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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.

Walter Isaacson's 'Steve Jobs'
John Gruber, Daring Fireball | Walter Isaacson's 'Steve Jobs' | February 15, 2012

What is Apple at heart: a software company, or hardware company?

This is a perennial question. The truth, of course, is that Apple is neither. Apple is an experience company. That they create both hardware and software is part of creating the entire product experience...

Huichol 'Cosmic Portal' Peyote Ceremonies Threatened by Silver Mine
William Booth, The Washington Post | Huichol 'Cosmic Portal' Peyote Ceremonies Threatened by Silver Mine | February 14, 2012

For the Huichol Indians, the desert mountains here are sacred, a cosmic portal with major mojo, where shamans collect the peyote that fuels the waking dreams that hold the universe together.

For a Canadian mining company, these same hills look like a billion dollars worth of buried silver

.In a stark collision of cultures, the famously mystical Huichol are trying to stop a $100 million, 15-year mining project from starting this year...

Can Donald Trump Save Scotland?
Alex Massie, Daily Beast | Can Donald Trump Save Scotland? | February 14, 2012

Connoisseurs of low farce and political absurdity have reason to be disappointed with Donald Trump. The real estate mogul's flirtation with running for the Republican Party's presidential nomination was a grand, if also ridiculous, entertainment that ended with an unbecoming and uncharacteristic whimper. If Herman Cain could, for a while, be thought a quarter-credible candidate, why could The Donald not strut upon the national stage as the star of his own bouffant opera buffa? Perhaps even Mr. Trump appreciated that saving the United States from itself was too big a task even for the Lion of Park Avenue. Or it may be that Trump was saving himself for a different, possibly more modest task: saving Scotland...

Apple Asks Outside Group to Inspect Factories
Charles Duhigg and Nick Wingfield, The New York Times | Apple Asks Outside Group to Inspect Factories | February 14, 2012

Responding to a growing outcry over conditions at its overseas factories, Apple said Monday that an outside organization had begun to audit working conditions at the plants where the bulk of iPhones, iPads and other Apple products are built, and that the group would make its finding public...

Al Qaeda's Zawahiri Calls For War To Oust Syria's Assad
Elizabeth A. Kennedy, The Christian Science Monitor | Al Qaeda's Zawahiri Calls For War To Oust Syria's Assad | February 13, 2012

 

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called for the ouster of Syria's "pernicious, cancerous regime," raising fears that Islamist militants will try to exploit an uprising against President Bashar Assad that began with peaceful calls for democratic change but is morphing into a bloody, armed insurgency. The regime has long blamed terrorists for the 11-month-old revolt, and Zawahiri's endorsement creates new difficulties for the US, its Western allies and Arab states trying to figure out a way to help force Assad from power...

Romney's Path to 'Pro-Life' Position on Abortion
Sheryl Gay Stolberg, The New York Times | Romney's Path to 'Pro-Life' Position on Abortion | February 13, 2012

From the moment he left business for politics, the issue of abortion has bedeviled Mitt Romney. In 1994, as a Senate candidate, he invoked the story of a “close family relative” who had died after an illegal abortion and insisted that abortion should be “safe and legal,” though he was personally opposed. In 2002, while running for governor of Massachusetts, he sought the endorsement of abortion rights advocates, promising to be “a good voice” among Republicans, one advocate said...

Latest Accident at San Onofre Nuclear Plant Worries Activists, Residents
Jamie Reno, The Daily Beast | Latest Accident at San Onofre Nuclear Plant Worries Activists, Residents | February 13, 2012

The coastal San Onofre facility's latest incident has renewed worries about the safety of the plant. A year after Fukushima, is the U.S. ignoring lingering threats here at home?...

Whitney Houston's Invincible Voice
Sasha Frere-Jones, The New Yorker | Whitney Houston's Invincible Voice | February 12, 2012

With the weird blend of investment and helplessness that typifies kin, we’ve watched Whitney Houston die in front of us, slowly and unmistakably, for more than a decade. Now that she is dead at the age of forty-eight, found at the Beverly Hilton, we face a new and weirder blend: the grief you feel for someone you didn’t really know but are unable to pretend you weren’t tied to, and the awkward truth that they’ve met the end you expected...

A Voice of Triumph, the Queen of Pain
Jon Caramanica. The New York Times | A Voice of Triumph, The Queen of Pain | February 12, 2012

 

Whitney Houston died a cautionary tale, but all cautionary tales were heroes once. That is how she arrived in the mid-1980s, a flawless vocalist singing impeccable songs and singlehandedly inserting gospel and classic-soul theatrics into mainstream pop. She was a sunbeam — radiant, perspective-altering, impossible to touch...

Go Vest, Young Man

Rick Santorum, the GOP presidential candidate from Pennsylvania, is known—as you’ve probably heard by now—for wearing a sweater vest. That sweater vest now has its own Twitter account, Facebook page, YouTube video, and fundraising campaign. The vest is everybody’s favorite fun fact about Santorum—but nobody seems to agree on what it’s actually doing for the politician...