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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.

Oh! You Kid!
Jody Rosen, Slate | Oh! You kid! | June 6, 2014

How a sexed-up viral hit from the summer of 09 -- 1909 -- changed American pop music forever.

In the spring of 1909, American popular song got sexy. Of course, love and courtship, and by extension sex, had been Topic A in pop music for decades. But while songwriters had long trafficked in euphemisms and innuendo—coy talk of “sighing” and “spooningbeneath the old oak tree and by the light of the silvery moon—it was a 1909 hit by composer Harry Von Tilzer and lyricist Jimmy Lucas, “I Love, I Love, I Love My Wife—But Oh! You Kid!,” which opened Tin Pan Alley to brasher, bawdier, more raucously comic songs of lust...

Four More New York Times Columnists And Malcolm Gladwell Get Really High: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
Sarah Jeong, The Guardian | Columnists Get High | June 5, 2014

Maureen Dowd is off today, recovering...

Bob Bergdahl: A War Captive's Father And His War At Home
John M. Glionna, The Los Angeles Times | Bob Bergdahl's War | June 5, 2014

In 2011, during his long five-year vigil, waiting helplessly at home while his son was held by Taliban extremists half a world away, Bob Bergdahl made a personal video for the Pakistani government that he hoped would be delivered to his boy, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.“These are my thoughts. I can remain silent no longer,” the father began...

Kepler Space Telescope Spies A 'Mega-Earth'
Joel Achenbach, The Washington Post | Mega-Earth | June 3, 2014

Astronomers have discovered a surprising planet, a rocky world with 17 times the mass of Earth. There have been “Super-Earths” discovered before, but this one is in a league of its own. The scientists call it a “Mega-Earth.”...

The Smutty-Metaphor Queen Of Lawrence, Kansas
Jesse Lichtenstein, The New York Times Magazine | Smutty-Metaphor Queen | June 2, 2014

That evening, more than a hundred poetry fans — most of them in their 20s, most of them clutching cans of bargain beer — crowded into a corner of a 12,000-square-foot wood-and-metal shop as Lockwood began a 12-minute romp of a poem called “The Father and Mother of American Tit-Pics."

Lockwood is all large eyes, apple cheeks and pixie haircut — like an early Disney creation, perhaps a woodland creature; one of her fans recently rendered her as a My Little Pony...

The Rangers' Unexpected Run At The Stanley Cup
Alec Wilkinson, The New Yorker | The Rangers' Run | June 1, 2014

So how did the Rangers get to where they are? For a long time, the general manager Glen Sather’s idea has been that you put together a decent season and make the playoffs, and then it’s anyone’s chance to win, since you can’t predict injuries or bad luck or team dyspepsia. This is parity hockey...

The Rise And Fall Of The Goddess Of Democracy
Chris Buckley, The New York Times | Goddess Of Democracy | June 1, 2014

A 33-foot-high statue became a mute yet powerful actor in the final drama on Tiananmen Square in 1989, reinvigorating the student protests and infuriating Communist Party leaders who crushed the demonstrations, and the statue, five days after its birth...

How The Amazon-Hachette Fight Could Shape The Future Of Ideas
Jeremy Greenfield, The Atlantic | The Future Of Ideas | May 30, 2014

While the bookseller and publisher are battling over mundane business specifics, the state of publishing hangs in the balance...

Over the past several months, what started as a quiet trade dispute has intensified and become public as the largest bookseller in the world, Amazon, and one of the biggest publishers, Hachette, battle over their next contract...

As Publishers Fight Amazon, Books Vanish
David Streitfeld and Melissa Eddy, The New York Times | Amazon Backlash | May 29, 2014

Seeking ever-higher payments from publishers to bolster its anemic bottom line, Amazon is holding books and authors hostage on two continents by delaying shipments and raising prices. The literary community is fearful and outraged — and practically begging for government intervention.

“How is this not extortion? You know, the thing that is illegal when the Mafia does it,” asked Dennis Loy Johnson of Melville House, echoing remarks being made across social media...

10 Things You Didn't Know About Maya Angelou's Incredible Life
Amanda Scherker, The Huffington post | Angelou's Incredible Life | May 29, 2014

You already know that Dr. Maya Angelou's life was too rich and vibrant to be summarized -- indeed, her vast wealth of experiences filled seven iconic memoirs. But her journey was more fascinating than you could ever imagine. Here are just a few of the moments that made up her life...