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Sitdown Sunday: Ireland's complicated relationship with U2

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

Image: Shutterstock/Kraft74

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. Ruby Bridges

The story of Ruby Bridges, the six-year-old who was the first Black child at a Louisiana school in the sixties. 

(The Guardian, approx 14 mins reading time)

Looking at images of Bridges’ first day at William Frantz elementary school in New Orleans, she is a study in vulnerability: a tiny girl in her smart new uniform, with white socks and white ribbons in her hair, flanked by four huge federal agents in suits. Awaiting her at the school gates was a phalanx of rabidly hostile protesters, mostly white parents and children, plus photographers and reporters. They yelled names and racial slurs, chanted, and waved placards. One sign read: “All I want for Christmas is a clean white school.” One woman held up a miniature coffin with a black doll in it. It has become one of the defining images of the civil rights movement, popularised even further by Norman Rockwell’s recreation of it in his 1964 painting The Problem We All Live With.

2. They’re killing our forest

A Brazilian tribe is warning about the impact of deforestation.

(BBC, approx 7 mins reading time)

When I visited in 2010 my best friend in the community, Pirai, told me sometimes they could hear chainsaws in the rainforest near their village. The Awa are some of the last people on Earth who still try to live as traditional hunter-gatherers but that has been becoming increasingly difficult. They live in a 289,000-acre forest reserve in the poverty stricken eastern Amazonian state of Maranhão. For decades, loggers and farmers have been invading their ancestral lands and clearing the forests.

3. The history of the Irish hating U2

Ireland has a complicated relationship with U2…

(MEL Magazine, approx 15 mins reading time)

“You can walk all over Dublin for days without seeing anything that indicates the world’s biggest band lives here,” Cross wrote in the piece, confirming that he did, in fact, find some “Bono is a pox” graffiti. That pithy putdown has actually traveled the world, even making its way to a Tokyo gallery, where it’s treated like art. But it’s not just something scrawled on a wall: You can find the sentiment all over social media whenever Bono does, well, anything. For instance, in 2017, when Bono stupidly declared that “Music has gotten very girly,” he got meme-d, with “Bono is a pox” putting the period at the end of the sentence. 

4. Dowsing

Inside the weird world of dowsing for water…

(Outside, approx 20 mins reading time)

He handed the branches around and showed the kids how to hold them—palms skyward, points facing forward like the needle on a compass. Then he lined the children up before what he said was an underground vein of water that fed a black pitcher pump, and the old-timer told them to walk. Well, the kids walked, and when they walked over the ground said to have water beneath it, a few of their rods, as it happened, dipped.

5. Instagram and Covid

A look at how some Irish Instagram pages are sharing information about Covid-19 – some of which is misinformation.

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(TheJournal.ie, approx 12 mins reading time)

“If you have concerns about how quickly the vaccine was made and worry that it’s not safe, and you’re getting most of your information from social media where you might read anecdotes from someone who had side effects, you will take on that information and maybe become more hesitant.”

6. Cryptic pregnancies

The stories of women who didn’t know they were pregnant – until they were about to give birth.

(The Guardian, approx 10 mins reading time)

Early in Cheyne’s career as a clinical midwife, in 1982 or 1983, she remembers caring for a woman in the postnatal ward of the Princess Royal maternity hospital in Glasgow who had not known she was pregnant until she went into labour. She had given birth before – by then her children were teenagers – and she had chalked up her irregular periods and weight gain to age. Cheyne remembers her and her husband being in total shock. “I’ve never forgotten that. She was completely credible.”

…AND A CLASSIC FROM THE ARCHIVES…

The history of Bill Gates and the IBM PC.

(Ars Technica, approx 20 mins reading time)

Gates and Steve Ballmer, his right-hand man and the only one in this company of hackers with a business education, nevertheless both realised that this could be very big indeed. When Sams arrived with two corporate types in tow to function largely as “witnesses,” Gates came out personally to meet them. (Sams initially assumed that Gates, who still had the face, physique, and voice of a twelve-year-old, was the office boy.) Sams immediately whipped out the non-disclosure agreement that was standard operating procedure for IBM. “IBM didn’t make it easy,” Gates recalled later. “You had to sign all these funny agreements that sort of said IBM could do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, and use your secrets however they felt. So it took a little bit of faith.” Nevertheless, he signed it immediately.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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