Weekendish: The best of the week's reads

Thamesmead Image copyright JR James Estate

A collection of some of the best reads from the BBC News website this week, with an injection of your comments.

The era of "radical concrete" that came to dominate Britain's post-war landscape remains a viscerally emotive subject. Despite a mini-revival in recent years, public opinion seems to be as firmly set against these high-rise monoliths as the concrete holding them together. But a massive collection of images from the 1960s and 1970s offers a glimpse at a more optimistic period in this much-vilified period of town planning, a time when new towns proliferated and planning was seen as a force for good that could reinvent British society. Do these old slides make us reassess the planners' legacy, asked Tom Heyden. @Camberwella tweeted: "Nope, still don't get/want brutalism. Thank you so very much." A more enthusiastic LucieMatthews-Jones ‏@luciejones83 tweeted: "I love concrete!" ‏@CEEQUALnews tweeted: "A great read for all of you closet Town Planners (you know who you are)."

Wife on Mars

Image copyright Miguel Angel

Sonia Van Meter wants to be one of the first people on Mars. She is one of 705 people in the running to form a 20- to 40-strong human colony on the Red Planet - a group whittled down from 200,000 who sent applications to Dutch not-for-profit organisation Mars One last year. The only problem is, her husband Jason doesn't want to go - but he's trying to be understanding about it. "Like any good red-blooded American male, at first I thought this was all about me. I thought: you're leaving me," he says. "The more she talked about it, the more I realised she was doing this for the right reasons - she was doing this to show humanity what we can all do if we work together," he says. Her stepchildren think it's cool, too. Readers had their own take. "Maybe she just needs some space," says Dezley Scott Davidson on Facebook. Read the couple's story.

The island factory

China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam all claim part or all of the South China Sea. Since the beginning of the year, China has moved to assert its claim on the area by dredging up millions of tonnes of rock and sand from the sea floor and pumping it into reefs to form substantial new islands. The Philippines, meanwhile, also has permanently occupied outposts in the area - including a heavily subsidised micro-colony on the island of Pagasa aimed at strengthening its legal claims. Another outpost is the Sierra Madre, a rusting, stranded ship that is home to a group of marines. Chinese ships have been blockading it for some time, preventing resupply ships, with food, water and building materials, from getting through. Essentials are, however, dropped from parachute once a month. The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes is the first Western journalist to have seen China's island construction with his own eyes. He also visits the marooned Filipinos. The result is an immersive story told through text, images and video.

Box of tricks

Image copyright The Andy Warhol Museum
Image caption Andy Warhol, Time Capsule 262, courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum

The artist Andy Warhol consigned 300,000 of his everyday possessions to sealed cardboard boxes. These "Time Capsules" contained such treasures as junk mail, fan-letters, toenail clippings, gallery-invitation cards, unopened letters, gallery flyers, a lump of concrete, thousands of used postage, packets of sweets and - of course - unopened tins of Campbell's soup. Now the 610 boxes, filled during the last 13 years of Warhol's life, are being opened for the first time at a gallery dedicated to him in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While it may look like load of old rubbish, Warhol - whose film Trash is one of his most celebrated works - "selected these objects with care, chose to give them their own 15 minutes of fame", says author Simon Elmes. Warhol fans seem to agree - one has paid $30,000 (£19,000) to open the final Time Capsule. @nicklaight says it goes to show "how great curation can create high perceived value from everyday ephemera".

Enduring mystery

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption A Boeing 777 - the same type of plane as MH370

What is it about flight MH370 that makes it fertile ground for conspiracy theories? Six months after the Malaysian airliner vanished, a slew of theories has been doing the rounds. It was variously shot down by US and Thai fighters, downed by a Chinese submarine, cyber-hijacked by mobile phone, substituted for MH17, and landed in Pakistan. Or was it all to do with Freescale Semiconductor, a US technology firm whose employees were onboard? And just as the theories began to wane, MH17 was shot down in Ukraine, creating a new buzz around the missing airliner. The Times' David Aaronovitch argues that conspiracy theories stem from a "fear of chaos". It's normal to speculate, Jovan Byford, a psychology lecturer at the Open University, says. "But speculating drawing on the established cult of conspiracy theorising is wrong. It's misleading and it locates the problem in the wrong place." Ben Kilbride‏ tweeted "I'm not surprised considering nobody has found a thing".

Here are some things we've enjoyed this week from elsewhere around the web:

Living simply in a dumpster - The Atlantic

Inside the secret world of a British undercover drugs cop - Vice

Mosquitoes really do prefer some people to others - Time

What's the Best Value at a Bar? Breaking down typical alcohol margins - Slate

How the global banana industry is killing the world's favourite fruit - Quartz

How the films you've seen influence your choice of dog - The Conversation

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