Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July Links

You might have heard of a company named vGo.  They make telepresence robots and have had some success selling them, though they haven't grown much recently.  Well, we (Vecna) bought them.

So, the Tories have announced some new economic policies including replacing assistance to the poor with a higher minimum wage.  That's sort of odd for a conservative government.  The general consensus among economists is that raising the minimum wage within reasonable bounds tends to help poor people overall at the expense of a modest increase in unemployment.  Policies with drawbacks are always uncomfortable and some on the left have argued that there isn't actually any disemployment effect.  But some on the right have argued that a loss of jobs is actually a good thing because it disproportionately affects foreigners.  That view was not uncommon when minimum wage laws were first being proposed but I can only find one person baldly advocating that view these days.  But Britain's proposed minimum wage law looks different than the US's and Britain doesn't have any easy way to prevent European immigration while remaining inside the EU so I'm somewhat suspicious that this change is in fact due to worries about immigration.

In happier news the march of Moore's law continues to 7nm.  Now with Germanium!  But sadly it does appear to be slowing down.  Intel is going to be going an extra year without a node shrink.

I'm sure we all saw stuff from the Pluto flyby but here's a list of all the other probes out there and still operational.  Some might do stuff just as exciting!

Lets say that you have some magical communication device that lets you talk to someone somewhere else in the universe and you don't know where.  Because all the laws of physics are the same under translation and rotation there isn't any experiment you can do to figure out where the entity you're talking to is if you can't find a common landmark.  That's because all the laws of physics are symmetrical under translation and rotation.  But, assuming you're both made out of matter rather than antimatter, you can find out whether the alien is left handed.

Some interesting data on welfare states around the world.  The US's 8% of GDP spent on public provision of healthcare is more than Britain's 7.7% despite being spent on a much smaller proportion of the population (page 4).  However we do a good job of using the government to transfer money to the poor rather than the rich, just look at Greece (page 5).  But really there's interesting stuff on every page.

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