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Sitdown Sunday 7 deadly reads

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 human cost of an iPad
Charles Duhigg and David Barboza on the Chinese factories churning out our most desirable gadgets, and the dangers within them (New York Times).

When Mr. Lai’s colleagues ran outside, dark smoke was mixing with a light rain, according to cellphone videos. The toll would eventually count four dead, 18 injured. At the hospital, Mr. Lai’s girlfriend saw that his skin was almost completely burned away. “I recognized him from his legs, otherwise I wouldn’t know who that person was,” she said.

2. Learning how to kill Osama bin Laden
Annie Jacobsen tells the story of a life-or-death US helicopter mission, and the lessons it taught (LA Times).

“Here was a fleet of aircraft going into one of the most heavily defended targets in the world—blind and dumb, in formation, over the mountains, at night,” Ropka recalls. It was audacious, all right. If the problem was the strength of the North Vietnamese air-defense system, then the solution was to find its weakness—a way to navigate in and out without being shot down.

3. What’s it like being swallowed by a whale?
Ben Shattuck sets out to discover whether anyone has been inside a whale’s stomach, and survived (Salon).

You would then enter the first stomach, coined by 19th century naturalist Thomas Beale as the holding bag. It’s lined with thick, soft and white cuticle. At 7 feet long by 3 feet wide and shaped like a big egg, the first stomach would easily fit you. If you were kept in the holding bag for over 24 hours, you would likely be joined by squid, but a coconut or shark might come, too.

4. A maritime disaster waiting to happen
The real story of the Costa Concordia tragedy: was it just one man’s bravado that cost lives, or something more? (Der Spiegel).

Karlheinz Knapp, who had an operation on his left knee last September, still walks on crutches. It almost cost him his life. “I often have to think about the passengers in wheelchairs,” Knapp says today. “What happened to them? You don’t want to think about it.”

5. Working in the factory
Adam Davidson on the story of unskilled employee Maddie Parlier, and what it means for the future of factory workers (The Atlantic).

“What worries people in factories is electronics, robots,” she tells me. “If you don’t know jack about computers and electronics, then you don’t have anything in this life anymore. One day, they’re not going to need people; the machines will take over. People like me, we’re not going to be around forever.”

6. The lonely battle of Wael Ghonim
Benjamin Wallace-Wells on the Egyptian uprising one year ago, and the Google engineer who helped start it (New York magazine).

“I want to tell every mother and father who lost a son that it’s not our fault,” he said, half-­regaining his composure. “I’m sorry, but it’s not our fault. It’s the fault of everyone who held on to power and clung to it.” He started to cry again, and his voice got high and pinched. “I want to leave,” he said.


In February last year, Paul Kendall went behind the scenes for the Telegraph to tell the real story of the Angry Birds phenomenon.

Switching on Photoshop, the designer started sketching a flock of fat, round birds with big yellow beaks, thick eyebrows and intense, slightly crazed expressions on their faces. They had no legs to speak of, but, despite this drawback, were racing manically along the ground towards some sort of castle. “I didn’t think it was that special at the time,” Iisalo says now.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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