Perfect Duluth Day circa 1949

This 1949 Saturday Evening Post article about Duluth can be found at the top of Perfect Duluth Day. If you stumble on this post long after today you will have to go to Perfect Duluth Day and search for its author Baum. But you can read it today before it gets shuffled down the website at

I was probably conceived a month or two before this story was published so I am roughly contemporaneous with it. One commentator fusses that the story about the city rushing to dig the canal has long been debunked but its still a charming fib.

Its interesting to read 70 years later. I had moved to Minnesota in 1963 at the time the Minnesota Taconite Amendment was being argued all over the state. It would make possible what the author of the 1949 story described as the the saving of the WW II depletion of the Iron mines. I moved to Duluth in 1974 a few years before an economic decline that would begin sending young Iron Rangers to Texas to become conservative Republicans.

My attempt to correct some Facebook BS

(Kaiser Permanente logo- the first wannabe HMO)

I just read some candidate for Congress’s explanation that the US didn’t have “for profit” health insurance until Richard Nixon passed a law in 1973. I knew that was nonsense and quickly found the truth in good old the original killer of urban legends:

Here’s what I put in Facebook:

This is not true. It’s a meme circulated by people unfamiliar with the long devolution of health care coverage in the U.S..

I thought, the original Internet source to swat down urban legends, might have a correction of this false information and I was not disappointed:

The truth behind HMO meme.

My Dad had been a Kansas State insurance investigator in the 1950’s making sure that “for profit” companies were not selling unfunded insurance. He taught insurance at Mankato University in the 1960s thru the 1980s He testified before Congress supporting HMOs in the 1970’s arguing that by incentivizing everyone to offer preventive care Medicare costs could be prevented from exploding.

Whoever this wannabe Congressional candidate is he owes it to himself to learn the history of this critical subject.

As for me, I am about ready for national health care.

Notre Dame Cathedral fire

a friend just texted me telling me that she hoped I visited Notre Dame Cathedral when I visited france because it was on fire. My reply is unprintable. What a tragedy!

I have fond memories of my September in France and I took a lot of pictures of and in Notre Dame. Here’s what I posted to my Flickr Page:

I am still working on learning French. I’d already spent two hours on the language today before hearning about the damage to this national treasure.

I will add that one of the marvelous cathedrals we visited was in Ruoen. This is what it looked like after the Normandy Invasion:

Despite the pictures below all has been resolved to my satisfaction

When I first moved into my house some traffic engineers made an official count of how many cars drove by our home daily. It was about 21,000. That was 32 years ago. It may be double that figure now.

Until this January I had never had any trouble with my trash and recycling pick up by Waste Management. After about six failed pickups I was tired of calling Waste Managements’s call center to complain that no one was picking up my garbage or recycling. I waited a day for the “Bomb Cyclone” blizzard to be over and I put my recycling next to 21st Avenue’s traffic as a little advertising. When I came in from putting it up my sweetie told me that minutes before the local office had called to say they thought our stuff had been picked up yesterday. Its the first time for the past three months we’ve gotten such a call after all our complaining. They were about to send someone to pick it up.

Before they got to our house I brought took the recycling bin away from the Avenue and put it by the alley but I kept the sign on it for the recyclers to see. While I was at it I took out three more bags of recycling to haul off as well.

Not long afterwards a pickup sidled up to retrieve my refuse. I went out to chat with the picker upper. He had already taken my sign off and was tossing the extra sacks into his pickup. He asked me if I was Welty and I said I was. He then introduced himself and I immediately recognized his name as one of my former Proctor students. He’d changed a bit over the previous 45 years. We had a cordial conversation and I told him how nice I’d been to the innocent call centyer folks who had no control over Duluth’s Waste Management management. He told me he’d taken my sign to show to the fellows in his shop. He asked if it had really been that long since my last pickup.

My sign had only been up for about ten minutes so my public protest ended quickly. Tomorrow they are scheduled to pick up my garbage. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

After I came back inside I practiced my part in tomorrow night’s Symphony Chorus. Having seen my recycling hauled off my singing soared. Too bad I’m not one of the soloists.

The Hippy National Anthem

I enjoyed this NPR story about the musical group, The Youngbloods” contribution to the “Summer of Love.” Get Together came out in my junior or senior year of high school when America seemed ripe for an explosion. This reminiscence about the song’s history brought a tear to my eye for that lost summer fifty years ago. I am scheduled for a big high school reunion this fall. We might get together again.

A young woman who graduated a year ahead of me made me a felt covered burlap wall hanging with the song’s lyrics. I’ve kept it for sentimental reasons all these dust collecting years afterward. Here’s a slightly belated thank you for my former, Sioux City Sue:

Joseph and his amazing technicolor dreamcoat

Tired of Duluth and of winter I happily signed on to hop in my daughter’s car for an overnight jaunt to the Twin Cities with my grandsons. We weren’t fussy and looked for some theater we could take the boys too. They’ve been in some local musicals lately. The Seminary at St. Paul’s St. Thomas was putting on the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical about Joseph.

