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.

My First Burning Man: Confessions Of A Conservative From Washington
Grover Norquist, The Guardian | Norquist At Burning Man | September 7, 2014

What is Burning Man? It is a larger version of... what? Woodstock? That was a bunch of teenagers coming to watch artists perform. At Burning Man, everyone is expected to be a participant...

The Origin Of The "Freshman 15" Myth
Olga Khazan, The Atlantic | 'Freshman 15' Myth | September 7, 2014

Most young adults only gain about three pounds during their first year, about the same as those who don't attend college. So why is there such a strong misconception to the contrary?
Freshmen across the country are moving into their dorms this week, hanging up their Target Room Essentials™ curtains and sizing up their roommate's hygiene habits. They might also, on the advice of their forebears, stop to Google articles such as, "15 Ways to Fight the Freshman 15."...

Mean Girl
Hanna Rosin, Slate | Joan Rivers: Relentless, Filthy, Honest | September 5, 2014

Joan Rivers was relentless and filthy. She was also brutally honest about being a woman...

The Masked Avengers
David Kushner, The New Yorker | Inside Anonymous | September 5, 2014

How Anonymous incited online vigilantism from Tunisia to Ferguson...

Tehran Unfetters Cellphones, And The Pictures Start Flowing
Thomas Erdbrink, The New York Times | Iran Cellphones Unleashed | September 2, 2014

Some days ago, Mahdi Taghizadeh did something he never thought he would — at least, not in Iran. He took a screen shot and shared the image with his followers on Twitter. “They were all excited,” Mr. Taghizadeh, an Internet entrepreneur, said. “Finally." Mr. Taghizadeh’s small triumph on the sidewalk of a Tehran street was among the first tangible results of a rare victory for Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani...

New Documentary Bares Crazy Drama Between The Burt's Bees Founders
Richard Feloni, Business Insider via Slate | About Burt's Bees | September 1, 2014

If you’re familiar with the Burt’s Bees brand of lip balms and moisturizing lotions, you may be surprised to learn two things: The bearded man in the brand’s logo is a real guy named Burt (who was born Ingram Berg Shavitz) and despite its small-business image, the company is owned by the Clorox Corp...

Atlanta's Fall Foretold The End Of Civil War Bloodshed
Marc Wortman, The Daily Beast | The Fall Of Atlanta, 1864 | September 1, 2014

Only after the Confederates surrendered Atlanta 150 years ago did Americans know that the union would be preserved.

Everything changed literally overnight between September 1 and 2, 1864. When Atlanta fell to its Union attackers, Americans in both the North and South were finally convinced that the end of the fighting was within sight. Like Americans then, we, too, should remember the day when Atlanta fell, for its surrender marked the new birth of a united nation. It also presaged Atlanta’s rise as the capital city of what would eventually be known as the New South...

You Can't Understand ISIS If You Don't Know The History Of Wahhabism In Saudi Arabia
Alastair Crooke, The Huffington Post | Understanding Wahhabism | August 29, 2014

Saudi Arabia's internal discord and tensions over ISIS can only be understood by grasping the inherent (and persisting) duality that lies at the core of the Kingdom's doctrinal makeup and its historical origins. One dominant strand to the Saudi identity pertains directly to Muhammad ibn ?Abd al-Wahhab (the founder of Wahhabism)...

Meet The Publisher Who Ditched Amazon And Is Selling More Books Than Ever
Aaron Gell, Business Insider | Ditching Amazon | August 29, 2014

Ask Randall White, the 72-year-old CEO of the Educational Development Corp., an Oklahoma-based book distributor, why he decided pull his company’s 2,000 titles — including the acclaimed potty bestiary “Everyone Poops” — from Amazon.com, and the longtime publishing executive makes reference not to a book but to a movie.

“Remember ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,’ when they’re on the cliff and getting ready to jump and one guy says, ‘I can’t swim?’” asks the folksy 72-year-old, referring to the classic Robert Redford-Paul Newman film. “And the other guy says, ‘What are you worried about? The fall’s going to kill you.’”...

What Do Talking Apes Really Tell Us?
Jane C. Hu, Slate | Koko's World | August 29, 2014

The strange, disturbing world of Koko the gorilla and Kanzi the bonobo.

Lst week, people around the world mourned the death of beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams. According to the Gorilla Foundation in Woodside, California, we were not the only primates mourning. A press release from the foundation announced that Koko the gorilla—the main subject of its research on ape language ability, capable in sign language and a celebrity in her own right—“was quiet and looked very thoughtful” when she heard about Williams’ death, and later became “somber” as the news sank in. Williams, described in the press release as one of Koko’s “closest friends,” spent an afternoon with the gorilla in 2001...