Good morning readers – Mum, Dad, my beloved housemate Emma. This week’s offerings are arranged, loosely, from least to most serious.
Is there any theme to be drawn here? Maybe just that there are different kinds of important. On one hand, the massive, swirling rise of AI – and on the other, the fall of Coat Pope and his “small sack of ‘Pope Salts’”, which both turned out to be internet fakes, startling and devastating us all (me).
Somehow we find ways to make room in our brains for stories across the spectrum.
1. ‘After the crash, he’s no longer charming’
That’s an actual quote from the lawyer of the retired optometrist Gwyneth Paltrow allegedly skied into. Hope you’ve all enjoyed the trial of the century. Almost as enjoyable is Marina Hyde writing about it.
Why should I care about this? The lemon turtlenecks; the strategically branded cream cardigans; the sour looks; the Terry Richardson specs; the, as one tweeter noted, Mike White of it all. Nestle deeper into your cashmere twinset and lap it up, like one of the wine-tastings the plaintiff could allegedly no longer enjoy.
How long will it take to read: two minutes. If you find this a paltry number, consider that Gwyneth countersued for a single American dollar, and never let pettiness stop you doing anything again.
2. Elsewhere in alpine challenges …
I’ve featured my colleague Sian Cain here before, who I find very readable on most things. This week, it’s Alone: the gruelling reality show now coming to the wilds of Tasmania.
Its basic (extremely successful) premise is to drop a bunch of people somewhere rugged and isolated, then make them film at least five hours a day of themselves surviving, until they give up and call for a ride home. Come for the details about, well, all that … stay for a heartbreaking reveal about one contestant, the cheerfully barefoot Gina, who I guess I’m rooting for now.
From Gina: “Nature is the most incredible mirror and in that mirror our stories can’t hold up. Instead of seeing who we think we are or who we want to be, we meet ourselves.”
How long will it take to read: a bit less than three minutes.
3. A MYSTERY
Lots of chat in the office this week about how gripping this story is, on a wild family history and a 40-year-old puzzle.
The set-up: Three kids, left at a Barcelona train station in 1984. When police ask for their parents’ names, they can’t answer. As days turn into weeks, no one comes looking for them. Care-home staff notice, when talk turns to their parents or the past, the well-behaved children either have nothing to say or walk away …
Read on for: faded newspaper clippings about a mafia boss, an unexpected pistol, a mysterious hit job, some amateur sleuths AND MUCH MORE.
How long will it take to read: Thirteen-and-a-half minutes.
4. ‘The hardest and most wonderful thing’
As we (hopefully) emerge from a particularly gruesome patch in the news cycle, 24-year-old Jasper Lee’s piece on fighting transphobia is a clear-eyed and generous balm – especially from someone who’s directly copped the fallout of recent anti-trans rubbish.
“I am one of those who knew medical transition was necessary for me”: Lee describes both the challenging and the rewarding parts of that experience, which for him included gender-affirming surgery at 19.
“Waking up from general anaesthetic afterward is, and probably always will be, the happiest I have ever felt,” he recalls. “For the first time I felt at home in my body.”
How long will it take to read: a bit over two minutes.
5. A moment for truth-telling
The historian and Scott Trust member David Olusoga has written about the release of this week’s investigation revealing the Guardian’s links to slavery: its original funding “by those whose sources of wealth came at the expense of the murderous exploitation of thousands of human beings”.
Much of what he has to say on restorative justice has great resonance in Australia, where the process of truth-telling around the country’s colonial past is in many ways just beginning.
“The fundamental equation is this: if we can inherit wealth and benefit over centuries from compound interest, do we not also equally inherit responsibility?” Olusoga writes.
“Both guilt and pride are solipsistic emotions that have no place in any adult reckoning with the past. Genuine reckoning … involves engaging with the parts that do not inspire, nor entertain, nor uphold the values that we celebrate today … What we do with [new] knowledge involves listening to the descendent communities that the research has led us to.”
How long will it take to read: a bit under nine minutes.
Further reading: over coming months, the Cotton Capital series will continue to cover the Guardian’s role in this history, the politics surrounding it, and the worldwide impact it still has today.
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