Your Weekend Reader for Dec. 25-26

by | Dec 25, 2021 | Arts and Entertainment, Journalism, Miscellaneous | 0 comments

Merry Christmas! I promise that I’ll finally finish the last batch of Christmas cards this weekend and get them out in the mail pronto. (Who am I kidding: What I mean to say is, I’ll get started on the first batch of Christmas cards this weekend and get them out in the mail around Valentine’s Day.)

In the meantime, here’s a batch of readings specifically curated for you for the holiday weekend.

“It’s a Wonderful Life” marks its 75th anniversary this year. I’ve always thought that the movie owed much of its power to its willingness to embrace a certain kind of darkness — it’s a movie, after all, about a man who thinks he’s wasted his life. The Atlantic’s Megan Garber has taken a deeper dive into the darkness of “It’s a Wonderful Life” — and explains why that’s among the reasons why the movie feels as timely as ever.

Speaking of Christmas movies, here’s Kaitlyn Tiffany of The Atlantic, arguing that we should just stop talking about whether “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie. Good luck with that: Just this week at Market of Choice, I saw someone wearing a T-shirt about the Nakatomi Corp. Christmas party — and I thought the T-shirt was fabulous.

My guess is that this Christmas has increased the amount of clutter in your home. Here’s Jane Brody — who’s been writing about personal health for The New York Times for decades — with some solid suggestions for what you can do about it.

Have you been naughty or nice this holiday season? Or maybe, more to the point: Do you believe that you can designate most things in society as either “good” or “evil?” The latest study from our friends at the Pew Research Center shows that about half of all Americans (48%) say that most things in society can be clearly divided into good and evil; about 50% of Americans think the world is too complicated for such easy division. Not surprisingly, religiously affiliated Americans are much more likely to believe in the good-versus-evil split.

There is good news to share this Christmas Day: The James Webb Space Telescope has left Earth. If everything goes as it should (fingers crossed), when this telescope is operational, we’ll be able to see into corners of the cosmos that not even Hubble could reach — and some of what it sees will almost certainly shake science to its core.

There’s still a chance for a white Christmas in Corvallis, according to the National Weather Service. But technically, this requires at least 1 inch of snow on the ground — and if you didn’t know that there was an official definition for a white Christmas, now you do. (I didn’t know until Friday.)

Moving away from Christmas for a few paragraphs: Where would you guess is the location of the most electorally successful secessionist movement in America today? If you guessed “Move Oregon’s Border,” the effort to move some three-quarters of Oregon into Idaho — what would become “Greater Idaho” — you guessed correctly. Voters in eight Oregon counties have approved nonbinding resolutions supporting the border move. Antonia Hitchens has a new story in The Atlantic probing the movement.

We’ve reached the end of 2021, thank goodness, which means a batch of new laws passed by the Legislature at its session earlier this year are about to take effect when the calendar turns to 2022. The Oregonian/OregonLive has this handy guide to some of the newcomers.

We’ve been keeping tabs on what promises to be a long-running fight between Lee Enterprises, the owners of the Gazette-Times and the Democrat-Herald, and Alden Global Capital, the hedge fund that’s become notorious for buying newspapers and then institution rapacious cuts in newsrooms. Alden has embarked on a hostile bid to buy out Lee, and Lee (to its credit, and somewhat to my surprise) has mounted a vigorous defense. There’s nothing new to report in that battle this week (I think), but there is a new angle about hedge funds and journalism that I hadn’t considered: Hedge funds also are buying local TV stations, according to this piece from Don Day, published by the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. (This piece, by the way, is part of a series of predictions for journalism in 2022 compiled by Nieman; it makes for a lot of reading, and could have better organized, but it’s worth dipping your toes into.)

Two Christmas recordings have earned spots in my Holiday Music Hall of Fame — but each of them has a bit of a dark shadow. Click here to find out which two tunes have been enshrined.

Finally, I promised last week to link to what could be the most famous newspaper editorial ever written, Francis Pharcellus Church’s reply to a letter from 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon. Young Virginia reported that some of her friends were saying there was no such thing as Santa Claus. Here, courtesy of the Newseum, is how Church answered her. The editorial, which first was published in New York’s The Sun in September (!) 1897, actually is better than I remembered, and on this Christmas, here are some words from it to remember: “Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.” And here are some sad words from Virginia’s letter: “Papa says if you see it in THE SUN it’s so.” Hard to imagine any 8-year-old today writing that about any newspaper.

That’s it for this weekend. Have a wonderful — in every sense of the word — Christmas weekend.

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