Next generation ready for civility

Today’s high school students were born in the 21st Century. Like the millennials before them, they grow up with the internet. But not only that, smart phones, tablets and social media have been part of their lives for as long as they can remember. Anyone who communicates using social media knows the pros and the… Read More →

Oracle says future is mean in 2018

I dream of an old schoolhouse, a maze of stained oak trim and hardwood floors. Cavernous hallways and stairwells double back on themselves. I run the labyrinth. Not all footsteps are my own. I’m lost. Hissing bursts of steam punctuate a mechanized droning sound. I awaken in a small dark space. The dream ends, but… Read More →

Happy New Year from Central Standard Time

Happy New Year’s Eve from the Central Standard Time Zone! New Year’s Eve is a great time to party, even if the shiny ball already dropped in Manhattan an hour before the *real* New Year. Hey, big networks. Chicago. Houston. Kansas City. Minneapolis. These cities aren’t chopped liver. Why don’t they get a New Year’s… Read More →

Christmas Eve at ELF Power Unit 3

Name’s Earl. I’m an elf. Millwright up at ELF Power Unit 3. That’s the big one. If there’s one thing Santa needs to do his job, it’s a steady base load of about 250 megawatts. It swells some when they’re charging the new phones and tablets, but 250 will get you through the night. Listen,… Read More →

Should I stay or should I go: mobility and rural politics

When I was 18 I wanted to leave the Iron Range as badly as any of my classmates. Everything I wanted to do, the entirety of the life I wanted to live, could only be found elsewhere. In many parallel universes I surely did just that, now typing away at some suburban office or pouring… Read More →

‘Holy’ Miles Lord echoes through Minnesota history

To some, judges are supposed to stay hidden in the chambers of Minnesota law, better forgotten than seen or heard. But we learn about one judge who relished the spotlight and used it well in “Miles Lord: The Maverick Judge Who Brought Corporate America to Justice.” This new book from the University of Minnesota Press comes… Read More →

Top Ten Tips for Dinosaurs Seeking to Survive Winter

Sixty-six million years ago a 7.5 mile-wide asteroid hurtled from the depths of space toward a warm, lush planet ruled by lizards. The meteor plunged into the Gulf of Mexico, then just a shallow sea, “instantly vaporizing thousands of billions of tons of rock.” A black cloud of boulders exploded from sea level to the… Read More →

The fall and rise of America

What are we going to do with all these fallen public figures? The ones who harass. The ones who abuse their power. It’s one thing to throw them all out of office, get them fired, or shame them into resignation. But then what? Do we put them on a bus? Where do we send that… Read More →

In building community, every little bit adds up to a lot

A few weeks back, my son’s Boy Scout Troop in Grand Rapids helped build 25 wheelchair accessible picnic tables. The extra long table tops will adorn parks across Itasca County, everywhere from Nashwauk to Deer River, allowing people who use wheelchairs to easily join in a family meal. Henry and I built one picnic table… Read More →

The economics of dignity, how a tiered economy tears us apart

To read the local papers, a visitor might conclude that the biggest problems facing the Iron Range these days is whether or not we support our most powerful industry *enough.* I find this curious. Because when people talk about “the problem on the Range these days,” they usually mean people working multiple jobs to pay… Read More →