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Dublin: 6 °C Wednesday 13 November, 2019

Sitdown Sunday: The strange tale of the world's first serial killer

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 Sex Myth

sex-myth-jacket-final Source: Longreads

A new book looks at our views on sex, and how we judge people by certain standards. Its author, Rachel Hills, talks about what drove her to write the book, and why what we think about sex might be wrong.

(Longreads, approx 17 mins reading time)

I think of the Sex Myth as the weight that we attach to sex, and this idea that whatever we do when it comes to sex has huge meaning and is greatly significant. Sex is the window into our attractiveness, sex is the greatest pleasure that we can have, sex is a measure of how intimate our relationships are and how intimate other people want to be with us.

2. Princess Reema

Mideast Saudi Arabia Religious Police Saudi women look at jewelry at a gold fair in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Source: Associated Press

Princess Reema lives in Saudi Arabia, a country where women are subject to different rules than men. She’s also a social activist and CEO, and working to integrate women into the country’s workforce. Here’s how she does it – quietly.

(Fast Company, approx 24 mins reading time)

“Here, the words feministradical,activistliberalempowerment are not useful to my goals. I’ll lose half my audience.” To effect any enduring change in a culture that largely prides itself on resisting it, Princess Reema says she must simultaneously invigorate and soothe, while being careful not to alienate conservative thinkers by wielding her ambition too aggressively. In some ways, she’s walking the same line as female professionals everywhere.

3. The drug underworld

Mexico Drug Lord Escapes journalist climbs a ladder to get out of the tunnel that according to authorities, drug lord Joaquin El Chapo Guzman used to escape from the Altiplano maximum security prison in Almoloya Source: Associated Press

A Mexican drug kingpin escapes from a high-security prison – and it shouldn’t have been a surprise. Here’s how drug cartels are getting adept at creating illicit tunnels to smuggle goods – and people.

(New Yorker, approx 25 mins reading time)

Three other workers hauled the bags out using a makeshift elevator—a large metal cage connected to an electric pulley system. The sandbags were then piled onto wooden pallets in the loading bay. Occasionally, Carlos was joined by other overseers, who wore ski masks. They’d threaten to beat the workmen if their northward progress slowed. The workers gained about five metres a day. At that rate, they would pass the border in about three months and reach Otay Mesa a few weeks later.

4. Isis and the horror of sex slavery 

Mideast Islamic State Q&A Source: Associated Press

Islamic State uses various ways to control people – but one of its most terrifying is the widespread use of rape. As this article outlines, rape is used as a recruiting tool and is seen as normal behaviour.

(New York Times, approx 19 mins reading time)

“He said that raping me is his prayer to God. I said to him, ‘What you’re doing to me is wrong, and it will not bring you closer to God.’ And he said, ‘No, it’s allowed. It’s halal,’ ” said the teenager, who escaped in April with the help of smugglers after being enslaved for nearly nine months.

5. Serena Williams and tennis history

Doubles Final Wimbledon Source: EMPICS Sports Photo Agency

An interview with tennis ace and groundbreaker Serena Williams, about her very long and successful career.

(NY Mag, approx 25 mins reading time)

“I have lots of trophies, and I’m just — I’m not that person that needs to see all these trophies,” she says, under a blanket in the greenroom with Chip on her lap. “I have some in my house here, some in my house there, some I don’t know what happened to ’em. I have my grand-slam trophies … somewhere.”

6. Born this way

shutterstock_125008100 Source: Shutterstock/Uber Images

Some babies are born intersex, with ambiguous genitalia. This essay looks at the question of whether doctors should operate on intersex babies, or let the children decide their gender identity.

(Buzzfeed, approx 25 mins reading time)

 At M.C.’s birth, doctors recorded his sex as male. But they soon noted the infant’s ambiguous genitalia, and the presence of a “rudimentary” uterus that, they believed, could one day be used to bear children. His hormonal levels, however, were in the normal range for male babies, which raised the possibility that during prenatal development his brain had bathed in the high levels of testosterone that are typical for boys.


H._H._Holmes Source: Wikimedia

In 1943, Harpers covered the story of Herman W Mudgett (aka H H Holmes), the serial killer who operated in Chicago. He was the first documented serial killer – and although he confessed to killing 27 people, the body count might actually reach in excess of 200.

(Harpers, approx 34 mins reading time)

If ever a house was haunted, that one on Chicago’s South Side should have been. To this day, fifty years later, nobody knows precisely how many persons were murdered in it. Estimates range from twenty to a couple of hundred. Most, if not all, were women. It is believed that they were chloroformed, gassed, strangled, or perhaps beaten to death. Their bodies were destroyed in cellar pits containing quicklime and acids.

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

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

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