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Clayton Cochran/Instagram via CalFire

By Friday morning, the wine country fires collectively had become the deadliest outbreak of fires in California history, to no one's surprise.

Eight of the deaths occurred in Mendocino County, in the Mendocino Lake Complex Fires.  The number is expected to go up, and more days of fire lie ahead, unless the weather forecast is very wrong.

Residents who had to flee the fires took shelter in Ukiah and Willits. 

Ashley Tressel has been covering the story for the Ukiah Daily Journal.

Everyone from our parents to our doctors often counsel us to be positive. 

And just look at the tone on social media sites: be happy!  Those negative emotions do have their uses, though. 

Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener point out how, in their book The Upside of Your Dark Side

Robert Biswas-Diener joined us a few years back to demonstrate how those "negative" emotions can produce positive results. 

Visitor7, CC BY-SA 3.0,

It's not quite a trade war; not yet, anyway.  But there are bad feelings between the United States and Canada over softwood lumber. 

The stuff used to build our houses comes across the border with Canadian subsidies, says the U.S. Lumber Coalition.

And the United States is ready to slap tariffs up to 27% on the Canadian lumber as a result.  Oregon mill towns might see some relief, welcome news to Swanson Lumber in Glendale. 

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden supports action on the Canadian lumber. 

Oregon Public Broadcasting

There's almost as much buzz about the movie on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge takeover as there was about the takeover itself. 

Armed protestors took control of the refuge in January 2016 and held it for more than a month. 

David Byars made a documentary about the takeover, "No Man's Land."

It already played film festivals in Klamath Falls and elsewhere, and has picked up some awards. 

The film will be the closing event at Varsity World Film Week, Friday (October 13th) at 7:30 in Ashland. 

Sludge G, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Think of it as the "gig economy" on wheels: older people supplementing meager retirement income by traveling the country in vans and campers, taking odd jobs here and there.  Sound like retirement to you? 

Journalist Jessica Bruder hit the road with the weekday warriors to document their patchwork employment. 

The result is the book Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

It's a lifestyle that may become familiar to more people, with the skads of baby boomers retiring every day. 


It's a reality of life in our time that few parents get to stay home full-time with the kids.  So that makes child care very important to many families. 

The recent case of 43 children sickened by insecticide spraying at a Coos Bay daycare reminds us that things can and do go wrong in places where children receive care. 

Plenty of agencies are available to support and train providers, including the Oregon Early Learning Division and the Child Care Resource Network of Southern Oregon


The supporters of the Jordan Cove liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal put their application in front of a federal agency.  The federal agency said no. 

Then the 2016 election changed the direction of the federal government.  Now the Jordan Cove project is alive again, at least on paper... papers submitted once again to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. 

We examine the arguments for and against Jordan Cove and its 200 mile pipeline in separate segments. 

In this one, you hear from opponents of the project about why they are dead-set against pipeline and terminal. 

Almonroth/Wikimedia Commons

We learn more and more over time about the ways in which we group things and people in our minds, often unfairly.  It's hard to know you've got a bias, if everyone around you has a similar mindset. 

Now stop and think about all the computer and phone apps and algorithms, and the ever-larger roles they play in our lives.  They do not make assumptions... but the people who create them DO. 

This is what Sara Wachter-Boettcher explores in her book Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech

Gary Halvorson/Oregon State Archives

Douglas County government looks like a lot of other county governments in Western Oregon, but a change is in the offing. 

A "home rule" charter group proposes a shakeup.  If voters approve the change, the three-person board of paid commissioners would be replaced by a five-person board of volunteer county commissioners elected from specific electoral districts. 

It would potentially save the county money (in salaries), and bring the commissioners closer (physically, anyway) to the voters. 

Steven Babuljak/

You don't have to tell any journalist that the world is changing. 

The days when they worked just for the next newscast or press run are long gone, thanks to the Internet. 

And this is the zone in which the Online News Association works. 

Southern Oregon University professor Erik Palmer just returned from the conference of the ONA, where he was identified as a "disruptive journalism fellow." 

