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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.

The Memo Bush Tried To Destroy
Jordan Michael Smith, Salon | The Memo Bush Tried To Destroy | April 4, 2012

In February of 2006, Philip Zelikow, Counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, authored a memo opposing the Bush administration’s torture practices (though he employed the infamous obfuscation of “enhanced interrogation techniques”). The White House tried to collect and destroy all copies of the memo, but one survived in the State Department’s bowels and was declassified yesterday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the National Security Archive...

States Shush Corporate Critics
David Sirota, Salon | States Shush Corporate Critics | April 4, 2012

You can’t be outraged by — or fight back against — what you don’t know. At least that seems to be the theory behind a spate of new government-backed efforts to help corporations prevent inconvenient information from ever reaching the public domain. In states across the country, as in Washington, D.C., lawmakers are helping companies keep secrets in everything from factory farming to fossil fuel exploration to home foreclosures...

U.S. Offers $10 Million Reward for Pakistani Militant
Declan Walsh, The New York times | U.S. Offers $10 Million Reward for Pakistani Militant | April 3, 2012

The United States has announced a $10 million reward for information leading to the capture of Hafiz Saeed, a Pakistani militant leader accused of orchestrating the 2008 Mumbai attacks, who in recent months has emerged at the vanguard of a prominent anti-American political movement...

A Death In Yellowstone: On the Trail of a Killer Grizzly Bear

A grizzly was ambling along the Yellowstone River on a clear day in late September 2011, when she lifted her nose up and smelled something familiar in the air. She couldn’t tell quite what it was, but it smelled like food. Maybe the shredded remains of a bison taken down by a wolf pack, its innards sloughing out of its stomach and onto the riverbank. The sow may have spent the day digging up pocket gophers, but a feast like this would really help her to pack on weight. Within eight weeks she'd be taking her two young cubs into a den in the side of a slope for the long Western winter. They needed fat, and soon...

A Universe of Self-Replicating Code
George Dyson, Edge | A Universe of Self-Replicating Code | April 2, 2012

What we're missing now, on another level, is not just biology, but cosmology. People treat the digital universe as some sort of metaphor, just a cute word for all these products. The universe of Apple, the universe of Google, the universe of Facebook, that these collectively constitute the digital universe, and we can only see it in human terms and what does this do for us?

We're missing a tremendous opportunity. We're asleep at the switch because it's not a metaphor. In 1945 we actuallydidcreate a new universe. This is a universe of numbers with a life of their own, that we only see in terms of what those numbers can do for us. Can they record this interview? Can they play our music? Can they order our books on Amazon? If you cross the mirror in the other direction, there really is a universe of self-reproducing digital code. When I last checked, it was growing by five trillion bits per second. And that's not just a metaphor for something else. It actually is. It's a physical reality...

Burma Opposition: Suu Kyi Wins Election
Ankita Rao and Daniel Politi, Slate | Burma Opposition: Suu Kyi Wins Election | April 2, 2012

It looks like one of the world's most iconic democracy leaders might finally have a chance to hold elected office. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi won a parliamentary seat in a historic election in Burma Sunday, according to her party. The election could mark a change of an era in the country that has been largely ruled by the military for almost half a century, reports the Associated Press...

Vissa D'arte Even on The Celebrity Apprentice
Penn Jillette, The Huffington Post | Vissa D'Arte Even on The Celebrity Apprentice | April 2, 2012

I first saw The Who on TV. I was watching with my parents, and when Pete, Roger, and Keith started smashing their instruments, my family was appalled. We were just barely middle class. My dad was a jail guard and we lived in a nice neat little house that my parents had built with their own hands. I loved music and I had a newspaper route, and I mowed lawns. I was taking drum lessons using a practice pad, and all my money was being saved to buy a used drum set so I could join a rock and roll band. At my rate of earning, it would take me decades to afford Keith Moon's drum set and I didn't understand its destruction on TV. How could Keith do that? How could he have such little respect for music, for the TV show he was fortunate enough to be on, and for me and my family?...

A Hoodie, Not A Hoodlum
Nicole Pasulka, Mother Jones | A Hoodie, Not A Hoodlum | March 31, 2012

Turns out, hoodie-baiting is hardly new. Slate's explainer traces the hoodie's bad reputation all the way back to 17th-century Britain, when women visiting their lovers would hide their faces in hoods. But many are outraged over Geraldo's remarks and conservative media's attempts to blame the Florida teen's murder on his wardrobe, and they're throwing on their own hoodies in protest...

The Second Shelf: On the Rules of Literary Fiction for Men and Women
Meg Wolitzer, The New York Times Book Review | The Second Shelf | March 31, 2012

If “The Marriage Plot,” by Jeffrey Eugenides, had been written by a woman yet still had the same title and wedding ring on its cover, would it have received a great deal of serious literary attention? Or would this novel (which I loved) have been relegated to “Women’s Fiction,” that close-quartered lower shelf where books emphasizing relationships and the interior lives of women are often relegated? Certainly “The Marriage Plot,” Eugenides’s first novel since his Pulitzer Prize-winning “Middlesex,” was poised to receive tremendous literary interest regardless of subject matter, but the presence of a female protagonist, the gracefulness, the sometimes nostalgic tone and the relationship-heavy nature of the book only highlight the fact that many first-rate books by women and about women’s lives never find a way to escape “Women’s Fiction” and make the leap onto the upper shelf where certain books, most of them written by men (and, yes, some women — more about them later), are prominently displayed and admired...

Blog Of Myself
Oyl Miller, McSweeney's | Blog Of Myself | March 31, 2012

I celebrate myself and I blog about myself.
And what I post, you can repost,
For every kilobyte shared by me also belongs to you...