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Dublin: 9°C Saturday 16 January 2021

Sitdown Sunday: Watching the world rot at the Web Summit

Grab a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

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. The Hygge Conspiracy

Hygge (it apparently rhymes with cougar) is a Scandinavian concept of design and “cosiness”. But is it all it appears to be? Charlotte Higgins of The Guardian says no.

To Danes, nothing could be less political than hygge – since talking about controversial subjects is by definition not hygge – and yet it is clear that the concept lends itself to political use. Davidsen-Nielsen and Jensen told me that the prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, was hyggelig – the kind of guy you could imagine having a beer with. “He’s folksy and informal. He’s one of the guys. And he gets away with murder – almost,” said Davidsen-Nielsen. “Hygge is a useful strategy for disguising power. Politically, you can cloak quite aggressive or radical acts with an impression of hygge.

(The Guardian, 29 minutes reading time)

2. Watching the World Rot at Europe’s Largest Tech Conference

Portugal Web Summit Source: AP/Press Association Images

When the Web Summit moved from Dublin to Lisbon, some wondered how it would go. Sam Kriss from The Atlantic called this year “where humanity rushes towards its extinction”.

For all the usual guff about dynamism and entrepreneurship, it’s clear that Web Summit isn’t really about showcasing new ideas or changing the way anyone does anything. The point is to attract buyouts or investment; this is how so much of the tech industry functions.

(The Atlantic, 9 minutes)

3. Learn From Lutz

Samford Auburn Football Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen (43) celebrates with fans after a win. Source: AP/Press Association Images

One catch in Auburn University’s road to the 2010 College American football championship made Philip Lutzenkirchen a hero. But four years later he would be dead, and his father would have to find a way to try save others.

The Troup County coroner, whose daughter had attended Auburn with Philip, delivered the news to Mike. Standing outside on his back wooden deck, Mike dropped to his knees and yelled, “Philip’s dead! Philip’s dead!” His wife and two oldest daughters also then crumbled to the ground, Amy shrieking with the pain of the realization that her world as she had known it had just ended.

(Bleacher Report, 19 minutes)

4. Sand’s End

You’ve probably never thought about all the sand that’s on Miami Beach. But Josh Dzieza of The Verge has. His piece tackles what happens now that the Florida beach has run out of sand.

The sea has been slowly cutting a divot into the shore in front of Miami Beach’s iconic Fontainebleau hotel, encroaching nearly to the promenade. Patching it would normally be a small job. But Miami Beach has a problem, one more cities will soon face: it has run out of sand in the ocean nearby.

(The Verge, 25 minutes)

5. What So Many People Don’t Get About The US Working Class

America is a majorly divided country. To the extent that some people just can’t get their heads around what attracted working-class people to Donald Trump. Law Professor at University of California, Hastings College of Law Joan C Williams writes in the Harvard Business Review that it’s not hard to understand.

The thing that really gets me is that Democrats try to offer policies (paid sick leave! minimum wage!) that would help the working class,” a friend just wrote me. A few days’ paid leave ain’t gonna support a family. Neither is minimum wage. White working class men aren’t interested in working at McDonald’s for $15 per hour instead of $9.50. What they want is what my father-in-law had: steady, stable, full-time jobs that deliver a solid middle-class life to the 75% of Americans who don’t have a college degree. Trump promises that. I doubt he’ll deliver, but at least he understands what they need.

(Harvard Business Review, 10 minutes)

6. The Man Who Would Be Spielberg

Spike TV Scream 2010 - Los Angeles Source: AP/Press Association Images

Robert Zemeckis has made films considered bona fide classics: Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, but has he had the career his early films suggested? Adam Nayman from The Ringer says the Oscar-winning Gump is where it started to go wrong.

Among the emergent crop of directors amblin’ their way through the early ’80s — Zemeckis, working directly under Spielberg’s tutelage, seemed to be in the best position to challenge his patron’s position. And the massive box office of Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, meanwhile, implied that he was on his way, reeling off a run of hits culminating in the triumphal success of Forrest Gump — a positively Spielbergian integration of old-fashioned Americana and state-of-the-art special-effects technology.

(The Ringer, 9 minutes)


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 – 67 minutes)

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.

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