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.

Attack Dog
Jane Mayer, The New Yorker | Attack Dog | February 18, 2012

The creator of the Willie Horton ad is going all out for Mitt Romney...

Eugene Hoskins Is His Name

Eugene Hoskins is his name. He lives at Oxford, Miss., a University place of about three thousand people. He is well known about town for his eccentricities.” Thus begins the 1920 account of a 24-year-old black man whose constellation of neuropsychological symptoms—that is to say, his “eccentricities”—are now immediately recognizable as those of an autistic savant. Remarking on his “uncanny knowledge of dates,” the case report relates how “a bystander said to him: ‘I was married on the 8th of June, 1901.’ Without a moment’s hesitation Eugene said: ‘Dat was a Satu’day.’ Given the month, day and year, he will give the day of the week. He never fails, never hesitates. Vary if you will by giving the year and month and asking what day of the month was the second Tuesday, or the fourth Friday—he answers just the same.”...

Shell Clears Major Hurdle in Its Bid for New Arctic Drilling
John M. Broder and Clifford Krauss, The New York Times | Shell Clears Major Hurdle in Its Bid for New Arctic Drilling | February 18, 2012

In a crucial step toward the ultimate approval of new oil drilling off the North Slope of Alaska, the Interior Department on Friday tentatively approved Shell’s plans for responding to a potential spill in the frigid Arctic waters...

At Work in Syria, Times Correspondent Dies
Rick Gladstone, The New York Times | At Work in Syria, Times Correspondent Dies | February 17, 2012

Anthony Shadid, a gifted foreign correspondent whose graceful dispatches for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and The Associated Press covered nearly two decades of Middle East conflict and turmoil, died, apparently of an asthma attack, on Thursday while on a reporting assignment in Syria. Tyler Hicks, a Times photographer who was with Mr. Shadid, carried his body across the border to Turkey....

Bonding With Horses
Forrest Wickman, Slate | Bonding With Horses | February 16, 2012

Two horses that stumbled while filming racing sequences for the first and seventh episodes of HBO’s Luck were deemed inoperable and euthanized. Dead and dying horses are often said to be “sent to the glue factory.” Why are horses good for making glue?...

Tiniest Chameleon, Brookesia Micra, Discovered On Madagascar Island
Andrea Mustain on OurAmazingPlanet via Huffington Post | Tiniest Chameleon, Brookesia Micra, Discovered On Madagascar Island | February 16, 2012

A species of chameleon small enough to easily perch on a match head has been discovered on a tiny island off Madagascar, a group of scientists has announced.

In addition to the discovery of Brookesia micra, now the tiniest chameleon ever discovered, the researchers also announced the discovery of three additional tiny chameleon species...

Obama's White Whale
Sasha Issenberg, Slate | Obama's White Whale | February 15, 2012

How the campaign's top-secret project Narwhal could change this race, and many to come...

Nothing But Net -- And Hotter Than Tiger Balm
Mark McDonald, The International Herald Tribune | Nothing But Net -- And Hotter Than Tiger Balm | February 15, 2012

We’re thinking that a diktat will soon come around from the schoolmarms and ayatollahs of All Things Hip, declaring that “Linsanity” is already passé, overdone, uncool.

For now, though, we’re staying with it, especially because the remarkable Jeremy Lin won a game for the New York Knicks on Tuesday night, draining a three-pointer just before the buzzer. Nothing but net. Hotter than Tiger Balm...

Walter Isaacson's 'Steve Jobs'
John Gruber, Daring Fireball | Walter Isaacson's 'Steve Jobs' | February 15, 2012

What is Apple at heart: a software company, or hardware company?

This is a perennial question. The truth, of course, is that Apple is neither. Apple is an experience company. That they create both hardware and software is part of creating the entire product experience...

Huichol 'Cosmic Portal' Peyote Ceremonies Threatened by Silver Mine
William Booth, The Washington Post | Huichol 'Cosmic Portal' Peyote Ceremonies Threatened by Silver Mine | February 14, 2012

For the Huichol Indians, the desert mountains here are sacred, a cosmic portal with major mojo, where shamans collect the peyote that fuels the waking dreams that hold the universe together.

For a Canadian mining company, these same hills look like a billion dollars worth of buried silver

.In a stark collision of cultures, the famously mystical Huichol are trying to stop a $100 million, 15-year mining project from starting this year...