Recycling a limited solution in disposable society

The attendant at the dump extended a pair of Inspector Gadget tongs into the recycling bins to retrieve contraband. His sworn enemy is styrofoam. “If I could un-invent anything on earth it would be styrofoam,” he told me this month. He also told me that the rules would be changing. Itasca County now must pay… Read More →

Homebound on a global scale

Who buys soup at Target? Apparently everyone, because the soup is gone. But we can get soap. So let’s get soap. Walking the aisles of the store last weekend my phone rang. It was my sister Alyssa in Italy. She’ve been living there almost two years now but was hoping to come home for a… Read More →

2020 Hindsight: Revisiting the future of our past, Part 3

This is the last of a three-part series. See Part 1 and Part 2. There is no historical blind spot quite like the recent past. The living defend their memories, true or not, with self-interested passion. The recently departed are far more saintly than the long dead. Over the past three weeks I’ve been exploring… Read More →

2020 Hindsight: Revisiting the future of our past, Part 2

This is the second of a three-part series.  Last week I told you about a 1998 Hibbing Daily Tribune special section entitled “2020 Vision.” Back then, reporters interviewed local people about what they saw happening in our region by the year 2020. They got a lot right. For instance, many predicted the rise of health… Read More →

2020 Hindsight: Revisiting the future of our past

This is the first of a two-part series. Look around. Somehow we’ve stumbled into the year 2020. We write 2020 on our paperwork. We gird for a 2020 election season that seems anything but futuristic or forward-thinking. In short, 2020 seems nothing like the sci-fi utopia of our dreams. And, frankly, I feel ripped off…. Read More →

Questioning our past to understand today

The word “nostalgia” comes from the combination of ancient Greek words for “pain” and “coming home.” Literally, the word described the ache that came from longing for a home that will never be the same. Nostalgia is the pain of leaving home. And it could be considered as powerful as a drug. When you peruse… Read More →

Bad ice on the rise

This winter, Minnesotans pursue an unrelenting quest for justice. Check that. Just ice. Just some halfway decent ice. This year’s January temperatures ran warmer than average. In addition, heavy snowfall during the early freeze produced poor, if not outright dangerous lake ice conditions across Minnesota. You know it’s rough because the requisite “area truck falls… Read More →

The power of stories, true or not

Human beings are more than just ambulatory bags of meat. We are ambulatory bags of meat with stories to tell. In fact, deep down, that’s what’s really separates us from other mammals. No matter our language or technology, we transmit wisdom through stories. That’s evident in the oral tradition of early humans. The mythology of… Read More →

No war will end all wars

One of the strongest contenders for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards is Sam Mendes’s “1917.” The movie combines a traditional war story with a remarkable filmmaking trick. The viewer follows two British soldiers on an important mission during the darkest depths of World War I. Editing makes it seem as though the film… Read More →

Endless political season actually starts

The other day I flushed a public toilet and it just kept running. I’m not talking about one of those politely gurgling high efficiency toilets you might install in your house. This was an industrial model, the kind that can send a cantaloupe to the water treatment plant at the speed of sound. I wondered… Read More →