Dublin: 12 °C Sunday 14 August, 2022

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.

1. A journey to Achillhenge
Donald Mahoney on the massive concrete monument – nicknamed the ‘boom tomb’ – built in protest by rogue Mayo developer Joe McNamara (Dublin Review).

Achill natives saw the fleet and wondered what McNamara was up to. The woman who ran the B&B where I stayed guessed he was building windmills. He employed five people during the construction process: a welder, a crane driver, and three men to drive the low-loaders.

2. The mystery of the twitching teenagers
Susan Dominus on how 18 teenage girls at a New York high school developed strange, crippling twitches – and what caused them (New York Times).

Instantly, she knew something was wrong. Her chin was jutting forward uncontrollably and her face was contracting into spasms. She was still twitching a few weeks later when her best friend, Thera Sanchez, captain of one of the school’s cheerleading squads, awoke from a nap stuttering and then later started twitching, her arms flailing and head jerking.

3. Pregnant, and faced with a choice
Mira Ptacin got pregnant unexpectedly; then a scan revealed something about her baby. She writes about the decision she made (Guernica).

We asked questions but the technician said nothing. I expected her to feed our excitement, but she was stone-faced. The probing continued while the room remained hushed and blooming with awkwardness. I imagined she was bored with her job. As usual, I took it personally.

4. Inside rebel-held Syria
Jonathan Littell goes behind the lines with the Free Syrian Army in the flashpoint city of Homs, where security forces have been accused of massacres (London Review of Books).

He was hit in the face by a bullet and is lying in an immense pool of blood, his brain pouring onto the floor. ‘You see the hands, there?’ the nurse said. ‘That’s me.’ She went on to the next video, the tea arrived, I drank it without taking my eyes off the little screen. Every mobile phone in Homs is a museum of horrors.

5. Revenge in Silicon Valley
Burt Helm on the story of YouSendIt founder Khalid Shaikh, who was ousted from his company – and is now on trial for allegedly striking back (Inc).

On a chilly Tuesday morning in December, Shaikh ran a piece of testing software, called ApacheBench, that flooded YouSendIt’s servers with traffic. The servers keeled over immediately. Later that day, a sentence appeared on YouSendIt’s Wikipedia page: “Looks like the company may be out of business, their site is down.” (Shaikh says he didn’t write it.)

6. We need illegal immigrants
Paul Reyes goes to the US state with some of the harshest anti-immigrant laws in the world, and finds employers struggling (Mother Jones).

Smith was blunt about the circumstances. “Majority of people that works for me,” he said, “the kind of jobs I got, they’re illegal. There ain’t no use in beating around the bush saying they ain’t or whatnot. That’s just the way it is.”


In November 1960, SLA Marshall wrote for the Atlantic about being one of the first men ashore during the World War Two Normandy landings, and the bloody massacre that the battle became.

“Advance with the wire cutters!” It’s futile; Nash has no cutters. To give the order, Tidrick has raised himself up on his hands and made himself a target for an instant. Nash, burrowing into the sand, sees machine gun bullets rip Tidrick from crown to pelvis. From the cliff above, the German gunners are shooting into the survivors as from a roof top.

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Michael Freeman

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