A brave claim

China on Tuesday launched the world’s first quantum satellite, which will help it establish “hack-proof” communications between space and the ground, state media said, the latest advance in an ambitious space programme.

“In its two-year mission, QUESS is designed to establish ‘hack-proof’ quantum communications by transmitting uncrackable keys from space to the ground,” it said.

“Quantum communication boasts ultra-high security as a quantum photon can neither be separated nor duplicated,” it added. “It is hence impossible to wiretap, intercept or crack the information transmitted through it.”

As it happens one of our readers around here is a professor of quantum. More than a 0.2 professor of it as well. So as to the actual claim we’ll leave it to him to comment.

But my own suspicion is that the opposite will apply. That quantum will be easier to crack. Not, of course, because I know anything about the subject at all but because that’s the way I think the universe works. Yes, this is ludicrous physics but a spy plot would add in quantum entanglement. And Bond sneaks into the Chinese factory where they make quantums to put into satellites (and, obviously, qubits into chips and so on) and makes their supply of quantums ones entangled with ones at home in Bletchely Park. At which point we can read all their communications and calculations. And, as I think this works, they our so we only use this system to mislead them while communicating ourselves by tattooing the shaved heads of chavs. No one would notice anyway, would they?

Either that or we really do develop truly 100% secure comms and find ourselves interrupted by a bloke sitting on a cloud and shouting through his big beard “Get off the line!”.

Interestingly, this wasn’t done before

Every pound of European Union funding will undergo a “national interest” test to see whether it should continue in the wake of Brexit, a Cabinet minister has said in a letter.

David Gauke, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said that Britain will only match EU funding after the country leaves the bloc if it can be proved to benefit the nation.

Although to be honest my supposition is that after leaving we’ll not be on good enough terms to be getting funding for anything from that source.

Ritchie’s QE for student loans

There must be some method of using QE in everything, right?

But what of those in between who have student debt? Will they continue to pay? My answer is that I think that would be a big mistake.

The reality is that QE could now be used to repurchase the student debt that has already sold and that still in state hands owned by the Student Loan Company which in total now have a nominal value of about £86 billion. This is only just over a year’s QE funding at present and I say ‘nominal’ because it is thought that up to 70% of all new graduates may never repay all of their loans meaning that the market price of this debt is way below the notional or nominal value.

If this was done then a three stage process could begin towards debt write off.

Why in buggery do you need QE? Other than to allow Ritchie to claim that it’s being used that is?

Government owns the debt. It can write it off any time it likes.


This is why Jeremy Corbyn’s proposed national education service, even while its Maoist overtones are so strong, is so impressive. It starts with a principle that sounds like common sense: education is a public good.

No, no it isn’t. It is rivalrous and excludable, it is not a public good.

It is entirely possible that the effects of education are a public good. Adam Smith certainly argued that being part of a generally numerate and literate society is such and advocated public support of primary education as a result. This does not mean that tertiary education is the same though of course.

And yes, this is important. Public goods may be righteously subsidised. Private goods very much less so. And it’s also true that subsidy might not be the correct method of promoting public goods.

We’ve all an interest in the public good of innovation. But we don’t promote that through subsidy, we do it through patent and copyright.

Zoe’s starting the economic argument in entirely the wrong manner.

The reverse ferret

At a Saturday night rally in Fairfield, Connecticut, Trump went so far as to say that his race is not against the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, but against journalists. “I’m not running against Crooked Hillary,” he told a crowd. “I’m running against the crooked media.”

Well, that’s true of course. But this is delicious:

On Sunday, the nominee challenged the application of first amendment rights: “It is not ‘freedom of the press’ when newspapers and others are allowed to say and write whatever they want even if it is completely false!”

For 90% of the US press is saying exactly that about The Donald. He shouldn’t be allowed to say that because he’s lying.

Today’s idiot stupidity

An ambitious, almost fantastical, manifestation of agricultural technology is expected to come to fruition this fall. From the remains of an abandoned steel mill in Newark, New Jersey, the creators of AeroFarms are building what they say will be the largest vertical farm, producing two million pounds of leafy greens a year.

Capital cost, $30 million.

Wholesale price of leafy greens? $1 a lb?

Without even thinking about operating costs doesn’t cover cost of capital, does it?

The US simply doesn’t have a shortage of land. It’s an idiot idea.

No, this isn’t just grumpy mcgrumpface about hippies being idiots. There’s an Oz version of a technology which uses solar to desalinize seawater which is then used to grow tomatoes, cucumbers and the like hydroponically. That one has some merit to it. Stick one of those structures in the Bahamas and undercut the 300% tariff rate which American produce faces……

But why try land light growing techniques in a place with a superabundance of land? We’re trying to optimise the use of scarce resources. What’s scarce about land in the US?

More on this here:

Economics Is Scarce Resources Allocation – What Resource Constraint Does Urban Farming Solve?

Ah, how I love snark!

And the hubris which comes with it:

Coal, gas and nuclear generation do not need any storage.

