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.

Linda L. Bray, First Woman To Lead Platoon In Combat, Thrilled With Lifting Of Ban
Michael Biesecker, The Huffington Post | Linda L. Bray, First Woman To Lead Platoon In Combat, Thrilled With Lifting Of Ban | January 25, 2013

Former U.S. Army Capt. Linda L. Bray says her male superiors were incredulous upon hearing she had ably led a platoon of military police officers through a firefight during the 1989 invasion of Panama.

Instead of being lauded for her actions, the first woman in U.S. history to lead male troops in combat said higher-ranking officers accused her of embellishing accounts of what happened when her platoon bested an elite unit of the Panamanian Defense Force. After her story became public, Congress fiercely debated whether she and other women had any business being on the battlefield.

The Pentagon's longstanding prohibition against women serving in ground combat ended Thursday...

Game Of Foam: 500 Mages, Orcs, And Warriors Get Medieval In A Maryland State Park
Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica | Game Of Foam | January 24, 2013

On a cool Sunday morning in November, I found myself heading south from Baltimore with three warriors from the nascent nation of Asaheim, their swords, spears, and banner stashed beside them in my minivan. War was brewing, and as we drove, they discussed battle plans and the revenge they would take on a particularly bothersome foe. But before they could unleash hell upon their opponents, I was told, we needed to make a quick stop. Their mage had mislaid his "burning hands" and needed a new pair.

As we strolled through a discount department store in Glen Burnie, Maryland, people stared at my costumed companions. A middle-aged woman whispered, "Are they Goths or something?"

"No, wrong tribe," I answered...

Do We Really Want To Live Without The Post Office?
Jesse Lichtenstein, Esquire | Do We Really Want To Live Without The Post Office? | January 24, 2013

The postal service is not a federal agency. It does not cost taxpayers a dollar. It loses money only because Congress mandates that it do so. What it is is a miracle of high technology and human touch. It's what binds us together as a country.

Gold Hill, Oregon: The eleven hundred residents of this lingering gold-rush town, mostly mechanics and carpenters and retail clerks in other places, wake with the sun and end their day with a walk to the aluminum mailbox bolted to a post at the edge of their yard. In between, Carrie Grabenhorst heads out of town on highway 99, follows the Rogue River, and turns right on Sardine Creek Road. She turns left at a large madrone tree and heads up a quarter mile of dirt road, takes the right fork, goes past the sagging red barn to a white clapboard house with green trim, where she takes a dog biscuit from her pocket and offers it to the large golden retriever. It's a Monday, about 2:00 p.m. The dog stops barking. This is the usual peace, negotiated after thousands of visits over eighteen years...


The Mysteriously Memorable Twenties: Why Do We Remember More From Young Adulthood Than From Any Other Time Of Our Lives?
Katy Waldman, Slate | The Mysteriously Memorable Twenties | January 23, 2013

Twentysomethings are having a moment. They’re inspiring self-help guides (see Meg Jay’s The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter—And How To Make the Most of Them Now), hit television shows, Tumblrs-turned-handbooks, and lyrical New Yorker think pieces. What is it about twentysomethings? Robin Henig asked in the New York Times Magazine not too long ago. In part, she was talking about the current crop of young adults. They are dreamy—they have their own fairy tales!—but also deflated and recession-squeezed; peculiarly savvy and adrift, connected and lonely, knowing and naïve. But she was also voicing a perennial obsession. What is it about twentysomethings in general? Why are we so fixated on the no-man’s-land between childhood and stable adulthood?...

At The Edge Of America: The History Of The Prepper Paradise Known As The Citadel

One day in late October, one of the organizers of a dreamed-up prepper community called The Citadel took a moment to share part of his vision on the project’s blog.

“Something that I can’t predict, but am hoping for, is a greater level of social interaction,” the organizer, who blogs under the names Vernon and VJ, wrote. “Neighborhood barbeques, musical jam sessions and plays at the amphitheater or the Citadel Society club house, interest groups, clubs, organized and spontaneous activities of all sorts. I enjoy board games, myself, and used to go to a game club every Friday night. We’ll have some great pubs with local brews, walking and bicycle paths, a firing range you don’t have to drive a half hour or more to get to. Maybe a hill with a rope tow for sliding down on inner tubes in the winter time. Militia training will also have a unifying social aspect to it.”

