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.

Goodbye, Oil: US Navy Cracks New Renewable Energy Technology To Turn Seawater Into Fuel, Allowing Ships To Stay At Sea Longer
Christopher Harress, The International Business Times | Fuel From Seawater | April 8, 2014

After decades of experiments, U.S. Navy scientists believe they may have solved one of the world’s great challenges: how to turn seawater into fuel.

The development of a liquid hydrocarbon fuel could one day relieve the military’s dependence on oil-based fuels and is being heralded as a “game changer” because it could allow military ships to develop their own fuel and stay operational 100 percent of the time, rather than having to refuel at sea.

The new fuel is initially expected to cost around $3 to $6 per gallon, according to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, which has already flown a model aircraft on it...

As Vermont Goes, So Goes The Nation?
Molly Werthem, The New York Times Op Ed | As Vermont Goes | April 7, 2014

When most liberals hear the words “third party,” they have nasty flashbacks to Ralph Nader’s spoiler campaign in 2000.. But one state is now on the way to single-payer health care, and a third party deserves much of the credit.Three years ago, Peter Shumlin, the governor of Vermont, signed a bill creating Green Mountain Care: a single-payer system in which, if all goes according to plan, the state will regulate doctors’ fees and cover Vermonters’ medical bills...

Mickey Rooney, Child Actor Who Went On To Lifetime Of Stardom, Dies At 93
Adam Bernstein, The Washington Post | Mickey Rooney WaPo Obit | April 7, 2014

Mickey Rooney, the irrepressible actor of seemingly limitless skills who personified the all-American teenager in movie musicals with Judy Garland and dozens of other comedies and dramas, has died at 93...

A Virtual Iron Curtain Closes In On Russia's Intelligentsia
Anna Nemtsova, The Daily Beast | Virtual Iron Curtain | April 7, 2014

Every morning last week, public relations specialist Roman Fedoseyev dreaded going online, fearful he would find news that the Russian army had crossed the Ukrainian border. The crisis called Crimea haunts the dreams of Fedoseyev and his friends in Moscow’s creative class, or “hipsters” as they call themselves, using a word borrowed and made their own. But when they wake, they keep hoping life can go on as usual.  The sad thing is, it won’t...

Is Yellowstone About To Erupt?
Janet Fang, IFL Science | Yellowstone Rumor Control | April 4, 2014

Have you seen this video of bison running out of Yellowstone? If you haven’t, here’s a version with dramatic music. It’s no secret that Yellowstone National Park sits atop a “supervolcano.” But now, accounts of animals supposedly fleeing the park before an earthquake last Sunday have sparked fear that one of the world’s biggest supervolcanoes is about to produce an apocalyptic eruption...

In The 1870s and '80s, Being A Pedestrian Was Anything But
NPR, Robert Krulwich interviewing Matthew Algeo | Pedestrianism | April 3, 2014

We may think of baseball as America's national pastime, but in the 1870s and 1880s there was another sports craze sweeping the nation: competitive walking. "Watching people walk was America's favorite spectator sport," Matthew Algeo says in his new book, Pedestrianism.

"In the decades after the Civil War there was mass urbanization in the United States [with] millions of people moving into the cities," Algeo tells NPR's Robert Siegel. "And there wasn't much for them to do in their free time, so pedestrianism — competitive walking matches — filled a void for people. It became quite popular quite quickly."

Huge crowds packed indoor arenas to watch the best walkers walk. Think of it as a six-day NASCAR race ... on feet...

The F Word
Willa Paskin | The F Word | April 2, 2014

Inside Amy Schumer is the most sneakily feminist show on TV. (Also, it's hilarious.)...


Passing On One Of Europe's Greatest Treasures
Haidi Ellison, The International New York Times | Slow-Made Objects | April 2, 2014
A Quest To Understand What Makes Things Funny
Shane Snow, The New Yorker | Humor Theory | April 2, 2014

What would happen if Communism were introduced to Saudi Arabia? Nothing—at first. But soon there’d be a shortage of sand.

This—one of many political jokes circulating inside the Soviet Union during the late Cold War—is Joel Warner’s favorite. Warner is the co-author, with Peter McGraw, of “The Humor Code,” which was released on April Fool’s Day...

A Mudslide, Foretold
Timothy Egan, The New York Times Op Ed | A Mudslide, Foretold | March 31, 2014

Don't tell me, please, that nobody saw one of the deadliest landslides in American history coming. Say a prayer or send a donation for a community buried under a mountain of mud along a great river in Washington State, the Stillaguamish. Praise the emergency workers still trying to find a pulse of life in a disaster that left 25 people dead and 90 missing.

But enough with the denial, the willful ignorance of cause and effect, the shock that one of the prettiest valleys on the planet could turn in a flash from quiet respite in the foothills of the North Cascades to a gravelly graveyard...