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.

In Afghanistan, A U.S. Special Forces Major's Meteoric Rise And Humiliating Fall
David Wood, The World Post | Gant's Rise And Fall | March 26, 2014

A once-promising strategy for stability in Afghanistan ended badly two years ago, along with the career of its author and chief proponent, Army Special Forces Maj. Jim Gant. His gripping story is detailed in a new book, American Spartan, by Ann Scott Tyson, the former Washington Post war correspondent who interviewed him for an admiring story in late 2009. They fell in love. Tyson eventually joined Gant in an Afghan village, where he built a reputation mobilizing local tribes against the Taliban.

A tough, wiry Special Forces soldier, Gant was decorated and recommended for promotion over 22 continuous months of combat in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011. But in the end, the iconoclasm and disdain for military protocol that enabled Gant’s success were instrumental in his eventual downfall...

21 Ways Gloria Steinem Taught Us To Be Better Women
Alanna Vagianos, The Huffington Post | Steinem Lessons | March 26, 2014

Without Gloria Steinem's passionate zest for change and equality, women would not be where we are today.

To celebrate the feminist author, activist and all-around awe-inducing goddess on her 80th birthday, we've compiled some of her best quotes and lessons from over the years.

Here are 21 things Gloria has taught us...

The Art Of Doing Time
Kristin Hohenadel, Slate | The Art Of Doing Time | March 26, 2014

Designboom tipped us off to a monumental feat of ingenuity, will, and resourcefulness by Jesse Krimes, a 31-year-old artist from Philadelphia who stealthily made a 39-panel mural piece by piece using contraband prison sheets, hair gel, plastic spoons, and New York Times clippings while serving a 70-month jail sentence that ended last September...

These 22 Far Away Perspectives Of Famous Places Will Change The Way You See Them Forever
Jake Heppner, Distractify | Famous, From Afar | March 25, 2014

Many of us only know the world's most famous landmarks through images that show them in all their beautiful, historical glory. The world has changed since these structures were built, so the surrounding landscapes might not be what you'd expect...

Forest Farewell: An Ode To An Iconic Tree
Robert Sullivan, Orion Magazine | Forest Farewell | March 24, 2014

We have gathered together today, in a still-dark grove on the side of a hill, to hear a few words about hemlock. We are a small group and there are not many words. Nothing anyone can say can possibly sum up the long life of hemlock on the eastern seaboard of North America, which began about 30 million years ago and includes a long stretch of time that runs from the early Pleistocene era, as the glaciers came and went, up until the arrival from East Asia of a tiny sap-sucking bug, the hemlock woolly adelgid, which landed in the United States around the time Calvin Coolidge made it into office...

'It Wasn't Afghanistan Where He Died. It Was Right Here.
David Wood, The Huffington Post | Moral Injury | March 24, 2014

When 19-year-old Joe Schiano came home to tell his mother he was joining the Marines fighting in Afghanistan, she reacted like any mother would. She grabbed him around the throat with both hands, pushed him against the wall and yelled, “You can’t do this!


“I have given you life and I am the only one who can take life from you!”

Then she sighed and wrapped him in a bear hug...

I Was Putin's Pawn
Elizabeth Wahl, Politico | I Was Putin's Pawn | March 24, 2014

What it was like to work for the Russian propaganda machine, and why I quit on live TV...

The Overprotected Kid
Hanna Rosin, The Atlantic | The Overprotected Kid | March 23, 2014

A preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery -- without making it safer. A new kind of playground points to a better solution...

Flies That Do Calculus With Their Wings
James Gorman, The New York Times | Fly Calculus | March 20, 2014

There are lots of reasons scientists love fruit flies, but a big one is their flying ability. These almost microscopic creatures, with minimalist nervous systems and prey to every puff of wind, must often execute millisecond aerial ballets to stay aloft.

To study fly flight, scientists have to develop techniques that are almost as interesting as the flies...

Every Viking 'Fact' Is Wrong
Nico Hines, The Daily Beast | Viking Myths | March 20, 2014

Forget the funeral boats burning at sea and tales of the most bloodthirsty warriors in history. In fact, you can forget pretty much everything you think you know about the Vikings—it’s all wrong. Many of the legends associated with the Norse raiders were invented by their victims, whose written accounts dominated the narrative long after the Viking Age...