Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota’

TSA ‘Secured’ Metrodome During Recent Football Game

January 5th, 2013 01:50 admin View Comments


McGruber writes “Travel writer Christopher Elliott touches down with the news that the U.S. Transportation Security Administration was spotted standing around outside a recent American football game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers (picture). According to Mr. Elliott, the ‘TSA goes to NFL games and political conventions and all kinds of places that have little or nothing to do with … travel. It even has a special division called VIPR — an unfortunate acronym for Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response team — that conducts these searches.’ He continues, ‘As far as I can tell, TSA is just asking questions at this point. “Data and results collected through the Highway BASE program will inform TSA’s policy and program initiatives and allow TSA to provide focused resources and tools to enhance the overall security posture within the surface transportation community,” it says in the filing. But they wouldn’t be wasting our money asking such questions unless they planned to aggressively expand VIPR at some point in the near future. And that means TSA agents at NFL games, in subways and at the port won’t be the exception anymore — they will be the rule.’”

Source: TSA ‘Secured’ Metrodome During Recent Football Game

The Science of Roadkill

December 4th, 2012 12:03 admin View Comments


Hugh Pickens writes “Sarah Harris writes that roadkill may not be glamorous, but wildlife ecologist Danielle Garneau says dead critters carry lots of valuable information providing an opportunity to learn about wildlife and pinpoint migratory patterns, invasive species, and predatory patterns. ‘We’re looking at a fine scale at patterns of animal movement — maybe we can pick up migratory patterns, maybe we can see a phenology change,’ says Garneau. ‘And also, in the long term, if many of these animals are threatened or they’re in a decline, the hope would be that we could share this information with people who could make changes.’ Garneau turns students out into the world to find dead animals, document them and collect the data using a smartphone app RoadkillGarneau and she has already received data from across New York, as well as Vermont, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Florida and Colorado. Participants take photos of the road kill, and the app uploads them through EpiCollect, which pinpoints the find on the map. Participants can then update the data to include any descriptors of the animal such as its species; sex; how long the dead animal had been there; if and when it was removed; the weather conditions; and any predators around it. ‘People talk a lot about technology cutting us off from nature,’ says Garneau. ‘But I found that with the road kill project, it’s the opposite. You really engage with the world around you — even if it is a smelly skunk decaying on the side of the road.’”

Source: The Science of Roadkill

Geomapping Racism With Twitter

November 11th, 2012 11:15 admin View Comments


Hugh Pickens writes writes “Megan Garber writes that in the age of the quantified self, biases are just one more thing that can be measured, analyzed, and publicized. The day after Barack Obama won a second term as president of the United States, a group of geography academics took advantage of the fact that many tweets are geocoded to search Twitter for racism-revealing terms that appeared in the context of tweets that mentioned ‘Obama,’ ‘re-elected,’ or ‘won,’ sorting the tweets according to the state they were sent from and comparing the racist tweets to the total number of geocoded tweets coming from that state during the same time period. Their findings? Alabama and Mississippi have the highest measures followed closely by Georgia, Louisiana, and Tennessee forming a fairly distinctive cluster in the southeast. Beyond that cluster North Dakota and Utah both had relatively high scores (3.5 each), as did Missouri, Oregon, and Minnesota. ‘These findings support the idea that there are some fairly strong clustering of hate tweets centered in southeastern U.S. which has a much higher rate than the national average,’ writes Matthew Zook. ‘But lest anyone elsewhere become too complacent, the unfortunate fact is that most states are not immune from this kind of activity. Racist behavior, particularly directed at African Americans in the U.S., is all too easy to find both offline and in information space.’”

Source: Geomapping Racism With Twitter

Free Online Education Unwelcome In Minnesota

October 19th, 2012 10:25 admin View Comments


An anonymous reader sends this quote from the Chronicle of Higher Education: “[Minnesota's] Office of Higher Education has informed the popular provider of massive open online courses, or MOOC’s, that Coursera is unwelcome in the state because it never got permission to operate there. It’s unclear how the law could be enforced when the content is freely available on the Web, but Coursera updated its Terms of Service to include the following caution: ‘Notice for Minnesota Users: Coursera has been informed by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education that under Minnesota Statutes (136A.61 to 136A.71), a university cannot offer online courses to Minnesota residents unless the university has received authorization from the State of Minnesota to do so. If you are a resident of Minnesota, you agree that either (1) you will not take courses on Coursera, or (2) for each class that you take, the majority of work you do for the class will be done from outside the State of Minnesota.‘ Tricia Grimes, a policy analyst for the state’s Office of Higher Education, said letters had been sent to all postsecondary institutions known to be offering courses in Minnesota.”

Source: Free Online Education Unwelcome In Minnesota

Look-Alike Web Sites Hoodwink Republican Donors

September 10th, 2012 09:02 admin View Comments


Hugh Pickens writes writes “Shane Goldmacher writes that a network of look-alike campaign websites have netted hundreds of thousands of dollars this year in what some are calling a sophisticated political phishing scheme. The doppelgänger websites have the trappings of official campaign pages: smiling candidate photos and videos, issue pages, and a large red “donate” button at the top and exist for nearly three-dozen prominent GOP figures, including presidential nominee Mitt Romney, House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and donation magnets such as Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Allen West of Florida. The only difference is that proceeds from the shadow sites go not to the candidates pictured, but to an obscure conservative group called CAPE PAC run by activist Jeff Loyd, a former chairman of the Gila County GOP in Arizona. ‘The only thing they are doing is lining their pockets and funding their own operation,’ says Republican political strategist Chris LaCivita. CAPE PAC has a strong Web presence, with over 100,000 followers on Twitter and 50,000 on Facebook and its business model is to buy Google ads — about $290,000 worth, as of the end of June — to promote its network of candidate sites whenever people search for prominent GOP officials. A search for ‘Mitt Romney,’ for instance, often leads to two sponsored results: Romney’s official site and CAPE PAC’s Once on a CAPE PAC site, users would have to notice fine print at either the top or bottom of the page revealing that they were not on the official page of their favored politician. A dozen donors, including some experienced Washington hands such as Neusner, had no idea they had contributed to the group before National Journal Daily contacted them. ‘It confused me, and I do this for a living,’ says Washington lobbyist Patrick Raffaniello. ‘That’s pretty sophisticated phishing.’”

