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.

'South Park' Marches On In New Places
David Carr, The New York Times | South Park Marches On | July 14, 2014

While the media moguls in Sun Valley, Idaho, jockeyed for parking spaces for their jets and hunted for havens in a consolidating content world, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the boy-men behind “South Park,” were in Los Angeles, proving again that if you make content people love — it’s harder than it looks — it doesn’t matter how many paradigms shift....

An "Unbelievable" Encounter With Amazon
Malcolm Gladwell | Gladwell Vs. Amazon | July 11, 2014

In an attempt to negotiate a bigger share of e-book royalties, Amazon has instituted shipping delays of three to five weeks for the books of many Hachette authors, including J. K. Rowling, James Patterson, and me. A few days ago, in an arrangement brokered by Dick Cavett, David Hill, the newly appointed director of “fulfillment” for Amazon, agreed to participate in a face-to-face meeting with me, at the company’s Manhattan warehouse... 

Unlikely Warriors: 'Elephant Company,' By Vicki Constantine Cooke
Sara Gruen, The New York Times Book Review | Elephant Bill | July 11, 2014

I have to confess — my love of elephants made me apprehensive to review a book about their role in World War II. But as soon as I began to read “Elephant Company,” I realized that not only was my heart safe, but that this book is about far more than just the war, or even elephants. This is the story of friendship, loyalty and breathtaking bravery that transcends species...

Every German Goal In Its 7-1 Victory Over Brazil Made History. Here's How.
Jeremy Stahl, Slate | Seven Historic Goals | July 9, 2014

For sheer spectacle and shock value, if not quality of play, the 2014 World Cup will go down as the most memorable in history. With three matches to play, this tournament is four short of the 1998 record for most goals scored in a World Cup. It already has a first-class villain in Luis Suárez and his teeth, and an indefatigable underdog in Costa Rica. Now, with Germany’s semifinal 7–1 humiliation of hosts Brazil, the tournament has a match that will be remembered for as long as people care about soccer. “Something like that happens every 100 years,” said former Germany captain and current ESPN commentator Michael Ballack. This was not an exaggeration...

Elephant Weeps While Being Rescued After 50 Years Of Mistreatment
Stphen Messenger, The Dodo | Elephant Tears | July 9, 2014

After five long decades of being forced to endure a life of unimaginable suffering, Raju the elephant is finally free. Fitted with painful shackles for nearly his entire life, Raju walked the dusty roads of India, interacting with tourists in exchange for coins and food. His body bears the signs of malnutrition and the scars of physical abuse -- but the emotional toll was no less profound...

Meet The Creative Genius Behind Daffy Duck And Wile E. Coyote
Katherine Brooks, The Huffington Post | Chuck Jones' Art | July 9, 2014

Bugs, Daffy, Porky Pig and Elmer Fudd, Pepe, Wile E. Coyote, Marvin the Martian, Michigan J. Frog, Road Runner...New York's Museum of Moving Image is putting Mr. Jones, who passed away in 2002, on a pedastal with their latest exhibition, "What's Up, Doc? The Animation Art of Chuck Jones. Spanning six decades and over 300 films the traveling show pays tribute...

Seeker, Doer, Giver, Ponderer: A Billionaire Mathematician's Life Of Ferocious Curiosity
William J. Broad, The New York Times | Billionaire Mathematician | July 8, 2014

James H. Simons likes to play against type. He is a billionaire star of mathematics and private investment who often wins praise for his financial gifts to scientific research and programs to get children hooked on math.

But in his Manhattan office, high atop a Fifth Avenue building in the Flatiron district, he’s quick to tell of his career failings.

He was forgetful. He was demoted. He found out the hard way that he was terrible at programming computers. “I’d keep forgetting the notation,” Dr. Simons said. “I couldn’t write programs to save my life.”

After that, he was fired...

'Drunk History': A Booze Cruise Of Red, White, And Blood
Rich Goldstein, The Daily Beast | Drunk History | July 8, 2014

Drunk History is about getting loaded and telling tales you should have learned in school. Not only are there celebrity re-enactors, but watch sober and you might learn something...


ISIS Is About To Destroy Biblical History In Iraq
Christopher Dickey, The Daily Beast | Iraq Antiquities in Peril | July 7, 2014

Iraqi antiquities officials are calling on the Obama administration to save Nineveh and other sites around jihadist-occupied Mosul. But are drone strikes really the answer?

More than two and a half millennia ago, the Assyrian King Senaccherib descended on his enemies “like the wolf on the fold,” as the Bible tells us—and as Lord Byron wrote in cantering cadences memorized by countless Victorian schoolchildren: “His cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold; And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea.”...

Turned The Tide
Jim Yardley, The New York Times | Remembering The Marne | July 4, 2014

The Germans were pushing toward Paris in 1918 when untested American troops helped stop them at the Marne River in a pivotal World War I battle...