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.

Skippy, The Guardian Angel? Australian Boy Says Kangaroo Saved Him During Night Lost In Bush

A seven-year-old boy who spent a winter's night lost in chilly conditions in the Australian bush says a friendly kangaroo is the reason he survived.

South Australian police said Simon Kruger went missing in the Deep Creek Conservation Park, south of Adelaide, after wandering away from a family picnic shortly after 1.15pm Saturday....

Everything You Need To Know: Perseid Meteor Shower
Bruce McClure, EarthSky | Everything You Need To Know: Perseid Meteor Shower | August 10, 2013

In the Northern Hemisphere, the annual August Perseid meteor shower probably ranks as the all-time favorite meteor shower of the year. This major shower takes place during the lazy, hazy days of summer, when many families are on vacation. And what could be more luxurious than taking a siesta in the heat of the day and watching this summertime classic in the relative coolness of night? This shower is visible in the Southern Hemisphere, too, though to a lesser extent. No matter where you live worldwide, the 2013 Perseid meteor shower will probably be at its best on the nights of August 11-12 and/or August 12-13. Try the nights before and after that, too. Before dawn viewing is best. From northerly latitudes, you often see 50 or more meteors per hour, and from southerly latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere, perhaps you’ll see about one-third that many meteors...

Why I Changed My Mind On Weed
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN | Why I Changed My Mind On Weed | August 9, 2013

Watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta's groundbreaking documentary "WEED" at 8 p.m. ET August 11 on CNN.


Over the last year, I have been working on a new documentary called "Weed." The title "Weed" may sound cavalier, but the content is not.


I traveled around the world to interview medical leaders, experts, growers and patients. I spoke candidly to them, asking tough questions. What I found was stunning.


Long before I began this project, I had steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the United States and thought it was fairly unimpressive. Reading these papers five years ago, it was hard to make a case for medicinal marijuana. I even wrote about this in a TIME magazine article, back in 2009, titled "Why I would Vote No on Pot."


Well, I am here to apologize.

I apologize because I didn't look hard enough, until now...

Why The World Is Smarter Than Us
Dana Goldstein, The Daily Beast | Why The World Is Smarter Than Us | August 9, 2013

Why does the U.S. lag behind our peers when it comes to educating our students? Dana Goldstein on a new book that looks at school systems across the globe to come away with a startling conclusion: they value the intellect more than we do.

...In the U.S., most teachers earned about average grades and test scores when they were in high school and college. But in Finland, it is as competitive to become a public school teacher as it is to gain acceptance into an Ivy League university. There are no shortcuts into the classroom — prospective teachers must earn a master’s degree, write a research-driven thesis, and spend a full year in a teaching residency, observing master educators at work and practicing lessons and classroom management...

Sea Change
Andrew Testa, Mother Jones | Sea Change | August 9, 2013

Most of us were introduced to the Moken last winter, when there was a brief flurry of stories on how the "sea gypsies" of Thailand and Burma managed to escape the tsunami by reading the language of the ocean—a language exceedingly familiar to a people who spend all of their lives in or very close to the water. It was a heartening tale, in a context where those kinds of tales were hard to come by, and it gained intrigue from the other tidbits we learned about this remote tribe: how their four-year-olds can swim in waters 20 feet deep and adults can dive to 200 feet (most of us conk out by 30 feet); how throughout most of history they lived on boats, coming in to terra firma for only a few months each year; how Moken children have learned to constrict their pupils to see 50 percent better under water than we can, enabling them to go harpooning without goggles and find tiny shells on the ocean floor. All of which is true, and amazing. But there’s one more story that, perhaps, we should also have heard: how the Moken have been struggling to maintain their lives and livelihoods in a world that claims to admire them but has little room for their expansive relationship with the natural universe...

The Washington _______
David Plotz, Slate | The Washington _______ | August 8, 2013

This is the last Slate article that will refer to the Washington NFL team as the Redskins.

