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MinnPost Picks: On identity, protest music, and human composting

Our weekly roundup of great stories from around the web, as recommended by MinnPost’s staff and contributing journalists.

Two coal miners sit in a sniper's nest with a machine gun during the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921.
Two coal miners sit in a sniper's nest with a machine gun during the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921.
Wikimedia Commons

The Singing Left: Music and struggle at the Blair Mountain centennial, The Baffler

Kim Kelly has been in West Virginia reporting on labor history, and was there for the Battle of Blair Mountain Centennial, commemorating the largest labor uprising in the history of the United States. She writes here about the music at the event, and at the other things she attended while she was there. A Minnesota angle I was not expecting was a quote from a Twin Cities band that performed, the Wooden Shoe Ramblers.
—Jonathan Stegall, user experience engineer

Who You Calling ‘Hispanic’?, Code Switch

We have all filled out scores of government forms that ask about our race and ethnicity. When you do, do you feel represented by the categories available? Do you not? This episode of Code Switch, a podcast from NPR, looks at how oft-used race and ethnicity categories oversimplify identities and, in this case, have often failed to represent Americans whose descendants come from south of the U.S. border, Central and South America.
—Greta Kaul, data reporter

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An Ex-Drinker’s Search for a Sober Buzz, The New Yorker

My daughter sent us two six packs of Athletic no-alcohol beer and we liked it enough to search it out in the Twin Cities. This New Yorker article talks to Athletic Brewing’s founder about the how and why — and whether recovering alcoholics should drink fake beer or frequent bars where it is sold (“If you hang around the barbershop long enough, you’re going to get a haircut”).
—Peter Callaghan, state government reporter

To Be A Field of Poppies: The elegant science of turning cadavers into compost, Harper’s

I first became intrigued by the concept of human composting after learning about it from an episode of a podcast rebroadcast 99 Percent Invisible a few years ago, and when I saw this essay in the latest Harper’s I stayed up past my bedtime reading it. The article notes the environmental benefits of turning your body into soil in thirty days — no carcinogenic embalming fluids leaching into the earth, none of the carbon released by cremation — but I think the appeal for me is the beauty of taking the elements making up my body and returning them to the earth. Is anyone working to make this legal in Minnesota?
—Tom Nehil, news editor