Minnesota vs. Donald Trump: Our shaky relationship with POTUS

Minnesota vs. Donald Trump: Our shaky relationship with POTUS

After Minnesota put Trump in third place on Super Tuesday, it was clear that the relationship between our fair state and the future president wasn’t going to be defined by sunshine and roses. Then Trump, on one of his final campaign stops, criticized our East African community. He made unverifiable claims about Minnesota’s immigrant population from an airport hangar at MSP. He barely set foot in the state, and he certainly didn’t stop to eat at Fasika (which should be enough to change anyone’s mind on the issue). We Minnesotans were none too pleased. Now that Trump is officially President of the United States, it’s clear that things aren’t going to get any better. Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges has defied Trump’s authoritarian order on sanctuary cities, as was reported by MPR 1/25/17. Minneapolis won’t drop its policy that blocks police from reporting immigration violations. And then from St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman across the river, “Not only has our current police chief, but police chiefs past, and police chiefs across the country have made it very clear that they need to be able to build trusting relationships in immigrant communities,” he said. “We have the ability to make those determinations on a local level.” And why do we use the word “authoritarian?” Certainly not to be biased; not to join the ranks of media dismissed by Trump, and certainly not to use something the current administration likes to call “alternative facts.” It comes from another article, written by longtime Minnesota Public Radio correspondent Frank Langfitt, about the anti-information tactics of Donald Trump and co. The “Counselor to the President of the United...
On the train: From past to present to future

On the train: From past to present to future

When the Stourbridge Lion steam locomotive rolled down train tracks for the first time, it was moving very quickly toward the future. It signified a new era for the United States. And by the time the golden spike took one last whack at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory in 1869 to connect sea to shining sea in America for the first time in history, the train had already contributed to rapid growth and a blooming domestic economy. But the train shouldn’t be lost to history. Quite the opposite, actually, as we have seen in countries around the world. The train is a clean, dignified way to travel, and rail travel only continues to improve. Well, in most countries, anyway. The train is still chugging toward the future. It’s the United States, it seems, that is falling behind. On the train For trains to gain popularity, we have to understand the role has played, and continues to play, in the lives of people; how much better it is to travel by train than to drive, or to fly. The train has of course been romanticized in literature and film for years. The meeting of Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke while passing through Austria in Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise. The poetry of Philip Larkin’s Like The Trains Beat. The dreams of American ancestors leaning their heads against the glass as scenery rolls past, untouched, beautiful.   Scenery shoots past the windows. We wobble ever so slightly through the gangways as the train rocks side to side. The dining car smells of sandwiches and hot coffee steaming from behind newspapers. Another train passes outside, so close you can see the faces...
Is technocracy the answer to America’s troubles?

Is technocracy the answer to America’s troubles?

Technocracy is a system of government where leadership is comprised of technical experts; experts in specific fields who also have bureaucratic experience, as opposed to elected officials or appointed politicians. The United States looked fairly technocratic when it was first founded: Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, for example, were both renowned inventors, and much emphasis was placed on intellect. But the U.S. has strayed far from the merits of technocracy. Officials without background in the agencies they are running, or without expertise in any field for that matter, is an issue that must be addressed if we are to make our government more effective. Out of 535 members of Congress, only six are engineers and one is a physicist; there is actually a higher number of musicians, accountants, and former entertainers among the ranks. Even of President Obama’s 23 cabinet members, only the Secretary of Energy and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency had engineering or natural science backgrounds. Most of the rest were lawyers. Understanding technocracy The idea is that the experts run the show – those with experience in the fields over which they’re making decisions. This removes political agendas from the equation, and it removes (however controversially) the need for anything other than proof and fact when making decisions about the future of our country. It means the bible no longer plays a role in reproductive rights, for example. At it’s core, though, it’s simply a respect for knowledge and skill. An understanding that technocracy is about the people who have dedicated their lives to a certain subject, and are therefore most qualified to make decisions necessary...
Conversations with a brothel doorman (NSFW)

Conversations with a brothel doorman (NSFW)

