The tyranny of ordinary objects

Kids love balloons. Why not? They’re balls that float. I remember how helium balloons from the circus seemed like they could fly to the moon. The ones filled with dad’s cigarette smoke didn’t exactly float, but they were still fun. My parents bought us a whole bag of balloons once. I struggled to blow hard… Read More →

Racing for solutions in rural EMS crisis

A financial crisis threatens rural emergency medical services across the country, especially right here in our own back yard. Increased attention to the issue in recent months has yet to improve the situation. But, at last, more leaders at every level of government are beginning to act. Their efforts will determine whether regions like ours… Read More →

‘Crossing the Divide’ with big ideas

Every day we awaken to a choice. Will today be a day for hope, vision and big ideas? Or will we stick to what we usually do? Most of the time, we choose the latter. That’s OK. Often, we have work. Other days, we are tired and need a break. But if we go too… Read More →

Skeptical Iron Rangers warm to electric vehicles in Ely

Last week, I drove an electric car for the first time. My review of the Tesla Model X can be summarized not in words, but rather as a sound: “eeeEEEAAAGH!”  That’s the approximate noise my son Doug and I made after we accelerated from 0 to an undisclosed speed on the streets of Ely, Minnesota…. Read More →

The Steelworkers strike back; Cleveland-Cliffs stands to gain

My latest essay for the Minnesota Reformer is out today: “Steelworkers strike back; Cleveland-Cliffs stands to gain.”  I’ve already written a few pieces about the proposed merger of U.S. Steel and Nippon and given some interviews on local TV. In both cases, I surmised that Nippon would face flak in taking over the Steel Corporation,… Read More →

Chalamet lights up Dylan’s old stage

Northern Minnesota is cool. Literally. We’re known for our cold weather. But in terms of social cachet, we are not cool. We handle attention and celebrities about as well as we do hugs. Which is to say, rarely and awkwardly. But drama students in Hibbing recently helped our region take a bold step forward in… Read More →

Talking Biden, bridges, Duluth, flags and fame

I was on WCCO Radio early Monday morning talking about a host of northern Minnesota issues. President Biden was in town last Thursday touting more than $1 billion in funding to replace the Blatnik Bridge connecting Duluth and Superior. So was actor Timothée Chalamet, who visited Duluth and Hibbing to research Bob Dylan for an… Read More →

In nobody we trust

Polls show that we Americans trust almost nothing. Not government, the media or corporations. Not political parties, doctors or scientists. We don’t even trust our own side of any given argument. Then again, who trusts polls? How would we know? Every day, people take to social media complaining of broken trust with their partners, friends… Read More →

U.S. Steel sale a cause for concern, also curiosity

On the Mesabi Range, we spend lifetimes hoping for change before complaining when it happens. We’re like a dog that can’t decide whether to give back the ball for another throw or to keep gnawing on it. For two generations, steel industry stakeholders lamented a lack of investment in U.S. Steel’s mines and mills. Instead,… Read More →

FARGO, Season 5, Episode 10: ‘Bisquik’

Northern Minnesota author Aaron J. Brown reviews each episode of “Fargo” with an eye for unique details from the place where the show is set. The ratings range from INTERESTING  (bad), to COULD BE WORSE (not so good) to PRETTY GOOD (not so bad), and OH, YA! (real good then). Beware the spoilers. ‘Bisquik’ (Original… Read More →