Monday Reads: Small Differences

Good Morning!

Some times we need to be reminded that behind every individual is the potential to make a small or big difference.  I’m celebrating them today.

The first picture you see is an artificial glacier that its creator–Sonam Wangchuk–has named an ice stupa.  The mechanical engineer’s name means “lord of wisdom” in Tibetan. The stupa is a traditional Himalyan Buddhist representation of Buddha Mind.  The ice stupas are turning into water giving oases in the middle of the harsh Ladakh plains and valleys. A tree farm grows in the “land of high passes”.

This is a land of extremes, where rainfall is scarce and temperatures range wildly from torrid to far below freezing.

The locals say it’s the only place in the world where a man, sitting in the sun with his feet in the shade, can suffer sunstroke and frostbite at the same time.

It’s the Ladakh region — meaning “land of high passes” — sandwiched between two of the world’s tallest mountain ranges, the Himalayas and the Kunlun.

Rainfall is rare here. Water, essential for irrigating the farmlands that are the lifeblood of the local population, mostly comes from melting snow and ice.

But climate change is making this land even drier, leaving farmers without water in the crucial planting months of April and May, right before the glaciers start to melt in the summer sun.

One man’s solution to the problem? Make more glaciers.

In 2014 a local mechanical engineer, Sonam Wangchuk, set out to solve the water crisis of the Ladakh.

The natural glaciers are shrinking due to rising global temperatures. For that reason, they provide far less water in early spring but then release a lot in the summer heat, shrinking even more.

Wangchuk had a simple idea: he wanted to balance this natural deficit by collecting water from melting snow and ice in the cold months, which would normally go to waste, and store it until spring, just when farmers need it the most.

“I once saw ice under a bridge in May and understood that it’s the sun that makes the ice melt, not ambient temperature,” he told CNN.

“I realized that ice can last a long time, even at low altitudes.”

Louisiana and Differently-abled Americans every where owe some thanks to Rock Star Rod Stewart.

Researchers trying to develop  an AI   realized two of their machines had created their own language. The code created was more efficient for the purpose of negotiating exchanges but it also creeping far from the English language the AI were supposed to use.  Their negotiations led to an entirely new language and their shut-down.

An artificial intelligence system being developed at Facebook has created its own language. It developed a system of code words to make communication more efficient. Researchers shut the system down when they realized the AI was no longer using English.

The observations made at Facebook are the latest in a long line of similar cases. In each instance, an AI being monitored by humans has diverged from its training in English to develop its own language. The resulting phrases appear to be nonsensical gibberish to humans but contain semantic meaning when interpreted by AI “agents.”

The observations made at Facebook are the latest in a long line of similar cases. In each instance, an AI being monitored by humans has diverged from its training in English to develop its own language. The resulting phrases appear to be nonsensical gibberish to humans but contain semantic meaning when interpreted by AI “agents.”

Representative Maxine Waters continues to be a one woman show when it comes to unraveling the injustices and trespasses of Trumplandia. She skillfully shut down the mansplaing Treasuring Secretary Steve Mnuchin and went viral in the process.

When you’re, say, reading a book about politics, and suddenly interrupted by a man who “hasn’t read that one” but would like to supplement your reading with all of the information he’s heard related to it–maybe this was last week, and maybe this was a book about Russia (okay, this is a specific scenario)–do as Maxine Waters does. Look him in the eye blankly, and state, over and over:

Reclaiming my time.

Reclaiming my time.

Reclaiming my time.

Reclaiming my time.

Reclaiming my time.

Reclaiming my time.

Reclaiming my time.

Reclaiming my time.

For the record, this is a clip from the House Financial Services Committee hearing on Thursday, and Waters is referring to a group of Democrats’ formal request that the Treasury Department disclose President Trump’s financial ties to Russia. It has so far been ignored.

Yes.  “It’s Maxine Waters’ Time; We’re Just Living In It. Let “reclaiming my time” become your new power statement.”

Secretary Mnuchin began his response by thanking Rep. Waters for her service to California. Like Mikayla at the Olympics, Rep. Waters was unimpressed. She cut him off, “We don’t want to take my time up with how great I am,” effectively winning the gold medal in interrogation with a breathtaking move called The You Got The Wrong One Today, Friend.

You don’t have to tell Rep. Waters how great she is. She is aware. Are you new? This isn’t a Lifetime Achievement Award dinner, this is a congressional hearing. Rep. Waters is trying to get the president impeached by lunch time and take the rest of the afternoon off. Let’s speed this up.

Poor Secretary Mnuchin; he never stood a chance. Rep. Waters doesn’t even let bespectacled boo-thang Chris Hayes get a word in and she actually likes him. You think you can just come up in here and give your life story when she wanted a simple answer? No, you cannot. Secretary Mnuchin showed up like that person at church who gives a testimony for 45 minutes and Maxine Waters is the organist who plays him off with a quickness. “Wrap it, buddy. Save it for the Rapture.”

