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.

This Old Man: Life In The Nineties
Roger Angell, The New Yorker | This Old Man | February 26, 2014

Check me out. The top two knuckles of my left hand look as if I’d been worked over by the K.G.B. No, it’s more as if I’d been a catcher for the Hall of Fame pitcher Candy Cummings, the inventor of the curveball, who retired from the game in 1877. To put this another way, if I pointed that hand at you like a pistol and fired at your nose, the bullet would nail you in the left knee. Arthritis. Now, still facing you, if I cover my left, or better, eye with one hand, what I see is a blurry encircling version of the ceiling and floor and walls or windows to our right and left but no sign of your face or head: nothing in the middle. But cheer up: if I reverse things and cover my right eye, there you are, back again...

Scientists Look In Chicken's Eye And Discover Weird New State Of Matter
The Huffington Post | Disordered Hyperuniformity | February 26, 2014

Gaze deeply into the eye of a chicken, and what do you see? Some see terrifying stupidity. But researchers at Princeton University and Washington University in St. Louis say they see in the bird's eye the first known biological occurrence of a strange state of matter known as "disordered hyperuniformity."...

Six Reasons You Should Own A Survival Bow & Arrow
Creek Stewart, via The Art of Manliness | Survival Bow & Arrow | February 26, 2014

I am a big fan of the bow and arrow for a variety of reasons, and I personally think that anyone who has an interest in primitive survival skills or modern urban survival should seriously consider purchasing a good bow and arrow and become proficient in using it. There are hundreds of bows to choose from, but my particular bow of choice is an October Mountain Blue Ridge Hunter Take Down Recurve Bow. Below are six reasons why you should consider owning a similar survival take-down bow...

How To Get A Job At Google
Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times Op Ed | How To Get A Job At Google | February 23, 2014

Last June, in an interview with Adam Bryant of The Times, Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations for Google — i.e., the guy in charge of hiring for one of the world’s most successful companies — noted that Google had determined that “G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless. ... We found that they don’t predict anything.” He also noted that the “proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased over time” — now as high as 14 percent on some teams. At a time when many people are asking, “How’s my kid gonna get a job?” I thought it would be useful to visit Google and hear how Bock would answer...

Whole Foods: America's Temple Of Pseudoscience
Michael Schulson, The Daily Beast | Whole Foods | February 23, 2014

If you want to write about spiritually-motivated pseudoscience in America, you head to the Creation Museum in Kentucky. It’s like a Law of Journalism. The museum has inspired hundreds of book chapters and articles (some of them, admittedly, mine) since it opened up in 2007. The place is like media magnet. And our nation’s liberal, coastal journalists are so many piles of iron fillings.

But you don’t have to schlep all the way to Kentucky in order to visit America’s greatest shrine to pseudoscience. In fact, that shrine is a 15-minute trip away from most American urbanites...


A Lost City Reveals The Grandeur Of Medieval African Civilization
Annalee Mewitz, Archaeology | Songo Mnara | February 23, 2014

Some of the world's greatest cities during the Middle Ages were on the eastern coast of Africa. Their ornate stone domes and soaring walls, made with ocean corals and painted a brilliant white, were wonders to the traders that visited them from Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. They were the superpowers of the Swahili Coast, and they've long been misunderstood by archaeologists. It's only recently that researchers outside Africa are beginning to appreciate their importance...

Do Curlers Make Good Housekeepers? Don't Ask!
Sarah Lyall, The New York Times | Olympic Questions | February 21, 2014

The conversations follow a wearying and familiar pattern. First, Troels Harry identifies himself as a curler, master of a sport many people know (if they know about it at all) as the thing that looks like shuffleboard on ice, with brooms.

Then comes the question. “They say, ‘Oh, are you good at cleaning the house?' ” said Harry, who is on the Danish men’s curling team here.

Ha ha ha! Or not...

Seduce The Whole World: Gordon Lish's Workshop
Carla Blumenkranz, The New Yorker | Lish's Workshop | February 21, 2014

Todd Solondz’s Storytelling famously features an encounter between a writing instructor and a college student. He has just eviscerated both her and her boyfriend’s work, calling the boyfriend’s story “a piece of shit.” When she sees him at a bar, she claims that she agrees with him, she’s “really happy with the class,” and she’s “a great admirer of [his] work.” He says almost nothing. So she asks, “Do you think I have potential as a writer?” “No,” he says.

In the next scene she follows him, with obvious terror, to his apartment. In the bathroom she finds an envelope that contains nude photos of the student he says has talent. He tells her to take off her clothes and, in the one note of complexity that enters the story, is able to dominate her partly by exploiting her fear that she may be latently racist. (She’s white and he’s black.) His other tool of domination is the workshop dynamic. Despite having told her she’s hopeless as a writer, here he’s willing to be prescriptive...

My Life Behind Kiev's Barricades
Vijai Maheshwari, The Daily Beast | Report From Kiev | February 21, 2014

I live on Pushkinskaya Street, one of Kiev’s smartest addresses, known for its neo-classical buildings, elegant cafes, and shabby-chic vibe. With nearby Independence Square caught up in deadly fighting since Tuesday night, the street has gone from being a slice of Paris in Ukraine to an extension of the war zone...

The Powerlessness Of Positive Thinking
Adam Alter, The New Yorker | Fantasies And Progress | February 20, 2014

...According to a great deal of research, positive fantasies may lessen your chances of succeeding. In one experiment, the social psychologists Gabriele Oettingen and Doris Mayer asked eighty-three German students to rate the extent to which they “experienced positive thoughts, images, or fantasies on the subject of transition into work life, graduating from university, looking for and finding a job.” Two years later, they approached the same students and asked about their post-college job experiences. Those who harbored positive fantasies put in fewer job applications, received fewer job offers, and ultimately earned lower salaries...