2020 predictions column: time for an otter one

“Twenty twenty,” says the ophthalmologist. “That’s my vision?” I ask excitedly. “No, you’re as myopic as a rhino,” she says. “That’s the year to write on your check.” I can’t believe it. It’s 2020 already. The year that we once believed would be “the future.” But here I am, going to the eye doctor like… Read More →

MinnesotaBrown’s Top Posts of 2019

We’re closing a momentous year and a momentous decade here at MinnesotaBrown. For most of you 2019 probably did not provide the most riveting year of material from yours truly. You saw 1-2 posts per week. Much less political coverage. Fewer posts about Northern Minnesota arts and culture. It would have appeared to you that… Read More →

Old man turns 40

When I was a senior in high school our band went on a field trip to Chicago. One of the stops was Six Flags Amusement Park. The park had one of those “Guess Your Age” booths where you won a prize if the carnival worker failed to guess your age within four years. I was… Read More →

‘Woke,’ but little ‘progress’ in 2019 top words

A new word can be as rare and exciting as a new continent. And like a continent words change shape with time and pressure. Language does not merely represent reality; it creates reality. Each year the Global Language Monitor tracks words found online. They catch new words, usage trends, and the ways in which our… Read More →

Cleveland Cliffs acquires AK Steel

Iron ore producer Cleveland Cliffs acquired AK Steel in a deal announced today. It’s a seismic transaction that could have long-term implications for the Mesabi Iron Range. Cliffs will use its stock to buy $1.1 billion worth of AK Steel stock, assuming about 68 percent ownership of the Ohio-based company. Cliffs CEO Lourenco Goncalves will… Read More →

Who’s a Ranger?

Hi, my name is Aaron. I’m an Iron Ranger. I say that with some confidence. I was born here in Hibbing, the largest city on the Mesabi Iron Range. My parents took me home from the hospital to Keewatin. That’s on the Iron Range. We moved to Nashwauk, same deal. Then we moved to a… Read More →

The ubiquitous modern automobile

When I was a kid I had a metal toolbox full of toy cars. All kinds of cars. Sports cars. Pickup trucks. The General Lee from “Dukes of Hazzard.” The Batmobile. And even though all of these cars had four wheels you could tell them apart, just like you can tell people apart even though… Read More →

Wrapping up this run of the Great Northern Radio Show

Last Saturday I hosted the last edition of my Great Northern Radio Show before putting the show on an indefinite hiatus. I talked about my reasons for doing so in a recent column. You can hear the show here. It was a delightful evening of music, comedy and stories about Northern Minnesota. It proved an… Read More →

Change in the air; evidence on the highway

Most days you can sit by the window of the Subway restaurant in Grand Rapids, Minn., and watch pieces of wind turbines inch their way through the intersection of Highways 2 and 169. It’s quite an operation. State Patrol officers block the road. The driver must time the turn perfectly or run the risk of… Read More →

The more we know

One of the best sight gags in the 1978 comedy “Animal House” comes from the image of John Belushi in a shirt that simply reads “COLLEGE.” No specific school. Just “COLLEGE.” We learn in the movie’s closing credits that Belushi’s barely literate character goes on to become a U.S. Senator. I think of that image… Read More →