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.

Atop TV Sets, a Power Crain That Runs Nonstop
Elisabeth Rosenthal, The New York Times | Atop TV Sets, a Power Drain That Runs Nonstop | June 26, 2011

Those little boxes that usher cable signals and digital recording capacity into televisions have become the single largest electricity drain in many American homes, with some typical home entertainment configurations eating more power than a new refrigerator and even some central air-conditioning systems...

Michele Bachmann's Holy War
Matt Taibi, Rolling Stone | Michele Bachmann's Holy War | June 25, 2011

Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and, as you consider the career and future presidential prospects of an incredible American phenomenon named Michele Bachmann, do one more thing. Don't laugh...

Why So Angry, Dad?
Katie Riphe, Slate | Why So Angry, Dad? | June 23, 2011

Are our enlightened, engaged, sensitive parenting practices driving a certain segment of the population insane? Is the nice, liberal father who has just this Saturday carted his kids to soccer practice, play dates, piano lessons, made sunflower-butter sandwiches, and read Goodnight Moon three times seething with quiet desperation? The surprise ascendance of Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortés' Go the F**k to Sleep on all sorts of best-seller lists eloquently answers that question...

We Can't Make These Things Up
Andrew Halco, The Anchorage Press | We Can't Make These Things Up | June 23, 2011


On the morning of April 18, 2006, I sat in the Hotel Captain Cook coffee shop with Sarah Palin comparing campaign trail notes. Yes, there was a time when Palin and I could hold a civil conversation, long before she began calling me "dumbass" in her emails... but I digress. While talking about the trials and tribulations of the trail, she offered up a personal thought that still rings in my ears...

The Pacific Ocean's 'Corridors of Life'
David Perlman, San Francisco Chronicle | The Pacific Ocean's 'Corridors of Life' | June 23, 2011

Two broad ocean highways where countless sea creatures migrate, feed, mate and reproduce have been discovered running across the Pacific by scientists tuning in to thousands of radio signals...

Drawing Down, With a Vigilant Eye on Pakistan
David E. Sanger, The New York Times | Drawing Down, With a Vigilant Eye on Pakistan | June 23, 2011

Hours after the Sept. 11 attacks, Pakistan’s leaders were given an ultimatum by the Bush administration: Because the looming war in Afghanistan could not be won without Pakistan’s help, Islamabad would have to choose between continuing its alliance with the Taliban or joining forces with the United States.

Just shy of 10 years later, President Obama’s announcement Wednesday night that he is beginning the long-anticipated withdrawal from Afghanistan marks another step in the gradual reversal of that calculus...

Dissident Chinese Artist Is Released
Edward Wong, The New York Times | Dissident Chinese Artist Is Released | June 22, 2011

Chinese legal authorities have released the dissident artist Ai Weiwei after detaining him for nearly three months on suspicion of tax evasion, likely ending a prosecution that had become a focal point of criticism of China’s human rights record, according to a report on Wednesday night by Xinhua, the state news agency. Mr. Ai was reached on his cell phone shortly before 12:30 a.m. Thursday. "I’m released, I’m home, I’m fine," he said in English. "In legal terms, I’m — how do you say — on bail. So I cannot give any interviews. But I’m fine."...

Did My Brother Invent E-Mail With Tom Van Vleck? (Part One)
Errol Morris, The New York Times Opinionator | Did My Brother Invent E-Mail With Tom Van Vleck? (Part One) | June 22, 2011

It was a short comment on my recent essay in The Times, “The Ashtray.”

#82: Tom Van Vleck
Ocean City, NJ
March 11th, 2011

…I had email today from another middle school student asking about Noel Morris’s place in history as (a) creator of electronic mail.

Noel Morris’s place in history? Noel Morris was my older brother, who had dropped out of MIT and spent most of his waking hours holed up in an apartment working at a computer terminal. This was in the ‘60s, long before there was anything close to a home computer. The name Tom Van Vleck was not unfamiliar. He was a friend of my brother’s who worked with him at MIT in those days.

I called him...

A Scary Report Card on the World's Oceans
Bryan Walsh, Time | A Scary Report Card on the World's Oceans | June 21, 2011

Work in environmental journalism for very long and you can eventually become inured to catastrophe. Every ecosystem is on the brink of collapse; every endangered species is just a few steps from extinction; every government decision to authorize an oil well or a coal mine is the one that will push carbon emissions over the edge. The language of environmentalism is the language of scarcity and loss, a constantly repeated message that we cannot continue living the way we are, or else. Sometimes the sheer, relentless doomsaying is enough to make you want to take a long, air-conditioned drive in a nice SUV.

But while news of the Earth's impending doom can sometimes seem exaggerated, there's one environmental disaster that never gets the coverage it really deserves: the state of the oceans...

Laura Miller, Salon | Spamazon | June 21, 2011

Exactly one year ago, I wrote of my fear that, in the current self-publishing boom, "slush fatigue" -- a form of existential nausea, once suffered only by a few entry-level staffers in the book business, brought on by overexposure to terrible manuscripts -- could infect the general public. How innocent those days seem now! As if slush weren't bad enough, readers looking for a good ebook must now also wade through the same maddening stuff that's been clogging up their email inboxes for decades: spam...