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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.

Sprouting Feathers And Lost Teeth: Scientists Map The Evolution Of Birds
Ian Sample, The Guardian | Avian Family Tree | December 12, 2014

Mass genome sequencing reveals avian family tree -- and how imitative birdsong gives birds genetic similarities to humans...

Top 10 Things To Love About Letterman's Top Ten Lists
Ben Blatt, Slate | Slate | December 11, 2014

10. Their topicality 9. Their absurdity 8. Their longevity 7. Their irreverence 6. Their silliness 5. Their brevity 4. Their self-deprecation 3. Their surprise 1. Regis.

How Richard Pryor Beat Bill Cosby And Transformed America
David Yaffe and Scott Saul | Becoming Richard Pryor | December 11, 2014

Biographer Scott Saul talks about spending eight years studying Pryor and why he never got bored, why Pryor is still electrifying, and what he would have thought of Bill Cosby...

U-Va. Students Challenge Rolling Stone Account
T. Rees Shapiro, The Washington Post | UVA Followup | December 10, 2014

It was 1 a.m. on a Saturday when the call came. A friend, a University of Virginia freshman who earlier said she had a date that evening with a handsome junior from her chemistry class, was in hysterics. Something bad had happened...

Duke Ellington's Best Album -- One Of The Best In Jazz -- Is Also One Of His Least-Known
Fred Kaplan, Slate | Duke Ellington's Masterpiece | December 10, 2014

And on a new reissue, it sounds better than ever...

kSenate Torture Report Condemns C.I.A. Interrogation Program
Mark Mazzetti, The New York Times | Senate Torture Report | December 9, 2014

A scathing report released by the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday found that the Central Intelligence Agency routinely misled the White House and Congress about the information it obtained from the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects, and that its methods were more brutal than the C.I.A. acknowledged either to Bush administration officials or to the public...

E-Sports At College, With Stars And Scholarships
Nick Wingfield, The New York Times | E-Sports At College | December 9, 2014

Video game competitions, also known as e-sports, have taken off on campuses across the country, including Harvard and Florida State University. More than 10,000 students now play in the biggest college league, 4,400 more than last year and 4,600 more than the number of men who play on Division I college basketball teams...

Afghanistan, We Hardly Knew You
Jonathan Foreman, The Daily Beast | Roses Of Afghanistan | December 9, 2014

It took more than a dozen years for the Afghan and NATO forces to really understand each other, but all that will soon be history...

Curiosity Rover's Quest For Clues On Mars
Kenneth Chang, The New York TImes | Rover's Quest | December 9, 2014

More than 3.5 billion years ago, a meteor slammed into Mars near its equator, carving a 96-mile depression now known as Gale Crater...

'Adventure Time' : The Trippiest Show On Television
Neil Strauss, Rolling Stone | The Trippiest Show On Television | December 8, 2014

People come to Los Angeles so they can have an experience like Pendleton Ward's: Two years after arriving, he was about to move into his car. Three years after that, he had one of the biggest cult hits on television: a rapturously surreal post-apocalyptic animated saga that has since spawned a merchandising empire, 14 million weekly viewers, a 17 million-strong Facebook following and virtually unanimous acclaim...