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Monday 30 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
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# 7 great reads
Sitdown Sunday: Hollywood's latest troubling diet craze
Settle back in a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

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. Hollywood’s latest troubling diet craze

The drug Ozempic has become an ‘it drug in Tinseltown’ – but what are the side effects and what issues could it cause?

(Vanity Fair, approx mins reading time)

Since its inception, Hollywood has been the land where unrealistic beauty standards collide with financial pressure that hinges on its stars keeping thin, energetic, and always ready to make more hits. And there’s always been a quick fix or two. Since Reynolds’s era, the nature of the fixes have evolved from “vitamin shots” and “pep pills” to phen-fen to Adderall to clenbuterol—a medication used to treat breathing problems in horses.

2. Menopause

Whose voices are we hearing on the topic of menopause, and what does it mean?

(Catapult, approx 14 mins reading time)

But there is something too calculatedly cheerful, too packaged about Stripes’s Insta feed—I can imagine the slide deck accompanied by a giant Pantone color wheel splayed on the boardroom table as the executive team decides which vibrant yet earthy tones and fonts will get aging ladies to buy lubricants. I would have loved to have been there for the discussions that led to the inspirational quote “A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are for.” Huh?

3. Hacked

An American reporter working in El Salvador brings a spyware maker to court. 

(The New Yorker, approx 18 mins reading time)

He wrote articles about the arrests of working-class Salvadorans attempting to flee to the U.S. and activists’ efforts to strengthen an anti-corruption commission. The work was scrupulous and at times frightening. “On one hand, everything was falling into place,” Gressier recalled. “And on the other, I did feel very strained and under the microscope, and like I was tiptoeing around, and there was a direct sense that I was being surveilled.” 

4. Essays from Ukraine

Four essays by women from Ukraine.

(Orion, approx 18 mins reading time)

At home, I get an email from Ludmila Khersonsky, who fled Ukraine with her husband, the poet Boris Khersonsky, a few months earlier. She describes fleeing the country, the first days of bombardments. How she barricaded her windows with her own poetry books—so that an attack wouldn’t shower the room with broken glass. Reading, I recall a line from her poems, written many years ago, but as relevant as ever: “Buried in a human neck, a bullet looks like an eye, sewn in / an eye looking back at one’s fate.”

5. Death of the key change

Why are key changes less popular in music these days?

(Tedium, approx 10 mins reading time)

When looking at every Billboard Hot 100 number one hit between 1958 and 1990, we see that the key of G major was a very popular key. This was because the key of G major is easy to work with on the guitar and piano, the two most popular compositional instruments during these years. In fact, across the decades, we see that keys that are convenient to use on these instruments (i.e. C major, G major, D major) are more popular than others that are less convenient to use, like B major and Gb major.

6. US abortion

A look at how a judge can determine in the US whether a teenager should have an abortion, and the impact that has on her life.

(ProPublica, approx 37 mins reading time)

When she discovered she was pregnant, she traveled to an abortion clinic in Austin, about 60 miles south of where she lived in Copperas Cove, a city of 37,000 where nearly everyone works on Fort Hood, the nearby military base. The clinic referred her to Jane’s Due Process, an organization that helps minors navigate judicial bypass. Ten days later, its staff found G a trained attorney. It took G a week to schedule a ride to meet with the lawyer, who asked about her grades, extracurricular activities, babysitting experience and which birth control method she would use in the future.


A 1993 profile of the late comedian Bill Hicks.

(The New Yorker, approx mins reading time)

Hicks thinks against society and insists on the importance of this intellectual freedom as a way to inspire others to think for themselves. “To me, the comic is the guy who says ‘Wait a minute’ as the consensus forms,” Hicks told me as we climbed the stairs to his dressing room. “He’s the antithesis of the mob mentality. The comic is a flame—like Shiva the Destroyer, toppling idols no matter what they are. He keeps cutting everything back to the moment.”

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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