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Liffguard

Bull**it Jobs

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Pretty much everything else I can think of to recommend is also a book. I just finished Robert Skidelsky's How Much is Enough? which isn't strictly speaking about the same topic, but ends up touching on a lot of similar themes.

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On 1/5/2020 at 4:21 PM, DMC said:

Hey I just finished prepping a class I start teaching tomorrow - political sociology. (My first lecture:  What is political sociology?  You tell me!)  One of the syllabi I was sent had this as one of the readings.  Thought it was cool, kept it as a reading in one of the last weeks of the semester.  I've read the article on Strike by Graeber, and read a New Yorker piece.  Assigned the former.  Wondering, other than the book which I'm obviously not gonna make them buy (or myself have to read), if anyone knows of any better sources on this?  Probably not, just taking a shot.  Sorry for the necro.

Random question. How early in advance do professors/teachers generally get a copy of their expected assigned readings?

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Tywin et al. said:

Random question. How early in advance do professors/teachers generally get a copy of their expected assigned readings?

I'm not sure this is for every discipline, but generally you're never assigned specific readings.  The department simply staffs out their class schedule, and the instructor is assigned to a course.  The instructor is then expected to compose the syllabus and assign readings (compose a course schedule) herself, and it's at the instructor's discretion.  Unofficially, the syllabus for a certain department's course is usually inherited, and often if you know the previous instructor they'll not only send you the syllabus, but all the prep materials (powerpoints and/or notes of lectures, exams, prompts for essays/assignments). 

Since I'm working for my school's sociology department, which I'm not familiar with, all I got were the two most recent syllabi, which every instructor sends to the department's administrative assistant each semester in part for just that reason (hiring someone unfamiliar with the material).  In this case, as I intimated above, when I was offered a course called "political sociology," my first response was "yeah I need the money."  But my second was, "what the hell is political sociology?"  And I found the syllabi (from previous grad students I've never met and have since moved on) to be..lacking in rigor.  So I changed a lot about the structure of the course in terms of readings.  BUT, I noticed the bullshit jobs article on one of them, kinda chuckled thinking about this thread, and wanted to keep it.

Anyway, to answer your question, course assignments are usually made about two months in advance.  So for Spring semester, you'll usually know by the start of November, for Summer semester, you'll usually know by the start of March.  For Fall semester, it tends to be determined even earlier so all the tenured faculty can just peace out on vacation for most of the summer - around the end of May.

ETA:  Forgot - good to know @Liffguard.  Thanks, appreciate the consideration.

Edited by DMC

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It's just a short blog post, but I enjoyed this article on the topic. It basically argues that income is less about usefulness or productivity, and more just a social indicator of hierarchy.

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Hmmm - just started a new job and I know it’s going to get okay - and it’s full time and pays okay but oh my god the first week was BORING. Just sat behind a desk looking at emails and stuff. My god. Can’t wait till it gets more hands on. I went from a very physical job walking around outside and physically cleaning objects when I was inside to a job where I was coming constantly moving around the store to just say behind a computer for 8 hours. Definitely understanding this thread a bit more now lol. How it isn’t always like this. I definitely have a purpose for what I’m doing so it’s not bullshit but also...a lot of it’s does feel like wasted time and I’m missing being physical and don’t want to fall into bad habits. Just venting anyway 

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25 minutes ago, Theda Baratheon said:

Hmmm - just started a new job and I know it’s going to get okay - and it’s full time and pays okay but oh my god the first week was BORING. Just sat behind a desk looking at emails and stuff. My god. Can’t wait till it gets more hands on. I went from a very physical job walking around outside and physically cleaning objects when I was inside to a job where I was coming constantly moving around the store to just say behind a computer for 8 hours. Definitely understanding this thread a bit more now lol. How it isn’t always like this. I definitely have a purpose for what I’m doing so it’s not bullshit but also...a lot of it’s does feel like wasted time and I’m missing being physical and don’t want to fall into bad habits. Just venting anyway 

I a had job similar to this. Do they limit your internet usage?

I used the time to memorize random things. The periodic table, all the countries/their capitals, things like that.

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44 minutes ago, A True Kaniggit said:

I a had job similar to this. Do they limit your internet usage?

I used the time to memorize random things. The periodic table, all the countries/their capitals, things like that.

Nope. ITs a good job really - I’m working in a museum and planning an exhibition so it’s just a lot of looking at emails and making word documents about research so it all has a purpose I guess but I wanna get hands on with objects already and I’m not used to just siting behind a PC for 8 hours and getting paid for it lol it doesn’t feel like work and ive got this constant worry like guilt and paranoia that I’m not working hard enough and as it’s a great start of the career job I wanna make as good of an impression as I can 

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2 hours ago, Theda Baratheon said:

ive got this constant worry like guilt and paranoia that I’m not working hard enough

Yep, I definitely get this too. I'll be sat there with maybe an hour or two's work to do for the day. And when it's done I'm just left to stew in my own paranoia and insecurity. Wait, was that really it? I must have missed something important. I'm gonna get chewed out. I'm gonna get fired.

