We’re proud of you, Minnesota

We’re proud of you, Minnesota

Minnesota has long stood for progress, made clear most recently by Governor Dayton’s investments in education, protecting the environment, and his stance on refugees. And by putting president-elect Donald Trump in third place on Super Tuesday, and being one of the only Midwest states to vote for Hilary Clinton, Minnesotans soundly rejected the fear-mongering and isolationism that somehow became policy during this most recent presidential election. While the president-elect was running on that platform, a different campaign was being run in Minnesota’s Distict 60B. And while Hilary Clinton may not have made history, one woman in Minnesota certainly did. Ilhan Omar was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives on the evening of November 8, 2016, and will represent one of Minneapolis’ most diverse neighborhoods. After escaping civil war in her home country of Somalia at age eight, she then spent four years in a Kenyan refugee camp before finally making it to Minneapolis. Omar also happens to be the first Somali-American legislator in the country. Omar, a strong force for women as progressive DFL activist, community educator, and Director of Policy Initiatives at Women Organizing Women, would have to be considered among the “problems” the president-elect called out during his brief visit to the state. Or his brief visit to a hangar at MSP airport, rather. “…you’ve seen firsthand the problems caused with faulty refugee vetting, with large numbers of Somali refugees coming into your state without your knowledge, without your support or approval, and with some of them then joining ISIS and spreading their extremist views all over our country and all over the world.” But we know better here. While the...
The tiny house movement is coming to St. Paul

The tiny house movement is coming to St. Paul

Alchemy Architects, a modern architectural firm that gained fame for creating the weeHouse, is working with home builder Robert Engstrom Co., the East Side Neighborhood Development Co., and the Metropolitan Council to create a tiny house community right here in St. Paul. The neighborhood is being planned on Payne at Maryland Avenue in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood of St. Paul, and each unit (in the 900-1200 square foot range) would cost $100-$150k. But don’t start packing just yet. First they’ll have to convince St. Paul to change its zoning codes to allow the small structures. This has been the biggest challenge for small home communities across the country. But it has happened. Washington D.C. for example, has loosened restrictions to allow tiny homes to be built, and in Colorado, construction of the country’s largest tiny home community is already underway. Live a smaller life So what is a tiny house? And what are the benefits of owning one? Tiny houses give homeowners the ability to downsize the space they live in. It provides an option for urban home buyers who can’t afford, or simply don’t want, a larger house. After the housing market collapse of 2008, where foreclosures and financial ruin made the idea of owning a home superfluous to many Americans, the idea of “less is more” began to seem a lot more appealing. It’s also one of the greenest places to call home, as the energy expenditure is about 7% of that of a normal home. These tiny houses are a boast of the latest domestic technologies, from appliances to lighting to online tools. For example, Alchemy Architect’s model LightHouse features a dashboard website (pictured above) that shows the minute-by-minute usage of...
A brief history of Black Lives Matter

A brief history of Black Lives Matter

The murder of Philando Castile has placed tragedy on St. Paul’s doorstep once again. Marcus Golden was shot and killed by police in January of 2015, and, in the seemingly short year and a half since, there have been a startling number of black men and women across the country killed by police. This is not a 2016 phenomenon; this clip from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, for example, dates back to 1991: There are two ends of the spectrum. On one, those who offer unequivocal support. On the other, those quick to cast aspersions; those who don’t think the officers did anything wrong, believe that the black men and women who lost their lives perhaps “deserved it,” or simply don’t believe something like Black Lives Matter should exist. It has been called a “terrorist organization,” it’s been accused of inciting violence, and it’s been dismissed by anyone upset that protesters haven’t stayed out of the way when protesting. Okay, so maybe it isn’t that simple. There are plenty of people unsure of what the movement is and what it stands for. Few know the actual story, the philosophy and the goals of Black Lives Matter, and the reason why it is so necessary.   Black Lives Matter: More than a hashtag, more than a disruption of your daily commute, and certainly not a terrorist organization.   After the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in the summer of 2013, and the subsequent acquittal of George Zimmerman, the movement began with a simple hashtag: #BlackLivesMatter. Co-founded by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, community organizers and friends from San Francisco, it began as a...
Login with your ear? Yep. And soon.

Login with your ear? Yep. And soon.

We all know how easy it is for our online information to be hacked; for our lives (extending beyond just what is online) to be stolen from us by someone who knows more than we do. To help prevent this, we trust our information to passwords, to fingerprint scanners, to other security measures all the way up the line to what feels like James Bond-esque technology. But we also know how easy it is for these things to be faked. Fingerprints can be duplicated using Play-Doh, and something as simple as a 2D picture can often dupe an eye-scanner. And we all know how terrible passwords are at protecting anything. So, with that in mind, researchers from NEC (NEC; TSE: 6701) developed an ear-based login system, one that allows you to access sensitive information (banking, personal records, etc.) using your internal ear canal. This is not James Bond. Retina scans were James Bond. Voice recognition was James Bond. This is beyond James Bond. Here’s how it works: The system sends sound into the user’s ear and then measures the echoes they receive. The echo is based on sound reflected from the user’s external ear canal, called the tympanic membrane, and by sound that is reflected within the inner parts of the ear. The response received through the echo is converted into digital sound, and this “digital echo” becomes your unique ID. According to NEC (check it out here) accuracy currently stands at >99%, and takes about 1 second to measure. This will be especially useful for smart phones, which we already hold to our ears. As we conduct our business and our...