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.

Sunny Days Are Here Again -- But Is That Good?
NPR Staff, National Public Radio | Sunny Days Are Here Again -- But Is That Good? | April 8, 2012

Across the country, more than 7,700 daily temperature records were broken last month, on the heels of the fourth warmest winter on record.

While it might be time to lie on a blanket in the park, climate scientists are worried. They say all these sunny days are actually an extreme weather event, one with local and global implications.

In Iowa, March was so hot — a record-breaking 84 degrees — that some crops there, like oats, are now running way ahead of schedule.

Joe Prusacki, a statistician with the Department of Agriculture, says this time of year Iowa usually has just 7 percent of its oats planted.

"Right now, they're at 58 percent planted," Prusacki says...

Why the Old-School Music Snob Is the Least Cool Kid on Twitter
Alexandra Molotkow, The New York Times Magazine | Why the Old-School Music Snob Is the Least Cool Kid on Twitter | April 8, 2012

My friend Lily and I met in 2004 at a showcase for a record label that bartered cassette tapes in exchange for things like drawings and telling jokes. I was there to perform some songs I had recorded on my dad’s four-track using chopsticks for drumsticks; Lily was there to support her boyfriend, who was playing in a band led by our mutual friend’s 13-year-old brother. We hit it off, and after that we often went together to see bands play in local out-of-the-way venues, like the dilapidated shack down an alleyway or the basement nightclub that was perpetually flooded with toilet water. The bands were often lousy, but that didn’t matter to us. What mattered to us was that no one else knew anything about them...

Unconventional Charity: Water Aims to Raise $2 Billion For Clean Water
Cody Switzer, The Christian Science Monitor | Unconventional Charity: Water Aims to Raise $2 Billion For Clean Water | April 8, 2012

Scott Harrison, the founder of Charity: Water, takes an unconventional approach to bringing clean water to millions of people. Among his ideas: Put 100 percent of donations directly into projects -- and look to entrepreneurs, not other charities, for great ideas...

The Caricature-In-Chief
Steve Kornacki, Salon | The Caricature-in-Chief | April 6, 2012

With its hysteria over Obama and the courts, the right continues to attack a president who doesn't actually exist...

A Secret Plot in Syria
Andy Warner, Slate | A Secret Plot in Syria | April 6, 2012

An illustrated account of the 1949 coup -- possibly CIA-assisted -- that plunged the country into decades of political turmoil...

Are You Scientifically Literate? Take Our Quiz
Eoin O'Carroll, The Christian Science Monitor | Are You Scientifically Literate? Take Our Quiz | April 6, 2012

You may have an opinion on climate change, evolution education, stem-cell research, and science funding. But do you have the facts? This quiz will test your basic scientific literacy...

Today's Pictures: Baseball Season
Magnum Photos, Slate | Today's Pictures: Baseball Season | April 5, 2012

It's opening week of the American baseball season! We're taking a look at the international nature of the game...

Jim Marshall, Founder of Marshall Amps, Dies at 88
Associated Press | Jim Marshall, Founder of Marshall Amps, Dies at 88 | April 5, 2012

Jim Marshall was long associated with the heavy guitar sounds his amps helped popularize in the 1960s, when Pete Townshend of The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and others turned to stacks of Marshall amps to create a thunderous hard rock sound.

He was not looking for musical precision in his amplifiers, but wanted a sound that conveyed raw, fuzzy power. Aficionados credit him with developing the "amp stack" that allowed garage bands to make a powerful noise in small dance halls and gymnasiums...

World's Largest Suspension Bridge Opens
The Huffington Post | World's Largest Suspension Bridge Opens | April 5, 2012

The world's longest suspension bridge--Aizhai--opened in China on March 31.

The bridge connects two cities--Chongqing Municipality to Changsha city--and runs a whopping 3,858 feet, and uses 2 tunnels, according to The Daily News.

Travel time between the two cities, which used to be several days, has been cut to only eight hours. Construction on the bridge took 4 years...

The Memo Bush Tried To Destroy
Jordan Michael Smith, Salon | The Memo Bush Tried To Destroy | April 4, 2012

In February of 2006, Philip Zelikow, Counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, authored a memo opposing the Bush administration’s torture practices (though he employed the infamous obfuscation of “enhanced interrogation techniques”). The White House tried to collect and destroy all copies of the memo, but one survived in the State Department’s bowels and was declassified yesterday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the National Security Archive...