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Sitdown Sunday 7 deadly reads

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. What I did on my summer holidays
Darragh McCausland on what led him to check himself into a psychiatric hospital, and what happened next (The Racket).

The bathrooms had no locks and the shower activated from a hole in the ceiling, rather than from a nozzle, which might support a noose. At that particular moment, with all the obvious means to harm myself removed, my situation seemed to me the better end point to a process that had only one other possible ending.

2. The worst job in the world
Mike Dash on the men who literally walked the sewers under London, trying not to drown in the rivers of waste (Smithsonian).

There were sluices that were raised at low tide, releasing a tidal wave of effluent-filled water into the lower sewers, enough to drown or dash to pieces the unwary. Conversely, toshers who wandered too far into the endless maze of passages risked being trapped by a rising tide, which filled the main sewers to the roof twice daily.

3. Meet Sam Israel
Guy Lawson on the Ponzi schemer who believed the US government was a sham, the Fed was running a secret bond market, and global finance was controlled by black-ops fixers (New York).

They gave Sam Israel money because they liked him—a gregarious, disarming goofball who, as a Wall Street apprentice, had invented an alter ego he called Captain Proton, a fearless superhero whose special powers were granted by vodka and cocaine. Now in his forties, he lived in a Westchester mansion, rented from Donald Trump for $22,000 a month.

4. Inside the sex-toy factory
Dave Gardetta tours the headquarters of the biggest adult manufacturer in the US (Los Angeles Magazine).

It is mostly women who work at Doc Johnson—on the sales staff, on the manufacturing staff, on the production staff. Men, it turns out, get flustered handling bodiless penises in the presence of women. “You have to be open-minded to work here,” says a sales rep, “but not too weird and into things. That ends in trouble.”

5. Amber waves of green
Jon Ronson looks at the secret financial lives of six people across America – from a dishwasher to a multi-billionaire (GQ).

“The drive-in movie theater and then the Incredible Pizza,” she says. “The Incredible Pizza’s got games and a buffet. You can pay $30, eat as much as you want, then play games until the money runs out. They have this tunnel thing going on.”

6. The Olympian landscape
Owen Hatherley on the real atmosphere at London’s gargantuan Olympic site (Guernica).

The result is uniform in a rather scary way. From the Westfield car park, it resembles the peripheral estates of the late Soviet Union, which also stood in public squares at eight-to-ten stories, and which were also often surrounded with an indeterminate kipple.


In January 2011, Ben Austen wrote for Popular Science about what might happen if robots gain too much power – and the measures scientists are taking to control them.

CIA drone crews unable to adequately discriminate between combatants and noncombatants have so far killed as many as 1,000 Pakistani civilians. And truly autonomous systems are taking on increasingly sensitive tasks. “I don’t know that we can ignore the Terminator risk,” Lin says.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

The Sports Pages – the best sports writing collected every week by >

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