Your Weekend Reader for June 17-18

by | Jun 17, 2023 | Weekend Reader | 2 comments

Got an Oregon driver’s license? If so, chances are good that at least some of your personal information connected with that now is in the hand of cybercrooks. The Oregon Department of Transportation announced this week that hackers have gained access to personal information for some 3.5 million Oregonians related to driver’s licenses and identification cards. Lynne Terry at the Oregon Capital Chronicle has this story about the data breach, including steps you can take to monitor whether crooks are using the information to steal your identity. In the meantime, questions remain about when state officials knew about this — and when they decided to tell the public. The Oregonian is reporting that Gov. Tina Kotek’s staff knew about the hack on Monday. The Department of Transportation didn’t tell the public about it until Thursday. A website from the state about the data breach was working on Saturday, when I checked, but could not be accessed on Thursday night.

The walkout by Republican state senators that had hobbled the Legislature ended last week with a compromise deal that watered down two particularly contentious bills — one involving gun control and one on abortion rights. The Senate passed those two revised bills with no debate shortly after floor sessions resumed; they now return to the House. Terry, at the Oregon Capital Chronicle, had a good story explaining what this all means for those bills and for the rest of the session.

Speaking of the Capital Chronicle, reporter Alex Baumhardt has a compelling three-piece series online about — there’s no easy way to put this — the state’s failure to make progress in teaching schoolchildren how to read. Over the last 25 years, the state has spent $250 million on reading programs, Baumhardt reported, but the percentage of students who are proficient readers hasn’t budged, in large part because they’re being taught with ineffective methods. But there’s plenty of additional blame to go around on this particular failure.

Last weekend, we awoke on Saturday to the news that Unabomber Ted Kaczynski had died by suicide, which triggered memories of his arrest outside Lincoln, Montana. Here’s a New York Times story in which some of his victims reflect on his death by suicide and the warnings he sounded in his manifesto. (Times stories like this one and one listed just below are available only to subscribers, but I can send you a “gift” link to any Times story; just drop a comment below or send me an email.)

Seems like it was only a few weeks ago when Your Weekend Reader was linking to a story about how cultivating a sense of awe was good for your well-being. Now it’s time for gratitude to grab its moment in the sun: Here’s a New York Times story about how counting your blessings (sometimes, literally) can have benefits for your emotional (and possibly physical) health.

In a column filed just in time for graduation ceremonies at Oregon State University, Steve Duin catches up with Steve Woodside, a former basketball player for one of Ralph Miller’s teams at OSU. It’s an inspirational read, but Miller fans should be warned: Woodside still isn’t a fan of Miller’s style of coaching. (The column is available only to Oregonian/OregonLive subscribers.)

Speaking of Oregon State athletics, you might have missed a story by Nick Daschel of The Oregonian/OregonLive about the resignation of basketball assistant coach Tim Shelton, who’s headed for a new job at Colorado State. Shelton told Daschel that one of the main reasons for his departure is that he doubts whether OSU can be competitive when it comes to offering players attractive name, image and likeness (NIL) deals. “We’re not going to be Arizona,” Shelton said. “Not going to be Washington or Oregon. That’s fine. That gives us an extra chip on our shoulder. But we can’t be last in those resources. When it came down to my decision, I was worried about that.” Scott Barnes, the athletic director at OSU, disagreed with Shelton’s take, and Daschel included Barnes’ statement in his story. But I suspect Beaver fans are right to worry about the university’s ability to compete at the highest level in the rapidly changing landscape of college sports.

Brad Fuqua’s outstanding Philomath News website offered something unexpected this week: a column by Philomath writer Kyle Cupp about grief and moving forward after the loss of a child. It’s heart-wrenching but beautiful reading.

A couple of journalism-related notes this week:

Lydia Polgreen had a provocative piece in the The New York Times about the growing gulf between people who are willing (and able) to pay for quality journalism — and the many people who are not. It’s been a divide that’s marked American journalism for nearly two centuries, but the stakes now are much higher. (Remember that I can share “gift” links to Times pieces; just drop a comment below or send me an email, and I’ll send you the link.)

NBC reporter Ben Collins was among this year’s winners of the Walter Cronkite Awards for Excellence in Political Journalism, administered by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. This year’s awards focused on “best practices of TV journalism aimed at combating disinformation and defending democracy.” In a rousing memo to the judges that’s almost worthy of winning a prize all by itself, Collins writes this: “There is no meeting liars halfway, because the truth then becomes one-half lie. We must simply be louder, and clearer, with the truth.” The entire memo is a rallying cry in the midst of disinformation darkness.

As I have confessed in previous editions, I sometimes am tardy in returning books to the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library. But I felt better after reading this Oregonian story, about a library patron in Portland who recently returned a first-edition copy of George Orwell’s “1984” to the Multnomah Public Library — a mere 65 years after it was due. Like the Corvallis library, the Multnomah library no longer charges fines for late materials, a policy change that saved this Portland reader nearly $475.

Finally this weekend: I had to investigate why I was getting no good news tips from the Weekend Reader’s cat-news desk. The probe has determined that the editor at that desk literally has been snoozing on the job. Here’s the evidence.

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