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Sitdown Sunday: 7 deadly reads

The very best of the week’s writing from around the web.

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. Memory tricks

Kevan Lee provides some tips and tricks for those who want to improve their memory. Maybe you’ll even remember some of them after you’ve finished reading…

(Buffer – approx 9 minutes reading time, 1839 words)

Consistent use of synapses often creates stronger connections, similar to exercising. So, say, recalling your old apartment number or childhood home phone is easier than a bank account number because an address or phone gets used more often. Weak signals—i.e., bank-account signals—lack the ability to create the cascade of neurons essential to initiating a memory.

2. Diving deep

Alexis Madrigal dives into the subsea, a space where the human body is pushed to its limits, where life is at risk… but where people keep returning.

(The Atlantic – approx 16 minutes reading time, 3283 words)

… a labor model called “saturation diving” became popular with the oil companies. For weeks, divers live and work at high pressure, keeping the gases in their tissues. They move from pressurized living quarters to a diving bell to the sea floor and back, where they’re tended to by a support team that sends food and supplies in through pressure locks.

imageA car bomb in Baghdad earlier this week. Pic: AP Photo/Karim Kadim

3. Return to Baghdad

Christine Spolar‘s last visit to Baghdad was 10 years ago, during the Iraq war. On her return, she finds a city wracked by bombings.

(Financial Times – approx 25 minutes reading time, 5127 words)

“I never tell people when I will meet them,” Nadeem said. “I always tell them when I will leave. And then we calculate the roads, the time we need, how we will know if there’s a new checkpoint that comes up – I have an Iraqi app, ‘GoPhast’, for that too.”

4. Bored on Google

Dougald Hine looks at boredom and the internet – we have so much information at our fingertips, but is it making things…  boring? He argues that we’re not ‘nourished’ by these massive amounts of information.

(Aeon – approx 9 minutes reading time, 1700 words)

When the internet arrived, it seemed to promise a liberation from the boredom of industrial society, a psychedelic jet-spray of information into every otherwise tedious corner of our lives. In fact, at its best, it is something else: a remarkable helper in the search for meaningful connections.

imageCatherine (Kitty) Genovese, 28, bar manager in New York on March 27, 1964. Pic: AP Photo

5. Murder obsession

Nicholas Lemann writes about the murder of Kitty Genovese in 1964, and how the work of one journalist turned the story into a “national obsession” in the USA.

(New Yorker – approx 18 minutes reading time, 3744 words)

That killing had been reported at the time, including in a four-paragraph squib buried deep within the Times, but Murphy said that what had struck him about it was not the crime itself but the behavior of thirty-eight eyewitnesses. Over a grisly half hour of stabbing and screaming, Murphy said, none of them had called the police. Rosenthal assigned a reporter named Martin Gansberg to pursue the story from that angle.

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6. Menstrual man

Vibeke Venema tells the remarkable story of Arunachalam Muruganantham, an Indian school dropout who went on to invent cheap, life-saving sanitary pads.

(BBC – approx 15 minutes reading time, 3151 words)

“I will be honest,” says Muruganantham. “I would not even use it to clean my scooter.” When he asked her why she didn’t use sanitary pads, she pointed out that if she bought them for the women in the family, she wouldn’t be able to afford to buy milk or run the household.



A man holds a picture of Osama bin Laden. Pic: AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo

In February 2013, Phil Bronstein wrote about his 2012 meeting with the man who shot and killed Osama bin Laden. He outlines how the man went from an ordinary Navy member to a deadly SEAL.

(Cironline– approx 90 minutes reading time, 18157 words)

Secrecy is a thick blanket over our Special Forces that inelegantly covers them, technically forever. The twenty-three SEALs who flew into Pakistan that night were directed by their command the day they got back stateside about acting and speaking as though it had never happened.

Interested in longreads during the week? Look out for Catch-Up Wednesday every Wednesday evening.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

The Sports Pages – the best sports writing collected every week by TheScore.ie >

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