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.

Bono Honors The Man Who Could Not Cry
Bono, Time Magazine | Bono Honors The Man Who Could Not Cry | December 6, 2013

As an activist I have pretty much been doing what Nelson Mandela tells me since I was a teenager. He has been a forceful presence in my life going back to 1979, when U2 made its first anti-apartheid effort. And he’s been a big part of the Irish consciousness even longer than that. Irish people related all too easily to the subjugation of ethnic majorities. From our point of view, the question as to how bloody South Africa would have to get on its long road to freedom was not abstract...

Don't Sanitize Nelson Mandela: He's Honored Now, But Was Hated Then
Peter Beinart, The Daily Beast | Don't Sanitize Nelson Mandela: He's Honored Now, But Was Hated Then | December 6, 2013

Now that he’s dead, and can cause no more trouble, Nelson Mandela is being mourned across the ideological spectrum as a saint. But not long ago, in Washington’s highest circles, he was considered an enemy of the United States. Unless we remember why, we won’t truly honor his legacy.

In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan placed Mandela’s African National Congress on America’s official list of “terrorist” groups. In 1985, then-Congressman Dick Cheney voted against a resolution urging that he be released from jail...

When I Met Mandela
Magogodi Makhene, Salon | When I Met Mandela | December 5, 2013

I was a child. He was an old man. But he held the promise of an unborn nation...

The Don Draper Of Pot
Caleb Hannan, The Daily Beast | The Don Draper Of Pot | December 4, 2013

So what happened to turn marijuana legalization from stoner fantasy to political reality?...Meet the man who's making marijuana mainstream...

This Man Was Shocked When His Chimpanzee Sued Him
Jacqui Goddard, The Daily Beast | This Man Was Shocked When His Chimpanzee Sued Him | December 3, 2013

In a string of landmark cases to be filed this week, four chimpanzees will fight for the right to retire to sanctuaries. Could dolphins be next on the docket?...

How We Made Mary Poppins
Anna Tims, The Guardian | How We Made Mary Poppins | December 3, 2013

"Uncle Walt, as I called him, was determined that although I was an eight-year-old working on a film, I should still have a magical time. He flew my mother and two sisters to the US to be with me during the nine months of filming. Whenever we had a free weekend, he'd lend us his plane – called Mickey Mouse – and we would go down to his ranch in Santa Barbara. I was a nervous flyer so he had the plane done out like a sweetshop. When the seatbelt sign went off, we could sell candy to our mum..."

Andre Schiffrin, Publishing Force And A Founder Of New Press, Is Dead At 78
Robert D. McFadden, The New York Times | Andre Schiffrin, Publishing Force And A Founder Of New Press, Is Dead At 78 | December 3, 2013

André Schiffrin, a publishing force for 50 years, whose passion for editorial independence produced shelves of serious books, a titanic collision with a conglomerate that forced him out to stem losses, and a late-in-life comeback as a nonprofit publisher, died in Paris on Sunday. He was 78...

The Making Of 'Alpha House'
Jonathan Alter, Politico | The Making Of 'Alpha House' | December 2, 2013

The first thing I learned about shooting a TV series on location in Washington is that you can’t. While news crews freely roam Senate hallways and committee rooms, films and TV shows are barred from working anywhere on the Capitol grounds. That meant that Alpha House, the new Amazon series centering on four senators that I’m helping to produce, was going to have to create its own Senate.

But where? Strict congressional rules and a shortage of soundstages and tax breaks in Washington mean that political shows are generally filmed in Los Angeles (Scandal, The West Wing), Baltimore (Veep, House of Cards) or New York. We chose New York for no other reason than that the show’s creator, Garry Trudeau of “Doonesbury” fame, and I live there, and our other executive producer, Elliot Webb, likes to visit...

Best Books 2013: Slate Staff Picks
Slate Staff, Slate | Best Books 2013: Slate Staff Picks | December 1, 2013

Monday: Slate staffers pick their favorite books of 2013.
Tuesday: The overlooked books of 2013.
Wednesday: The best lines of 2013, and the best poetry of 2013.
Thursday: Dan Kois’ 15 favorite books.
Friday: The Slate Book Review Top 10...

Reverse-Engineering A Genius (Has A Vermeer Mystery Been Solved?)
Kurt Anderson, Vanity Fair | Reverse-Engineering A Genius (Has A Vermeer Mystery Been Solved?) | December 1, 2013

David Hockney and others have speculated—controversially—that a camera obscura could have helped the Dutch painter Vermeer achieve his photo-realistic effects in the 1600s. But no one understood exactly how such a device might actually have been used to paint masterpieces. An inventor in Texas—the subject of a new documentary by the magicians Penn & Teller—may have solved the riddle...