Briefings: Private Languages, Kitajima Kick, Jamaica, 24 Hours with Tim Ferriss, and Finding Ultra

Inevitably, in the wake of big events with major accomplishments, the instinct of writers and reporters is to look for the hidden stories, the secrets of the trade, the explanations for The Way Things Work. Our Briefings this week is roughly about that, both in the Olympics and in things and events more generally. Sometimes the explanations are revelations, other times they just raise more questions.

It’s a big and complicated world. We’re at tips [at] if you think there’s something we should know about.

1. What to Understand | The Terms

We’re fascinated by subcultures, encrypted languages, espionage–anything that isn’t quite what it appears on the surface. All guys are. It’s in our DNA. And although life inside restaurant kitchens has been gutted by the entertainment industry since Anthony Bourdain published Kitchen Confidential in 2001, there are still bits and pieces to be discovered. As part of a new series on private languages, The New York Times looks at the secret codes used inside some of New York’s top restaurants.

2. What Else to Understand | The Rules

So we like the terms; we’re less fond of the rules. Rules restrict and hold back. Well that’s one way of looking at it anyway. Your correspondent once dated a corporate tax attorney who described her job principally as a “creative” one because she found clients ways to bend the rules without breaking the laws. Which brings us to the Kitajima Kick, a dolphin kick used by swimmers during the pullout in breaststroke races, the legality of which has been called into question. The Atlantic takes a look at the rule, the kick, and it’s role in the Phelps-Lochte rivalry.

3. What to Admire | Jamaica

“On the surface it is baffling,” writes Tom Horan, “the tiny island with the mighty reach. Look at other countries of a similar physical size: Qatar, Gambia, the Lebanon. And those with a similar population: Mongolia, Armenia, Kuwait. Why have these nations not produced a culture that transformed the way the entire world makes and listens to music?” Horan sets out to answer this and other questions about the popularity of Jamaican culture and the success of its athletes in his story for The Observer.

4. What to Watch | 24 Hours with Tim Ferriss

In a world where it’s all too easy to find ourselves idling, caught in a Facebook black hole or scanning the CrossFit Babes Tumblr (guilty as charged), we admire guys who get stuff done. Tim Ferriss is one of those guys. Sometimes he’s suggesting we outsource administrative tasks, other times he’s hacking exercise routines, and soon he’ll be teaching bros everywhere how to cook. Morgan Spurlock (the “Super Size Me” guy) spends a day with Ferriss for an episode in his original series for Hulu, “A Day in the Life.”

5. What to Read | Finding Ultra

This story isn’t new: middle-age, out-of-shape dude has a revelation, discovers fitness and becomes a super-athlete, lives to write book about it (see: Dean Karnazes). But it’s a damn fine story, and Finding Ultra author Rich Roll is a fine author. Roll, who swam for Stanford back in the ’80s–he didn’t start with nothing–recounts his experience competing in the Ultraman World Championships (a double-Ironman distance race) and completing the Epic5, five Ironmans on five Hawaiian islands in under a week. Having a tough day? Need some inspiration? Read this book.