A Dog On Unemployment And A Robot Barista

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This week, let’s forget about politics for a little while and review some of the weird stories that have been in the news lately: First off, proving once again that computers and bureaucrats are not infallible, a German shepherd in Michigan was approved for unemployment benefits.

According to ABC News, the dog’s owner, lawyer Michael Haddock of Saugatuck, Mich., got a letter from the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency informing him that a “Michael Ryder” was approved to receive $360 a week in unemployment.

Michael is the owner’s first name. Ryder is his dog’s name.

The letter claimed that Michael Ryder worked at a restaurant chain in Detroit.

“I’m not sure what he’s going to do with the money,” Haddock joked.

Being a good citizen, Mr. Haddock contacted the unemployment agency and the restaurant to take care of the mistake. A state investigator with the unemployment agency said that while the dog received an initial claim, the system did flag the claim as suspicious in the next step of the approval process.

And the agency announced it is creating a special investigative unit to address a recent spike in fake unemployment claims.

So, what restaurant job would Ryder be qualified for?

“Greeter,” his owner said, “I would say he’d be a good greeter.”

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Next, two Florida homeowners owe thousands of dollars in fines because of the way they painted their house.

Granted, the paint scheme is unconventional, but that should be nobody’s business but their own.

Homeowners Nancy Nemhauser and Ludomir Jastrzebski of Mount Dora, Fla., were fined $100 per day for painting murals emulating a Vincent van Gogh masterpiece on the exterior of their home.

The Associated Press cited a report by WKMG-TV showing the home covered in blue and yellow paint in the style of van Gogh’s “The Starry Night.” This is apparently a violation of the city’s sign ordinance.

The fines were capped at 31 days, but the news station reports that a magistrate lifted the cap last week. That means the fines had then climbed to more than $8,000, with the tally rising every day until the homeowners repaint.

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And finally, some ominous news for all the Ph.D.s serving $5 cups of pumpkin spice latte in college towns all across America. According to Mari Yamaguchi of The AP, Japan has a new café where customers are served by a robot barista.

The robot is named Sawyer and works at Henna Cafe in Tokyo. (The shop’s name in Japanese means “strange cafe.”) According to the report, “The singlearmed robot scans a ticket purchased from a vending machine and greets the customer.

“‘Would you care for a delicious coffee?’ the barista, with a screen showing a pair of cartoon eyes, asks in a flat tone. ‘I can make one better than human beings around here.’” The robot grinds the coffee beans, fills a filter and pours hot water over a paper cup for up to five people at once. Sawyer can also operate an automated machine for six other hot drinks including cappuccino, hot chocolate and green tea latte.

“An essential point is to increase productivity,” said Masataka Tamaki, general manager of corporate planning at the company that owns the café.

As Ms. Yamaguchi reported, “He [Mr. Tamaki] said only one person needs to oversee the robot cafe, compared to several people needed at a regular coffee shop, so it can serve better quality coffee at a reasonable price.”

I’m not so sure this is progress.

Contact Bart Adams at 910-230-2001 or badams@mydailyrecord.com.

BART ADAMS

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