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Dublin: 15 °C Monday 13 July, 2020

Sitdown Sunday: "He told them my scarf caught fire... he actually set me on fire"

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. The most dangerous time

shutterstock_151887428 Source: Shutterstock/LoloStock

Five women share their chilling stories about escaping from domestic violence.

(The Guardian, approx 43 mins reading time, 8741 words)

I was in hospital when my family thought something wasn’t right. By this time my mother, brother and uncle were living in Australia. They spoke with a hospital social worker, who told them the story my then husband was telling them about how I was burned. He told hospital staff that my scarf had caught on fire while I was warming myself, as I’m a Muslim. What he actually did was pour turpentine on me and set me on fire.

2. Boogie Nights

Source: Thesessionclubmix Tvshow/YouTube

The oral history of the classic Paul Thomas Anderson film about a man with a very large… manhood.

(Grantland, approx 77 mins reading time, 15401 words) 

Mark Wahlberg: “I was reluctant to even read the script because of the subject matter. Showgirls had just come out. That movie was a disaster. And you know coming from the underwear background, the music stuff, I was like, “Ehh, I don’t want to do this.” But there was just so much hype around the script.”

3. Who was Man Haron Monis?

Attacks Eyes on Extremism Source: AP/Press Association Images

Man Haron Monis died during the Sydney café siege – because he was the man behind it all. But who was he? An inquest has discovered a shady past and a man who might not even have known who he was himself.

(The Guardian, approx 10 mins reading time, 1947 words)

Why did he leave Iran for Australia in 1996? All the power and resources of the coroner’s court couldn’t find an answer. Monis claimed to have fallen foul of authorities in Iran after publishing a book of subversive poetry (reviews of it “ranged from mixed-quality to bad”). Authorities there accuse him of being involved in a $200,000 fraud. There were whispers also of some unspecified “sexual misconduct”.

4. Net of insecurity

shutterstock_112692424 Source: Shutterstock/PureSolution

The founders of the internet might not have realised that one of its greatest threats could be… the people who use it.

(Washington Post, approx 33 mins reading time, 6757 words)

Yet 1988’s attack by the “Morris Worm” — named for Robert T. Morris, the Cornell University graduate student who created it — was a wake-up call for the Internet’s architects, who had done their original work in an era before smartphones, before cybercafes, before even the widespread adoption of the personal computer. The attack sparked both rage that a member of their community would harm the Internet and alarm that the network was so vulnerable to misdeeds by an insider.

5. How big food went bad 

Burger and Chips Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

People are increasingly turning their backs on fast and processed food, and the companies know it. So what are they going to do about it?

(Fortune, approx 24 mins reading time, 4846 words)

Traditional packaged-food companies, however, aren’t taking the assault lightly. Some are attempting to buy their way into the natural space, acquiring small health food companies by the fistful. Almost all are radically rethinking their own product recipes. Kraft Foods, for instance, is removing synthetic colors and artificial preservatives from its flagship mac and cheese. Tyson has announced it is eliminating the use of human antibiotics in its chickens raised for meat.

6. What’s the truth about Alberto Salazar?

US Marathoners Source: AP/Press Association Images

There has been a lot of talk about the athletics coach Alberto Salazar, and allegations about use of certain substances. This article sees former team members talking about their experiences with him.

(Pro Publica, approx 31 mins reading time, 6230 words)

Over the last decade, a huge portion of the most promising pro distance runners in America have been in Salazar’s charge, from Dathan Ritzenhein, the third fastest American marathoner ever, who held the American 5K record in 2009 and 2010; to Alan Webb,  who holds the American mile record of 3:46. Salazar was able to entice some of these athletes not just with his name, but with all that Nike’s budget could provide: specialized coaches for strength and conditioning and sports psychology, masseuses, personalized lab tests, altitude tents, a “Space Cabin” cryo-chamber, even an underwater treadmill.


20th Annual Critics' Choice Awards - Arrivals - Los Angeles Source: AP/Press Association Images

Just Kids is a stunning, intimate memoir about Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe’s relationship. On the eve of its publication in 2010, Patti gave an insight into what it took to write it.

(NY Mag, approx 12 mins reading time, 2450 words)

It’s surprising to hear that Smith, the paragon of cool, became so emotional, but Mapplethorpe nicknamed her Soakie because tears come so easily, and after I compliment her on the book, she begins to sob. “I’m so glad,” she says. “The galleys had imperfections, so I haven’t passed it around to my friends. I didn’t even give it to Sam Shepard, and he plays a nice part.” She warms both hands on one of the cups. “It’s so easy to take one aspect of Robert’s life and magnify that,” she says. “I don’t even know the breadth of his nocturnal life in the eighties. So I’m not only glad for me. I’m glad for Robert.”

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

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

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