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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.

Questioningly: Give Us Your Best Literary Facebook Status Update
Ben Greenman, The New Yorker | Questioningly: Give Us Your Best Literary Facebook Status Update | May 18, 2012

At least two things are happening this week. One is close to home: on Tuesday, The New Yorker relaunched its books blog, which is now titled Page-Turner. The second is also an online event, happening now: Facebook’s I.P.O. In light of these events, we’d like to propose a question that combines technology, literature, and social networking, and ask you to write a Facebook-style status update for any fictional character in literary history...

Coffee Drinking Linked To Longer Life
Amanda Gardner, Health.com | Coffee Drinking Linked To Longer Life | May 17, 2012

Drinking a daily cup of coffee -- or even several cups -- isn't likely to harm your health, and it may even lower your risk of dying from chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests...

Census: Minority Babies Are Now Majority In United States
Carol Morello and Ted Mellnik, The Washington Post | Census: Minority Babies Are Now Majority In United States | May 17, 2012

For the first time in U.S. history, most of the nation’s babies are members of minority groups, according to new census figures that signal the dawn of an era in which whites no longer will be in the majority.

Population estimates show that 50.4 percent of children younger than 1 last year were Hispanic, black, Asian American or in other minority groups. That’s almost a full percentage point higher than the 49.5 percent of minority babies counted when the decennial census was taken in April 2010. Census Bureau demographers said the tipping point came three months later, in July...

Regina Spektor Has Piano, Will Travel
Wyatt Mason, The New York Times | Regina Spektor Has Piano, Will Travel | May 17, 2012

Regina Spektor had warned me that she wouldn’t let me hear her sing. Now we were sitting outside the L.A. studio of her producer, Mike Elizondo, where she’d been laying down initial tracks of piano and voice for her sixth solo record, “What We Saw from the Cheap Seats.” And still she wouldn’t budge.

“Everybody who’s ever made records feels that way,” Spektor explained. “You’re in a room and you’re working on it and it’s just an engineer and a producer. And then someone comes over, and you play the song for them. The way you hear it in that instant is very different than how you’ve been listening to it. If you do it really early you interrupt the process with other frequencies. It’s almost like a certain kind of coat of color. You can’t take it off once you’ve listened to something with a stranger in the room. And at that point everybody’s a stranger. It could be your mom.”...

 

3-D Printing's Radical New World
Dennis Draeger, Alternet | 3-D Printing's Radical New World | May 16, 2012

3-D printing is a hot topic right now, especially with reports of this incredible technology entering the consumer marketplace. The prices are dropping as more companies attempt consumer-grade machines. Is it time to start looking forward to a time when we all have a Star Trek-like replicator at home to produce everything we want, when we want it?...

Reaching for Zen With Each Stroke and Lap
Jane E. Brody, The New York Times | Reaching for Zen With Each Stroke and Lap | May 16, 2012

“Swimming is my salvation,” Ms. Sherr writes. “Swimming stretches my body beyond earthly limits, helping to soothe every ache and caress every muscle. But it is also an inward journey, a time of quiet contemplation, when, encased in an element at once hostile and familiar, I find myself at peace, able — and eager — to flex my mind, imagine new possibilities, to work things out without the startling interruptions of human voice or modern life. The silence is stunning.”...

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...