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Dublin: 8 °C Thursday 24 April, 2014

Sitdown Sunday: 7 deadly reads

The very best of the week’s writing from around the web.

IT’S A DAY of rest, and you may be in the mood for a quiet corner and a comfy chair. We’ve hand-picked the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. My $500 Detroit house

Drew Philip was 23 when he bought a house in Detroit – a city suffering the effects of economic ruin following the collapse of its motor industry – at the age of 23. He was “determined to fix this broken chaotic city”.

Detroit is the true 20th-century boomtown, the most American of stories. In 100 years, we went from a backwater hamlet to one of the richest cities in the United States. Referred to as the “Paris of the Midwest,” it was the city with the most theater seats in the U.S. outside of Broadway, the silicon valley of the ’60s, the highest rate of homeownership in the nation. We boomed and we busted, hard and early, and like an alcoholic drunk on 20th-century capitalism, we hit rock bottom first and hardest.

(Buzzfeed– approx 31 minutes reading time, 6324 words)

2.Technical privilege

Philip Guo writes about fitting the ‘image’ of being a technical whizz, despite not having a tech background. This assumption affected his career in a number of ways.

(PG Bovine– approx 9 minutes reading time, 1997 words)

Instead of facing implicit bias or stereotype threat, I had the privilege of implicit endorsement. For instance, whenever I attended technical meetings, people would assume that I knew what I was doing (regardless of whether I did or not) and treat me accordingly. If I stared at someone in silence and nodded as they were talking, they would usually assume that I understood, not that I was clueless. Nobody ever talked down to me, and I always got the benefit of the doubt in technical settings.

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Pic: Gerard Fritz/Eye Ubiquitous/Press Association Images

3. The open-plan office trap

Maria Konnikova tells us that 70 per cent of all offices now have an open floor plan. However, it might not be all it’s cracked up to be.

(New Yorker – approx 5 minutes reading time, 1076 words)

In 2011, the organizational psychologist Matthew Davis reviewed more than a hundred studies about office environments. He found that, though open offices often fostered a symbolic sense of organizational mission, making employees feel like part of a more laid-back, innovative enterprise, they were damaging to the workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction.

4. Power and likeability

Ann Friedman writes about whether women can be powerful and likeable – or if something changes as females near the top. Can you be successful and liked?

(The Cut – approx 5 minutes reading time, 1118 words)

Tough love and honesty are supposedly kryptonite to most women’s likability, but when I think of the people I like the most, they aren’t the most agreeable. They are honest with me, but not so blunt as to disregard my feelings altogether. They are challenging, but don’t argue for the sake of argument.

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Pic: AP Photo/Rahmat Gul

5. War reporting

Patrick Cockburn looks at war reporting and journalists who journey to write about conflict. He examines if the ‘YouTube’ war has made things worse, and what impact the internet has had on the way war is reported.

(London Review of Books – approx 18 minutes reading time, 3762 words)

In 2001 reports of the Afghan war gave the impression that the Taliban had been beaten decisively even though there had been very little fighting. In 2003 there was a belief in the West that Saddam Hussein’s forces had been crushed when in fact the Iraqi army, including the units of the elite Special Republican Guard, had simply disbanded and gone home.

6. Wild women of Alaska

Eva Holland was one of those who took part in Alaska’s Wilderness Woman 2013 competition. The aim of the competition? To prove – in an ‘ironic’ fashion – that they would be worthy wives for Alaskan bachelors.

(SB Nation– approx 21 minutes reading time, 4323 words)

I wondered, as I waited for my heat to begin, whether the whole thing might be better suited to a gender studies dissertation than to a sports story. But it was too late now. A crowd of spectators had gathered along Talkeetna’s snowy main drag. Men placed bets on the probable winners. Women in colorful wigs and numbered bibs like mine drank from pocket flasks, and children and dogs roamed freely.

…AND ONE FROM THE ARCHIVES…

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File pic: Paul Faith/PA Wire

In 2009, Fran and Dan Keller were imprisoned for sexually abusing a child at a day centre. But were they guilty of being members of a Satanic cult?

(Texas Monthly – approx 67 minutes reading time, 13402 words)

A client of Hutchins’, whacked-out on drugs almost to the point of being comatose, was driven to the Cicada Recovery Center one night by one of her alters, who turned out to be completely drug-free. It was common for an alter to have different-colored eyes from its host’s. Scars that appeared on one personality could not be detected on another.

Interested in longreads during the week? Look out for Catch-Up Wednesday every Wednesday evening.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

The Sports Pages – the best sports writing collected every week by TheScore.ie >

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