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Thursday 1 June 2023 Dublin: 15°C
All Action/EMPICS Entertainment Eddie Murphy in the 1980s
# sitdown sunday
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. Serial liar?

Chris Heath meets someone who very little of us would dare spend time with: self-confessed serial killer, Thomas Quick. But when they meet at a Swedish jail, it transpires that Quick is not exactly what he seems to be. But what really went on in his life to lead him to this point? The truth may be more disturbing than fiction, but this story will certainly chill you. (GQ) (Approx 54 minutes reading time – 10817 words)

Sture Bergwall is better known to most people in Sweden as Thomas Quick, the name he took not long after he arrived at this institution in 1991. Quick is his mother’s family name. Thomas, he liked to explain, was the name of his first victim, a 14-year-old boy whose body was found in a bicycle shed, belt undone, trouser button ripped off, and face bloody. Bergwall was never prosecuted for that murder, because he was 14 years old when it happened, and by the time he confessed to it, the statute of limitations had expired.

2. Steubenville

Ariel Levy takes a look at the Steubenville rape case, where a teenage girl was assaulted by boys at a party. Levy travels to the town, finds out more about those involved, and the Steubenville attitude to young football players… and meets the blogger who aimed to uncover the truth about what happened to the victim. (The New Yorker) (Approx 49 minutes reading time – 9880 words)

None of the teen-agers who were at the parties reported what happened; for a few days, as the students picked over the evening’s events online, the police heard nothing. “Do you know how this started?” Steubenville’s chief of police, William McCafferty, a tan, strawberry-blond man, said one afternoon. We were in his office, a windowless room decorated with Snoopy memorabilia and a cymbal signed by the members of Aerosmith. “The victim’s mother and dad brought in a—what do you call them? Jump drive? Stuff they had found on Twitter, stuff that had led them to believe ‘This is our daughter.’ ”

3. Stuff and things

Christian Jarrett takes on our lifelong relationship with objects: why we collect them, how we relate to them, and what it all means. He tells us that our relationship with ‘stuff’ starts early, and that as we mature into teenagers, possessions start “to act as a crutch for the self”. So what happens when we become adults? (The Psychologist) (Approx 17 minutes reading time – 3513 words)

Most children have an unusually intense relationship with a specific ‘attachment object’, usually a favourite blanket or a soft toy. In an intriguing study by Bruce Hood and Paul Bloom, the majority of three- to six-year-old children preferred to take home their original attachment object, as opposed to a duplicate made by a ‘copying machine’. To the prospect of taking a copy, ‘the most common response was horror,’ says Nathalia Gjersoe, who helped run the studies. ‘A few very sweet and obedient children said okay but then burst into tears.’ Four of the children even refused for their attachment toy or object to be copied in the first place. That’s despite the fact they were happy enough to take a copy of an experimenter’s toy.

4. Executive maven

Lloyd Grove profiles the New York Times’ executive editor Jill Abramson, who has been in the role for two years and is the first female editor at the publication in its 160-year history. Rumours have emerged in recent months that Abramson is “unpopular”, so Grove meets with the woman herself to find out what she thinks of her two-year reign and reputation.  (The Daily Beast) (Approx 16 minutes reading time – 3381 words)

“I have some concerns about that,” Abramson says about allegations of arrogance, noting that one of the Times’ missions is to “hold powerful institutions accountable … I don’t think that the reporters do that with arrogance … I do think a really healthy thing for most journalists is to be written about—because then you have a sense of what it feels like.” Abramson acknowledges that “there’s ‘Good Jill’ and there’s ‘Bad Jill.’” When Arthur Sulzberger conducted her job interview for executive editor—the fourth he has appointed since taking over as publisher from his father, the late Arthur Sr, in 1992—she admitted to occasional “brusqueness.

5. This is your mind on Facebook

Alexis C Madrigal takes a look at what happens to our mind when we just can’t stop looking at pictures on Facebook (admit it, you’ve been there). It’s based on an anthropologist’s examination of Vegas slot machines, and is a fascinating – and perhaps frightening – examination of the effect of social media on our minds. You might not look at the internet the same way again.  (The Atlantic) (Approx 12 minutes reading time – 2402 words)

I know the hypnosis, as I’m sure you do, too. You start clicking through photos of your friends of friends and next thing you know an hour has gone by. It’s oddly soothing, but unsatisfying. Once the spell is broken, I feel like I’ve just wasted a bunch of time. But while it’s happening, I’m caught inside the machine, a human animated GIF: I. Just. Cannot. Stop.

6. Busted

Al Reinert recalls the time he was ‘busted’ at the infamous Sierra Inspection Station in Texas. He calls it “your basic pothead screwup”, as his stash was discovered by a sniffer dog. He isn’t the only person to have been caught with drugs at this location – as he tells us, Snoop Dog, Fiona Apple and Armie Hammer have all be found with dope in their vehicles there at one point. He outlines how things unravel when you’re found with contraband in Sierra. (Texas Monthly) (Approx 16 minutes reading time – 3303 words)

The rationale for all this effort was later explained to me by Carry Huffman, the deputy chief patrol agent of the Big Bend sector. “Every pothead isn’t a bad guy,” he said. “But every bad guy is a pothead.” By detaining people for a couple of joints, the Border Patrol, which since 2003 has been part of the Department of Homeland Security, is able to investigate everything about them, and this can occasionally lead to catching some genuinely bad guys. Car thieves and fugitives and completely clueless big-time smugglers—not to mention terrorists—all can be snared in the follow-up to the canine alarm.


In 1989, Eddie Murphy spoke to Rolling Stone about his massive fame. It’s eye-opening to go back to a time when he was a king comic and just becoming a tabloid favourite. Always an entertaining character, this profile gives an insight into his high energy approach to life, his treatment of ‘minions’ and how he is really just like Elvis.  (Rolling Stone) (Approx 38 minutes reading time – 7781 words)

His friends call him Money. He looks like money, like $40 million, if perchance one speculates. He looks crisp, controlled. He is twenty-eight yet not terribly youthful; he fancies himself much older, more world-weary. He stares straight ahead and seems to notice no one, but he see all and hears even more. Unless he’s erupting into his deft repertoire of character voices, his presence is shy, inscrutable. Usually he is sullen, almost somber – but this creates a quiet aura of power. You feel him before you see him; first you see his men. He is insulated by bodies, a cleaving pack of old friends and relations on the payroll.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

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