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Monday 2 October 2023 Dublin: 13°C
# 7 great reads
Sitdown Sunday: The rise of buy now, pay later apps
Settle back in 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. Losing weight didn’t mean winning

Sam Anderson writes about how losing weight didn’t mean it changed him as a person.

(New York Times, approx 20 mins reading time)

“Wait, are you calorie-restricting?” my wife asked me, one morning, as she watched me counting almonds. “Hold on,” my teenage daughter said, “are you logging everything you eat and weighing yourself every day? I don’t like that!” I admitted that yes, I was doing those things, and that I didn’t particularly like it, either — it was not my first or second or hundredth choice. But I disliked the alternative more: eating when I wasn’t hungry, eating until I felt almost sick, mindlessly inhaling whatever heaps of processed food the multinational snack conglomerates managed to stick in front of my face all day long.

2. How JD Vance won his primary

A look at the how the Trump-endorsed Republican candidate won his Ohio primary earlier this month.

(Politico, approx 10 mins reading time)

Vance was hardly a sure thing. His campaign was outspent by his better-funded rivals, and he had a long history of making anti-Trump statements that could have gone over poorly with GOP primary voters. In February, his campaign suffered a damaging leak of confidential polling data that painted a grim picture of his prospects, chilled his fundraising and set off a forensic hunt for a potential mole.

3. Buy now, pay later

You might have seen ‘buy now, pay later’ options popping up online while you’ve been doing some shopping. It’s certainly getting popular among young people, but what sort of effect can it have on their finances? 

(SF Gate, approx mins reading time) 

“These buy now, pay later programs incentivize people to spend above their means, because they’re like, ‘Oh, well, it’s only this amount over four months,’” Celesta, a Bay Area fashion influencer on TikTok who posts as @itscelesta, told SFGATE. (She declined to give her last name.) “People almost like brag or joke that ‘oh, it was only 24 payments of $20’ or ‘I got it with Afterpay, so it’s technically free.’” 

4. Women on the brink 

More than four million women have been displaced within Ukraine, and the same number have fled the country, Azadeh Moaveni writes, reporting from the border of Poland about what the impact of this is. 

(London Review of Books, approx 29 mins reading time)

‘All the children here are sick,’ the social worker told me. ‘They’re all vomiting because of the journey they took, but this mother is fixating on that.’ She left me to look after the beauty parlour. I painted nails, plaited hair and pencilled in eyebrows for the rest of the evening. Most of my clients were little girls. The adult women didn’t want to play salon, but they gradually began to chat while their daughters received manicures. ‘I won’t wear make-up until the war is over,’ one of them told me. ‘But maybe I’ll dye my hair.’ Alissa, aged seven, asked me for a different colour on each nail. Her mother, Nella, said their hometown, Shostka, had been partially destroyed by Russian artillery.

5. Anonymity and life or death

When it comes to being anonymous on Twitter, for some people it can be a very serious matter – like for Alita, a trans woman living in Saudi Arabia.

(Rest of World, approx 10 mins reading time)

“If it was up to them, the government would have arrested and prosecuted me by now. But thank goodness that my information is private and I’m not known everywhere by my real identity. That’s why I’m still safe,” Alita told Rest of World in a private Twitter Spaces room. She requested to speak there, rather than on encrypted messaging apps, because she said it’s where she feels safest sharing her experiences.

6. How to cook intuitively

If you tend to worry about getting things ‘wrong’ when cooking, perhaps you need to learn how to cook intuitively. 

(The Guardian, approx 7 mins reading time) 

Nosrat says “cooking is all about using your senses” – especially common sense. “If you feel that some combination of ingredients would be disgusting, then it probably is,” says Pavlakis. “Your intuition is telling you something there – the same way as when you leaf through a cookbook, one recipe catches your attention, while five others don’t.”


The ugly history of perfume.

(Longreads, approx 15 mins reading time)

For more than a thousand years, humans have been adorning our bodies with animal products like ambergris and putrid-smelling plant derivatives like jasmine absolute. We apply off-putting materials to our bodies to enhance and mask our natural scents. Like dogs that roll in deer carcasses, humans seek to change our olfactory emissions by borrowing from other creatures. It’s not always about simply smelling good: We want to smell complex, so that others will be compelled to keep coming back, like bees to a flower, to sniff us again and again, to revel in our scents, and draw ever closer to our warm, damp parts.

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