Keeping up with Britain

Funny stuff happened at PM’s Conservative Party speech.

First, Theresa May’s speech to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester was interrupted by a prankster who was somehow allowed to hand her a P45, a form given to British workers when they get the sack.

…and much more, in the linked article.

Boris Johnson:

Brit BernieBros?

The Anti-Inversion Rule is Invalidated

Remember that one of the BHO Admin’s “70 day temporary regulations” was the “Anti-Inversion Rule?”

It was designed to keep American entities from merging with foreign companies to avoid American taxation, and from manipulating fungible items so that the American portion of the merged entity would show minimized income, or even losses.

As a temporary rule it stymied one drug company’s merger. The Admin believed that while it engaged in full APA review it could indefinitely extend its temporary regs pending same.

My friend of 50 years, Lee Yeakel, just said “No”. As the USDCt for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, he ruled that the Anti-Inversion Rule was invalid because the APA had not been followed.

This business of avoiding the lengthy procedures required to vet a far reaching regulation got out of hand with BHO – remember the immigration regulations that the USDCt for the Southern District of Texas invalidated? As with that decision, In this case, the Judge agreed that the proposed rule was not inherently arbitrary or capricious, but that it just could not be a valid exercise by the Executive branch without the benefit of publication in the Federal Register, comment, and plenty of the back and forth that the APA requires.

Remember that Congress also gets the benefit of notice and prep time when the APA is followed, and can stop a proposed reg cold if it determines the proposal violates rather than applies the statute. Perhaps as important, the public, the interest groups, and those whom the reg is going to affect get their lawyers in gear.

The DJT Admin is also abusing the temporary reg loophole to try to avoid the cumbersome APA, as with its own “temporary” immigration regs.

But the cumbersome APA is in fact the legal mechanism that we have in place to tame executive bureaucratic overreach.

Here is an article on the Austin case:

Copy-Paste for the Reading by all your BBQ Guests

First Amendment as a Successful Defense and an Unsuccessful One

The 9th Circuit’s description of the matter:

When Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Portland International Airport told John Brennan that he needed to undergo additional security screening because he tested positive for explosives, Brennan, in the middle of a TSA checkpoint, stripped naked. When TSA officers told Brennan to get dressed, he refused — three times. After TSA officers had to close down the checkpoint and surround Brennan’s naked body with bins until the police arrived to remove him, the TSA fined Brennan $500 for interfering with screening personnel in the performance of their duties. See 49 C.F.R. § 1540.109 (“No person may interfere with, assault, threaten, or intimidate screening personnel in the performance of their screening duties under this subchapter.”).

Brennan’s core contention is that stripping naked in the middle of a TSA checkpoint is expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment. But Brennan fails to carry his burden of showing that a viewer would have understood his stripping naked to be communicative. See Clark v. Cmty. for Creative Non-Violence, 468 U.S. 288, 293 n.5 (1984). Therefore, his conduct is not protected by the First Amendment.

Meanwhile, OR prosecuted Brennan for public nudity. Acquitted by the Judge, as follows, according to The Oregonian:

The judge sided with the defense, which cited a 1985 Oregon Court of Appeals ruling stating that nudity laws don’t apply in cases of protest.

“It is the speech itself that the state is seeking to punish, and that it cannot do,” Circuit Judge David Rees said.

Are both results correct? Neither? One, but not the other?

Dick Lugar Speaks. 4/12/17

As he was my favorite US Senator for most of his time in office [after Bentsen left the Senate] I am always interested in his views.

Quantum Future – copied right, 2017

Personal note – the story I “copied right” below is of special interest to me. Some years ago, at dinner with my friend Fred Moore, now a retired sub-atomic physics specialist and professor at UT, he described to me a lab experiment his team had successfully completed whereby a signal was sent instantaneously using the property of quanta that they are “paired”; thus it was a signal that need not be encrypted to be unintelligible in transit because no actual particle carried the signal from point A to point B – it just appeared by pairing. This was mind boggling to me then, and Fred went on to explain that their work was turned over to the feds, DARPA, I think, for investigation for military/security use. Buried in this article is the news that China is using that very technological breakthrough in a satellite that can receive and transmit these “global, unhackable” signals. In a sea of otherwise good news, I hope to God DARPA or NASA have done this too.

Quantum leaps
The strangeness of the quantum realm opens up exciting new technological possibilities
The Economist Mar 11th 2017

A BATHING cap that can watch individual neurons, allowing others to monitor the wearer’s mind. A sensor that can spot hidden nuclear submarines. A computer that can discover new drugs, revolutionise securities trading and design new materials. A global network of communication links whose security is underwritten by unbreakable physical laws. Such—and more—is the promise of quantum.


