Your Weekend Reader for Sept. 3-4

by | Sep 3, 2022 | Weekend Reader | 1 comment

It’s the Labor Day weekend. Go and have some fun. If you need tips on how to do so, a story at the bottom of this edition of the Weekend Reader may be of assistance.

But before fun, a dispatch about democracy in peril: Alert readers know the Weekend Reader has been tracking various pieces of what is emerging as the game plan for a second Donald Trump administration. This week, The Atlantic’s Jonathan Rauch put together the pieces — and if you like the idea of living in a free country, it’s not a pretty picture. (A subscription is required: see my note at the end.)

This summer, thank goodness, hasn’t brought a repeat of last year’s lethal “heat dome” event (at least not yet), but it did bring record-setting temperatures to a number of Oregon cities. That’s according to Larry O’Neill, an associate professor at Oregon State University, who also serves as Oregon’s state climatologist. OPB’s Todd Milbourn talked to O’Neill about how climate change is creating a “whipsaw effect” in Oregon’s weather. Intrigued, I took a quick look at the data from OSU’s Hyslop weather station located between Corvallis and Albany, which shows that July and August were hotter than usual in the mid-valley. The mean maximum temperature in July at Hyslop was 84.9 degrees, 3.5 degrees hotter than usual. The mean maximum in August was 87.5 degrees, 5 degrees hotter than usual.

Heat notwithstanding, it was a good summer for Oregon State University gymnast Jade Carey, who was named the USA Gymnastics Athlete of the Year. Her fall plans including hitting the books at OSU — while still continuing to compete at an elite level. OPB’s John Notarianni caught up with Carey for this update.

Here’s good news about Oregon’s growing “mass-timber” industry: The Oregon Mass Timber Coalition has won a $41 million competitive grant from the Biden administration to expand the use of mass timber in housing — particularly affordable housing. Mass timber refers to engineered wood products that are created by binding layers of wood together to create panels or beams; as OPB’s Kate Davidson explains in this story, mass timber advocates say the resulting products are strong enough to replace steel in multistory buildings. Mass timber will be used in the renovated roof at Portland International Airport. The grant will include money for a fire-testing facility at Oregon State.

Jeff Manning of The Oregonian/OregonLive is reporting this weekend about how a lack of health-care workers in Oregon and the resulting shortage of staffed hospital beds are putting thousands of patients at risk — and saddling hospitals with big financial losses. “It really does feel like the wheels have fallen off,” said the head of a trade association. But critics blame the hospitals themselves for the workforce shortage, arguing that tightfisted fiscal policies have driven workers out of the field. It’s an important story.

Speaking of workforce stresses, here’s New York Times columnist Tish Harrison Warren explaining why chances are good that your pastor might be burning out. And here’s a podcast from the Times’ Lulu Garcia-Navarro (late of NPR) on the same topic, a conversation with a pastor suffering from burnout who opened a facility to help other religious professionals facing the same issues. (A subscription is required for both stories; see my note at the end.)

A quartet of stories about journalism caught my eye this week. Here’s the rundown:

It’s not true that young people aren’t following the news, according to a new survey — they’re just not doing it via traditional sources like printed newspapers or evening news broadcasts. Also, the survey found, they’re not happy with what they’re seeing as they read through the news. Hey, join the rest of us, kids. The Associated Press’ longtime media reporter, David Bauder, has the details.

Even with younger readers following the news, though, the nation still faces the prospect of “news deserts” — large areas of the country, typically in rural or less-affluent areas, that are not served by any reliable news source. (Perhaps 70 million Americans live without easy access to an affordable news source.) Penny Abernathy, from the Medill School at Northwestern University, has a new piece exploring strategies to keep the deserts at bay.

Her Friday loss at the U.S. Open may mark the last time she appears on a tennis court in a singles match, but Serena Williams leaves behind an unparalleled record of accomplishment. Erin Whiteside, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Tennessee, argues in this piece that Williams’ legacy includes forcing sportswriters to broaden their coverage of tennis — and sports in general.

In July, an ABC News crew covering a wildfire in California’s Klamath National Forest transported a local resident to the scene of the blaze, where the resident identified her uncle as one of the fire’s victims — well before authorities were able to do so. (Under California law, only first responders and journalists were allowed at the scene.) The incident renewed a debate about the ethics of covering wildfires — and it’s a topic with resonance in Oregon, where a change in the law allows journalists similar access to wildfire scenes. Grant Stringer has a story about the incident, and the debate, in the Christian Science Monitor.

Here are three stories that offer considerably more fun:

If you could purchase an app that is able to translate the sounds your cat or dog emits — usually, of course, at 4 in the morning — would you buy it? Of course you would. And the cat app, MeowTalk, now is available (another company is working on a dog app). This New York Times story, however, left me thinking that you might want to hold off on the purchase, at least for now. (The app does offer a way to record your cat’s various sounds, which may prove to be a useful feature, as the story explains.) (A subscription is required.)

I spend way too much time thinking about which actor should be hired as the next James Bond. I do side with arguments that Bond should be played by a British actor — and I agree that it’s about time that a Black actor takes the role. (I lament that Idris Elba says he’s not interested, but maybe he thinks he’s a little too old.) So I read this story from Esquire about the current Bond betting with interest. In any event, let’s all agree now that Jessie Ware should do the next Bond theme song.

For reasons only it can explain, The New York Times appears to be on a “fun” kick these days: You might recall last week’s reference to a quiz to gauge your “fun vibe” — I rated as “low-key,” which seems fair. This week, the Gray Lady is running an op-ed drawing from California artist Wendy MacNaughton about how to have fun again. Her suggestions do not include spending more time on social media. (A subscription is required.)

Now, a note about the links in each Weekend Reader: I don’t apologize anymore for news outlets installing paywalls — some of the issues facing the news industry might have been alleviated somewhat if news organizations had done so much earlier. But I do try to ensure that at least half of the links each week in the Reader go to sources that allow free or limited access. (High Country News, for example, allows four free stories each month. And The Atlantic has placed some of its coronavirus coverage outside its paywall.)

With stories from The New York Times, I have the option to “gift” up to 10 stories each month to readers. So, if I list a Times story that you’re interested in, mention it in the comments, and I’ll send you a link.

That’s it for this week. See you next weekend. Now go and do something fun.

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