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.

Leonard Cohen Rocks Madison Square Garden
Margie Goldsmith, The Huffington Post | Leonard Cohen Rocks Madison Square Garden | December 21, 2012

Last night, 20,000 of us in the audience sat mesmerized, collectively holding our breath as Leonard Cohen, performing his Old Ideas World Tour 2012, sang "Bird on the Wire" at Madison Square Garden. Except for Cohen's low gravely voice, the Garden was so silent you could have heard a finger slide across an iPhone. He was the preacher, the stage was his altar and the venue was his cathedral. The backdrop was a wall of silk curtains which rose from the floor to the rafters and changed colors with each song. The sound system was so perfect you could hear each syllable and chord from everywhere in the Garden.

Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free...

Witnessing Grief And Compassion In Newtown
Jeff Benedict | Witnessing Grief And Compassion In Newtown | December 21, 2012

Dave Checketts is not a professionally trained clergyman. The former chairman of Madison Square Garden and the New York Knicks is currently CEO of Legends Hospitality, the concessions and merchandise company he jointly owns with the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys.

But he's also a lay minister for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with oversight of 10 Mormon congregations in Fairfield County, Conn., including the one in Newtown.

On Friday morning, Checketts had left his New Canaan, Conn., home and headed to his Park Avenue office to prepare for a weekend business trip to Dallas for Sunday's Cowboys-Steelers game. He and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones planned to host a group of new investors. But late morning he got an email about a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. From his laptop, he accessed the church records for Mormon families in Newtown. Five of them had children that attended the school...

1.2 Million Years Of Porn Watched Since 2006 On Just Two Sites: Report
Weird News, Huffington Post | 1.2 Million Years Of Porn Watched Since 2006 On Just Two Sites: Report | December 20, 2012

With all the porn watching humanity has been doing, it's a wonder we ever do anything else.

The search engine PornWatchers.com (warning: if you go there, you will see porn) released a report that claims people have watched 1.2 million years worth of porn since 2006 — and that's based on data from just two porn sites...

The Best Astronomy Images Of 2012
Phil Plait, Slate | The Best Astronomy Images of 2012 | December 20, 2012

The Universe is beautiful.

Which is interesting. It doesn’t have to be; it could be all colorless and weird and lumpy. Instead, it’s bursting with color, sculpted by vast forces, molded into fantastic shapes that please our eyes and delight our brains—especially once we understand what we’re seeing.

Every December I pick my favorite images from the previous year to display, a task that is extraordinarily difficult. I always wind up with a list of about 60 or 70, and I have to cull it down mercilessly. Such is the case this year again, and I could pare it only to 21, a score and more of gorgeousness for you to soak in. I choose the pictures not just for their beauty but also because they are interesting, and different—ones that stand out from the crowd somehow. I usually put them in order with my favorite one last, but this year I just can’t. I’ll let you know my favorite when you get to it—I expect you’ll agree—but other than that it’s just a dead tie...

The World's Worst War
Jeffrey Gettleman, The New York Times | The World's Worst War | December 20, 2012

Last month, as I was driving down a backbreaking road between Goma, a provincial capital in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Kibumba, a little market town about 20 miles away, I came upon the body of a Congolese soldier. He was on his back, half hidden in the bushes, his legs crumpled beneath him, his fly-covered face looking up at the sun. The strangest thing was, four years ago, almost to the day, I saw a corpse of a Congolese soldier in that exact same spot. He had been killed and left to rot just as his comrade would be four years later, in the vain attempt to stop a rebel force from marching down the road from Kibumba to Goma. The circumstances were nearly identical: a group of Tutsi-led rebels, widely believed to be backed by Rwanda, eviscerating a feckless, alcoholic government army that didn’t even bother to scoop up its dead...

Readers Weigh In After Newtown: Why Own A Gun?
Matthew DeLuca, The Daily Beast | Readers Weigh In After Newtown: Why Own A Gun? | December 19, 2012

In the wake of a horrific school shooting in Newtown, Conn., lawmakers and activists have come forward to demand a serious discussion about gun control in America. The National Rifle Association has been silent, while the president has said we have an “obligation” to try to prevent another massacre at the hands of a crazed gunman.

But who actually owns guns in America—and why? Surely, they can’t all be Adam Lanzas.

To find out, we asked our readers a simple question: Why do you own a gun? And if you don’t own a gun, why not?...
So You Think You Know The Second Amendment?
Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker | So You Think You Know The Second Amendment? | December 18, 2012

Does the Second Amendment prevent Congress from passing gun-control laws? The question, which is suddenly pressing, in light of the reaction to the school massacre in Newtown, is rooted in politics as much as law.

For more than a hundred years, the answer was clear, even if the words of the amendment itself were not. The text of the amendment is divided into two clauses and is, as a whole, ungrammatical: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” The courts had found that the first part, the “militia clause,” trumped the second part, the “bear arms” clause. In other words, according to the Supreme Court, and the lower courts as well, the amendment conferred on state militias a right to bear arms—but did not give individuals a right to own or carry a weapon...

I Am Facebook Friends With Ryan Lanza, Which Became A Problem
Matt Bors, Bors Blog | I Am Facebook Friends With Ryan Lanza, Which Became A Problem | December 18, 2012

I woke up late Friday morning and posted my latest comic before realizing no one would be talking about it or any other issue that day except the latest massacre unfolding before our eyes – this time involving children. Not “this time.” I mean “again.” As I had done not one week earlier when there was a mass shooting a few miles from my home in Portland, I watched the real time updates, trying to wrap my mind around being a part of the human race.


CNN named Ryan Lanza as the suspect before noon based on a police source. Within minutes, journalists at several outlets were not only reporting the name, but passing around a link to Ryan’s Facebook account. And people I knew were suddenly telling me, dude, you are Facebook friends with the suspect...

'I Am Adam Lanza's Mother': A Mom's Perspective On The Mental Illness Conversation In America
Liza Long, The Blue Review via HuffPost Parents | 'I Am Adam Lanza's Mother': A Mom's Perspective On The Mental Illness Conversation In America | December 17, 2012

Three days before 20 year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, then opened fire on a classroom full of Connecticut kindergartners, my 13-year old son Michael (name changed) missed his bus because he was wearing the wrong color pants.

“I can wear these pants,” he said, his tone increasingly belligerent, the black-hole pupils of his eyes swallowing the blue irises.

“They are navy blue,” I told him. “Your school’s dress code says black or khaki pants only.”

“They told me I could wear these,” he insisted. “You’re a stupid bitch. I can wear whatever pants I want to. This is America. I have rights!”

“You can’t wear whatever pants you want to,” I said, my tone affable, reasonable. “And you definitely cannot call me a stupid bitch. You’re grounded from electronics for the rest of the day. Now get in the car, and I will take you to school.”

I live with a son who is mentally ill. I love my son. But he terrifies me...

Tradition Comforts Village Widows
Jessica Heffner, Dayton Daily News | Tradition Comforts Village Widows | December 14, 2012

At 31, lifetime Yellow Springs resident Ann Miles never knew Wheeling Gaunt or his legacy. But when she suddenly became a widow, the man who died more than 100 years ago became a comfort in her life.

“You can’t plan a tragedy. It was really rough. I was a housewife (with two kids) when my husband passed,” Miles said.

When she got a call that the village’s utility department would deliver flour and sugar to her door, she didn’t know what to think. But she understood what it meant to receive kindness from a stranger — one who’s been offering it for the past 118 years.

The tradition dates back to a deal struck between Gaunt, a former slave, and the village in 1894...