Looking for a weekend long read? Here are some recommendations, hand-picked for you from Crikey.

Bernard Keane, Crikey politics editor

The fact of Sisyphus” by erstwhile Crikey contributor Barrett Brown, in The Intercept:

“Even within these two categories, one finds a great deal of variation from institution to institution, but day-to-day SHU life at FCI Fort Worth should make for a useful baseline. There, a weekday begins at 6 a.m. when the lights in one’s cell come on. A few minutes later the rectangular slot in one’s door is unlocked and a guard pushes in a plastic tray containing breakfast along with a couple of little plastic bags of milk. It’s rather dehumanizing, this matter of having to drink milk out of bags like a common Canadian, but getting breakfast in bed every day makes up for it. Fifteen minutes later the guard comes back and takes up the trays, and then one of his colleagues will walk down the hall jotting down the names of those who want to go outside for one’s permitted daily hour of weekday recreation. Having compiled the list, the guard goes back to his station and tries to arrange things such that incompatible inmates aren’t placed together in the same recreation cage. This sort of reminds me of the old riddle about the farmer who has a fox and a rooster and a bag of corn but can only take one at a time across the river in his boat and the fox will eat the rooster and the rooster will eat the corn if either pair is left together unattended (the solution, incidentally, is to shoot the fox, because it’s a fox).”

Sally Whyte, Crikey journalist

“Serena Williams Ties Graf’s Majors Record Thanks To A Remarkable Run In Her 30s” by Carl Bialik in FiveThirtyEight:

The media often call her queen, but unlike her Wimbledon Snapchat companion, Serena Williams isn’t royalty. She’s an athlete. She didn’t achieve her reign by birth or marriage. She earned it, and it was never guaranteed. Her achievement of 22 major titles is also the story of the 42 majors she entered and didn’t win, including the last three before this year’s Wimbledon. All three times she came so close to winning, reaching the last round or two, and then ran into an inspired, fearless opponent. She did again today, and won anyway.

“’It makes the victory even sweeter to know how hard I worked for it,’ she said in her on-court interview after the Wimbledon final with the BBC’s Sue Barker.

So now Serena Williams has a share of the Open-era record. Win one more, as she’s favored to do at the U.S. Open in New York later this summer, and she’ll have that record to herself. It’ll be far tougher to drop the ‘Open-era’ modifier from her achievement, though: She’s three away from passing Margaret Court.

Sophie Benjamin, Crikey engagement editor

“How Australia fails mid-career scientists”, by Catherine Osborne, on the ABC’s Science Show:

“When we got that grant, I was excited: it meant I was part of a three-year project. I thought all of the unofficial supervision I was giving PhD students could then be official for the term of their three-year projects.

“I was wrong. I was told that because I had been a co-author on the grant, my salary couldn’t be taken from the grant. If I had contributed my intellectual property but not included my name on it, they could have paid me, but because I was named — because I actually contributed ideas and words — I couldn’t be paid from this grant.

“I dug in my heels with the university about a three-year contract, but they insisted that it was a university-wide policy to only give one-year contracts to postdoctorates. One year! For someone with almost 10 years of scientific experience! From one of the most prestigious and wealthiest universities in this country!”

Cassidy Knowlton, Crikey editor

“Who are all these Trump supporters?” by George Saunders in The New Yorker:

“He growls, rants, shouts, digresses, careens from shtick nugget to shtick nugget, rhapsodizes over past landslides, name-drops Ivanka, Melania, Mike Tyson, Newt Gingrich, Bobby Knight, Bill O’Reilly. His right shoulder thrusts out as he makes the pinched-finger mudra with downswinging arm. His trademark double-eye squint evokes that group of beanie-hatted street-tough Munchkin kids; you expect him to kick gruffly at an imaginary stone. In person, his autocratic streak is presentationally complicated by a Ralph Kramdenesque vulnerability. He’s a man who has just dropped a can opener into his wife’s freshly baked pie. He’s not about to start grovelling about it, and yet he’s sorry—but, come on, it was an accident. He’s sorry, he’s sorry, O.K., but do you expect him to say it? He’s a good guy. Anyway, he didn’t do it.”

Myriam Robin, Crikey media reporter

“How technology disrupted the truth” by Katharine Viner in The Guardian:

“When a fact begins to resemble whatever you feel is true, it becomes very difficult for anyone to tell the difference between facts that are true and “facts” that are not. The leave campaign was well aware of this – and took full advantage, safe in the knowledge that the Advertising Standards Authority has no power to police political claims. A few days after the vote, Arron Banks, Ukip’s largest donor and the main funder of the Leave.EU campaign, told the Guardian that his side knew all along that facts would not win the day. “It was taking an American-style media approach,” said Banks. ‘What they said early on was “Facts don’t work”, and that’s it. The remain campaign featured fact, fact, fact, fact, fact. It just doesn’t work. You have got to connect with people emotionally. It’s the Trump success.’

“It was little surprise that some people were shocked after the result to discover that Brexit might have serious consequences and few of the promised benefits. When ‘facts don’t work’ and voters don’t trust the media, everyone believes in their own ‘truth’ — and the results, as we have just seen, can be devastating.

“How did we end up here? And how do we fix it?”

Dan Wood, Crikey subeditor

“At war with ourselves” by Mark Davis in Meanjin

“Watching Kenny report from Nauru and reading his stories about Abyan in theAustralian, I was reminded of another time, another island and another interview. This other island is Hindmarsh Island near the mouth of the Murray River in South Australia and the interview was broadcast just over 20 years earlier. This was an interview Kenny did with an Aboriginal man called Doug Milera. In the eight minutes of the interview shown on national television Milera, who looked to be somewhat inebriated, claimed to be the ‘fabricator’ of ‘secret women’s business’ that Ngarrindjeri women had argued should prevent the building of a bridge to the island since it would desecrate spiritually important land.

“Those eight minutes were a political bomb­shell. By then the claim that the secret women’s business was a ‘fabrication’ had become a national cause celebre, supported by a group of ‘dissident women’ among the Ngarrindjeri who denied knowledge of the secret women’s business, and the unbuilt bridge had become a symbol of the supposed pandering of the then Keating Labor government to minority causes. According to the academic Marion Maddox, the majority of Milera’s comments in the raw footage of the hour-long interview ‘seem rather to contradict the fabrication story’, but ‘Milera produced the right eighty seconds in the hour long interview to lead that evening’s broadcasts.”

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey