Your Weekend Reader for Aug. 5-6

by | Aug 5, 2023 | Weekend Reader | 2 comments

I know I promised that this edition of Your Weekend Reader wouldn’t include anything about the collapse of the Pac-12 Conference — but then I noticed this column from The Athletic’s Austin Meek, who used to be a sports columnist for the Eugene Register-Guard. Meek compares the apparent demise of the Pac-12 to what’s happened to the Register-Guard newspaper since it was bought by Gannett. I’m not sure the analogy completely holds: Realignment is driven by a crazed drive to grab as much money as possible from what appears to be an endless supply of TV cash, while what’s happening to newspapers essentially is that the money got sucked up by other, more nimble and much more aggressive competitors and — oh, wait. The analogy completely works. In any event, Meek’s column nicely captures the feelings of many Pac-12 fans. (Again, I regret that The Athletic, the sports-news website owned by The New York Times, does not allow me to share “gift” links to stories, the way that the Times does.)

If you missed yesterday’s Weekend Reader special edition, all about the Pac-12, you can catch up by clicking here. I continue to add to that edition as I come across new stories.

As I write this on Saturday morning, it’s partly cloudy and pleasant in Corvallis, but it’s been a rough summer elsewhere. The New York Times has a story this weekend about how climate change and brutally hot conditions across much of the rest of the world are taking a toll on summer vacation plans. One would-be vacationer tells the Times she can’t recall another time when it was just too hot to even go to the beach.

A hungry cougar forcing a temporary closure around Cannon Beach isn’t the only big issue on the Oregon Coast, which faces trouble on a number of fronts. Oregonian columnist Steve Duin outlines the environmental threats facing the coast — and a good chunk of Oregon.

Speaking of the environment: OPB has a long and fascinating story about how the massive 2021 Bootleg fire in Southern Oregon has left behind thousands of charred trees — and big questions about the effectiveness of forestry-based carbon-offset projects.

Gov. Tina Kotek has signed the bill allowing self-serve gas in Oregon. The Oregonian has the latest details, plus handy tips for those of you who haven’t pumped your own gas lately. Here’s one important takeaway: After you’ve pumped gas into your car, don’t forgot to reattach the lid to your gas tank. I’ve done that. It’s aggravating.

Another month, another massive data breach of data from the state of Oregon: This time, hackers exploited a vulnerability in the file transfer program MOVEit to obtain the personal and medical information of 1.7 million members of the Oregon Health Plan, the state’s Medicaid system. You’ll recall the MOVEit program was involved in the last Oregon data breach, in which personal information from 3.5 million Oregonians was taken from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Lynne Terry of the Oregon Capital Chronicle has the story.

Paul Reubens, better known as his alter ego, Pee-wee Herman, died this week of cancer at age 70. As Kristi Turnquist of The Oregonian remembers, Reubens played roles other than Pee-wee Herman during his career, including a memorable turn as a lawyer defending a pair of Portland, well, “weirdos,” in the Season 5 finale of “Portlandia.”

The Nieman Lab at Harvard University has a story about a new test from Cambridge University that measures your susceptibility to misinformation: The test asks you to determine whether 20 headlines are either true or false. (The story includes a link so that you can take the test. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I missed one. To be fair, the test is a little harder than you might think.) One early result from the test suggests that younger readers are more vulnerable to misinformation.

That seems like enough bad news for the week. Here are a couple of brighter spots:

There is good news from Ashland, where the Oregon Shakespeare Festival has announced it has raised the money necessary to complete its 2023 season. Maybe even better: Planning is underway for the 2024 season, and a 90th-anniversary season in 2025. But OSF, like many other theaters across the nation, still faces serious challenges. Kristi Turnquist of The Oregonian/OregonLive has the details.

One of the numerous smart and funny moments in Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” centers on how the movie uses The Indigo Girls’ “Closer to Fine” to punctuate Barbie’s road trips. Here’s a New York Times story that explains how the movie has fueled a resurgence of interest in the song and in the long-running musical duo.

That’s all for this weekend. Have a terrific week and I’ll see you back here next Saturday.

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