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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.

All You Need To Be A Modern Digital Stalker Is A Smartphone
Tauriq Moosa, The Daily Beast | Smartphone Stalkers | April 10, 2014

Smartphones have turned us into creeps—snapping strangers’ photos, tweeting about the person next to us on the train, updating a status to disapprove of a sidewalk passer-by. It’s time to check ourselves...


It’s hard to describe the feeling of seeing a photograph of yourself, taken without your knowledge. It’s a realization of vulnerability: you didn’t even notice someone using a device aimed at you. That particular moment now exists “forever.” Where Lincoln has a statue, you have a picture of yourself mid-sneeze. Or perhaps, like Sophie Wilkinson, a picture of you halfway through eating a meal...

Peter Matthiessen's Homegoing
Jeff Himmelman, The New York Times Magazine | Peter Matthiessen's Homegoing | April 9, 2014

This article was published online and printed in the Magazine before Mr. Matthiessen died on Saturday April 5.

Out the Montauk Highway, south toward the water, then a quick right before the beach and you’re there, at the Sagaponack house where the author and Zen teacher Peter Matthiessen has lived for the last 60 years...

Famed Jesuit Priest Abducted, Beaten And Executed In Syria
Mitchell Prothero, McClatchy Foreign Staff | Jesuit Priest Executed | April 8, 2014

An activist Jesuit priest who spent three years living alongside besieged civilians and rebels in the Syrian city of Homs was assassinated Monday, according to the Vatican, which said he was abducted by unidentified gunmen who beat him before executing him in front of his monastery.

Father Francis Van Der Lugt, 75, a Dutch Jesuit priest, came to Syria in 1966 and eventually founded a home for children and adults with mental disabilities outside Homs...

Crossing Christie
Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker | Crossing Christie | April 8, 2014

What the bridge scandal says about the Governor's political style, and his future...

Goodbye, Oil: US Navy Cracks New Renewable Energy Technology To Turn Seawater Into Fuel, Allowing Ships To Stay At Sea Longer
Christopher Harress, The International Business Times | Fuel From Seawater | April 8, 2014

After decades of experiments, U.S. Navy scientists believe they may have solved one of the world’s great challenges: how to turn seawater into fuel.

The development of a liquid hydrocarbon fuel could one day relieve the military’s dependence on oil-based fuels and is being heralded as a “game changer” because it could allow military ships to develop their own fuel and stay operational 100 percent of the time, rather than having to refuel at sea.

The new fuel is initially expected to cost around $3 to $6 per gallon, according to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, which has already flown a model aircraft on it...

As Vermont Goes, So Goes The Nation?
Molly Werthem, The New York Times Op Ed | As Vermont Goes | April 7, 2014

When most liberals hear the words “third party,” they have nasty flashbacks to Ralph Nader’s spoiler campaign in 2000.. But one state is now on the way to single-payer health care, and a third party deserves much of the credit.Three years ago, Peter Shumlin, the governor of Vermont, signed a bill creating Green Mountain Care: a single-payer system in which, if all goes according to plan, the state will regulate doctors’ fees and cover Vermonters’ medical bills...

Mickey Rooney, Child Actor Who Went On To Lifetime Of Stardom, Dies At 93
Adam Bernstein, The Washington Post | Mickey Rooney WaPo Obit | April 7, 2014

Mickey Rooney, the irrepressible actor of seemingly limitless skills who personified the all-American teenager in movie musicals with Judy Garland and dozens of other comedies and dramas, has died at 93...

A Virtual Iron Curtain Closes In On Russia's Intelligentsia
Anna Nemtsova, The Daily Beast | Virtual Iron Curtain | April 7, 2014

Every morning last week, public relations specialist Roman Fedoseyev dreaded going online, fearful he would find news that the Russian army had crossed the Ukrainian border. The crisis called Crimea haunts the dreams of Fedoseyev and his friends in Moscow’s creative class, or “hipsters” as they call themselves, using a word borrowed and made their own. But when they wake, they keep hoping life can go on as usual.  The sad thing is, it won’t...

Is Yellowstone About To Erupt?
Janet Fang, IFL Science | Yellowstone Rumor Control | April 4, 2014

Have you seen this video of bison running out of Yellowstone? If you haven’t, here’s a version with dramatic music. It’s no secret that Yellowstone National Park sits atop a “supervolcano.” But now, accounts of animals supposedly fleeing the park before an earthquake last Sunday have sparked fear that one of the world’s biggest supervolcanoes is about to produce an apocalyptic eruption...

In The 1870s and '80s, Being A Pedestrian Was Anything But
NPR, Robert Krulwich interviewing Matthew Algeo | Pedestrianism | April 3, 2014

We may think of baseball as America's national pastime, but in the 1870s and 1880s there was another sports craze sweeping the nation: competitive walking. "Watching people walk was America's favorite spectator sport," Matthew Algeo says in his new book, Pedestrianism.

"In the decades after the Civil War there was mass urbanization in the United States [with] millions of people moving into the cities," Algeo tells NPR's Robert Siegel. "And there wasn't much for them to do in their free time, so pedestrianism — competitive walking matches — filled a void for people. It became quite popular quite quickly."

Huge crowds packed indoor arenas to watch the best walkers walk. Think of it as a six-day NASCAR race ... on feet...