The commentary on overhyping the Bold North missed some important facts and, most important, some aspirations ("Overhyped Bold North undersells our true strengths," Feb. 10).

First, that Minnesota identified as the Midwest before. In fact, until the early 1990s the predominant view was that it was the "Northwest." Seattle, Portland and Boise were the "Pacific Northwest." What's the evidence? More companies than you can count being named some derivative of "Northwest." Both WCCO and KSTP opened their newscasts in the 1980s claiming to be the best of "the Northwest." There are reasons for this distinction, including cultural, political, economic and even linguistic (those of us from Lake Superior to Montana don't talk like Midwesterners).

The author makes a second critical mistake. Culture is not the same as race and ethnicity. Just as many German-Americans up here took on some Scandinavian traits (and vice versa), so do new immigrants to our region.

Minnesota needs to return to its distinct identity from the Midwest — Americans' laziness in only understanding five geographic regions notwithstanding. "Northwest" is long gone, unfortunately. "Northern Tier" might work. But "North" it is unless you would prefer the Ninth Federal Reserve District, which has the boundaries of the old "Northwest."

Peter Tharaldson, St. Paul


If you're tired of these deadly deals, tell your legislators

In response to the article "Pot deals turn deadly even as legal, social attitudes relax" (front page, Feb. 12), there is not any mention of relaxed laws, likely because the laws in Minnesota still make marijuana possession a crime. Mentioned were the deadly deals in Minnesota, yet the author must have been thinking about relaxed laws in other states. Mixing the two can be misleading to the reader. Marijuana is illegal to possess in Minnesota.

What is becoming increasingly clear, as is mentioned in the article, is that the majority of Americans support legalizing marijuana. If you are tired of the senseless killings and the wasteful money and resources put into convicting people for marijuana crimes, then let your legislator know. This could be the year that common sense prevails. We could let those who want to use marijuana procure it in a safe, controlled and tax-revenue-producing manner or continue with the current madness.

Christopher Bradshaw, Columbus


Neighbors just want city to stick to its zoning at Sons of Norway

The article regarding the proposed development on the Sons of Norway site in Uptown is unfair to the residents of the East Calhoun Neighborhood ("319-unit Uptown plan draws some vocal foes," Minnesota section, Feb. 9). It makes it seem as if the residents oppose the development, while, in fact, they are only asking that the city adhere to the present zoning for the south building. The developers want to increase the zoning from R4 to R6, which would mean six stories instead of four and would allow smaller units. However, the overall city plan, the Uptown Small Area Plan and the Midtown Green- way Rezoning Study all call for R4 or less zoning. And the reason for this is recognition that a massive increase in density would be detrimental to the area.

Many of us wonder why we are always having to argue against zoning changes, while the burden should be on those who argue for the change.

Gary Farland, Minneapolis

The writer is vice president of the East Calhoun Community Organization.


In Minnesota, BNSF trains are all using the new technology

A letter asserting that railroads haven't acted quickly enough to install new technology called positive train control (PTC) underestimates the complexity of the technology being installed and tested and fails to note that the state's major Class I railroad, BNSF Railway, has completed PTC installation ("Keep the focus on rail safety," Readers Write, Feb. 12). Today in Minnesota, BNSF has installed all necessary infrastructure and is operating freight trains with PTC on required routes.

PTC is designed to stop a train before certain human-error-caused accidents, including train-to-train collisions and excessive speeding. To work, PTC determines the location, direction and speed of trains, using new equipment on locomotives, along the tracks and in back-office servers connected through wireless data communications. PTC is a safety layer added to cutting-edge technology already deployed across our tracks to operate safely in communities.

In Minnesota, and across our system, we've completed installation of all necessary infrastructure and operated thousands of trains with PTC. Systemwide, we've run over a million trips using PTC. Here and elsewhere, passenger trains and other freight railroads operate on our tracks. We're working with them in their various stages of PTC installation on the key issue of interoperability ahead of the December 2018 deadline. Their locomotives must be able to operate with PTC on our tracks, and ours on their tracks. Fully testing interoperability, however, requires other railroads to be as advanced as we are in PTC deployment. For example, we have successfully demonstrated interoperability with Metro Transit's Northstar.

BNSF was developing PTC years before the federal mandate and continues as the industry leader in advancing this and other technology for improving safety.

Amy McBeth, Minneapolis

The writer is regional director of public affairs for BNSF Railway.


There'll be big shoes to fill

Dear Congressman Rick Nolan:  Thank you for your many years of public service to the people of Minnesota ("Nolan won't run again for swing seat," Feb. 10). As someone who used to work in your district, I appreciated having a representative who advocated for the real needs of his constituents instead of just toeing a party line. At a time when protecting our northern wilderness and industrial jobs are often ideologically opposed, it's refreshing to see someone who realizes that both can be done for the benefit of all. Your successor will have some big shoes to fill, and I wish you a fruitful and well-earned retirement.

Patrick Freese, St. Louis Park


Pot, meet kettle

One letter writer who supports Trump's military parade plans decried those who are opposed to it for their letters, which included, among other things, "the usual name-calling" (Readers Write, Feb. 8). But the writer used the term "snowflake" to refer to that opposing side. Isn't that, uh, name-calling?

Mark Brandt, Minneapolis


Sad farewell to 'Violet Days'

Friday was a sad day indeed, as I read Chris Monroe's last "Violet Days" cartoon (Variety, Feb. 9). Her comic has rarely failed to provide several chuckles and one guffaw. She managed to meld nostalgia, ironic insights and a half-dozen Easter eggs to delight us every week. I will dearly miss her humor and my tradition of photographing them most weeks to e-mail to my son in New York. Thank you, Chris, for all the smiles you have given us both. Fridays won't be the same without you.

Steven Hepokoski, Maple Grove