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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.

How Republicans Rig The Game
Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone | How Republicans Rig The Game | November 14, 2013

National Republicans have waged an unrelenting campaign to exploit every weakness and anachronism in our electoral system. Through a combination of hyperpartisan redistricting of the House, unprecedented obstructionism in the Senate and racist voter suppression in the states, today's GOP has locked in political power that it could never have secured on a level playing field...

Rejecting Billions, Snapchat Expects A Better Offer
Jenna Wortham, The New York Times | Rejecting Billions, Snapchat Expects A Better Offer | November 14, 2013

What business makes no money, has yet to pass its third anniversary and just turned down an offer worth billions of dollars? Snapchat, a social media service run by a pair of 20-somethings who until last month worked out of a beachfront bungalow in Venice, Calif.

Thanks to today’s rabid rat race for the hottest social media start-ups, Snapchat has joined the list of tech companies — like Tumblr and Instagram — with no money coming in but multiple sky-high takeover offers...

Pictures of Typhoon Haiyans' Wrath
The International New York Times | Pictures of Typhoon Haiyans' Wrath | November 12, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan, which cut a destructive path across the Philippines on Friday, is believed by some climatologists to be the strongest storm to ever make landfall, with winds of at least 140 m.p.h. and a storm surge as high as 13 feet. Thousands are feared dead or missing. The storm has upended the lives of millions, as shown in the following photographs.

Elizabeth Warren's Populist Insurgency Enters Next Phase
David Dayen, Salon | Elizabeth Warren's Populist Insurgency Enters Next Phase | November 12, 2013

Sen. Elizabeth Warren — in many ways the avatar of a new populist insurgency within the Democratic Party that seeks to combine financial reform and economic restoration — will speak later today in Washington at the launch of a new report that marks a key new phase in this movement. Released by Americans for Financial Reform and the Roosevelt Institute – and called “An Unfinished Mission: Making Wall Street Work for Us” — the report is a revelation...

Noah's Wreck: Ark Encounter, A Creationist Theme Park, Is Selling Junk Bonds

Building a full-scale wooden replica of Noah’s Ark forces one to confront a number of conceptual challenges. How, for instance, did Noah keep the ark from capsizing? How did he keep his wardrobe fresh? And how, during all that rain, did he and the animals avoid getting seasonal affective disorder?

Ken Ham believes he has the answers to all these questions and more—and he needs only $73 million to teach them to the world. As president of Answers in Genesis, Ham has already gifted us with a bizarre series of children’s books and an unforgettable creationist museum. The next stage of his quest to convert America to young-Earth creationism is Ark Encounter, a massive creationist amusement park centered around an alleged life-size reconstruction of Noah’s Ark...

The Whole First World War In A Cup Of Tea
Andrew Curry, Slate | The Whole First World War In A Cup Of Tea | November 8, 2013

The excavation of Gallipoli is changing our understanding of how the Great War was fought.

Separated by language, culture, and 9,000 miles of ocean, Australia, New Zealand, and Turkey have little in common—except for a hilly peninsula known as Gallipoli in western Turkey. For nearly nine months in 1915 and 1916, Gallipoli witnessed some of World War I’s most intense fighting. The battle pitted untested troops from former British colonies in the Pacific against Turks fighting to protect their homeland from foreign invasion.

 

Nearly a century later, Australians, New Zealanders, and Turks all regard the conflict at Gallipoli as a central event in their modern history...

An Interview With Alice Waters
Karen Brown, Etsy | An Interview With Alice Waters | November 8, 2013

Considered by many to be the most influential chef in the country, Alice Waters has been delighting America’s palate since 1971, the year she founded Chez Panisse.  As the founder of the Edible Schoolyard, she developed “edible education,” a multi-disciplinary approach to teaching and learning that integrates growing and cooking food with math, science, and language arts. Her latest book, The Art of Simple Food II,  is out this month.

Karen: Chez Panisse is one of the most iconic restaurants in America, but it began very humbly, didn’t it?

Alice: I just wanted a little restaurant for my friends. They were all coming over to my house every night for dinner. I loved to cook for them, but I couldn’t make a living. In fact, I was losing my shirt. So I thought, “I’ll just open a little restaurant and then my friends can pay a little something and I can get others to help me.” I wanted it to be like a simple French restaurant  — simple, really simple — not even a one star. And it wasn’t really even all about the food. What I really wanted was good conversation at the table, a place for plotting and planning...

Mannequins Give Shape To A Venezuelan Fantasy
William Neuman, The New York Times | Mannequins Give Shape To A Venezuelan Fantasy | November 7, 2013

Frustrated with the modest sales at his small mannequin factory, Eliezer Álvarez made a simple observation: Venezuelan women were increasingly using plastic surgery to transform their bodies, yet the mannequins in clothing stores did not reflect these new, often extreme proportions.

So he went back to his workshop and created the kind of woman he thought the public wanted — one with a bulging bosom and cantilevered buttocks, a wasp waist and long legs, a fiberglass fantasy, Venezuelan style.

The shape was augmented, and so were sales...

Face, Get Back To Work!
John Sudworth, BBC News | Face, Get Back To Work! | November 7, 2013

One year on, the BBC's Shanghai correspondent John Sudworth reports on his slow recovery from Bell's palsy, and frowns, almost symmetrically, at the lack of medical awareness about the condition.

It may have taken a whole year, but the muscles on the left hand side of my face have been slowly drifting away from the picket line and getting themselves back to work. The strike, it seems, is over.

My left eyebrow, the left side of my mouth and my left eyelid have all reported for duty again and I can now do two of the most glorious and underrated things a human can do - smile and blink...

Mystery Solved: The Etymology of 'Dude'
Arika Okrent, Slate | Mystery Solved: The Etymology of 'Dude' | November 7, 2013

or some time now, we have known the basic outline of the story of "dude." The word was first used in the late 1800s as a term of mockery for young men who were overly concerned with keeping up with the latest fashions. It later came to stand for clueless city folk (who go to dude ranches) before it morphed into our all-purpose laid-back label for a guy. What we didn't know was why the word dude was chosen in the first place.

Now, we finally have the answer...