Bernd Schwabe, Hannover, CC BY-SA 3.0,

How far are YOU willing to go to get what you want... from a boss, from a mate, from a friend? 

When you're trying to get something from a superior, by definition, you're working UP the chain of command.  Or, to be blunt, you're sucking up. 

And guess what title Deborah Parker and Matt Parker chose for their book on the practice?  Yep, Sucking Up: A Brief Consideration of Sycophancy

As you might guess from the title, there's plenty of humor in this perusal of yes-man, flatterers, boot-lickers, and more. 

Robert & Mihaela Vicol, Public Domain,

We depend on language a lot, often taking for granted how speech works. 

It only takes one slight hiccup--in either speaking or hearing--for "excuse me while I kiss the sky" to become "excuse me while I kiss this guy." 

This is the research zone in which the University of Oregon's Melissa Baese-Berk works.  She's an associate professor in the Department of Linguistics, studying speech production and perception. 

An example of her work: trying to figure out if Neil Armstrong said "small step for A man." 


In card games, getting an ace is usually a good thing.  In life, not so much... at least when ACE stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences. 

Therapists and community service providers increasingly pay attention to the ACEs people have had in their life. 

It's part of taking a "trauma-informed" approach to providing services from education to public safety. 

This is a focus of Southern Oregon Success, working to build resilient communities in the region. 

Josh Estey/AusAID

The debate over solitary confinement brings us back around to a basic question about prisons: do we lock people up to correct their behavior, or only to punish them? 

Roughly 100,000 people are locked up alone in small cells every day, a situation Terry Allen Kupers explores in the book Solitary: The Inside Story of Supermax Isolation and How We Can Abolish It

Our region is home to California's only state "supermax" prison (Pelican Bay), so this is not a remote issue. 

Southern Oregon University

October is here, as you might have guessed from the appearance of pumpkins and halloween decorations. 

And on the first day of the month, we roll out our First Friday Arts segment.  It's a celebration of the arts in all of their forms... music, dance, painting, sculpture, theater... you name it. 

And you make the segment by calling 800-838-3760 with information about arts events coming to your town in October.  There's no guest other than our callers.

Once upon a time kids got the day off from school on Columbus Day.  Then we learned a bit more about Christopher Columbus, and his day got downgraded a bit. 

The post office will be closed on Monday October 9th, but not much else. 

On the Southern Oregon University campus, Indigenous Peoples Day will be observed instead, with a variety of ceremonies. 

Lupe Sims is the student who advocated for the observance. 

Sander van der Wel/Netherlands, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Leave it to an economist to teach us how to be happy. 

No, really... Paul Dolan's training is in economics, but his research focuses on the pursuit of happiness... and how to actually obtain some results from the pursuit. 

He joined us a few years back to talk about the process he advocates; book and process are both called Happiness By Design

CBS Television, eBay itemphoto frontphoto back, Public Domain,

A few gasps probably arose from the first crowd to see "Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo" in performance. 

It's a group of all men, dressed in ballet costumes normally worn by women. 

A recent documentary film about the troupe, "Rebels On Pointe," is the work of Southern Oregon University alum Bobbi Jo Hart.  The film shows at Varsity World Film Week in Ashland, which also coincides with Rogue Valley Pride Week

Yurok Tribe

We're often warned not to take the law into our own hands.  But it seemed appropriate to many Native American tribes to establish legal systems more tailored to tribal culture. 

The Yurok Tribal Court is one example of these efforts, several of which will are featured in a PBS documentary

Judge Abby Abinanti is the chief judge of the Yurok court. 

Oregon Department of Transportation, CC BY 2.0,

Who could use a little levity about now?  Al Gini's answer might be: everyone. 

Gini ignores advice from many quarters and examines WHY humor is so important to us. 

His book is The Importance of Being Funny: Whey We Need More Jokes in Our Lives.  Gini teaches business ethics at Loyola University Chicago and delivers philosophy segments on radio.