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.

Forest Farewell: An Ode To An Iconic Tree
Robert Sullivan, Orion Magazine | Forest Farewell | March 24, 2014

We have gathered together today, in a still-dark grove on the side of a hill, to hear a few words about hemlock. We are a small group and there are not many words. Nothing anyone can say can possibly sum up the long life of hemlock on the eastern seaboard of North America, which began about 30 million years ago and includes a long stretch of time that runs from the early Pleistocene era, as the glaciers came and went, up until the arrival from East Asia of a tiny sap-sucking bug, the hemlock woolly adelgid, which landed in the United States around the time Calvin Coolidge made it into office...

'It Wasn't Afghanistan Where He Died. It Was Right Here.
David Wood, The Huffington Post | Moral Injury | March 24, 2014

When 19-year-old Joe Schiano came home to tell his mother he was joining the Marines fighting in Afghanistan, she reacted like any mother would. She grabbed him around the throat with both hands, pushed him against the wall and yelled, “You can’t do this!


“I have given you life and I am the only one who can take life from you!”

Then she sighed and wrapped him in a bear hug...

I Was Putin's Pawn
Elizabeth Wahl, Politico | I Was Putin's Pawn | March 24, 2014

What it was like to work for the Russian propaganda machine, and why I quit on live TV...

The Overprotected Kid
Hanna Rosin, The Atlantic | The Overprotected Kid | March 23, 2014

A preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery -- without making it safer. A new kind of playground points to a better solution...

Flies That Do Calculus With Their Wings
James Gorman, The New York Times | Fly Calculus | March 20, 2014

There are lots of reasons scientists love fruit flies, but a big one is their flying ability. These almost microscopic creatures, with minimalist nervous systems and prey to every puff of wind, must often execute millisecond aerial ballets to stay aloft.

To study fly flight, scientists have to develop techniques that are almost as interesting as the flies...

Every Viking 'Fact' Is Wrong
Nico Hines, The Daily Beast | Viking Myths | March 20, 2014

Forget the funeral boats burning at sea and tales of the most bloodthirsty warriors in history. In fact, you can forget pretty much everything you think you know about the Vikings—it’s all wrong. Many of the legends associated with the Norse raiders were invented by their victims, whose written accounts dominated the narrative long after the Viking Age...

The Crimean War Was A Boozy Fiasco
Mark Lawrence Schrad, Politico | The Crimean War | March 19, 2014

If current tensions devolve into an actual “hot” war, it would not be the first Russian war in Crimea. Indeed, for many Russians, a victorious reclamation of the Black Sea peninsula—whether by means of Tuesday's treaty or by violence—would help bury the ghosts of an ill-conceived, disorganized and festering 19th-century conflict that has made Crimea, for Russians, practically synonymous with disaster...

Why Putin Did It
Christopher Dickey, The Daily Beast | Why Putin Did It | March 18, 2014

The Russian president's speech about annexing Crimea is really about winning back the pride lost when the Berlin Wall fell...

Jonathan Ive Designs Tomorrow
John Arlidge, Time Magazine | Jonthan Ive Interview | March 18, 2014

Apple's design chief helped transform computing, phones and music. The company's secrecy and Ive's modesty mean he has never given an in-depth interview -- until now...

Joe Biden In Winter
Glenn Thrush, Politico | Joe Biden In Winter | March 18, 2014

The only thing I know is I ain’t changing my brand. I know what I believe. I’m confident in what I know. And I’m gonna say it. And if folks like it, wonderful. If they don’t like it, I understand.”

Vice President Joe Biden and I were riding the Amtrak to Philly on a frigid February day. I had asked about 2016 and whether America was ready, at long last, to elect a guy with such a mouth...