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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 19 October, 2019
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Sitdown Sunday: Life and death on an overcrowded Everest

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

Image: AP/PA Images

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. Life and death on a crowded Everest

There has been a lot of talk about Everest these past few weeks, after a number of tragic deaths. It transpires that right now the peak of the mountain is crammed with people – which can be very dangerous.

(New York Times, approx 10 mins reading time)

Climbers were pushing and shoving to take selfies. The flat part of the summit, which he estimated at about the size of two Ping-Pong tables, was packed with 15 or 20 people. To get up there, he had to wait hours in a line, chest to chest, one puffy jacket after the next, on an icy, rocky ridge with a several-thousand foot drop. He even had to step around the body of a woman who had just died.

2. Football leaks and corruption

A look at how the whistleblowing organisation Football Leaks is helping to show ‘the hidden side of football’.

(The New Yorker, approx 46 mins reading time)

Since 1955, the best teams from each country have played against one another, and that has given rise to a dense intermingling of tactics, feuds, and money. Money above all. “Money scores goals,” as the German saying goes. Unlike American sports, with their draft picks, salary caps, and collective-bargaining agreements, European soccer is a heedless, Darwinian affair. Spending rules are broken. Salaries are secrets. The best leagues are awash in Russian oligarchs, Middle Eastern sovereign-wealth funds, and Chinese conglomerates.

3. Why are incels getting plastic surgery?

A peek into the bizarre world of incels, some of whom are going under the knife in order to attract women – even though they don’t seem to like women very much at all.

(The Cut, approx 38 mins reading time)

The sight of certain women began to bother him. When a woman he hired turned out to be beautiful, he fumed online: “An 8/10 girl works for me since today. I’m going to dominate the hell out of her. Trust me, I’m going to kill her confidence.” Women with babies ignited anger, too. “Every time I pass by a pram, it fills me with disgust to know that she has ruined her body and chose to reproduce with another guy,” he wrote. 

4. I never met my daughter’s dad, but she was his dying wish

Liat Malka used sperm belonging to a young man, Baruch Pozniansky, to conceive her daughter. The story behind how she was able to use the sperm is a fascinating one that involves a beloved son and two parents who wanted to see him have a child, even after he had passed.

(BBC, approx 12 mins reading time)

Before his death he had created a biological will with the lawyer, Irit Rosenblum. Rosenblum has spearheaded the posthumous reproduction cause in Israel and Baruch was the first person in the world to create such a will, which made his biological legacy legally binding – in this case, the banking of his sperm for the purpose of fathering a child.

5. Hollywood is using AI to decide which movies to make

Perhaps it’s unsurprising that AI is being harnessed by Hollywood.

(The Verge, approx 20 mins reading time)

Los Angeles-based startup Cinelytic is one of the many companies promising that AI will be a wise producer. It licenses historical data about movie performances over the years, then cross-references it with information about films’ themes and key talent, using machine learning to tease out hidden patterns in the data. Its software lets customers play fantasy football with their movie, inputting a cast, then swapping one actor for another to see how this affects a film’s projected box office.

6. The Navy pilots reporting strange UFO sightings

US Navy pilots are speaking out about the strange UFOs they have seen on flights. 

(New York Times, approx 15 mins reading time)

“People have seen strange stuff in military aircraft for decades,” Lieutenant Graves said. “We’re doing this very complex mission, to go from 30,000 feet, diving down. It would be a pretty big deal to have something up there.” But he said the objects persisted, showing up at 30,000 feet, 20,000 feet, even sea level. They could accelerate, slow down and then hit hypersonic speeds.

…AND A CLASSIC FROM THE ARCHIVES…

In this work of creative non-fiction, Sherry Simpson writes about Alaskan wolf-trapping school.

(Sherry Simpson, approx 35 mins reading time)

Our instructor, Ben Hopson, learned what he knows from his wife’s brother and uncles, and from all his time on his Arctic trapline. As he shows us how to catch phantom wolves with a blind, or concealed, set, he moves and speaks deliberately, as if first considering every act and word. First, he anchors the trap’s chain by freezing it into the snow with steaming hot water poured from a Thermos. Scooping a trap-size hollow into the trail, he lines the bottom with six-inch lengths of slender willow branch to prevent the trap from freezing to the bed.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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