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Sitdown Sunday: Feeling blah? You might be languishing

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

Image: Shutterstock/fizkes

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. Languishing

If you’re not feeling great at the moment, maybe a bit blah, you could be languishing.

(The New York Times, approx 7 mins reading)

In the early, uncertain days of the pandemic, it’s likely that your brain’s threat detection system — called the amygdala — was on high alert for fight-or-flight. As you learned that masks helped protect us — but package-scrubbing didn’t — you probably developed routines that eased your sense of dread. But the pandemic has dragged on, and the acute state of anguish has given way to a chronic condition of languish.

2. The diplomat who disappeared

After John Patterson was abducted by the People’s Liberation Army of Mexico, his wife was told to deliver the ransom.

(The Atlantic, approx 25 mins reading time)

Yelton told Andra that John had never shown up for his meeting with the ranchers. When the consulate reopened after its daily lunch break, the staff had discovered an envelope addressed to “Mr. Yelton” tucked beneath the front door. Inside was a two-page note scrawled on green stationery. The consul general showed this note to Andra, who could see that it was written in her husband’s hand. The words, however, were clearly not John’s own.

3. Nonbinary in sport

When sports can be so binary, what happens when you’re nonbinary?

(Sports Illustrated, approx 20 mins reading time)

Clarendon had no idea whether the WNBA would support their decision to have top surgery, a gender affirmation procedure that removes a person’s breasts and reshapes their chest to be flat, but they knew they would have the surgery regardless of how the league responded. The medical decision was not the struggle for Clarendon; the challenge was in figuring out whether she would be accepted by a sports world that was not designed for nonbinary trans people like her; she’d quietly updated the pronouns in her Twitter bio over the summer, but this was something different altogether. In the binary world of sports, leagues exist for men and for women. Clarendon sometimes feels like both of those things and other times feels like neither.

4. The Chinese feminists fighting back

A look at how feminists in China have been subject to misogynist attacks on the social media site Weibo.

(CNN, approx 10 mins reading time)

The disappearance of their accounts followed a similar pattern: Each was first accused by influential nationalist bloggers of being a “separatist” or “traitor.” Then, a barrage of vicious messages and comments descended, with trolls reporting their accounts to Weibo moderators for supposedly “illegal” or “harmful” content. In a matter of days, they found their accounts shuttered — with all posts and followers erased.

5. I’ve had the same supper for 10 years

This short and sweet profile was shared a lot on Twitter recently.

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(The Guardian, approx 5 mins reading time)

When I go to the supermarket, I know exactly what I want. I’m not interested in other food. I’ve never had Chinese, Indian, French food. Why change? I’ve already found the food I love. It would be a job to alter me. My uncle, a bachelor and farmer like me, had the same food for every meal. He had bread, butter, cheese and tea for breakfast, lunch and dinner (although he would bring out the jam for visitors).

6. Paul Schrader and the age of Netflix

The screenwriter and director is interviewed about the current age of film.

(The New Yorker, approx 13 mins reading time)

Well, there’s a lot of freedom. The film that I took forty-two days to make when I started I now make in twenty. “First Reformed” was twenty. My new film, “The Card Counter,” is twenty. And the quality is the same. You just move much, much faster. Everything is cheaper. Everything is faster. So the upside is that movies that could not afford to be made are now being made. Anybody can make a movie. Anybody who has a phone can make a movie. The downside is, although anybody can make a movie, nobody can make a living. 

…AND A CLASSIC FROM THE ARCHIVES…

An essay about gambling addiction.

(The Morning News, approx 23 mins reading time)

Pain in poker comes in many forms. There is the loss you feel about living off of the dregs of a societal illness. There is the gambler’s moment of clarity when you realize you have become just like the old, sad men that you ridiculed in your younger, luckier days. There is the tedium of sitting at a filthy felt table for hours, sometimes days, feigning a studied intensity. There is the anxiety over explaining to a loved one exactly how you lost $30,000 in the course of a weekend. 

 

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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