Lunar eclipse coming Sunday night, though it might be hard to see

The celestial bodies are aligning for a show this weekend, though clouds over Portland might block it from view.

A penumbral lunar eclipse will take place late Sunday night in Monday morning, Nov. 29 to 30, according to NASA, gradually darkening the face of the moon for more than four hours. It will be the second lunar eclipse visible in Oregon this year, following a previous penumbral eclipse in July.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth’s shadow falls over the moon, and it can only happen at a full moon when then sun, Earth and moon all align. A penumbral eclipse is much more subtle than a total or even partial eclipse, as only the lighter outer shadow of the Earth (called the penumbra) darkens the moon.

During a penumbral lunar eclipse, the moon gradually grows a little darker until the maximum eclipse, after which it gradually lightens again. Unlike during a total or partial eclipse, the face of the moon won’t darken completely, and some people may not be able to notice a difference at all.

The eclipse is expected to begin Sunday at 11:32 p.m., reaching the maximum eclipse at 1:42 a.m. Monday, and ending at 3:53 a.m., according to

Whether or not we’ll actually be able to see it in the Portland area will depend on the cloud cover. While skies should be clear Sunday during the day, clouds are expected to roll in overnight, the National Weather Service has forecast.

Two more lunar eclipses will be visible in the Pacific Northwest over the next year. A total lunar eclipse is set to take place May 26, 2021, in the wee hours of the morning, and a partial lunar eclipse from Nov. 18 into 19, 2021 will be visible across all of the Americas.

A solar eclipse always occurs about two weeks before or after a lunar eclipse, said Jim Todd, director of space science education at OMSI, but this time most of the world will miss out: The next total solar eclipse will be on Dec. 14, visible only from Chile and some parts of Argentina. Some regions of South America, southwest Africa and Antarctica will be able to see a partial solar eclipse.

The Pacific Northwest won’t see another solar eclipse until the annular solar eclipse of Oct. 14, 2023 and the total solar eclipse of April 8, 2024.

–Jamie Hale; [email protected]; 503-294-4077; @HaleJamesB

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Oxford’s 2020 Word of the Year? It’s Too Hard to Isolate

The Oxford report also highlights words and phrases relating to social justice, including “Black Lives Matter,” “Juneteenth,” “decolonize,” and “allyship,” some of which surged dramatically starting in late May, amid the protests following the killing of George Floyd in police custody. But those increases, while notable, were nowhere near those of pandemic-related terms.

And the pandemic may have actually reduced the frequency of other topical words. Last year, Oxford released an all-climate related short list, topped by “climate emergency.” But in March, as the pandemic took hold, the frequency of the word “climate” itself abruptly plunged by almost 50 percent.

(Usage has since rebounded a bit, and the report also flagged the emergence of some new climate-related terms, like “anthropause,” proposed in an article in the journal Nature in June to describe the sudden drastic reduction in human mobility, and its impact on the natural world.)

The pandemic turned once-obscure public-health terminology like “social distancing” or “flatten the curve” into household terms, and made words and phrases like “lockdown” and “stay-at-home” common. More subtly, it also altered usage patterns for ho-hum words like “remote” and “remotely.”

Previously, the most common collocates (as lexicographers call words that appear most frequently together) of “remote” were “village,” “island” and “control.” This year, Ms. Martin said, they were “learning,” “working” and “work force.”

The Oxford report also highlights increased use of “in-person,” often in retronyms, as lexicographers refer to a new term for an existing thing that distinguishes the original from a new variant. (For example: “land line” or “cloth diaper.”) In 2020, it became increasingly necessary to specify “in-person” voting, learning, worship and so on.

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Progressive education hard to pin down because it’s everywhere

It is called progressive education. It took a beating in the 1950s, particularly from conservatives like Heinlein. In his novel, he describes a future time when humans are living on the moon and exploring the solar system, but the progressive commitment to student-centered learning in the United States has led to this class schedule described by the book’s hero, an ambitious high school sophomore:

“Social study, commercial arithmetic, applied English (the class had picked ‘slogan writing’ which was fun), handicrafts … and gym.” The school has no math classes beyond algebra and geometry, so the hero’s father persuades him to learn trigonometry and calculus on his own to pursue his dream of going to space.

Heinlein died in 1988 at age 80. He might be pleasantly surprised that in the real 21st century, even at a small-town school like the one in his book, calculus is likely to be available, as well as college-level courses in chemistry and biology and required reading of real literature. My visits to schools often reveal that despite Heinlein’s doubts, progressive education has deepened learning with projects and topics relevant to student lives.

Journalists like me often wrongly portray progressive education as nothing more than one side of a philosophical cat fight. We say some educators are progressive because they resist standardized tests, rote learning and emphasis on grades, and promote critical thinking and social skills. We say other educators are traditional because they give detailed lessons that end with difficult exams, focus on standard academic subjects and push more reading and writing.

It is hard to describe progressive education clearly because it exists, in my experience, nearly everywhere, with individual teachers doing their lessons in individual ways. Its most famous advocate was John Dewey, a philosopher and psychologist whose first book on the subject was published in 1897. Progressive education has influenced millions of teachers around the world. Many education schools remain committed to its principles, although are sometimes criticized for that.

Progressive and traditional education often entwine. College-level high school courses seem traditional because they prepare students for demanding exams. But those courses often encourage big projects with student interaction, such as mock constitutional conventions or model United Nations sessions. The pandemic forced cancellation of many such exercises this year, but they should be back next fall.

