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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.

New Drug Trial Seeks to Stop Alzheimer's Before It Starts
Pam Belluck, The New York Times | New Drug Trial Seeks to Stop Lazheimer's Before It Starts | May 16, 2012

In a clinical trial that could lead to treatments that prevent Alzheimer’s, people who are genetically guaranteed to develop the disease — but who do not yet have any symptoms — will for the first time be given a drug intended to stop it, federal officials announced Tuesday.

Experts say the study will be one of the few ever conducted to test prevention treatments for any genetically predestined disease. For Alzheimer’s, the trial is unprecedented, “the first to focus on people who are cognitively normal but at very high risk for Alzheimer’s disease,” said Dr. Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health.//

Joe Bastianich Invented the 'Everything' Bagel?
Tim Carman, The Washington Post | Joe Bastianich Invented the 'Everything' Bagel? | May 15, 2012

Among the books that I currently have at my bedside and dip into when I’m a) not futzing around on Twitter, b) not futzing around with game apps on my iPhone, c) not futzing around in the kitchen or d) not asleep is a copy of Joe Bastianich’s just released memoir, “Restaurant Man” (Viking). The book is a raw, throbbing nerve of a biography: If Bastianich has any intellectual filters, he checks them at the door here, and “Restaurant Man” is the better for it. This memoir is not for the politically correct, the morally rigid or the manicured-fingernail crowd that doesn’t want to see, let alone read about, the seedy, shiv-your-sister-for-good-ingredients underbelly of the high-functioning, high-stress hospitality industry...

A Generation Hobbled by the Soaring Cost of College
Andrew Martin and Andrew W. Lehren, The New York Times | A Generation Hobbled by the Soaring Cost of College | May 15, 2012

Kelsey Griffith graduates on Sunday from Ohio Northern University. To start paying off her $120,000 in student debt, she is already working two restaurant jobs and will soon give up her apartment here to live with her parents. Her mother, who co-signed on the loans, is taking out a life insurance policy on her daughter. “If anything ever happened, God forbid, that is my debt also,” said Ms. Griffith’s mother, Marlene Griffith...

'The Ocean of Life' - And the Sorrow Beneath the Sea
Callum Roberts, Newsweek | 'The Ocean of Life' - And the Sorrow Beneath the Sea | May 15, 2012

Imagine an underwater world without whales, sharks, and dolphins, where jellyfish and algae rule. It's already happening, says marine biologist Callum Roberts in his new book, The Ocean of Life...

Legendary Bass Player 'Duck' Dunn of Booker T and the MGs Dies inTokyo at Age 70

Donald “Duck” Dunn, the bassist who helped create the gritty Memphis soul sound at Stax Records in the 1960s as part of the legendary group Booker T. and the MGs and contributed to such classics as “In the Midnight Hour,” ‘’Hold On, I’m Coming” and “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” died Sunday at 70. Dunn, whose legacy as one of the most respected session musicians in the business also included work with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd’s Blues Brothers as well as with Levon Helm, Eric Clapton, Neil Young and Bob Dylan, died while on tour in Tokyo...

Do Toms Shoes Really Help People?
Kiera Butler, Mother Jones | Do Toms Shoes Really Help People? | May 14, 2012

When Toms—a company that, for every pair of shoes you buy, gives a pair to someone in the developing world—was founded in 2006, shoe hoarders rejoiced: A robust collection of kicks was no longer reason for your friends to compare you to a certain Filipina dictator—oh, no! A pile of Toms canvas sneakers and wedge heels actually added to your do-gooder cred. According to its website, by September 2010 Toms had given away more than a million shoes. Toms has since expanded; in addition to shoes it now sells glasses under the same model...

Andrew Sullivan on Barack Obama: The First Gay President
Andrew Sullivan, Newsweek | Andrew Sullivan on Barack Obama: The First Gay President | May 14, 2012

The president's bold support shifted the mainstream. Andrew Sullivan on why it shouldn't be surprising -- Obama's life as a biracial man has deep ties to the gay experience...

'Crossing the Borders of Time:' A Mother's Rekindled Love
Sandra McElwaine, The Daily Beast | 'Crossing the Borders of Time'" A Mother's Rekindled Love | May 13, 2012

Enraptured by her mother's tales of a lost romance on the eve of the Holocaust, Leslie Maitland went to Europe and tracked down the old flame. Sandra McElwaine on the remarkable book...

Family Way
Judith Warner, New York Times Book Review | Family Way | May 13, 2012

Just as everyone was getting ready to throw out the Baby Bjorns and start practicing detachment parenting à la française comes a new book, from the esteemed philosopher Elisabeth Badinter, warning that French motherhood isn’t all it’s cracked up to be...

Jefferson's Lifelong Dream
Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg, Salon | Jefferson's Dream | May 12, 2012

“The only security of all is in a free press.”  Thomas Jefferson wrote these words to the Marquis de Lafayette at the age of 80. The reason Jefferson lauded a free press was that he wished, in tense political times, for the U.S. to function as a deliberative democracy, in which an increasingly better-educated citizenry monitored the policy decisions of its elected representatives and judged whether or not they deserved to remain in office.

A better-educated citizenry. That was Jefferson’s mantra, and it should be ours, too...