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.

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...

English Has A New Preposition, Because Internet
Megan Garber, The Atlantic | English Has A New Preposition, Because Internet | November 20, 2013

Linguists are recognizing the delightful evolution of the word "because"...

A Diver's Rise, And Swift Death, At The Limits Of A Growing Sport
John Branch, Adam Skolnick, William J. Broad, and Mary Pilon, The New York Times | A Diver's Rise, And Swift Death, At The Limits Of A Growing Sport | November 19, 2013

Nicholas Mevoli saved money from an assortment of jobs to pay for the bottomless pursuit of holding his breath and sinking his body as far as possible into the ocean.

He practiced holding his breath in bathtubs and Brooklyn swimming pools, even seeing how far he could run with one gulp of oxygen. For roughly the past two years, free diving consumed his life, turning him from novice to national record-holder...

JFK Still Dead, Baby Boomers Still Self-Absorbed
Nick Gillespie, The Daily Beast | JFK Still Dead, Baby Boomers Still Self-Absorbed | November 18, 2013

Kennedy assassination nostalgia reveals the deeply engrained generational arrogance of the baby boomers. After 50 years, let's hope the fever is breaking.

If there’s one November tradition less digestible and more shart-inducing than Thanksgiving dinner (sorry, Mom!), it’s the seasonal and ritualized fixation over the assassination and broad legacy of John F. Kennedy...

The Cult Of Outrage
Michael Moynihan, The Daily Beast | The Cult Of Outrage | November 18, 2013

When someone in the public eye tries to offend you these days, you can bet they're trying to sell something. Outrage isn't about values, it's about marketing.

We can’t make her go away because we don’t want her to go away. And there she is again, the tedious pop sensation Miley Cyrus—whose name I cannot escape, whose music I cannot identify—with her bovine tongue hanging out of her mouth, this time at the European Video Music Awards in Amsterdam. Like most other 20-year-old Americans embarrassing themselves in the Dutch capital, Cyrus was rather amused by the availability of semi-legal marijuana and puffed a joint on camera, a stage-managed bit of outrage that was only considered outrageous for the grave sin of flouting EU regulations banning smoking indoors. (The Dutch government is indeed investigating Cyrus because, according to a government spokesman, “employees have the right to a smoke-free environment and this includes camera and sound personnel.”)...

New York Observer
Pete Hamill, The New York Times Book Review | Pete Hamill, The New York Times Book Review | November 18, 2013

To enter the world of this wonderful memoir is to leave the dull certainties of home and go wandering. The author’s destination is always the great wide world Out There, and through his sharp, compact prose, Roger Rosenblatt takes the reader with him. He is, after all, what some 19th-century Parisians called a flâneur, a stroller sauntering through anonymous crowds in the noisy, greedy, unscripted panoramas of the city...


An Afghan Interpreter's Flight To America
George Packer. The New Yorker | An Afghan Interpreter's Flight To America | November 15, 2013

Janis Shinwari, the Afghan interpreter I wrote about a couple of months ago, finally had his U.S. visa restored, and he’s now in Virginia with his wife and two children. That’s a success story of sorts. But the effort it took to get them out of danger and over here shows how deep the betrayal of Afghans and Iraqis like Shinwari really runs...

A Lost Hiker Ate His Dog To Survive. Why Does This Infuriate Us So?

Canadian outdoorsman Marco Lavoie spent three months stranded in the wilderness of the Nottaway River in Western Quebec. His plight began when a bear attacked and wrecked his boat, ravaging his supplies. Lavoie’s pet German shepherd apparently helped drive off the bear. Eventually Lavoie, starving and dehydrated, struck his dog on the head with a rock and ate him. Lavoie’s actions earned him a torrent of criticism when he was finally found, 90 pounds thinner and dogless, earlier this month...

I've Got Whooping Cough. Thanks A Lot, Jenny McCarthy.
Julia Ioffe, The New Republic | I've Got Whooping Cough. Thanks A Lot, Jenny McCarthy. | November 15, 2013

At this writing, I have been coughing for 72 days. Not on and off coughing, but continuously, every day and every night, for two and a half months. And not just coughing, but whooping: doubled over, body clenched, sucking violently for air, my face reddening and my eyes watering. Sometimes, I cough so hard, I vomit. Other times, I pee myself...