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.

Behind Kanye's Mask
Jon Caramanica, The New York Times | Behind Kanye's Mask | June 13, 2013

From Shangri-la Studio here you can see the Pacific Ocean just over the fence lapping calmly at Zuma Beach. And this compound is just as Zen, with recording equipment set up in various locations, including an old bus and a spotless white house with all the mirrors removed.

But there is no rest at Shangri-la, at least for Kanye West. For several days in late May and early June, he and a rotating group of intimates, collaborators and hangers-on were holed up in service of finishing “Yeezus” (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam), Mr. West’s sixth solo album, out Tuesday, and one that marks a turn away from his reliable maximalism to something more urgent and visceral...

My Grateful Dead
Joanna Colangelo, The Huffington Post | My Grateful Dead | June 12, 2013

The passing of time has always struck me by its strange subjectivity and distortion. It's that warped sense of years that seem like eternities as a child, but the older we get, months blend into each other and the swiftness with which the years pass can be terrifying. I've done my best to avoid marking time, instead, opting to think that each month is only a continuation of the day before. But every June reminds me of another passing year, right when the cool summer evening breezes are preparing to turn into hot July nights. These are the nights of a distinct, and now distant, time and place that lives on through a wistful blend of music and memories. These are the nights that I miss the Grateful Dead -- "my" Grateful Dead -- the most...

Tiny Patients, Major Goals
Gina Kolata, The New York Times | Tiny Patients, Major Goals | June 11, 2013

Here at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a black mouse lies on a miniature exam table, his tail dangling off the end. A plastic tube carries anesthetic to his nose and mouth. He is asleep.

Before he was born, the mouse was injected with two mutated genes often found in human prostate cancer. As he lies on the table, a technician is measuring his two-millimeter prostate tumor with a petite ultrasound machine — the very exam a man would undergo, only on a dollhouse scale...

Nature's Trespassers
Ian Winstanley, Intelligent Life (via The Dish) | Nature's Trespassers | June 11, 2013

Are weeds a category of plants or of human reflex? Are they a cultural creation more than a biological one? We might, as house-proud gardeners or municipal jobsworths or agri-businesspeople, dream of a world without them, but we don’t often pause to think why they are there, or what our planet might be like without them. Rather brown, probably. Rather damaged and impoverished, certainly. Take out all weeds and we’d not have the wild grass that was developed into wheat and led to the birth of civilisation. We’d have no Velcro, inspired by the hooked fruits of burdock and their obstinate clinginess to dog’s fur. Gardens would have no sweet violets, or Shirley poppies, or variegated ivies. At least half the world’s medicinal substances, from gripe-water to morphine, would never have been discovered. And gone would be the child’s lingua franca of daisy chains, dandelion clocks, Chinese-burn grasses...

Daniel Ellsberg Calls Edward Snowden A 'Hero"
Jack Mirkinson, The Huffington Post | Daniel Ellsberg Calls Edward Snowden A 'Hero' | June 10, 2013

By publicly identifying himself as the leaker behind last week's NSA revelations, Edward Snowden has secured his place in media and political history.

ABC News called the leak "one of the greatest national security leaks in recent American history," and in publishing his identity, the Guardian compared Snowden, a 29-year-old contractor with the NSA, to Daniel Ellsberg, perhaps the most famous leaker in history. It was almost exactly 42 years earlier, on June 13th, 1971, that the first batch of the Pentagon Papers were published in the New York Times...

Blogger, With Focus On Surveillance, Is At Center Of A Debate
Noam Cohen and Leslie Kaufman, The New York Times | Blogger, With Focus On Surveillance, Is At Center Of A Debate | June 7, 2013

After writing intensely, even obsessively, for years about government surveillance and the prosecution of journalists, Glenn Greenwald has suddenly put himself directly at the intersection of those two issues, and perhaps in the cross hairs of federal prosecutors.

Late Wednesday, Mr. Greenwald, a lawyer and longtime blogger, published an article in the British newspaper The Guardian about the existence of a top-secret court order allowing the National Security Agency to monitor millions of telephone logs...

Answering Harvard's Question About My Personal Life, 52 Years Later
Phyllis Richman, The Washington Post | Answering Harvard's Question About My Personal Life, 52 Years Later | June 7, 2013

"...Our experience, even with brilliant students, has been that married women find it difficult to carry out worthwhile careers in planning, and hence tend to have some feeling of waste about the time and effort spent in professional education. (This is, of course, true of almost all graduate professional studies.)

Therefore, for your own benefit, and to aid us in coming to a final decision, could you kindly write us a page or two at your earliest convenience indicating specifically how you might plan to combine a professional life in city planning with your responsibilities to your husband and a possible future family?"...

Discovered At 64, A Brooklyn Artist Takes His Place
Jim Dwyer, The New York Times | Discovered At 64, A Brooklyn Artist Takes His Place | June 7, 2013

Rafael Leonardo Black, hermit and artist in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, keeps all his tools in elbow’s reach in the studio where he lives. A coffee mug with nine No. 2 pencils, each razor-whetted to the sharpness of a spear. A single brand of tracing paper. Shelves of art books, surrealists mostly.

In a shoe box of clippings is a photograph of three beautiful women that he cut out of a Vogue magazine in 1968 and used for a drawing in 2005. The drawing was sold last month.

For more than three decades, Mr. Black, 64, has made a portal to the world in dense, miniature renderings of ancient myth and modern figures...

Photos: The Allied Invasion Of Normandy

The Allies stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944. Here American troops hiat the water from one of the landing craft. Soldiers on shore are lying flat under German machine gun fire...

As Vandals Deface U.S. Parks, Some Point To Online Show-Offs
Felicity Barringer, The New York Times | As Vandals Deface U.S. Parks, Some Point To Online Show-Offs | June 6, 2013

When Steve Bolyard checked out a report of black paint on some of the park’s majestic saguaros — cactuses whose towering bodies and upraised arms are as emblematic of the American West as red-rock buttes and skittering tumbleweeds — he did not expect to see ganglike calligraphy covering more of them than he could easily count.

“It was too much,” said Mr. Bolyard, a park ranger. The same sort of symbols one might see on a subway train were scattered along the spiny forest last month. Rangers eventually found at least 45 graffiti tags in the park, including 16 on the slow-growing and fragile saguaro, the paint obscuring part of the green skins where the plants store the chlorophyll to draw nourishment from the sun...