Daily_briefing_toon

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.

Moon Man: What Galileo Saw
Adam Gopnik | Moon Man: What Galileo Saw | February 5, 2013

Although Galileo and Shakespeare were both born in 1564, just coming up on a shared four-hundred-and-fiftieth birthday, Shakespeare never wrote a play about his contemporary. (Wise man that he was, Shakespeare never wrote a play about anyone who was alive to protest.) The founder of modern science had to wait three hundred years, but when he got his play it was a good one: Bertolt Brecht’s “Galileo,” which is the most Shakespearean of modern history plays, the most vivid and densely ambivalent. It was produced with Charles Laughton in 1947, during Brecht’s Hollywood exile, and Brecht’s image of the scientist as a worldly sensualist and ironist is hard to beat, or forget. Brecht’s Galileo steals the idea for the telescope from the Dutch, flatters the Medici into giving him a sinecure, creates two new sciences from sheer smarts and gumption—and then, threatened by the Church with torture for holding the wrong views on man’s place in the universe, he collapses, recants, and lives on in a twilight of shame...

Raid Of The Day: The 39th & Dalton Edition
Radley Balko, The Huffington Post | Raid Of The Day: The 39th & Dalton Edition | February 5, 2013

"This is war."

And with that, Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates launched "Operation Hammer" in the spring of 1988. Like a lot of overly aggressive anti-crime initiatives, the plan was a response to a real problem. Gang violence had swept Los Angeles. The rising popularity of crack cocaine had created a new black market. The main thing new markets do is unsettle existing markets. With legal goods, the new order eventually gets established with innovation, customer service, efficiency, and the quality of the competing products. With illicit goods, the new order is established with violence...

Super Bowl Commercials 2013
The Huffington Post | Super Bowl Commercials 2013 | February 4, 2013

Super Bowl commercials are no longer merely filler between the plays. Oreo, Doritos and the rest of the Super advertisers all may have felt like they had as much on the line as the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers when Super Bowl XLVII kicked off.

The trend of early releases and teases continued this year, with Kate Upton RSVPing to your Super Bowl party days before the Harbaugh brothers arrived at the Superdome on Sunday. Despite getting a sneak peek at several ads, Super Bowl viewers eagerly turned their attention -- and Twitter commentary -- toward the television at each stoppage in play yet again this year...

WATCH below to see this year's slate of Super Bowl commercials...

Remains Of King Richard III Identified
Eliza Mackintosh, The Washington Post | Remains Of King Richard III Identified | February 4, 2013

A team of archaeologists confirmed Monday that ancient remains found under a parking lot belong to long-lost King Richard III, successfully ending a search that sparked a modern-day debate about the legacy of the reputed tyrant.

Details of the findings were released hours after DNA tests came in late Sunday. The 500-year-old remains were discovered five months ago, using ancient maps and records to uncover the ruins of the old friary where Richard III was laid to rest...

The Author Himself Was A Cat In The Hat
Leslie Kaufman, The New York Times | The Author Himself Was A Cat In The Hat | February 4, 2013

The Cat wore a hat. Everyone knows that.

But so did Sam-I am, the mooing Mr. Brown and the fat fish from “One Fish, Two Fish” — a tiny yellow hat.

The Grinch disguised himself in a crinkled Santa hat.

All over Dr. Seuss’s beloved children’s books, his characters sport distinctive, colorful headwear — unless they are the kinds of creatures that have it sprouting naturally from their heads in tufted, multitiered and majestically flowing formations.

So it’s no surprise that the real Dr. Seuss, Theodor Seuss Geisel, was a hat lover himself. He collected hundreds of them, plumed, beribboned and spiked, and kept them in a closet hidden behind a bookcase in his home in the La Jolla section of San Diego...

Animal Planet's 'Puppy Bowl IX" Gets Set For Touchdown
Jessica Gelt, The Los Angeles Times | Animal Planet's 'Puppy Bowl IX" Gets Set For Touchdown | February 2, 2013

Things promise to get ruff Sunday as Animal Planet's "Puppy Bowl IX" goes snout-to-helmet with the Super Bowl for ratings gold.

