Monday, December 17, 2007

The Too Much Mistake

National Geographic goes to North Dakota for an article about all the people who aren't there anymore.

Basically, 100 some years ago, folks were overly optimistic about the number of people who would show up and how many would be able to make a living there.

Seems like a bit of a miscalculation.

National Geographic: The Emptied Prairie

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Times Topics: Sugar Beets and the Pill

Vacation, computer problems, very few new posts. Here's some stuff that was in the New York Times recently.
Round 2 for Biotech Beets: Soon genetically modified sugar beets may be tumbling from trucks on DeMers Avenue.
Big Rise for Cost of Birth Control: Includes a UND senior whose pills have gotten too expense. (Let's hope Grandma didn't see the article before Thanksgiving dinner.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Kent, Huck and the Nuge

Outdoor Life magazine made a list of 25 people it says have done the most for hunting and fishing interests. Conrad is one of them and the only politician listed besides Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Naturally, Ted Nugent is up there, too.
I didn't know Conrad hunted.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

NIMBY, or This Ethanol Stuff May Be Harder than We Thought

A New York Times article about how new ethanol plants are meeting opposition in some communities and, due to a glut on the market, scaling back in others, like Grafton.
In Farm Belt, Ethanol Plants Hit Resistance (Grafton mention on the second page.)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


There's been not much posting here lately. A brief round-up of what we've been missing:
Ozzy: Mad at Fargo sheriff for using a chance to party with the Oz as bait to catch suspected criminals.
Fox reports (you decide): Political correctness threatens UND mascot.
Sen. Kent: Conrad has been all over the news talking about the new $289 billion farm bill. Here he is in the Wall Street Journal.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Someone from North Dakota nominated for something important. Ed Schafer will cover our state in glory as did Mike Johanns, Ann Veneman and Dan Glickman for whatever places they were from.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Warren Christopher

Saturday is the birthday of former U.S. secretary of state Warren Christopher. He was born in Scranton, N.D., in 1925 and was awarded the state's Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award in 1998. He looks somewhat like an owl.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Richard McNair, convicted of murdering a man at a grain elevator in 1987, was captured by Mounties in New Brunswick on Thursday. He became notorious for multiple prison escapes since then, was the subject of a New Yorker magazine profile (not available online) and was even an internet phonomenon when a video of him outsmarting police in Louisiana was posted on YouTube.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Nuclear Fallout

Pentagon explains how some nukes accidentally got flown from Minot to Louisiana, then punishes some folks.
"The airmen replaced the schedule with their own informal" system, he said,
though he didn't say why they did that nor how long they had been doing it
own way."

AP: 70 Punished in Accidental B-52 Flight

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Standing Up for Hemp

Environmental web site chides California's tough-guy governor for caving on hemp legislation, credits much less glamorous North Dakota for standing up to the feds.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Mancur Olson

Monday's announcement of the Nobel winners in economics capped this year's awards. One of the discipline's prominent practitioners was Mancur Olson, a native of the Grand Forks area, NDSU alumnus and Rhodes scholar, who many believe was robbed of a likely Nobel by an early death. His work on the impact of collective action on the economic performance of nations had probably its greatest influence in the field of political science.
The Independent of London marked his passing in 1998.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Armstrong, Again

Another account of a young Grand Forks Herald reporter's scoop of a livid Louis Armstrong's reaction to the thwarted integration of Arkansas schools, this time in Editor & Publisher.

How Young Reporter Got That Famous 1957 Satchmo Scoop

Saturday, October 06, 2007


Ed Bok Lee of Seoul/North Dakota/Minnesota is a poet of some sort.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Bismarck Cooks, a site run by Gourmet magazine, lauds Bismarck's Pirogue Grille for its tasty, and locally sourced, bison, beef, venison and walleye. Pity the poor vegetarian.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

War, Huunhh!

What is it good for? Absolutely nuthin', unless you're Ken Burns, who made a 14-hour documentary out of World War II, now being shown on PBS. The series covers the U.S. experience during the war by focusing on four towns in different regions of the country, with the Midwest represented by Luverne, Minn.

Luverne's local newspaper editor and publisher, North Dakota native Al McIntosh, is featured prominently as a chronicler of life on the home front, and his near-forgotten writing is experiencing a second life.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Canadians run amok at Cavalier crafts show. "We've never really had that before," said a terrified witness.

Monday, September 24, 2007

"What the Hell Happened Here?"

The Washington Post tries to piece together how exactly a B-52 bomber flew from Minot to Louisiana carrying the equivalent of "60 Hiroshimas." More details make it scarier.

Missteps in the Bunker

Obligatory description of North Dakota as a barren wasteland:

"Veterans of Minot typically describe their assignments by counting the winters passed in the flat, treeless region where January temperatures sometimes reach 30 below zero."

