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 →

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 →

Technology draws new atlas for our future

Want to blow your mind? Look at the evolutionary history of whales. Whales are mammals, not fish. As such their ancestors were land animals, specifically the Pakicetus. Pakicetus was a sort of water-loving goat- or dog-looking critter that hunted alongside lakes and rivers about 50 million years ago. It had massive jaws and was probably… Read More →

The real value of a college education

Contrary to what you might think, personal growth doesn’t occur inside your head. It happens when you get outside your head.  There comes a moment when a child thinks of another before he or she thinks of themselves. A teenager makes a sacrifice for the good of others. An adult realizes that their behaviors and… Read More →

Most dangerous migrants are the ones leaving our communities

In 2010 I wrote an article entitled “Wanted: Young People.” It was about the 2010 U.S. Census and what it could tell us about the towns and counties of northeastern Minnesota.  Ten years ago, data showed that our economic problems stemmed from a lack of people to support existing business and community institutions. It wasn’t… Read More →