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Man fired after outsourcing his own job to China

This is not your typical story of jobs being shipped overseas. The Guardian reports that a U.S. software developer working for a U.S.-based company was caught self-outsourcing during a routine network security check:

It was only after a thorough investigation that it was revealed that the culprit was not a hacker, but "Bob" (not his real name), an "inoffensive and quiet" family man and the company's top-performing programmer, who could be seen toiling at his desk day after day and staring diligently at his monitor.

For Bob had come up with the idea of outsourcing his own job – to China. So, while a Chinese consulting firm got on with the job he was paid to do, on less than one-fifth of his salary, he whiled away his working day surfing Reddit, eBay and Facebook.

Here's what he did with all his spare time:

When the company checked his web-browsing history, a typical "work day" for Bob was: 9am, arrive and surf Reddit for a couple of hours, watch cat videos; 11.30am, take lunch; 1pm, eBay; 2pm-ish, Facebook updates, LinkedIn; 4.40pm–end of day, update email to management; 5pm, go home.

The kicker, of course, is that "Bob" was doing a great job:

Meanwhile, his performance review showed that, for several years in a row, Bob had received excellent remarks for his codes which were "clean, well written and submitted in a timely fashion".

This outsourcing pioneer, who may have been running a similar scam, has now been fired. I would imagine his former colleagues probably don't appreciate him giving the bosses ideas.  

This raises an interesting question, though. Bob had FedExed his physical RSA key, needed to access the company's network, to the Chinese firm -- obviously a no-no. But if his work hadn't required network access, would this actually be illegal? As long as Bob was ensuring that he work he was assigned got done to his boss's satisfaction, would it be immoral?

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Freedom House: Myanmar now more free than China

Freedom House released its 2013 Freedom in the World rankings today. Over on the main site, David Kramer and Arch Puddington make some recommendations for the Obama administration's second-term prioritiesbased on the report's findings.

Overall, it's not great news, with more countries showing declines in freedom than gains for the seventh year in a row. The most dramatic improvement was probably in Libya, formerly classed among the reports "worst of the worst" but is now classified as "partly free".  Mali saw the most dramatic fall, going from "free" to "not free" thanks to this year's military coup and the Islamist takeover of much of the country.

But for my money, though it's still classified as "not free," the most eye-catching change may be Myanmar (Burma). Following this year's dramatic events, the country's political rights score improved from 7 to 6 and the civil liberties rating improved from 6 to 5 due to, as Freedom House puts it, "the successful participation of opposition parties in legislative by-elections and the continued easing of long-standing restrictions on the media, private discussion, public assembly,  civil society, private enterprise, and other activities."

The improved scores mean tha  a country that was until recently an international pariah and still partly under U.S. sanctions, is -- according to this survey anyway -- more free than the world's second largest economy.

Soe Than WIN/AFP/Getty Images