The Hunt for Red October: Cherry Edition

When you’re from Cherry, Minnesota, you get used to certain conversations.  For instance, “Where is Cherry?” (Just east of Hibbing). “Lotta hayfields out there.” (Ya). And of course, “Isn’t Gus Hall from Cherry?” (Yes, of course). In fact, I know that fact better than most. I was the last journalist to interview Hall before he… Read More →

Free ideas for Iron Range future

People around local politics often like to “admire problems.” In short, people like to look at problems, complain about them, even lose sleep over them, but then take few steps to actually solve those issues. Sometimes I’m reminded that talking about economic diversification for the Iron Range or the broad concept of “change” isn’t enough…. Read More →

Naming a legacy one noun at a time

Humans didn’t create the world, but we do get to name the things we find here. We name our kids for our dads and our dogs for 19th Century burlesque performers. Someone called it “phlegm” and then invented the spelling. The ancients named “steel” and “stone” with nice sturdy words, but also called some tiny… Read More →

Power in the Wilderness podcast available on major platforms

Readers here have probably gotten used to the fact that I’m only posting my newspaper columns these days. I’ve been working on my book, “Power in the Wilderness.” This process grew complicated when I returned to campus for my full time teaching assignment. Months ago Karl Jacob and I promoted our podcast, also called “Power… Read More →

When giants walked upon the earth: Latest Reformer column gets personal

In 2008, I turned out 800 blog posts a year, an insane output devoted almost entirely to my hyperactive political opinions. If you’ve been reading my site these last few years you know that I’ve slowed way down. Part of that is just the normal sort of time commitments that turn many “bloggers” into “ex-bloggers.”… Read More →

Crime and entertainment

Lately I’ve been watching people walk by, wondering how many of them have bricks of cash strapped under their bellies. How many guns did they cram into those reusable tote bags? Oh, look, she’s buying a shovel. Must have thrown the last one in the lake after burying the guy who talked too much. Or… Read More →

Confessions of a medium Sudoku genius

Back when I was editor of the erstwhile Hibbing Daily Tribune, the most passionate phone calls came after printing errors on the daily crossword puzzle. At the time I compared these angry puzzlers to junkies. I rationalized our error by telling myself that perhaps these lost souls needed a wake-up call just like this to… Read More →

It’s supply and demand, not dystopia

These days some of us fall too easily into patterns of dystopian thinking. Hurry up and get to the end of the world! Maybe it will be better that way! Every day I hear from someone who tells me that they’re glad they’ll be dead before the worst of it. It’s kind of a downer. … Read More →

Ancient crocodile needs our support

  A local fossil needs your support. No, I’m not talking about an Iron Range politician. I’m referring to an ancient crocodile. This particular crocodile died in the muck near modern day Calumet, Minnesota, about 90 million years ago.  You might think that it’s far too late to help this erstwhile reptile, but you’d be… Read More →

Labor navigates northern Minnesota political crosswinds

My latest column for the Minnesota Reformer is out today. Let’s call it a Labor Day think piece. Northern Minnesota has been a wellspring of the American labor movement for more than a century. However, in more recent years, organized labor has shifted into the role of mature old power, increasingly wedded to politics and… Read More →