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Dublin: 18 °C Monday 13 July, 2020
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Sitdown Sunday: The nightmare voyage of the Diamond Princess

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

Image: Shutterstock/Joel_420

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 Diamond Princess

A look at what it was like on board the ill-fated Diamond Princess cruise ship, which suffered a coronavirus outbreak earlier this year. 

(GQ, approx 38 mins reading time)

For a week more, the Diamond Princess cruised on. The Amigos took a memorable kayak excursion in Vietnam, among the karst monoliths of Ha Long Bay. They enjoyed street food in Taiwan. But while there, panicky headlines and more temperature guns made the virus impossible to ignore. Still, they considered themselves safe, unaware that an 80-year-old passenger—a man who had coughed through the first third of the cruise before disembarking in Hong Kong—had been admitted to a hospital, where it was discovered that he was infected with the coronavirus. When the ship was two days away from returning home to Yokohama, a typo-riddled email from a Hong Kong port agent arrived in the inboxes of cruise line personnel, alerting them to the danger that had been found: “Would kindly inform the ship related parties and do the necessary disinfection in needed. Many thanks!”

2. A plan to kill

Richard Philips was innocent, but spent 46 years in prison. While there, he made a plan to kill the man who framed him.

(CNN, approx 35 mins reading time)

Two days after he was sentenced to life in prison in 1972, Phillips wrote a poem. It may have been the first poem he ever wrote. He was 26 years old, and had left high school in tenth grade, and now, with plenty of time to wonder, he took a pencil and set his wondering down on the page. He wondered about the color of raindrops, the color of the sky, the color of his heart, the color of his words when he sang aloud, and the color of his need for someone to hold. He missed holding his children, missed lacing their shoes and wiping away their tears, and he knew the only way he’d ever return to them was to somehow prove his innocence.

3. Pirate radio

Our news reporter Daragh Brophy looks at the legal loophole that caused the explosion in Irish pirate radio.

(TheJournal.ie, approx 10 mins reading time)

I said: ‘When am I starting’? Carey said: ‘Oh, in about two weeks’ time’. ‘Why?’ ‘Well you’ve got to get the Nova way. And the way to get it is you go to Los Angeles… I’ve got a condominium there and there’s a great radio station, Kiss FM. There’s the keys to the car, the keys to the condo – here’s your airline tickets. Bring your girlfriend and listen for two weeks to the station, to Kiss FM. That’s your job, you’re actually working for me, and come back as if you’re working on that radio station – absorb the philosophy of it. 

4. The day everything changed

An oral history of the day everything changed for America.

(Wired, approx 50 mins reading time)

Dan Pfeiffer: The Minneapolis airport that morning was empty—it was shocking. My flight was very empty. My wife had told me 100 times to make sure I wiped down everything in my area, and I’m sitting next to this guy—he’s actually watching Fox on the Direct TV next to me—and I wiped down everything. He sees me wiping down and I guess he sees that he has permission to do what his wife had also told him to do—so, he takes out his wipes and wipes out everything. 

5. Why the coronavirus is so confusing

It’s a very strange time right now, and it can be really confusing too. This piece explains why that’s the case.

(The Atlantic, approx 30 mins reading time)

Prasad’s concern is that COVID-19 has developed a clinical mystique—a perception that it is so unusual, it demands radically new approaches. “Human beings are notorious for our desire to see patterns,” he says. “Put that in a situation of fear, uncertainty, and hype, and it’s not surprising that there’s almost a folk medicine emerging.” Already, there are intense debates about giving patients blood thinners because so many seem to experience blood clots, or whether ventilators might do more harm than good. These issues may be important, and when facing new diseases, doctors must be responsive and creative. But they must also be rigorous.

6. Marie Kondo wants to fix your life

This is a really interesting look at Marie Kondo’s career, and how she has managed to turn herself into a brand – but how she’s also making some unexpected decisions.

(Fast Company, approx 15 mins reading time)

Over the past year, Kondo has been forced to negotiate the tension between her introverted personality and her desire to introduce her philosophy to larger audiences. Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, her Netflix series that launched in January 2019, went on to become the global streaming service’s most-watched nonfiction show of the year. Suddenly, Kondo was vaulted into a new constellation of stardom, alongside other goddesses of wellness and domesticity such as Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey, and Gwyneth Paltrow. By the end of 2019, she had established an e-commerce site, a blog, and a newsletter. 

…AND A CLASSIC FROM THE ARCHIVES…

Ever wanted to spent some time somewhere in complete and utter silence? The author of this 2012 piece writes about his time going on an extreme meditation retreat in India. It might not have been all he dreamed of…

(Men’s Journal, approx 25 mins reading time)

Not just silence. I have – we all have – signed a pledge to observe what’s called “noble silence.” This means no speaking, no gestures, no eye contact. “You must live here,” we’re told, “as if you’re completely alone.” There is also no exercise permitted, except walking. No cellphones. No computers. No radios. No pens or paper. No books, pamphlets, or magazines. Nothing at all to read. There will be only two simple vegetarian meals a day. My suitcase, with my phone and laptop, is locked away in the meditation center’s office. I have just a day bag, with a couple of toiletries, a med kit, and a single change of clothes. I’m wearing sandals and sweatpants and a loose T-shirt.

More: The best reads from every preious Sitdown Sunday>

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