We really would be seriously pissed off if all coal, gas and nuclear released all of their energy in one go at one moment. So they do require storage – storage that we generally refer to as “fuel”.

Well, yes

When I told my editor that I wanted to write about polyamory, she adjusted her monocle, puffed on her pipe and said, “In my day, young lady, we just called it shagging around.”

Close the Polytechnics!

One in four graduates in work a decade after leaving university in 2004 is earning only around £20,000 a year, according to a new study.

Too many graduating from places it’s not worth graduating from.

Shut ’em down.

It would be seriously interesting for a country to roll back the years here. What really would be the effect of having only 10-15%, again, of the age cohort going into tertiary academic education? I think it would be beneficial…..

Idiot fucking twats

Yet while the rest of the city gives in to nostalgia for New York’s heyday as the dirty, dangerous creative capital of the world, in the South Bronx itself a less welcome revolution is under way. The area that was once shorthand for urban decline, a no-go zone of burned-out buildings, addiction and despair, is in the developers’ crosshairs.

There’s talk of gentrification

Because reversing urban decline, not having a no-go zone of burned-out buildings, reducing addiction and despair, is such a terrible fucking thing to do to an area, isn’t it?

You monstrously stupid cunts.

Yes, I know, I know

Climate change is bollocks and all that.

Now, back in the real world:

The US Energy Department is funding 75 projects developing electricity storage, mobilizing teams of scientists at Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and the elite Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge labs in a bid for what it calls the ‘Holy Grail’ of energy policy.

You can track what they are doing at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). There are plans for hydrogen bromide, or zinc-air batteries, or storage in molten glass, or next-generation flywheels, many claiming “drastic improvements” that can slash storage costs by 80pc to 90pc and reach the magical figure of $100 per kilowatt hour in relatively short order.

“Storage is a huge deal,” says Ernest Moniz, the US Energy Secretary and himself a nuclear physicist. He is now confident that the US grid and power system will be completely “decarbonised” by the middle of the century.

The technology is poised to overcome the curse of ‘intermittency’ that has long bedevilled wind and solar. Surges of excess power will be stored for use later at times when the sun sets, and consumption peaks in the early evening.

This transforms the calculus of energy policy.

Ambrose EP can become somewhat enthusiastic, as we know. However, the underlying point here, if we get cheap electricity storage then that changes everything is right.

And I’ve no doubt that we will get cheap electricity storage.

Of course, I’m entirely incompetent to tell you which method will work. But I know very well that there’s already at least one method that does work. Run solar generated ‘leccie through a fuel cell, store the hydrogen produced. When you want power run the hydrogen back through a fuel cell. This does indeed work. There’s absolutely no reason (ie, scientific, engineering or technical) why fuel cells shouldn’t be 10% of the price they are. Solar panels are still, as far as I know, declining in price at 4% a quarter, 20% a year. Over some timespan which is trivial by civilisational terms this will indeed work. And EP is looking at the other various methods being explored.

One or more of them really will work.

At which point of course we’re done.

Yes, yes, I know, climate change is all bollocks. Except….

Think back to our original models about climate change. The SRES which underpinned everything up to AR4. What people call “business as usual” (and isn’t, all scenarios were and are business as usual) is A1FI. This is the same as RCP 8.5 in the newer emissions pathways. This says that we’ve got a problem.

But then there’s A1T. Which uses the same population, economic growth and wealth numbers (that’s the A1 part) but a different technological path. Essentially, if we ditch the coal and get rather more of our energy from non-fossil fuel sources then we’re done. There is no problem. Actually, it’s more than that. A1FI insists that we use more coal, get more of our energy as a portion of all energy from coal in the future. A1T isn’t predicting any massive breakthroughs, it just assumes that energy efficiency and emissions reductions continue in the 21st century much as they did in the 20th.

What EP and I are predicting is that technological advance will be faster than A1T. And a quick look around our world does seem to indicate that this is true. Every time someone touts 50% of energy from renewables today and the like then this is just underlying that fact that technological advance is carrying on. And it’s happening faster then the most Panglossian of those original estimates.

We are, therefore, done. We’ve kicked the global economy off that dangerous path and onto one where we just don’t have a problem. We’ve gee’d up the production of less emitting forms of energy generation. Add in this coming cheap storage and that’s all we need to do. For as our original diagnosis tells us, move to non-fossil fuel energy and the problem goes away.

At which point climate change really is bollocks, isn’t it? No, not as a problem that could have existed, but as one that exists now. Cheap solar (and there’s no shortage of insolation) plus cheap ‘leccie storage mean that we will preferentially use those instead of fossil fuels. At which point there is no emissions problem.

We’ve already put in place the things which mean that A1FI, or RCP 8.5, are not going to happen. We’ve already started the processes which mean that the outcome is going to be better than A1T.

And thus there is no problem.

The Sage of Ely manages to get Gerald Grosvenor entirely wrong

That this activity continues is evidenced by the fact that the sixth duke is said to have left an estate worth £9.9bn upon his death this week to his son and yet, despite the fact that inheritance tax is supposedly payable on all estates on death worth more than £325,000, it has been widely reported that very little tax will be due in this case.

