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.

What Your Trash Reveals About The World Economy
Sarah Zhang, Mother Jones | What Your Trash Reveals About The World Economy | July 16, 2012

The fastest way to reduce solid waste volumes is to have a recession," writes World Bank urban specialist Dan Hoornweg in a report on the state of trash in cities. Hoornweg elegantly sums up why garbage is and will remain a vexing problem. Here in America, we hear "zero waste" and think sanctimonious yuppies. Yet much of the world's population is too poor to buy—and throw away—much stuff in the first place. But as developing countries become wealthier and adopt higher standards of living, they're also following our wasteful lead.

Here are three key takeaways from the report...

Will You Still Medal In The Morning?
Sam Alipour, ESPN The Magazine | Will You Still Medal In The Morning? | July 16, 2012

American target shooter Josh Lakatos faced a conundrum. Halfway through the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, he and his rifle-toting teammates were finished with their events, and the U.S. Olympic Committee and team officials had ordered them to turn in the keys to their three-story house and head back to the States. But Lakatos didn't want to leave. He knew from his experience four years earlier in Atlanta, where he'd won silver, that the Olympic Village was just about to erupt into a raucous party, and there was no way he was going to miss it. So he asked the maid at the emptied-out dwelling if she'd kindly look the other way as he jimmied the lock. "I don't care what you do," she replied...

Mr. Unemployment
T.M. Shine, The Washington Post Magazine | Mr. Unemployment | July 14, 2012

Let’s get one thing straight: I never wanted to be Mr. Unemployment. It’s important to clear this up because, several months after I was laid off from my job of 18 years at a large media company, I wrote a piece for this magazine headlined “Terminated.” Up to the point of its publication, I was adrift, getting nowhere. Most companies didn’t even respond to my inquiries about openings. I even applied for a job making up and distributing fliers, figuring at least I’d be writing. In a year, I thought, someone would pass me on the street and shout, “Hey, what are you doing with yourself since they fired your butt?” and I would yell across traffic, “I’m a flier writer.”


A Bison So Rare It's Sacred
Peter Applebome, The New York Times | A Bison So Rare It's Sacred | July 14, 2012

If one were asked to pick a typical home where the buffalo roam, the answer probably would not be Litchfield County amid the rolling hills and understated rural chic of Northwest Connecticut.

But when Bison No. 7 on Peter Fay’s farm gave birth to a white, 30-pound bull calf a month ago, it made the Fay farm below Mohawk Mountain, for the moment at least, the unlikely epicenter of the bison universe...

Even At A Comics Event, You Can't Defy Gravitas
Michael Cieply, The New York Times | Even At A Comics Event. You Can't Defy Gravitas | July 14, 2012

The clouds never lifted at the Comic-Con International fan convention on opening day on Thursday. Inside the meeting halls, neither did the gloom.

Once a year for the last four decades, comic-book and fantasy fans dressed in Batman suits or carrying light sabers have descended on San Diego to trade collectibles, see trailers for new Hollywood movies and maybe speak a little Klingonese. But as fantasy has become big business — 7 of last year’s 10 top-grossing movies were either science fiction or comic-book-inspired, or fanciful enough to rate a spot at Comic-Con — a new anxiety has settled over the convention about the future of the business and over comics themselves...

Higgs Boson Humorists Get Mass Following
Michael Schulder, CNN | Higgs Boson Humorists Get Mass Following | July 12, 2012

I thought I'd nailed it, when I wrote what could be the first original Higgs Boson joke ever here.


But since this week's announcement that the Higgs particle has been found, there's been a wave of Higgs humor on Twitter, a lot of it curated by Boing Boing's Xeni Jardin, whose battle with breast cancer led her to tweet: "Gonna start calling my post-mastectomy, science-rebuilt cyberboob the "Higgs Bosom."


To be funny about something you usually have to understand it well. But sometimes it's the difficulty of understanding something that makes it funny.


From @pourmecoffee: "Higgs Boson Explainer: It's like, a particle, man."...

Taliban Execution Of Afghan Woman Causes Outraged Activists To Mobilize

In a grainy video that shocked viewers around the world, a young woman named Najiba shrouded in a gray shawl sits alone on a hillside surrounded by men with guns and waits to be executed. Now Afghan activists are stepping out and speaking out in solidarity with the murdered young woman to press their government to take violence against women far more seriously—and to demand some say in whatever peace with the Taliban might come.

Afghan activists quickly organized a march today in Kabul for several hundred women and men aimed at bringing attention to Najiba’s killing, alleged to have come at the hands of the Taliban. Details surrounding the circumstances of the woman’s murder at close range remain murky, but the story involves two commanders said to be involved with the young woman and a decision to settle the matter at gunpoint by killing her without any kind of trial for the crime of “adultery.”...

Strategies For A Changing Planet: If All Else Fails...
Damon Tabor, Popular Science | Strategies For A Changing Planet: If All Else Fails... | July 12, 2012

It’s impossible to predict the exact speed and severity with which climate change will unfold, but one thing is clear: if we take no preventive action, eventually we’ll be tempted to take desperate action. And over the decades, as the effects of climate change grow increasingly severe, the amount of risk humankind is willing to bear will increase...

Freeh Report On Penn State's Handling Of Jerry Sandusky's Child Sex Abuse Reveals 'Total Disregard' For Victims

Former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno and the senior leadership at the university covered up incidents of child sexual abuse on the Penn State campus by a former assistant football coach, showing “total disregard for the safety and welfare of the victims,” a team of investigators concluded in findings released Thursday morning.

In a prepared statement that preceded the release of a 162-page report, former FBI director Louis Freeh, who along with his law firm conducted an independent review of the circumstances surrounding the scandal, blamed Paterno and university officials for “catastrophic failures” that were reinforced by a Board of Trustees that had failed to create an environment of accountability...

'Mantle' Site, Ancient 'New York City' Of Canada, Found On Lake Ontario Shore

oday New York City is the Big Apple of the Northeast but new research reveals that 500 years ago, at a time when Europeans were just beginning to visit the New World, a settlement on the north shore of Lake Ontario, in Canada, was the biggest, most complex, cosmopolitan place in the region.

Occupied between roughly A.D. 1500 and 1530, the so-called Mantle site was settled by the Wendat (Huron). Excavations at the site, between 2003 and 2005, have uncovered its 98 longhouses, a palisade of three rows (a fence made of heavy wooden stakes and used for defense) and about 200,000 artifacts. Dozens of examples of art have been unearthed showing haunting human faces and depictions of animals, with analysis ongoing...