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In this follow up News Brief to our Christmas-themed episode on Hallmark, we discuss an angle we glossed over in our episode: the anti-labor business model of Hallmark films and how they portend a trend in the film industry more broadly. After our episode was published, a screenwriter with experience working with Hallmark and Hallmark-adjacent prod…
 
Whether condoms were used in ancient civilizations is debated by archaeologists and historians.[101]: 11  In ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, pregnancy prevention was generally seen as a woman's responsibility, and the only well documented contraception methods were female-controlled devices.[101]: 17, 23  In Asia before the 15th century, some use …
 
Juan Pujol Garcia MBE (14 February 1912 – 10 October 1988), also known as Joan Pujol Garcia, was a Spanish spy who acted as a double agent loyal to Great Britain against Nazi Germany during World War II, when he relocated to Britain to carry out fictitious spying activities for the Germans. He was given the codename Garbo by the British; their Germ…
 
The diamond hoax of 1872 was a swindle in which a pair of prospectors sold a false American diamond deposit to prominent businessmen in San Francisco and New York City. It also triggered a brief diamond prospecting craze in the western United States, in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado. Our theme song was written and performed by An…
 
A blast from the past teaches a town to embrace tradition and believe in miracles we simply can’t explain. A cynical urban professional finds kindness and purpose while traveling through the heartland. Two old flames living in the fast lane discover, amid the magic of Christmas, that they were meant for each other all along. These loglines describe…
 
"Deregulation will make the economy more efficient and stimulate GDP growth," insist think tanks like the Brookings Institution and American Enterprise Institute. "Fiscal hawks," claiming to be worried about the deficit, demand austerity measures to reign in government spending. When it comes to "entitlement programs," we hear that "there are alway…
 
On the evening of 8 December 1980, English musician John Lennon, formerly of the Beatles, was shot and fatally wounded in the archway of The Dakota, his residence in New York City. His killer was Mark David Chapman, an American Beatles fan who was incensed by Lennon's lavish lifestyle and his 1966 comment that the Beatles were "more popular than Je…
 
The Narváez expedition was a Spanish journey of exploration and colonization started in 1527 that intended to establish colonial settlements and garrisons in Florida.[1] The expedition was initially led by Pánfilo de Narváez, who died in 1528. Many more people died as the expedition traveled west along the explored Gulf Coast of the present-day Uni…
 
“Supply and demand.” “It’s just Econ 101.” “Most economists agree...” “There’s always trade offs.” Over and over, media and policymakers spew the same tired recitations meant to convey the seemingly natural, immutable laws of economics. "The economy," we’re told, is thriving when business owners and job creators are making record profits, and faili…
 
Mithridates or Mithradates VI Eupator (Greek: Μιθραδάτης;[2] 135–63 BC) was ruler of the Hellenistic Kingdom of Pontus in northern Anatolia from 120 to 63 BC, and one of the Roman Republic's most formidable and determined opponents. He was an effective, ambitious and ruthless ruler who sought to dominate Asia Minor and the Black Sea region, waging …
 
A character played by an actor in a fat suit shovels food in his face, unable to restrain himself in a fit of rage. Another falls, too lazy and out-of-shape to get up without the aid of others. And yet another loses weight and avenges the anti-fat bullying she faced growing up, finally earning respect as a thin person. We see all of these tropes ad…
 
The Australasian Antarctic Expedition was a 1911–1914 expedition headed by Douglas Mawson that explored the largely uncharted Antarctic coast due south of Australia. Mawson had been inspired to lead his own venture by his experiences on Ernest Shackleton's Nimrod expedition in 1907–1909. During its time in Antarctica, the expedition's sledging part…
 
“The elites are out to get you and your hard-earned pay.” “We’re spending too much on protecting foreign nations and not enough defending our own borders against immigrant invaders.” “China is taking your job and will soon take over your phone.” We are consistently fed this type of “rightwing populism” –– sticking up for the working man against an …
 
The phantom time hypothesis is a historical conspiracy theory asserted by Heribert Illig. First published in 1991, it hypothesizes a conspiracy by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, Pope Sylvester II, and possibly the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII, to fabricate the Anno Domini dating system retroactively, in order to place them at the special yea…
 
An urban legend or contemporary legend is a genre of folklore comprising stories circulated as true, especially as having happened to a "friend of a friend" or family member, often with horrifying or humorous elements. These legends can be entertaining, but often concern mysterious peril or troubling events, such as disappearances and strange objec…
 
“It’s not about right vs left, but the people vs the elites,” “Wall Street and the media are leaching off hard working Americans like you and me who play by the rules.” “Our elite have sold us out to China.” American media consumers are routinely fed, a particular, and often confusing brand of so-called “rightwing populism” –– nominally taking on “…
 
In this News Brief, we recapped how, in the face of a once in a generation opportunity to relieve poverty and address curb climate change, US media largely gave us personality, Horse Race coverage, and defensive snark–– aiding conservatives efforts to winnow down the bill to a fraction of its original size.…
 
An urban legend or contemporary legend is a genre of folklore comprising stories circulated as true, especially as having happened to a "friend of a friend" or family member, often with horrifying or humorous elements. These legends can be entertaining, but often concern mysterious peril or troubling events, such as disappearances and strange objec…
 
"Feed the world." "We are the world." "Be a light to the world." Every few years, it seems, a new celebrity benefit appears. Chock full of A-listers and inspirational tag lines, it promises to tackle any number of the world’s large-scale problems, whether poverty, climate change, or disease prevention and eradication. From Live Aid in the 1980s to …
 
In this News Brief, we recap the recap of Powell's life, from the handwringing over his Iraq War UN speech to the erasure of his role in covering up My Lai massacre to training rightwing death squads in Central America and the central importance of "Good Intentions" when venerating our beloved, bipartisan war-makers.…
 
The Burke and Hare murders were a series of 16 killings committed over a period of about ten months in 1828 in Edinburgh, Scotland. They were undertaken by William Burke and William Hare, who sold the corpses to Robert Knox for dissection at his anatomy lectures. Our theme song was written and performed by Anna Bosnick. If you’d like to support the…
 
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