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7 great reads

Sitdown Sunday: What Britney said about her controversial conservatorship

Settle back in 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. Conan’s Irish goodbye

An interview with talkshow host Conan O’Brien about his long career, and finishing his TBS show on 24 June. Note: You can read three Vulture articles for free each month.

(Vulture, approx 28 mins reading time)

But what hasn’t changed is O’Brien’s desire to keep pushing himself, to find new ways to keep audiences — and himself — invested in his comedy. Giving up a nightly talk show in favor of a weekly show is as much about reinvigoration as it is abandoning the grind. In that way, O’Brien is approaching his next venture with the same philosophy he adapted when he took on Late Night all those many years ago.

2. The tyranny of spreadsheets

A look a the origin of Excel and what it means for us today. 

(FT, approx 10 mins reading time)

For accountants, digital spreadsheets were revolutionary, replacing hours of painstaking work with a few taps on a keyboard. But some things didn’t change. Accountants still had their professional training and their double-entry system. The rest of us did not, but that did not prevent Excel from becoming ubiquitous. It was, after all, easily accessible and flexible, a tool like a Swiss Army knife for numbers, sitting in your digital back pocket. Any idiot could use it. And goodness, we did.  

3. EU Ambassadors

How EU ambassadors gained more power during the Covid-19 pandemic.

(Politico, approx 10 mins reading time)

The ambassadors’ rise also represents a broader power shift in the EU in recent years, away from the European Commission and toward the bloc’s member governments. To be sure, the Commission wields considerable power in some areas. But in the major EU crises of the past decade or so, over sovereign debt and migration, it was the governments that ultimately called the shots.

4. In The Heights

A look at the discussion around colourism in the new film In The Heights, and what it all means. (Might require a login)

(The New York Times, approx 18 mins reading time)

But what makes these casting choices particularly egregious is that the movie is set in the Heights, which is known as Little Dominican Republic. At least 90 percent of Dominicans are of African descent, according to a recent population survey, and I am one of them. So why were we not prominently featured? As far as what the team could have done differently — it seems simple. They could have hired more Black Latino actors, not to fill a diversity quota, but because that would have reflected the truth of the neighborhood. Or at the very least, they could have been clearer that this film was not meant to represent them.

5. Free Britney

Read the transcript of Britney Spears’s fll statement against her conservatorship, which she spoke in court about this week.

(Variety, approx 22 mins reading time)

When I came off that tour, a new show in Las Vegas was supposed to take place. I started rehearsing early, but it was hard because I’d been doing Vegas for four years and I needed a break in between. But no, I was told this is the timeline and this is how it’s going to go. I rehearsed four days a week. Half of the time in the studio and a half of the other time in a Westlake studio. I was basically directing most of the show. I actually did most of the choreography, meaning I taught my dancers my new choreography myself. I take everything I do very seriously. There’s tons of video with me at rehearsals. I wasn’t good — I was great. I led a room of 16 new dancers in rehearsals.

6. The lab-leak theory

A look at the lab leak theory around Covid-19, and why ‘it doesn’t add up’.

(Foreign Policy, approx 20 mins reading time)

Blaming humans for disease is as old as time itself. It’s inherently hard to trace outbreaks that take tangled paths from their origin point to where they’re first detected. Without firm answers, humankind loves to invent stories, from the Black Death of the 14th century to the 2009 H1N1 outbreak. In the absence of certainty, both sets of theories—natural or man-made—seem plausible: like Schrödinger’s cat, for virology.


Let’s go back to 2016 for this personal essay on the pain of migraines.

(N+1, approx 25 mins reading time)

I begin to experience my own neurological symptoms at 26. I’ve suffered from migraines for years—when I was 5, my mother took me to a pediatric neurologist after I told her the room was spinning and I was afraid I would “fall off”—but this feels different. My head aches every day, but I’m also dizzy, weak, and exhausted. My vision snows out. I forget what I’m saying in the middle of a sentence; I forget even my friends’ names. To manage the pain, I take a dose of Advil most days.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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