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.

Meet The Publisher Who Ditched Amazon And Is Selling More Books Than Ever
Aaron Gell, Business Insider | Ditching Amazon | August 29, 2014

Ask Randall White, the 72-year-old CEO of the Educational Development Corp., an Oklahoma-based book distributor, why he decided pull his company’s 2,000 titles — including the acclaimed potty bestiary “Everyone Poops” — from Amazon.com, and the longtime publishing executive makes reference not to a book but to a movie.

“Remember ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,’ when they’re on the cliff and getting ready to jump and one guy says, ‘I can’t swim?’” asks the folksy 72-year-old, referring to the classic Robert Redford-Paul Newman film. “And the other guy says, ‘What are you worried about? The fall’s going to kill you.’”...

What Do Talking Apes Really Tell Us?
Jane C. Hu, Slate | Koko's World | August 29, 2014

The strange, disturbing world of Koko the gorilla and Kanzi the bonobo.

Lst week, people around the world mourned the death of beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams. According to the Gorilla Foundation in Woodside, California, we were not the only primates mourning. A press release from the foundation announced that Koko the gorilla—the main subject of its research on ape language ability, capable in sign language and a celebrity in her own right—“was quiet and looked very thoughtful” when she heard about Williams’ death, and later became “somber” as the news sank in. Williams, described in the press release as one of Koko’s “closest friends,” spent an afternoon with the gorilla in 2001...

Fox News Is Tearing Us Apart: Race Baiting And Divisiveness Hits Digusting New Low
Paul Rosenberg, Salon | Dichotomized Narrative | August 28, 2014

The continuing right-wing effort to make a hero out of Michael Brown’s killer, Darren Wilson, may not turn out so well, if the past is any guide. Remember Cliven Bundy? Donald Sterling? George Zimmerman?...

The Matter Of Time
Gabriel Sherman, New York Magazine | The Matter Of Time | August 27, 2014

What should a magazine company be now? The most storied one in America has to come up with an answer fast.

In the 92 years since Henry Luce co-founded Time Inc., there have been just seven journalists to hold the title of editor-in-chief. More people have walked on the moon than have sat in Luce’s custom Eames chair in his office on the 34th floor of the Time-Life Building. With wood paneling, private dressing rooms, and sweeping views of Rockefeller Center, the stately backdrop was an emblem of publishing’s glamour and power—Luce’s American Century brought to life. In fact, it was the Time-Life Building that the producers of Mad Men turned to when scouting period details for the offices at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce...

Scientists: Mysterious Kennewick Man Looked Polynesian And Came From Far Away
Joel Achenbach, The Washington Post | Kennewick Man Update | August 26, 2014

The mysterious Kennewick Man, who died 9,000 years ago in the Columbia River Valley, was a seal hunter who rambled far and wide with a projectile point lodged in his hip, five broken ribs that never healed properly, two small dents in his skull and a bum shoulder from the repetitive stress of throwing spears.


He came from somewhere far away, far up the Pacific Northwest coast, possibly Alaska or the Aleutian Islands. He might even have come to North America all the way from Asia...

Who Invented The Ice Bucket Challenge?
Josh Levin, Slate | Ice Bucket Origins | August 26, 2014

A search for the fundraising phenomenon's cold, soaked patient zero.

“Where does a phenomenon begin?”

That’s the question ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi seeks to answer in a long SportsCenter feature on the ice bucket challenge, which has reportedly raised more than $50 million for ALS charities in less than a month...

The Hipster Coffee Revolution Is Going To Save Your Morning And The Planet. Are You Ready To Pay A Little More To Help?
Chermelle Edwards, The Guardian | Third Wave Coffee | August 26, 2014

In the third wave...we buy coffee based on its origins, its process, its methods -- and its evangelists are out to get specific about what separates it from being a standard commodity...

ISIS, Hip-Hop Jihadists And The Man Who Killed James Foley
Christopher Dickey, The Daily Beast | Hip-Hop Jihadists | August 25, 2014

Sick as this may sound, the super-slick HD depiction of a pseudo-ninja murdering American journalist James Foley is, not least, a recruiting video. In the warped world of new-generation jihadists – especially those coming out of Western cities -- hacking off heads has become a status symbol...

Rare Superman Book...: THe Long, 'Cool' Journey Of A Record-Setting Comi
Michael Cavna, The Washington Post | The Long, "Cool" Journey Of A Record-Setting Comic | August 25, 2014

A comic book is best stored in a place that’s “cool, dry and dark,” Adams says, with low exposure to oxygen. His Superman book was purchased off the newsstand in the ’30s by a man who kept it in a cedar chest at high altitude in the mountains of West Virginia, where it rested for decades until that owner himself was laid to rest...

Nixon Unbound
Douglas Brinkley and Luke A. Nichter, Vanity Fair | Nixon Unbound | August 24, 2014

Though Richard Nixon’s reign was cut short by the Watergate scandal, his first term was on many fronts a triumph. In an adaptation from their new book, which draws on 3,700 hours of Nixon’s White House tapes, two historians reveal the 37th president as crisis manager, geopolitical strategist, and duplicitous paranoid...