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The Herr We Leave Behind

As a sysadmin, I've often inherited ugly bits of infrastructure that really needed replacement/reworking (often, but not always, some website someone was foolish enough to write in php connected to a poorly designed database designed by the same person - poor filesystem layouts are also common). I'm embarassed about the things I never got around to replacing, either because I became busy or because I was working on a replacement in my personal time (so I would feel ok reusing the work for my own purposes) and became distracted - I know other sysadmins do this because a lot of the time these ugly bits were several sysadmins old, and often the people between included some highly clued people.

I suspect that antispam will be an increasingly important focus for technology and employment in the future - we'll start to see wikis, blogs, and other sites that use increasingly sophisticated means (and better moderation systems) to cut spam, and companies offering these things will start to employ teams to monitor, search for, and remove spam from their sites. It's a pity that this looks like it'll be yet another technological arms race, and that instead of moving back towards notions of responsibility for our networks we have people pushing tor and other anti-responsibility tools - if neighbourhoods worked that way and masked people were dumping junk on my lawn, and whenever I swung a stick at them I were scolded because someone might be borrowing someone else's body to do it, I would be very pissed (with a very dirty yard). Being told that I should encase my yard in 30 foot yards like I'm living in mexico city is not a solution - CAPCHAs are cool, but they're only technologically cool as they're still a sign that our attitudes towards responsibility are broken. Perhaps if we had a more sensible attitude, the great firewall of China would cut off chinese botnets and do productive content filtering (spam email) rather than prevent people from being exposed to the idea that because the Republic of Taiwan has been politically, governmentally, and militarily independent from the People's Republic of China for over 50 years now and that calling them a renegade province at this point is laughable. If active network monitoring and filtering is used to kill spam rather than to block porn, I'm all for it. I would be equally happy if people took vigilante action against spammers, which may be more effective. Given how many robogenerated spamblogs I've spotted on my TV and gotten closed by reporting them to LJ folk, I'm playing with writing software to automagically recognise them, get approval from me (a kind of reversed usenet moderation for the modern day), and then automatically submit them as abuse to the lj abuse team.

I wonder what an ideal system for dealing with pregnancy in the workplace would look like. Lassiez Faire (as usual) sucks, and I don't think the current system is ideal. Maybe a general income tax should pay for a number of costs associated with a person's first two pregnancies and missed work, as part of a programme managed by local social workers in each locale?

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Social work is already overwhelmed. I don't think treating pregnancy as a social problem would help. Why not just assume it to be a cost of doing business?
Proactive/preventative social work might make some later social work unnecessary. Rather than call it overwhelmed, maybe we should call it underfunded.
How would workplace pregnancy cause "later social work"? I think that social work should be reserved for social problems, such as poverty, and I wouldn't consider pregnant women on the workforce a social problem.
Here's an interesting approach to financial aspects:

I think that a major part of the problem is that sick children are assumed to be part of the mother's role rather than equal responsibility with partner. As in, why is sick children still considered a women's issue?

But, I think that a wellness program would be a good approach to costs of pregnancy and missed work for children's illness.
Hmm. I may have broadened the context without being explicit about it - by the time I said that, I was thinking as well of the more comprehensive social services available to pregnant women in some european countries, from counseling to more managed assistance in the later stages. This line of reasoning was originally inspired by a daydream of what an ideal pregnancy-friendly workplace would be like, imagining that if my friend does not manage to get a job in a normal workplace because they would not want to take the financial burden of continuing to pay her (as per the law where she lives) while she's on leave for pregnancy, perhaps some businesses (or half-business half government-initiatives like the TVA was) might form specialising in providing a pregnancy-superfriendly workplace, and wondering what kind of specifics would be involved in that. I then got to thinking about what kinds of things would be present in a workplace that catered specifically to pregnant women that are not present in more typical ones... I eventually decided not to continue/discuss that speculation for a number of reasons, and maybe things are a bit disjoint because I left some bits of thought that were connected to that standing alone.
Awesome! Thank you for the clarification. I'm understanding where you were heading with that a bit better at this point :)


This is a really interesting and difficult issue. On one hand, I think there's probably a gut reaction here in America that companies shouldn't have to swallow the cost of their employees pregnancy and childcare, but on the other hand, considering the issue for what it is at a very basic level -- a cost of doing business just like any other medical, dental, PTO, lunch break, holiday, fat employee, smoker employee, employee with asthma, prostate cancer...expense -- it doesn't seem that there should be difficulty accepting it as just a cost of doing business (especially if you are the sort of person who expects that your employer sponsored health insurance will cover your next visit to your doctor for your viagra prescription or head cold, or whatever).

Granted, one can argue that pregnancy is in most cases, a choice. But then again, so is being overweight or a cigarette smoker or anything else that might reasonably lead to the expectation of developing a costly health problem. So, in a way, if a woman in her childbearing years is so risque as to have sexual intercourse with a man, she's put herself at some risk of pregnancy, much the same way as her male coworker scarfing McDonald's and then going out for his cigarette break is risking a whole host of medical problems.

I think the real reason that a lot of people might not want to consider pregnancy and childcare expenses as valid is just latent sexism, or latent sexist ideas. After all, it, like several other things, only involves women. And it seems to me, as an attorney, that whenever there is a fiscal or legal issue that by nature or definition only involves the rights or welfare of women, it is put to a very unreasonable level of scrutiny by lawmakers and members of the general public.

But to take the emotions out of it, pregnancy is simply one of the collateral costs of doing business, and should be treated as such when it comes to the health and wellness benefits available for other employee programs.

Even for those disinclined to consider gender-specific issues and tending to discount it because pregnancy is generally (but not always) voluntary, one could probably defuse a lot of argument by asking them if they had a mother - unlike a lot of other "women's issues" and other specifics, at least pregnancy precedes pretty much every human being in society - perhaps phrasing it that way would make it more palettable to all of America.

Part of general limits to pregnancy programmes (e.g. that they only cover the first 2 children and be paired with strong disincentives to have a 3rd or 4th), I would hope that strong assistance is available to help the unemployed (or those, like my friend, who are on contract employment instead of an indefinite salaried position).