For the sixth duke has not left an estate of £9.9 billion to his son.

If he had then inheritance tax would be payable.

One beneficiary of a trust has died, to be replaced by another beneficiary of the same trust. And, err, that’s it.

The English legal concept of a trust is believed to have been developed during that era, when knights departing the country with no certainty of returning wanted to ensure that their land passed to those who they thought to be their rightful heirs without interference from the Crown. Trusts achieved that goal and the concept has remained in existence ever since, representing the continual struggle of those with wealth to subvert the rule of law that may apply to others but that they believe should not apply to them.

Mindgarglingly wonderful, isn’t it?

Using the law subverts the rule of law.

And I think it just lovely that Murphy has published this in a newspaper with its own trust, err, issues.

Well done to Guardian readers here

The family of the Duke of Westminster deserves our sincere condolences for his untimely and sudden death (Obituary, 11 August). My parents died some years ago. They worked throughout their lives as general practitioners for the NHS. When they died they left their estate, the house they lived in, to my siblings and myself in equal shares. The house was sold at a sum slightly more than the inheritance tax threshold of the time; we paid 40% tax on the excess and divided the balance, after probate, between my brothers, sister and myself. We were content with our inheritance.

The duke’s estate has been widely reported as about £9bn: 40% of that could make a very useful contribution to the NHS, to schools, to social services. And yet, again widely reported, it is said that his heirs will inherit it all. While I have no doubt the tax arrangements are legal, they cannot be right or fair.

As long as ordinary individuals and families continue to pay their taxes, how can the rich not – and yet remain honoured by titles, befriended by royalty and applauded for their “generosity”?
Martyn Brown
Budleigh Salterton, Devon

• Simon Hattenstone wonders whether the “new meritocracy” is a sham, due to the scale of inequality in Britain today (G2, 11 August). The answer was provided on page 3 of the main paper, where you report that Hugh Grosvenor, the seventh Duke of Westminster, has just inherited £9bn at the age of 25 – taking precedence over his older sisters.
Pete Dorey
Bath, Somerset

It’s really quite amazing. They’ve managed to grasp that no inheritance tax will be paid. Excellent. So they must have seen the reason for this. That Gerald didn’t in fact own the assets, he was the beneficiary of some trusts. Hugh now becomes the major beneficiary of those same trusts. The reason there is no inheritance tax is because there is no inheritance.

The Plain People of Britain don’t agree with me

Therefore the Plain People of Britain should have no say:

Why do away with one of the fundamentals of a decent justice system? Is the jury system not set up in order to better ensure fairness and justice, rather than relying on a crusty old Etonian in a wig?

Not in rape cases. If jurors were to receive the level of training and awareness-raising necessary to challenge the deep-rooted and highly persuasive myths about rape, the jury system would be more effective in dealing with sex crimes – but this would take more than a few words from the judge at the beginning of a trial, which is how it works at the moment.

That’s Julie Bindel and Julie Bindel can fuck right off.

For she’s missing the very point of the jury system itself. Justice must not only be done it must be seen to be done. And that means that the Plain People of Britain get to decide, each and every time, whether a crime has been committed and whether it was ‘im wot done it.

There is vast evidence from the past that juries would not convict of hanging offences, would downgrade the value of thefts for example. There are cases of jury nullification (I can think of at least one Official Secrets Act one) where it was quite obvious that ‘im done it and bang to rights Guv and the jury simply said fuck off, no crime.

That this happens in rape cases is not a fault of the jury system, it’s the very point. There are those out there, perhaps you know one or two Julie, who insist that any penetrative sexual act is either tantamount to rape or is it. That is not the opinion of the Plain People of Britain and it is both they who sit on the juries and also they for whom the justice system is run.

That is, the entire point of the jury system is to have people who are not in receipt of the level of training and awareness’raising necessary to challenge the deep-rooted and highly persuasive myths about rape making the ultimate decision. Because what is a crime and what is the proof of a crime are, quite deliberately, decided by and defined by what those Plain People generally think.

Yes, meeting 12 random Brits is a horrifying experience, entirely agreed, and to have your life in their hands quite terrifying. But that’s as nothing to having the criminal justice system taken over by the Single Issue Fanatics who then get to impose their standards of evidence, definition and procedure upon all.

In fact Julie, that’s what the jury system is for. To stop the government, or any other fanatic like you, imposing a definition of a crime upon actions which the Plain People of Britain do not think is one.

Juries will happily shout Guilty! at those bang to rights on rape. And not so much where it’s a he said, she said, both boozed up and no one quite recalls. And that’s the point, that’s what the jury is for.

As Polly says, don’t do what she did!

It’s not the 1980s. Labour must unite to fight the Tories
Polly Toynbee

That is, don’t set up the SDP and split the Labour Party.

Of course, this is worthy of wider consideration. To the point that no one should ever do anything that Polly has ever either said or done. It will be a bit of a pain to lose the words, and and to from the language but better that than any of her exhortations becoming true.