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Dublin: 7°C Tuesday 26 January 2021

Sitdown Sunday: They adopted a daughter - but did they kill her 12 years later?

The very best of the week’s writing from around the web.

Image: Shutterstock/dourleak

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. They adopted her – but did they kill her?

shutterstock_337757009 Source: Shutterstock/dourleak

Rosario Porto and Alfonso Basterra adopted a baby girl, Asunta Fong Yang, from China. She was a gifted child, who spent her weekends attending classes in everything from French to ballet. But then, at the age of 12, she was found dead.

(The Guardian, approx 30 mins reading time)

By the time she turned 12 in September 2012, Asunta might have been expected to be getting fed up with being, to all appearances, a project child – someone who was determinedly being shaped into a prodigy. Once, when her mother was going through a list of after-school activities in front of acquaintances, the girl snapped: “That’s one that I’m doing because you like it!” But mostly Asunta seemed happy. She was talented, disciplined and enjoyed what she did.

2. LSD saved my life

shutterstock_359179628 Source: Shutterstock/SP-Photo

A freak brain haemorrhage struck Eric Perry out of the blue, leaving him depressed and with a strong fear of death. So he turned to tripping on LSD to see if it would help him feel better.

(GQ, approx 34 mins reading time)

My blood pressure is normal. I run regularly. I eat shitloads of kale. Aside from the occasional cheeseburger, I pretty much ascribe to the Mediterranean diet. But last July, climbing the stairs on an otherwise uneventful day of writing, my head exploded. I had heard about “thunderclap headaches,” and it was exactly that: a thunderclap of pain that began in my head and flashed down my neck, as though my spine were a lightning rod, before melting away. The experience fit the name so perfectly that I felt a bit of semantic pleasure.

3. Meet Miki

01-miki-agrawal-ad-2.w1024 Source: NY Mag

Miki Agrawal is many things, but chief among them is underwear entrepreneur. She invented Thinx, underwear that won’t leak if you wear them on your period, which have seen lots of chat online. She’s also a rather curious interviewee, and this article makes no bones about taking apart what she says on certain subjects.

(NY Mag, approx 27 mins reading time)

If Agrawal were a man, her type would be immediately recognizable: She meditates with the app Headspace, she does Crossfit, she has given a TEDx talk, she quotes Steve Jobs and Tim Ferriss. She is self-mythologizing, utterly confident even in situations where she has no good reason to be, and it all serves her exceedingly well. She is a tech bro — except she’s a woman, trying to sell underwear. Or, as she sees it, innovating in the “period space.”

4. What went wrong for Trump in Iowa?

GOP 2016 Trump Source: AP/Press Association Images

If you want to know exactly how Trump failed in Iowa, reporter Cianan Brennan has laid it all out for you. If you ever find the US political scene a little hard to understand, this should make things clearer.

(TheJournal.ie, approx 5 mins reading time)

The end result of the Iowa caucus was a formality. That’s what Team Trump had been telling everyone who would listen for months now. And a lot of people listened. As Trump himself tweeted back in December 2013: “No one remembers who came in second”. Trump’s never-ending certainty and conviction that losing is something he simply does not do, and his constant citing of his advantages in the polls, left most considered commentators forgetting that anything can happen in politics.

5. Writing about dying  

Clive James Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

There have been many prominent pieces published about dying, written by people like Clive James, Oliver Sacks and Jenny Diski. This piece looks at the art of the memoir about death, and what happens when a person outlives their projected death date.

(New Yorker, approx 10 mins reading time)

But a complication followed—among the only pleasant complications available to a terminal patient: James failed to die. Indeed, he continues to write, having survived that maple flaming twice over. In his new column for the Guardian, called “Reports of My Death,” he confesses to a twinge of embarrassment, as if he’d duped everyone with that guff about dropping dead. (A famous case of this desirable awkwardness involved the humorist Art Buchwald, who moved into a Washington hospice, in 2006, expecting to die, only to thrive there, dining on McDonald’s and holding court for months before ultimately moving back out.)

6. The unsolved mystery of the Long Island serial killer

Beach-Human Remains A cross where the body of Melissa Barthelemy was found in December 2010 along a remote stretch of beach highway in what has become known as the Long Island serial killer case Source: AP/Press Association Images

No one has solved the mystery of the Long Island Serial Killer yet,  though women have been disappearing and human remains have been found. Who is the murderer?

(Vice, approx 20 mins reading time)

The search for Gilbert led to the mass discovery of bodies just off Gilgo Beach, an undeveloped coastal park in Suffolk County, New York, and evolved into an investigation that has now lasted over half a decade, uncovering the corpses of eight young women. It has also produced the body of a trans woman found with teeth missing from her skull, a female toddler wearing hoop earrings, and unconfirmed suspicions about as many as seven other female victims who have never been verified by police as being part of the same killer’s spree.


shutterstock_147286310 Source: Shutterstock/Brocreative

In 1985, George Plimpton wrote about Sidd Finch, a talented pitcher who could throw an incredibly fast ball. He dropped out of Harvard to go to Tibet to become a yogi – which is where his baseball skills were discovered. Here’s his fascinating story.

(Sports Illustrated, approx 37 mins reading time)

He won’t tell me how he’s done this except that he ‘learned it in the mountains, in a place called Po, in Tibet.’ That is where he said he had learned to pitch…up in the mountains, flinging rocks and meditating. He told me his name was Hayden Finch, but he wanted to be called Sidd Finch. I said that most of the Sids we had in baseball came from Brooklyn. Or the Bronx. He said his Sidd came from ‘Siddhartha,’ which means ‘Aim Attained’ or ‘The Perfect Pitch.’ That’s what he had learned, how to throw the perfect pitch. O.K. by me, I told him, and that’s what I put on the scouting report, ‘Sidd Finch.’ And I mailed it in to the front office.”

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

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