Vernon’s is just one post picked from many, but it’s a good example of the wholesome-until-they’re-extremist ideas behind The Citadel...

Hemingway Family Mental Illness Explored In New Film
Elizabeth Landau, CNN | Hemingway Family Mental Illness Explored In New Film | January 22, 2013

Every family, even famous ones, have secrets. The Hemingways are no different.

"We were, sort of, the other American family that had this horrible curse," says Mariel Hemingway. She compared her family to the Kennedys -- but the Hemingway curse, she said, is mental illness.

Hemingway, granddaughter of acclaimed author Ernest Hemingway, explores the troubled history of her family in "Running from Crazy," a documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday. Barbara Kopple is the director; Oprah Winfrey is the executive producer...

The Happiness Machine: How Google Became Such A Great Place To Work
Farhad Manjoo, Slate | The Happiness Machine | January 22, 2013

A few years ago, Google’s human resources department noticed a problem: A lot of women were leaving the company. Like the majority of Silicon Valley software firms, Google is staffed mostly by men, and executives have long made it a priority to increase the number of female employees. But the fact that women were leaving Google wasn’t just a gender equity problem—it was affecting the bottom line. Unlike in most sectors of the economy, the market for top-notch tech employees is stretched incredibly thin. Google fights for potential workers with Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and hordes of startups, so every employee’s departure triggers a costly, time-consuming recruiting process.

Then there was the happiness problem. Google monitors its employees’ well-being to a degree that can seem absurd to those who work outside Mountain View. The attrition rate among women suggested there might be something amiss in the company’s happiness machine. And if there’s any sign that joy among Googlers is on the wane, it’s the Google HR department’s mission to figure out why and how to fix it...

The Force: How Much Military Is Enough?
Jill Lepore, The New Yorker | The Force: How Much Military Is Enough? | January 21, 2013

Sixty-two legislators sit on the House Armed Services Committee, the largest committee in Congress. Since January, 2011, when Republicans took control of the House, the committee has been chaired by Howard P. McKeon, who goes by Buck. He has never served in the military, but this month he begins his third decade representing California’s Twenty-fifth Congressional District, the home of a naval weapons station, an Army fort, an Air Force base, and, for the Marines, a place to train for mountain warfare. McKeon believes that it’s his job to protect the Pentagon from budget cuts. On New Year’s Day, after a thirteenth-hour deal was sealed with spit in the Senate, McKeon issued a press statement lamenting that the compromise had failed to “shield a wartime military from further reductions.”

The debate about taxes is over, which is one of the few good things that can be said for it. The debate about spending, which has already proved narrow and grubby, is pending...

Eat, Sleep, Fish, Click
Jesse Newman, The New York Times | Eat, Sleep, Fish, Click | January 21, 2013

Near the mouth of the Kvichak River in southwestern Alaska, there is a knob of tundra reaching into the water that locals call Graveyard Point. Atop a small bluff lie the dilapidated remains of an abandoned fish cannery, and below is a vast, swampy delta.

Every summer, the remote camp fills with fishermen – and a few fisherwomen – who come to seek their fortunes in the waters of Bristol Bay, home to one of the largest runs of sockeye salmon in the world. Among them is Corey Arnold, a native Californian who runs a wild salmon netting operation from two small skiffs in the bay. Like others at Graveyard Point, Mr. Arnold is drawn by the promise of wilderness adventure, the challenge of making a living from what he can haul out of the sea, and the pleasure of chasing a legendary fish.

Unlike most others, he is also there to take pictures...

Even Anheuser-Busch Hates Bud Light
Tom Dibblee, Los Angeles Review of Books | Even Anheuser-Busch Hates Bud Light | January 21, 2013

I decided to review William Knoedelseder’s Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America’s Kings of Beer because of my loyalty to Bud Light Lime. I love Bud Light Lime, and I wanted to know where it came from. But because Bud Light Lime probably isn’t a natural beer of choice for the LARB crowd, I thought I’d take a second to explain its excellence.

Bud Light Lime does two things: it allows me to shed the burden of sophistication, and it restores beer to what it once was, when I was young — a tart nectar that makes me happy...