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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 8 July, 2020

Sitdown Sunday: 'A beauty queen murdered in 1960 - and a priest arrested 56 years later'

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 killing in the hills 

shutterstock_294015293 Source: Shutterstock/Zack Frank

Judy Spencer’s nude body was found by two brothers in the Missouri Ozarks. She had been shot dead. A trace of DNA traced her to her old boyfriend, and he was jailed. But wa she really her killer?

(River Front Times, approx 29 mins reading time)

Dunlap read him his rights, and then Nash recounted his activities of the night before. Once Judy had left the house for good, he said, he worried about her driving around alone at night. Within minutes, he hopped in his truck to go look for her. He’d even passed her at one point in downtown Salem going the opposite way, he said. But by the time he’d made a U-turn, she was gone.

2. Roosh V and the ‘sad men’


Lindy West writes about Roosh V, a ‘neomasculine’ pick-up artist whose views have been pilloried after they tried to organise a series of global meetings.

(The Guardian, approx 8 mins reading time)

Roosh and company encountered such uniform hostility because their views are ostentatiously vile. They worship a model of gender politics so retrograde that Roosh explicitly recommends his followers move to developing countries as impoverished women are easier to manipulate into submission. Women, he believes, should be thin, quiet, unambitious and docile; men should be masculine, dominant, and heterosexual.

3. Biking on junk food  

shutterstock_298577831 (1) Source: Shutterstock/Duncan Andison

Kurt ‘Tarzan’ Searvogel is biking across America – and he seems to be fueled by junk food. He’s trying to set the record for the most miles ridden in a year on a bike – bu the’s not the only one. Steven ‘Teethgrinder’ Abraham is also attempting it. Here’s how they’re getting on.

(Outside, approx 25 mins reading time)

Even by the standards of ultracycling, with its 24-, 48-, and even 72-hour endurance events, the notion of spending nearly half the day, every day, on a bike confounds the imagination. When Searvogel is not riding, he is eating (replenishing some of the 8,000 or so daily calories he burns). When he’s not eating, he is either sleeping (about six hours a night), fixing his bike, uploading his rides to Strava, or plotting the next day with Alicia Snyder, his 53-year-old girlfriend and crew chief (actually, his entire crew).

4. The history of women and football

shutterstock_64938637 Source: Shutterstock/Fotokostic

The American women’s football leagues of the early 20th century are now almost forgotten about – even though they were a massive deal at the time. Here’s their story.

(The Smithsonian, approx 10 mins reading time)

There were some negative reactions to the women’s football games. A news wire article published November 1939 described them as an invasion of “one of the last strongholds of masculinity.” The Life article also argued that football was too dangerous for women, warning that “a blow either on the breasts or in the abdominal region may result in cancer or internal injury.”

5. Placebo power

shutterstock_294387401 Source: Shutterstock/

Did you know you can train your body into thinking you’ve taken medicine? Welcome to the power of the placebo. Could the power of the mind replace pharmaceutical drugs?

(Mosaic Science, approx 27 mins reading time)

Robert Ader, working at the University of Rochester, gave his animals saccharin solution to drink. Rats usually love the sweet taste but for this experiment, Ader paired the drink with injections of Cytoxan, which made them feel sick. When he later gave the animals the sweetened water on its own they refused to drink it, just as he expected. So to find out how long the learned aversion would last, he force-fed this harmless drink to them using an eyedropper. But the rats didn’t forget. Instead, one by one, they died

6. The power of yoga

Healthy Hotels Source: AP/Press Association Images

Yoga isn’t just supposed to be for slim, white, lithe people, says Jesse Amesmith. It doesn’t matter if you’re thin, strong, or heavy. Here’s how she’s changing the way yoga is seen.

(Paper Magazine, approx 12 mins reading time)

“If you’re like, ‘well, I want to go to yoga but I need to lose some weight first’ — I don’t want to say that’s silly, I don’t want to diminish people’s real feelings, because we live in a complicated world full of nonsense that tells you your body’s not good enough constantly, but there’s never going to be a better time. Yoga is cumulative. It’s not like, ‘oh, I went to yoga for a while and then I stopped going to yoga and I feel guilty and out of touch.’


Teacher Slaying n this April 24, 2003, photo, Herlinda de la Vina holds a portrait of her niece, Irene Garza, the 25-year-old Texas schoolteacher and beauty queen in Edinburg, Texas Source: AP

In 2005, Pamela Colloff wrote about beauty queen Irene Garza, whose body was pulled from an irrigation canal. The suspect? A priest. Earlier this week, the priest was arrested.

(Texas Monthly, approx 42 mins reading time)

One parishioner noticed Irene make the sign of the cross as she entered the sanctuary. Another parishioner saw her kneeling by herself in a pew on the fifth row. A third remembered Irene asking if she might edge in front of her in the long confession line because she was running late. Some recalled her draping a white lace veil over her head, while others said she had stepped out of line, as if turning to go. Yet no one ever saw her leave the church that night. The next morning, Easter Sunday, her car was still parked down the street from Sacred Heart. Irene never came home.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

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