Source: Look-Alike Web Sites Hoodwink Republican Donors

Minnesota Supreme Court Rejects DUI Challenges Based On Buggy Software

June 27th, 2012 06:32 admin View Comments


bzzfzz writes “In a case with parallels to the Diebold Voting Machine fiasco, Minnesota’s Supreme Court upheld the reliability of the Intoxilyzer 5000EN breath testing machine on a narrow 4-3 vote. Source code analysis during the six-year legal battle revealed a number of bugs that could potentially affect test results. Several thousand DUI cases that were waiting on the results of this appeal will now proceed. The ruling is one in a series of DUI-related court victories for police and prosecutors. Other recent cases upheld a conviction of a person with no evidence that the vehicle had been driven and convictions based solely on urine samples that may only show impairment hours before driving. The Intoxilyzer 5000EN is now considered obsolete, and replacement devices are being rolled out, with the last jurisdictions in the state scheduled to retire their 5000ENs by the end of the year.”

Source: Minnesota Supreme Court Rejects DUI Challenges Based On Buggy Software

Analyzing Climate Change On Carbon Rich Peat Bogs

June 15th, 2012 06:08 admin View Comments


eldavojohn writes “A new report (PDF) from Climate Central shows that climate change has been affecting some states more than others for the past 100 years. As you can see from a video released by NASA, things have become most problematic since the 70s. Among the states most affected is Minnesota, where moose populations are estimated to have dropped 50% in the past six years. Now the U.S. Department of Energy is spending $50 million on a massive project at the Marcell Experimental Forest to build controlled sections of 36 feet wide and 32 feet tall transparent chambers over peatland ecosystems. Although peat bogs only account for 3% of Earth’s surface, they contain over 30% of carbon stored in soil. They aim to manipulate these enclosures to see the effects of warming up to 15 degrees, searching for a tipping point and also observing what new ecosystems might arise. The project hopes to draw attention and analysis from hundreds of scientists and researchers around the globe.”

Source: Analyzing Climate Change On Carbon Rich Peat Bogs

Police Using YouTube To Tell Their Own Stories

June 12th, 2012 06:55 admin View Comments


stevegee58 writes “Posting videos to YouTube allegedly showing police misconduct has become commonplace these days. Now police themselves are posting their own videos to refute misconduct claims. ‘After a dozen Occupy Minnesota protesters were arrested at a downtown demonstration, the group quickly took to the Internet, posting video that activists said showed police treating them roughly and never warning them to leave. But Minneapolis police knew warnings had been given. And they had their own video to prove it. So they posted the footage on YouTube, an example of how law enforcement agencies nationwide are embracing online video to cast doubt on false claims and offer their own perspective to the public.’”

Source: Police Using YouTube To Tell Their Own Stories

Remembering America’s Fresh Water Submarines

May 28th, 2012 05:09 admin View Comments

The Military

Hugh Pickens writes “As we move into Memorial Day and Americans remember the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces, I wanted to share the story of my Uncle Donald Cress born in 1922 in Bath Township, Minnesota who served as a Radioman, Third Class on the USS Robalo, one of the US Navy’s ‘Fresh Water Submarines’ because they were commissioned in the Great Lakes. On the western shore of Lake Michigan, about 80 miles north of Milwaukee, lies Manitowoc, Wisconsin, a city whose shipyards had built car ferries and ore boats since 1902. In 1939 war broke out in Europe and President Roosevelt declared a limited National Emergency and US Navy shipbuilders were concerned that submarine building capacity was not sufficient to support a long war. The US Navy asked the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company to build submarines, a task far beyond their existing capabilities, but assured them that the Electric Boat Company, with the only shipyard in the country capable of building submarines, would provide plans and whatever assistance they would need. Manitowoc shipyard grew from 500 employees to 7,000 employees at its peak working three shifts around the clock 365 days a year and by the end of the war had built 25 submarines in time to see action that together sank 132 Japanese ships. ‘It appears from the results obtained at Manitowoc that given a set of good plans, competent engineers and skilled workman can follow them and build what is called for even though it might be very much more sophisticated than anything they have built before,’ writes Rear Admiral William T. Nelson. But there was one more thing the shipyard had going for it. After Pearl Harbor the entire community was now engaged in vital and important war work, sacrifice was the order of the day, and each boat was their boat. ‘With the entire community following the construction with such interest and spirit, success was inevitable.’”

Source: Remembering America’s Fresh Water Submarines

Univ. of Minnesota Compiles Database of Peer-Reviewed, Open-Access Textbooks

May 11th, 2012 05:06 admin View Comments


First time accepted submitter BigVig209 writes “Univ. of MN is cataloging open-access textbooks and enticing faculty to review the texts by offering $500 per review. From the article: ‘The project is meant to address two faculty critiques of open-source texts: they are hard to locate and they are of indeterminate quality. By building up a peer-reviewed collection of textbooks, available to instructors anywhere, Minnesota officials hope to provide some of the same quality control that historically has come from publishers of traditional textbooks.’”

Source: Univ. of Minnesota Compiles Database of Peer-Reviewed, Open-Access Textbooks