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Dublin: 10 °C Wednesday 16 October, 2019

Sitdown Sunday: The true story of the Lorena Bobbitt case

Grab a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

Image: PA/PA Archive/PA Images

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 problem with extreme male body transformations

shutterstock_577867522 Source: Shutterstock/Alexander Lukatskiy

Extreme ‘shedding’ diets are popular in the male magazine world – but what impact do they have on men’s health and self-esteem?

(The Guardian, approx 13 mins reading time)

“It’s 80% about nutrition,” agrees his former colleague Mark Sansom, who ended the challenge with 48cm (19in) biceps. Eating four portions of microwaved fish a day took its toll. “You’d be forcing it down. It wasn’t enjoyable.” Avoiding alcohol – the nemesis of defined torsos everywhere – was difficult, too. “You realise how much British life is arranged around booze,” says Jon Lipsey, the Men’s Fitness cover star for May 2018.

2. She finds killers from her couch

Meet CeCe Moore, an experienced genetic genealogist, who uses her skills to find missing people and parents through DNA tests.

(Technology Review, approx 13 mins reading time)

She believes she knows the solution to several more murders. Announcements could come at any time. Moore has no scientific degree. Like other prominent figures in the genealogy community, she is self-taught. She’s perfected a set of methods that she shares at conferences, in courses, and on a closed Facebook group, TheDNADetectives, which has 90,000 members. Many are adoptees or children of sperm or egg donors who are looking for their biological parents.

3. The people who cannot smile

shutterstock_290804168 Source: Shutterstock/file404

What happens when you cannot smile?

(BBC, approx 15 mins reading time)

Without being able to smile, others “can get the incorrect impression of you”, he says. “You can almost read their thoughts. They wonder, ‘Is something wrong with him? Has he had an accident?’ They question your intellectual ability, think maybe he’s got some intellectual disability since he’s got this blank look on his face.”

4. Into the wild with Kanye West

Jon Caramanica spends three days with Kanye West in Wyoming. Does the speculation and gossip have any truth to it?

(New York Times, approx 25 mins reading time)

“[Tony Robbins] could look at me and you know, I don’t know why he mentioned suicide, but he could tell that I was very low,” Kanye recalled in early June over breakfast at the rustic modernist home here that he’s been renting and making music in. “Really medicated, shoulders slumped down, and my confidence was gone, which is a lot of the root of my superpower, because if you truly have self-confidence, no one can say anything to you.”

5. The oral history of the Bobbitt case

PastedImage-33521 Source: PA/PA Archive/PA Images

The Bobbitt case was a very famous one – Lorena Bobbitt cut off her husband’s penis one morning with a knife, and was soon in the tabloids and on trial. Here’s an oral history of the whole thing.

(Washingtonian, approx 25 mins reading time)

Lorena’s criminal trial was broadcast into America’s living rooms on Court TV, hooking the nation on courtroom dramas six months before O.J. Simpson climbed into his white Bronco. More significant, her ghastly act—committed, she testified, because her husband had beat and sexually assaulted her throughout their marriage—kick-started a national conversation about gender and power that presaged controversies that continue to swirl today.

6. How Assad gassed his own people

The New York Times did a huge in-depth investigation into a gassing Bashar al-Assad denied – even recreating for readers a virtual crime scene.

(New York Times)

The dents in the bomb’s nose, the lattice markings and the rigging that could be seen in the debris are evidence that the bomb was dropped from an aircraft. Because the Syrian military controls the airspace over Douma, it would be almost impossible for the attack to have been staged by opposition fighters who do not have aircraft.


Donna Minkowitz broke the Brandon Teena story – the young man whose murder was the focus of the film Boys Don’t Cry – but now she regrets a lot of what she wrote.

(The Village Voice, approx 20 mins reading time)

After moving to Falls City from his hometown of Lincoln, Brandon met a 19-year-old woman named Lana Tisdel and swept her off her feet. But a week after he was arrested on a check-forging charge, local police revealed his birth gender in the newspaper. A few days later, Tisdel’s friends John Lotter (Tisdel’s ex-boyfriend) and Tom Nissen forcibly stripped Brandon and forced Tisdel to look at his genitals; then they kidnapped, raped, and beat him, and subsequently killed him.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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