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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.

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...

Around The Corner Of Loss
Mark Byrne, The New York Times Opinion | Around The Corner Of Loss | March 30, 2012

The corner of McGuinness and Kent, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, has undergone a minor face-lift in the seven years since my aunt Liz was struck and killed there. The Budget Rental Center that occupied the east corner is now an Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and there’s a new BP service station across the street from it, in what used to be a vacant lot. You can no longer park on the east side of McGuinness, because the gas station’s driveway flows out into the street there. Seven years ago, before the gas station, a row of parked trucks lined the curb, and it is for that reason that the driver of the Budget rental van, turning left onto Kent, was unable to see Liz as she rode her bike from the sidewalk to the street...

Sorry, Gawker: My 42-Point Plan Helped Job Seekers
Shea Gunther, Salon | Sorry, Gawker: My 42-Point Plan Helped Job Seekers | March 30, 2012

I’ve had an interesting week. On Monday morning, I sent a BCC email response to 900 people who applied to a job listing I posted on Craigslist. I’m starting a clean-technology news site and am hiring writers and other editorial staff. By Monday evening, my email had been posted on Gawker along with a headline calling me a “dick” — and a big pile of comments with even worse names.

But it’s cool. It was worth it...

How To Kill An Abortion Bill
Irin Carmon, Salon | How To Kill An Abortion bill | March 30, 2012

Jessica Luther was never much of an activist, until she started reading about antiabortion laws online last year. When the government nearly shut down over the funding of Planned Parenthood, Luther started posting satire on Tumblr from her home in Texas. But as she learned about states proposing, and often passing, restrictions on abortion access, the posts got more and more substantive. And through Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook, she found a lively community of red-state progressive women like herself, angry over legislators’ attempts to strip their reproductive rights. Now she’s a regular at pro-choice rallies — in real life. “I no longer feel like I’m screaming in a soundproof room,” says Luther...