Old book teaches perils of power

Used paperback book stores smell like cigarettes and coffee, the boiled essence of a schoolhouse cloakroom and the back alley behind a restaurant. If you lick one of the books — and you shouldn’t — I suspect it would taste salty. This is merely a hypothesis. It was at just such a store in the… Read More →

Empty theatrics dictate 2020 politics on the Iron Range

For one remarkable fall afternoon the President of the United States and his Democratic challenger converged on the political battlefield of northern Minnesota. The Sept. 18 appearances of President Donald Trump at the Bemidji airport and former Vice President Joe Biden at a union training center near Duluth fed the hungry narrative that Minnesota may… Read More →

Cleveland Cliffs resets the Mesabi Iron Range

Before March 2, 1901 northern Minnesota served as a battleground for two immutable titans of industry, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. At stake was control of the world’s richest untapped source of iron ore and the nation-building steel it could produce. The scene grew chaotic with new mines opening, closing, and changing hands all… Read More →

The comfort of seasons

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: (Ecclesiastes 3.1) A bear bumbled through Keewatin a while back. It knocked over some garbage cans and left on the bike trail. I heard about some bears in Hibbing, too. This is the season when yearling cubs strike out… Read More →

Don’t let the music die

If I missed anything this summer it was live music. I’m not one to pile into a crowded club or concert venue, but I do enjoy the sound of local musicians performing in parks and restaurants. The list of people affected by COVID-19 is long, with many legitimate claims for our collective sympathies and support…. Read More →

Tyrannosaurus Rex, are we next?

If you were a lucky dinosaur you were vaporized when the meteor hit. Most of the others died very painfully minutes later, torn to shreds by bullet-like debris falling back to earth. Within an hour, many others cooked to medium well within a super heated atmosphere. A smaller group lived long enough to starve. An… Read More →

The electric slide at Iron Range mines

History tends to repeat itself here on the Mesabi Iron Range. Whether it’s labor practices, politics, or economic cycles, the new often bears striking resemblance to the old. But I honestly did not think I’d see the word “trolley” come back. It has. And it means a lot more than a tourist jaunt around the… Read More →

Zooming in on public meetings online

Like many of you I’ve become accustomed to attending meetings using video conferencing software. The COVID-19 pandemic demands no less. Entire segments of the economy and educational system have shifted to home-based work. Right now, all of my professional meetings take place on Zoom. I collaborate on a media project via Google Hangouts. Interviews. Civic… Read More →

Warning the future about ourselves

As a species, humans expend relatively little thought on a future beyond ourselves. We’re just not wired for it. The survival instinct keeps us focused on our next meal, how we feel now, and our social relationships. Don’t get me wrong. We’ve come a long way. We now spend up to two decades of our… Read More →

Sabotaging the mail harms democracy and rural life

When you grow up in the country you form a special relationship with the mail. Back at our family’s junkyard in Zim my sisters and I would fight over who got to run up the driveway to get the mail each day. One time I almost got hit by a truck because I lurched for… Read More →