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Comment Re:reactions were mixed (Score 1) 146

Well said. Overtime should be exactly that - overtime. Something extra when extra effort is needed for short term goals. If you are pushing overtime all the time, then your crew will always be at the edge, and when you really need them for those emergency situations they will burn out and need to be replaced. The company would do better just to hire more people.

As we move forward into an age of automation, number of working hours will need to decrease, in part to ensure that there is enough of a market for what we produce. We are already seeing more of an emphasis on consuming experiences rather than goods. This is a good thing in lots of ways.

So I would be less aggressive than you in increasing wages, but I would start earlier: say, time and a half after 30 hours, double at 40 hours, triple at 50 hours, quadruple at 60 hours. Or perhaps time and a quarter at 30 hours, time and a half at 40, double at 50, double and a half at 60, and anything over 65 at triple wages.

Comment Re:reactions were mixed (Score 1) 146

Absolutely. The British did efficiency studies during the First World War and found that not only efficiency but total production declined after 55 hours per week.

Which is to say, employees who work more than 55 hours per week are actually hurting the company.

Now, I am sure there are exceptions - rare individuals who really love what they do and can work 100 hours per week at peak efficiency because their job is their passion. But you shouldn't build company policy on those rare individuals - you should just provide ways for them to get around the rules without destroying the productivity of the normal workers.

Comment Re:Only? (Score 1) 146

The studies done by the British during the First World War found that approximately 55 hours per week provided peak production, though presumably peak efficiency was at some lower number of hours.

But the British were looking at peak total production for their work effort, and they found that 6 day weeks were more productive than 7 day weeks, and that total production peaked at about 55 hours. When workers worked more than 55 hours, their total production was actually less than if they worked only 55 hours.

So it looks like this Japanese company got it right. With very rare exceptions, they should limit work hours at 55 hours per week if they want to maximize production. If they want to maximize productivity, which is slightly different, they may want to restrict work hours even further.

Now, are there rare individuals who can work longer hours and even enjoy working longer hours? Of course. There are exceptions to every rule. But most workers need to rest occasionally.

Submission + - Open Well-Tempered Clavier: a Kickstarter campaign for open source Bach ( 1

rDouglass writes: The Open Goldberg Variations team has launched a new project to make an open source, public domain version of J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. The work is significant because of it's enormous influence on musicians and composers throughout history. A new studio recording, a new digital MuseScore score (with support for MusicXML and MIDI), as well as all source materials (multitrack WAV, lossless FLAC) will be provided as libre and gratis downloads. New to the project are publisher GRIN Verlag, as well as record label PARMA Recordings. GRIN and PARMA will produce and distribute the physical score and double CD, even though the digital versions are to be widely available and in the public domain. Their enthusiasm for the project runs counter to the general publishing and music industry's fear of digital file sharing, and shows growing momentum for finding new models to make free music commercially sustainable.

Comment Re:Make it easier (Score 2) 562

From what I've heard the Chinese have been using Roman letters to help their students learn their own language for years now, and especially use roman letters to make it easier to enter Chinese text into a computer.

But there are still good reasons to use their traditional characters - including the fact that although China has many spoken languages, the use of characters allows most of them to share a single written form.

Comment What other factors ... (Score 1) 212

Curious but not entirely unexpected. We are only beginning to understand the microbiome, but clearly it is important.

I wonder if cold weather might affect our gut bacteria too. I have unintentionally lost a good deal of weight in a short time in a cold, dry environment (at least 30 pounds in three months), but regained it when returning to a hot, humid climate. Of course, the cold weather also burned more calories - but I also ate a good deal more than usual. More notably, I note that people living in hot, humid environments often tend to put on weight more than those in colder climates - but there are likely many other factors.

Submission + - Over 90 Pianists Collaborate to Record and Release 100% of Chopin's Music (

aarondunn writes: Musopen, which previously raised $70,000 to hire an orchestra and release public domain music recordings, has started a Kickstarter to hire a group of notable pianists to record and release the life's work of Frederic Chopin.

His music will be made available via an API powered by Musopen so anyone can come up with ways to explore and present Chopin's life.

Comment Re:But that's not the real problem. (Score 1) 1651

"I cruise upright at ~12mi(~20km) per hour instead of ~18(30) in an aerodynamic hunch-over"

Nothing against mountain bikes, but a recumbent can be an excellent choice too, especially if you don't have many hills. (It would be great in Denver, which is surprisingly flat, and not so good in Seattle, which is surprisingly hilly.)

Comment Re:But that's not the real problem. (Score 1) 1651

"Of course, in those days when you wanted to ride your bike, you just jumped on it and off you went. If we'd had to dress up like quarterbacks every time we wanted to run to the store or a friend's house, we probably would have lost our taste for bicycling, too."

Yes. We all rode bikes everywhere when I was a kid, but I seldom see kids on bikes now. Bicycles weren't just for fun - they were our transportation to friends' houses, or really any location within a mile or two from home.

However, I don't think it is just the helmets (though that plays a part). It is the general trend of children seldom going outdoors, driven largely by helicopter parenting.

More generally - I approve of helmets for highway use, but think we would be better off without helmets for casual cycling on city streets with low speeds. For one thing, most people don't want to carry a bicycle helmet with them everywhere they go, and helmets mess up your hair too - which might seem silly but do you really expect office workers to put up with bad hair every day when they could just drive instead?

Comment Re:Yes, but when does it do so efficiently? (Score 1) 1010

On the other hand, some of us just can't do algebra. I've taken plenty of classes, had tutors, understood every step of the problems ... but when I put those steps together, they never come out right. Never.

On the other hand, I frequently astonish people by doing simple math in my head, and by figuring out the math I need from scratch when I need it. When I took geometry, I didn't have to memorize the axioms because they were second nature to me.

I know I would have been a good engineer for almost every purpose, but I never got to the practical stuff because I did so poorly at algebra.

So - is it really helpful to demand that every student know every branch of every field well? Or would we be better served to allow students more latitude to develop their strengths without regard to their weaknesses, and to use their time wisely by learning what they are capable of learning rather than what someone else with different strengths thinks is appropriate for them?

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