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Daily Briefing

Deep buzz for the content-deprived

Every weekday, while you get showered and dressed, we pluck these dewy- fresh, breaking stories from the info-clogged byways of the datasphere. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and stoke up on everything you need to know, or at least enough to fake it.

There's Nothing Like Train Travel For Tossing Together People Who'd Never Otherwise Meet
Jennifer Finney Boylan, Salon | Train Travel | December 18, 2014

I spent 17 days this fall traveling the country by train as one of Amtrak’s inaugural crop of “Writers in Residence,” a program that fills otherwise unoccupied sleeper berths with authors...

Kandinsky At 148: A Rebolutionary Google Doodle Star
Jonathan Jones, The Guardian | Kandinsky At 148 | December 16, 2014

The great abstract artist's paintings are spiritual symphonies that reveal hidden truths and speak directly to our senses and feelings...

I Was Gang-Raped At A U-VA Frat 30 Years Ago, And No One Did Anything
Liz Securro, The Daily Beast | I Was Gang-Raped At A U-VA Frat... | December 16, 2014

I was gang-raped at the University of Virginia. I was gang raped at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house...

Should Writers Respond To Their Critics?
James Parker and Zoe Heller, The New York Times | Should Writers Respond? | December 16, 2014

Getting a bad review is no longer an elite experience. We've all been trolled, oafed, flambeed in some thread somewhere...

Sprouting Feathers And Lost Teeth: Scientists Map The Evolution Of Birds
Ian Sample, The Guardian | Avian Family Tree | December 12, 2014

Mass genome sequencing reveals avian family tree -- and how imitative birdsong gives birds genetic similarities to humans...

Top 10 Things To Love About Letterman's Top Ten Lists
Ben Blatt, Slate | Slate | December 11, 2014

10. Their topicality 9. Their absurdity 8. Their longevity 7. Their irreverence 6. Their silliness 5. Their brevity 4. Their self-deprecation 3. Their surprise 1. Regis.

How Richard Pryor Beat Bill Cosby And Transformed America
David Yaffe and Scott Saul | Becoming Richard Pryor | December 11, 2014

Biographer Scott Saul talks about spending eight years studying Pryor and why he never got bored, why Pryor is still electrifying, and what he would have thought of Bill Cosby...

U-Va. Students Challenge Rolling Stone Account
T. Rees Shapiro, The Washington Post | UVA Followup | December 10, 2014

It was 1 a.m. on a Saturday when the call came. A friend, a University of Virginia freshman who earlier said she had a date that evening with a handsome junior from her chemistry class, was in hysterics. Something bad had happened...

Duke Ellington's Best Album -- One Of The Best In Jazz -- Is Also One Of His Least-Known
Fred Kaplan, Slate | Duke Ellington's Masterpiece | December 10, 2014

And on a new reissue, it sounds better than ever...

kSenate Torture Report Condemns C.I.A. Interrogation Program
Mark Mazzetti, The New York Times | Senate Torture Report | December 9, 2014

A scathing report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday found that the Central Intelligence Agency routinely misled the White House and Congress about the information it obtained from the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects, and that its methods were more brutal than the C.I.A. acknowledged either to Bush administration officials or to the public...