Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bohemian Kobra

The Czech special police squad Kobra revealed tax evasion estimated at at least 25 million Kč in business involving toilet paper and tissues, representatives of the police and customs officers has told journalists.
The police seized 3.7 million toilet paper rolls from a businessman.
Czech Financial General Directorate Deputy Director Jiří Zezulka said the toilet paper circulated among firms in the European Union while only serving as “the carrier of tax fraud” and was not produced for any final customer.
No word on whether it had special absorbency to carry tax fraud.  I love that the toilet paper caper was uncovered by “Kobra.” Kobra was his name ;-)

A robot (coined by Karel Capek as robota means work in Czech) unveiled today at the British Science Festival will be loading dishwashers next year, its developers claim.
“Boris” is one of the first robots in the world capable of intelligently manipulating unfamiliar objects with a humanlike grasp.
It was developed by scientists at the University of Birmingham.
The team also work with “Bob”, an autonomous robot who recently completed work experience at security firm G4S.
“This is Boris’ first public outing,” announced Professor Jeremy Wyatt of the School of Computer Science. The robot took five years to develop at a cost of £350,000.
Boris “sees” objects with depth sensors on its face and wrists. In 10 seconds it calculates up to a thousand possible ways to grasp a novel object with its five robotic fingers and plans a path of arm movements to reach its target, avoiding obstructions.
“It’s not been programmed to pick it up – it’s been programmed to learn how to pick it up,” explained Professor Wyatt.  There is more here, including a video

Dylan Matthews summarizes the The Case for Open Borders drawing on an excellent interview with Bryan Caplan. Here is one bit from the interview:
Letting someone get a job is not a kind of charity. It’s not a welfare program. It’s just the government leaving people alone to go and make something out of their lives. When most people are on earth are dealt such a bad hand, to try to stop them from bettering their condition seems a very cruel thing to do to someone.
My elevator pitch has no economics in it, because the economics is actually too subtle to really explain in an elevator pitch. If I had a little bit more time, I would say, “What do you think the effects for men have been of more women in the workforce?”
Are there some men who are worse off? Sure. But would we really be a richer society if we kept half the population stuck at home? Isn’t it better to take people who have useful skills and let them do something with it, than to just keep them locked up someplace where their skills go to waste?

On the economics, David Roodman has a characteristically careful and comprehensive review written for Givewell of the evidence on the effect of immigration on native wages. He writes, “the available evidence paints a fairly consistent and plausible picture”: - See more at: http://marginalrevolution.com/#sthash.QCZLgiih.dpuf