Your Weekend Reader for Aug. 26-27

by | Aug 26, 2023 | Weekend Reader | 2 comments

I know you, faithful Weekend Reader, have opened this week’s edition with one burning question in mind: Is there any news about the Pac-12 Conference? And, yes, there is, but I’m going to delay it until near the end of this edition because I weary of putting Pac-12 news at the top each week.

Did you laugh aloud, as I did, when you saw the mug shot of former President Donald Trump this week, taken as he surrendered on state criminal charges in Georgia? It was everything we expected — glowering and orange, kind of like the sun when the skies are filled with smoke from wildfires. But not all of Trump’s co-defendants seemed so dour. And here, in this delightful New York Times story by Glenn Thrush and the indispensable Maggie Haberman, they explain why some defendants put on a happy face for their mug shots.

Megan Garber, writing for The Atlantic, had a decidedly darker view of what we now will forever call The Mug Shot, with capital letters, or as Trump himself might put it, THE MUG SHOT! (Alas, Atlantic articles are available only to subscribers.)

Speaking of Trump, here’s a provocative piece in The Atlantic from a former federal judge and a professor of constitutional law at Harvard University arguing that the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution automatically bars him from reelection. In the piece, J. Michael Luttig and Laurence H. Tribe argue that a conviction in any of the four indictments is not necessary. In fact, the piece quotes another article as concluding that “If the public record is accurate, the case is not even close. He is no longer eligible to the office of Presidency, or any other state or federal office covered by the Constitution.”

Need a getaway from all this? Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times columnist and onetime candidate for Oregon governor, suggests you take a hike. In fact, Kristof is hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail with his daughter and her boyfriend, an excursion that prompted this column about the wonders of the wilderness.

Alabama wants to become the first state to execute a prisoner by forcing him to breathe only nitrogen, The Associated Press reports. Amid a shortage of the drugs used for lethal injection, three states have approved this method of capital punishment, called nitrogen hypoxia, but it’s never been used. Proponents argue that the method should be painless, so I guess the next step would be to put it to the test in clinical trials on Alabama’s death row.

My dad’s dog helpfully kept us apprised of the progress of the thunderstorm shortly after midnight Thursday in the mid-valley. The storm was a reminder that lightning often leaves potential fires smoldering in its wake. So this is a good time to at least think about preparing to evacuate if that moment comes. The Oregonian’s Janet Eastman has a good story about preparing an emergency “go bag” — a small backpack with essential items — that can be grabbed at a moment’s notice.

The Weekend Reader’s Game Show Desk has breaking news today: Bob Barker, the longtime host of “The Price is Right,” and before that, “Truth or Consequences,” has died at the age of 99. Barker also was well-known, of course, as a longtime advocate for animal rights. “The Price is Right,” by the way, is the only remaining daytime game show on a broadcast network. They seem to be gaining some traction on primetime schedules — and expect more of them to begin filling the increasing void left by the writers’ strike. (A bit of trivia: The original host of “The Price is Right” was Bill Cullen, in my book still the best game-show host of all time. It used to be that game-show hosts had radio backgrounds; now, they tend to be stand-up comedians.)

Here’s the week’s news about the Pac-12 Conference: The Atlantic Coast Conference is continuing to consider adding Stanford, Cal and now Southern Methodist University, a move that likely would sound the death knell for efforts to rebuild the Pac-12, since only Oregon State and Washington State would be left behind. (You’ll recall that SMU was on the short list for addition to the Pac-12 before the conference collapsed.) Such an addition to the ACC requires the approval of 12 of the conference’s 15 schools; four schools initially opposed the addition, but Commissioner Jim Phillips needs only to flip one of them to get a green light for the deal, and if the money is right, as we know, the deal will be done.

Meanwhile, representatives of the Mountain West Conference visited WSU this week to express their interest in having the Cougars join the league. The Mountain West contingent also is expected to visit OSU. And don’t rule out the American Athletic Conference, which has expressed interest in OSU and WSU. This link is to a story from The Athletic, the sports-news website owned by The New York Times, and Athletic content is available only to subscribers.

OSU President Jayathi Murthy sat down with The Oregonian’s Nick Daschel for a Q-and-A session that turned out to be a little light on fresh news — but, to be fair, Murthy wasn’t going to tip her hand (or maybe she just didn’t have any fresh news). She did concede to Daschel that rebuilding the Pac-12 would be more difficult if Stanford and Cal bolt for the ACC. Still to be determined is what impact all this will have on OSU’s $95 million athletics budget — but that hit almost certainly will be substantial. (This Oregonian piece is behind the newspaper’s pay wall.)

Meanwhile, Oregon State has not made any official decisions about whether it wants to continue its annual rivalry game with Oregon — and, truthfully, the Beavers are right to be concerned about that. The Big Ten, the new home for the Ducks, says it’s open to finding ways to continue the rivalry, but it raises substantial issues around scheduling, among other factors.

Finally this week: Margaret Atwood recently learned that 33 of her books had been used to train AI. Adding injury to insult, the books apparently were pirated. The Atlantic has her reaction to the news.

That’s it for this week. As I finish writing, the 2022-23 college football season officially has started … in Ireland. Notre Dame leads Navy, 21-0, as halftime looms.

Correction

The original version of this post misspelled the name of Oregon State University President Jayathi Murthy. The post has been corrected. I regret the error.

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