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sitdown sunday

Sitdown Sunday: The battle to build the next DeLorean

Settle down in a comfy chair 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 some of the week’s best reads for you to savour.

1. The battle to build the next DeLorean

delorean-procession-image-shot-2003-exact-date-unknown A procession of DeLoreans in Belfast. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

The daughter of the man who created the iconic car that appeared in Back to the Future wants to build a modern version. But someone else has trademarked the name.

(WIRED, approx 23 mins reading time)

One thing she insisted she didn’t want was to start a car company. It was a car company, after all, that had ruined her father. But then something happened that changed her mind. In April 2022, the Texas company that had given Guerra the cold shoulder announced it would soon reveal a new DeLorean. Kat kept her feelings about this to herself only briefly. First she drew attention to Guerra’s design, posting it on Instagram. (“A timeless classic given the treatment it deserves!”) Two days later, she made her feelings explicit: “@deloreanmotorcompany Is not John DeLorean’s Company,” she wrote. “He despised you.”

Details about the new Texas DeLorean emerged a few days after that: Called the Alpha5, it would have four seats instead of two, would reportedly be built mostly from aluminum rather than stainless steel, and would be available in red. Like many DeLorean purists, Kat hated it. As people kept messaging her about the pretty design they’d seen on her Instagram feed—some even offered to help build it—a new plan took shape. Kind of a crazy one. She started to think: Why not build one car and film the process of building it for the engineering students? Eventually that turned into: Why not make several and sell them to fund the engineering program? But then why not …

2. Reporting from Rafah

The Journal‘s Niall O’Connor travelled to the Rafah crossing this week. Despite stories of the danger and the deaths of loved ones, Palestinians he spoke to all said they wanted to go home.

(The Journal, approx 8 mins reading time)

All those we speak to are from Khan Younis – a city in the south of the Gaza Strip which has been devastated by Israel. They all speak passionately and emotionally about wanting to get back into Gaza. One of those is Haneen, a young woman from Khan Younis who has been stuck with her family at the border for days. “We’ve been waiting for almost a week – coming and going for four days now and there is not anything happening. I want to go back to my home, to Gaza, I would love to go back,” she said. Her city has been devastated by bombing and she understands that what she is going back to is total destruction and a home in rubble. “Khan Younis is not a city anymore, it is a home for ghosts. There is not a single house standing and if it is still standing there are only pillars for the walls. Everything is destroyed, we lost everything.

3. If we could talk to the animals

green-turtle-chelonia-mydas-marshall-islands-bikini-atoll-micronesia-pacific-ocean A sea turtle. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

In the Animal Welfare Assessment Contest, students try to get inside the minds of a variety of creatures in an effort to improve their lives. 

(New York Times Magazine, approx 21 mins reading time)

“Animal welfare” is sometimes misused as a synonym for “animal rights,” but in practice the two worldviews can sometimes be at cross purposes. From an animal rights perspective, nearly every human use of animals is morally suspect, but animal-welfare thinkers take it as a given that animals of all kinds do exist in human care, for better or worse, and focus on how to treat them as well as possible. In the past half century, an interdisciplinary group of academics, working across veterinary medicine and other animal-focused fields, have been trying to codify what we know about animal care in a body of research referred to as “animal-welfare science.”

The research has unlocked riddles about animal behavior, spurred changes in how livestock are treated and even brought about some advances in how we care for our pets: Studies of domestic cats, for example, have found that “puzzle feeders,” which slow consumption and increase mental and physical effort while eating, can improve their health and even make them friendlier. The discipline has begun to inform policy too, including requirements for scientists receiving federal grants for their animal-based research, regulations governing transport and slaughter of livestock, accreditation standards for zoos and aquariums and guidelines for veterinarians performing euthanasia.

4. Out loud

We’ve all been reading wrong, apparently. Alexandra Moe explains the benefits of reading aloud.

(The Atlantic, approx 6 mins reading time)

Reading aloud is a distinctive cognitive process, more complex than simply reading silently, speaking, or listening. Noah Forrin, who researched memory and reading at the University of Waterloo, in Canada, told me that it involves several operations—motor control, hearing , and self-reference (the fact that you said it)—all of which activate the hippocampus, a brain region associated with episodic memory. Compared with reading silently, the hippocampus is more active while reading aloud, which might help explain why the latter is such an effective memory tool. In a small 2012 study, students who studied a word list remembered 90 percent of the words they’d read aloud immediately afterward, compared with 71 percent of those they’d read silently. (One week later, participants remembered 59 percent of the spoken words and 48 percent of the words read silently.)

