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Sitdown Sunday: The disappearance of flight MH370

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

Image: Shutterstock/Djohan Shahrin

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. Saving what was left behind

A Ukrainian refugee tells her story.

(The New Yorker, approx 36 mins reading time)

Outside the station, bus drivers advertised trips to various locations on the border. A minibus driver named Pavlo offered passage to Shehyni, just east of the Polish border, for the equivalent of ten dollars. He was leaving immediately, and, because there were still a few free seats, my translator and I got on. Sitting across the aisle from me was a slim woman wearing a beige puffer jacket. She had wavy auburn hair and ice-blue eyes, and she held two cats in a carrier on her lap. In the row behind her were two young girls, both dressed in bright ski jackets and pants. The woman was looking out the window at a tall man with a birdlike face, who wore a charcoal-colored hat. He returned her gaze.

2. The book that ‘tore publishing apart’

A look at how Kate Clanchy’s memoir became a flashpoint for the discussion of privilege and racism in publishing – and who gets to write what. 

(The Guardian, approx 23 mins reading time)

Clanchy hit back, initially on Goodreads and then in July 2021 on Twitter, claiming “someone made up a racist quote and said it was in my book” and urging her followers to challenge reviews she said had caused threats against her. Literary giants, including the 75-year-old children’s author (and president of the Society of Authors) Philip Pullman, rose to her defence. Yet it quickly emerged that those phrases (although not, as we will later hear from Clanchy, everything attributed to her) were in the book. Her prickly response not only sat awkwardly with Some Kids’ theme of a narrator open to learning about herself – one who believed, she wrote, that deep down “most people are prejudiced; that I am, that prejudice happens in the reading of poetry as well as everything else” – but had unintended consequences for her critics, too.

3. Gary Vee

A trip to the Gary Vee convention, where they talked NFTs, crypto, and business, led by an internet guru. 

(The Verge, approx 19 mins reading time)

But mostly Vaynerchuk — who goes by GaryVee online — vies for your attention through an unyielding stream of in-your-face, motivational content that promises the secrets to a better life. Vaynerchuk peddles a particular kind of rise-and-grind, how-to-win-at-life positivity that has become so ubiquitous online that it feels part of the very fabric of social media influencing. Falling somewhere between a Tony Robbins-esque self-help coach and a brash company executive, Vaynerchuk’s persona is like an inspirational poster you might find on a wall of an elementary school, but with profanities: “FUCK IT, JUST BE YOU.”

4. Richmond Studios

Richmond Road Studios were closed against the artists’ wishes this week. In April, Michael Lanigan wrote about the loss the closure would represent to the wider artistic community.

(Dublin Inquirer, approx 10 mins reading time)

On 8 February, a bailiff arrived at the studio, Brennan says, noting that both the bailiff and receivers, Kroll, maintain that they were unaware the building was tenanted. Then, on 24 March, the studio received an eviction notice, issued on the receiver’s behalf, Butler wrote. The studio was given seven days to provide evidence that they had a right to occupy the building. Otherwise, in the absence of any proof, they were to agree to vacate the property within 14 days.

5. Under the Banner of Heaven

A look at the making of the new series Under the Banner of Heaven, based on the book by Jon Krakauer, and what it says about Mormonism (written by a Mormon).

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(The Atlantic, approx 11 mins reading time)

This idea, that Mormonism is at heart an oppressive and violent religion whose mainstream adherents are ever perched on the brink of radicalization, runs through the series—and the show commits to its thesis. Grisly murder scenes are interwoven with flashbacks to early Mormon history. Modern Church leaders are Scooby-Doo villains who monologue about “the communists at the NAACP” and make menacing threats to police detectives. Even the most benign images of Mormon life—a little girl praying; a family reunion—are scored with ethereal synths and ominous woodwinds to make sure that viewers know these, too, are sinister. 

6. Olly Stephens’ story

After teenager Olly Stephens was murdered in England, his family tried to find out what led to his stabbing. His phone helped to show that there were dark things happening on social media that factored into his death. 

(BBC, approx 11 mins reading time)

Olly was stabbed to death by two teenage boys in a field behind his house, after they recruited a girl online to lure him there. The entire attack had been planned on social media and triggered by a dispute in a social media chat group. His parents were shocked to discover the murky world of violence and hate that their son and his friends had inhabited through their phones.

… AND A CLASSIC FROM THE ARCHIVES…

In 2019, The Atlantic published this story about the disturbing disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

(The Atlantic, approx 45 mins reading time)

Five seconds after MH370 crossed into Vietnamese airspace, the symbol representing its transponder dropped from the screens of Malaysian air traffic control, and 37 seconds later the entire airplane disappeared from secondary radar. The time was 1:21 a.m., 39 minutes after takeoff. The controller in Kuala Lumpur was dealing with other traffic elsewhere on his screen and simply didn’t notice. When he finally did, he assumed that the airplane was in the hands of Ho Chi Minh, somewhere out beyond his range.

Note: The Journal generally selects stories that are not paywalled, but some might not be accessible if you have exceeded your free article limit on the site in question.

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