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Dublin: 17 °C Saturday 4 July, 2020

Sitdown Sunday: The fake 'drunk Santa' story that ruined three people's lives

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 story that ruined our lives

shutterstock_115742938 Source: Shutterstock/gillmar

A story about a Santa Claus who crashed his sleigh while drunk was not what it seemed – and as it got reported by more and more outlets, it affected three people’s lives forever.

(Buzzfeed, approx 19 mins reading time, 3900 words)

But the thing he couldn’t understand was that none of it was true. For a start, Mołodyński hadn’t given any quotes to any reporters. “I apparently said that they looked like they’d left a nightclub,” he says. “But there’s no nightclub in Ustrzyki Dolne. And it said I could smell alcohol on their breath – but I have no sense of smell after I had a bad allergic reaction to nicotine medication.”

2. The apartheid activist and the killer

SOUTH AFRICA PRIME EVIL Source: AP/Press Association Images

When Madeleine Fullard began searching for the remains of apartheid activists in South Africa, there was only one person who could help: one of the policemen responsible for their killings. But would their partnership work?

(The Guardian, approx 38 mins reading time, 7653 words)

From a distance, De Kock observed the team’s celebration. In July 1989, drunk and furious, he had led a team of his own to this spot, after they had killed Ntehelang at a farm 160 miles away. They had purposefully beaten and suffocated him, but they had accidentally murdered him. De Kock and his accomplices dug a hole in this isolated spot, and covered Ntehelang’s corpse before daylight.

3. Playing Brian Wilson

Love & Mercy Portrait Session Source: AP/Press Association Images

Legendary Beach Boys musician Brian Wilson is the subject of a new movie – Love and Mercy – about his life. Here, he and John Cusack talk about what went into making it.

(The Dissolve, approx 11 mins reading time, 2228 words)

You could make a whole miniseries on Brian’s life and fill it. You could do 20 hours, but I had to do a part of his life when he was past his creative apex, and re-entered [society] and fell in love with Melinda, and came back to rise up again. We had to pick certain areas to do. I wanted to understand what was going on with him emotionally and what was going on with Landy, and what the dynamic was like, because I didn’t want to get that wrong.

4. The classified killers

Bin Laden Source: AP/Press Association Images

They were responsible for killing Osama bin Laden, but the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 have also taken part in a huge amount of classified and deadly attacks. Here’s a look into their secret history.

(New York Times, approx 41 mins reading time, 8246 words)

Almost everything about SEAL Team 6, a classified Special Operations unit, is shrouded in secrecy — the Pentagon does not even publicly acknowledge that name — though some of its exploits have emerged in largely admiring accounts in recent years. But an examination of Team 6’s evolution, drawn from dozens of interviews with current and former team members, other military officials and reviews of government documents, reveals a far more complex, provocative tale.

5. Life with multiple personalities

shutterstock_175109303 Source: Shutterstock/veleknez

Interviews with people living with multiple personalities, but who don’t see their situation as having disorders. Instead, the ‘multiples’ see themselves as healthy and empowered – and they want us to realise that too.

(Vice, approx 18 mins reading time, 3775 words)

Miakoda Combies, a computer technician and member of a nine-person multiplicity system called the JC Klatch, noticed that clients grew nervous when they didn’t understand that she was a multiple. “They would sense a change in personality, but they didn’t have an explanation [for it],” she says. “I guess they figured that if we didn’t know what was going on, they should worry.”

6. The history of music piracy

shutterstock_121327333 Source: Shutterstock/eldeiv

From bootlegged tapes to stolen MP3s, the past few decades have seen massive changes in how we consume music. Here’s the fascinating history of filesharing and music piracy.

(The Guardian, approx 20 mins reading time, 4138 words)

While some of the files were indeed untraceable artefacts from random denizens of the internet, the vast majority of pirated MP3s came from just a few organised releasing groups. By using data analysis, it was often possible to trace those MP3s back to their place of primary origination. Many times, it was possible not just to track the pirated file back to a general origin, but actually to a specific time and a specific person.


54cc017a44a199085e899e33_image Source: Vanity Fair

Here’s a look at the classic film Thelma and Louise, and how its writer came up with the plot while driving home from work while tired.

(Vanity Fair, approx 40 mins reading time, 8135 words)

Over the next six months, Khouri spent all her spare time getting her vision on paper: Two Arkansas women—lower-middle-class, with no status, no entitlement, both in far-from-perfect relationships—drive off to spend a couple of days at a borrowed fishing cabin. They stop at a roadhouse and have a few drinks. Then, suddenly, things get out of control, and one of them shoots and kills the man she catches in the act of raping her friend.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

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

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