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.

Review: Malcolm Cowley, Selected Letters
Dwight Garner, The New York Times Book Review | About Malcolm Cowley | February 12, 2014

Cowley (1898-1989) wasn’t a bad poet. His best verse is collected in a volume called “Blue Juniata” (1985). But we can be grateful that relative poverty mostly forced him to put poetry aside. He was more adept in almost every other arena: as a critic, historian, editor, journalist and translator, a “one-man assembly line,” in the words of a colleague. Cowley was also perhaps the greatest literary cross-pollinator of the 20th century. It’s impossible to imagine the American canon without him...

The Moment In Space And Time When Charlie Chaplin Became The Tramp
Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic | Becoming The Tramp | February 10, 2014

It is one of the most famous moments in cinematic history: the instant when Charlie Chaplin, playing a sadsack hobo, becomes The Tramp. Walking down a country road, heartbroken, Chaplin picks up his legs and spirits, waddling into the future. Chaplin actually debuted the comic hobo one hundred years ago in 1914, as WNYC noted. But it's in the 1915 movie The Tramp that he completed his transformation. Within the year, he was nationally famous. Working on a project for the Oakland Museum of California, I found out that Chaplin had filmed this moment not in Los Angeles, but outside the still-tiny town of Niles, California...

The Lost Tribe Of Sochi: Russia's Circassian Diaspora
Peter Schwartzstein, The Daily Beast | Lost Tribe Of Sochi | February 9, 2014

In the 1860s, the Circassian people were driven out of Sochi by the Tzar's armies to settle in Syria Israel and Jordan. Now, displaced again by Assad's war, they want the world to recognize them -- and to return home...

Republicans Are Wooing The Wired
Matt Richtel and Nicholas Confessore, The New York Times | Wooing The Wired | February 9, 2014

At an after-hours hacking event at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Wash., Aaron Ginn approached an engineer whose face was buried in a laptop.

Like more than a few techies, Mr. Ginn could pass for a skateboarder or a member of a boy band: As he circulated, he wore a red Reebok cap, its bill tilted high over his short dark hair, a silver and black cross around his neck and a green T-shirt printed with “Lincoln Labs.” That’s the name of the talent-scouting group he founded last year with two friends. But unlike others in this game, Mr. Ginn was in search of a rare technology-industry breed: Republicans...

Nasty And Brutish: A Scandal In Colorado Reveals That Bullying Bros Still Plague University Philosophy Departments
Rebecca Schuman, Slate | Philos-bros | February 9, 2014

On Friday, the University of Colorado–Boulder released a scathing report from an independent investigating team about sexual misconduct in one of its top humanities programs, the department of philosophy. The report, commissioned, it seems, under the misguided assumption that its findings would remain private, details a female-unfriendly environment of sexual harassment that could be fodder for a sequel to The Wolf of Wall Street, if only philosophers made any money...

This Picture Has Creationists Terrified
Chris Mooney, Mother Jones | This Picture Has Creationists Terrified | February 4, 2014

This evening, Bill Nye the Science Guy will debate creationist leader Ken Ham at the Creation Museum in Kentucky. Tickets to the event sold out in just two minutes, according to the museum (though you will be able to stream the debate live here). So how will Nye fare in this lion's den? The evidence for evolution is overwhelming, but debating it successfully against a creationist armed with "facts" of his own is another matter. It's about style as much as substance, and Nye, an entertainer, may fare better than an average scientist in this regard.

We don't know how Nye will argue his case. But if you want to clinch the argument for evolution with one compelling piece of evidence—and with one single image—you (and Nye) probably want to choose the one above. Here's why...

William S. Burroughs At 100: Exploding Five Major Myths
Davis Schneiderman, The Huffington Post | Exploding Burroughs Myths | February 4, 2014

Whether as novelist, essayist, painter, filmmaker, recording artist, mystic, expatriate, psychological patient, Scientologist, Beat progenitor, plagiarist, punk music godfather, anti-censorship activist, queer hero, science-fiction guru, junkie, media theorist, advertising model -- or accidental murderer -- the figure of Burroughs (1914-1997) casts as many shadows as the limits of each of these labels...


Crawling Home
Robert O. Leaver | I Crawl Home | February 4, 2014

Mr. Leaver is crawling the length of Manhattan. You can read about it here.

Crawling away from Columbus Circle on another cold morning.  Sunshine and Larry with new electric green bootlaces. Better for me to spot him. This is my tenth crawl. My son is about to turn ten. Today I will crawl ten blocks. I am half way home, give or take a few blocks. I am deep into this relationship now.  I suppose I am roughly half way through with my life too, give or take a few years and barring anything unexpected…

Man Says He Ate Birds, Turtles In 13 Months Adrift In The Pacific Ocean
Nick Perry, Associated Press | 13 Months Adrift | February 3, 2014

It's a story that almost defies belief: A man leaves Mexico in December 2012 for a day of shark fishing and ends up surviving 13 months on fish, birds and turtles before washing ashore on the remote Marshall Islands some 5,500 miles away...

St. Francis: The Times They Are A-Changin'
Mark Binelli, Rolling Stone | Gentle Revolution | February 2, 2014

Nearly every Wednesday in Rome, the faithful and the curious gather in St. Peter's Square for a general audience with the pope. Since the election of the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio last March, attendance at papal events has tripled to 6.6 million. On a recent chilly morning in December, the thousands of amassed pilgrims appear to gleam in the sunlight, covering the square like a pixelated carpet. Maybe it's all the smartphones raised to the heavens...