I've tried asking for more, several times. Each time I'll get slung the odd bit of make-work before the issue drops out of my manager's attention. And then, even worse, occasionally more real work does come my way, and my brain is so paralysed with stress and boredom that I struggle to raise the motivation to get on with it. Vicious circle.

Even worse, it's an open plan office, so if I want to use my computer for something else, I have to be hyper-alert about who can see me and who's paying attention, elevating the stress even further.

I think, as has already been raised in this thread, this is an issue that's somewhat inherent in any job without an output that's either numerically quantifiable, or at least tangible (you can't necessarily measure the output of a carer, but carers can definitely observe the tangible good effects of the work they do).

Edited by Liffguard

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4 hours ago, Theda Baratheon said:

Nope. ITs a good job really - I’m working in a museum and planning an exhibition so it’s just a lot of looking at emails and making word documents about research so it all has a purpose I guess but I wanna get hands on with objects already and I’m not used to just siting behind a PC for 8 hours and getting paid for it lol it doesn’t feel like work and ive got this constant worry like guilt and paranoia that I’m not working hard enough and as it’s a great start of the career job I wanna make as good of an impression as I can 

Its definitely hard to go from a more physically active job to something desk based, even if you love the desk-based job role - i had a similar experience going from bar tending and waiting tables to my current job. Waiting tables, i was constantly on my feet and moving, current job i’m at my desk all day. And even though i love what i’m doing and i nearly always have what i consider ‘meaningful’ work, it does make me feel somewhat lethargic and lazy.

I found small ways to deal with this, though some of them will depend on your specific workplace and location. First one is quite simple, either walking to work, walking a significant time/distance to or from public transport to work (20-30 minutes), or, if you drive, arriving at work early and going for a walk then.

Second one, which is more dependent on your employer, is taking five minute ‘screen breaks’ every so often. A lot of the work i do is quite detail oriented so my employer not only allows but actually recommends taking short  breaks every hour or two hours so that you don’t lose your concentration. During these breaks, I (and most others actually) generally stretch our legs wandering around the office.

Third walking lunch. Exactly as it sounds - take your lunch outside with you and go for a walk. Quite fun to challenge yourself here, to gradually increase the distance you can walk in the time allotted on your lunch. This is a really nice option if you work somewhere quite scenic but works oretty much anywhere

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I assigned excerpts from Bullshit Jobs to my class (college juniors). The got it, but they also didn't find it very relatable. They are working class, 2nd gen immigrants, first gen college students who work in the jobs Graeber says are more important, like food delivery, care work, agriculture, education, medical care. Reading about how unfulfilling and pointless a corporate lawyer's job is didn't resonate, especially since these complainers are making a ton of $$. I will still assign it to discuss how much of our time/money is sunk into these useless jobs, but Graeber should focus next on care work as a concept grounding all necessary work, IMO. His most powerful argument was when he talked about the subway worker strikes, which force people to acknowledge how their jobs are necessary and should be valued more. 

Edited by Rose of Red Lake

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5 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Interesting VICE documentary on the future of work (a couple of months old): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iaKHeCKcq4

To bring it back to the title of this thread, there's only one bull**it job I observed over the entire video, held by one person too good to wear safety glasses at a Toyota plant tour.

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I've been re-reading The Dispossessed and came across the following quote which I'd forgotten. Just goes to show that the topic under discussion is definitely not new, though nowadays it's probably more salient.

Quote

“A child free from the guilt of ownership and the burden of economic competition will grow up with the will to do what needs doing and the capacity for joy in doing it. It is useless work that darkens the heart. The delight of the nursing mother, of the scholar, of the successful hunter, of the good cook, of the skilful maker, of anyone doing needed work and doing it well, - this durable joy is perhaps the deepest source of human affection and of sociality as a whole.”  

 

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On ‎1‎/‎19‎/‎2020 at 11:45 PM, HelenaExMachina said:

 

Second one, which is more dependent on your employer, is taking five minute ‘screen breaks’ every so often. A lot of the work i do is quite detail oriented so my employer not only allows but actually recommends taking short  breaks every hour or two hours so that you don’t lose your concentration. During these breaks, I (and most others actually) generally stretch our legs wandering around the office.

 

I drink an absurd amount of water, so I get to have breaks to go and fill the bottle up (obviously the smaller the bottle is the better), and also go to the toilet a lot (I go to the furthest toilet I can without actually leaving the building). 

If i'm thinking about a problem I just walk around the park opposite work, I have a jar of nuts on my desk and I feed the squirrels.  But I get not everyone gets that degree of freedom.

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