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Dublin: 15 °C Tuesday 29 July, 2014

Sitdown Sunday: 7 deadly reads

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

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 US Army goes up in smoke
J Malcolm Garcia tells how US troops in Afghanistan use fire to dispose of everything from vehicles to human faeces – but there may be unforeseen consequences (Guernica).

What is it like living so close to an American base? I want to know. I expect them to grumble about the soldiers searching their shops. Instead, they tell me about a strange odor they say comes from the base. It smells of plastic.

2. Auto-Tuning the world
Dave Itzkoff on the pair of musicians who set news bulletins to music, and created a YouTube sensation (New York Times).

Double Rainbow Song became a nearly religious rite as concertgoers hoisted their hands in the air and swung their arms from side to side in synchronized waves while Sarah and her nominal siblings sang over and over, “Yeah, ye-ee-aa-aah, so intense.”

3. Fishing for trouble
In Ireland, the bankers sparked an economic meltdown. In Iceland, the culprit was… fishing? Sam Knight reports (Prospect).

“We are like bacterias!” Marteins shouted happily at one point. Marteins shouts because he is excitable and has spent most of his life communicating over the noise of engines. He drives a white van, whose seats are wrapped in plastic to preserve them from fish rot.

4. Finding a baby
Patti Waldmeir discovered an abandoned child left in a Shanghai street, and learned a lot about China (Financial Times).

“Suddenly, I thought I heard a slight movement in the slops pail behind me,” she writes. “To my absolute horror, I saw a tiny foot poking out of the pail… Then the tiny foot twitched! It wasn’t possible. The midwife must have dropped that tiny baby alive into the slop pail!”

5. After the massacre, the reckoning
Michael Harris on the men living with AIDs, 30 years after it tore through gay communities worldwide (The Walrus).

Sam kept a score sheet, a page in his journal full of ticks like the ones cartoon inmates scratch into prison walls. He was counting the number of doctors that had inspected him (twenty-one) and the number of times they had taken his blood (seventy-two).

6. The making of Michele Bachmann
Ryan Lizza on how the Republican front-runner went from Tea Party flamethrower to presidential hope (New Yorker).

When she arrived at her big applause line—“Make no mistake about it, Barack Obama will be a one . . . term . . . President!”—Marcus recited it out loud and raised his fist. “That’s powerful, that’s good, that’s excellent!” he said. “Yes, yes, yes!”

…AND A CLASSIC READ FROM THE ARCHIVES…

In January 2006, Gene Weingarten wrote about The Great Zucchini – DC’s “number one pre-school entertainer” – for the Washington Post.

Trey’s aunt saw me taking notes. “You’re writing a story about him?” Vicki Cox asked, amused. I confirmed that I was. “But . . . why?” she asked. A few feet away, the Great Zucchini was pretending to be afraid of his own hand.

Read more: The best reads from every previous Sitdown Sunday >

Read more: The Sports Pages – the best sports writing collected every week by TheScore >

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