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.

Edward Snowden, After Months Of NSA Revelations, Says His Mission's Accomplished
Barton Gellman, The Washington Post | Edward Snowden, After Months Of NSA Revelations, Says His Mission's Accomplished | December 24, 2013

The familiar voice on the hotel room phone did not waste words.

“What time does your clock say, exactly?” he asked.

He checked the reply against his watch and described a place to meet.

“I’ll see you there,” he said.

Edward Joseph Snowden emerged at the appointed hour, alone, blending into a light crowd of locals and tourists...

American Mirror: The Life And Art Of Norman Rockwell, by Deborah Solomon
Garrison Keillor, The New York Times Book Review | The Storyteller | December 22, 2013

Dear fragile Norman Rockwell. He grew up in a series of cramped apartments and shabby boardinghouses in Upper Manhattan, skinny, weak-chinned, squinty, an abysmal student, inept at math, probably dyslexic, neglected by his parents, overshadowed by a handsome, athletic older brother, and for the rest of his life was uncertain of himself and modest to a fault. He enrolled in art school to become an illustrator in the footsteps of Howard Pyle and N. C. Wyeth, just as the Armory Show of 1913 was about to usher in the avant-garde and relegate illustration — art as storytelling — to the back pages. He was a loner, did not feel close to his parents or brother, was not a devoted father to his three sons. He was married to his work; his three wives, Irene O’Connor, Mary Barstow and Molly Punderson, learned to accommodate. His biographer reports that his love life was stark: “Nothing that can be described as a love letter survives among his papers. It seems unlikely that he ever wrote one.”...

David Byrne: "Do you really think people are going to keep putting time and effort into this, if no one is making any money?"
David Daley, Salong | David Byrne | December 22, 2013

The musical genius shares his songwriting secrets, opens up his finances and ponders the future of art and the Web...

The Indispensable Leader Of The Marijuana Movement
Fred Gardner, Counterpoint | The Indispensable Leader Of The Marijuana Movement | December 19, 2013

Last weekend at the Emerald Cup, a sprawling hempfest held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Dennis Peron got a lifetime achievement award and I got to present it. The marijuana legalization movement would not have achieved its great breakthrough in 1996 had it not been for Dennis, the founder and maitre’d of the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club...

This Is How An Episode Of Cartoon Network's 'Adventure Time' Is Made
Rich Goldstein, The Daily Beast | This Is How An Episode Of Cartoon Network's 'Adventure Time' Is Made | December 19, 2013

It's Candyland on the surface and dark underneath. Finn the Human and Jake the Dog battle a pastiche of geekish villainy in Adventure Time, Cartoon Networks unstoppable hit...

Got A Light? Olympic Torch Relay Seems Cursed To The Ends Of The Earth
Sarah Lyall, The New York Times | Got A Light? Olympic Torch Relay Seems Cursed To The Ends Of The Earth | December 18, 2013

It was bad enough when the Olympic flame went out and had to be relit with a disposable lighter rather than the official backup flame, and even worse when a torchbearer managed somehow to set himself on fire in the Siberian city of Abakan.

But perhaps the low point in what has seemed less like an Olympic torch relay than an exercise in ineptitude and misfortune came earlier this week when one of the runners carrying the torch to the Sochi Games had a fatal heart attack while attempting to walk his allotted distance, about 218 yards...

Japan's Miss International Takes On Mob-Backed Entertainment Complex
Jake Edelstein, The Daily Beast | Japan's Miss International Takes On Mob-Backed Entertainment Complex | December 18, 2013

When the first Japanese woman to win the Miss International title in 52 years, Ikumi Yoshimatsu, refused to go to work for any mafia-connected talent agency, she found out that standing up for the right thing is a sure way to get knocked off your throne...

What The Duck?
Drew Magary, GQ | What The Duck? | December 18, 2013

How in the world did a family of squirrel-eating, Bible-thumping, catchphrase-spouting duck hunters become the biggest TV stars in America? And what will they do now that they have 14 million fervent disciples? Our Drew Magary toured the Louisiana backwater with Phil Robertson and the Duck Dynasty gang to find out.

Let’s start with the crossbow, because the crossbow is huge. I’m sitting in the passenger seat of a camo-painted ATV, rumbling through the northern Louisiana backwoods with Phil Robertson, founder of the Duck Commander company, patriarch at the heart of A&E’s smash reality hit Duck Dynasty, and my tour guide for the afternoon. There are seat belts in this ATV, but it doesn’t look like they’ve ever been used. Phil is not wearing one. I am not wearing one, because I don’t want Phil to think I’m a pussy. (Too late!) The crossbow—a Barnett model equipped with a steel-tipped four-blade broadhead arrow—is perched on the dash between us. It looks like you could shoot through a goddamn mountain with it.

“That’ll bury up in you and kill you dead,” Phil says...


Who Am I To Judge? : A Radical Pope's First Year
James Carroll, The New Yorker | Who Am I To Judge? | December 16, 2013

On most Wednesdays, the Pope gives a general audience, and this one was packed. It was a balmy October morning, and more than a hundred thousand pilgrims, tourists, and Romans had funnelled into St. Peter’s Square. It was the first of three large gatherings Pope Francis presided over that week for a celebration of the family during the Catholic Church’s “Year of Faith.”Wooden railings imposed order in the square. I was about thirty yards from the Pope. In front of me were a pair of Vatican ushers in white tie and tails, several clergy, a short man in a yarmulke, and a handsome couple holding hands. Beyond them, Francis, seventy-six years old, in his stark-white cassock and skullcap, seemed energized by the festive crowd. A large man with a ready smile, he read from a brief text in Italian, but with fervor. “What kind of love do we bring to others? . . .

The Sculpture On The Moon
Corey S. Powell and Laurie Gwen Shapiro, Slate | Sculpture On The Moon | December 16, 2013

Scandals and conflicts obscured one of the most extraordinary achievements of the Space Age...

One crisp March morning in 1969, artist Paul van Hoeydonck was visiting his Manhattan gallery when he stumbled into the middle of a startling conversation. Louise Tolliver Deutschman, the gallery’s director, was making an energetic pitch to Dick Waddell, the owner. “Why don’t we put a sculpture of Paul’s on the moon,” she insisted. Before Waddell could reply, van Hoeydonck inserted himself into the exchange: “Are you completely nuts? How would we even do it?”

Deutschman stood her ground. “I don’t know,” she replied, “but I’ll figure out a way.”


She did...