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.

Recycling Hotel Soap to Save Lives
Ebonne Ruffins, CNN | Recycling Hotel Soap to Save Lives | June 18, 2011

That bar of soap you used once or twice during your last hotel stay might now be helping poor children fight disease.

Derreck Kayongo and his Atlanta-based Global Soap Project collect used hotel soap from across the United States. Instead of ending up in landfills, the soaps are cleaned and reprocessed for shipment to impoverished nations such as Haiti, Uganda, Kenya and Swaziland...

Extra Vitamins? A Great Idea, Except in Denmark
John Tagliabue, The New York Times | Extra Vitamins? A Great Idea, Except in Denmark | June 18, 2011

For the last seven years, Marianne Orum has owned a narrow store in a charming street in the heart of this Danish capital. A sign advertises “British and South African Food and Drink.” The shelves are lined with products familiar to most Americans, like Betty Crocker Pancake Mix, but also more exotic items...

Joe Biden: Schmoozer-in-Chief
Ben Smith, Politico | http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0611/57148.html | June 17, 2011

When a technical glitch allowed a radio reporter to overhear President Barack Obama’s words at a private fundraiser, an eager White House press corps was crestfallen to learn the disciplined president was saying exactly the same thing in private as he does in public.

Joe Biden … well, not so much...

Bin Laden's Replacement
Bruce Riedel, The Daily Beast | Bin Laden's Replacement | June 17, 2011

More than six weeks after bin Laden's death, Al Qaeda finally announces that his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is taking over. Bruce Riedel assesses the threat the terrorist group's new leader poses...

Saudi Women Protest Driving Ban
AP, The New York Times | Saudi Women Protest Driving Ban | June 17, 2011

Several Saudi women boldly got behind the wheel Friday, including one who managed a 45-minute trip through the nation's capital, seeking to ignite a road rebellion against the male-only driving rules in the ultraconservative kingdom...

Vancouver Riots 2011: Fires Rage As Canucks Lose Stanley Cup
Craig Kanalley, The Huffington Post | 2011: Fires Rage As Canucks Lose Stanley Cup | June 16, 2011

The worst nightmare for Vancouver is coming true.

Not only did the city's beloved Canucks lose in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final, it was shut out 4-0. Now a scene reminiscent of 1994 has emerged, when the city rioted under similar circumstances, with random fires, flipped cars, pole climbing, and riot police...

Pakistan Arrests C.I.A. Informants in Bin Laden Raid
Eric Schmitt and Mark Mazzetti, The New York Times | Pakistan Arrests C.I.A. Informants in Bin Laden Raid | June 15, 2011

Pakistan’s top military spy agency has arrested some of the Pakistani informants who fed information to the Central Intelligence Agency in the months leading up to the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, according to American officials...

Whimsical Works of Art, Found Sticking to the Sidewalk
Saray Lyall, The New York Times | Whimsical Works of Art, Found Sticking to the Sidewalk | June 14, 2011

When first exposed to the art of Ben Wilson, or to Mr. Wilson in the act of creating it, people tend to respond with some degree of puzzlement. “When I first saw one, I thought it was a fruit sticker,” said Matt Brasier, who was walking through this north London suburb the other day...

Bubble Trouble
Jacob Weisberg, Slate | Buggle Trouble | June 13, 2011

It's now possible to imagine a world in which every person creates his own mental fortress and apprehends the outside world through digital arrow-slits...

When Hard Books Disappear
Kevin Kelly, The Technium | When Hard Books Disappear | June 13, 2011

Hard books are on their way to extinction.

Biologists maintain a concept call a "type specimen." Every species of living organism has many individuals of noticeable variety. There are millions of Robins in America, for instance, all of them each express the Robin-ness found in the type of bird we have named Turdus migratorius. But if we need to scientifically describe another bird as being "like a Robin" or maybe "just a Robin" which of those millions of Robins should we compare it to?

Biologists solve this problem by arbitrarily designating one found individual to be representative and archetypical of the entire species. It is the archetype, or the "type specimen," of that form. There is nothing special about that chosen specimen; in fact that's the whole idea: it should be typical. But once chosen this average specimen becomes the canonical example that is used to compare other forms. Every species in botany and zoology has a physical type specimen preserved in a museum somewhere.

Books and other media creations are now getting their type specimen archive.