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Dublin: 7 °C Tuesday 18 December, 2018

Sitdown Sunday: How did an ordinary Texan end up being the State's most prolific bank robber?

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

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 truth about recycling

shutterstock_731239045 Source: Shutterstock/

You might think that if you’re recycling, you’re doing good for the environment – but this essay shows that it’s much more complicated than that.

(Scientific American, approx 10 mins reading time)

Because of a legal system that favors corporate generation of plastic, plus public acceptance of single-use items as part of the modern economy, consumers who want to reduce their plastic footprint are faced with a host of challenges. We should carry around reusable beverage and takeout containers. We should avoid bottled water or sodas at all costs. When we have to accept a single-use plastic container, we should inform ourselves about the complex nuances of which types of plastic are acceptable (No. 1–3, but not No. 5?), which forms are acceptable (bottles and jugs, but not bags?) and where they can be deposited

2. The story of sugar

Ruby Tandoh writes about why we love sugar so much – and why we use it pop, in art, and on our plates.

(Eater, approx 19 mins reading time)

Sugar is “America’s drug of choice,” one headline claimed. “Is sugar the world’s most popular drug?” wondered another. Even those selling sugary food winkingly parrot the language of addiction — consider Milk Bar’s notoriously sticky, seductively sweet Crack Pie. A drug that decimated predominantly poor, black American communities is now a punchline for middle-class white indulgence.

3. Nardis 

Source: Ken James/YouTube

Legendary jazz pianist Bill Evans was captivated by a song called ‘Nardis’, and there are multiple version of him playing it out there. This great article looks at that song, but takes in a brief history of jazz at the same time. It’s crammed with anecdotes and stories, and will make you want to throw on some jazz after reading it.

(Believer, approx 30 mins reading time)

Though superb versions of “Nardis” have been recorded by everyone from tenor sax titan Joe Henderson to bluegrass guitar virtuoso Tony Rice, no one embodied its melodic potential more than Bill Evans. For him, Miles’s serpentine melody was a terrain he never tired of exploring. For more than twenty years, Evans played it nearly every night with his trios, often as the show-stopping climax of the second set. Indeed, he became so closely associated with the tune that some of his fans dispute that Miles actually wrote it, insisting that Evans deserves the credit.

4. How Trump radicalised ICE 

There has been a lot of talk lately about ICE – Immigrations and Customs Enforcement – in the USA. This longread shows how people who previously were not contacted by ICE have found themselves targeted, and how people are preparing to be deported.

(The Atlantic, approx 59 mins reading time)

A lithe, haggard man named Thierno told me that his brother had been detained by ice, awaiting deportation, for several months now. The Mauritanians considered it a terrible portent that the agency had chosen to focus its attention on Thierno’s brother—a businessman and philanthropically minded benefactor of the mosque. If he was vulnerable, then nobody was safe. Eyes watering, Thierno showed me a video on his iPhone of the fate he feared for his brother: a tight shot of a black Mauritanian left behind in the old country. His face was swollen from a beating, and he was begging for mercy. “I’m going to sleep with your wife!” a voice shouts at him, before a hand appears on-screen and slaps him over and over.

5. How an ex-cop rigged McDonald’s Monopoly game and stole millions

shutterstock_1135782566 Source: Shutterstock/BORIMATE PRAOKAEW

This story is a wild one – an ex-cop called Jerome Jacobson whose network of mobsters and drug traffickers won almost every McDonald’s Monopoly prize for 12 years… until the FBI got involved.

(The Daily Beast, approx mins reading time)

Dent’s investigation had started in 2000, when a mysterious informant called the FBI and claimed that McDonald’s games had been rigged by an insider known as “Uncle Jerry.” The person revealed that “winners” paid Uncle Jerry for stolen game pieces in various ways. The $1 million winners, for example, passed the first $50,000 installment to Uncle Jerry in cash. Sometimes Uncle Jerry would demand cash up front, requiring winners to mortgage their homes to come up with the money.

6. My dad was Steve Jobs

Lisa Brennan is the daughter of Steve Jobs. But she didn’t grow up in luxury – and when she was a newborn, her father questioned whether he was even her dad. Now she tells her story for the first time.

(Vanity Fair, approx 18 mins reading time)

Until I was two, my mother supplemented her welfare payments by cleaning houses and waitressing. My father didn’t help. She found babysitting at a day-care center inside a church run by the minister’s wife, and for a few months we lived in a room in a house that my mother had found on a notice board meant for women considering adoption. Then, in 1980, the district attorney of San Mateo County, California, sued my father for child-support payments. My father responded by denying paternity, swearing in a deposition that he was sterile and naming another man he said was my father.


How did an ordinary middle-class Texan end up being the most prolific bank robber the State had ever seen? That’s what this 1997 article asked.

(Texas Monthly, approx 41 mins reading time)

The revelation of the Polo Shirt Bandit’s identity was greeted by the residents of Oenaville with total disbelief. “This is a farming community,” said a neighbor who lives two houses down from the Guess family. “This is the least likely place in the world for something like this to happen.”

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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