A doorman sees everything. It’s part of the job. And when you work the door of a popular brothel on Große Freiheit Straße (“Great Freedom Street”) along the Reeperbahn (Europe’s largest Red Light District) in Hamburg, Germany, you see more than your fair share. But it’s not just about nightclubs, 6AM shots of brandy, or pay-to-play prostitution. There is a lot of history in St. Pauli. A million stories running through the cracks and spilling out onto the street. A million people with a million different views, scents, and sounds for the world to absorb. A doorman, then, becomes more than just a doorman. A doorman becomes a gatekeeper of experience, a holder of secrets, a monolith at the mouth of pleasures, memories, emotions. This is one doorman’s story. The doorman POV “I start when the sun goes down. The Reeperbahn is busy most nights, but especially so on weekends when the suit and tie people don’t have to wake up early in the morning. Mostly I give directions, tell people where to go. I tell them not to come inside unless they want a woman, and if they want a woman that they have to pay. I am like a stoplight. You know? I say when to stop, when to wait, when to go. People listen to me. They must. We get the kids drunk asking how much, how much. Some of them serious, most of them not. I don’t want to be mean, but I must be firm. If they can’t pay, or they are too drunk, then I tell them to leave. They listen. I’m not supposed to...
A Minnesotan in Freiburg

A Minnesotan in Freiburg

Germany is not the tropical getaway normally associated with winter vacations. But here we are (and 40° is certainly better than -21). And those who enjoy St. Paul’s Winter Carnival, Minneapolis’ Holidazzle, and the holiday celebrations around the rest of the state will certainly appreciate the beauty and enthusiasm of Xmas in Germany. Christmas Markets (Weihnachtsmarkts) are a staple of the holiday season, filling the streets with roasted chestnuts and candied almonds, hot plates of food passed over counters, warm, mulled wine (Glühwein) steaming into the cold air, toys, gifts, and so much more. But they aren’t the only reason to visit. Frieburg, Germany German efficiency is a real thing. The apartment in Frieburg is 350 sq. ft. and yet is comfortable, with plenty of space for all basic needs. Bakeries, grocery stores, restaurants, shopping are all within walking distance. The narrow streets make way for pedestrian, bike, car, bus, and streetcar traffic. The city is old, ancient by U.S. standards (founded in 1120), and yet has integrated into modernity almost seamlessly – the city feels more forward than almost every American city of similar size. The biggest difference, perhaps, is that the city is not built for cars. It couldn’t be, of course, as this and most other German cities were designed long, long before Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler were a twinkle in anyone’s eye. But the adage of “If you plan cities for cars and traffic, you get cars and traffic. If you plan for people and places, you get people and places,” certainly holds true. It’s a dense and lively cityscape, walkable the whole way through,...
Things to avoid when traveling: BBG Communications

Things to avoid when traveling: BBG Communications

You’re in the airport of a country not your own. People in a hurry all around you are speaking a language you don’t recognize. You’re jet-lagged, tired beyond belief. You need to make a phone call, to hear a familiar, friendly voice. But your cell phone doesn’t work here, or it died sometime during the plane, train, or automobile ride. What do you do? TiltMN is here to help fellow explorers avoid the pitfalls of traveling to new lands. There are countless companies, people, and places looking to take advantage of a traveler’s wants, needs and emergencies. In this installment, we talk about one company in particular: BBG Communications. BBG Communications BBG Communications is a telecommunications company that preys on tourists lost in foreign airports and hotels. Take Sam**, for example, who used a payphone at the international airport in Frankfurt Germany after the airline lost her luggage on the flight over. She used the payphone twice using her credit card to call the person she was supposed to meet, with no answer. The calls lasted less than thirty seconds apiece. **name changed due to ongoing litigation with the company. Charges from BBG Luxembourg for the two calls appeared on her bank statement the next day. Ridiculous rates vary, but BBG Luxembourg was more than happy to connect those less-than-a-minute phone calls for $30 each. That’s $60, and the calls weren’t even completed. You won’t have any idea of what you’re paying; no price quote or options are given beforehand. There is no option to accept or decline the charges, either. You simply swipe your card, make your call, and...