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.

Regina Spektor Has Piano, Will Travel
Wyatt Mason, The New York Times | Regina Spektor Has Piano, Will Travel | May 17, 2012

Regina Spektor had warned me that she wouldn’t let me hear her sing. Now we were sitting outside the L.A. studio of her producer, Mike Elizondo, where she’d been laying down initial tracks of piano and voice for her sixth solo record, “What We Saw from the Cheap Seats.” And still she wouldn’t budge.

“Everybody who’s ever made records feels that way,” Spektor explained. “You’re in a room and you’re working on it and it’s just an engineer and a producer. And then someone comes over, and you play the song for them. The way you hear it in that instant is very different than how you’ve been listening to it. If you do it really early you interrupt the process with other frequencies. It’s almost like a certain kind of coat of color. You can’t take it off once you’ve listened to something with a stranger in the room. And at that point everybody’s a stranger. It could be your mom.”...


3-D Printing's Radical New World
Dennis Draeger, Alternet | 3-D Printing's Radical New World | May 16, 2012

3-D printing is a hot topic right now, especially with reports of this incredible technology entering the consumer marketplace. The prices are dropping as more companies attempt consumer-grade machines. Is it time to start looking forward to a time when we all have a Star Trek-like replicator at home to produce everything we want, when we want it?...

Reaching for Zen With Each Stroke and Lap
Jane E. Brody, The New York Times | Reaching for Zen With Each Stroke and Lap | May 16, 2012

“Swimming is my salvation,” Ms. Sherr writes. “Swimming stretches my body beyond earthly limits, helping to soothe every ache and caress every muscle. But it is also an inward journey, a time of quiet contemplation, when, encased in an element at once hostile and familiar, I find myself at peace, able — and eager — to flex my mind, imagine new possibilities, to work things out without the startling interruptions of human voice or modern life. The silence is stunning.”...

New Drug Trial Seeks to Stop Alzheimer's Before It Starts
Pam Belluck, The New York Times | New Drug Trial Seeks to Stop Lazheimer's Before It Starts | May 16, 2012

In a clinical trial that could lead to treatments that prevent Alzheimer’s, people who are genetically guaranteed to develop the disease — but who do not yet have any symptoms — will for the first time be given a drug intended to stop it, federal officials announced Tuesday.

Experts say the study will be one of the few ever conducted to test prevention treatments for any genetically predestined disease. For Alzheimer’s, the trial is unprecedented, “the first to focus on people who are cognitively normal but at very high risk for Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.//

Joe Bastianich Invented the 'Everything' Bagel?
Tim Carman, The Washington Post | Joe Bastianich Invented the 'Everything' Bagel? | May 15, 2012

Among the books that I currently have at my bedside and dip into when I’m a) not futzing around on Twitter, b) not futzing around with game apps on my iPhone, c) not futzing around in the kitchen or d) not asleep is a copy of Joe Bastianich’s just released memoir, “Restaurant Man” (Viking). The book is a raw, throbbing nerve of a biography: If Bastianich has any intellectual filters, he checks them at the door here, and “Restaurant Man” is the better for it. This memoir is not for the politically correct, the morally rigid or the manicured-fingernail crowd that doesn’t want to see, let alone read about, the seedy, shiv-your-sister-for-good-ingredients underbelly of the high-functioning, high-stress hospitality industry...

A Generation Hobbled by the Soaring Cost of College
Andrew Martin and Andrew W. Lehren, The New York Times | A Generation Hobbled by the Soaring Cost of College | May 15, 2012

Kelsey Griffith graduates on Sunday from Ohio Northern University. To start paying off her $120,000 in student debt, she is already working two restaurant jobs and will soon give up her apartment here to live with her parents. Her mother, who co-signed on the loans, is taking out a life insurance policy on her daughter. “If anything ever happened, God forbid, that is my debt also,” said Ms. Griffith’s mother, Marlene Griffith...

'The Ocean of Life' - And the Sorrow Beneath the Sea
Callum Roberts, Newsweek | 'The Ocean of Life' - And the Sorrow Beneath the Sea | May 15, 2012

Imagine an underwater world without whales, sharks, and dolphins, where jellyfish and algae rule. It's already happening, says marine biologist Callum Roberts in his new book, The Ocean of Life...

Legendary Bass Player 'Duck' Dunn of Booker T and the MGs Dies inTokyo at Age 70

Donald “Duck” Dunn, the bassist who helped create the gritty Memphis soul sound at Stax Records in the 1960s as part of the legendary group Booker T. and the MGs and contributed to such classics as “In the Midnight Hour,” ‘’Hold On, I’m Coming” and “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” died Sunday at 70. Dunn, whose legacy as one of the most respected session musicians in the business also included work with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd’s Blues Brothers as well as with Levon Helm, Eric Clapton, Neil Young and Bob Dylan, died while on tour in Tokyo...

Do Toms Shoes Really Help People?
Kiera Butler, Mother Jones | Do Toms Shoes Really Help People? | May 14, 2012

When Toms—a company that, for every pair of shoes you buy, gives a pair to someone in the developing world—was founded in 2006, shoe hoarders rejoiced: A robust collection of kicks was no longer reason for your friends to compare you to a certain Filipina dictator—oh, no! A pile of Toms canvas sneakers and wedge heels actually added to your do-gooder cred. According to its website, by September 2010 Toms had given away more than a million shoes. Toms has since expanded; in addition to shoes it now sells glasses under the same model...

Andrew Sullivan on Barack Obama: The First Gay President
Andrew Sullivan, Newsweek | Andrew Sullivan on Barack Obama: The First Gay President | May 14, 2012

The president's bold support shifted the mainstream. Andrew Sullivan on why it shouldn't be surprising -- Obama's life as a biracial man has deep ties to the gay experience...