It was great and the students played themselves as collared student priests studying the Old Testament before they transformed into Joseph’s jealous and murderous older brothers. Never saw so many religious collars at one time.

The following morning before the latest weather bomb was supposed to smash a blizzard into Minnesota we went to the Science Museum. We went to check out a big roaming exhibition on the history of electronic games. We spent a good four hours playing them.

“We’re gonna take care of you.”

I’ve written about waste plastic recently in the Reader. I’ve complained here in the blog about the reportedly mafia owned Waste Management failing to pick up either our garbage or now our recycling. And for about the fifth time since they didn’t pick up last week’s four-week load of recycling. Its supposed to be picked up every two weeks. I’ve been putting in more calls to their call center. Its my third call of the day and it isn’t even 10 AM yet. They are five weeks overdue. And I am invariably polite and ruefully humorous taking to their call service staff who have no control of what’s happening here in Duluth. The supervisor today who answered my third call to tell them that no, the locals didn’t call to schedule a pick up told me not to worry. “We’re gonna take care of you.” Twice.

I can’t help but wonder if China’s decision to refuse further American recyclables a few weeks back, thanks Mr. President, isn’t partly to blame. He tells us private enterprise solves all problems. I’m beginning to have my doubts about that.

Civil Discourse

My chat with “Juan Percent” reminds me that I view all debate as an opportunity to share points of view to blow off the cloud of confusion. Here are some of my thoughts on this and some evidence:

All of us have a pretty wide latitude to say what we think. Even the Prince of Peace, in an era long before the First Amendment, could say alarming things like this: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even their own life–such a person cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26 But that does not prevent me from biting my tongue when I find someone else’s ideas infuriating, stupid, or worse.

My preferred reply to such a statement would be something to make them reconsider their statement. There are at least three overlapping reasons why I would want to reply thoughtfully.

1st. A smartass reply by me would only close their mind to any counterarguments of mine and thus confirm their opinions.
2nd. I suspect most people who offer a smart ass comment know full well its not a satisfactory argument.
3rd. I always liked Will Roger’s maxim “I never me a man I didn’t like.” Just because someone says something I object to doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be prepared to like him despite it.

None of this means that I will curb a sharp tongue when I think something needs to be addressed plainly. Jesus didn’t hesitate to use the cult-like ridicule of family loyalty to make his point either. Continue reading

Juan Percent’s True Colors

I have a grudging respect for Juan Percent. Unlike the majority of strangers who have anonymously faulted my writing Juan has taken part in an honest tit for tat with me. You can find several such chats on the Duluth Reader Pages of my Not Eudora columns.

My last column on Republican Socialists is one such example: Juan’s latest swipe at me was angry and heartfelt. I loved its candor:

JPFriday Apr. 5, 2019

Central planning for a war should be short term, and one would expect that money to be paid back. The central planning the USA has done since FDR has left us 20 Trillion in debt with no way to pay it back. I acknowledge that your generation doesn’t give a shit about leaving your children and grand children an impossible debt load and no way to pay it back (as long as you got yours!)

The boomers have been making terrible decisions since they crawled out. But then your generation has always had a terrible nihilist streak, maybe it’s been your intention to destroy the USA the entire time. As for the rest of us, we can’t afford more short sighted, feel good decisions that will leave us saddled with even more debt and have no guaranteed benefit. Let me ask you this. Why in God’s name should we listen to you?

Maybe we’ll find a technological solution to capture carbon that doesn’t involve the creation of more waste in the form if lithium batteries and whatever other high tech waste the “green” new deal spews out. Is it better to replace baggies with toxic waste?

As I said before, the green new deal has never been about controlling carbon, it’s always been about command and control of the economy. Maybe it’s time to step aside, and take Nancy and Chuck with you. Haven’t the boomers caused enough damage already?

I could ask you to go to the Reader link above to see my reply or the whole preceding dialogue. I’ll save your clicking finger.
This is my reply:

Thank you Juan,

That’s the most honest thing you have ever written. And I agree with you to a shocking degree. Continue reading

Chimpanzee’s didn’t do it

“Juan Percent took me to task over my Republican’s as Socialists column. His complaints had little to do with my column. His last comment in the Reader was as follows:

Juan wrote:

So you believe that climate change is 1. Man made 2. Is absolutely going to cause a disaster and 3. The green new deal and central planning will solve it. Of course you also bought into Russian collusion, so maybe you’re just easily fooled.

