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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.

Physicist May Have Evidence Universe Is A Computer Simulation
Michael Rundle, The Huffington Post | Physicist May Have Evidence Universe Is A Computer Simulation | March 14, 2013

Physicists say they may have evidence that the universe is a computer simulation.

How? They made a computer simulation of the universe. And it looks sort of like us.

A long-proposed thought experiment, put forward by both philosophers and popular culture, points out that any civilisation of sufficient size and intelligence would eventually create a simulation universe if such a thing were possible...

The Professor, The Bikini Model And The Suitcase Full Of Trouble
Maxine Swann, The New York Times Magazine | The Professor, The Bikini Model And The Suitcase Full Of Trouble | March 11, 2013

In November 2011, Paul Frampton, a theoretical particle physicist, met Denise Milani, a Czech bikini model, on the online dating site Mate1.com. She was gorgeous — dark-haired and dark-eyed, with a supposedly natural DDD breast size. In some photos, she looked tauntingly steamy; in others, she offered a warm smile. Soon, Frampton and Milani were chatting online nearly every day. Frampton would return home from campus — he’d been a professor in the physics and astronomy department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for 30 years — and his computer would buzz. “Are you there, honey?” They’d chat on Yahoo Messenger for a while, and then he’d go into the other room to take care of something. A half-hour later, there was the familiar buzz. It was always Milani. “What are you doing now?”...

Brussels In Bloom
The Week | Brussels In Bloom | March 11, 2013

The annual Carpet of Flowers in the Grand-Place, Brussels. Close to a million begonia flowers were used to create the 300 square metres carpet this week. The pattern is based on a medieval carpet design...

In Andaman Islands, Indian Court Allows Return Of A 'Human Safari'
Jonathan Mazower,The Daily Beast | In Andaman Islands, Indian Court Allows Return Of A 'Human Safari' | March 10, 2013

A fiercely contested legal battle that could determine the fate of an endangered tribe ended this week in India’s supreme court. Three judges ordered that the main highway through the Andaman Islands, an archipelago in the Bay of Bengal that’s home to some 350,000 Indian settlers and a few hundred indigenous tribespeople, should re-open to tourist traffic.

In January, the court had issued an interim order banning tourists from the road, after hearing disturbing accounts of expeditions that tribal-rights organization Survival International labeled “human safaris.” Traffic along the road promptly dropped by two-thirds, raising hopes that the Jarawa people could once again live in peace, without the daily intrusion of hundreds of tourists...

'Prepare For All-Out War': Kim Jong Un Vows To Attack South Korea As He Cancels Peace Pact In Revenge For Tough UN Sanctions

Note: Numerous photographs and videos are included in this article.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un today told his troops to be ready for 'all-out war' and instructed them to 'make the first gunfire' if tensions with South Korea boil over.

He also promised a 'great advance' over the border between the two nations, shortly after the North announced that it had abandoned its peace treaty with the South.

The pariah state has launched a new round of warlike rhetoric in anger over tough new sanctions imposed on it.

The UN Security council voted to impose the fresh round of sanctions targeting North Korea's economy and leadership in the wake of the country's third nuclear test...

Global Temperatures Highest In 4,000 Years
Justin Gillis, The New York Times | Global Temperatures Highest In 4,000 Years | March 8, 2013

Global temperatures are warmer than at any time in at least 4,000 years, scientists reported Thursday, and over the coming decades are likely to surpass levels not seen on the planet since before the last ice age.

Previous research had extended back roughly 1,500 years, and suggested that the rapid temperature spike of the past century, believed to be a consequence of human activity, exceeded any warming episode during those years. The new work confirms that result while suggesting the modern warming is unique over a longer period.

Even if the temperature increase from human activity that is projected for later this century comes out on the low end of estimates, scientists said, the planet will be at least as warm as it was during the warmest periods of the modern geological era, known as the Holocene, and probably warmer than that...

Nora Ephron's Final Act
Jacob Bernstein, The New York Times Magazine | Nora Ephron's Final Act | March 7, 2013

At 10 p.m. on a Friday night in a private room on the 14th Floor of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital on 68th and York Avenue, my mother was lying in her bed hallucinating, in that dream space people go on their way to being gone.

She spoke of seeing trees, possibly a forest. And she mentioned to Nick, my stepfather, that she had been to the theater where her play was showing and that the audience was full. In reality, she had not left the hospital in a month, and the play, “Lucky Guy,” was nearly a year away from opening.

My brother, Max, and I stood there in disbelief. Though it had been weeks since her blood count showed any sign of improvement, the gravity of the situation had crept up on us. Mom’s housekeeper, Linda Diaz, who had worked for her for 25 years, was in the corner sobbing...

Repent, Dick Cheney
Maureen Dowd, The New York Times | Repent, Dick Cheney | March 6, 2013

Dick Cheney certainly gives certainty a black eye.

In a documentary soon to appear on Showtime, “The World According to Dick Cheney,” America’s most powerful and destructive vice president woos history by growling yet again that he was right and everyone else was wrong.

R. J. Cutler, who has done documentaries on the Clinton campaign war room and Anna Wintour’s Vogue war paint room, now chronicles Cheney’s war boom.

“If I had to do it over again,” the 72-year-old says chillingly of his reign of error, “I’d do it over in a minute.”...

Missing Soviet soldier, Bakhretdin Khakimov, Found Living In Afghanistan 33 Years After Invasion

A war veteran who disappeared during the 1980 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan has been found -- 33 years later.

According to a HuffPost translation of Russian-language news service RIA Novosti, the missing Soviet soldier, Bakhretdin Khakimov, lived a semi-nomadic life in Afghanistan during the three decades after he was wounded in battle. Adopting the name Sheikh Abdullah, the war vet was recently found living with locals in Herat, a province in western Afghanistan...

Bumpy Start For A Court Cloaked In Grandeur
Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times Book Review | Bumpy Start For A Court Cloaked In Grandeur | March 5, 2013

A review of Sandra Day O'Connor's Out of Order:

The reason to read “Out of Order” is to get Justice O’Connor’s succinct, snappy account of how today’s court — so powerful, so controversial and so frequently dissected by the media — evolved from such startlingly humble and uncertain beginnings that it initially seemed like a jerry-built enterprise constructed on entirely ad hoc principles...