Sunday, August 13

The Weather, She's a-Changin'

Sailing on Lake Superior in January? Ice skating, hockey, and snowboarding in June? Desert-type weather in March? These results, and more, will be the outcomes of global warming as it affects the 46th Parallel. This is according to a report of the Arrowhead Meterological Summary, coming out Wednesday, August 15, 2006.

The report, leaked by an anonymous source, is a quarterly publication of the well-respected Arrowhead Meteorlogical Society (also known as the AMS). The AMS has been issuing such reports for over 110 years; this is the first report to directly deal with the effects of global warming.

Erik Lundegaard, the Spade's erstwhile staff meteorologist, had this to say: "I've been reading the AMS's reports for over 12 years, and these results are both credible and disturbing. It appears as though our lives are about to be flipped, or turned upside down. Now, I'd like to take a minute (so just sit right there) I'll tell how I came to know of this major scare."

Lundegaard greatly simplified the results of the AMS study. He stated, "Things really have been flipped upside down. And sideways, for that matter. The geostrophic winds have caused much of the change. As these winds catch more carbon, they create major down-drafts. These downdrafts are pushing the planet out of its typical motion. Instead of rotating in a circular motion, the downdrafts are forcing the planet to wobble erratically. However, this erratic motion can be scientifically mapped. We can predict, for example, that we will have summer-like conditions in January of 2009; it is likely that Lake Superior will be warm enough for swimming. And, in March of 2012, we will experience a major draught - sand dunes will form from Hibbing to Hermantown. But don't be alarmed. By July of that year, we will have had 4 feet of snow, and the draught will be over for the next two decades."

Summer becomes winter, and spring becomes fall? While the general pattern can be considered a departure from the normal conditions, it is expected that the weather will have minimal impacts on shipping traffic and the ecology of the Arrowhead region. The results of the AMS study are available at this website. The AMS will issue an updated report next month, as it is expected that major policy decisions will be made based directly on the information found in this document.

Wednesday, August 9

Duluth Aquarium Gets a Fresh Start

By Kate Oblonsky

After years of operating at a loss, the Duluth Aquarium is shifting focus in the hope of drawing more tourists. The Aquarium will be reformatted this fall to house mongooses rather than the freshwater fish it currently holds. Duluth official, Kevin McDaniel, is heralding the transformation as a positive step. “People never had any interest whatsoever in coming to the Aquarium and looking at brown fish. Never. What people are interested in seeing is the only animal that can kill a cobra in battle.”

Though 87% of those polled favor the change, others are worried. Duluth resident Michelle Robins is concerned that the increase in tourism revenue will be offset by other problems. “I don’t think people are looking at the big picture here,” Robins said. “I’ve heard rumors that the real reason they’re bringing these mongooses in is so that they can operate an underground mongoose-cobra fight betting ring.” Indeed, in some Asian countries, mongooses are put in cages to battle snakes as a source of entertainment and gambling.

McDaniel insists that is not the case here. Rather, he maintains that it is “a simple matter of using the Aquarium building in a manner that doesn’t drain the City budget.”

Lawyers in the City Attorney’s Office are looking for a way to circumvent laws that make it illegal to import mongooses into the United States before the September 10 reopening.

Monday, August 7

Bergson’s Next Boondoggle?

Duluth’s star-crossed Mayor, Herb Bergson, has proposed the construction of a major bridge over Lake Superior between Two Harbors and Ashland, Wisconsin. The proposed bridge would be paid for by the Duluth Economic Development Authority (DEDA). The construction of the bridge comes after a city-hired analyst recommended it as the best method for increasing tourism.

Nick Bich is the consultant working on the proposal. Bich explained, “The bridge would really increase the amount of time that tourists could spend in Duluth. Right now, most people coming to the northland want to visit both the north and south shores of the lake. They spend most of their time driving all the way around Duluth to get there – not to mention the time wasted driving through the unfortunate burgh of Superior. My study indicates that this bridge will result in an increase of 22% in Duluth’s gross tourism revenues, primarily coming from a 34% increase in the amount of time available for tourists to spend in Duluth.”

