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Dublin: 1°C Saturday 23 January 2021

Sitdown Sunday: The mystery hijacker who disappeared into thin air

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. A town named Snowflake

Historic_Home,_Snowflake,_Arizona A historic home in Snowflake Source: Wikipedia

Kathleen Hale goes to Snowflake, a place in the Arizona desert which offers respite to people who are allergic to – basically – modern life. Hale reflects on the people she meets there, and their wary response to her.

(The Guardian, approx 24 mins reading time, words)

For weeks, Mae and I avoided makeup, lotion, perfume, hair products, scented detergent, fabric softener, dryer sheets. We used fragrance-free soap and shampoo, as well as a natural deodorant, which, according to the description on the box, was basically a rock picked off the ground with a cap on it. Despite our best efforts, Deb’s sensitive nose picked up our body odors. For her, we reeked like a Bath and Body Works store flooded with vodka – or as she put it, “floral, with chemical solvents. You’re fragrant.”

2. From the Olympics to jobless

Maritza McClendon was a champion swimmer who made it to the Olympics, but when she got injured her dreams of gold were shattered. After a whole life dedicated to the water, getting a job at 26 with no experience was a very tough experience.

(Vox, approx 8 mins reading time)

For a year, I went on interview after interview with no success. The few employers who showed interest in me said I fell short of their established requirements. I longed for my swimming days — the 5 am laps and afternoon weightlifting sessions. To deter my nostalgia, I focused on workshopping my résumé during informal sit-downs with employers. I had one-on-ones with hiring gurus to free myself from the boredom of post-Olympic life.

3. How technology disrupted the truth 

Theresa May becomes PM Source: Steve Parsons

Stories can spread like wildfire online – whether they’re actually true or not. Take the story of David Cameron and a pig – which was never verified but is assumed by many to be the truth. Katherin Viner writes about the impact technology has had on the news.

(The Guardian, approx 31 mins reading time)

Now, we are caught in a series of confusing battles between opposing forces: between truth and falsehood, fact and rumour, kindness and cruelty; between the few and the many, the connected and the alienated; between the open platform of the web as its architects envisioned it and the gated enclosures of Facebook and other social networks; between an informed public and a misguided mob.

4. How the police ended up running a paedophile site

In yet another great – though disturbing – article, the Guardian details how police ran a huge paedophile network, and were able to track down and arrest tens of depraved people.

(The Guardian, approx 13 mins reading time)

In June Huckle was sentenced to 22 life terms, one for each of the minors he was convicted of abusing. The children were mostly ethnic Indians from impoverished backgrounds, whose families’ trust he won by posing as a Christian missionary.

5. The inspiration

Soaring Simone Gymnastics Olympics Source: AP/Press Association Images

You might have already seen videos of Simone Biles showing off her incredible gymnastics skills – and this essay details how she is transforming the sport.

(New Yorker, approx 31 mins reading time)

 “All the girls are like, ‘Simone’s just in her own league. Whoever gets second place, that’s the winner,’ ” Aly Raisman, who was the captain of the 2012 U.S. Olympic gymnastics team, and hopes to return for Rio, has said. Mary Lou Retton, the 1984 Olympic gold medallist, calls Biles the “most talented gymnast I’ve seen in my life.”

6. How the CIA manipulates Hollywood

The CIA features often in movies, which is no surprise given it’s such a fascinating place. But has it wooed filmmakers just so that they can give off a “rosy portrait” of its work?

(The Atlantic, approx 28 mins reading time)

The flag-waving Tom Clancy franchise became a centerpiece of CIA propaganda in the 1990s, with a succession of actors (Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and finally Ben Affleck) starring in films like Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and The Sum of All Fears, which pit the daring agent Jack Ryan against an array of enemies, from terrorists to South American drug lords to nuclear-armed white supremacists.


DB_Cooper_Wanted_Poster Source: Wikipedia

The mystery of DB Cooper has endured for decades – he was a skyjacker who jumped out of a plan and disappeared into thin air. But in 2007, New York Magazine wrote about how a chance lead to a Manhattan private investigator might have cracked the case…

(New York Magazine, approx mins reading time)

She read the note. It was printed in felt pen, all capital letters, elegantly formed. “I have a bomb in my briefcase. I want you to sit beside me,” it read. She did as he requested, then asked to see the bomb. She saw a tangle of wires, a battery, and six red sticks. Then he dictated some instructions: “I want $200,000 by 5:00 p.m. In cash. Put in a knapsack. I want two back parachutes and two front parachutes. When we land, I want a fuel truck ready to refuel. No funny stuff or I’ll do the job.” He let her get up to take them to the captain. When she got back, the man was wearing dark sunglasses.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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