Sunday, October 19, 2014

"People who grow up in the South might have yet-unidentified brain parasites that make them think crazily — from growing up in these swampy areas, combined with decades of ancestral looniness.”

"In her debut story collection The Wilds, Julia Elliott smokes South Carolina right down to the filter."

"Steeped in what might be called the four humors of Southern life — 'sweat, piss, jizz and blood,' to quote Warren Zevon — her tales are funny, strange and pungent with visceral life. The locale tends to be the small towns and cities of the Palmetto State, but even when it’s not — when the focus shifts to the Caribbean, say, or the distant future — they still throb with a crazy-from-the-heat vibe."

Read about this terrifically deranged new book from my cousin Liz (aka Julia) here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A faculty union at the U?

"The Service Employees International Union is taking on an even bigger challenge: to organize thousands of professors and instructors at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus."

Read about it in the Strib.  Then have a look at the SEIU/U of M website for more information.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Over a billion dollars in payments to doctors missing from Sunshine Act website

"In a fact sheet posted online, federal officials disclosed that the database, dubbed Open Payments, is missing more than $1 billion in payments made between August and December 2013. These omissions are in addition to information the government has redacted from the payments it has disclosed, citing inconsistencies."

More in Pro Publica.

What is behind the rapid rise in Minnesota suicides?

"Alarmed by a sharp rise in suicides, state health officials are undertaking an ambitious new data-collection effort to probe why near-record numbers of Minnesotans are taking their own lives."

"For reasons that confound medical authorities, Minnesota’s suicide rate jumped 29 percent between 2003 and 2011, more than double the national rate of increase. Last year, 683 Minnesotans died by suicide, up from 496 in 2003 and one short of the record in 2011, according to state data."

“'Why are we becoming more suicidal in Minnesota?' asked Jon Roesler, epidemiologist supervisor at the Minnesota Department of Health. 'The answer is that we don’t know. And that’s disconcerting.'”

The Star Tribune has the story.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Medtronic is taking an Irish bride

Chris Parker has a terrific article in City Pages about Medtronic's plan to game the American tax system by acquiring Covidien, which operates out of Massachusetts but claims to be headquartered in Ireland.  As Parker puts it:

"In layman's terms, it's akin to marrying an Irish woman, then taking her name to claim Irish citizenship — without ever leaving Minneapolis. Nothing really changes in the way the company operates. Its executives remain in America. So do the bulk of its operations. The move is little more than a sleight of paperwork, allowing large U.S. corporations to skate on supporting the country that allowed them to amass their riches."

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Wilds, by Julia Elliott

From Publisher's Weekly:

"The debut collection from Pushcart Prize–winning Elliott is a brilliant combination of emotion and grime, wit and horror. The title story is a coming-of-age tale—tree houses, pimples, puberty, and young romance—that eschews convention with just a dash of lycanthropy. In the strong “Jaws,” an adult woman vacations in Orlando with her elderly parents, only to realize as the days click by, how demented her mother has become. Bizarre health resorts populate both “Regeneration at Mukti” and “Caveman Diet.” In the former, participants scab over and shed skin as a way of rejuvenation; while the latter takes the Paleo diet craze to extremes, as men and women don loincloths and learn the ways of prehistoric barbarians in an attempt to lose weight. The ideas of revival and survival appear throughout the collection: “LIMBs” features robotic technology that allows the elderly to walk; “The End of the World” finds a has-been band trying to regroup for one final cash-in; and “Rapture” uses its title’s literal and Biblical definitions to expand the worldviews of two middle-class girls. Elliott’s gift of vernacular is remarkable, and her dark, modern spin on Southern Gothic creates tales that surprise, shock, and sharply depict vice and virtue. (Oct.)"

Available on October 14.