The proposed bridge would reach up to 200 feet in height in several locations in order to permit passage of the larger lake and ocean-going vessels traveling on Lake Superior. Bridges such as this are not uncommon, found in locales such as the Florida Keys, New Orleans, and San Francisco. The direct distance between Two Harbors and Ashland is 45.8 miles, resulting in bridge with a staggering price tag of $4.8 billion. However, it will save approximately 3 hours driving time for most tourists. DEDA believes it’s economic situation will permit it to pay back the cost of the bridge in only 35 years.

Critics have already pounced on Bergson’s proposal as ludicrous. Some have dubbed the bridge “Bich’s Bamboozle.” Pat Awada, from the Minnesota State Office of the Auditor and Tourism, was quoted as saying, “This bridge is yet another example of Duluth’s propensity to throw money down the drain. There is an $82 billion retiree shortfall that is currently unfunded, and still this city ignores its plight. It will unquestionably soon declare bankruptcy – and it won’t be my fault. Bergson and the city are both morally bankrupt. Why shouldn’t the bank account follow their moral lead?”

Mayor Bergson denied claims that the bridge will be of greatest use to him. Bergson owns a vacation home on a golf course in Two Harbors and a lake cottage in Bayfield, Wisconsin. Bergson’s response? “If this bridge was going to serve me personally, wouldn’t I have just had it land in Bayfield instead of Ashland?” The City Council will debate the merits of Bich’s consulting study at Tuesday’s Council meeting.

Friday, August 4

New Solution for Old Woes

A local committee has presented a possible solution to Duluth’s financial woes: secession. According to secession proponent William Rogers, seceding from the United States would solve all of the problems currently plaguing the city. “It’s simple, when you think about it. If Duluth were an independent country, it wouldn’t have to comply with all these laws and regulations. We could do whatever we want.” The committee is also stressing other perks of independence, such as the chance to legalize the importation of mongooses, create prettier money, and designate a national anthem (at press time, two of the more popular choices were “Suspicious Minds” and “(I’ve Had the) Time of My Life.”)

One snag in the secession plan was how the city would stay solvent without state aid. Williams claims this problem will be solved by issuing letters of marque and reprisal that would authorize agents to seize property and raid merchant ships. “Duluth has some excellent mariners. With all that commercial traffic on Lake Superior…I don’t think we’d have any trouble…”

A poll shows that Duluth 23% of citizens favor secession, 14% oppose the idea, and 63% were indifferent.

Citizens of neighboring cities are worried about the consequences of Duluth seceding. Proctor resident Susan White is one of those opposed to the move. “I don’t want to be living next to a renegade pirate nation. Just seems like nothing but trouble. If it happens, we’ll have to build a wall around the city. That’s all there is to it.”

Wednesday, August 2

Like the Phoenix...

The long and painful Raging Spade hiatus has gone on long enough. It’s time for the Spade to rise again. So I thought I’d get things going again with a hard-hitting editorial.

Why Grapes Are the Best Fruit to Eat at Work

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. That’s all fine and good. Sure, apples provide you with a benefit. But they ask so much in return that they are not good work snacks. With apples, there are two options: cut them up, or eat them whole. Both methods present problems. If you bring apple slices with you to work, they get slimy and gross. Scientists have determined that an apple slice exposed to the air will turn brown in 14.3 seconds. And who wants to eat nasty brown apple slices? If you try to avoid this, your option is to eat the apple whole. Many problems arise in this situation. First, the sound of biting into apples is really loud. Second, it makes you look common. Third, difficulties arise when you need both of your hands. You need to set it down on a part that you won’t eat, and the apple needs to be of a correct proportion so that it won’t roll over. For these reasons, apples are not an ideal mid-morning work snack.

Grapes, on the other hand, are perfect for snacking at your desk. They take precious little prep work. There is no cutting of stems, no slicing, no need to worry about discolored fingers. Each grape is self contained. They just sit there until you have a second to eat one.

Congratulations, grapes, for being convenient and nutritious.