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Dublin: 6 °C Sunday 20 October, 2019

Sitdown Sunday: The billion-dollar sports team owner who drives a 20-year-old people carrier

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. Inside Syria’s death machine

Syria Images Holocaust Museum US Holocaust Memorial Museum visitor Marianne Kast, from Fresno, Calif., watches a slide show presentation of images of emaciated and mangled bodies from recent history in Syria in an exhibit of Caesar's photos. entitled Genocide: The Threat Continues, Source: AP/Press Association Images

Caesar is the pseudonym of a former military photographer in Syria. For two years, he copied thousands of photographs of torture victims. The Guardian’s Garance le Caisne helps him tell his story.

We’d say, “On Judgment Day, we’ll have to account for our actions: ‘What did you do during all these years with this criminal regime? Why did you stay?’” And we were afraid. What could we possibly reply?

The Guardian – 24 minutes reading time

2. Are mysterious commodities traders like Glencore and Noble too big to fail?

Hong Kong Glencore IPO Glencore International PLC Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg, center, speaks during the first day of trading at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange Wednesday, May 25, 2011. Source: Kin Cheung

On Monday, a massive company’s share price plummeted and the world barely batted an eyelid. There was no meltdown, but have big commodities traders become the new “too big to fail”? Jonathan Shapiro of the Financial Review examines.

But this was indeed a very “Lehman-like” moment. The tissue that connects the physical and financial worlds, which almost snapped in 2008, was strained. And the realisation that global commerce can grind to a halt if trust in the system evaporates became apparent again.

Financial Review – 11 minutes reading time

3.  Why have digital books stopped evolving?

Millennials News Source: AP/Press Association Images

The Kindle and e-readers were supposed to kill off books once and for all. But they haven’t. Why not? Craig Mod of Aeon says it’s because books have a loyalty that screens do not.

Containers matter. They shape stories and the experience of stories. Choose the right binding, cloth, trim size, texture of paper, margins and ink, and you will strengthen the bond between reader and text. Choose badly and the object becomes a wedge between reader and text.

Aeon – 22 minutes reading time

4.  Where are all the people going?

Mideast Egypt Source: AP/Press Association Images

Under the Sisi regime, Egyptians are being disappeared regularly. Sophie McBain of the New Statesman looks at one such case of three students who never came home.

When they finished their meal, they goofed around taking selfies. At about 8.30pm, after Souhaib had completed his evening prayers, they stepped out on to the corniche, the uneven, tree-lined pavement that runs between the river and a quiet, two-lane road. Shortly afterwards, the three friends disappeared.

The New Statesman – 20 minutes reading time

5. Where Chinatown Began

California Drought Source: AP/Press Association Images

California is in the midst of a drought. Vogue’s Abby Aguirre and George Steinmetz flew over Lake Owens and took beautiful photographs and tell an equally beautiful story.

We hang for a moment over “The Intake.” The Intake is where the river is diverted into the aqueduct, where it begins the long drop to the city. We refuel and turn around in the town of Bishop, 77 miles north of Owens Lake, not far from the Bishop Paiute Tribe Community. A Paiute man who grew up on the reservation, Harry Williams, tells me later of the dust storms that blew through the valley: “We couldn’t see our mountains.”

Vogue - 13 minutes reading time

6. Just live up to your dad’s name and solve the NFL’s L.A. problem, baby!

Raiders Del Rio Football Source: AP/Press Association Images

Mark Davis owns a sports team worth nearly a billion dollars. But he starts every day by driving his 1997 people-carrier to a Chinese chain restaurant and drinking iced-tea. Davis is not a typical NFL owner, but the Oakland Raiders aren’t a typical franchise.

He’s worth an estimated $500 million, but when he visits his home in Palm Desert, he drives a $12-a-day rental car to save the $50 cab ride to and from the airport. Until nine months ago, when back surgery prompted a regimen of exercise and healthy eating, he spent Tuesday nights with Oakland fullback Marcel Reece and ex-Raider George Atkinson at Hooters for $12.99 all-you-can-eat-wings night. “They never charge us,” Davis says, “but it just feels better to say you’re getting all you can eat for $12.”

ESPN – 19 minutes reading time

And a classic from the archives:


House sales Source: Yui Mok

Everything is for sale, right? Michael J Sandel in The Atlantic examines whether or not there are things money can’t buy.

When we decide that certain goods may be bought and sold, we decide, at least implicitly, that it is appropriate to treat them as commodities, as instruments of profit and use. But not all goods are properly valued in this way. The most obvious example is human beings. Slavery was appalling because it treated human beings as a commodity, to be bought and sold at auction. Such treatment fails to value human beings as persons, worthy of dignity and respect; it sees them as instruments of gain and objects of use.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

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