Prairie Lights

Recent Posts

Prairie Lights: Waiting for a Chinook, enjoying the snow

Howl

I might be singing a different tune by late March, but it sure feels good right now to be experiencing a bit of real winter weather. After living in Montana for four decades, I still can’t quite get used to the regular, rapid disappearance of huge quantities of snow. The first big snowfall I saw in Montana was in Missoula in the mid-1970s. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: More than one way to skin a troll

Fig

Here’s another feather in our cap: In addition to incredible natural beauty, wide-open spaces and no congresspersons currently suspected of child molestation, Montana recently made the Top 10 list of “friendliest states online.” That is according to a study that took into account the percentage of hostile comments per state, the relative number of people who have claimed online harassment and whether or not a state has anti-cyberbullying laws on the books. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Special dispatch from Moan-tana

Dakar

If you are a regular listener to Yellowstone Public Radio or any other NPR station, you have surely heard newscaster Lakshmi Singh pronounce the word “Washington” in a way it has never been pronounced before. It sounds something like “Woe-shing-tun,” though with emphases and accents beyond my ability to replicate in type. And since she normally pairs that word with her own mellifluous name, I rarely resist the temptation to repeat, after her, “In Washington, I’m Lakshmi Singh.” (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Plenty to be thankful for in 2017

Eclipse

Ordinarily, on this last Sunday of the year, I would post a tongue-in-cheek review of the past year, as I had done for more than 10 years at the Billings Gazette and for the past three years at Last Best News. I was inspired to do so by Dave Barry, as were legions of fellow obscure laborers in the vineyards of backwater journalism. We had the temerity to follow the master’s lead by telling ourselves we could get away with it by writing about local events, leaving the national and international scene to Barry. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Mixed blessings, indelible memories

dest

This is supposed to be the time of year we count our blessings and remind ourselves of all the good things that have happened in the past year and over the course of our lives. But that apparently isn’t the way my brain works. I usually think, instead, of all the things that have gone wrong on Christmases past, all the illnesses and snowstorms and white-knuckle travel associated with this particular holiday. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Let the word-banning begin

Carline

The Washington Post reported this weekend that the Trump administration has come up with a list of forbidden words and phrases that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will not be allowed to use in budget documents. The list has nothing to do with George Carlin’s seven dirty words, words that I am not going to publish here gratuitously, though I do urge you to watch the entire, priceless George Carlin video. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: For city of Billings, opportunity knocks

Edge

Listening to Hammes Co. President Bob Dunn last week, when he was telling the Billings City Council about the transformation of One Big Sky Center from a single downtown project to a comprehensive development strategy, I heard echoes from years ago. What really struck me in Dunn’s presentation was his insistence that Billings, if it did not want to be left in the dust, had to start thinking big, in a very organized way. (more…) Continue Reading →

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