Only a few shopping weeks remain until Christmas — but if you’d rather blow another couple of days with carefully curated and provocative reading selections, that’s a good choice as well, especially for what could be a rainy weekend.
Let’s start with bad news close to home: The New York Times has a new story about the rising threats facing members of school boards across the nation. I can hear you saying: “Sure, that’s in other communities, but not in Corvallis.” You will be surprised, then, to learn that this story focuses on Corvallis, with Sami Al-Abdrabbuh, the chair of the Corvallis School District Board of Trustees, talking frankly about death threats he receives and how he scans his driveway every morning before he walks to his car. I don’t know how you’ll react to the story, but I went through moments of anger and disbelief reading it — how could we get to this point? — and ended with deep sorrow that, even here, we have dropped to this point.
Here’s a somewhat related story: On Election Day, Harney County became the eighth Oregon county to approve a resolution calling for local officials to hold hearings on moving the county into Idaho. It’s the latest manifestation of Oregon’s rural-urban split, with rural residents saying the state’s leadership is out of step with rural issues and urban Oregonians saying “Harney County is in Oregon? Really?” The longshot idea behind all this is to pull a good chunk of eastern and southern Oregon into “Greater Idaho.” What we now recognize as “Oregon” would stretch a bit to the east of the Cascades and would stop south of Eugene. Douglas Perry of The Oregonian/OregonLive has the story.
Speaking of the Cascade Mountains, snowpack there is gravely threatened by climate change, according to a new analysis. That, of course, has huge implications for the region, including water supply, agriculture, recreation and more. The analysis found that the Pacific Northwest could see little or no snowpack by the 2070s. Bradley W. Parks of OPB has the story.
The lead story on last Sunday’s edition of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” looked at homelessness — and, more specifically, the perceptions many of us hold about people who are homeless. Oliver also called out communities in deep blue states where these attitudes persist, but I can’t think of any such communities that immediately come to mind. (Warning: This segment also contains profanity, a oddly disturbing — but weirdly appropriate — reference to the original “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” and repeated clips from a song called “It’s Raining Tacos.”)
Another week, another story involving COVID vaccinations and football: Here’s The Atlantic’s Jemele Hill with a piece offering a reasonable explanation for why Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers thought he could get away with breaking the NFL’s COVID rules — because Rodgers, the league’s reigning MVP, is a big star. Hill also argues that the Packers organization and the NFL likely are complicit in this affair as well. In retrospect, maybe Rodgers should have been named the new host of “Jeopardy!”
Here’s an obituary from The New York Times about Julie Green, the Oregon State University art professor who created the art project “The Last Supper,” which memorialized the last meals of convicts about to be executed. Green planned to continue the project until capital punishment was outlawed or until wrapping up work on the 1,000th image in the series. Green finished that 1,000th image (a bottle of Coca-Cola requested by a Texas inmate) in September. Green, who had ovarian cancer, died Oct. 12 at home of physician-assisted suicide, which is allowed under the Oregon Death with Dignity Act. The Gazette-Times has an obituary as well, but the Times piece goes into considerably more detail about Green’s artwork.
This is the weekend we switch over to Standard Time, which means we set our clocks back an hour at 2 a.m. Sunday. Among my many unsuccessful editorial campaigns over the year, arguably the least successful was my regular plea to the nation to junk the twice-annual time switch, which evidence increasingly suggests comes with very real health costs and lost productivity. The only good news about the time switch this weekend is that we pick up an extra hour. Here are suggestions, courtesy of The Atlantic, for how you might want to spend that extra hour. I myself am partial to No. 7: Grab an extra hour of sleep. Goodness knows, we need it.
So, yes, I understand if you feel as if you need something to brighten your mood. Here’s a suggestion: The Oregon State University Theatre Department has returned to the stage with a production of “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.” It’s playing this weekend and next. Here’s the best part: Tickets are free. If you want more information about the production, click here to read my story. And this would be a good time to remind you to keep an eye on my frequently updated curated calendar of arts and entertainment events going on around the mid-valley. See you next week. And remember, to paraphrase Faron Young: “It’s a great life, if you don’t weaken. But who wants to be strong?”