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.

Civilian Deaths In Drone Strikes Cited In Report
Declan Walsh and Ihsanullah Tipu Mehsud, The New York Times | Civilian Deaths In Drone Strikes Cited In Report | October 22, 2013

In the telling of some American officials, the C.I.A. drone campaign in Pakistan has been a triumph with few downsides: In more than 300 missile attacks there since 2008, dozens of Qaeda and Taliban leaders have been killed, and the pace of the strikes, which officials frequently describe as “surgical” and “contained,” has dropped sharply over the past year.

But viewed from Miram Shah, the frontier Pakistani town that has become a virtual test laboratory for drone warfare, the campaign has not been the antiseptic salve portrayed in Washington...

New Report Of N.S.A. Spying Angers France
Alissa J. Rubin, The New York Times | New Report Of N.S.A. Spying Angers France | October 21, 2013

The National Security Agency has carried out extensive electronic surveillance in France, a French newspaper reported Monday, drawing an angry condemnation from an important American ally.

The report, based on secret documents leaked by Edward J. Snowden, was published in Le Monde, the authoritative French newspaper, the day Secretary of State John Kerry arrived here for an official visit.

Adding to the previous disclosures about the agency’s wide surveillance net abroad, the article said the agency had recorded 70 million digital communications in a single month, from Dec. 10, 2012, to Jan. 8, 2013...

Our Interview With Bill Watterson
Jake Rossen, Mental Floss | Our Interview With Bill Watterson | October 21, 2013

For the December issue of mental_floss magazine, Jake Rossen managed to do something we thought was impossible—he snagged an interview with the legendary Bill Watterson! Since we’re guessing there are a few Calvin and Hobbes enthusiasts in the audience, we thought we’d provide a glimpse of the e-mail exchange. For our full story on the comic strip, be sure to pick up the print magazine...

Everyday Jet Lag
Gretchen Reynolds, The New York Times Magazine | Everyday Jet Lag | October 21, 2013

If you consider yourself to be a born morning person or an inveterate night owl, there is new research that supports your desire to wake up early or stay up late. Each of us has a personal “chronotype,” or unique circadian rhythm, says Till Roenneberg, a professor of chronobiology at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich and one of the world’s experts on sleep. In broad strokes, these chronotypes are usually characterized as early, intermediate or late, corresponding to people who voluntarily go to bed and wake early, at a moderate hour or vampirishly late. If you are forced to wake up earlier than your body naturally would, you suffer from what Roenneberg calls “social jet lag.”...

Grieving Father Finds An Outlet In His Music
Corey Kilgannon, The New York Times | Grieving Father Finds An Outlet In His Music | October 18, 2013

Before last Dec. 14, Jimmy Greene had been a jazzman for most of his 38 years, well known among serious jazz fans. He had dozens of albums to his name. He played with such luminaries as Freddie Hubbard. He was a scholar, too, teaching jazz at a public university.

On Dec. 14, Mr. Greene’s 6-year-old daughter, Ana Márquez-Greene, who shared his passion for music and loved to listen to her father play, was a student at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. That was the day a gunman killed Ana along with 19 other children and 6 educators.

“I don’t know if we’ll ever feel whole again,” Mr. Greene said of his family...

The Novel That Norman Mailer Didn't Write
Richard Brody, The New Yorker | The Novel That Norman Mailer Didn't Write | October 17, 2013

Norman Mailer was one of the most original and powerful writers of the twentieth century, but he never wrote a truly great novel. Despite the great success of his first book, “The Naked and the Dead,” which he wrote at twenty-three, and despite the merits of his second and third novels, “Barbary Shore” and “The Deer Park,” Mailer missed the boat early on, because he never wrote (and seems never even to have considered writing) the book that he was born to write—the bildungsroman of a Maileresque boy in Brooklyn in the nineteen-thirties. Had he written a novel based on his early experiences, it might have done more than launch his career (which “The Naked and the Dead” did quite well); it might have launched his imagination. The power of deep-rooted experience, I suspect, would have given rise to a self-sustaining run of novels. Instead, he sacrificed his literary birthright for the pursuit of experiences that he considered literature-worthy, and he paid a high price to replace it...

Snowden Journalist's New Venture To Be Bankrolled By eBay Founder
Noam Cohen and Quentin Hardy, The New York Times | Snowden Journalist's New Venture To Be Bankrolled By eBay Founder | October 17, 2013

For years, the tech billionaire Pierre M. Omidyar has been experimenting with ways to promote serious journalism, searching for the proper media platform to support with the fortune he earned as the founder of eBay. He has made grants to independent media outlets in Africa and government watchdog groups in the United States. In a more direct effort, he created a news Web site in Hawaii, his home state...

Why I Will Never, Ever, Go Back To The United States
Niels Gerson Lohman, The Huffington Post Blog | Why I Will Never, Ever, Go Back To The United States | October 17, 2013

After a year of traveling, I had planned a last, short trip. I was going to take the train from Montreal to New Orleans. The travels I had been undertaking earlier this year had brought me to places that were meant to form the background of my second novel.

This trip, however, was for my dad. He, a trumpet player, loved New Orleans and had died a year ago. It felt like the first sensible trip I undertook this year. I had been searching for ways to forget about the last hours at his deathbed. He had been ill for 15 years and his body just would not give up. It was a violent sight. I had decided the trip to New Orleans would put an end to those memories...

G.O.P. Blues: Another Farcical Day On Capitol Hill
John Cassidy, The New Yorker | G.O.P. Blues: Another Farcical Day On Capitol Hill | October 16, 2013

Give the Republicans on Capitol Hill one thing: they don’t leave a job half done. Evidently disturbed by polls showing Congress with a single-digit approval rating, they appear intent on driving it to zero.

What other explanation can there be for Tuesday’s farcical maneuvers, which saw the House Republican leadership try and fail to seize the initiative in the debt-ceiling standoff from the Senate, in the process humiliating Speaker Boehner yet again...

The Band's 'Rock of Ages' Is The Greatest Live Album Ever
Andrew Romano, The Daily Beast | The Band's 'Rock of Ages' Is The Greatest Live Album Ever | October 15, 2013

When you’re young, and you’re obsessed with rock music, and you have friends (particularly male friends) who are equally obsessed with rock music, and none of you have anything better to do, which is usually the case with teenage boys, you tend to ask each other questions like “What’s the best live album of all time?” And because you yourself are a teenage boy, you know your answer is the right answer, the one true answer, and you proceed to argue on its behalf for the next two hours, repeating again and again, as others advocate for Neil Young’s Live Rust or The Rolling Stones’ Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out, that actually the best live album of all time is Live at Leeds by The Who. Or at least you did if you were me...