(Emphasis added)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Little Rock, Grand Forks, Satchmo

I'm big fan of Louis Armstrong (who's on my short list for Greatest American Ever), so I was aware of his famous interview in the midst of the Little Rock integration fight in 1957, when he briefly abandoned his jolly entertainer persona to call Eisenhower "gutless" and declare, "The way they are treating my people in the South, the government can go to hell." What I didn't know until today was that he said this in an interview with the Grand Forks Herald.
Bonus North Dakota connection: Ronald Davies, the federal judge who ordered the integration was also from Grand Forks, by way of Crookston.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Reservation Games

Some Indian tribes are exerting a stronger influence in the casino industry, according to the New York Times, expanding off their reservations and buying up other parts of the entertainment world. No North Dakota tribes are mentioned but a UND professor, Steven Andrew Light, gets quoted.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Slow News Day in Guam

Guam woman wins Spam recipe contest in Minot. Her secret? Spam sushi.

Article from the Pacific Daily News

Guam and Hawaii eat more Spam than anyone else, at least according to Wikipedia.

Alf, Again

North Decoder sent this link, another article about Simpsons composer Alf Clausen. Includes a couple mentions of his N.D. background.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sitting Bull

He's more famous than Phil Jackson, though it's hard to say whether he qualifies as a North Dakotan -- Lakota, yes, but maybe not North Dakota. But the Smithsonian Museum is returning to his ancestors some items related to Sitting Bull.
New York Times arts briefs, third item, about halfway down.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Phil Jackson

His parents took an oath of poverty. He grew up in Williston. He coached Michael Jordan. Monday is Phil Jackson's birthday.

To the average person outside of North Dakota, he may be the most famous North Dakota right now.

Jackson bio at

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Sound of Springfield

The Simpsons composer and former North Dakotan Alf Clausen is featured on a new collection of music from the show.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Fargo's Roger Maris was born 73 years ago on Sept. 10, 1934.

OK, he was born in Hibbing, Minn., but North Dakota can still claim him.

Friday, September 07, 2007

More Bomb

The Washington Post follows up the misplaced nukes and their trip to Louisiana, with links.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Um, uh, uhh ... oops?

Aw, jeez.

Credit goes to Johnathan at j5mc for finding this one.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Washington Cover-Up

Byron Dorgan's prodigious comb-over gets mocked on the Tonight Show. Watch the video on YouTube, or better yet, explain to me how to embed video on this Micky Mouse blogger program.

(Credit to Rob at the Say Anything blog, who posted the clip first, after some other blogger mailed it to him. So it goes in the blogosphere.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lost in Fargo

The Forum had an article today about the so-called Lost Boys from Sudan who settled in Fargo after years of wandering across Africa and waiting in refugee camps. One of their number has written a book about what they've been through.
Back in 2001, the New York Times Magazine ran a long piece about them called "The Long, Long, Long Road to Fargo." While my conscience won't allow me to reproduce the whole premium access-only article, I'll allow that it has a great lead:

One evening late in January, a 21-year-old named Peter Dut led his two teenage brothers through the brightly lighted corridors of the Minneapolis airport, trying to mask his confusion. Two days before, they had encountered their first light switch and tried their first set of stairs. An aid worker in Nairobi had demonstrated the flush toilet to them -- also the seat belt, the shoelace, the fork. And now they found themselves alone in Minneapolis, three bone-thin African boys confronted by a swirling river of white faces and rolling suitcases, blinking television screens and telephones that rang, inexplicably, from the inside of people's pockets. Here they were, uncertain of even the rug beneath their feet, looking for this place called Gate C31.

Finally, a traveling businessman recognized their uncertainty. ''Where are you flying to?'' he asked kindly, and they told him. The eldest brother, his eyes deeply bloodshot, explained the situation in halting, bookish English. A few days ago, they had left a small mud hut in a blistering hot Kenyan refugee camp, where after walking for hundreds of miles across Sudan they had lived as orphans for the past nine years. They were now headed, with what Peter called ''great wishes,'' to a new home in the U.S.A. ''Where?'' the man asked when Peter Dut said the city's name. ''Fargo? North Dakota? You gotta be kidding me. It's too cold there. You'll never survive it!''

And then he laughed. Peter Dut had no idea why.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

TV Guy Comes to Mott!

Small town is validated through visit by television personality.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sacred Cows

For the second week in a row, the New York Times food section visits the boonies, this time for the intersection between farming and religion.
We meet organic farmer nuns in New York State, an evangelical South Dakota farmer who raises kosher cattle for Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn, and buried toward the end, a Saudi Arabian businessman in New Rockford raising halal beef for Muslims.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Musical Ambitions

A young music ensemble from Florida sends its leader to Grand Forks to pay the bills. Chung Park is a UND instructor, youth conductor for the Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra and leader of the Project Copernicus, a group of musicians under 30 who specialize in contemporary composers.
According to the Miami Herald, they're beginning to get noticed.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Bison Burgers

An article about the tastiness of bison, but as usual, South Dakota hogs the spotlight. Don't you just hate that? NDSU gets a mention toward the end, though.

