I’m not a gamer. I don’t have the time to be one, which makes me sad sometimes. Then I read things like this and I’m suddenly glad I’ve got time constraints.
You’re clicking on a tumblr entry that documents the abuse one woman gets for expressing (rather mild) disappointment at the lack of female protagonists in new games. (If I were a gamer, that’d piss me off, too.)
It’s weird that women are often accused of being thin-skinned and over-emotional: look at all the shrieky, hysterical reactions one tiny, harmless critique gets. Doubly funny are the shrieky, hysterical men imploring the mean feminist to calm down.
I think “epic botch” is going too far, but it certainly looks as if the strongest claims made about the collaboration between the NSA and tech companies in the initial Guardian and Washington Post stories are at this point unfounded:
Fogel points out that a widely-read post to this effect called “Cowards” from the blogger Unchrunched—”What has these people, among the wealthiest on the planet, so scared that they find themselves engaging in these verbal gymnastics to avoid telling a simple truth”—is “mostly wrong.” He says, “It looks like Greenwald & co simply misunderstood an NSA slide [see image at the top of this post for the slide] because they don’t have the technical background to know that ‘servers’ is a generic word and doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing as ‘the main servers on which a company’s customer-facing services run.’ The ‘servers’ mentioned in the slide are just lockboxes used for secure data transfer. They have nothing to do with the process of deciding which requests to comply with—they’re just means of securely and efficiently delivering information once a company has decided to do so.”
Matt Yglesias says, at least compared to the alternatives, yes:
But now consider journalism. Do unpaid internships in the media industry lock poor kids out of the profession? I think that depends on what you think the likely alternative is. If the Labor Department cracks down, are we going to see a blossoming of paid internships?
My worry would be that we’ll replace zero-salary work/training positions with what amount to negative-salary training in the form of graduate school. Both the unpaid summer internship and the master’s degree in journalism are based on the idea that eight semesters worth of college leaves most people ill-qualified for a paying journalism job without some further seasoning. And while requiring people to spend months working for free does put a substantial barrier in the way of someone who can’t get financial assistance from his parents, requiring someone to spend a year or two paying many thousands of dollars to a school creates a much larger barrier.
And it seems to me that if you look at some of the problems in American education—whether that’s in terms of college dropout rates, student debt, or the bleak fate of high school graduates with no college record—we arguably need something along the lines of more unpaid internships rather than fewer. Of course, if you want to push for that you probably don’t want to call them “unpaid internships.” What you want to do is talk about the need for more vocational education, the success of the German apprenticeship model, the failures of existing job training programs but the desirability of making them work better, etc. But that’s all just to say that erecting extremely sharp walls between “education,” “training,” and “work” doesn’t make a ton of sense in theory and isn’t working out very well in practice either.
A few comments:
- I agree in re the problems of creeping credentialism, and think that there should be more educational grants as opposed to loans for lower-income people, combined with the federal government using it leverage to keep tuition down. As long as we’re being utopian, it would also be nice if professional accreditation associations tried to make the number of slots in graduate schools more closely resemble the number of jobs in the field.
- That said, I think there’s a critical flaw in the argument here, which comes down to this: non-affluent people can borrow money for graduate school but can’t borrow money to work for free. This may not make sense, but this general framework is enormously unlikely to change. Because of this, a de facto requirement to do unpaid internships is in fact a much greater barrier to the non-affluent than the requirement to obtain a graduate degree is.
- I’m also not really persuaded by the causal argument. It seems to me that the requirement of ever-greater educational credentials is likely to proceed more or less independently of whether employers are allowed to exploit unpaid labor. In my wife’s field, for example, unpaid internships are crucial to getting decent jobs, but advanced degrees are also a de facto and in many cases de jure requirement, and it’s not unusual for people in entry-level positions to have advanced degrees their supervisors don’t. If unpaid labor is supposed to be stopping requirements for additional educational credentials, it doesn’t seem to be succeeding.
- The German apprenticeship program might well be a model to emulate, but it’s a non-sequitur in this context because if I understand correctly apprentices are paid.
- And, finally, there’s the most important problem with many unpaid internships: they quite clearly violate federal labor law. One could make a libertarian argument against minimum wage laws, but I reject it with extreme prejudice (and Matt doesn’t support such arguments either.) Not paying people for work that people would otherwise be paid for is both bad in itself and have other bad effects on the labor market in general. The burden of proof, it seems to me, should squarely be on those who believe that the law should be ignored.
My belief is that people, with some very narrowly defined exceptions should be paid for work, and federal labor law reflects this belief as well. Ultimately, nothing in Matt’s argument compels me to revisit this view.
