Your Weekend Reader for Aug. 6-7

by | Aug 6, 2022 | Miscellaneous, Weekend Reader | 0 comments

My wife and I met Friday with our financial planner, who was suitably contrite about the market over the last few months, but it wasn’t as if it was her fault — and to be fair, she has done an outstanding job overall with our retirement fund, although not quite to the point where I feel as if I could, you know, retire. She remains bullish about the state of the economy (that’s probably a requisite for the job, right? I would be alarmed if she advised us to cash out, invest half in gold and stuff the rest into our mattresses), but it is true that the economy is giving off what professional economists might technically call “weird vibes.” Ben Casselman of The New York Times tries to explain it all in this worthwhile story.

If you follow Your Weekend Reader, you know we’re watching Oregon’s midterm elections, and Friday brought a development that caught our attention: The respected Cook Political Report changed its ratings for two Oregon congressional races — the Fourth Congressional District and the new Sixth Congressional District — from “likely Democratic” to “lean Democratic,” suggesting that the races might be closer than expected. In the race to replace retiring Rep. Peter DeFazio in the Fourth, Republican Alek Skarlatos consistently has raised more money than his Democratic opponent, Val Hoyle. In the Sixth Congressional District, Democratic state Rep. Andrea Salinas faces Republican businessman Mike Erickson. Cook considers the race in the Fifth Congressional District, between Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner and Republican Lori Chavez-DeRemer, to be a “toss-up.” If you do the math, it’s not completely inconceivable that the state’s congressional delegation in 2023 could have four Republicans and two Democrats. (The state’s two senators, of course, will almost certainly be Democrats: Ron Wyden shouldn’t have any difficulty dispatching challenger Jo Rae Perkins.) Betsy Hammond of The Oregonian/OregonLive offers additional perspective in this story, available to Oregonian subscribers.

The fourth part of “Growing Oregon,” Jeff Mapes’ outstanding OPB series about Oregon’s unique approach to growth, was released on Friday. In this installment, Mapes examines how highway planners clashed with growth management rules beginning in the late 1980s. Mapes’ series — a keystone accomplishment for this distinguished reporter — is essential reading for Oregon residents seeking to understand how the state has developed in the manner it has.

It’s August — which means a look into the night sky might be rewarded with a glimpse of the annual meteor shower known as the Perseids. At its peak, you might be able to see more than 100 meteors an hour flashing across the sky. The event reaches its peak next Saturday, Aug. 13 — but a full moon might obscure some of the meteors. Here’s a story from NPR about the Perseids.

Writing in the Columbia Journalism Review, Gabe Rottman explores how the post-Roe v. Wade landscape poses potential challenges to press freedom. To help illustrate his point, Rottman starts the story in Ontario, the Oregon city that’s on the border with Idaho, and he paints a scenario in which an Idaho prosecutor could charge an Oregon news outlet with aiding and abetting abortion.

Vin Scully, the greatest baseball announcer ever, died Tuesday night at the age of 94. Tom Jones, who writes for the Poynter Institute, did a nice job of honoring Scully in this column, which includes links to other memorable pieces about the announcer, including a compilation of some of his greatest calls. There is a consistent thread to those outstanding moments: Scully, unlike so many of today’s announcers, knew when to shut up. By the way, I didn’t see this bit of trivia in any of the pieces I read: Chris Carter, the creator of “The X-Files,” named Gillian Anderson’s character, Dana Scully, after Vin.

In a bit of news from The New York Times that part of me hopes is an elaborate prank, the Gray Lady reports that the flavor of the summer is, um, pickle — thanks, apparently, to the creation of things like Trader Joe’s pickle seasoning. Can we expect Starbucks to roll out pickle-flavored coffees this fall? Now that I think about it, though, I bet pickle-seasoned potato chips would taste great — and, yes, it’s true: Pickle juice is the secret behind my potato salad.

It’s August, which is when my thoughts often turn to this question: Wouldn’t it be great if I could do nothing for even a day or two this month? It turns out that doing nothing is harder than it looks: Arthur Brooks, the Harvard professor who writes about happiness for The Atlantic, offers as evidence a 2014 study in which adults, left alone by themselves in a room for six to 14 minutes with nothing to do, eventually turned to any available activity — which included administering painful electric shocks to themselves. Brooks has hints for those of us who crave to carve time out of our schedules for — nothing.

That’s it for this weekend. If you want to find something to do this week, check out my calendar of local arts and entertainment events. Right now, though, I’m going to attach these electrodes to my body and just see what happens. It’s something to do.

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