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.

Obama Is Betting His Whole Afghan Plan On These Commandos
Kimberly Dozier, The Daily Beast | Special Ops Forces | May 28, 2014

No matter how many troops President Obama keeps in Afghanistan, or how fast they leave, it’ll be the Afghan forces that keep the country together—and its special operations troops that provide the teeth. These troops have learned to perform the hard way: under fire by insurgents—and sometimes by their own government—for working alongside the Americans. Those combined stresses have ironically forced the elite forces to become more independent faster....

The Nerds Who Won WWII
Marc Wortman, The Daily Beast | The Nerds Who Won World War II | May 26, 2014

In 1943 the war looked unwinnable for the Allies. Marc Wortman on historian Paul Kennedy's story of how unsung innovators turned the tide...

Understanding Barnaby
R.C. Harvey, The Comics Journal | Understanding Barnaby | May 25, 2014

Crockett Johnson’s Barnaby, like Krazy Kat, appealed to a smaller audience than most comic strips.  Comics historian Ron Goulart says it appeared in only 52 newspapers in the U.S. at its height. But the strip’s readers were an appreciative elite.  Barnaby hove into public view a scant two years before the demise of the intelligentsia’s first love, Krazy Kat.  Beginning April 20, 1942, the strip lasted into the early fifties. It was revived on September 12, 1960 and ran until April 14, 1962, but many of the stories were retooled from the first run of the strip, which ended February 2, 1952. By that time, both Pogo andPeanuts were on the scene.

The brief decade of Barnaby’s first run was brilliant. Among its passionate fans was Dorothy Parker...

My No-Soap, No-Shampoo, Bacteria-Rich Hygiene Experiment
Julia Scott, The New York Times Magazine | Nitrosomonas Eutropha | May 23, 2014

For most of my life, if I've thought at all about the bacteria living on my skin, it has been while trying to scrub them away. But recently I spent four weeks rubbing them in. I was Subject 26 in testing a living bacterial skin tonic, developed by AOBiome, a biotech start-up in Cambridge, Mass. The tonic loks, feels and tastes like water, but each spray bottle of AO+Refreshing Cosmetic Mist contains billions of cultiated Nitrosomonas eutropha...

J.R.R. Tolkien Reveals True Meaning Of 'The Lord Of The Rings" In Unearthed Audio Recording
Noble Smith, The Huffington Post | Tolkien Treasurr | May 22, 2014

Over 20 years ago, a lost recording of J.R.R. Tolkien was discovered in a basement in Rotterdam, but the man who found it kept this importanbt reel-to-reel tape hidden away. Until recently, only he had heard the recording. But now, I am one of those luck Middle-earth lovers who has listened to this magical magnetic tape, and I happily declare that it is awesome. For it proves once and for all that Professor Talkien was, in fact, very much the hobbit that we all suspected him to be...

From 'Acid' To 'Bonfire,' An Archive That Sizzles
Jennifer Schuessler, The New York Times | The Wolfe Archive | May 22, 2014

...A reporter recently got an early look at roughly 170 linear feet of manuscripts, reporter's notebooks, newspaper clippings, sketches and other materials, much of it kept by Mr. Wolfe in elegant orange Queen Bee file boxes made in Richmond, Va., his birthplace...

Mountain Bull Dead: Iconic Kenyan Elephant Reportedly Killed by Poachers
Dominique Mosbergen, The Huffington Post | Mountain Bull, R.I.P. | May 21, 2014

Conservationists did everything they could to save Mountain Bull, the legendary Kenyan elephant...But in the end, it simply wasn't enough...

The Cost: What Stop And Frisk Does To A Young Man's Soul
Rilla Askew, The Daily Beast | Stop And Frisk | May 21, 2014

Every afternoon when Trey left school in his car, two white patrolmen would follow him in their cruiser, sometimes a few blocks, sometimes several miles, before turning on their patrol lights...

Remembering, As An Extreme Sport
Benedict Carey, The New York Times | Memory Athletes | May 20, 2014

The last match of the tournament had all the elements of a classic showdown, pitting style versus stealth, quickness versus deliberation, and the world's foremost card virtuoso against its premier numbers wizard...

Koch Vs. Koch: The Brutal Battle That Tore Apart America's Most Powerful Family
Daniel Schulman, Mother Jones | Koch Vs. Koch | May 20, 2014

Before the brothers went to war against Obama, they almost destroyed each other...