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Sitdown Sunday: Radical think-tanks reshape the Conservative party

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

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party.
Boris Johnson, Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party.
Image: Dan Kitwood

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 vaping crisis 

A look at the vaping company Juul and how it marketed itself towards teens in the USA.

(New York Times, approx 20 mins reading time)

“We never wanted any non-nicotine user and certainly nobody underage to ever use Juul products,” James Monsees, a co-founder of the company, testified at a congressional hearing in July. But in reality, the company was never just about helping adult smokers, according to interviews with former executives, employees and investors, along with reviews of legal filings and social media archives.

2. Amazon workers and their injuries

Amazon workers talk about the impact working in the warehouses has on their bodies and health. 

(The Atlantic, approx 25 mins reading time)

The clock was always ticking on Amazon’s promised delivery time. Dixon had to scan a new item every 11 seconds to hit her quota, she said, and Amazon always knew when she didn’t. Dixon’s scan rate—more than 300 items an hour, thousands of individual products a day—was being tracked constantly, the data flowing to managers in real time, then crunched by a proprietary software system called ADAPT. She knew, like the thousands of other workers there, that if she didn’t hit her target speed, she would be written up, and if she didn’t improve, she eventually would be fired.

3. Inside the fall of WeWork 

A deep-dive into the controversial business WeWork, and how things when from high highs to low lows. 

(Vanity Fair, approx 27 mins reading time)

For an embattled CEO running a company on life support, being the subject of a takedown by the business paper of record would mean instant career death. But Neumann, characteristically, assured colleagues that the article was not much more than a speed bump. He controlled 65 percent of the stock and had the power to fire the board of directors if the board moved against him. (So confident was Neumann of his job security that he once declared during a company meeting that his descendants would be running WeWork in 300 years.)

4. Women’s health 

Imogen West-Knights writes about how new literature is examining women’s pain and confronting how medical professionals treat patients.

(New Statesman, approx 15 mins reading time)

The list of conditions is long: endometriosis, vaginismus, vulvodynia, Lyme disease and breast cancer, among others, and the books vary from friendly how-to guides such as Eleanor Thom’s Private Parts to moving memoirs, including Lucia Osborne-Crowley’s I Choose Elena; from essays – Sinéad Gleeson’s Constellations – to popular science polemics such as Gabrielle Jackson’s Pain and Prejudice. And there’s been an influx of books looking at women’s gynaecological health in general: books dealing with periods, the menopause and the vagina, such as Lynn Enright’s Vagina: A Re-education and Dr Jennifer Gunter’s The Vagina Bible. Even in fiction, women’s pain conditions have enjoyed a moment in the sun. Part of what made Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends speak to so many women readers is that one of its main characters suffers from endometriosis.

5. Adam Sandler 

The first profile of the actor in more than 20 years.

(New York Times Magazine, approx 32 mins reading time)

Sandler has the vibe of an older, married uncle, smirking and good-natured, though not nearly so zany as his onscreen persona. He’s not a natural self-mythologizer, but that day he kindly stepped up to the plate. He pointed at a Marx Brothers portrait on the wall. “These guys were my favorite,” he said. “My father would wake me up, and I’d get to watch, you know, ‘Duck Soup’ or ‘A Night at the Opera.’ ”

6. Radical think-tanks and the Conservatives 

Free market think-tanks have gained “exceptional access” to the heart of Boris Johnson’s government, according to The Guardian. 

(The Guardian, approx 27 mins reading time)

Libertarian thinktanks in the US, such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) have had this sort of close relationship with incoming Republican administrations for years, furnishing them with staff and readymade policies. Thinktanks – non-governmental organisations that research policies with the aim of shaping government – have long been influential in British politics, too, on both left and right, but the sheer number of connections between Johnson’s cabinet and ultra free market thinktanks was something new. 

AND A CLASSIC FROM THE ARCHIVES… 

 

In the wake of Evo Morales stepping down in Bolivia, here’s a piece from two years ago looking at his relationship with indigenous groups.

(N Plus One Magazine, approx 17 mins reading time)

Over the course of more than a decade in office—a longer consecutive streak than any other Bolivian president—Evo Morales has modeled his legacy on a hybrid “process of change” (el proceso de cambio has been Morales’s phrase for his reforms since his first term), hinged on asserting indigenous rights and culture and restructuring the country’s economy. The latter has involved raising taxes and royalties on hydrocarbons to implement a series of social benefit programs, and a massive public works program. 

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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