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Sitdown Sunday: Fighting sexism in Silicon Valley

Grab a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.
Jul 9th 2017, 9:00 AM 12,441 4

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 making and breaking of marines

shutterstock_576872671 Source: Shutterstock/Curioso

Hazing for new recruits at Parris Island was incredibly intense – and it wasn’t until one person died that the brutality was revealed.

(New York Times Magazine, approx 54 mins reading time)

Over the next eight months, Raheel prepared for the rigors of boot camp, installing a pull-up bar in the basement, drinking protein shakes, lifting weights, learning to swim. He told his parents he would still try to follow Muslim dietary laws and stay away from anything haram. ‘‘It’s going to be good, Mom,’’ he told her, before saying goodbye on March 6. ‘‘Don’t worry. I’m ready.’’ That call was the last time she heard her son’s voice.

2. Life with Cystic Fibrosis

Claire Wineland has Cystic Fibrosis, and wants to share the message that your life doesn’t have to be defined or held back by a long-term terminal illness.

(CNN, approx 21 mins reading time)

She’s on a mission to normalize sickness, push back at those who pity her and have a meaningful life for however long it lasts. Although she certainly has her down days — “Who doesn’t?” she notes — this self-described “goofball” tackles life with humor and the sort of charisma that draws people to her.

3. Sexism in Silicon Valley

shutterstock_598265408 Women have detailed the sexism they have experienced in the tech industry. Source: Shutterstock/Beatriz Vera

A number of prominent male Silicon Valley men had to apologise after this article was published. It details the experiences of women in tech, and how they have been at the receiving end of sexism.

(New York Times, approx 12 mins reading time)

The disclosures came after the tech news site The Information reported that female entrepreneurs had been preyed upon by a venture capitalist, Justin Caldbeck of Binary Capital. The new accounts underscore how sexual harassment in the tech start-up ecosystem goes beyond one firm and is pervasive and ingrained. Now their speaking out suggests a cultural shift in Silicon Valley, where such predatory behavior had often been murmured about but rarely exposed.

4. Dangers of climate change scepticism

All of the Republican candidates for the US’s presidential nomination were in agreement when it came to climate change. The issue, says this article, “has become a red rag to the political right”.

(The Guardian, approx 28 reading time)

It is tempting for anyone on the scientific side of the divide to want to apportion all the blame to the “alt-facts” crowd, who see elite conspiracies everywhere. But there is more going on here than dumb politics versus smart science. The facts are not just the innocent victims of politics. The facts have long been put in the service of politics, which is what fuels the suspicions of those who wish to deny them. The politicisation can cut both ways.

5. The opioid epidemic

NY: New York urges carrying of Naloxone Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

You may have heard that there is a terrible opioid epidemic in the USA. As a result of it, there are many children who need to be moved into foster care. This article tells their stories.

(Mother Jones, approx 18mins reading time)

Then Kelly had neck surgery and got addicted to OxyContin. By 2015, she was spending her days napping, disappearing for hours at a time, or going to her neighbor’s house, where she would exchange cash for packets of heroin. She started yelling at the kids, letting the fridge go empty and the house lapse into a den of cigarette butts and dirty dishes. “It’s like her personality did a 180,” Brianna said. “I felt like I lost my mom to this pit that I couldn’t pull her out of.”

6. How not to kill Kim Jung Un 

There have been a number of failed attempts on the lives of North Korean dictators – and they show one thing: you better not miss.

(Foreign Policy, approx 14 mins reading time)

Kim was protected during his guerrilla days by a band of bodyguards, which reportedly included his first wife, Kim Jong Suk, the mother of Kim Jong Il. North Korean histories of the period recount a battle in which Kim Jong Suk saved the future North Korean leader’s life in northeastern China, shielding Kim Il Sung from enemy soldiers taking aim at him from a nearby field of reeds and dropping the would-be assassins with her Mauser rifle. The tale has long been a propaganda parable about the need for absolute devotion to the Kims’ security, though there’s little independent evidence to back it up.


The USC Libraries Twenty-Seventh Annual Scripter Awards - LA Author Cheryl Strayed. Source: TLeopold

Cheryl Strayed writes about the love of her life – her mother – and how her death upended her life. She writes, too, of how the death contributed towards the end of her marriage.

(The Sun, approx 11 mins reading time)

The first time I cheated on my husband, my mother had been dead for exactly one week. I was in a cafe in Minneapolis watching a man. He watched me back. He was slightly pudgy, with jet-black hair and skin so white it looked as if he’d powdered it. He stood and walked to my table and sat down without asking. He wanted to know if I had a cat. I folded my hands on the table, steadying myself; I was shaking, nervous at what I would do. I was raw, fragile, vicious with grief. I would do anything.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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Aoife Barry


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