The story about this fully equipped 1961 nuclear fallout shelter is kind of awesome. But I have to ask, if you were in a bomb shelter suffering from a nuclear attack, would science fiction really be what you wanted to read for entertainment?
I welcome our judicial overlords, so long as they are able to pepper their opinions in fascinating trucking regulation cases with cutting-edge pop cultural references:
The two directly at issue here compel the company to (1) affix a placard on each truck with a phone number for reporting environmental or safety concerns (You’ve seen the type: “How am I driving? 213–867–5309”)…
Reports that Justice Kagan blesses the rains down in Africa are unconfirmed at press time.
Pareene with some useful background about why the Washington D.C. football team has a vile racial slur for a nickname. It’s not an unbroken tradition, and it wasn’t a term that was considered racially neutral at the time:
This Washington football team was named by one of the most vehement racists in the history of American professional sports. When George Marshall bought the team in 1932, they were called the Boston Braves. He changed the name — to a slur, because he was a racist — and moved them to Washington. He made “Dixie” one of the team’s fight songs and refused to hire black players well into the 1960s. The NFL integrated in 1946 but Marshall’s team held out until the federal government actually forced them to field black players in 1963. The all-white Washington teams of the 1950s and 1960s were among the worst in the league, but segregation was more important to Marshall than winning football games. The NFL had actually already been racially integrated until black players were suddenly banned in 1933. Interviews with owners suggest that Marshall was responsible for the ban.
This is the man who named the team and white supremacy and racism obviously informed his every decision. In his will he insisted that his foundation not spend any money on “any purpose which supports or employs the principle of racial integration in any form.” It is extremely hard to believe that this man selected the name — specially changed the name from a less offensive term for American Indians to this term — to “honor” anyone, the usual argument used by the team’s modern defenders.
The current owner of the team, an incompetent lying corporate buffoon named Dan Snyder, is not as racist as George Marshall. (Few living people are.) He is merely dumb, vain, greedy and stubborn.
I also agree that media organizations — which generally have rules against using racial slurs — should refuse to use the name.
…Zirin has more.
This is unconscionable:
In a striking showdown between Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and a member of his own party, Mr. Levin said on Tuesday that he would remove a measure aimed at curbing sexual assault in the military from a defense spending bill.
Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, offered a measure that would give military prosecutors rather than commanders the power to decide which sexual assault crimes to try, with the goal of increasing the number of people who report crimes without fear of retaliation. Mr. Levin, Democrat of Michigan, said he would replace Ms. Gillibrand’s measure — which has 27 co-sponsors, including four Republicans — with one that would require a senior military officer to review decisions by commanders who decline to prosecute sexual assault cases. Although Mr. Levin’s measure would change the current system, it would keep prosecution of sexual assault cases within the chain of command, as the military wants.
As Laura Clawson puts it, “Old white man decides to leave military sexual assault decisions in the hands of old white men.”
Between Levin being most formidable obstacle within the Democratic caucus against filibuster reform and now caving to the military on sexual assault, the august senator from Michigan is not exactly ending his career in Ted Kennedy-esque fashion.
See also Katie at Feministing and Adele Stan.
Stan notes elsewhere that the Obama Administration has done nothing but lip service on this issue. It’s really unacceptable.
I have a piece in Salon about how asking if James Clapper committed perjury when testifying about the extent of government surveillance is in one sense the wrong question.
This is something Paul has discussed before, but it’s hard to square most unpaid internships with federal labor law. Finally, at least one judge has decided to notice:
The case of the unpaid American intern just got upended — again, and maybe for good: Just a month after one judge dismissed the class-action suit filed by free New York City media interns at Hearst Magazines, another has now granted the Hollywood coffee-fetchers who worked on Black Swan a precedent-setting win, ruling that the two production interns “worked as paid employees” and that Fox Searchlight should have to pay them as such. It’s a pivotal decision, says the attorney for the two young men who worked on the Oscar-winning film: “This is the first time a judge has held that interns as we know them today are employees entitled to wages and protections,” the lawyer, Juno Turner, told The Atlantic Wire in a phone interview Wednesday.
Indeed, it’s the first time a major U.S. court has ruled that zero dollars for legitimate work does not a legal unpaid internship make. “Considering the totality of the circumstances,” reads the ruling from federal judge William Pauley, the plaintiffs, Eric Glatt and Alexander Footman, “were classified improperly as unpaid interns and are ‘employees’ covered by” the the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as well as New York’s labor laws. The judge added: “They worked as paid employees work, providing an immediate advantage to their employer and performing low-level tasks not requiring specialized training.”
Pauley’s careful opinion seems unanswerable to me, and I think it’s very likely that the vast majority of unpaid internships would fail the test he applies.
Steven Greenhouse has more.