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.

The Self-Made Man
John Swansburg, Slate | The Self-Made Man | October 2, 2014

The story of America's most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth...

Beijing/Hong Kong: A Tale Of Two Cities As Demonstrations Continue
Ben Leung, The Daily Beast | Beijing/Hong Kong: Tale of Two Cities | October 1, 2014

As China's independence day arrives, the massive protests in Hong Kong unsettle the Beijing leadership and underscore the territory's hopes for political freedom.

D.C. Mystery: Jeff Bezos' Plan For The Washington Post
Dylan Byers, The Washington Post | Bezos' WaPo Plan | October 1, 2014

Jeff Bezos rarely visits The Washington Post...One year after his acquisition — Bezos purchased the Post from the Graham family, for $250 million, a year ago today, on Oct. 1, 2013 — media analysts remain puzzled by his decision to buy the paper. There has been no major digital innovation, no radical new product launch, no change to delivery or presentation, and no promise of any specific plans for the future...

Nine Attempts To Explain The Crazy Complexity Of The Middle East
Adam Taylor, The Washington Post | Middle East Complexity | October 1, 2014

The Middle East is complicated...There have been a number of increasingly complicated attempts to illustrate the web of relationships in the Middle East. Below are nine of our favorites...

Wounded Warrior Project Under Fire
Tim Mak, The Daily Beast | WWP Blowback | September 30, 2014

Is a much-touted charity for American veterans everything it says it is?

Over the past decade, the Wounded Warrior Project has emerged to become one of the celebrated charities in the country—but with its prominence comes deeper scrutiny and criticism...

'The 50-Year Argument': A Celebration Of Words That Mattered -- And Still Do
Hank Stuever, The Washington Post | 50-Year Argument | September 29, 2014

Martin Scorsese and David Tedeschi’s fond documentary “The 50 Year Argument” (airing Monday night on HBO) looks back on five decades of the venerable New York Review of Books, a twice-monthly journal of reportage, analysis and, yes, very long book reviews. The film is notably and happily absent some usual wails of agony; unlike most documentaries about journalistic enterprises, it doesn’t spend time chronicling the demise of the printed word...

You Call This Thai Food? The Robotic Taster Will Be The Judge
Thomas Fuller, The New York Times | Thai Food Robot | September 29, 2014

Hopscotching the globe as Thailand’s prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra repeatedly encountered a distressing problem: bad Thai food.Too often, she found, the meals she sampled at Thai restaurants abroad were unworthy of the name, too bland to be called genuine Thai cooking. The problem bothered her enough to raise it at a cabinet meeting.

Her political party has since been thrown out of office, in a May military coup, but her initiative in culinary diplomacy lives on. At a gala dinner at a ritzy Bangkok hotel on Tuesday the government will unveil its project to standardize the art of Thai food — with a robot...

Coffee Is Killing Your Productivity
Laura Montini, Inc. via Slate | Coffee Buzzkill | September 29, 2014

You already know that caffeine is a drug, but really thinking about what that means in terms of physiological effects on your body can be a little alarming...

Why Saturday Night Live Writers Lean On Kenan Thompson
Bryan Tucker, Slate | The Way Of Kenan | September 26, 2014

Here’s a secret. If you’re a Saturday Night Live writer, and you want to get an extra laugh in your script, just add this line: “KENAN REACTS.” Sure, it’s sort of cheating. But we still do it sometimes. Because it works...

Hunting for the Source of the World's Most Beguiling Folk Music
Amanda Petrusich, The New York Times Magazine | The World's Most Beguiling Folk Music | September 25, 2014

On Sept. 20, 1926, the Greek violinist Alexis Zoumbas recorded one of the most devastating bits of music I’ve ever encountered. The song, “Epirotiko Mirologi,” is a pentatonic lament — mirologi — that, for millenniums, has been sung beside fresh graves in Epirus, a historically contentious chunk of land on the Greek-Albanian border...