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.

Awesome Telescope Sheds New Light on Cosmos
Craig Johnson, CNN | Awesome Telescope Sheds New Light on Cosmos | June 8, 2011

From a mountaintop in northern Chile, the largest visible-light telescope in the world has captured stunning images of the cosmos in never-before-seen detail. The Paranal Observatory released initial images Wednesday from the powerful VLT Survey Telescope...

Coming Soon: The Palin Emails
David Corn, Mother Jones | Coming Soon: The Palin Emails | June 8, 2011

Ready for some real summer reading? Mother Jones, msnbc.com, and ProPublica will be unveiling a searchable database containing 24,000-plus pages of correspondence. During the 2008 presidential campaign, I filed a request under Alaska's open records law, for all—yes, all—of Palin's gubernatorial emails. Other journalists and citizen activists later did the same. And after many delays—see here and here—the state is finally preparing to release those emails, probably within the next week or so. But not all of the emails from Palin's half-term as governor will be made public...

When Cowboys Cry: In Today's Wild West, Energy Corporations Are the New Outlaws
Sandra Steingraber, Orion Magazine | When Cowboys Cry | June 8, 2011


LAST NOVEMBER, at the annual meeting of the Northern Plains Resource Council, which took place in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Billings, Montana, I watched a cowboy cry.

As someone born east of the Mississippi, I’m aware that I may have my vocabulary words mixed up here. The crying man called himself a rancher, not a cowboy. But he had the hat. The legs in the blue jeans were bowed. And he said things like, Sometimes you have to ride with the brand, and sometimes you have to speak yer mind.

Which sounded like cowboy talk to me...

Live and Learn: Why We Have College
Louis Menand, The New Yorker | Live and Learn: Why We Have College | June 7, 2011

My first job as a professor was at an Ivy League university. The students were happy to be taught, and we, their teachers, were happy to be teaching them. Whatever portion of their time and energy was being eaten up by social commitments—which may have been huge, but about which I was ignorant—they seemed earnestly and unproblematically engaged with the academic experience. If I was naïve about this, they were gracious enough not to disabuse me. None of us ever questioned the importance of what we were doing...

Brain Calisthenics for Abstract Ideas
Benedict Carey, The New York Times | Brain Calisthenics for Abstract Ideas | June 7, 2011

Like any other high school junior, Wynn Haimer has a few holes in his academic game. Graphs and equations, for instance: He gets the idea, fine — one is a linear representation of the other — but making those conversions is often a headache. Or at least it was. For about a month now, Wynn, 17, has been practicing at home using an unusual online program that prompts him to match graphs to equations, dozens upon dozens of them, and fast, often before he has time to work out the correct answer...

World Science Festival
Casey Schwartz, The Daily Beast | World Science Festival | June 7, 2011

For the last four days, the World Science Festival—an eclectic and lustrous gathering of scientists, writers, artists, and celebrities—has descended on Manhattan, attracting thousands of participants to forums on science's newest, hottest findings...

Scientists 'Trap' and Study Elusive Anti-Matter

Scientists have trapped and stored antihydrogen atoms for a record 16 minutes, a stunning technical feat that promises deeper insights into the mysteries of anti-matter...

Invasion of the Boozy Brides: A Hen Night Is No Longer an Innocent Rite of Passage... It's Now Very Different
Penny Marshall, DailyMail | Invasion of the Boozy Brides | June 6, 2011

When Lucy gets married next week, she wants to walk down the aisle with flowers in her hair. 'I want to be a beautiful bride, a real lady,' she slurs. 'Just like Kate Middleton.' But there is nothing ladylike about Lucy tonight. Dressed as a French maid and waving a flashing plastic sex toy at me, she is reeling drunk. Instead of flowers in her hair, the young bride-to-be has tied condoms to her locks. 'I feel like a princess!' she says, before stumbling and falling flat on her face on a pavement already sticky with spilt booze...

U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Pays High Price For Afghan Surge Year
Kristin M. Hall, Huffington Post | U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Pays High Price For Afghan Surge Year | June 6, 2011

The soldiers of the Army's famed 101st Airborne Division deployed to Afghanistan confident their counterinsurgency expertise would once again turn a surge strategy into a success but are headed home uncertain of lasting changes on the battlefield. As the division's 24,000 soldiers return to Fort Campbell from their one-year deployment, doubts remain in the military that security in Afghanistan can last without a significant U.S. military presence for years. The division brought effective counterinsurgency lessons from Iraq, but is still waiting to see whether those strategies can take hold in Afghanistan...

AIDS at 30: Strides in Care, Focus on Prevention
Erin Allday, San Francisco Chronicle | AIDS at 30: Strides in Care, Focus on Prevention | June 6, 2011

When Michael Siever was diagnosed with HIV nearly 20 years ago, he assumed it was a death sentence. He never thought he'd make it to 2000. He certainly never thought that in 2011 - approaching the 30th anniversary of the AIDS epidemic - that he'd be a relatively healthy 61-year-old man, sitting in an auditorium listening to people talk enthusiastically about how there would be a cure for AIDS someday...