 

Last year the show, which pits pound puppies against one another in a dangerously cute game of faux football using chew toys, set records for the basic cable outlet, with 8.7 million total viewers during the 12 hours it aired.

True, that's nowhere near the more than 100 million viewers the Super Bowl tackles each year, but for a day when most television channels throw in the towel and admit defeat, it's pretty good...

Global Shark Tracker
OCEARCH | Global Shark Tracker | February 2, 2013

"Having access to Mary Lee's movements is addictive. These daily observations have provided amazing insights into her behavior off the southeastern US."

-- Gregory B. Skimal, Ph.D

Massachusetts Marine Fisheries

Phreaks And Geeks: Before Steve Jobs And Steve Wozniak Invented Apple, They Hacked Phones
Geeta Dayal, Slate | Phreaks And Geeks | February 2, 2013

One of the most heartfelt—and unexpected—remembrances of Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide last month at the age of 26, came from Yale professor Edward Tufte. During a speech at a recent memorial service for Swartz in New York City, Tufte reflected on his secret past as a hacker—50 years ago.

“In 1962, my housemate and I invented the first blue box,” Tufte said to the crowd. “That’s a device that allows for undetectable, unbillable long distance telephone calls. We played around with it and the end of our research came when we completed what we thought was the longest long-distance phone call ever made, which was from Palo Alto to New York … via Hawaii.”

Tufte was never busted for his youthful forays into phone hacking, also known as phone phreaking. He rose to become one of Yale’s most famous professors, a world authority on data visualization and information design. One can’t help but think that Swartz might have followed in the distinguished footsteps of a professor like Tufte, had he lived...

Wendell Berry Expounds On Gay Marriage
Bob Allen, American Baptist Press | Wendell Berry Expounds On Gay Marriage | January 31, 2013

A Kentucky farmer, essayist, writer and activist, sometimes described as a modern-day Thoreau, criticizes theological strategies used to marginalize gays.

Christian opponents to same-sex marriage want the government to treat homosexuals as a special category of persons subject to discrimination, similar to the way that African-Americans and women were categorized in the past, cultural and economic critic Wendell Berry told Baptist ministers in Kentucky Jan. 11.

Berry, a prolific author of books, poems and essays who won the National Humanities Medal in 2010 and was 2012 Jefferson lecturer for the National Endowment for the Humanities, offered “a sort of general declaration” on the subject of gay marriage at a “Following the Call of the Church in Times Like These” conference at Georgetown College. Berry said he chose to comment publicly to elaborate on what little he has said about the topic in the past.

“I must say that it’s a little wonderful to me that in 40-odd years of taking stands on controversial issues, and at great length sometimes, the two times that I think I’ve stirred up the most passionate opposition has been with a tiny little essay on computers (his 1987 essay “Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer” published in Harper’s led some to accuse him of being anti-technology) and half a dozen or a dozen sentences on gay marriage,” Berry said...

The Surprising Connection Between Food And Fracking
Tom Philpott, Mother Jones | The Surprising Connection Between Food And Fracking | January 31, 2013

In a recent Nation piece, the wonderful Elizabeth Royte teased out the direct links between hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and the food supply. In short, extracting natural gas from rock formations by bombarding them with chemical-spiked fluid leaves behind fouled water -- and that fouled water can make it into the crops and animals we eat. But there's another, emerging food/fracking connection that few are aware of.

US agriculture is highly reliant on synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, and nitrogen fertilizer is synthesized in a process fueled by natural gas. As more and more of the US natural gas supply comes from fracking, more and more of the nitrogen fertilizer farmers use will come from fracked natural gas. If Big Ag becomes hooked on cheap fracked gas to meet its fertilizer needs, then the fossil fuel industry will have gained a powerful ally in its effort to steamroll regulation and fight back opposition to fracking projects...