Schools seen as the most progressive, including private schools such as the Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., or the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools (founded by Dewey), have many students freaking out over final exams in the traditional way even though their teachers wish they would focus on learning rather than grades.

Some regular public schools have mounted big progressive projects. My alma mater, Hillsdale High in San Mateo, Calif., has for years done an annual reenactment of the 1915 World War I Battle of Neuve Chapelle. All ninth-graders read history and literature about the Great War, then divide into two armies, which clash on a March morning with squirt rifles and water balloons. Unlike

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It’s hard to make sense of college football in 2020. So stop trying!

Those of us who follow college football, the affliction usually acquired during childhood, might want to discontinue a few habits for this misshapen 2020 season. We should not be drawing conclusions from games we just watched. We should stop evaluating coaches whose games we have just watched. We can resume these pleasures once the world regains enough normalcy that it includes sacred endeavors such as spring practice.

a group of baseball players playing a football game: Michigan State wide receiver Ricky White caught eight passes for 196 yards against Michigan, including this one. (Carlos Osorio/AP)

© Carlos Osorio/AP
Michigan State wide receiver Ricky White caught eight passes for 196 yards against Michigan, including this one. (Carlos Osorio/AP)

Besides, right about now we should focus on the Ricky Whites of the world — or maybe the most Michigan-Michigan State thing ever.

The most Michigan-Michigan State thing ever was not Michigan State’s 27-24 win at Ann Arbor, but that outcome does deserve a self-correction here. Just last week, certain people got a little looped on Michigan again, as has happened during the six-season Jim Harbaugh tenure. Certain people saw new quarterback Joe Milton’s performance and postgame interview at Minnesota and began premature cooing.

Certain people should have known that, with the probable exceptions of Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State, no game in 2020 tells as much about the quality of somebody or other as we are all accustomed to the games telling. Everybody has undergone unprecedented upheaval. Consistency and ritual, those pillars of a football program and of the addled brains of football coaches, have gone disrupted. Positive novel coronavirus tests and subsequent contact tracing complicate depth charts. It should be clear we should not behave as we always have.

Ohio State’s brilliance was on full display in its win over Penn State

Michigan State committed seven turnovers Oct. 24 and lost to Rutgers, 38-27, at home. Michigan State committed zero turnovers Oct. 31 and beat Michigan, 27-24, on the road in a game in which Michigan, importantly, also committed zero turnovers. Such things have several explanations in a normal year but even more this year.

Already we have seen Mississippi State open at LSU, win, 44-34, score 41 points in the closing three quarters, and loose a bunch of assessment. Wow, Mike Leach’s approach to football really will work in the pugnacious SEC. Wow, this looks interesting. Well, Mississippi State has peppered the ensuing 16 quarters with 30 total points in four losses, including a game in which it produced a final score of 2, which always sounds lower than zero in the eccentric arithmetic of football.

Mississippi State defensive end Kobe Jones could have spoken for almost everybody when he told reporters after the 41-0 loss at Alabama, “Right now, I think I would phrase it as ‘under construction.’ ” The rest of us might go ahead and say it’s questionable whether Leach’s approach to football really will work in the pugnacious SEC, but we’re supposed to be learning to refrain from such.

We have seen Kansas State lose, 35-31, at home to Arkansas State and then beat Oklahoma on the way to 4-2. We have seen Iowa

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Melania Trump is having a hard time distancing herself from the president

The timing of the statement, about the care she is taking to prevent the spread of the virus while her infectious husband returned to the White House, was its own kind of statement. It seemed to be her way of answering an outcry of concern over the safety of the residence staff. This first lady with what can at times seem like an antagonistic relationship with the press, who rarely gives interviews or deviates from her prepared remarks at public appearances, was following her own playbook.

“It’s extraordinary in history, and it’s a direct contradiction to the way in which he is behaving,” says Myra Gutin, a professor at Rider University and author of “The President’s Partner: The First Lady in the Twentieth Century.” Gutin says she cannot think of any other first lady who’s released a separate statement from her own office so diametrically opposed to the president’s messaging — and with an election less than 30 days away.

“She very well may be responding to criticism of running a lax ship there at the White House based on her husband’s activities, and she wants to say, ‘No, no, no,’ ” says Katherine Jellison, a professor of history at Ohio University who has studied first ladies. “The criticism isn’t just from the press, but the general public. I mean, my social media feed is all about the Trumps and their inner circle acting like modern-day Typhoid Marys.”

A coronavirus quarantine was an excuse for the first lady to lay low, as seems to be her preference, and shrug off appearances for a campaign that is faltering among women and could benefit from her relatively higher popularity than the president’s. And yet, here she was, calling attention to her contrast with her husband, even as they were literally stuck together under the same roof. (He has since left quarantine to work in the Oval Office and resume campaigning).

“My guess is that she’s looking out for her own reputation and trying to distance herself from her husband’s apparently cavalier attitude toward safety precautions,” says Jellison.

Before the pandemic, “distancing” in Washington simply meant rhetorically backing away from some politically toxic figure or behavior. During the covid-19 pandemic, the first lady has made efforts to signal that she takes public-health guidelines seriously even if her husband doesn’t.

This could be seen as distancing, in the traditional sense: the first lady creating some daylight between herself and the president for the sake of her own reputation. Just as easily, it could be an example of Melania Trump using her public persona to project that there is someone sensible in the Trump White House as her husband seeks a second term.

“The health of Residence staff members and their families are a paramount concern to the First Family,” the statement from her office read. It talked about the mask mandate the first lady implemented for residence staff in April and how her office had hired a “well-being” consultant to help maintain the mental

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