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.

America's Real Criminal Element: Lead
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones | Lead And Crime | April 25, 2014

...Political scientist John DiIulio warned that the echo of the baby boom would soon produce a demographic bulge of millions of young males that he famously dubbed "juvenile super-predators." Other criminologists nodded along. But even though the demographic bulge came right on schedule, crime continued to drop. And drop. And drop. By 2010, violent crime rates in New York City had plunged 75 percent from their peak in the early '90s...

Goodbye, Net Neutrality; Hello, Net Discrimination
Tim Wu, The New Yorker | Net-Discrimination Rule | April 25, 2014

In 2007, at a public forum at Coe College, in Iowa, Presidential candidate Barack Obama was asked about net neutrality. Specifically, “Would you make it a priority in your first year of office to reinstate net neutrality as the law of the land? And would you pledge to only appoint F.C.C. commissioners that support open Internet principles like net neutrality?”

“The answer is yes,” Obama replied. “I am a strong supporter of net neutrality.”...

Climbers Leave Everest Amid Regrets And Tensions Among Sherpas
Bhadra Sharma and Ellen Barry, The New York Times | Mourning In Nepal | April 25, 2014

Climbers who had hoped to reach the summit of Mount Everest have instead begun the long journey home: a teenager with epilepsy who wanted to inspire others like himself; a banker who quit his job, sold his apartment and used up most of his savings to pay for the trip; a builder from California who was carrying the ashes of his younger brother...

Jihadists Now Control Secretive U.S. Base In Libya
Eli Lake, The Daily Beast | Tale Of Tantoush | April 23, 2014

A camp on the Libyan coastline meant to train terror-hunters has instead become a safe haven for terrorists and al Qaeda...

McDonald's Gave Me The "Girl's Toy" With My Happy Meal. So I Went To The CEO.
Antonia Ayres-Brown, Slate | Getting It Done | April 21, 2014

In the fall of 2008, when I was 11 years old, I wrote to the CEO of McDonald’s and asked him to change the way his stores sold Happy Meals. I expressed my frustration that McDonald’s always asked if my family preferred a “girl toy” or a “boy toy” when we ordered a Happy Meal at the drive-through. My letter asked if it would be legal for McDonald’s “to ask at a job interview whether someone wanted a man’s job or a woman’s job?”...

"Ugh. I Miss It."
Eli Saslow, The Washington Post | "Ugh. I miss it." | April 21, 2014

Transitioning from military to civilian life, and fram camaraderie to isolation...

The only light in the vast Wyoming darkness came from the lit end of another 5:30 a.m. cigarette as Derric Winters waited alone for sunrise on the porch of his trailer. He never slept well, not anymore, so he smoked and stared across the three miles of barren landscape that separated him from town. He checked his voice mail, but there were no messages. He logged on to Facebook, but no one was awake to chat...

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."...