I replied:


Let’s start with collusion. “Russia, if you’re listening, send us Hillary’s emails.” I could pretty well rest my case there and that was before Mueller started sending Trump’s cronies to jail. We will see how quick Trump is to force Javanka to release their private emails on foreign policy.

As for Global warming it’s simple. For 500 million years vegetation absorbed photons and made starchy energy rich carbon compounds out of them. Over those 500 million years erosion, sedimentation plate techniques and other geological forces buried a fabulous mother load of carbon based methane, coal, oil and natural gas in the ground thereby removing a heat trapping gas from the atmosphere. Something dug up a shitload of that energy, starting with the industrial revolution, and freed the carbon to refill the atmosphere and the oceans. It wasn’t chimpanzees that did all that!

My Mom’s memories through my Daughter

(Photo by Tara Elizabeth)

Yesterday my younger grandson ruffled my thinning hair and I told him it reminded me of his mother who once planted a surprise kiss smack on my bald patch.

“Oh, I probably did that because Grandma told us how she and her sister did that to their Father,” my Daughter replied.

She added that my Mother’s and her sister Mary Jane’s lipsticky kisses were bestowed on their father while he was at work in the Kansas State Capitol Building. This would have been in the 1940’s. Afterward, she and her sister rushed up a floor in the rotunda to look down on their father and admire their handiwork.

Below, the crime scene:

The more I’ve thought about this the more I think that my Grandfather knew perfectly well what his girls had done.

Profits and Pollution

Just as environmentalists ought to be concerned about the drive for profit in mining advocates for the free press ought to be concerned about a similar emphasis by those presenting the news under governmental licence.

The moderate Murdoch son said this a few years back in Great Britain as he badmouthed BBC News.

“Years earlier, when James was fighting in Britain for the first failed Sky deal, he expressed contempt for government meddling in the media’s affairs and impugned the nationally esteemed BBC as a “chilling” media monolith. “The only reliable, durable and perpetual guarantor of independence,” he said in a lecture at the annual Edinburgh International Television Festival, “is profit.” “

Quote taken from today’s NY Time’s story on the Murdochs Part II.


Rupert Murdoch sold the biggest part of his media empire a recently acquired 21st Century Fox a movie making goliath. Check the italicized words in this portion of the Times Story:

“Lachlan was furious. His father was talking about dismantling the empire not even three years after coaxing him back from Australia to run it, an empire that had taken a lifetime to build. He argued that 21st Century Fox was big enough to compete as it as was. The smaller piece of the empire that he would be left with — a network with an aging audience in the increasingly anachronistic business of cable television — was hardly a growth business. As the talks with Iger progressed, Lachlan’s opposition hardened. “Why the [expletive] would I want to run this company?” he told people close to him. Lachlan’s anger at his father boiled over during a dinner in Manhattan in the fall of 2017, three people who were familiar with the incident told us. “If you take one more call on this deal, you will not have a son!” he threatened. “I will never talk to you again.” (Representatives for Murdoch and Lachlan denied that he made these threats.)”

The NY Times Murdoch story

Part Two

I’ve mentioned before that I truly enjoyed Australia’s original version of the TV series The Rake. In its later seasons a corrupt political blowhard is set up as a television shock show host. Now I know where that came from. Lachlan Murdoch…I just spell checked that first name and came up with “Charlatan.”

Henry Louis Gates

My eyes are too big for my stomach for history books!

These are my library’s selection of books about African-American history and part of my collection related to the Civil War which arguably is pretty much the same history.

I haven’t read them all. I describe the books I buy but don’t read immediately as being like planes circling an airport waiting for clearance to land. Another plane is close to being added to those circling my bibliographic airport. Its The Stony Road by Henry Louis Gates known to the PBS viewers for his series on family history.

I didn’t know he was about to launch a book let alone on Reconstruction. A week ago, however, I bumped into an old NY Times story about Gates in which an interviewer asked him for the books he had been most moved by. He mentions three or four including one that was sitting behind my computer Reconstruction by Columbia University historian Eric Foner.

All my life I’ve tried to find the Cliff Notes version of everything so that I would have time to become knowledgeable about all things. It has not really worked. There’s just too many books. But I did buy Foner’s book thirty years ago only to discover that he had an abridged book by the same author. I once wrote to Foner asking him (stupidly I admit) what I would find in the full version vs. his Cliffs Notes version. He was kindly un-sarcastic in his reply to me.

So I was surprised to see that Gates has written his own history of Reconstruction taking it through Jim Crow. I am strongly inclined to read it which means buying it too.

BTW – Gates is the fellow that another cranky white lady called the police on when she saw him entering his home in Boston. He was arrested by a white cop and that led to the first proof for Murdoch oriented white nationalists that Barack Obama was a raging black monster when he said the cop over reacted. That led to the obviously raging Obama to hold a beer summit between Professor Gates and the policeman in the Rose Garden. Heavens!!!

