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.

The Art Of Passing For Them
Mary Stewart Hammond, The New York Times Sunday Book Review | The Art Of Passing For Them | August 16, 2013

Please. Get back in your body. All I said was
“I’m a poet.” I tried not to. We get along fine
until then, talking about golf which I don’t play,
and tennis which my friends pay me
not to play, about how much you hate teachers
because they ruined your life, left you hating
everything, so all you can do is “make money,
and know nothing. Nothing! Horrible people, teachers.
Horrible! I hope you don’t know one,”
and since I am one, I know I’m passing.
It must be the pearls. The off-the-shoulder dress...

New Bloodshed In Egypt As Islamists Defy Threat Of Force
David D. Kirkpatrick and Alan Cowell, The New York Times | New Bloodshed In Egypt As Islamists Defy Threat Of Force | August 16, 2013

Dozens of people were reportedly killed in renewed clashes on Friday as thousands of followers of the embattled Muslim Brotherhood took to the streets of Cairo and other cities, facing police officers authorized to use lethal force if threatened.

As the Islamist Brotherhood sought to regain momentum after a crushing crackdown by security forces on Wednesday in which almost 640 people were killed, witnesses spoke of gunfire whistling over a main overpass in Cairo and at a downtown square as clashes erupted and police officers lobbed tear gas canisters. Reports of a rising death toll continued throughout the day, with up to 50 dead, a Reuters report said. About 30 bodies were laid out in a mosque in Ramses Square, which was being used as a makeshift field hospital as the injured were brought in from clashes that included gunfire nearby...

52 Amazing Uses for WD-40
Reader's Digest | 52 Amazing Uses for WD-40 | August 16, 2013

from Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things:

WD-40 has far more uses than just on squeaky hinges. Find out the amazing ways this garage staple can make your life easier...

Peter Berg Threw Himself Under A Bus. Now What?
Pat Jordan, The New York Times Magazine | Peter Berg Threw Himself Under A Bus. Now What? | August 15, 2013

Peter Berg wanted me to box with him. “Come on, you’re a tough guy,” he said. I tried to disabuse him of that notion. I told him I’d been in only one fight in my adult life, and I lost that one.

We went to Team Tapia Boxing Academy in Albuquerque, where Berg was scouting locations for the film he had written and was directing, “Lone Survivor,” based on a book with the same title about a Navy SEAL mission in Afghanistan that went terribly wrong in 2005. Berg fell in love with boxing when he was a 14-year-old freshman at the Taft School in Connecticut. “I was on fire,” he said, “a seething ball of energy moving at a speed I couldn’t explain.” He was angry and disruptive “and diagnosed as a troublemaker,” he said. “Today it’d be A.D.H.D., and I’d be Ritalined up.” Instead a dean took him after class to his basement, where Berg and other disruptive students learned “to dissipate all our energy” by fighting. Boxing calmed him. “You can’t box angry,” he said. “You have to be disciplined. Before boxing, I was this angry kid ready to fight if someone said, ‘Hello.’ ”

Through boxing, Berg became fascinated with what he referred to as “the psychology of violence,” which has informed most of the things he has directed or acted in. Sports violence...

The Plight Of The Honeybee
Bryan Walsh, Time | The Plight Of The Honeybee | August 14, 2013

You can thank the Apis mellifera, better known as the Western honeybee, for 1 in every 3 mouthfuls you'll eat today. Honeybees — which pollinate crops like apples, blueberries and cucumbers — are the "glue that holds our agricultural system together," as the journalist Hannah Nordhaus put it in her 2011 book The Beekeeper's Lament. But that glue is failing. Bee hives are dying off or disappearing thanks to a still-unsolved malady called colony collapse disorder (CCD), so much so that commercial beekeepers are being pushed out of the business...

The Inside Of A Beehive, Live-Streamed
Lindsay Abrams, Salon | The Inside Of A Beehive, Live-Streamed | August 14, 2013

A 24/7 view of honeybees doing their thing.

Big-picture, the disappearance of the honeybee will mean catastrophe for the global food system and economy. On a much smaller scale, it will mean the loss of a uniquely fascinating insect.

Explore.org has launched a live honeybee cam that uses infrared to let viewers look inside a surviving hive. In the past six years, 10 million others like it have been wiped out by Colony Collapse Disorder. This star-turned colony has settled inside a hollow log in small-town Germany, and are busy rebuilding after their honeycomb collapsed...

Sequesytration Ushers In A Dark Age For Science In America
Sam Stein, The Huffington Post | Sequesytration Ushers In A Dark Age For Science In America | August 14, 2013

On the first floor of Jordan Hall at the University of Virginia School of Medicine is a 12-by-8 room that, at first glance, looks like a rundown storage space. The floor is a mix of white, teal and purple tiles, in a pattern reminiscent of the 1970s. Trash cans are without tops and half filled. There are rust stains on the tiles, and a loose air vent dangles a bit from the ceiling.

It is only when you see four incubators attached to six tanks of carbon dioxide that you get the feeling something more intriguing is taking place here.

Inside these incubators Dr. Anindya Dutta stores cell cultures that he believes hold the key to a massive advancement in health care. He has identified the specific strands of microRNA, the molecule that plays a large role in gene expression, that are responsible for promoting the formation and fusion of muscular tissue...


Tech Is Killing Childhood
Catherine Steiner-Adair, Salon | Tech Is Killing Childhood | August 13, 2013

Time spent on gadgets could be hampering kids' ability to connect to each other and the "real" world.

Kids are so obsessed with sitting inside and playing with their iPod Touch and it’s so useless. I watch my cousin, who’s six, and she sits on the couch and plays Scooby Doo with her friends on the iPad, and I’m like, jeez, when I was six years old I was figuring out how to tie teddy bears to gate posts or flinging them over the banisters. I just think of all the fun things my sisters and I would do, all these fun memories that I have and my cousins won’t because they are sitting on the couch and video-chatting. My cousins aren’t having any childhood.

[excerpted from The Big Disconnect]

Mt. Fuji, So Popular It Hurts
Ken Belson, The New York Times | Mt. Fuji, So Popular It Hurts | August 13, 2013

The words printed on the buses that drive through Kawaguchiko, a scenic town in the foothills of Japan’s tallest and most sacred mountain, were as reassuring as they were disconcerting: “Preserve the Nature of Mt. Fuji.”

The message was a reminder that despite years of effort, the millions who visit the mountain and nearby towns each year and the plethora of businesses that serve them continue to have a profound impact on the environment, whether through mounting trash, poor air quality or suburban sprawl. Mount Fuji, or Fujisan as it’s known to the Japanese, is the nation’s most recognizable natural landmark, a conical volcano immortalized by artists like Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige. These days, the mountain, less than two hours from Tokyo, is a playground for rich and poor. Climbing the mountain is on many hikers’ bucket lists...

This Pulsing Earth
Robert Krulwich, NPR | This Pulsing Earth | August 12, 2013

John Nelson is a designer, well known for tracing complex weather patterns or cultural information on maps, so considering what he usually does, this was easy. NASA's publishes pictures of our planet every month of the year, so John thought, why not stitch them together, and see what the seasons look like from outer space?

So he stitched, and then looked...