographers, who charge $500 and up for these sessions, have clandestinely snapped proposals on the Lincoln Center Plaza after the opera; masqueraded as tourists in public places; and hidden in the wings of a cavernous and empty (save two) restaurant rented for the occasion by a prospective bridegroom, cameras concealed behind black cloth, the sounds of the shutters obscured by the clatter of dishes.
Still, the idea of being secretly photographed at a traditionally private moment can be unnerving to some women.
Lastly, on a more serious tip, the science pages tell us that a "moral psychologist" named Dr. Haidt is trying to re-write our understanding of morality. Currently, we understand morality in two categories: "do no harm" and "do unto others." Dr. Haidt says the fact that we have only these two is because of a liberal bias, and that:
“It is at least possible,” he said, “that conservatives and traditional societies have some moral or sociological insights that secular liberals do not understand.”What are the categories of "morality" that liberals do not understand? "loyalty," respect for authority," and "purity." According to Dr. Haidt, these three categories "protect the in-group" as opposed to protecting just the individual. He believes our definition of "morality" is too narrow, and should include these protections of the in-group. I suppose "loyalty" and "respect for authority" need no explanation here, but I think we liberals need a little help with "purity":
The emotion of disgust probably evolved when people became meat eaters and had to learn which foods might be contaminated with bacteria, a problem not presented by plant foods. Disgust was then extended to many other categories, he argues, to people who were unclean, to unacceptable sexual practices and to a wide class of bodily functions and behaviors that were seen as separating humans from animals.
“Imagine visiting a town,” Dr. Haidt writes, “where people wear no clothes, never bathe, have sex ‘doggie style’ in public, and eat raw meat by biting off pieces directly from the carcass.”
He sees the disgust evoked by such a scene as allied to notions of physical and religious purity. Purity is, in his view, a moral system that promotes the goals of controlling selfish desires and acting in a religiously approved way.
Notions of disgust and purity are widespread outside Western cultures. “Educated liberals are the only group to say, ‘I find that disgusting but that doesn’t make it wrong,’ ” Dr. Haidt said.
Actually, we were all saying, "Well, that really turns me on, but what does have to do with anything..." I mean, we are secular liberals, after all. [Although in seriousness, what was with the "doggie style" in there?] Yes, we liberals cannot understand your complex moral ways:
Extreme liberals, Dr. Haidt argues, attach almost no importance to the moral systems that protect the group. Because conservatives do give some weight to individual protections, they often have a better understanding of liberal views than liberals do of conservative attitudes, in his view.Yes, pay no attention to the millions of liberals that were raised with conservative values behind the curtain! No no no: secular liberals were born in secular liberal test-tubes, and simply don't understand these more complex moral systems like "toadying," "cowering," and "prejudice"... oh, I mean, "loyalty," "respect for authority," and "purity."
Reason is stupidity! War is Peace! Freedom is slavery! Ignorance is strength!
Yes, I suppose with all that "protecting the in-group" stuff it must be that last one he's really talking about.