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.

Let's Have A Dialogue
Anthony Gottlieb, The New York Times Review of Books | Plato At The Googleplex | April 20, 2014

Plato has begun to appear in some unexpected places. On the first track of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s hip-hop album, “Watch the Throne” (2011), you can pick out the line, “Is Pious pious cause God loves pious?” This, as classicists will instantly recognize, is an allusion to a dilemma posed in Plato’s dialogue “Euthyphro,” in which Socrates asks, “Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?” In Rebecca Newberger Goldstein’s new book, “Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away,” Plato turns up not only at the search engine’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., but also with the obstreperous host of a cable news talk show, as a consultant to an advice columnist, and in several other places a long way from ancient Athens...

I Ran The Pyongyang Marathon
Will Phillipps, Slate | Pyongyang Marathon | April 18, 2014

What I saw running 26 miles in a Stalinist dictatorship...

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Conjurer Of Literary Magic, Dies at 87
Jonathan Kandell, The New York Times | Gabriel Garcia Marquez obituary | April 18, 2014

Gabriel García Márquez, the Colombian novelist whose “One Hundred Years of Solitude” established him as a giant of 20th-century literature, died on Thursday at his home in Mexico City. He was 87...

Jared Diamond: We Could Be Living Inb A New Stone Age By 2114
Indre Viskontas and Chris Mooney, Mother Jones | New Stone Age? | April 18, 2014

Jared Diamond didn't start out as the globe-romping author of massive, best-selling books about the precarious state of our civilization. Rather, after a Cambridge training in physiology, he at first embarked on a career in medical research. By the mid-1980s, he had become recognized as the world's foremost expert on, of all things, the transport of sodium in the human gall bladder.

But then in 1987, something happened: His twin sons were born. "I concluded that gall bladders were not going to save the world."...

I Served My Country. Then It Kicked Me Out.
Howard Dean Bailey, Politico | Howard Bailey's Nightmare | April 16, 2014

I was a veteran, a father and husband and a small-business owner. Then I was deported...

2014 Pulitzer Winners In Journalism, Letters, Drama And Music
The New York Times | Pulitzer Winners | April 16, 2014

2014 Pulitzer Prize Winners...

The US Is Dragging Its Feet When It Comes To Helping Afghan Translators
Ann Scott Tyson, The Daily Beast | Translators In Danger | April 16, 2014

As the United States brings tens of thousands of troops home from Afghanistan this year and attention shifts from the battlefield to care for the wounded, there is another group of veterans the country must not forget.

Thousands of Afghan interpreters who have risked their lives alongside U.S. forces in Afghanistan now face death threats from the Taliban and other insurgent groups—and so qualify for U.S. visas. But the U.S. government has proved disappointingly slow in granting those visas...

Zen Pencils: Roger Ebert
Gavin Aung Than, Zen Pencils | Zen Pencils | April 15, 2014

"Kindness covers all of my political beliefs..."

This Fish Crawled Out Of The Water...And Into Creationists' Nightmares
Chris Mooney, Mother Jones | Your Inner Fish | April 14, 2014

Some 375 million years ago, Tiktaalik emerged onto land. Today, explains paleontologist Neil Shubin, we're all walking around in modified fish bodies...

In Deep: The Dark And Dangerous World Of Extreme Cavers
Burkhard Bilger, The New Yorker | Extreme Cavers | April 14, 2014

On his thirteenth day underground, when he’d come to the edge of the known world and was preparing to pass beyond it, Marcin Gala placed a call to the surface. He’d travelled more than three miles through the earth by then, over stalagmites and boulder fields, cave-ins and vaulting galleries. He’d spidered down waterfalls, inched along crumbling ledges, and bellied through tunnels so tight that his back touched the roof with every breath. Now he stood at the shore of a small, dark pool under a dome of sulfurous flowstone. He felt the weight of the mountain above him—a mile of solid rock—and wondered if he’d ever find his way back again. It was his last chance to hear his wife and daughter’s voices before the cave swallowed him up...