5. The end of Hollywood?

hollywoodcalifornia-february24theworldfamouslandmarkhollywood The Hollywood sign in Los Angeles. Shutterstock / logoboom Shutterstock / logoboom / logoboom

Daniel Bessner writes about the problems in Hollywood, from the industry having been monopolised by four companies to what it means for screenwriters, and why it feels like there’s no going back.

(Harper’s Magazine, approx 35 mins reading time)

Thanks to decades of deregulation and a gush of speculative cash that first hit the industry in the late Aughts, while prestige TV was climbing the rungs of the culture, massive entertainment and media corporations had been swallowing what few smaller companies remained, and financial firms had been infiltrating the business, moving to reduce risk and maximize efficiency at all costs, exhausting writers in evermore unstable conditions.

“The industry is in a deep and existential crisis,” the head of a midsize studio told me in early August. We were in the lounge of the Soho House in West Hollywood. “It is probably the deepest and most existential crisis it’s ever been in. The writers are losing out. The middle layer of craftsmen are losing out. The top end of the talent are making more money than they ever have, but the nuts-and-bolts people who make the industry go round are losing out dramatically.”

6. Billie Eilish

A profile of the 22-year-old pop star who is at the height of her fame and about to release her third album. 

(Rolling Stone, approx mins reading time)  

Although 2019 felt like a whirlwind of madness at the time, she has found herself missing it. “It was the best time of my life,” she says. “This whole process has felt like I’m coming back to the girl that I was. I’ve been grieving her. I’ve been looking for her in everything, and it’s almost like she got drowned by the world and the media. I don’t remember when she went away.” That was most likely in 2020, at the dawn of Covid. “I was with myself so much that I couldn’t see myself objectively anymore,” she says. “And then I dyed my hair blond and I immediately was like, ‘Oh, I have no idea who I am.’” She recorded her second album, Happier Than Ever, in those confused months of lockdown. Its introspective, jazz-leaning songs got rave reviews, as did her glamorous dresses and new hairdo. But it lacked the incandescent brilliance of When We All Fall Asleep, and Finneas, her brother and closest collaborator, remembers the era as difficult and confusing. “In a weird way, that was a little like being in a tornado cellar, reading a cute little story,” he says. “It was a coping mechanism of an album.”


american-film-producer-harvey-weinstein-exits-manhattan-court-as-jury-selection-continues-in-his-sexual-misconduct-trial-on-friday-january-10-2020-in-new-york-city-harvey-weinstein-is-scheduled-to Harvey Weinstein leaving Manhattan Court while the jury was being selected in his sexual misconduct trial in New York on 10 January 2020. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

This week, a New York court overturned Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 rape conviction, citing errors in the way the trial had been conducted, including admitting the testimony of women who were not part of the charges against him.

This article, written by Ronan Farrow in 2017, saw multiple women sharing what the disgraced film producer did to them. It was one of the reports that exposed his crimes and launched the #MeToo movement. 

(New Yorker, approx 35 mins reading time)

Virtually all of the people I spoke with told me that they were frightened of retaliation. “If Harvey were to discover my identity, I’m worried that he could ruin my life,” one former employee told me. Many said that they had seen Weinstein’s associates confront and intimidate those who crossed him, and feared that they would be similarly targeted. Four actresses, including Mira Sorvino and Rosanna Arquette, told me they suspected that, after they rejected Weinstein’s advances or complained about them to company representatives, Weinstein had them removed from projects or dissuaded people from hiring them.

Multiple sources said that Weinstein frequently bragged about planting items in media outlets about those who spoke against him; these sources feared similar retribution. Several pointed to Gutierrez’s case: after she went to the police, negative items discussing her sexual history and impugning her credibility began rapidly appearing in New York gossip pages. (In the taped conversation, part of which The New Yorker posted online, Weinstein asks Gutierrez to join him for “five minutes,” and warns, “Don’t ruin your friendship with me for five minutes.”)

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