Party labels fail to capture political change

In 2021 politics projects an animated mix of theatrical despair. People seem hopelessly angry all the time, though typically without understanding exactly what’s going on or how anything works. We pick our favorite avatars and cheer them as they battle perceived enemies, hoping for a victory that, even if realized, never seems to change anything…. Read More →

Now is our only time

The other day my son Doug asked me a question. If I could live in any time in history other than our current time, when would I want to live? Doug loves starting conversations with training seminar ice breakers, even though he’s never been to a training seminar. (We suspect he’s on a management track)…. Read More →

Future of Hibbing mine tied to rapidly changing steel industry

Today, the Minnesota Reformer published my new column, “The clash of two big steel companies will help shape the future of the Iron Range.” The piece explores the issues behind Hibbing Taconite’s need for a new iron ore supply. I’ve written before about Cleveland-Cliffs’ new position in North American iron and steel. Now we’ll see… Read More →

Northern Minnesota has what you need

What do you need to live? You need air, of course. Food and water. Shelter.  Once you have these you may think about the other things you need. You need friendship, family and love. You need a sense of purpose, to believe that your efforts matter. And finally, once you have these things, you might… Read More →

Legislature, mining & police

This year I’ll be offering occasional news analysis on WDSE’s Almanac North as part of the station’s “Voices of the Region” segment. My first segment was Jan. 8. If you missed it, here it is: I reviewed three topics. First, the legislature is in session now. Northeastern Minnesota lawmakers of both parties find themselves in… Read More →

Cure for waning political power is more people

It is again time to tabulate the U.S. Census, an incredibly boring task that affects every aspect of our state and federal government.  As with most complicated topics — taxes, First Century scrolls, technology — it’s easy for people to hold outrageous, illogical views without any real consequences. After all, who really knows? That’s why… Read More →

To think or not to think

For all its horrors, the pandemic allowed many Americans to finally experience what teachers do for a living. It’s certainly useful for parents to know that teachers aren’t just babysitters. Rather, the work teachers do at all levels remains complex and important.  However, the pandemic has also taught us where modern society falls short when… Read More →

What’s done is never done in 2021

The otter’s hot breath stirs me from my slumber. I do not know how long he’s been standing there. My eyes open to see him on his hind legs, his front paws dangling expectantly in front of his tiny burlap overalls. “Is time,” he whispers.  Behind the otter stands a black bear holding an empty… Read More →

Every year is a Brown Christmas

I often tell people from outside Minnesota that the snow and cold don’t really become unpleasant until after Christmas. Everything before then is a crisp, cool puff of snowy magic.  But here along the Mesabi Iron Range we’ve received very little snow this month. As we approach Christmas Day we might have a brown Christmas…. Read More →

On economic class, urbanization, and chickens

My latest column for the Minnesota Reformer is up today. “Just Like a Century ago, there’s a class war in rural America, and the wrong side is winning.” This was quite the creative exercise for me. I had a few things on my mind when I wrote it. First, we seem mired in a hopeless… Read More →