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Sitdown Sunday: How David Trimble went from hardliner to First Minister

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

Former UUP leader David Trimble
Former UUP leader David Trimble
Image: Eamonn Farrell

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. From hardliner to First Minister

Following his death earlier this week, there has been plenty of reflection on the life of former First Minister and architect of the Good Friday Agreement, David Trimble.

(The Irish News, approx 7 minutes reading time)

His was a remarkable transformation from a man who had manned the barricades at the menacing Orange marches at Drumcree into a statesman who played a huge part in achieving the historic Good Friday agreement of 1998.

2. Bicycle graveyards

A deep dive into why so many bikes appear to end up submerged in rivers and lakes.

(The Guardian, approx 13 minutes reading time)

The most plentiful items in the canal – other than wine bottles and mobile phones – were bicycles. Nine years earlier, in 2007, Paris had launched a bike-share scheme, Vélib’, in which 14,500 rental bicycles were introduced across the city. As the waters were drawn off, the skeletal forms of dozens of Vélib’ cruisers could be seen half-buried in the sludge on the canal floor. There were scores of other bikes, too, of various makes and vintages, some of which appeared to have been maimed before being sent to their watery grave. There were bikes with bent and twisted wheels, or no wheels at all. There were bikes whose wheels and frames were intact but whose stems and handlebars were missing: headless corpses.

3. Carbon cutting and how it can be done

With recent focus on carbon emissions after the announcement of new sectoral ceilings, the BBC examine how technology can be used to reduce emissions.

(BBC, approx 6 minutes reading time)

Scientists have invented a magical gadget that sucks the ink off printer paper so each sheet can be used 10 times over.

They aim to cut the amount of planet-heating carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the paper and pulp industry by reducing demand for office paper.

The trick to the so-called “de-printer” is specially coated paper, which stops ink (or powdered toner) from soaking into the page. A powerful laser then vaporises the ink.

4. The lobbyist next door

How a startup tech firm is connecting massive influencers to political organisations to peddle their message for a price.

(WIRED, approx 18 minutes reading time)

In Washington, there’s been a swell of interest in the influencer business, across the political spectrum. It bears the signs of an incipient arms race, much like the advent of super PACs a decade ago. Hany Farid, a professor of computer science at UC Berkeley who has briefed the Biden administration on social media regulation, predicted that Urban Legend’s model will be recapitulated widely before the 2024 presidential election. “This is the future,” Farid told me.

5. Superyachts and the ultra rich

One reporter delves into the world of the ultra rich and the booming market for superyachts, amidst scrutiny following the Russian invasion of Ukraine

(The New Yorker, approx 36 minutes reading time)

On the docks, brokers parse the crowd according to a taxonomy of potential. Guests asking for tours face a gantlet of greeters, trained to distinguish “superrich clients” from “ineligible visitors,” in the words of Emma Spence, a former greeter at the Palm Beach show. Spence looked for promising clues (the right shoes, jewelry, pets) as well as for red flags (cameras, ornate business cards, clothes with pop-culture references). For greeters from elsewhere, Palm Beach is a challenging assignment. Unlike in Europe, where money can still produce some visible tells—Hunter Wellies, a Barbour jacket—the habits of wealth in Florida offer little that’s reliable. One colleague resorted to binoculars, to spot a passerby with a hundred-thousand-dollar watch. According to Spence, people judged to have insufficient buying power are quietly marked for “dissuasion.”

6. Steve Bannon: America’s Rasputin

A profile of Donald Trump’s former Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, who was recently convicted on contempt charges after he defied a congressional subpoena from the US Congress.

(The Atlantic, approx 40 minutes reading time)

You can discern much of Bannon’s mad character and contradictions in these exchanges. The chaos and the focus, the pugnacity and the enthusiasm, the transparency and the industrial-grade bullshit. Also, the mania: logomania, arithmomania, monomania (he’d likely cop to all of these, especially that last one—he’s the first to say that one of the features of his show is “wash rinse repeat”). Garden-variety hypermania (with a generous assist from espressos). And last of all, perhaps above all else, straight-up megalomania, which even those who profess affection for the man can see, though it appears to be a problem only for those who believe, as I do, that he’s attempting to insert a lit bomb into the mouth of American democracy.

…AND ONE FROM THE ARCHIVES…

In this insightful, nuanced piece, we meet people who live in cramped, airless basements in Queens, New York. They are immigrants, and choose to live in these spaces for a variety of reasons.

(The New York Times, approx 10 minutes reading time)

Owners of one- and two-family homes have carved up their basements into makeshift dorms, illicitly constructed with narrow hallways, windowless bedrooms, shaky walls and electrical wiring strung together like knotted shoelaces. There is no accurate count of how many exist, but estimates are in the tens of thousands.

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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About the author:

Tadgh McNally

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