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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 16 October, 2019

Sitdown Sunday: Can the internet be detoxified?

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. Mother’s Day

691573103 Source: MIKE HARRINGTON

Parenting can be a difficult experience, as Sue Elliott-Nicholls writes in this piece about her relationship with her sons.

(BBC, approx 8 mins time)

That moment when you get shoved off the pedestal by your cruel uncaring teens is the most heartbreaking moment of parenthood. For me it was far worse than the leaving home thing. You expect the leaving home thing – when my eldest son left home, it felt right. But no-one prepares you for the moment you go from being the dramatic lead to the comedy cameo role in the second act.

2. #ThemToo

This longread looks at workers who are particularly vulnerable to harassment – like cleaners and janitors.

(The Guardian, approx 22 mins time)

It is an open secret in these industries that immigrant women in financially precarious jobs – many of whom are undocumented – are targeted for sexual abuse by their superiors. While it is not possible to know how often these abuses happen, they are not anomalies. Federal government figures estimate that about 50 workers are sexually assaulted each day, and in the industries that hire newcomers to the country in exchange for meagre paycheques, such assault is a familiar workplace hazard.

3. Detoxifying the internet


538144021 Source: Getty Images

We all know that certain sections of the internet are more attractive to trolls than others. And on the site Reddit, they know that more than anybody. Here’s how the site is trying to detoxify what’s going on there.

(The New Yorker, approx 39 mins time)

Huffman, alone at his computer, wondered whether to respond. “I consider myself a troll at heart,” he said later. “Making people bristle, being a little outrageous in order to add some spice to life—I get that. I’ve done that.” Privately, Huffman imagined The_Donald as a misguided teen-ager who wouldn’t stop misbehaving. “If your little brother flicks your ear, maybe you ignore it,” he said. “If he flicks your ear a hundred times, or punches you, then maybe you give him a little smack to show you’re paying attention.”

4. The male glance

You’ve heard of the male gaze – now make way for the male glance, as Lili Loofbourow details how it affects the culture we consume.

(VQR Online, approx 30 mins time)

To be clear, the show about boys got way too much credit, and the show about girls got way too little. This is how we approach male vs. female work. Let’s call it the “male glance,” the narrative corollary to the male gaze. We all have it, and it’s ruining our ability to see good art. The effects are poisonous and cumulative, and have resulted in an absolutely massive talent drain. We’ve been hemorrhaging great work for decades, partly because we were so bad at seeing it.

5. Bitcoin is ridiculous

913935304 Source: Alex Baumann

Paul Ford is not a fan of Bitcoin. Or blockchains for that matter. Here’s his critical take on cryptocurrency.

(Bloomberg, approx 13 mins time)

What Bitcoin actually accomplished is the financialization of a few genuinely joyous ideas. Shrug away the exchange rate, and you have a set of technologies that, for one, allows you to create scarcity. At least of a kind, because you can encode data and information into the blockchain in a way that lets you say, “This is the first one of these particular digital things.” It’s been applied to digital art, and you can see applications for patents, stock photos, things like that. With copies all over the place.

6. The American

Felix Sater has been portrayed as “something just short of a Russian spy” – and has done undercover work for the CIA, This piece profiles his fascinating career.

(Buzzfeed, approx 25 mins time)

Even as he was helping US intelligence and law enforcement agencies, Sater racked up enemies in his business dealings. An Arizona man said Sater threatened to cut his legs off during a failed development deal. Florida investors said his company, Bayrock, ripped them off. A former colleague said in a lawsuit that the entire Bayrock operation was run by organized crime figures, and that Sater threatened to have him killed if he didn’t cooperate. Sater denied doing any of these things.


In 1995, John Jeremiah Sullivan’s elder brother was electrocuted during a band rehearsal. He survived – with no memory of the event.

(Deadspin, approx 17 mins reading time)

It was afternoon when I heard about the accident from my father, who called and told me flatly that my brother had been “hurt.” I asked if Worth would live, and there was a nauseating pause before his “I don’t know.” I got in the car and drove from Tennessee to Lexington, making the five-hour trip in about three and a half hours.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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