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Sitdown Sunday: 7 deadly reads

The very best of the week’s writing from around the web.

Michael Freeman

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 this Sunday.

1. The true story of the Dougherty Gang

Last year, two carpenters and a stripper – all siblings – set out on an eight-day, 15-state crime spree. Kathy Dobie tells the story (GQ).

“I have a huge, crazy family. I’m 28 but act like I’m 17 most of the time. I love to farm and shoot guys [sic] and wreck cars. I’m a redneck and proud of it. I like milk and German engineering and causing mayhem with my siblings.”

2. Weight Watchers’ secret formula

Jeffrey M O’Brien on why the weight-loss juggernaut is revamping its approach, and how they’re doing it (Wired).

“In college, it was all-you-can-eat—10,000 gallons of beer, pizza, the whole thing,” he recalls. “Then I got a job with a lot of traveling. There was life on the road, room service. It became really easy to have any kind of awesome food any time I wanted. Take-out Chinese, delivery Chinese, deep-dish Chicago pizza, barbecue, huge breakfasts.”

3. Inspired by the Spanish Inquisition

Cullen Murphy on how torture techniques like waterboarding, used in the ‘war on terror’, are drawn directly from the Inquisitors’ playbook (The Atlantic).

The second technique employed by the Inquisition was the rack. In Spanish the word is potro, meaning “colt,” the reference being to a small platform with four legs. Typically the victim was placed on his back, with legs and arms fastened tautly to winches at each end.

4. What funeral directors talk about

Max Rivlin-Nadler goes to the National Funeral Directors Conference, and describes what goes on there (The Awl).

There are also options for our furry loved ones. As it happened, just as I approached the pet-urn section, my sister texted me to let me know her boyfriend’s cat had just died. I resisted asking what her plans for the ashes were, but was just then passing the eco-friendly cat urns, made to look like a ball of yarn.

5. Inside a neo-Nazi terror cell

A man named Holger G has opened up about his time helping a fascist group suspected of killing ten people. Hubert Gude, Sven Röbel and Holger Stark report (Der Spiegel).

G recalls the trio asked him to grow a moustache and wear glasses for the first passport photo. The document was handed over at a clandestine rendezvous at Zwickau train station in accordance with a carefully hatched plan.

6. How austerity is killing Europe

Jeff Madrick on how budget-cutting policies are slowly strangling the economies of Ireland and its bailout buddies (New York Review of Books).

Ireland’s leaders said with almost religious authority that this painful self-discipline was necessary to right the economy [...] But then the Irish economy plunged in the third quarter of 2011 at its fastest rate ever.


The Lost Boys of Sudan arrived in the US in 2001, having seen their first seatbelts, shoelaces and forks two days earlier. Sara Corbett told their story for the New York Times.

He was instead studying the black night and spiraling snow through the airport window, puzzled, remembering possibly what that businessman in Minneapolis said about surviving Fargo. ”Excuse me,” he said, worriedly eyeing the dark ice-covered plains of his new American home. ”Can you tell me, please, is it now night or day?”

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Michael Freeman

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