• Climate change isn’t real, right? Tell that to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which is contemplating building a retractable dome over its outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre, according to a story in the Medford Mail Tribune. OSF lost $5.4 million during its 2017 and 2018 seasons, largely because smoke from persistent southern Oregon wildfires forced cancelations of late-summer outdoor shows in the iconic 1,200-seat theater. As Hamlet might say, OSF’s “majestical roof fretted with golden fire” — that’s perhaps an allusion to the cost of such a dome — will protect theatergoers from “a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.”

Oregon’s Sen. Jeff Merkley kicked off his re-election campaign July 27 in Eugene. So far, he has no opponent. What about Congressman Greg Walden from eastern Oregon? He’s the leading Republican politician in Oregon, but it’s unlikely he will take on the popular progressive Merkley.  It will be good news if Merkley has only token opposition because that will free him to help other Democrats try to take back the Senate from Mitch McConnell and his wrecking crew. November 2020 is not that far away.

Is this area a draw for homeless people because of good social services? The final City Club of Eugene meeting of the summer was a depressing one on the grim challenge of homelessness in the Eugene-Springfield area. The 2019 Point in Time count showed an increase of 32 percent in the number of unsheltered people from 2018. Speakers at the meeting were Lise Stuart from the county, Shannon Smyth from Eugene Mission and Kris McAllister, a leader from Carry It Forward, a grassroots organization supporting unhoused individuals. The recurring question about drawing people here was addressed by Stuart, a management analyst, who said we have no data to support that view. Dan Bryant said he has been invited to speak in countless Oregon communities, all seeking help with the same problems. What about prevention? What about more help from the state and the federal government? This was a meeting with more questions than answers.

• We’re all animal lovers at EW, so it was with sadness we read this week of the death of Chaser, said to be the smartest dog in the world. The enthusiastic border collie was owned by the late John W. Pilley, a psychology professor who taught her to understand more than 1,000 English words and then published an academic paper in 2013 showing that she could understand not just words but simple syntax as well. His work with Chaser — he trained her for up to five hours a day — confirms that many animals have a deeper ability to communicate than we give them credit for. Chaser, who was 15, died July 23 of natural causes; Pilley died last year at 89.

The UO womens’ soccer team opens its season Aug. 17 against the University of British Columbia right here in Eugene. We hope good crowds will gather, playing off the smashing success of the U.S. team in the World Cup.