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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. The man who created Justin Bieber

Lizzie Widdiecombe profiles Scooter Braun, the man behind Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen and a host of other teen stars (New Yorker).

“You know what it is?” Braun asked me one day this summer. “My friend put it best. I’m a camp counsellor for pop stars.” Braun was in Los Angeles, where he lives, looking after his growing talent roster. His manner is amiable but volatile—half frat boy, half impresario—and he cuts the burly profile of an athlete during the off-season.

2. The origins of the Aurora shooter

Erica Goode and others recount the actions of James Holmes – who killed 12 people at a Batman screening – in the run-up to the killings (New York Times).

In classes, Mr. Holmes arrived early to grab a good seat, his lanky 5-foot-11 frame in jeans and sometimes a “Star Wars” T-shirt. He hardly ever took notes, often staring into the distance as if daydreaming. Uncomfortable when called on by professors, he almost always began his responses with a weary-sounding “Uhhhhhhh.”

3. In search of the internet’s cat obsession

Gideon Lewis-Kraus sets out to find the heart of the “online cat-industrial complex” (Wired).

The Internet’s preference for cats runs so deep that when Google’s secretive X Lab showed a string of 10 million YouTube images to a neural network of 16,000 computer processors for machine learning, the first thing the network did was invent the concept of a cat.

4. Guitars and the psych ward

ST VanAirsdale on finding his dream musical instrument, then losing it again (The Billfold).

The first hospital bill arrived in late June. My eyes roamed its surface: “If paying by check…” “YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR BILL. PLEASE PAY THE BALANCE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.” “Please pay this amount…” Along came the dizzying despondency of the Amount Due.

5. Pitching baseball on acid

Patrick Hruby on the long, strange trip of Dock Ellis, who took acid then took the field (ESPN).

Six hours earlier, Ellis had been in Los Angeles, nursing a hangover, dazed and confused, enjoying what he thought was his day off. Two hours later, he would be standing on the mound at San Diego Stadium, throwing baseballs he couldn’t always feel, in the general direction of batters he didn’t always see, trying very, very hard not to fall over.

6. The story of macaroni cheese

Sasha Chapman on the scientific development of Kraft Dinner macaroni cheese, the archetypal ready meal (The Walrus).

At Compusense, this data is entered into a computer program that uses statistical methods to create a sensory map of the various traits and where each product falls on the graph. To illustrate how this works, Findlay offers to make me a map for the boxed macaroni and cheese category, with one condition: first I must spend the day as a human detector.


In October 2006, Julian Dibbell set out to try a life on the edge of starvation – then wrote about it for New York magazine.

“Don, I need you to put 24 grams on each plate, please.” And so Don Dowden, attorney at law, commences weighing arugula on an electronic postage scale, carefully adding a leaf here, removing one there, like a drug dealer parsing out dime bags.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

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