Tuesday, September 30, 2008

On a lighter note, I had some stuff to post and, well, let's just say be careful when using Cut/Paste. I think it's fate. This is evidently info I wasn't supposed to keep, since my recorder bailed out on me, and this is exactly the part that didn't get recorded.

It was just some funny factoids gathered from the Administrative Law class. There were some funny rules the prof told us about , among which were the by-law stating that kite flying, cock fighting and dog fighting were prohibited. I'm not sure why kite flying had to be forbidden, but on certainly wonders why it's put in the same sentence as cock and dog fighting...

There was also this by-law that said cal├Ęche owners couldn't make their horses work in above-30C temperature. This is one bit of info I would've liked to have had earlier. I would've known what to say to people who called during the few hot days in the summer, asking whether there were a temperature limit above which they weren't obliged to work. Then, I could've told them "Nope, nothing in the labour standards act, but if you were a horse, then you'd be off if it's above 30."

There was also this by-law prohibiting people to walk more than 2 dogs on a leash, which was apparently passed in order to get rid of a homeless dude in the neighbourhood.

And you're not supposed to park within 5 metres of a stop sign, but they'd have parking lines within that distance.
I had a bit of an existential moment the other day. I have a class on Corporate Law, and we were learning about the definition of a business. I started thinking about LibriVox, and whether it could be considered a business. Business is defined according to two criteria: 1. organization and coordination of resources, and 2. an economic objective. LibriVox is organized alright, but no economic goal there.

And I thought, are we producing anything? What are we producing anyway? Audiobooks. But, what is an audiobook, really? Bytes and bytes of data. 0s and 1s sitting somewhere on a server. I was hit by the intangibility of it all. Unplug the server, and what have you left? Nothing. It's a bit unsettling, really. Just bits and bits of data traveling through wires, traveling through the air.

Is this a product? It's nothing. Or maybe, it's energy. Energy pulses through the wires, through the air. Soundwaves, that's what we're producing. Data. Lots and lots of data. Maybe if we had CDs, it would seem more real. I'd have something to touch, something to hold, something to stack up.

And then I played a recording, and thought, "don't tell me this is not real!"

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Yesterday was my last day of work. Some time in the morning, I get a call from a guy, and it goes like this:

Guy: "Hi, I'm calling because I think my boss owes me money."
Me: OK, why does he owe you money?
Guy: Well, I think there's time that I worked, but I didn't get paid for it.

At this point, I'm already starting to be seriously annoyed. Just spit it out dude, instead of prolonging the agony. You're not writing a mystery novel! Care to elaborate just a tiny bit?

Guy: Well, here's the thing. I usually go on break from 6 PM to 6:30 PM to eat. So from 6 PM to 6:30, I'm not getting paid. The other day, a machine broke at around 5, and it still wasn't fixed by 5:30, so my boss told me to take my break from 5:30 to 6 PM. And I came back to work at 6. So from 6 to 6:30 PM, I didn't get paid.

Oh. Right. ... Wait. What? No, I misunderstood, right? The guy can't be THAT stupid, surely? I recap, just to make sure. So you went on break from 5:30 to 6, came back to work from 6 to 6:30. On the schedule, it says you're not paid from 6 to 6:30. So you worked from 6 to 6:30 and didn't get paid for that time that day. But you were paid from 5:30 to 6, right?

Guy: Yeah.

Oh blimey. He really is that dumb. So what's the problem?

Guy: Well, my boss could've made me do other jobs for that time. He would've found other work for me to do.

Uh, so? You boss can tell you to take your lunch break too, dude. In a desperate attempt to punch a bit of common sense into him, I ask:

Me: so how many hours have you worked that day?
Guy: same as every other day.
Me:Which is?
Guy: 7 hours.
Me: And you were paid for how many hours of work that day?
Guy: 7 hours.
Me: So where's the problem? (Seriously hoping he gets it)
Guy: Well, I didn't get paid from 6 to 6:30.
(Fuck me.)
Me: LOOK, YOU WORKED 7 HOURS, YOU GOT PAID 7 HOURS, I REALLY DON'T SEE WHERE THE PROBLEM IS. IT DOESN'T MATTER IF IT SAYS THAT YOU WERE ON BREAK FROM 6 TO 6:30 AND DIDN'T GET PAID FOR THAT TIME, YOU GOT PAID FOR 7 HOURS, WHICH IS WHAT YOU WORKED. OK?

Made my day.

* * *

I'm becoming more like a lawyer now. A lady called for a question on the pay for Labour Day for one of her employees who was on vacation at that time. The rule for Holiday Pay is that you take the salary of the 4 weeks before the week of the holiday, and divide it by 20. People are not entitled to the pay if they're on unpaid vacation, sick leave or parental/maternity/paternity leave.

I was explaining that to the lady, and saying how vacation pay is included in the salary, so if the employee took 2 weeks vacation and worked for 2 weeks, you'll have to include the vacation pay in the forumla. The employee took 2 paid weeks, and 2 unpaid weeks. And I just went: well, you don't have to pay her anything then. Because Labour Day was the first day where she was on unpaid leave. Her 2 weeks of paid vacation ended the day before. So she wouldn't be entitled to holiday pay.

Wow. I was thinking, I just deprived someone of her vacation pay. And I'm not even feeling bad about it. Cuz it's the law, baby.

(at least the lady was nice, and said the girl was a good worker, and she'd pay her anyway)

Monday, September 22, 2008

War games

Yesterday, my dad told me about a son of his friend's, who has apparently decided to join the Armed Forces, and has done pretty well finding himself a nice spot where he would work and study. And then he asked: "Have you ever thought of joining the Army?"

Well, as a matter of fact, yes. Except for the fact that I would be a tiny bit too visually impaired to be allowed to join without laser surgery. AND the fact that I react very badly to any kind of physical exercise.

But that is beside the point. It's not the first time one of my parents have suggested (albeit jokingly) that I join the Army. This time, though, I actually shuddered. Join the army? NO WAY. IN HELL. I'm too happy being a civilian.

For the last couple of weeks, I've been doing research for an essay on the laws of war. Got a nice little book, and started reading. The book explained the international law governing such and such kind of military actions. What was allowed, and what wasn't. Not that it makes any difference in practice, since when all hell breaks loose, you're pretty much in the shit, law or no law.

Very early on, there is a distinction between civilians and non-civilians. Civilians are supposed to be protected. When war is a-knocking at the door, civilians should be evacuated, and you're not supposed to be shooting at them. Civilian installations shouldn't be destroyed either. Not so much for the military. Military personnel is what they call "valid military target". Military equipment is "valid military target". Roads and bridges are "valid military target".

Bit chilling, that. It almost felt like I was reading the manual to a video game. Almost like it was a game. Bridges: 10 points. Destroy a bunker: 50 points. Tanks: 20 points. Hospital: -100. When you're a soldier, you're a valid military target. Like a tank. Like a rocket launcher. You're not a human anymore. Just little things at which they shoot.

War is just a game. Do the generals think in terms of human life? Or are they just in front of their computer screens, counting points?

***

Join the military? No thanks. I'd rather not be running around the battlefield with a bullseye on my ass.