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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.

'The Power Broker' Turns 40: How Robert Caro Wrote A Masterpiece
Scott Porch, The Daily Beast | 'The Power Broker' Turns 40 | September 16, 2014

Forty years ago today, Caro's mageisterial 1,296-page life of New York master builder Robert Moses rewrote the rules of biography...

RIP, Tony Auth : Colleagues Salute Pulitzer-Winning Philadelphia Journalist As A Singular, Big-Hearted Artist
Michael Cavna, The Washington Post | Tony Auth, R.I.P. | September 16, 2014

"It's been a great ride." Those were Tony Auth's words just two years ago, when the Pulitzer-winning cartoonist talked about his decision to end his remarkable four-decade run and reign at the Philadelphia Inquirer...

Reanimation Library Breathes New Life Into Old Books
Maddie Crum, The Huffington Post | Reanimation Library | September 15, 2014

There exists a book, published in 1955, called A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates, which is exactly what it sounds like. Aside from the front matter -- copyright materials, the publisher's name -- it contains nothing but lines of numbers, arranged into columns.

Its creator, the RAND corporation, explains the text's initial function: physicists, cryptographers and the like often need to use random strings of numbers for "experimental probability procedures."...

Elusive Peace: 'Thirteen Days in September', by Lawrence Wright
Joe Klein, The New York Times Book Review | Thirteen Days | September 13, 2014

On March 11, 1978, 11 Palestinian militants came ashore in Zodiac boats north of Tel Aviv and set about murdering as many Israelis as they could with guns and grenades. They hijacked a taxi and two buses; 38 were killed, including 13 children. The massacre was intended as a provocation; a disproportionate Israeli response was assumed. And three days later, Israel invaded southern Lebanon...

A Lost-And-Found Nomad Helps Solve The Mystery Of A Swimming Dinosaur
Kenneth Chang, The New York Times | Spinosaurus | September 11, 2014

The first bones came in a cardboard box. Nizar Ibrahim, a paleontologist, was in the Moroccan oasis town of Erfoud at the edge of the Sahara, returning from a dinosaur dig in the sands. Inside the box, brought to him by a nomad, were sediment-encrusted pieces more intriguing than anything he had found himself, including a blade-shaped bone with a reddish streak running through the cross section...

An Ex-Radical's Open Letter To ISIS Fighters: Quit Now While You Can!
Maajid Nawaz, The Daily Beast | Letter To ISIS Fighters | September 10, 2014

I address these words directly to you Muslims from Western nations who went to Syria to fight that brutal dictator Assad, and now may be feeling like you joined the wrong war. I reach out to you...

We Could Have Stopped This
Laurie Garrett, Foreign Policy | Stopping Ebola | September 9, 2014

Public health officials knew Ebola was coming. They know how to defeat it. But they're blowing it anyway.

World, you still just don't get it. The Ebola epidemic that is raging across West Africa, killing more than half its victims, will not be conquered with principles of global solidarity and earnest appeals. It will not be stopped with dribbling funds, dozens of volunteer health workers, and barriers across national borders. And the current laboratory-confirmed tolls (3,944 cases, with 2,097 deahts) will soon rise exponentially...

Male Birth Control, Without Condoms, Will Be Here By 2017
Samantha Allen, The Daily Beast | Male Birth Control | September 9, 2014

Vasalgel, a reversible, non-hormonal polymer that blocks the vas deferens, is about to enter human trials. How will rhetoric change when male bodies become responsible for birth control?...

Seven Steps To Living A Bill Murray Life, by Bill Murray
Jada Yuan, Vulture via Slate | Being Bill Murray | September 9, 2014

Step one to being more like Bill Murray: Sing. And really be into it.
Murray is not his ironic Saturday Night Live lounge singer and he is not his Lost in Translation actor abroad, singing a half-asleep version of “More Than This.” He sings when the mood strikes him, and when it does, he means it...

My First Burning Man: Confessions Of A Conservative From Washington
Grover Norquist, The Guardian | Norquist At Burning Man | September 7, 2014

What is Burning Man? It is a larger version of... what? Woodstock? That was a bunch of teenagers coming to watch artists perform. At Burning Man, everyone is expected to be a participant...