Your Weekend Reader for March 9-10

by | Mar 9, 2024 | Weekend Reader | 0 comments

Would you look at that: Your Oregon Legislature wrapped up its short session this week ahead of schedule, after taking a whack at some of the biggest issues facing the state — and, perhaps even more remarkably, doing so in a bipartisan way. The Oregon Capital Chronicle has this solid wrap-up of the session.

Gov. Tina Kotek said on Friday she would sign House Bill 4002, which will recriminalize possession of small amounts of hard drugs, rolling back parts of Measure 110, the initiative voters passed in 2020. House Bill 4002 also outlines provisions to offer drug users multiple opportunities to enter treatment after an encounter with a police officer. I’m going to take a wait-and-see stance on this; much will depend on how the state funds these county-by-county “deflection” programs to get drug users into treatments. And there are still questions to answer about all of this will affect Oregon’s beleaguered court system. This story from the Capital Chronicle includes lists of bills lawmakers passed — and the bills that didn’t make survive the short session.

All in all, this seemed like a surprisingly productive session, but there is at least one shocking oversight: Senate Bill 1548, which would have switched Oregon from daylight saving time to standard time year-round, passed the Senate but never got out of the House. This is particularly timely, of course, because we’ll all be making the biannual time switch early Sunday morning as we “spring ahead” to daylight saving time, losing an hour they say we’ll get back in the fall, but do we really?

My position on the time switch by now is, I suspect, fairly well-known, but let me summarize: I don’t like it. In particular, the spring switch increasingly is linked to real health issues, as this new Associated Press story reports. And I never tire of linking to this “Last Week Tonight” segment about daylight saving time even though it’s nearly a decade old now.

Senate Bill 1548 wouldn’t have changed this nonsense immediately — the measure would have gone into effect only if California and Washington state did the same. So I wasn’t under any illusion that I would be freed any time soon from the chore of trying to track down and reset every last timekeeping device in the house. (Don’t forget your car!) But the bill was a little ray of hope that now has disappeared — just like that missing hour of sleep Sunday.

I know you’ve been complaining lately that you just don’t feel you have enough things to worry about. Well, here comes The New York Times with the first part of a terrifying new series from its Opinion desk, “At the Brink,” about the rising global nuclear threat. It’s all packaged in a multimedia approach featuring strikingly vivid illustrations. You’ll lose some sleep, but as we just established, that’s going to happen anyway.

Speaking of nuclear weapons, the Academy Awards are Sunday night, and I’ll have predictions on the blog about the winners in each of the categories either later Saturday or early Sunday. Here’s a spoiler alert: If you stray too far from “Oppenheimer” in your Oscar pool, you will lose.

In the meantime, it’s worth remembering that the Oscars, just like the Grammys, often get it wrong. Here’s a fun New York Times feature about some of the most notorious Oscar snubs. And here’s an Associated Press story about what a rare occasion it is to have movies that people actually have seen among the frontrunners. You may think that having a relatively suspense-free Oscar telecast would be a drag on the ratings, but the numbers suggest otherwise: The most-watched Oscar telecast ever came in 1998, when “Titanic,” as expected, dominated, and when James Cameron declared that he was “king of the world.”

One more note about the arts and the Legislature before we move on: Major arts groups in Oregon — the so-called “anchor arts organizations” — got some state funding out of the short session, an improvement over the 2023 session, which didn’t appropriate any money at all to arts organizations. Two notable omissions, though, as Lizzy Acker reports for The Oregonian/OregonLive: The High Desert Museum in Bend didn’t get an expected $2 million for its capital improvement campaign. And an additional $13.5 million to develop and implement a grant program for smaller Oregon cultural organizations still struggling in the wake of the pandemic didn’t make the cut. Now, I have nothing at all against Oregon’s “anchor arts” entities, but the state’s small arts organizations also need help — and even a smaller grant could help those organizations, which serve communities statewide and not just within an hour of Interstate 5, keep their doors open.

Speaking of “Last Week Tonight,” as we were a couple of paragraphs earlier, it featured a blistering report about the woes at Boeing on its most recent episode. The segment, naturally, starts with the incident in which a door panel fell off a Boeing craft while it was in flight over Oregon. (The panel turned up in an Oregon teacher’s backyard.) Now, the AP reports that that Boeing officials have told Congress that the company cannot find records for work done on that door panel. The company’s “working hypothesis” is that the records about the panel’s removal and reinstallation on the 737 MAX assembly line never were created.

Finally this week, something completely unexpected: Nieman Lab’s Laura Hazard Owen had a long conversation recently with Ellie Hall, who worked covering Britain’s royal family for Buzzfeed News for a decade, until Buzzfeed shuttered its operations last year. If you follow the royals, you’ll know there are a number of conspiracy theories these days surrounding the whereabouts of Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales. Normally, I’m not a big watcher of the doings surrounding the royals, but I still found Owen’s interview fascinating, and you might as well.

That’s all for this weekend. When we gather here next weekend, if you’re still groggy and bitter over the loss of that hour of sleep, I’ll understand.

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