All this potential arises from improvements in scientists’ ability to trap, poke and prod single atoms and wispy particles of light called photons. Today’s computer chips get cheaper and faster as their features get smaller, but quantum mechanics says that at tiny enough scales, particles sail through solids, short-circuiting the chip’s innards. Quantum technologies come at the problem from the other direction. Rather than scale devices down, quantum technologies employ the unusual behaviours of single atoms and particles and scale them up. Like computerisation before it, this unlocks a world of possibilities, with applications in nearly every existing industry—and the potential to spark entirely new ones.


Quantum mechanics—a theory of the behaviour at the atomic level put together in the early 20th century—has a well-earned reputation for weirdness. That is because the world as humanity sees it is not, in fact, how the world works. Quantum mechanics replaced wholesale the centuries-old notion of a clockwork, deterministic universe with a reality that deals in probabilities rather than certainties—one where the very act of measurement affects what is measured.


Along with that upheaval came a few truly mind-bending implications, such as the fact that particles are fundamentally neither here nor there but, until pinned down, both here and there at the same time: they are in a “superposition” of here-there-ness. The theory also suggested that particles can be spookily linked: do something to one and the change is felt instantaneously by the other, even across vast reaches of space. This “entanglement” confounded even the theory’s originators.


It is exactly these effects that show such promise now: the techniques that were refined in a bid to learn more about the quantum world are now being harnessed to put it to good use. Gizmos that exploit superposition and entanglement can vastly outperform existing ones—and accomplish things once thought to be impossible.


Improving atomic clocks by incorporating entanglement, for example, makes them more accurate than those used today in satellite positioning. That could improve navigational precision by orders of magnitude, which would make self-driving cars safer and more reliable. And because the strength of the local gravitational field affects the flow of time (according to general relativity, another immensely successful but counter-intuitive theory), such clocks would also be able to measure tiny variations in gravity. That could be used to spot underground pipes without having to dig up the road, or track submarines far below the waves.


Other aspects of quantum theory permit messaging without worries about eavesdroppers. Signals encoded using either superposed or entangled particles cannot be intercepted, duplicated and passed on. That has obvious appeal to companies and governments the world over. China has already launched a satellite that can receive and reroute such signals; a global, unhackable network could eventually follow.

The advantageous interplay between odd quantum effects reaches its zenith in quantum computers. Rather than the 0s and 1s of standard computing, a quantum computer’s bits are in superpositions of both, and each “qubit” is entangled with every other. Using algorithms that recast problems in quantum-amenable forms, such computers will be able to chomp their way through calculations that would take today’s best supercomputers millennia. Even as high-security quantum networks are being developed, a countervailing worry is that quantum computers will eventually render obsolete today’s cryptographic techniques, which are based on hard mathematical problems.


Long before that happens, however, smaller quantum computers will make other contributions in industries from energy and logistics to drug design and finance. Even simple quantum computers should be able to tackle classes of problems that choke conventional machines, such as optimising trading strategies or plucking promising drug candidates from scientific literature. Google said last week that such machines are only five years from commercial exploitability. This week IBM, which already runs a publicly accessible, rudimentary quantum computer, announced expansion plans. As our Technology Quarterly in this issue explains, big tech firms and startups alike are developing software to exploit these devices’ curious abilities. A new ecosystem of middlemen is emerging to match new hardware to industries that might benefit.


The solace of quantum


This landscape has much in common with the state of the internet in the early 1990s: a largely laboratory-based affair that had occupied scientists for decades, but in which industry was starting to see broader potential. Blue-chip firms are buying into it, or developing their own research efforts.


Startups are multiplying. Governments are investing “strategically”, having paid for the underlying research for many years—a reminder that there are some goods, such as blue-sky scientific work, that markets cannot be relied upon to provide.


Fortunately for quantum technologists, the remaining challenges are mostly engineering ones, rather than scientific. And today’s quantum-enhanced gizmos are just the beginning. What is most exciting about quantum technology is its as yet untapped potential. Experts at the frontier of any transformative technology have a spotty record of foreseeing many of the uses it will find; Thomas Edison thought his phonograph’s strength would lie in elocution lessons. For much of the 20th century “quantum” has, in the popular consciousness, simply signified “weird”. In the 21st, it will come to mean “better”.

Secrecy 1/23/17

I read Moynihan’s book, back then. I don’t remember what I read, in detail. So I dug up the above linked review from the NYT as an easy reference. I do recall that it was entertaining, but infuriating, to the point where all I could do was laugh when I learned that Gen. Bradley did not tell Truman what Army Intelligence knew about Alger Hiss, even though the two Missourians liked each other and even went fishing together. This, because it was an Army “secret”.

I heard a report this morning that Flynn is under CIA investigation for his Russia ties. Also, that the Trump campaign is under investigation, for the same.

How awkward. If CIA develops classified information that implicates Flynn they must report it to the President, right? Or do they make a “need to know” assessment of some sort? And what if they determine, correctly or not, that Trump has questionable ties to the Kremlin, that color his national security decisions in a way that compromises American interests? Do they go to their Congressional oversight committees first? I suppose that would be my choice if I were the Agency.

To be clear, I think the con artist we elected is just that – merely a clever con man, not a traitor.

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