What we’re reading: Long cover story in the September Atlantic magazine on “Family Separation: An American Tragedy” by Caitlin Dickerson. This tells us in painful detail about the immoral separation of families at the border by our government under Donald Trump. It’s a terrific job of reporting, reinforcing our view that Trump or his ilk simply must not be president of this country again.
• As the calendar turns towards fall, football fans might want to start paying attention to Eugene’s own Justin Herbert. A product of Sheldon High School and the University of Oregon, Herbert is the starting quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers and may be the best football player in the world. Two years ago, in his first NFL season, he set records for the most pass completions and the most touchdown passes ever by a rookie. In his second year he was named to the Pro Bowl and led the Chargers to a winning record. If Herbert keeps improving, the Chargers could make a deep run in the playoffs and make Eugene proud.
• Pickleball wins a front-page story in the Sunday, August 21, New York Times, this time telling us that the fastest growing sport in Eugene and, indeed, America, is sending players to the emergency room. The Journal of Emergency Medicine estimated that there were 19,000 injuries in 2017, with 90 percent of them affecting people 50 and older. How can a sport with such an innocent name be so hard on knees and hips and backs and ankles? As the story goes, pickleball was named for the fact it comes from a combination of different sports — reminiscent of the pickle boat in crew, where oarsmen are chosen from the leftovers of other boats. That doesn’t answer the injury question, but now you know why it has a funny name.
• Looking for sudden celebrity? Think you can croon your way to 15 minutes of fame? American Idol is holding open call virtual auditions Friday, Aug. 26, for singers from Oregon who might become the next American Idol. You can either submit a 15-minute audition tape or audition live via Zoom for Idol Across America. Details at ABC.com/shows/american-idol/auditions.
• As Eugene Weekly Editor Camilla Mortensen was studiously not looking at the needle poking her arm, a press release came in from Bloodworks Northwest. The nonprofit provides almost all the lifesaving blood supply to hospitals in western Washington and Oregon and is sending out the alarm that inventories of blood supply to local hospitals have dipped sharply. Bloodworks Northwest is appealing to all eligible donors to make an appointment to donate in the days and weeks ahead, adding that there is a gap of more than 3,500 open appointments between now and Labor Day. For more information on where to donate (including donor centers and pop-up locations), go to BloodworksNW.org or call 800-398-7888.
• Great news came as we went to press Wednesday for this university town and its hundreds or thousands of student loan holders: President Joe Biden announced he is canceling up to $10,000 in student debt for many borrowers — as much as $20,000 for some — and extending a pandemic pause on payments through Dec. 31. While the program may have been well intentioned in the beginning, student loans in the U.S have turned into an abusive financial drag on loan recipients and on the economy, mainly benefiting banks and loan companies that continue to collect interest with little or no risk. Way to go, Joe, it’s a step in the right direction.