Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Speaking of Oil

Might-a spoke too soon about our indestructible economy.

Big Oil Projects Put in Jeopardy by Fall in Prices

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Prairie Prosperity

As the American economy sinks deeper into the crap, North Dakota is almost recession-proof, according the front page of the New York Times.

Any adult North Dakotan can hardly remember a time when the state was not gripped with farm crises, bad jobs and constant out-migration. This prosperity thing is a little disconcerting.

A related question is, How bad did the rest of the country have to get for North Dakota to become the envy or every other state?

Monday, December 01, 2008


A New York Times article last week announces that travel has become cheaper, since no one has any money anymore and oil prices are under $50 a barrel again. At the very end of the story, there's mention of a guy in Seattle going to Fargo for Thanksgiving.

Thank God for this recession. We're saved. Unless we're economically dependent on the Bakken Field. Than we're screwed again.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

New Yorker

Old: A New Yorker article from 2002 about the efforts to drop the "North" and become just "Dakota." The piece is a surprisingly even-handed look at a very stupid idea.

The New Yorker: True North

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chris Coste

For those who saw game one of the World Series, the guy behind the plate for Philadelphia was Chris Coste, Fargo native, late-career big league rookie and Phillies back-up catcher. The former F-M Redhawk has also written two books about his time in the minors and his long road to the majors.

Monday, October 13, 2008

West Fargo to Broadway

Self-described "theater bitch" Jan Maxwell has earned two Tony nominations and shown a talent for portraying unsympathetic characters and pissing off Alec Baldwin, all of which is commendable.

NY Times: Frightener of Tots, Enemy of Mediocrity

Monday, September 22, 2008

Maybe We'll Go Blue In 2012

The Obama campaign pulls out of "those high Plains states where the livestock population far outnumbers the humans," notes an L.A. Times blog.

When is this thing over? Six weeks?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


As long as oil prices stay above $75 a barrel, farmers around towns like Stanley will be able to afford heated tractors, and will continue to piss off their neighbors, according to USA Today, which reports on the jealousy that is consuming the oil-less on the Bakken Formation. If only they, too, could afford second-hand Lincolns.

Oil boom creates millionaires and animosity in North Dakota

Bonus: The inventor the modern diving board is from Stanley. Who knew!?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Byron and the Beautiful People

The Economist's bloggers catch Byron Dorgan hanging out with a crowd of Hollywood types, some of whom they can't name.

Economist: Democracy in America blog

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Black Gold

CNN discovers the Bakken formation and "North Dakota's real-life Jed Clampett," who happens to have a very swank pad near Stanley.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Native American Idol

Marketplace, the public radio business news program, reported on the powwow circuit today, particularly the rising stakes in popular dance competitions. One dancer they focused on was Rusty Gillette of Bismarck, who's apparently a star in the dance contests.

Powwow pros keep eyes on the prize

Gillette, a former basketball notable in the state, also runs a graphic design business in Bismarck.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Chuck Klosterman's first novel, Downtown Owl, is scheduled to come out in September. It's set in a fictional North Dakota small town in 1983, and Amazon.com has an excerpt.

In other literary news, Klosterman cohort Rex Sorgatz has established himself as a literary man about town in New York and has already earned the wanted/unwanted attention of Gawker.com, the media scene kings of snark.

Nice pic.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Little Big Horn

June 25 is the anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, which according to one participant, took "as long as it takes a hungry man to eat a meal."

The Little Bighorn is in Montana, of course, but Custer set out from his post at Ft. Lincoln, N.D.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Don't Be Gently Mocking Toward North Dakota

Humorist Dave Barry discusses making fun of the "Dakota" name change idea and having a sewage lift station in Grand Forks named for him. Plus, a follow-up from a part-time GF resident.

(That stupid "Dakota" ... No one even liked the plan yet people around the country still remember it. What a terrible proposal.)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Democracy, Inaction

Pillsbury (which allegedly shares a namesake with a certain doughboy) tries to elect a mayor, no one bothers to vote.

Kent's Beach House of Pain

(This is a little late.)

Kent Conrad's VIP deal with Countrywide Financial Corp., mass purveyor of sub-prime mortgages, may have been sub-ethical.

The story broke last week, but has grown some legs since then.

Also implicated is former Clinton cabinet member Donna Shalala, whose sister is a school principal in Wolford, making for a second North Dakota connection.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Come See the Vacant Spaces

The empty parts of the Great Plains are attracting tourists looking to get up close to bison, birds, buttes and the related empty prairie-type things.

NY Times: Back to Nature and Ready for Guests in the Great Plains

Twenty years after shouting down Frank and Deborah Popper, are we ready to embrace the Buffalo Commons?

Friday, June 06, 2008

Nuclear Fallout

The Pentagon cleaned house in the top ranks of the Air Force following investigation of the accidental transfer of nukes from Minot to Louisiana and some other scary bumbling. The secretary and the chief of staff both got the boot.

