Your Weekend Reader for Aug. 27-28

by | Aug 27, 2022 | Miscellaneous, Weekend Reader | 0 comments

As we move into the final few weeks of summer, you might be thinking that the nights seem warmer than in previous years — that temperatures aren’t cooling off the way they used to. Sarah Trent of High Country News reports that it’s not your imagination: Thanks to climate change, summer nights are hotter. And the impacts are many, from death rates to firefighting to agriculture, and they’re not good, unless you like smaller potatoes and weirder wine. Speaking of summer nights, tell me more.

In a story that is related to climate change, OPB’s Bradley W. Parks is reporting about a new study concluding that snowpack in the Cascades is smaller and melts off faster in areas burned by wildfires. It’s the latest bit of evidence suggesting that snowpack in the Cascades — a key source of water for Oregon communities and ecosystems — is particularly vulnerable to climate change.

In the battle against misinformation, researchers at Cambridge think they might have come up with a new weapon: In an essay written for The Conversation website, the researchers explain how they created “five short videos that ‘prebunk’ viewers, in order to inoculate them from the deceptive and manipulative techniques often used online to mislead people.” The researchers say exposure to their videos made viewers less likely to fall prey to misinformation. The piece on The Conversation was picked up by Harvard’s Nieman Lab, which is where I noticed it.

A faithful reader of Your Weekend Reader has called my attention to a story from The Atlantic’s Katherine Wu about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent relaxation of its COVID guidelines. If it seemed to you that the CDC’s latest guidelines essentially could be summarized as “We’re giving up; you Americans do what you want,” Wu agrees — and makes a good argument about how that could backfire in a big way as we head into the fall. By the way, COVID still is killing about 400 Americans every day. Those numbers have dropped over recent months, it’s true — but even at that reduced rate, COVID still would be the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States.

Here’s another story from The Atlantic that caught my eye because I’m right in the middle of this particular streaming nightmare. We cut the cable cord at my household years ago, not thinking ahead to the time when my father — a big sports fan — would be moving in with us. None of our streaming services offered much in the way of live sports, so we went searching for alternatives. (I know what you’re thinking — why not just go back to cable? Well, here’s my answer to that: Never! Never!) We tried Sling, but were unhappy with the results. I had to add Peacock, because my father — for reasons known only to him and his God — is a Notre Dame fan. We’re going to see how YouTubeTV works out for this sports season. In any event, this story by Alex Kirshner nicely sums up my stance on this: The headline is “Sports Streaming Makes Losers of Us All.”

The New York Times recently reported on a raft of recent studies strongly suggesting that regular exercise reduces your chance of dementia. And even vigorous housecleaning can qualify as regular exercise. Click here for the details. And it’s not just you: Here’s a story about how regular exercise seems to prevent dogs from developing canine cognitive dysfunction — better-known, perhaps, as “doggie dementia.”

It’s not all about dogs this week: The Feline Desk at Your Weekend Reader calls to your attention a story by The Atlantic’s Wu (she’s been busy) about why you should brush your cat’s teeth.– and then explains all the reasons why you probably don’t, which mostly boil down to the fact that you would prefer your hands in an unshredded state.

Speaking of fun things, the Times this week had a quiz you can take to rate your “fun vibe.” I’ve taken it twice now, and I am saddened to report that both times, my fun vibe ranked as “low-key.” It’s probably true. I’ll be at your party, but I’ll be the guy in the corner mumbling to myself about the stupid things I said at your party. (The quiz goes with an essay by Jessica Bennett about why we can’t have fun anymore.)

I hate to plug my own work in this space — oh, who I am kidding? I have a new story on the Oregon State University College of Liberal Arts website about the efforts underway to assure that OSU’s Arts and Education Complex, under construction now, will enjoy excellent acoustics.

That’s it for this weekend. See you next week, when we’ll mark the unofficial end of summer.

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