First of all, if Maxine Waters writes you a letter, you better pull out your good stationary with the watermark, brush up on your Mavis Beacon skills and get to replying. How you gonna leave Rep. Waters on read? You tried to ghost her like a Tinder date.

And let’s not forget the Two Republican Women Senators who stood firm in the face of Republican threats and hostility.

Cities around the country are going around the EPA.  Minneapolis is the latest city to post the climate change data deleted from the EPA website.  Want Climate Data?  Try the City of Minneapolis’ website.

The city of Minneapolis has joined cities around the country in posting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s climate data that was deleted after the Trump administration took office. The posted data is a snapshot of the EPA site before climate the change information was removed.

Back in April, the EPA announced its updated page reflected President Trump’s executive order on energy. “Language associated with the Clean Power Plan, written by the last administration, is out of date,” the EPA said. “Similarly, content related to climate and regulation is also being reviewed.”

In addition to Minneapolis, cities including Atlanta, Boston, Houston, San Francisco and Seattle have also posted the information.

(For more local news, click here to sign up for real-time news alerts and newsletters from Minnesota Patch, click here to find your local Minnesota Patch. Also, follow us on Facebook, and if you have an iPhone, click here to get the free Patch iPhone app.)

“Recognizing that climate change is real, the City is helping make sure people have access to information on it,” the city said in a statement. “The City is committed to taking action to adapt to climate threats while reducing its dependence on fossil fuels.”

Jeff Sessions continues to go after so-called “Sanctuary Cities”.  These cities continue to resist despite threats to lose grants to their local police.

Local leaders of sanctuary jurisdictions also lashed out at the Justice Department last week.

“This is not the administration’s first attempt to unlawfully withhold funding, and it probably won’t be their last,” a spokesman for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel told the Chicago Tribune. “But we will not be bullied into abandoning our values.”

San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera told Courthouse News that the restriction may be unconstitutional. Supervisor Jane Kim told the news organization that the city would resist federal efforts to alter its policies.

“Threatening to cut San Francisco’s criminal justice grant funding because we are a sanctuary city will not change our commitment to protect our undocumented residents,” she said in a statement provided to Courthouse News.

downloadThe Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts shows us how we basically have one functional branch of government right now actively protecting the Constitution and looking out for our Bill of Rights.

Last week the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts issued a significant ruling concerning the enforcement of both federal immigration law and local law in the so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions. In this post I want to summarize the case, Sreynuon Lunn v. Commonwealth, and then briefly scrutinize a very peculiar legal claim advanced by the Trump-Sessions Justice Department. (Note that it is a bit unusual for the federal government to file a brief in state court when the legal issues concern state law, but the Trump administration is being aggressive, to say the least, on matters relating to immigration enforcement.)

First, by way of background, this case involves the power to arrest people. In America, the government’s power to arrest is limited by both constitutional and statutory law. The police may be able to write tickets for certain offenses (littering) but they are not arrestable offenses because that’s they way the legislature wrote the law. In places like North Korea, the police power to arrest is unlimited. The police there can arrest anyone at any time. To keep our country free, we have to be vigilant about governmental attempts to weaken the limits on the power to arrest.

Turning now to the case before the Massachusetts court, Sreynuon Lunn was being held in a jail cell at the Boston Municipal Court. The criminal charge against him, unarmed robbery, was dismissed.

When a criminal charge is dismissed by the court, that ordinarily means the prisoner must be freed. In this case, however, Lunn was not released. Local officials kept Lunn locked away because of a request from federal immigration police.

Hours later, federal police arrived and took Lunn into federal custody. Lunn’s attorneys filed an action in the state court that said the local officials acted unlawfully in keeping Lunn locked up when he was otherwise free to leave the jail.

The legal crux was this: What was the legal source of that power to arrest and detain?

The Massachusetts high court could not un-do what had already been done because it lost jurisdiction when Lunn was taken into federal custody, but it recognized that similar situations might arise—so it decided to go ahead and clarify its own law in this area. That is, whether local officials, going forward, should keep people like Lunn locked up at the request of federal immigration police.

The court’s analysis began with the first principles regarding the power to arrest. Depriving a person of his liberty, holding a person against his will, is an “arrest” under Massachusetts law.

July 22, 2015 Darla Lannert in Madison who served in the United States Navy in Vietnam from 1970-73. Here she sits in front of American Flag mural on VFW Day Post 7591 in Madison. She is an active member of the post. MICHAEL SEARS/MSEARS@JOURNALSENTINEL.COM

Trumps tweet on Transgender Service Members is getting a cold shoulder from both the Senate and the Pentagon.

