Now less than ever

It’s hard to watch TV these days. It’s not just that American society seems locked in death struggle over the existence of objective reality. (Though, that’s certainly not helping). No, the more persistent annoyances are the growing heaps of advertising cliches. And there’s one phrase that seems to have scummed on the surface of the… Read More →

Rites of passage

On Friday Hibbing Community College held its annual commencement ceremony. No, the sounds of organ playing “Pomp and Circumstances” did not fill the cavernous Hibbing High School auditorium. Indeed, the excited students could not congregate in the cafeteria before marching across the stage. For the first time in many years of teaching I didn’t hide… Read More →

Eveleth-Gilbert, Virginia voters approve school district consolidation

On Tuesday citizens in Eveleth, Gilbert and Virginia voted to approve the consolidation of two Mesabi Iron Range districts. More than 77 percent of Virginia district voters backed consolidation while almost 54 percent of Eveleth-Gilbert voters supported the move. Both districts needed to approve the measure for it to take effect. The new district will… Read More →

Another giant awakens

Photographs of early Mesabi Iron Range mining are in black and white. We may identify the gray material in the rail cars as iron because, well, why else would those sturdy mustachioed gentlemen have shoveled it up? But the early open pit and underground mines were very much driven by color — bright, vibrant hues… Read More →

Talking Iron Range economy and COVID-19 on ‘Almanac’

I was a guest on Almanac Friday evening talking about COVID-19 and the economic downturn on the Mesabi Iron Range. Here’s the video: This was the first time I’ve done the show from the confines of MinnesotaBrown World Headquarters in Balsam Township. It was nice not to have to drive to St. Paul. I was… Read More →

Duluth attorney McEwen thumps Simonson for DFL State Senate endorsement

Jen McEwen, a Duluth attorney, won the Senate District 7 DFL endorsement today after party officials tabulated online balloting. She outpaced incumbent State Sen. Eric Simonson (DFL-Duluth) with more than 70 percent of the vote on the first ballot, a stunning margin for an endorsement challenge. Of 435 eligible delegates, 374 cast votes. “I am… Read More →

Mail voting safe, secure and simple

The first time I voted in a general election I was lying on a set of dorm room sheets that wouldn’t be washed until spring. Cigarette dangling from my lips, I marked my ballot for Jesse “The Body” Ventura as Minnesota’s next governor. Democracy prevailed. However you gauge the wisdom of my first ballot, it… Read More →

Minntac lays off 260 miners

Less than 24 hours after announcing that a Canadian steelmaker was buying a quarter share of Minntac, U.S. Steel announced 260 layoffs at the largest iron mine in the U.S. The layoffs provide a clearer picture of the tumultuous situation in the U.S. economy and North American steel markets. We now see that U.S. Steel… Read More →

Stelco poised to buy 25% of Minntac

During its quarterly earnings call today U.S. Steel announced that Canadian steelmaker Stelco holds the option to buy up to 25 percent of Minntac in Mountain Iron. The taconite plant is the largest in the United States and the “king” of Mesabi Iron Range mines. Stelco will pay $100 million for this option and then… Read More →

Too Many Sticks: Losing the fight against fifth-grade fascism

As warm winds blow and winter snow melts into vernal rebirth I am reminded of springtime in the fifth grade when the fascists won the war. It was April of 1991. A championship for our Minnesota Twins seemed as unlikely as the fall of the democratic republic my friends and I created on the Cherry… Read More →