Small dose of hope on the television

The John Prine song, “Spanish Pipedream,” contains a legendary piece of advice, delivered by a topless dancer to a wayward soldier crossing the Canadian border. Prine begins, in the voice of the sage stripper, “Blow up your TV.” The song goes on from there, but the gist is that by ditching the modern distractions and… Read More →

What’s in this stuff of life?

Washing out an empty container of Country Crock Light the other night I took time to read the sides of the tub. To be honest, it was difficult to tell what the product actually is at first.  I mean, I know what it “is.” Fake butter. Fewer calories than butter, which is why it’s in… Read More →

Our future’s half full glass

One particularly amusing online cartoon, though a bit crass, features three anthropomorphic drinking glasses sitting in a row. The first one, a happy fellow, says, “I’m half full.” The second slightly more dour chap says, “I’m half empty.” The third, in complete consternation, shouts, “I think this is p…!” Well, let’s just say it’s another… Read More →

A higher angle of light

Al Sleet, the hippy-dippy weatherman portrayed by comedian George Carlin, once offered the only fully accurate forecast: “Dark. Continued dark overnight, with widely scattered light by morning.” You can quibble about cold and warm, snow or rain, but you can’t argue with the rotation of the earth on its wobbly axis. Our dog Daisy knows… Read More →

Bakk decision makes big news

Thursday’s announcement that State Sen. Tom Bakk would retire from the legislature made big news around Minnesota. My blog post yesterday was reprinted in the Minnesota Reformer, so check that out if you missed it. I also appeared on CBS 3 in Duluth and KBJR with analysis about the race. You can check out that… Read More →

As Bakk retires, unpredictable new era begins on the Iron Range

Though I have been on an extended hiatus from daily political blogging, I find it hard to leave certain events without comment. Thus, today, we observe the end of an era in Iron Range politics and the beginning of a shapeless and developing new order. This morning, State Sen. Tom Bakk (I-Cook) announced that he… Read More →

Five northeastern Minnesota colleges merge

Today the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees approved the merger of five northeastern Minnesota community and technical colleges. The colleges include Hibbing Community College, Itasca Community College, Mesabi Range College, Rainy River Community College and Vermilion Community College. The new college will be called Minnesota North College with campuses in Ely, Eveleth,… Read More →

Clothing the next generation with independence

My latest column for the Minnesota Reformer is out today. The piece is entitled “A homespun stitch in time could save us.”  I like to blend personal stories with my commentary and often write about my family. I’ve written quite a lot about my dad and grandfathers, but today I get to highlight some of… Read More →

Gas prices in context

Politicians possess some of the longest memories I’ve ever encountered. As someone who’s written political opinions for more than 20 years, I sometimes meet political operators still mad about something I literally forgot writing. Politics is a grudge business, with loyalty a commodity to be traded like oil and stored in strategic reserves. And yet,… Read More →

Old wars, new generations

My memory of the Cold War comes with a strange and oddly specific recollection. I was a kid when the Soviet Union broke up. Like most American kids, I was raised on a steady diet of patriotic fervor with a dose of casual fear that our Russian adversaries might infect us with their wicked worldview…. Read More →