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Sitdown Sunday: 'The patient they had just taken off life support was not their brother'

Settle back in a comfy chair and sit back with some of the week’s best longreads.

Image: Shutterstock/sfam_photo

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. Why do people hate vegans?

OK, so a lot of you reading probably don’t. Which is nice. But why do some people have such strong feelings towards veganism (all negative)?

(The Guardian, approx 20 mins reading time)

The war on vegans started small. There were flashpoints, some outrageous enough to receive press coverage. There was the episode in which William Sitwell, then editor of Waitrose magazine, resigned after a freelance writer leaked an email exchange in which he joked about “killing vegans one by one”. (Sitwell has since apologised.) There was the PR nightmare faced by Natwest bank when a customer calling to apply for a loan was told by an employee that “all vegans should be punched in the face”. When animal rights protesters stormed into a Brighton Pizza Express in September this year, one diner did exactly that.

2. The house of lost souls

A doctor discovers his rundown mansion is haunted, and so he opens it to the public for fee. And that’s where things start going downhill…

(Truly Adventurous, approx 35 mins reading time)

Concluding that the sound must have come from outside, he spun toward the back door. Then he froze. Framed in the circle of light from his beam hovered a swirling white cloud. Regaining his senses, Laughlin assumed the sight must be smoke and rushed toward it in search of fire. But as he reached the spot, he found himself enveloped by what he described as a freezing, inescapable mist. Laughlin claimed “icy fingers, fiery in their coldness” clutched at every part of him.

3. Bernie

The real story that became the film Bernie – where a funeral home director murders a wealthy widow and keeps her in the freezer… but still manages to get the sympathy of the town. From 1998.

(Texas Monthly, approx 20 mins reading)

The town refused to abandon Bernie even after Sheriff Jack Ellett announced during his Friday morning talk show on the local radio station, KGAS (“The Heartbeat of East Texas”), that deputies had confiscated nearly fifty videotapes from Bernie’s house, some showing men involved in illicit acts. “From the day that deep freeze was opened, you haven’t been able to find anyone in town saying, ‘Poor Mrs. Nugent,’” said city councilman Olin Joffrion, a respected Carthage insurance agent. “People here are saying, ‘Poor Bernie.’”

4. The story of Tunnel 29

In 1961, Joachim Rudolph escaped from a brutal dictatorship… but then tunnelled his way back in. This is why.

(BBC, approx 23 mins reading time)

Now they had to choose somewhere to start digging. One morning they came across a cocktail-straw factory, set back from the road. They introduced themselves to the owner, concocting an elaborate story about being jazz musicians in need of a rehearsal space. But he guessed what they were up to. He had also escaped from the East and was more than willing to let them use his cellar. Next, they needed to find a basement in the East to dig to. 

5. Bare your soul… ruin your life?

A profile of the filmmaker Caveh Zahedi, who made the metadocumentary series The Show About the Show’.

(New York Times, approx 25 mins reading time)

Over the course of the season, Zahedi and Field’s 16-year marriage cracked under the pressure of constant filming. Season 2, which was released Oct. 28, abandons the metastructure in order to chronicle the two-month period in 2017 when the marriage broke up. It’s darker, and the conflicts are more serious. Eventually both Field and a woman Zahedi briefly dates quit the show, and he replaces them with actors; because so much material had been shot before they quit, some scenes cut between the real person and the actor, or two actors, to dizzying effect.

6. The Wrong Goodbye

A case of mistaken identity had serious implications for one family who were choosing end-of-life care for a loved one.

(ProPublica, approx 35 mins reading time)

Ralph was there shortly after noon on July 29. Two of Frederick’s sisters were there too. It took only about five minutes without the respirator for the man to die, Ralph said. “We were crying,” Ralph remembered. “We prayed and everything. After they pulled the breathing apparatus and all that out, he tried to stay for a little while, but he was gone. That was it.” Except it wasn’t. The patient they’d just had taken off life support was not Frederick Williams.

…AND A CLASSIC FROM THE ARCHIVES… 

Want to be more grateful? Catherine Price writes about her journey of gratitude – and how she also realised that it’s OK to be negative too.

(Greater Good, approx 11 mins reading time)

At first, it felt a little awkward to keep a journal specifically for gratitude—I felt as if I should plaster my car in cheesy bumper stickers (“Happiness is”) and call it a day. But even on that first downbeat afternoon, my journal did make me feel a little better about things. Listing things I was grateful for made me feel, well, grateful for them—and since I’d also decided to jot down moments each day that had made me happy (another positive psychology-endorsed exercise), I had a concrete list of cheerful experiences to look back on when I was feeling down.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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