For decades, American Indian activists and others have been asking, urging, and haranguing the Washington Redskins to ditch their nickname, calling it a racist slur and an insult to Indians. They have collected historical and cultural examples of the use of redskin as a pejorative and twice sued to void the Redskins trademark, arguing that the name cannot be legally protected because it’s a slur. (A ruling on the second suit is expected soon; the first failed for technical reasons.) A group in the House of Representatives also recently introduced a bill to void the trademark. The team has been criticized from every different direction, by every kind of person. More than 20 years ago, Washington Post columnist Tony Kornheiser, no politically correct squish, urged the team to abandon the name. Today, the mayor of Washington, D.C.—the mayor!—goes out of his way to avoid saying the team’s name...

Creator of xkcd Reveals Secret Backstory Of His Epic 3,099-Panel Comic

When xkcd creator Randall Munroe first posted a new installment of his webcomic titled “Time” on March 25, it looked deceptively simple: a picture of two black and white stick figures, a man and a woman, sitting wordlessly on the ground. There was no story, no punchline, no words. 30 minutes later, the image changed; the figures shifted slightly. And they continued to change every half-hour for the next week–and every hour for months after that–slowly coalescing into a story as the two characters discovered disturbing changes in the landscape around them, and set out on an epic, time-lapsed journey to discover the truth about what was happening to their world. ...

Mitch McConnell Gets Barbecued: Politics At Its Weirdest, Kentucky-Style

Let’s start with records, and not the political kind.  The sheer tonnage of pulled sinew at the annual Fancy Farm barbecue picnic is cited in the Guinness Book of World Records — this year, 8,500 pounds of mutton and 9,500 pounds of pork, or nine tons of meat, every last shred smoked onsite in a battery of cement pits the size of a football field.

If Sen. Mitch McConnell loses his reelection bid in 2014, his downfall officially began here, in the far western Purchase region of Kentucky, where for the last 133 years political adversaries have traded barbs on a small stage in the country hamlet of Fancy Farm.  The picnic kicks off and frames every major political race in the Commonwealth, a throwback to the long-gone days of unscripted hot-around-the-collar partisan rallies, a sweaty, boisterous, old-fashioned political speaking slugfest and barbecue pig-out...

The Sale Of The Washington Post: How The Unthinkable Choice Became The Clear Path
Craig Timberg and Jia Lynn Yang, The Washington Post | The Sale Of The Washington Post: How The Unthinkable Choice Became The Clear Path | August 7, 2013

Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth presented her uncle, company chief executive Donald E. Graham, with a once-unthinkable choice at a lunch meeting at downtown Washington’s Bombay Club late last year.

The paper was facing the like­lihood of a seventh straight year of declines in revenue, with one preliminary budget estimate showing the possibility of $40 million in losses for 2013. And despite years of heavy investment in new digital offerings, there was little sign that robust profits were about to return, she reported.

That left three choices...

A Reunion With My Younger, Hitchhiking Self
Roy Hoffman, The New York Times | A Reunion With My Younger, Hitchhiking Self | August 6, 2013

Summer of 1972: a slender 19-year-old (curly black hair, florid beard, 155 pounds) stood beside a Montana highway, thumb in the air. A truck pulled over. “Going as far as Missoula,” the driver said, opening the cargo doors. In the hold, others crouched, blinking back at him. “Thanks, man,” he said, hopping in. The doors shut; the latch turned.

“Four or five other youths inside looking gaunt, forlorn, anxious,” he wrote in his journal, “as if we were refugees in a cattle car. Dark in truck except for crack of light and fresh air coming through small interstice between back doors.”

He was not anxious, though (unbelievable to me as I look on), but exhilarated. In that halcyon summer before sophomore fall, he was hitching the country, hearing midnight confessions of loners in VW Beetles and yearning lyrics of rock ‘n’ roll hopefuls in beat-up vans...