Your Weekend Reader for July 9-10

by | Jul 9, 2022 | Weekend Reader | 0 comments

Here’s this week’s must-read piece, from The Atlantic: Staff writer Mark Leibovich set out to explore why so many people in the Republican Party are still “slavishly devoted” to Donald Trump. Leibovich focuses on two people in particular, U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a good bet to be the next speaker of the House of Representatives, and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham. You may recall Graham, after the Jan. 6 insurrection, telling his colleagues that he was through with the Trump ride. “Count me out,” he said. “Enough is enough.” Today, Graham says that’s not really what he meant. You can get the tenor of Leibovich’s piece from its Atlantic headline, “The Most Pathetic Men in America.” It’s adopted from Leibovich’s new book, “Thank You for Your Servitude: Donald Trump’s Washington and the Price of Submission.”

Are you planning a summer vacation that involves air travel? Read this before you head out to the airport: It’s a New York Times piece by an air attendant that outlines the steps you should follow this summer to survive the flight. Here’s the advice that caught my eye: If you must make a connecting flight, a one-hour layover won’t cut it anymore. A three-hour layover is a safer bet. An even safer bet: a direct flight.

Here’s a New York Times story about how nuclear power is getting a new push in the United States as politicians in both parties seek to meet growing needs for electricity and clean-energy goals. Oregon’s NuScale Power, which is working to design and market smaller nuclear reactors, gets a mention near the end of the story.

Cody Mann at the Gazette-Times broke a story late Friday about the city of Corvallis firing the supervisor of the Majestic Theatre, Jimbo Ivy. Ivy said he was fired for disobeying orders from his boss, Meredith Petit, the head of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, to hold his peace about the Majestic’s budget, even as advocates for the community playhouse were lobbying the city’s Budget Commission and City Council for additional funding. The city, as you would expect, declined comment about the firing, citing the confidentiality surrounding a personnel matter. So readers are advised that there could be more here than meets the eye. With that said, though, Ivy’s explanation seems credible — the city of Corvallis, like many other organizations, puts a priority on top managers being team players. This does raise the issue, however, of why Ivy didn’t resign instead of waiting to be fired. (He has been on paid administrative leave for the past seven weeks.) To my eyes, Ivy did remarkable work over the last seven years tackling a very difficult position at the Majestic, settling it down after years of chaotic management. It will be interesting to track the next few months at the Majestic. (Ivy has a long post about this on his Facebook page.)

Do you know which county in Oregon has the highest percentage of residents 25 years old or older with a bachelor’s degree or higher? Of course you do. But before you get to the end of this story from Stacker (Brad Fuqua picked it up for his Philomath News website), add to your degree of difficulty by guessing at these questions: Can you get within, oh, let’s say 3% of the actual number? Can you also guess how many counties have more than 50%? Can you guess what county is No. 2? I could say that I have prizes lined up for the closest guesses, but I won’t bother with such an untruth, because I know how smart you all are.

A point I neglected to emphasize enough in last week’s firehose of Pac-12 Conference news was that all of this is driven by TV money, in particular ESPN, which will soon hold all of the SEC’s media rights, and Fox Sports, which will be the Big Ten’s primary rights-holder. Of course, USC and UCLA will leave the Pac-12 in 2024 to join the Big Ten. Here’s a fascinating piece from The Athletic that looks in detail at the TV machinations behind what amounts to the creation of two college football super-conferences — and leaves everyone else behind. (And props to former LSU chancellor Michael Martin, who predicted this: “I think we could ultimately end up with two enormous conferences, one called ESPN and one called Fox. I’m not exactly sure what we do about it.” Martin said that back in 2011. Why, that guy should be a sportswriter.

Meanwhile, Jon Wilner of the Mercury News continues to be the one indispensable reporter for coverage of the Pac-12. He had five (five!) provocative pieces this week about how the conference can survive the departures of USC and UCLA. In the first piece, he listed the five forces that will dictate survival or extinction for the Pac-12: No 1: presidential leadership at the universities. In the follow-up piece, he outlined various merger possibilities. In the third installment, he outlined various expansion possibilities, but the sad truth, as he noted, is that “There are no obvious options, no schools that would add significant financial or competitive value.”

Meanwhile, the Pac-12 announced this week that it had given Commissioner George Kliavkoff the OK to formally begin negotiations on the conference’s next media rights package — a possible indication that Kliavkoff might have something up his sleeve. In fact, on Wednesday, Sports Illustrated reported that the Pac-12 was in discussions with the ACC for a possible partnership with ESPN. That prompted another piece from Wilner, in which he explained why expansion might not make financial sense for the Pac-12 for a fairly simple reason: Any addition simply isn’t likely to bring much revenue to the table in terms of TV money — and, as we all know by now, TV money is at the heart of this.

And then Wilner added another column on Friday in which he answered questions from readers about the realignment. One reader asked Wilner about which schools were the “have-nots” in the Pac-12, and his answer should sober Oregon State and Washington State fans. Here’s an excerpt:

Washington State and Oregon State are in serious trouble, with only two options: Remain in the reconfigured Pac-12, or lose their Power Five status.

That could mean falling into the Mountain West or tumbling into the Big Sky or a destination neither conceived nor created at this point. The situation is fluid.

But for the Cougars and Beavers, challenged like no others by finances and geography, the future is extremely fragile.

In all candor, I don’t see a home for them in the Power Five if the Pac-12 fractures.

In the meantime, have you noticed that OSU opens its Pac-12 season this year on Sept. 24 with a home game against … USC? Can’t wait for that one. And I had to chuckle at the OSU Beavers schedule website, which has this note about the game: “No recent news for USC or Oregon State.”

Speaking of sequels to items that appeared last week, here’s a follow-up to that report from Northwestern University about newspapers closing at an alarming rate: Steven Waldman, who leads an organization that places journalists into local newsrooms, argues that “news deserts” — areas without a reliable source of local news — are more likely to occur in poorer and older communities. Waldman says we’re becoming a nation of news “haves” and “have-nots” — and the implications are alarming.

That’s enough doom and gloom for now. Here are a couple of nuggets from the Weekend Reader’s Good News Desk, which has been sadly neglected over the last few months:

Why are young men — 25 years and under — dressing up in suits and sunglasses to attend screenings of the animated movie “Minions: The Rise of Gru?” Like everything else, it’s part of a TikTok trend. The New York Times explains everything in this story, which starts in Beaverton.

The James Webb Space Telescope is set to release its first batch of images — photos from deep, deep space — next week. Said one scientist who got a sneak peek at the images: “They were quite fantastic. It’s worth the wait.”

Finally, the coming week is a remarkably busy one for music of all sorts across the mid-valley. My curated and frequently updated calendar of arts and entertainment events has everything you need to know, and I should have a preview story about the Chintimini Chamber Music Festival, which starts on Friday, up on my website by Monday.

That’s it for this week. See you next weekend.

 

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