Veritas et scientia: e pluribus unum

Graduation day approaches for five northeastern Minnesota community and technical colleges. And as it so happens, this will be the last graduation day before the beginning of a new era in the region’s long tradition of higher education. The festivities start Tuesday, May 10, when commencement takes place at Vermilion Community College in Ely. Vermilion… Read More →

When the road is off

It occurs to me, for all the rugged off-roading we see in television ads, we never see a vehicle driving down a gravel road in northern Minnesota just before the frost thaws. There’s a reason for that. These magical pickup trucks and all-terrain sport utility vehicles seem to work just fine spraying a perfect wave… Read More →

Awesome ‘Blossom’ shows Hibbing memory in ‘Jeopardy’

You might remember the old Zimmy’s restaurant on Howard Street in Hibbing. Boomtown is there now, but for several decades this was a bar and grill that paid tribute to Hibbing’s hometown singer-songwriter Bob Dylan. For years, the only picture in the place that didn’t include Bob Dylan was a framed, autographed headshot of the… Read More →

Legacy visions in Bob Dylan’s hometown

Just after World War II, Abram and Beatty Zimmerman moved their family from Duluth back to Beatty’s hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota. But not really.  Beatty’s real hometown had been destroyed. The houses were ripped away; brick buildings scrapped. In 24-hour shifts, machines stripped away the earth below like flesh from the bone. Men dynamited solid… Read More →

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 →

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 →