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Sitdown Sunday: Was his daughter's death a tragic accident - or murder?

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. What happens when you win a cooking show nobody can watch?

shutterstock_755872882 Source: Shutterstock/Rawpixel.com

Vallery Lomas won the third season of The Great American Baking Show, the US spinoff of GBBO. But after one of the show’s judges was accused of sexual harassment and abuse, the show was cancelled – along with Lomas’s shot at fame.

(Grub Street, approx 8 mins reading time)

ABC did eventually send her a watermarked copy of the unaired episodes, which she hasn’t watched, and keeps in a box with the Bubble Wrapped plaque she was given upon winning. She never heard anything from Iuzzini, either. “Not even an apology,” she says. “And this is someone who has my email address.” In December, a 90-second clip was posted to the show’s Facebook page, congratulating Lomas on her victory. It wasn’t exactly the fanfare that ABC’s publicity machine typically lays out for its reality-show winners. The network, it seemed, just wanted to make the show disappear, along with Lomas’s big break.

2. Earth’s space junk problem

There’s a lot of junk floating around in space – debris like rocket shards and zombie satellites. So how the hell do we get rid of it?

(Nature, approx 15 mins reading time)

In 2017, commercial companies, military and civil departments and amateurs lofted more than 400 satellites into orbit, over 4 times the yearly average for 2000–2010. Numbers could rise even more sharply if companies such as Boeing, OneWeb and SpaceX follow through on plans to deploy hundreds to thousands of communications satellites into space in the next few years. If all these proposed ‘megaconstellations’ go up, they will roughly equal the number of satellites that humanity has launched in the history of spaceflight.

3. YouTube stars headed for burnout

shutterstock_682866529 (1) Source: Shutterstock/NiP photography

The life of a YouTuber seems both exciting and exhausting – and some stars have described themselves as burned out at the age of just 20. Here’s why.

(The Guardian, approx 20 mins reading time)

Excitement soon gave way to anxiety. Even in 2013, Lees was aware that his success depended not so much on smash hits as on day-by-day reliability. “It’s not enough to simply create great things,” he says. “The audience expect consistency. They expect frequency. Without these, it’s incredibly easy to slip off the radar and lose favour with the algorithm that gave you your wings.”

4. Vicious Whatsapp rumours destroyed a village

Residents of a rural town in India saw rumours about child kidnappers. They decided to take action – and beat five strangers to death.

(Buzzfeed News, approx 30 mins reading time)

The suspects are now awaiting their trial. “Our clients’ position is that they genuinely thought that the five people were child kidnappers because they had been seeing this kind of information on WhatsApp for months,” Akshay Sagar and Manoj Khairnar, two of the four state-assigned lawyers representing the 28 people accused, told BuzzFeed News. “They said that as long as their children are safe, they have no regrets.”

5. The ugly history of… perfume

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Humans want to smell beautiful, fresh and different. Here’s a look at how and why we use perfume – and why whale excrement is actually the key to a beautiful scent.

(Longreads, approx 21 mins reading time)

In perfume, ambergris is often used to boost other scents. It plays a supporting role rather than a starring one, for although the smell is fascinating, it isn’t very strong. It has an unearthly fragrance. It smells like the sea, but also like sweet grasses and fresh rain. It’s amazing that something made in the bowels of the whale could smell so pure. 

6. Was his daughter’s death a tragic accident – or murder?

Wendell Lindsey took his 10-year-old daughter out fishing – and she fell into the water and drowned. He was jailed for life in what prosecutors believed was a scheme to collect insurance money. But he claims he is innocent.

(The Intercept, approx 53 mins reading time)

Lindsey had taken his two young daughters, ages 9 and 10, to fish at a popular spot near Fort Worth. As they were preparing to head home, Lindsey’s oldest fell face first into the water. Lindsey didn’t know how to swim, but he jumped in to try to rescue her. He was unsuccessful, and his daughter drowned. At first everyone thought it was a tragic accident. But that soon turned into a homicide investigation and then a murder charge. Lindsey was convicted and sentenced to life based largely, it appeared, on a host of dubious claims about the science of drowning.

…AND A CLASSIC FROM THE ARCHIVES…

As Bob Woodward’s book about Trump is out now, time for a look at Joan Didion’s reviews of six of his books back in 1996.

(The New York Review of Books, approx 30 mins reading time)

The author himself disclaims “the perspective of history.” His preferred approach has been one in which “issues could be examined before the possible outcome or meaning was at all clear or the possible consequences were weighed.” The refusal to consider meaning or outcome or consequence has, as a way of writing a book, a certain Zen purity, but tends toward a process in which no research method is so commonplace as to go unexplained… no product of that research so predictable as to go unrecorded.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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