Washington Post: Two Top Air Force Officials Ousted

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Saudi Dakotia

Bloomberg News provides a detailed article on the potential of the Bakken formation, holding 413 billion barrels of oil, according to one estimate. (The world's biggest, the Ghawar field in Saudia Arabia, has produced 55 billion barrels and has around 70 billion left.) Much of the article concentrates on the scramble to lock up drilling rights to the underground wealth.

Dakota Oil Fields of Saudi-Sized Reserves Make Farmers Drillers

Naturally, this means that we can go back to driving giant vehicles again and never, ever having to think about conserving resources again. Ever. (Not even a little.)

Monday, June 02, 2008

Le Fargo

From Graeme's blog, a web site with people in Fargo, speaking French.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Uncle Bob

Bob Dylan turned 67 on Saturday. Bob is from Hibbing, Minn., (also birthplace of Roger Maris), but Fargo can claim a small part of his legacy. He spent a teenage summer there playing piano for local rock n' roller Bobby Vee before getting fired and leaving for the U. of M.

Interviews with Bobby Vee and Fargo contemporary

Bob, 1963:

my country is the Minnesota-North Dakota territory that's where I was born an learned how t walk an it's where I was raised an went t school... my youth was spent wildly among the snowy hills an sky blue lakes, willow fields an abandoned open pit mines. contrary t rumors, I am very proud of
where I'm from an also of the many blood streams that run in my roots.


Pop culture writer from Wyndmere, Chuck Klosterman, shows up on a podcast with ESPN guy Bill Simmons. Most of the podcast is a rambling thing about basketball, writing, German microwaves and nothing in particular, but halfway through, the conversation shifts to North Dakota. Anyone who has had to explain the state to someone only vaguely aware of its existence will find it familiar.

Also, Chuck has a novel coming out.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Sure there's the Web 2.0, iPods and 'tween pop stars, but what kids today really want to do is look after a flock of stupid, stinking animals.

NY Times: Seeking a Few Good Shepherds

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Legacy of Indian Schools

NPR did a two-part series on American Indian schools this week. Part one includes a mention of the Wahpeton Indian Boarding School, since renamed the Circle of Nations School.

NPR: American Indian Boarding Schools Haunt Many

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ed Sez:

Ethanol isn't to blame for food crisis. After all, who was using that corn, anyway?

Washington Times: Ethanol as cause of rood crisis "flat-out wrong."

Saturday, May 10, 2008

More Erdrich

Another review of the new Louise Erdrich novel, set in fictional Pluto, N.D., which according to the reviewer, is "one of those places we read about now and then when big-city papers run features about the death of small-town America."

Friday, May 09, 2008

Ed Ascendent

U.S. News & World Report likes Ed Schafer. It's also the rare national publication to mention the ag secretary's association with Mr. Bubble and Junkyard Wars.

U.S. News: Like a Farmhand, Ag's Ed Schafer Does It All

Friday, May 02, 2008


Tomorrow is Kentucky Derby day, and, according to this article on Slate.com, some people will be placing bets through phone hubs in "exotic, loosely regulated locales like St. Kitts or North Dakota"

"Say you want to lay $1,000 on a horse running at Aqueduct. You call the hub in Fargo, then an operator takes your bet and relays it to New York, where the money is fed into the racetrack's pool."

Does this really go on in North Dakota, or is Fargo just writerly shorthand for the middle of nowhere?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New Erdrich

The New York Times reviews Louise Erdrich's new novel, A Plague of Doves, praising it for its Faulknerian approach to place and narrative voice, as well as its Garcia-Marquez-style of magical realism.

"A boy and a girl, who meet in a field during a plague of doves, run away from home and for six years find refuge with a mannish pig rustler and her notorious husband. That boy’s granddaughter develops a wild crush on the local troublemaker, who will one day steal her great uncle’s magical fiddle, which appeared to him in a dream. A man assembles a world-class stamp collection while living in the little town of Pluto, only to find that his obsession leads to his undoing. For years a judge carries on a passionate affair with an older woman, who ends up marrying a local developer, who buys the judge’s beloved house with the intention of stripping it bare. A charismatic boy becomes a dangerous cult leader, enslaving his wife, a snake handler, who plots to liberate herself and their children from his thrall."
Anyway, it's supposed to be good.

Wheat Waning

The Washington Post does up a big story about the declining acreage of wheat being grown now that many farmers are switching to more disease-resistant and profitable crops like corn and soybeans, even in places like Gascoyne, N.D., where wheat and barley used to be the only crop. This has caused prices to surge and people to go hungry in places that depend on cheap imports of U.S. grain.

Who knew that farming was so complicated?

