“The city of Minneapolis will consider banning the use of electronic cigarettes in restaurants and bars,” writes MPR News reporter Curtis Gilbert.

Minneapolis City Council Member Cam Gordon plans to introduce an amendment that would expand the definition of “smoking” in city ordinances to include e-cigarettes. Gordon says while the devices emit no smoke, they still pose the potential for harm.

“There’s definitely a vapor there. There’s certainly nicotine in there. But there’s also probably things beyond nicotine that are in there, too,” he said. “So we are certainly having our health department review it and look into it. And the health department is also recommending that we treat these the same at this point as tobacco products.”

The state Association for Nonsmokers says 10 Minnesota cities, including Edina, Mankato and Duluth already ban the indoor use of e-cigarettes. Beltrami and Houston counties have also passed bans. The state Legislature this year banned e-cigarette use in hospitals, daycares and many government-owned buildings. But unlike traditional tobacco products, there’s no law against using them at most private businesses.

Today’s Question: Should you be able to use electronic cigarettes in Minneapolis bars and restaurants?

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Tents were set up near the Dorothy Day Center in downtown St. Paul nightly during the summer months. Hart Van Denburg/MPR News
Minnesota’s homeless population has become so large that places like the Dorothy Day Center in St. Paul can’t keep up.

The homeless population in Minnesota has been rising steadily since 2006. Wilder Foundation data show the numbers up by more than 30 percent since the recession began. (MPR News)

Some governments have helped homeless people by giving them homes. “Handing mentally ill substance abusers the keys to a new place may sound like an example of wasteful government spending,” writes The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki. But, Surowiecki reports this approach has saved money.

The average chronically homeless person used to cost Salt Lake City more than twenty thousand dollars a year. Putting someone into permanent housing costs the state just eight thousand dollars, and that’s after you include the cost of the case managers who work with the formerly homeless to help them adjust. The same is true elsewhere. A Colorado study found that the average homeless person cost the state forty-three thousand dollars a year, while housing that person would cost just seventeen thousand dollars.

Today’s Question: Should we give the homeless homes?

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Jan Voth / Flickr
Some parents today are like the paparazzi. Bombarding their children trying to document their lives growing up. From videotaping their first steps to graduation day there are few big moments that aren’t documented.

It seems that we don’t have time to live in the moment. We snap a picture to help us recall the feelings of that day. If we didn’t have that picture, we fear that those feelings and memories would be lost forever.

As blogger Dave Pell argues, our desire to document everything is tainting our recollection of the event. He explains how his son’s memories of his second birthday have be altered because of the documentation he saw recording that event.

“The instant my son looked at the image, his imagination-driven perception of himself was replaced by a digital reproduction of the moment he had just experienced. He had a few seconds, not nearly long enough, to create his own internal version of what that moment looked — and by extension felt — like.

It’s impossible to create a mental picture of a moment when a digital version of that moment is staring you in the face (and often within seconds, the Facebook too).”

On the flip side, photos and videos offer a way to relive the event. For instance the New Yorker wrote, professional mountain biker Aaron Case is able to receive the same adrenaline rush of coursing down the Smoky Mountains with the help of his GoPro, a camera mounted on his helmet nearly replicating the real-life experience.

Today’s Question: How much does your camera determine your approach to important moments in life?

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On three occasions in recent days, commercial flights have been interrupted by disputes over reclining passenger seats. Media reports have speculated that the traveling public has been pushed to a breaking point by shrinking legroom and other inconveniences associated with air travel. Seats are smaller, rows are packed closer together, overhead bins are full and Read more