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.

Flies That Do Calculus With Their Wings
James Gorman, The New York Times | Fly Calculus | March 20, 2014

There are lots of reasons scientists love fruit flies, but a big one is their flying ability. These almost microscopic creatures, with minimalist nervous systems and prey to every puff of wind, must often execute millisecond aerial ballets to stay aloft.

To study fly flight, scientists have to develop techniques that are almost as interesting as the flies...

Every Viking 'Fact' Is Wrong
Nico Hines, The Daily Beast | Viking Myths | March 20, 2014

Forget the funeral boats burning at sea and tales of the most bloodthirsty warriors in history. In fact, you can forget pretty much everything you think you know about the Vikings—it’s all wrong. Many of the legends associated with the Norse raiders were invented by their victims, whose written accounts dominated the narrative long after the Viking Age...

The Crimean War Was A Boozy Fiasco
Mark Lawrence Schrad, Politico | The Crimean War | March 19, 2014

If current tensions devolve into an actual “hot” war, it would not be the first Russian war in Crimea. Indeed, for many Russians, a victorious reclamation of the Black Sea peninsula—whether by means of Tuesday's treaty or by violence—would help bury the ghosts of an ill-conceived, disorganized and festering 19th-century conflict that has made Crimea, for Russians, practically synonymous with disaster...

Why Putin Did It
Christopher Dickey, The Daily Beast | Why Putin Did It | March 18, 2014

The Russian president's speech about annexing Crimea is really about winning back the pride lost when the Berlin Wall fell...

Jonathan Ive Designs Tomorrow
John Arlidge, Time Magazine | Jonthan Ive Interview | March 18, 2014

Apple's design chief helped transform computing, phones and music. The company's secrecy and Ive's modesty mean he has never given an in-depth interview -- until now...

Joe Biden In Winter
Glenn Thrush, Politico | Joe Biden In Winter | March 18, 2014

The only thing I know is I ain’t changing my brand. I know what I believe. I’m confident in what I know. And I’m gonna say it. And if folks like it, wonderful. If they don’t like it, I understand.”

Vice President Joe Biden and I were riding the Amtrak to Philly on a frigid February day. I had asked about 2016 and whether America was ready, at long last, to elect a guy with such a mouth...

'Huge' Physics Finding Supports Big Bang Theory
Douglas Main, Popular Science | Cosmic Inflation Finding | March 17, 2014

Scientists announced today (March 17) that they had found the first direct evidence of the dramatic expansion that created the known universe, known as cosmic inflation, or the "bang" in the Big Bang. This dramatic expansion is thought to have occurred in the first instants of existence, nearly 14 billion years ago, causing the universe to expand beyond the reach of the most powerful telescopes...

My Life As A Writer
Philip Roth, The New York Times Book Review | My Life As A Writer | March 15, 2014

The following is an interview Philip Roth gave to Daniel Sandstrom, the cultural editor at Svenska Dagbladet, for publication in Swedish translation in that newspaper and in its original English in the Book Review...

Silicon Valley's Youth Problem
Yiren Lu, The New York Times Magazine | Silicon Valley's Youth Problem | March 13, 2014

In start-up land, the young barely talk to the old (and vice versa). That makes for a lot of cool apps. But great technology? Not so much...

The Rise Of Back-To-The-Basics Funerals
Susan Chumsky, The New York Times | Back-To-The-Basics Funerals | March 13, 2014

First there was Slow Food. Now come slow funerals. On a recent frigid Sunday at the Park Slope Food Coop, Amy Cunningham was giving a PowerPoint talk on green funerals to a graying crowd of about two dozen, many of them note-takers. “I think when the baby boom is of age and we’re actively leaving this world, the environmentally friendly approach will be business as usual,” she said. “It will not be the odd thing.”...