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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.

Whistling Vivaldi Won't Save You
Tressie McMillan Cottom, Slate | Whistling Vivaldi Won't Save You | September 22, 2013

 

Social psychologist Claude Steele’s book Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do revolutionized our understanding of the daily context and cognitive effects of stereotypes and bias. The title of Steele’s book alludes to a story his friend New York Times writer Brent Staples once shared. An African-American man, Staples recounted how his physical presence terrified whites as he moved about Chicago as a free citizen and graduate student. To counter the negative effects of white fear, he took to whistling Vivaldi. It was a signal to the unvictimized victims of his blackness that he was safe. Dangerous black men do not listen to classical music, or so the hope goes. The incongruence between Staples' musical choices and the stereotype of him as a predator were meant to disrupt the implicit, unexamined racist assumptions about him. It seems an annoying daily accommodation, perhaps, an attempt to make whites feel at ease to grease the wheels of social interactions—unless we fully recognize the potential consequences of white dis-ease for black lives...

Katskhi Pillar Monk, Maxime Qavtaradze, Renews Age-Old Tradition In Georgia
Yasmine Hafiz, The Huffington Post | Katskhi Pillar Monk, Maxime Qavtaradze, Renews Age-Old Tradition In Georgia | September 20, 2013

Maxime Qavtaradze is literally close to the heavens. The 59-year-old monk lives atop a stone pillar in Georgia, scaling a 131-foot ladder in order to leave and enter his lofty home, reports CNN. Photographer Amos Chapple ascended the cliff to photograph his life there.

The Katskhi Pillar has long been venerated by locals in the area, though it's been uninhabited since around the 1400s. When climbers ascended for the first time in centuries in 1944, they found the ruins of a church and the 600-year-old bones of the last stylite who lived there. The stylite tradition is believed to have begun in 423 when St. Simeon the Elder climbed a pillar in Syria in order to avoid worldly temptations, but the practice has since fallen out of favor. However, Qavtaradze is a modern devotee...

How A Prank On Playboy Fooled The Internet
Adrienne vogt, The Daily Beast | How A Prank On Playboy Fooled The Internet | September 20, 2013

No, Playboy did not change its annual party school guide into an article advocating consent on campus. The Daily Beast speaks with one of the students behind PartyWithPlayboy.com.

This week, Twitter was a-flutter with news that Playboy magazine had scrapped its annual party school guide in favor of an anti-rape college roundup.

The article included a very legitimate-looking graphic and active links to Playboy's other stories. But it turned out to be an elaborate and incredibly effective hoax, created by an anti-rape organization and a group of college students...

Bring Back The Lyme Vaccine
Stanley A. Plotkin, International Herald Tribune Opinion | Bring Back The Lyme Vaccine | September 19, 2013

In August 2005 my son Alec, then 39 years old, collapsed into unconsciousness while walking his dog in the suburbs of Philadelphia. By the time he arrived at the hospital, his heart rate had slowed to 30 beats per minute. Fortunately, an experienced physician recognized that Alec was having a cardiac complication of Lyme infection. Installation of a pacemaker and an infusion of antibiotics saved his life.

Each year there are more than 30,000 cases of Lyme disease reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But last month, the C.D.C. announced that the real number of annual infections was closer to 300,000...

Senator John McCain: Russians Deserve Better Than Putin
Sen. John McCain, Pravda | Senator John McCain: Russians Deserve Better Than Putin | September 19, 2013

When Pravda.ru editor, Dmitry Sudakov, offered to publish my commentary, he referred to me as "an active anti-Russian politician for many years." I'm sure that isn't the first time Russians have heard me characterized as their antagonist. Since my purpose here is to dispel falsehoods used by Russia's rulers to perpetuate their power and excuse their corruption, let me begin with that untruth. I am not anti-Russian. I am pro-Russian, more pro-Russian than the regime that misrules you today...

Yoko Ono Details Why She Posted Lennon's Bloodied Glasses On Twitter
Jennifer Preston, The New York Times | Yoko Ono Details Why She Posted Lennon's Bloodied Glasses On Twitter | September 19, 2013

On what would have been her 44th wedding anniversary Wednesday, Yoko Ono said, she walked through a park, remembering how much she and her husband, John Lennon, had laughed and smiled on their wedding day. “Then I felt the emptiness more acutely because of the beautiful memory,” she said.

That evening, Ms. Ono, 80, posted on her Twitter account four antigun messages with an image of the blood-splattered glasses that Lennon was wearing when he was gunned down outside their Manhattan apartment building on Dec. 8, 1980...

Dudebros Are Ruining The Tech Industry
Sharmin Kent, Salon | Dudebros Are Ruining The Tech Industry | September 17, 2013

Shereef Bishay, co-founder of Dev Bootcamp, center, talks with student Ryan Guerrettaz during a class at Dev Bootcamp in San Francisco, Tuesday, April 2, 2013. Dev Bootcamp is one of a new breed of computer-programming schools that?s proliferating in San Francisco and other U.S. tech hubs. These ?hacker boot camps? promise to teach students how to write code in two or three months and help them get hired as web developers, with starting salaries between $80,000 and $100,000, often within days or weeks of graduation. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu) (Credit: AP)

Not (necessarily) dudebros...

For a number of reasons, last week’s Twitter-propelled implosion of former Business Insider CTO Pax Dickinson was fascinating to watch. While Business Insider hasn’t suffered much from its decision to let Dickinson be a part of its team, his tenure and long history of purported “performance art” is just one example of how dudebro culture has powered—and stunted—the tech industry for the past decade...

The Repentant Radical
Michael Moynihan, The Daily Beast | The Repentant Radicao | September 17, 2013

After a Danish newspaper published cartoons satirizing the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, Ahmed Akkari spearheaded protests that ultimately cost the lives of 200 people. Now he says he's sorry. Michael Moynihan on what changed Akkari's mind.

 

A Single Girl's Guide To Finding Love In Kabul
Jamieson Lesko, World News on NBCNews.com | A Single Girl's Guide To Finding Love In Kabul | September 16, 2013

Think it's hard to find Mr. Right in a big city like New York or Los Angeles? Try Kabul, where it's considered a crime for a woman to be seen in public with a man she is not engaged, married or related to.

The stakes are shockingly high and the reality harsh: most girls born in Afghanistan will be married off as teenagers to men they are either related to or have never met. If a woman dares to spend time with a man privately, she could end up in jail, charged with the moral crime of "intending to have pre-marital sex."...

Chicken Is Killing The Planet
Deena Shanker. Salon | Chicken Is Killing The Planet | September 16, 2013

Earlier this month, while you were busy sneaking out of your empty office, hoping nobody would notice your starting the holiday weekend early, the USDA was also doing something it was hoping nobody would notice. It was green-lighting the sale of Chinese processed American chicken.  As Politico explained, “U.S. officials have given the thumbs-up to four Chinese poultry plants, paving the way for the country to send processed chicken to American markets.” But while, “at first, China will only be able to process chicken that has been slaughtered in the U.S. or other certified countries,” that should not be a comfort to fans of the McNugget, Campbell’s chicken soup, or any other processed chicken product...