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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.

At The Edge Of America: The History Of The Prepper Paradise Known As The Citadel

One day in late October, one of the organizers of a dreamed-up prepper community called The Citadel took a moment to share part of his vision on the project’s blog.

“Something that I can’t predict, but am hoping for, is a greater level of social interaction,” the organizer, who blogs under the names Vernon and VJ, wrote. “Neighborhood barbeques, musical jam sessions and plays at the amphitheater or the Citadel Society club house, interest groups, clubs, organized and spontaneous activities of all sorts. I enjoy board games, myself, and used to go to a game club every Friday night. We’ll have some great pubs with local brews, walking and bicycle paths, a firing range you don’t have to drive a half hour or more to get to. Maybe a hill with a rope tow for sliding down on inner tubes in the winter time. Militia training will also have a unifying social aspect to it.”

Vernon’s is just one post picked from many, but it’s a good example of the wholesome-until-they’re-extremist ideas behind The Citadel...

Hemingway Family Mental Illness Explored In New Film
Elizabeth Landau, CNN | Hemingway Family Mental Illness Explored In New Film | January 22, 2013

Every family, even famous ones, have secrets. The Hemingways are no different.

"We were, sort of, the other American family that had this horrible curse," says Mariel Hemingway. She compared her family to the Kennedys -- but the Hemingway curse, she said, is mental illness.

Hemingway, granddaughter of acclaimed author Ernest Hemingway, explores the troubled history of her family in "Running from Crazy," a documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Sunday. Barbara Kopple is the director; Oprah Winfrey is the executive producer...

The Happiness Machine: How Google Became Such A Great Place To Work
Farhad Manjoo, Slate | The Happiness Machine | January 22, 2013

A few years ago, Google’s human resources department noticed a problem: A lot of women were leaving the company. Like the majority of Silicon Valley software firms, Google is staffed mostly by men, and executives have long made it a priority to increase the number of female employees. But the fact that women were leaving Google wasn’t just a gender equity problem—it was affecting the bottom line. Unlike in most sectors of the economy, the market for top-notch tech employees is stretched incredibly thin. Google fights for potential workers with Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and hordes of startups, so every employee’s departure triggers a costly, time-consuming recruiting process.

Then there was the happiness problem. Google monitors its employees’ well-being to a degree that can seem absurd to those who work outside Mountain View. The attrition rate among women suggested there might be something amiss in the company’s happiness machine. And if there’s any sign that joy among Googlers is on the wane, it’s the Google HR department’s mission to figure out why and how to fix it...

The Force: How Much Military Is Enough?
Jill Lepore, The New Yorker | The Force: How Much Military Is Enough? | January 21, 2013

Sixty-two legislators sit on the House Armed Services Committee, the largest committee in Congress. Since January, 2011, when Republicans took control of the House, the committee has been chaired by Howard P. McKeon, who goes by Buck. He has never served in the military, but this month he begins his third decade representing California’s Twenty-fifth Congressional District, the home of a naval weapons station, an Army fort, an Air Force base, and, for the Marines, a place to train for mountain warfare. McKeon believes that it’s his job to protect the Pentagon from budget cuts. On New Year’s Day, after a thirteenth-hour deal was sealed with spit in the Senate, McKeon issued a press statement lamenting that the compromise had failed to “shield a wartime military from further reductions.”

The debate about taxes is over, which is one of the few good things that can be said for it. The debate about spending, which has already proved narrow and grubby, is pending...

Eat, Sleep, Fish, Click
Jesse Newman, The New York Times | Eat, Sleep, Fish, Click | January 21, 2013

Near the mouth of the Kvichak River in southwestern Alaska, there is a knob of tundra reaching into the water that locals call Graveyard Point. Atop a small bluff lie the dilapidated remains of an abandoned fish cannery, and below is a vast, swampy delta.

Every summer, the remote camp fills with fishermen – and a few fisherwomen – who come to seek their fortunes in the waters of Bristol Bay, home to one of the largest runs of sockeye salmon in the world. Among them is Corey Arnold, a native Californian who runs a wild salmon netting operation from two small skiffs in the bay. Like others at Graveyard Point, Mr. Arnold is drawn by the promise of wilderness adventure, the challenge of making a living from what he can haul out of the sea, and the pleasure of chasing a legendary fish.

Unlike most others, he is also there to take pictures...

Even Anheuser-Busch Hates Bud Light
Tom Dibblee, Los Angeles Review of Books | Even Anheuser-Busch Hates Bud Light | January 21, 2013

I decided to review William Knoedelseder’s Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America’s Kings of Beer because of my loyalty to Bud Light Lime. I love Bud Light Lime, and I wanted to know where it came from. But because Bud Light Lime probably isn’t a natural beer of choice for the LARB crowd, I thought I’d take a second to explain its excellence.

Bud Light Lime does two things: it allows me to shed the burden of sophistication, and it restores beer to what it once was, when I was young — a tart nectar that makes me happy...

Vietnam Was Even More Horrific Than We Thought
Jonathan Schell, Tomdispatch.com via Salon | Vietnam Was Even More Horrific Than We Thought | January 18, 2013

For half a century we have been arguing about “the Vietnam War.” Is it possible that we didn’t know what we were talking about? After all that has been written (some 30,000 books and counting), it scarcely seems possible, but such, it turns out, has literally been the case.

Now, in Kill Anything that MovesNick Turse has for the first time put together a comprehensive picture, written with mastery and dignity, of what American forces actually were doing in Vietnam. The findings disclose an almost unspeakable truth.  Meticulously piecing together newly released classified information, court-martial records, Pentagon reports, and firsthand interviews in Vietnam and the United States, as well as contemporaneous press accounts and secondary literature, Turse discovers that episodes of devastation, murder, massacre, rape, and torture once considered isolated atrocities were in fact the norm, adding up to a continuous stream of atrocity, unfolding, year after year, throughout that country...

Fortune 100 Best Companies To Work For
CNN Money | Fortune 100 Best Companies To Work For | January 17, 2013

Fortune 100 Best Companies To Work For...

'Dear Abby' Pauline Phillips Dead: Advice Columnist Dies At 94
Steve Karnowski, The Huffington Post | 'Dear Abby' Pauline Phillips Dead: Advice Columnist Dies At 94 | January 17, 2013

Pauline Friedman Phillips, who under the name of Abigail Van Buren, wrote the long-running "Dear Abby" advice column that was followed by millions of newspaper readers throughout the world, has died. She was 94.

Publicist Gene Willis of Universal Uclick said Phillips died Wednesday after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Phillips' column competed for decades with the advice column of Ann Landers, written by her twin sister, Esther Friedman Lederer...

Nuclear Weapons Didn't End WWII
Ashutosh Jogalekar, Scientific American via Salon | Nuclear Weapons Didn't End WWII | January 16, 2013

Two foundational beliefs have colored our views of nuclear weapons since the end of World War 2; one, that they were essential or at least very significant for ending the war, and two, that they have been and will continue to be linchpins of deterrence. These beliefs have, in one way or another, guided all our thinking about these mythic creations. Ward Wilson who is at the Monterey Institute of International Studies wants to demolish these and other myths about nukes in a new book titled “5 Myths about Nuclear Weapons“, and I have seen few volumes which deliver their message so effectively in such few words. Below are Wilson’s thoughts about the two dominant nuclear myths interspersed with a few of my own...