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.

Death of a Professor
L.V. Anderson, Slate | Death Of A Professor | November 26, 2013

On Friday, Aug. 16, Margaret Mary Vojtko, an adjunct French professor who’d recently lost her job at Duquesne University at the age of 83, suffered a cardiac arrest on a street corner in Homestead, Pa.* Vojtko collapsed yards from the house where she had lived almost her entire life. She was rushed to the hospital, but she never regained consciousness. Vojtko died on Sunday, Sept. 1.

Two and a half weeks later, Vojtko’s lawyer, Daniel Kovalik, published an op-ed about Vojtko called “Death of an Adjunct” in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Kovalik wrote that “unlike a well-paid tenured professor, Margaret Mary worked on a contract basis from semester to semester, with no job security, no benefits, and with a salary of $3,000 to $3,500 per three-credit course.” (In fact, for many years, she’d earned less—only $2,556 per course.) She’d been receiving cancer treatment, he said, and she’d become essentially homeless over the winter because she couldn’t afford to maintain and heat her house...

Confessions Of A Right-Wing Shock Jock
Jack Hunter, Politico | Confessions Of A Right-Wing Shock Jock | November 25, 2013

I'm not a racist; I just played on eon the radio.

In July, the neoconservative website Washington Free Beacon published an article with the headline “Rebel Yell: Rand Paul aide has history of neo-Confederate sympathies, inflammatory statements.” The subject was a peculiar one—a staffer for Sen. Paul (R-Ky.) who had worked as a radio shock jock with the nickname “Southern Avenger” while wearing a Confederate-flag wrestling mask.

The Southern Avenger had said some pretty atrocious things. He toasted John Wilkes Booth’s birthday each year and believed that Lincoln “would have had a romantic relationship with Adolf Hitler if the two met.” He worried about “racial double standards for white people” and that “a non-white majority America would simply cease to be America.”


That Rand Paul aide was me...

The Recipe For 'A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving'
Susan King, The Los Angeles Times | The Recipe For 'A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving' | November 25, 2013

Sometimes the smallest notion can create magic.


The 1973 animated special "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving " was based on a "very simple idea," said the show's producer Lee Mendelson. Charles M. Schulz, the creator of the beloved "Peanuts" comic strip, "said I wonder what it would be like if kids did Thanksgiving dinner and the chaos that would ensue. That is what it is all about."...

Dealer's Hand: Why Are so Many People Paying So Much Money For Art?
Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker | Dealer's Hand | November 25, 2013

Very important people line up differently from you and me. They don’t want to stand behind anyone else, or to acknowledge wanting something that can’t immediately be had. If there’s a door they’re eager to pass through, and hundreds of equally or even more important people are there, too, they get as close to the door as they can, claim a patch of available space as though it had been reserved for them, and maintain enough distance to pretend that they are not in a line.

Prior to the official opening of Art Basel, the annual fair in Switzerland, there is a two-day V.I.P. preview. In many respects, the preview is the fair. It’s when the collectors who can afford the good stuff are allowed in to buy it...

Hugh Aynesworth Has Spent His Career Debunking JFK Conspiracy Theories
Malcolm Jones, The Daily Beast | Hugh Aynesworth Has Spent His Career Debunking JFK Conspiracy Theories | November 22, 2013

Hugh Aynesworth was present when President Kennedy was shot, when Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested, and when Jack Ruby shot Oswald. He has spent his life debunking assassination theories...

The Truly Paranoid Style In American Politics
Benjamin Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine | The Truly Paranoid Style In American Politics | November 22, 2013

From the JFK assassination to weather control and the New World Order: 50 years of conspiracy theory...

What Became Of JFK's Gravedigger?
Michael Daly, The Daily Beast | What Became Of JFK's Gravedigger? | November 22, 2013

A famous Jimmy Breslin column drew attention to Clifton Pollard, a WWII vet who buried the president on two occasions at Arlington National. Now they both rest there...

24,000-Year-Old Body Shows Kinship To Europeans And American Indians
Nicholas Wade, The New York Times | 24,000-Year-Old Body Shows Kinship To Europeans And American Indians | November 21, 2013

The genome of a young boy buried at Mal’ta near Lake Baikal in eastern Siberia some 24,000 years ago has turned out to hold two surprises for anthropologists.

The first is that the boy’s DNA matches that of Western Europeans, showing that during the last Ice Age people from Europe had reached farther east across Eurasia than previously supposed. Though none of the Mal’ta boy’s skin or hair survives, his genes suggest he would have had brown hair, brown eyes and freckled skin. The second surprise is that his DNA also matches a large proportion — about 25 percent — of the DNA of living Native Americans...

Two Poems For Gettysburg
Catherine Woodard, CNN Opinion | Two Poems For Gettysburg | November 20, 2013

Gettysburg -- that long, bloody battle in July 1863 is forever seared into the American psyche and continues to draw visitors to its historic field in Pennsylvania. Among them is poet Catherine Woodard, who visited Gettysburg last summer, the 150th anniversary of that decisive Civil War battle.

For the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, she wrote two poems...

The Words That Remade America
Garry Wills, The Atlantic | The Words That Remade America | November 20, 2013

In the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg, both sides, leaving fifty thousand dead or wounded or missing behind them, had reason to maintain a large pattern of pretense—Lee pretending that he was not taking back to the South a broken cause, Meade that he would not let the broken pieces fall through his fingers. It would have been hard to predict that Gettysburg, out of all this muddle, these missed chances, all the senseless deaths, would become a symbol of national purpose, pride, and ideals. Abraham Lincoln transformed the ugly reality into something rich and strange—and he did it with 272 words. The power of words has rarely been given a more compelling demonstration...