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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. Let the robot drive
Tom Vanderbilt takes a 11okph trip on a busy highway… in a car that’s driving itself (Wired).

“This car can do 75 mph,” Urmson says. “It can track pedestrians and cyclists. It understands traffic lights. It can merge at highway speeds.” In short, after almost a hundred years in which driving has remained essentially unchanged, it has been completely transformed in just the past half decade.

2. Life as a Mumbai trash-picker
Katherine Boo explores the life of a family making a living from picking through the scraps others throw away (New York Review of Books).

His storeroom—120 square feet, piled high to a leaky roof with the things in this world Abdul knew how to handle. Empty water and whiskey bottles, mildewed newspapers, used tampon applicators, wadded aluminum foil, umbrellas stripped to the ribs by monsoons, broken shoelaces, yellowed Q-tips, snarled cassette tape, torn plastic casings that once held imitation Barbies.

3. Behind the scenes at The Simpsons
Erik Malinowski recounts the making of the baseball-themed Simpsons episode that sent the show into the stratosphere (Deadspin).

Despite all the planning and prep, “Homer at the Bat” wasn’t easy to put together. Of the players with guest-starring roles, only the Dodgers’ Darryl Strawberry and Mike Scioscia were local. The script was pretty much locked down by summer 1991, but the writers and producers had to wait throughout the season for players to swing through Los Angeles

4. How companies learn your secrets
Charles Duhigg on the incredible amount shops know about you, how they find out, and what they do with the information (New York Times).

There were only so many psychological buttons the company could push. But now that she is pregnant, everything is up for grabs. In addition to triggering Jenny’s habits to buy more cleaning products, they can also start including offers for an array of products, some more obvious than others, that a woman at her stage of pregnancy might need.

5. Inside the mystery of Rebekah Brooks
Suzanna Andrews on the former Sun editor who was a tabloid legend until she stepped down last year – and what she wants now (Vanity Fair).

“She could say and do what she liked,” this person says. As she rose up the ranks, she had become increasingly imperious. She could be rude and abrasive, in one instance reportedly throwing an ashtray at the staff on the newsdesk when a rival paper scooped them.

6. The human being behind the spambot
Adrian Chen tracks down the person running the Horse_ebooks Twitter account – a spambot which has become a phenomenon (Gawker).

These same qualities have inspired a passionate Twitter fanbase rivaled only by Beliebers. Followers have fashioned an elaborate fandom based on Horse_ebooks, comics, fan-fiction, merchandise, and inside-jokes. A browser plug-in that turned the text of any website into Horse_ebook-isms was the latest craze among fans.


In March 2010, Tom Bissell wrote for the Observer about how he went from a prize-winning young writer to a Grand Theft Auto addict hooked on cocaine… and had no regrets.

Soon I was sleeping in my clothes. Soon my hair was stiff and fragrantly unclean. Soon I was doing lines before my Estonian class, staying up for days, curating prodigious nose bleeds and spontaneously vomiting from exhaustion. Soon my pillowcases bore rusty coins of nasal drippage. Soon the only thing I could smell was something like the inside of an empty bottle of prescription medicine.

More: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday>

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