President Trump’s announcement that he plans to ban transgender people from serving in the military made an end run around Defense Secretary James Mattis, calling into question a relationship that so far has seemed solid.

Until now, Trump has given Mattis latitude to do as he sees fit, granting the retired four-star general power to manage troop levels and other operational aspects of the United States’ wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

But on the issue of transgender troops, conservatives who worried that Mattis was steamrolling them won out, with Trump siding with them less than a month after Mattis committed to a six-month review of the issue.

“It’s never a good sign when a major policy pronouncement is made that was clearly not coordinated with senior leadership,” said a source familiar with the matter. “I can tell you, no matter how they’re spinning it, I was there that day, and everybody was caught — all the senior officers who were left there with Gen. Mattis on vacation — they were all caught totally flat footed. They were all scrambling, because they were getting killed by Congress for not giving a heads up.”

On Wednesday, Trump declared on Twitter the military would have a new policy on transgender service members.

The military, Trump said, would “not accept or allow” transgender people to serve “in any capacity.” Trump claimed he made the decision after consultation with “my generals and military experts.”

The White House said Wednesday that Trump made his decision on Tuesday and informed Mattis that day.

But on Thursday, the Pentagon made clear that it does not consider a tweet an order. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said the current transgender policy will remain unchanged until Trump sends an official directive to the Pentagon.

Transgender troops have been able to serve openly since the Obama administration lifted the ban in summer 2016. New transgender recruits have not been able to enlist, which was supposed to change on July 1.

Part of life is losing people who make small differences.

Let’s hope hundreds more of these difference-making people and actions occur every nanosecond.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

60 Comments on “Monday Reads: Small Differences”

  1. NW Luna says:

    Nice roundup. I like the mix of SMH TRump news with Resistance news and other interesting events.

    That ice stupa is amazing! Wonderful that the engineer chose that form instead of a plain block, but he is Tibetan.

    Love Maxine and “reclaiming my time.”

    • Enheduanna says:

      lol Luna I was just talking to a co-worker about the systems developers we work with and that “engineer” thing….too funny. Makes the world go round I guess.

    • Fannie says:

      Thanks to Maxine Waters, and Rod Stewart for giving of their hearts……and Rest in Peace Sam Shepard. Jeb Hensarling needs to step down.

  2. Enheduanna says:

    And the circus never ends….

    Wonder if he’ll try and get Spicey back?

  3. Minkoff Minx says:

    Another one gone:

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Check this out:

    Sean Spicer says he would play role in Mike Pence’s administration — in 2024

  5. bostonboomer says:


  6. palhart says:

    I’m waiting for Trump to be escorted off the WH grounds, preferably in a helicopter, hands spread out a la RNixon style, yelling, “I am NOT a loser!”.

  7. palhart says:

    The total solar eclipse, coming August 21st, will especially treat fly-over country and a few southern states with the best view. We Carolinians will have a magnitude of .98, considered a partial eclipse. Starting at 1:12 pm, it’s duration will be 2 hrs., 52 min. Now to find special eclipse glasses!

    • NW Luna says:

      This is a fabulous opportunity. Enjoy!

      I’m contemplating a backpacking trip to dry side of the mountains for an unobstructed view.

    • Enheduanna says:

      palhart – we’re coming to see ya! Glasses are readily available online and inexpensive. We’ve picked Anderson,S.C. for a day trip from ATL. I hope the weather cooperates. This will be my SECOND total eclipse. The first was also in S.C. in 1970.

      ATL will be at about 90%.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        Hey, Banjoville is in the direct line of the eclipse. (Blairsville GA) So we get a front row seat!

        • Enheduanna says:

          JJ – I told the gang we should do Dillard or Rabun County but logistically Anderson was our best bet. I can’t do an overnight thanks to the pets but the others are.

          Hey I used to go up to Mountain City back in the 70s with my boyfriend to his cousin’s “cabin”. A bunch of us would take a van up there and be the city hippies for the locals. We went skiing at Sky Valley. Those were great times!

  8. Jslat says:

    It’s only Monday. SIGH…

  9. Jslat says:

    It’s exhausting!

  10. NW Luna says:

  11. NW Luna says:

  12. dakinikat says:

    • Enheduanna says:

      omgosh that’s not half of them is it? Where’s Flynn and Donnie Jr.? Billy Bush?

      Every person that gets near this guy ends up ruined.

  13. dakinikat says:

    ‘Young white guys are hopping mad’: confidence grows at far-right gathering
    ‘Race realism’ and call for a white ‘ethnostate’ among themes at the American Renaissance conference in Tennessee

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Goddamn Tennessee!

    • NW Luna says:

      Bunch of TRump wanna-bes hopped up on excessive testosterone and their own sense of entitlement. Scary. OTOH, maybe we should give them their own reservation and build a wall around it.