Your Weekend Reader for Sept. 4-6

by | Sep 4, 2021 | Journalism, Miscellaneous | 1 comment

It’s the Labor Day weekend, so you have an additional day to check out the cornucopia of curated material that I have carefully tracked down and assembled for your reading pleasure. (I sound like Stephen Colbert introducing his “Meanwhile” segment on “The Late Show.”)

Meanwhile … let’s get started.

The Labor Day weekend marks the one-year anniversary when a nasty wind from the east helped ignite some of the biggest wildfires in Oregon history. Here’s a story from Oregon Humanities (republished in High Country News, where I found it), in which writer Theo Whitcomb reflects on last September’s fire near Siskiyou Pass — and its aftermath a year later.

I try to follow the U.S. Supreme Court fairly carefully because, well, because I’m a closet high court geek. So I was surprised at how little I knew about the court’s “shadow docket,” which is how it upheld — in the dead of night — the Texas law that essentially spells the end of legal abortion in that state. If you share my ignorance about the shadow docket, here’s Adam Liptak of The New York Times with the details. Liptak also speaks to legal scholars who make the case that the court’s increasing reliance on the shadow docket, which has led to an increase in the number of unsigned orders without spelling out any reasoning, isn’t a healthy development. Here’s a similar story, from Moira Donegan of The Guardian. As far as the Texas law goes: I bet you thought that “The Handmaid’s Tale” was fiction, right? Finally, and on a somewhat hopeful note, here’s David Frum of The Atlantic suggesting that Texas Republicans may come to regret passing the law.

After a rough summer at the hands of the delta variant of the coronavirus, there is good news to report: The leading data scientist at Oregon Health & Science University now is projecting that the number of COVID patients requiring hospitalization could start to flatten after Sept. 6 and could begin to decline in October or November. Don’t toss aside your mask just yet, though: It remains to be seen how the opening of schools across the state will affect COVID numbers. Jeff Manning of The Oregonian/OregonLive has the story. Actually, on second thought, don’t throw away your mask at all — something tells me that it will come in handy yet again, and probably sooner than we think. Sorry to be such a downer.

And there is bad news about the delta variant, especially for sports fans: Many health experts don’t think it’s a good idea just yet for fans to cram themselves into stadiums to cheer on a favorite team. With the Beavers’ home opener scheduled for Sept. 11, this story from Kaiser Health News, printed in The Oregonian, is a good way for fans to assess the risks.

If you’re a fan of the murals in downtown Corvallis, here’s a burst of good news: After a vandal damaged a Rotary-themed mural on the side of the Blackledge Furniture building, a GoFundMe campaign required just a few hours to raise enough money to fix the damage. James Day of the Gazette-Times has the story.

I recently was at a meeting where participants mentioned some of the latest research on trees — how, for example, some researchers now believe they operate as a collective and can communicate with each other. That put me in mind of this recent book review from The Atlantic, which considers two new books on the topic and serves as a nice primer into the research.

Kyle Buchanan of The New York Times was at the Venice Film Festival, where he got to see Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s “Dune.” He says the movie is “dreamier and weirder” than your typical would-be blockbuster, and he raises some interesting questions about how it will fare when it’s released stateside Oct. 22.

Finally this weekend, set time aside for this provocative new piece from The Atlantic’s Anne Applebaum, in which she takes a deep and nuanced dive into what the right calls “cancel culture.” Here’s an excerpt:

Right here in America, right now, it is possible to meet people who have lost everything—jobs, money, friends, colleagues—after violating no laws, and sometimes no workplace rules either. Instead, they have broken (or are accused of having broken) social codes having to do with race, sex, personal behavior, or even acceptable humor, which may not have existed five years ago or maybe five months ago. Some have made egregious errors of judgment. Some have done nothing at all. It is not always easy to tell.

Yet despite the disputed nature of these cases, it has become both easy and useful for some people to put them into larger narratives. Partisans, especially on the right, now toss around the phrase cancel culture when they want to defend themselves from criticism, however legitimate. But dig into the story of anyone who has been a genuine victim of modern mob justice and you will often find not an obvious argument between “woke” and “anti-woke” perspectives but rather incidents that are interpreted, described, or remembered by different people in different ways, even leaving aside whatever political or intellectual issue might be at stake.

That’s it for this weekend. Have a terrific Labor Day holiday, and I’ll see you back here next weekend.

1 Comment

  1. Michele Griffin-Campione

    Great stories for a long weekend, Mike! Thanks!


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