Home Again On the Kitchen Range

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Get Out While You're Young

The blog has been on vacation. Apologies for the absence.

Not much in the news lately, so here's a review of Debra Marquart's 2006 memoir of her rebellious youth as a Napoleon farm girl with parents who sound like they were a bit of a bummer. Here's an link, too.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Important Scientific Breakthrough

Drinking wine from North Dakota may ruin your meal. Or more accurately, believing you are drinking wine from North Dakota can ruin your meal, according to a scientific study.

Researchers gave one group of diners wine labeled as a product of California and another group the same wine, but labeled as being from North Dakota. The result was that the group drinking the "North Dakota wine" gave their wine and meals lower marks than the other group. The explanation is that the expectation of getting an inferior experience becomes self-fulfilling.

Let's hope this is too discouraging to North Dakota vintners. But it's all in the mind, right? Or is it all the marketing?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Something Old

A 2003 New York Times article about the unusually long lives of rural North Dakotans:

North Dakota Town's Payoff For Hard Lives Is A Long Life

Three conclusions:

  1. A dull life can be a very long life.
  2. Old German farmers who lived through the Depression, drought, hunger could whip my office-job ass without raising their heart rates.
  3. Canned sausage?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Simpsons, a Good Show

TV: The capital of North Dakota is named after what German ruler?
Homer: Hitler!
Marge: Hitler, North Dakota?

Any fan of the Simpsons has seen the name Alf Clausen hundreds of times. He composes and directs the music on the show. And he grew up in Jamestown and graduated from NDSU.

Here's his home page. He's also been interviewed by Terry Gross.
(Also, go see the Simpsons movie. It's great.)

Monday, July 30, 2007


Bobcat is probably the only North Dakota-based corporate acquisition that can make international news, at least since Microsoft bought Great Plains Software. Reuters picks up the North Dakota angle.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Baseball, Again

The Twins are trying to keep their heads above .500, but here's an old ESPN SportsCenter commercial with Joe Mauer and a Fargo mention.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Hemp for America

Stephen Colbert covers the North Dakota hemp fight, then gets someone from a not-really-related cause to talk about it. Munchies jokes follow.
Link to the segment on (Thanks to

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Trouble on the Reservation

NPR reports from Standing Rock on authorities' inability to respond to rape and other violent crimes. Blame goes to incompetence, indifference and underfunding. Whatever it is, it makes for a grim story.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

We're On the TV!

Things we can learn about North Dakota by searching YouTube:

Whatever the hell emo is.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Legalize It, Or: Don't Worry. We're Republicans.

More coverage of those unkempt young radicals and their quest to be hemp farmers.

NY Times: Sober North Dakotans Hope to Legalize Hemp

OK, but how do the stoned North Dakotans feel about it?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Little Mosque on the Prairie

As seemingly unlikely as Satchel Paige pitching in Bismarck, Ross, N.D., is reported to have been the site of the first mosque in the United States. Voice of America produced an article on it in 2005. Sure, VOA is fairly propagandish and the message here is that "Muslims have long been accepted in America," but interesting nonetheless, especially the revelation that someone named Hassan Abdallah can look like your typical old North Dakota farmer.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Talking Baseball (Still)

We're still in a baseball mood here.

It's not commonly known, but North Dakota in the 1930s was one of the first places where integrated baseball flourished, thanks in part to ambitious car dealer and team owner, Neil Churchill, who signed some of the best Negro League players of the time. Roger Maris isn't in the Hall of Fame, but Satchel Paige is.

Here's a long article on the state's baseball glory days.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Travis Hafner, AKA Pronk, Sykeston native and Cleveland Indians DH, re-signs for a giant crap-load of money -- $57 million, or 1,000 times the annual economic output of Sykeston. Good for Pronk.
I once tried to figure out an all-North Dakota baseball team. The Maris-Erstad-Hafner part seemed pretty good, but when I realized the starter would be Rick Helling, I kinda lost interest.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Roll Out.

This summer's biggest toy-related blockbuster aimed at 30-year-old men, Transformers, includes actor and Minot native Josh Duhamel. According to his entry on the Internet Movie Database, he owns a restaurant in Minot and is engaged to Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas. Not bad, as long as that damn "Humps" song doesn't drive him insane.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Bar-ry! Bar-ry!

Fargo man, Andrew Clapp, puts North Dakota on the map as home to hairy drunk dudes.

Barry wasn't afraid, though. "I felt safe with him . . . he had no shoes on. If you come at me one-on-one, you'd better come with a lot, Jack. "

Friday, June 29, 2007

This Just In

North Dakota has no traffic.
But if you're going 83 mph on I-94, watch out that you don't smash into the little old lady going 45. (No offense, little old ladies.)
Bonus link: The above photo is from a web site that, for some inscrutable reason, collects photos of road signs and includes a North Dakota page. Thanks for your work, road sign afficionado