Emptying the Breadbasket

(Where the hell is Gascoyne?)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Death Comes to the Poet (Almost)

The New York Times recently reviewed North Dakota poet laureate Larry Woiwode's new memoir, A Step from Death, inspired in part by a near-fatal tractor accident.

In literature, there are four kinds of conflicts:

  • Man vs. man
  • Man vs. nature
  • Man vs. himself
  • Man vs. tractor
I have a degree in English.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Miss N.D., WNBA

Carla Christofferson went from being Miss North Dakota (1985) to a legal bigwig to owner of the the L.A. Sparks Women's National Basketball Association team.

New Breed of Tycoon Brings Order to the Court

She also used to date Eddie Van Halen.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Cashing in the CPR

The New York Times goes to Denhoff, N.D., (I don't even know where that is) to report on farmers converting their Conservation Reserve land into fields and pasture to take advantage of booming food prices. Good news for people who like cheap food. Not so good news for ducks.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Hey! Candidates Pay Attention to North Dakota!

There's probably too many stories about what was apparently the most monmentous day in state history, so here's a sampling.

Washington Post: A North Dakota Evening to Remember
ABC News: Battleground North Dakota? You Betcha!
(This report was by a Grand Forks native, according to the GF Herald.)
Slate.com: The Wrong Dakota
Wall Street Journal political blog: A Hard Fight in North Dakota
Controversy! New York Times: McCain Called a 'Warmonger' at Obama Appearance

Obama didn't actually say "uff-da," did he?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Barack Obama is speaking in Grand Forks. Obama, a legitimate presidential contender, speaking in three-electoral-holding, red Republican North Dakota, this late in a heated nomination fight. That's almost historic. How can we make him feel welcome?

Maybe we shouldn't ask those NDSU kids.

Didn't seem to deter Hillary, though.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Poetry, Economy, Bloggery

Various junk:
  • The Garrison Kiellor public radio bit that interrupts your sleep every morning, "The Writer's Almanac," featured a poem Tuesday about sex and North Dakota. It was titled "Montana."
  • The New York Times: Nobody knows how to regulate lenders, investment banks, financial services firms to keep this whole subprime thing, or some other thing that we haven't even thought of yet, from biting us on the ass again for another many, many billion dollars God knows when. Karen Tyler, North Dakota securities commisioner gets her two cents in, too. (Second page, half way down.)
  • North Dakota bloggers get kudos in the Washington Post. Good work, folks.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


North Dakota, contrarian that it is, enjoys nice economic growth while a looming recession is scaring the pants off of folks in the rest of the country. So reports the Christian Science Monitor.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Jon Hassler

Sure, he was a Minnesota author, but he went to UND.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

March 12

On this date in 1922, Jack Kerouac was born. In 1957, his novel On the Road was published.

From page 20:
I looked at the company. There were two young farmer boys from North Dakota
in red baseball caps, which is the standard North Dakota farmer-boy hat, and
they were headed for the harvests; their old men had given them leave to hit the road for a summer.
(March 12, is Kent Conrad's birthday, too. But how many books has he sold?)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Prairie Home Ron Paul

Probably half the state of North Dakota has seen this house on I-94 displaying its support for a certain oddball Republican and a general lack of structural integrity. Now readers of snarky political blog Wonkette have too, thanks to some guy named Ryan.
Also, I missed another recent N.D.-related Wonkette post about our stingy ways in presidential campaigns.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

We Want Wheat

Lawton, N.D., gets a dateline in a front-page NY Times article about the global spike in food prices. Briefly, it's good for farmers, not so good for poor people.

(And as someone who grew up in the 1980s, it still seems weird that something good is happening to farmers, rather than a perpetual economic disaster.)

Monday, March 03, 2008


Master Sergeant Woody Keeble, a Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux and veteran of World War II and the Korean War, received a post-humous Congressional Medal of Honor for his valor in Korea.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


On March 2, 1861, the United States government organized the Dakota Territory. It was later split up into North Dakota and some other states.

Friday, February 29, 2008

By the Power of Grayskull

A somewhat odd reference to Bismarck at Cracked.com concerning Skeletor and teleportation.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Today is the birthday of Grand Forks' Nicole Linkletter, winner of America's Next Top Model. She's 22.
Between her, the governor's daughter and that other one from the TV show, North Dakota has its share of models.
That is, three of them.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

China = North Dakota

... for some reason having to do with railroads and interstates. According to this report on public radio's Marketplace. And Fargo is like Urumqi.

Friday, February 15, 2008


The New York Times looks at the parts of America where the housing market has not fallen victim to an insane mob mentality of price inflation and collapse, including Bismarck and Grand Forks. A UND professor gets a quote, too.

Monday, February 04, 2008

All Election, All the Time

UK newspaper, the Telegraph, goes to Bismarck to cover Obama's efforts in a very red state. It also takes time to mention the Coen Brothers, 40 below and our least-visited status. Still, it's nice to have candidates pay attention.