A world wide web of unintended consequences

For 20 years, I’ve advocated for high speed internet to create economic sustainability in rural areas like mine. And I still believe that this policy remains necessary. But in my latest piece for the Minnesota Reformer, out today, I explore the unintended consequences. All this time, I’ve had a blind spot. The divides that existed… Read More →

What losing freedom really means

As the United States struggles to balance freedom with religious and cultural nationalism, we might learn a lesson not just from history, but from the present struggles of those who support democracy around the world. That’s the subject of my latest essay for the Minnesota Reformer, “Lessons on freedom from the Russian opposition.”  When I… Read More →

Talking resource politics

Last week I spoke via Zoom to the Tamarack Water Alliance, an environmental group that formed recently in Aitkin County. As I explain in the introduction, I don’t take aggressive positions in these mining proposal debates because I’m trying to learn more and generate productive conversation. But this group asked me to speak and I… Read More →

Rural housing prices rise with changing times

Memorial Day weekend approaches, a time when residents of northern Minnesota welcome the residents of southern Minnesota for the long weekend. Perhaps before you log off to enjoy the next few days you might read my latest for the Minnesota Reformer, “The northland has its own housing crisis.” Summer custom dictates that visitors from the… Read More →

Greed and privilege fuel anti-democracy trend

My latest piece for the Minnesota Reformer is out today, “Democracy checks power; that’s why it’s in danger.” I realize it’s fashionable to comment on declining democratic norms in modern American politics, but I’m not sure everyone realizes how widespread this phenomenon actually is. Every large democracy in the world now wrestles with a proxy… Read More →

Speaking of the robot uprising

Are you ready for when the metal ones come for you? And they will. My latest column for the Minnesota Reformer is out today. Ostensibly, “Um, Like, the Humans Are Speaking,” is about public speaking and artificial intelligence. But, like all commentary about A.I., it’s really about humanity.  Here’s a taste: Many of the analytical… Read More →

When past meets future

I was on the Wednesday, March 15 KAXE Morning Show with my friend Heidi Holtan talking about my most recent column for the Mesabi Tribune, “Saving our energy for the future.”  You can hear the interview at KAXE’s webpage. We talked about skepticism over electric cars, historical comparisons to the advent of automobiles 100 years… Read More →

For peat’s sake

Today, I share my latest column for the Minnesota Reformer, “Bog is Dead: The waning defense of Minnesota wetlands.”  When most people think about northern Minnesota, they picture forests and lakes. That’s understandable. We have a lot of trees and lakes up here, to be sure. But many overlook the vast peatlands that span the… Read More →

The old roads are rapidly agin’

Today you can read my latest column for the Minnesota Reformer. Don’t tell anyone, but there’s a Bible verse etched above one of the entry doors to the Mesabi East High School in Aurora, Minnesota. It reads, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18). Though the biblical meaning is distinctly conformist and… Read More →

Range’s icy disposition toward Twin Cities pushes rightward swing

I know some readers might miss my election night liveblogs, but I was quite relieved to be free of that job this year. For one thing, St. Louis and Itasca county results didn’t really start coming in until midnight. Most races weren’t really known until 3. I slept through all of that, woke up Wednesday… Read More →