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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 16 October, 2019

Sitdown Sunday: The billionaires prepping for the apocalypse in New Zealand

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. Barry Bennell, the predatory Pied Piper

Barry Bennell court case File court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook dated 14/12/16 of former football coach Barry Bennell appearing via video link at South Cheshire Magistrates Court. Source: Elizabeth Cook

Barry Bennell was a football coach to young guys – he was also an abuser. This piece details his predatory behaviour and the horror it wreaked on young boys’ lives. Content warning: This piece contains descriptions of abuse and may be difficult for some people to read.

(The Guardian, approx 28 mins reading time)

“I heard the crack 100 metres away. Craig had hit him full-on and suddenly it was pandemonium. I just sat there, praying Bennell would go under. Everyone was on their feet shouting: ‘Oh my God’ and panicking. But I didn’t move a muscle. ‘Please,’ I thought, ‘let him sink.’ I knew what that man was like, I knew what he was capable of. ‘Please, just let him die – just die, please, please.’”

2. When the world is your office

Being a ‘digital nomad’ might sound fantastic – living abroad, working off your laptop, and getting to sightsee as you wish. But is the reality really as great as it’s made out to be?

(New York Times, approx 21 mins reading time)

In October, I went to Miami to try out the Roam brand of nomadism for a week. My Uber from the airport passed through the city sprawl at dusk and deposited me outside the Miami River Inn gate. I punched in the key code I had received by email and swung open the heavy door. Inside, cutesy chalkboard signs pointed the way to Roam’s communal kitchen and its co-working space, while warning nonmembers to stay out. In the courtyard, canvas shades were stretched among palm trees, sheltering clusters of wire chairs; a shipping container had been turned into an open-air bar with outdoor couches.

3. The future of fake news

NY: Super PAC pro-Trump billboard in Times Square in New York Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Technologist Aviv Ovadya warned us about a fake news crisis back in 2016. now, he’s worried that there will be an information apocalypse. Here’s why.

(Buzzfeed, approx 16 mins reading time)

“One day something just clicked,” he said of his awakening. It became clear to him that, if somebody were to exploit our attention economy and use the platforms that undergird it to distort the truth, there were no real checks and balances to stop it. “I realized if these systems were going to go out of control, there’d be nothing to reign them in and it was going to get bad, and quick,” he said.

4. Wire’s five-minute ‘fuck!’ scene

Here’s an oral history of the infamous five-minute scene in The Wire where the characters say nothing but the f-word.

(Vulture, approx 9 mins reading time)

He said, “Now you guys are going to do that whole thing, but they’re going to be on me about the profanity and language that we use.” So, I said, “Let’s just come out the box with it.” He said, “You’re going to do that whole scene, but the only word you can say is ‘fuck.’” I said, “What?”

5. Trump, the Playboy model, and infidelity 


Ronan Farrow details how Donald Trump had an alleged affair with a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal – and the lengths he went to to cover it up.

(The New Yorker, approx 20 mins reading time)

The interactions that McDougal outlines in the document share striking similarities with the stories of other women who claim to have had sexual relationships with Trump, or who have accused him of propositioning them for sex or sexually harassing them. McDougal describes their affair as entirely consensual. But her account provides a detailed look at how Trump and his allies used clandestine hotel-room meetings, payoffs, and complex legal agreements to keep affairs—sometimes multiple affairs he carried out simultaneously—out of the press.

6. Prepping for the apocalypse

shutterstock_129101780 Source: Shutterstock/Olga Danylenko

Irish writer Mark O’Connell goes to New Zealand to find out more about how a libertarian tract written by Jacob Rees-Mogg’s father has inspired billionaires to prep for the apocalypse.

(The Guardian, approx 34 mins reading time)

In 2016, Sam Altman, one of Silicon Valley’s most influential entrepreneurs, revealed to the New Yorker that he had an arrangement with Thiel whereby in the eventuality of some kind of systemic collapse scenario – synthetic virus breakout, rampaging AI, resource war between nuclear-armed states, so forth – they both get on a private jet and fly to a property Thiel owns in New Zealand. (The plan from this point, you’d have to assume, was to sit out the collapse of civilisation before re-emerging to provide seed-funding for, say, the insect-based protein sludge market.)


After the shocking shooting earlier this week, here is a disturbing longread from last year about exactly what bullets do to bodies.

(Huffington Post Highline, approx 30 mins reading time)

Trauma surgery is about fixing the damage the bullet causes as it rips through muscle and vessel and organ and bone. The bullet can stay in the body just fine. But the bleeding has to be contained, even if the patient is awake and screaming because a tube has just been pushed into his chest cavity through a deep incision without the aid of general anesthesia (no time; the patient gets an injection of lidocaine). And if the heart has stopped, it must be restarted before the brain dies from a lack of oxygen.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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