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Dublin: -1°C Saturday 23 January 2021

Sitdown Sunday: 7 deadly reads

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. War on witchcraft

Ryan Jacobs travels to Saudi Arabia to find out more about the country’s ‘war on witchcraft’. In May, two maids were sentenced to 1,000 lashings, after their bosses said they had “suffered” because of their magic. Jacobs finds out more about this strange situation.  (The Atlantic) (Approx 26 minutes reading time – 5249 words)

In 2007, Egyptian pharmacist Mustafa Ibrahim was beheaded in Riyadh after his conviction on charges of “practicing magic and sorcery as well as adultery and desecration of the Holy Quran.” The charges of “magic and sorcery” are not euphemisms for some other kind of egregious crime he committed; they alone were enough to qualify him for a death sentence.

imageFile. Pic: AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel

2. Slave to retail

Barbie Latza Nadeau gives an insight into the life of Italy’s ‘garment factory slaves’, Chinese immigrants who are trafficked into the country. Once they arrive, they are forced to work in “inhumane conditions” – and sometimes in the sex trade.  (The Daily Beast) (Approx 5 minutes reading time – 1098 words)

Many of the Chinese who live in Italy illegally came to the country by way of human traffickers, in what is reported to be a made-to-order market for garment workers who have specialized skills for the ready-to-wear market. Last week 75 people in France and Spain were arrested as part of an intricate human-trafficking ring that brings such workers to Italy.

3. Age and numbers

Gabrielle Lipton poses the much-asked question: ‘How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?’ This takes her on a journey to discover what age really means to her, and what defines how a person lives their life. (The Riveter Magazine) (Approx 20 minutes reading time – 4132 words)

In movies, tabloids, literature and philosophy, age relationships are repeatedly pigeonholed into certain dichotomies: student-teacher, parent-child, leader-follower, naïve-worldly. In friendly and professional circumstances, natural balances of power are assumed and age gaps are expected to play out in certain ways that don’t need questioning. We accept PG-rated number chasms. But once Socratic teachers start sleeping with their students, Woody Allen leaves his wife for his step-daughter, Lolita consents…our eyebrows go up, and we shift in our seats.

imageL-R Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost. Pic: Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP

4. Brothers in arms

Jordan Zakarin brings us a glimpse into the early life of a trio who are intensely entertaining: director Edgar Wright and actors Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. He takes a look back at where things began for them, and the little town they grew up in. (Buzzfeed) (Approx 22 minutes reading time – 4531 words)

I think yeah, I had the aspirations of what I was doing now, even then I was making lots of movies, and I made a low-budget movie when I was 20 [A Fistful of Fingers]. It’s a very silly movie, and it was one of those things that was completely powered along by youthful naivety, because I think if I had thought about it any longer, it probably would have sort of completely collapsed. It was one of those things where I was very fortunate; it was complete luck that I got to make the movie in the first place.

5. Lightning man

Tom Dunkel meets a man who has been struck by lightning not once, not twice, but seven times. His name is Dickey Baker, and he has been a Shenandoah National Park maintenance worker for 43 years. Dunkel asks Baker about the strange hand that fate has dealt him, and its impact on his life. (Washington Post) (Approx 24 minutes reading time – 4936 words)

“It was hit seven or eight times, and fire was jumping all over the place,” Sullivan told a reporter some 30 years later, reliving the moment. He decided to make a run for it. Bad idea. “I got just a few feet away from the tower, and then, blam!” Lightning burned a half-inch stripe down Sullivan’s right leg and demolished the nail on his big toe. Blood spurted from his foot, draining through a hole ripped in his boot sole. Strike One! Only six more to go.

6. Stealhead’s secrets

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Ian Frazier brings us to the Deschutes River, to tell us about the days he spent with angling master Stealhead Joe, just before his premature death at the age of just 48. Joe lived a fascinating life, but was ultimately a troubled man, and it was these troubles that defined his death. (Outside) (Approx 37 minutes reading time – 7410 words)

Being a kept man sounds great, but it’s really not. To be honest, there were other problems, too. So finally we divorced. That was in ’08. We tried to get back together once or twice, but it didn’t work out. Well, anyway—man, it was awesome being married to her. I’ll always be grateful to her, because she’s the reason I came here and found this river. And I have no desire to fish anywhere else but on the Deschutes for the rest of my life.



Dr Martin Luther King Jr., discusses his planned poor people’s demonstration from the pulpit of the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC, March 31, 1968. (AP Photo)

Next week marks 50 years since Martin Luther King’s famous ‘I have a dream’ speech during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on 28 August 1963. In 2008, Atlanta Magazine featured an oral history of the funeral of King, after he was shot dead on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis in April 1968. As unrest grew nationwide, the struggle to keep the peace began as King was laid to rest. (Atlanta Magazine) (Approx 42 minutes reading time – 8539 words)

The door opened, and down the hall, Coretta [King} was standing there in a pink nightgown. She spotted me and said, “Let Kathryn in.” In her bedroom, she lay back on large pillows, watching television reruns of her husband’s speeches. Yolanda was on the floor. She was just twelve or thirteen; her hair was up in curlers. I sat there with them. We were mesmerized. The phone rang; I heard someone say “Mr President” and I knew it was Lyndon Johnson.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

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