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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.

A History of Air Conditioning
Will Oremus, Slate | A History of Air Conditioning | July 24, 2011

Anyone tempted to yearn for a simpler time must reckon with a few undeniable unpleasantries of life before modern technology: abscessed teeth, chamber pots, the bubonic plague—and a lack of air conditioning in late July. As temperatures rise into the triple digits across the eastern United States, it's worth remembering how we arrived at the climate-controlled summer environments we have today...

Race to the Moon Heats Up for Private Firms
Kenneth Chang, The New York Times | Race to the Moon Heats Up for Private Firms | July 21, 2011

Now that the last space shuttle has landed back on Earth, a new generation of space entrepreneurs would like to whip up excitement about the prospect of returning to the Moon. Spurred by a $30 million purse put up by Google, 29 teams have signed up for a competition to become the first private venture to land on the Moon...

China's Fake Apple Stores Mimic Real Thing
Steven Hoffer, The Huffington Post | China's Fake Apple Stores Mimic Real Thing | July 21, 2011

The following is perhaps the greatest Chinese knock-off of all time.

A blogger living the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming, in Yunnan province has discovered bit-for-bit rip-offs of the iconic and well-branded Apple retail stores...

My Guilty Obsession With Swastikas
Steven Heller, Salon | My Guilty Obsession With Swastikas | July 21, 2011

When I was 8 years old a friend gave me a Nazi flag that his father had brought back from the war as a souvenir. Despite my parents' warnings not to upset my grandmother, whose family (I much later learned) perished in Auschwitz, I would often streak through the apartment in her presence wearing the flag as a kind of Superman cape. At the time, I knew nothing about the Holocaust except that Jews were not beloved in Germany, but since religious taunting was common in my Manhattan public school, this fact had little consequence. I was also addicted to watching movies on TV about World War II and, as a wannabe artist, drew more pictures of Nazis than Americans because their uniforms were better...

Bipartisan Plan for Budget Deal Buoys President
Jackie Calmes and Jennifer Steinhauer, The New York Times | Bipartisan Plan for Budget Deal Buoys President | July 20, 2011
Top Right
David Plotz, Slate | Top Right | July 19, 2011

Slate's list of the 25 Americans who combine inventiveness and practicality: our best real-world problem-solvers...

Scary Maps of the New Climate Normal

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just updated its Climate Normals for the United States. Per agreement of the World Meteorological Organization, "normals" are calculated per decade, rather than per year. NOAA's latest update is crunched from weather data compiled from 1981 to 2010. The new annual normal temperatures for the US strongly reflect a warming world...

Old Dominion U. Professor Is Trying To Save Internet History
Daniel de Vise, The Washington Post | Old Dominion U. Professor Is Trying To Save Internet History | July 19, 2011

 

Old Dominion U. professor is trying to save Internet history

What if you woke up tomorrow and all of your painstakingly edited YouTube videos were gone, your 4,000-entry Twitter feed erased and your lovingly tended Facebook page deleted? Michael Nelson, a computer science professor at Old Dominion University in Virginia, is thinking those terrible thoughts. His research team has spent the past couple of years studying how much of the Internet is being saved — what portion of the vast sea of online ephemera is preserved in some permanent archive...

Carmageddon in LA: City Avoids Traffic Chaos Despite Closure of Freeway

It was supposed to be the world's biggest traffic jam, the weekend that bumper-to-bumper gridlock would finally eat up Los Angeles.

In the end, though, what was called Carmageddon looked less like a Hollywood disaster movie and more like the Rapture, the moment of resurrection when Christian believers are "caught up" to heaven, leaving empty space and eerie silence for sinners left behind...

In Egypt, U.S. Government Seeks a Few Good Democrats
Mary Beth Sheridan, The Washington Post | U.S. Government Seeks a Few good Democrats | July 18, 2011

The United States was giving away $65 million in grants to build democracy, and Marwan Youness wanted in. But as the portly engineer scrolled through the application on a warm Cairo night, he began to worry.

“Oh, my God, there are a lot of things they need,” Youness told his business partner, Sherif Hossny, who was perched on the edge of his desk. Youness, 38, dragged on his cigarette, leaned toward the laptop and ran through the six pages of questions...