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Mary Franson: Waiter! There’s mRNA in My Soup!

Plus a great Minnesotan poet passes, your boss has opinions, COVID persists, and Target gets good PR in today's Flyover.

Mary Pho-ranson
Twitter/Photo by Sharon Chen on Unsplash

Franson Knows a Great Place for Pho

Ngon Vietnamese Bistro in St. Paul is now requiring proof of vaccination for indoor dining, which is good news for people who would like not to be infected with COVID but bad news, apparently, for Rep. Mary Franson (R-Alexandria). The state legislator tweeted out a warning about the rampant unfreedomness of the restaurant’s implementation of “medical status segregation” yesterday and said she’d no longer frequent the establishment, punctuating her declaration with a shruggie emoticon. (Since Alexandria is a two hour drive from St. Paul, most of her constituents probably don’t make it to Ngon on the regular anyway.) The result, as Bring Me the News reports (and you might have guessed), was that COVID-conscious folks were supportive of Ngon’s call, resulting in a couple good jokes and not a little lefty posturing. Anyway, how are things going back home in Franson’s Douglas County? The New York Times says that not only is there a high COVID rate, with cases and hospitalization rising, but the county’s high test positivity rate suggests that “cases are being significantly undercounted.” To quote Rep. Franson: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

RIP Robert Bly (1926-2021)

It’s safe to say that Robert Bly was the only Minnesota poet laureate also to be named one of People Magazine’s “most intriguing people.” Bly, who was known throughout his career for his theatricality and political commitment, died at the age of 94 this Sunday. He started out on a farm near Madison, Minnesota, publishing a journal with fellow avant-gardists and poetry translators in the ’50s. He became more widely known when his 1990 book Iron John, about the death of his father, was a best-seller, spurring a movement of men seeking to reconnect with their emotions, often with drumming involved. Over at the Star Tribune, Laurie Hertzel has written a nice tribute to Bly. And here’s the video interview with Bill Moyers that helped make Bly a national figure.

Bosses: We Love Offices!

Here’s a little Monday morning quiz based on today’s Strib story about offices across Minnesota reopening before the end of 2021. See if you can guess which of the following quotes came from a boss and which came from a regular old employee. 1. “It’s great to have people back in the office more in person again, as we focus on finishing the year strong.” 2. “We are faster, more innovative, more creative and build culture … when we are together.” 3. “I think the mentoring and the relationship aspect of seeing each other in person is still a great feeling to get back.” Trick question! They’re all from bosses! Incidentally, Minnesota is currently the fourth-worst state in the nation when it comes to containing COVID-19, an “improvement” after taking the #1 slot a week ago.

Speaking of COVID… (Are We Ever Not?)

Why exactly is Minnesota doing so badly at containing COVID? Minnesota Reformer’s Rilyn Eischens dug into the data and spoke to U of M public health researcher Dr. Rebecca Wurtz to find out what we’re doing wrong, and the answer seems to be “a little bit of everything.” Lagging vaccination rates, waning immunity among the vaccinated, the persistence of the Delta variant, and a decreasing amount of precaution are all too blame. Wurtz is unpersuaded by the hypothesis that we’re spiking because the cold weather is driving us indoors, a theory that at least two people shared with me IRL this weekend. 

Another No-Target Thanksgiving 

As in 2020, Target stores will once more be closed on Thanksgiving this year, so that employees can spend time with their—oh, wait, what’s that I’m seeing in this AP story? Thanksgiving has “historically not been a big sales day overall”? Staying open “seemed to merely cannibalize Black Friday sales”? Beginning holiday sales earlier rather than cramming them into a single November weekend caused retail sales to boom in 2021? Oh, and anyway, it’s a big online sales day? Well, as long as we’re not losing any money here. P.S. “Distribution and call centers will have some staff on Thanksgiving.”