Destination: Tomorrow!

Later this month, the World Future Society brings its annual conference, including a Minnesota Futures Day, to Minneapolis. To mark the occasion, Dregni sat down with the most outspoken member of the Society’s Minnesota chapter, Hank Lederer, who forecast possible advancements over the next century for the book, Follies of Science: 20th Century Visions of […]

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The Tightest Home in North America

A few miles north of Bemidji, there’s an old-world mini Bavaria: A cluster of white stucco and brown-timbered buildings that surround a quaint central fountain. The street signs are auf deutsch, schnitzel and sauerkraut are on the menu, and the speaking of German is strictly enforced. When this Concordia language village, a German immersion camp […]

LSD Goes to College

In 1967 an article with the headline, “Mentally Ill Take LSD at U” appeared on the front page of the Minnesota Daily. The story recounted the experiences of “William,” a patient in the University of Minnesota’s psychiatric ward who was administered LSD by Amadeo Marrazzi, a professor of pharmacology, as a “clinical yardstick” to determine […]

Holiday in Albania

Last summer, Ismail Kadare was awarded the first-ever Man Booker International Prize, beating out Muriel Spark, Doris Lessing, and Ian McEwan. I felt a bit smug about having discovered the Albanian author many years before, in the late 1980s. At Hungry Mind Bookstore in St. Paul, where I was working at the time, no one […]

Down in the Dumps

In Ideal Corners, a tiny town near Brainerd, trips to the local dump were a family tradition. My grandfather would pop the enormous trunk of his robin’s-egg blue Oldsmobile and we’d load it up with cans, done-in appliances, or dozens of leaf bags. In the spring, he’d bring along binoculars in order to watch the […]

"Never Have Too Much Fun."

You could be forgiven for believing that Minnesotans had something to do with inventing the Zamboni. But the celebrated Dr. Seussian vehicle wasn’t invented in the back of an Iron Range machine shop, nor in a Twin Cities garage. Your second guess—somewhere in Canada, right?—would be wrong, too. The home of this icon of winter […]

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North Dakota High

The world’s tallest structure is not the Sears Tower, the Space Needle, or those strange conjoined skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur. The acme of human achievement isn’t even in a city. It stands a few miles outside the hamlet of Blanchard, in rural northeast North Dakota. Two million feet of one-foot-thick steel guy-wire stretch upward in […]

Stand Down

Exit 127 off Interstate 90 doesn’t seem to go anywhere. There are no towns, no farms, no apparent reason to build an exit in the middle of the driest, flattest section of South Dakota, a desolate expanse of land. If you steal a glance at the right moment, though, you may notice a nondescript vinyl-sided […]

The Trek Begins

A few weeks ago, William Shatner stopped by Riverside, Iowa, to audition locals for Invasion Iowa, a sci-fi screenplay he supposedly co-wrote with Leonard Nimoy. It turned out to be a put-on. There will be no Invasion Iowa, only a reality-TV show making fun of Riversiders. Why did Shatner, an unapologetic Canadian, decide to pick […]

Funny Money

When Fort Knox couldn’t hold enough gold to back all the paper money in circulation, the U.S. government in about 1913 began weaning the greenback from being a promissory note for precious metals. Instead, the mighty dollar became “fiat currency.” In other words, it became a slippery theoretical thing that depended on the Federal Reserve […]