The U.S. Senate campaigns seem to be hitting their stride, but they're proceeding on different paths. Kevin Cramer and the Republicans have settled on a national campaign. This is unusual in North Dakota, even unprecedented. Heidi Heitkamp's campaign is more familiar; in some ways it seems almost retrograde, as if it were happening in an earlier time, before the political dislocations of the new era.
August isn't the peak month for bird activity in our area. Mornings are noticeably quieter than they were six weeks ago, since most species have completed courtship and nesting. Some nesting species already have moved south, and others are flocking ahead of their own migration.
Money is everybody's favorite subject, or at least one of them, so it's no surprise that a number of sayings describe our attitude toward money. One of them is "Money's no object," which implies we are rich, and another is "More time than money," which implies we are poor. These pithy remarks can be applied to this year's political campaign. Money's no object. The campaign for a U.S. Senate seat could be the most expensive per vote cast in the nation's history. This turns the other statement on its head.
Let's get some things straight right out of the gate. First, the Herald is not leaving Grand Forks. Nor is the Herald's decision to shut down the press, stop printing the Monday paper and move production to Fargo the decision of some malevolent manager. The role of a newspaper manager is to print the news and make a profit. The second is important. Without it, the first is impossible. Newsprint is expensive and so is operating a press. In tough times, cutting expenses makes profit possible and ensures the continuation of the Herald in Grand Forks.
The double-crested cormorant is poorly named. The crests are inconspicuous, variable and worthless as field marks. The cormorant part of the name means "raven of the sea," although cormorants and ravens have little in common, beyond size and color. Both are large, about the size of a barnyard goose, and both are black, the raven entirely so while the cormorant has a bright yellow face. This bare spot gives rise to its Latin family name, which means "bald raven."
Another player has taken its place in higher education in North Dakota, the Board of Higher Education itself. Earlier this month, the board decided on a "needs-based" budget that would keep spending at the current level in the next two-year spending cycle. This amounts to a declaration of independence since the governor had directed state agencies to submit budgets 10 percent below current spending with an additional 3 percent for contingencies — a move that would return the state's colleges and universities to spending levels last seen a decade ago.
Tim Murphy died two weeks ago. This should have been bigger news than it turned out to be. Murphy, a poet, was perhaps the best known literary figure living in North Dakota.
The upland sandpiper was "bird of the week" one year ago this month, and this column described the bird's qualifications. These included a bit of trivia, that this is the only species whose common English name begins with the letter "U." Other better attributes were cited, including birder Dave Lambeth's assessment of the bird's occurrence in our area. "Seems to be very local," the dean of area birders said.
This column is about tariffs. Wait! Don't stop reading yet. There's something interesting at the end. Tariffs have been a recurring issue in North Dakota, and they are one factor in the "position of economic disadvantage" that historian Elwyn Robinson identified as one of the themes in the state's history. That was 60 years ago, nearly half of the state's history. Today's headlines reinforce Robinson's insight.
If there were to be a contest to throw one bird species off the planet, the common grackle would likely be a nominee. The grackle has a reputation as an avian thug. "The bully of the bird world," it is sometimes called. Even the serious literature promotes this image. Princeton University's "New World Blackbirds" ascribes to it "a raptor-like expression." In his "ID GUIDE" Richard Crossley says the grackle has a "bad boy look."