Thank God we have the sensible Murdoch-approved Donald Trump presiding over America today.

Maybe I’ll write more later today

Three hours since rolling out of bed before I got to the blog. That was an hour of morning miscellaney and two hours of pouring over the DNT listening to NPR and doing a quick perusal of the NY Times. Those final two hours have me interested as of this second with blogging about a couple subjects among them Toxic Masculinity. I am struck at how virulent the reaction is to true toxicity that it has ensnared Joe Biden who sniffed a woman’s hair. The story, from the Times, that I took the trouble to read, it wasn’t long, was about a series in production about the Choreographer Bob Fosse which grew to include his “muse” dancer, Gwen Verdon.

I have been lobbying my family to watch Damn Yankees for several months. I saw it at a drive in in Estes Park when I was in fourth or fifth grade. It made an impression on me but so did the scene described in the story about Sweet Charity, another Fosse musical where bar girls are singing to “Big Spenders” in which their souls are dead. That stuck with me when I saw the movie years ago. So too did the male lead who proved to be a male neutered by the social pressures of an earlier era.

I am keen to write more about my witness of and in the world of toxic masculinity. Whats the difference between Trump, Fosse who ruthlessly bedded every chorus girl he could nail and the Isis fighters who raped, sold and impregnated thousands of Yazidi women in Syria now being forced by social stigma to abandon their children. That is in this NPR Story. But God save us from Joe Biden.

And then I want to write about the news business. Oh how I want to. Three weeks ago I spent a day researching a column in the Reader about the Duluth News Tribune in the larger scheme of things but the subject was far to big for me to encapsulate in a mere 800 word column. Since then I’ve started five other columns and each fell victim to my expansive thougths. I sent my regrets in at the deadline instead of a column.

So many thoughts. Today I need to organize those thoughts. In the last year I’ve mostly abandoned writing suggestions for blog posts on the nearest slip of scrap paper. They always built up to an impossible clutter and so many of them were barely readable in my dash to hand write something. I’ve taken to typing them into a “notebook” on my cellphone. I’ve begun putting these random thoughts into categories but I just noticed that I have 123 “unorganized” notes.

If I get around to writing anything today other than this excuse for a post it will be after I’ve read the mother load of info that the NY Times has in today’s paper. Its an investigation, long overdue, of Rupert Murdoch who I intended to add to my now abandoned column on newspapers. I have “Page Three” particularly in my sights. Sleaze coated news. Rupert’s name has come up in the blog on 18 previous occasions.

This is the story and its just the beginning of a multi part series. It may be the most important story in the Times after all the Time’s work exposing Donald Trump for the man he is not and the man he is.

Going to bed with Peppa

Last night for the second time I risked my cell phone’s melatonin messing blue light to watch little snatches of the cartoon Peppa the Pig in French. Between the cartoon’s pictures, its elementary vocabulary and my fifteen months of study it almost seems like I could understand the language if I could only squint my brain enough.

A year ago I wrote a column about my intent to learn a second language in the Reader in a column titled “Pardon Mon French.” That was after three months of studying. Now I’ve got a year and three months under my belt…..except for the month of September last year. That’s when I was actually traveling through France and didn’t have time to keep practicing if I wanted to see the countryside. I had nine months of French practice under my belt and I was hopeless.

To my surprise I resumed my study within days of returning and have added another six months of study. I don’t have any expectation of spending a lot of time with French speaking people but that could change if I actually begin to find myself understanding and speaking it. The US State Department lists French as one of the three easiest languages to learn. The State Department says it takes about 480 hours to become conversant.I presume their preferred teaching methods are a lot more intensive than my home study without other speakers to guide me personally. I am probably beyond that level of time spent but comprehension still eludes me. I take heart in the experience of a polyglot who gave a TED talk type presentation before other polyglots. Polyglot = multi-lingual.

This young lady spoke about six languages. Her presentation followed a year of visiting other polyglots and asking them about their method of learning. She found, as I would have expected, that no two multi-lingual speakers study in exactly the same way. I found their stories very hopeful. All were in their twenties when they began throwing themselves into languages. The speaker had a very useful motivational quote. “The best time to learn a language” she explained “is when you are young.” She added, “The second best time is now.”

This speaker claimed to have spent roughly an hour a day learning new languages. She explained that polyglots generally had a little corner with all their teaching/learning tools, books dictionaries, etc that they cuddled up with. Here’s mine: Continue reading

The official source for all the blather of the eccentric Harry Welty – Duluth School Board member, off and on, since 1995. He does his best to live up to Mark Twain's assessment: "First God created the idiot. That was for practice. Then he invented the School Board."