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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.

Secrets And Lies Of The Bailout
Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone | Secrets And Lies Of The Bailout | January 7, 2013

It has been four long winters since the federal government, in the hulking, shaven-skulled, Alien Nation-esque form of then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, committed $700 billion in taxpayer money to rescue Wall Street from its own chicanery and greed. To listen to the bankers and their allies in Washington tell it, you'd think the bailout was the best thing to hit the American economy since the invention of the assembly line. Not only did it prevent another Great Depression, we've been told, but the money has all been paid back, and the government even made a profit. No harm, no foul – right?

Wrong.

It was all a lie -- one of the biggest and most elaborate falsehoods ever sold to the American people...

The Education Of John Boehner
Stephen Moore, The Wall Street Journal | The Education Of John Boehner | January 7, 2013

What stunned House Speaker John Boehner more than anything else during his prolonged closed-door budget negotiations with Barack Obama was this revelation: "At one point several weeks ago," Mr. Boehner says, "the president said to me, 'We don't have a spending problem.' "

I am talking to Mr. Boehner in his office on the second floor of the Capitol, 72 hours after the historic House vote to take America off the so-called fiscal cliff by making permanent the Bush tax cuts on most Americans, but also to raise taxes on high earners. In the interim, Mr. Boehner had been elected to serve his second term as speaker of the House. Throughout our hourlong conversation, as is his custom, he takes long drags on one cigarette after another...

Should American Catholics Cheer For Old Notre Dame?
Michael Leahy, The Washington Post | Should American Catholics Cheer For Old Notre Dame? | January 6, 2013

As a boy in Southern California during the late 1960s, I watched Notre Dame football games with a neighbor, a middle-aged rabbi named Joseph Elsant. He was many things to me: a profound moral influence, a happy raconteur and a fellow football fan fascinated by the Fighting Irish. “Kickoff!” he would announce and settle back in his big chair. He would have relished the thought of Notre Dame’s presence in Monday night’s national championship game against Alabama...

George Saunders Has Written The Best Book You'll Read This Year
Joel Lovell, The New York Times | George Saunders Has Written The Best Book You'll Read This Year | January 6, 2013

In a little sushi restaurant in Syracuse, George Saunders conceded that, sure, one reality was that he and I were a couple guys talking fiction and eating avocado salad and listening to Alanis Morissette coming from the speaker above our heads. Another was that we were walking corpses. We’d been on the subject of death for a while. A friend I loved very much died recently, and I was trying to describe the state I sometimes still found myself in — not quite of this world, but each day a little less removed — and how I knew it was a good thing, the re-entry, but I regretted it too, because it meant the dimming of a kind of awareness that doesn’t get lit up very much. I was having some trouble articulating it, but Saunders was right there, leaning in and encouraging. He has a bushy blond mustache and goatee going gray, and sometimes, when he’s listening intently, he can look a little stern, as if he just stepped out of a tent at Antietam. But then he starts talking and the eyebrows go up and it’s all Chicago vowels and twinkly Doug Henning eyes, and if you didn’t know that he was more or less universally regarded as a genius, you might peg him as the superfriendly host of a woodworking show on daytime public access...

Wilde Ride
Anthony Paletta, The Daily Beast | Wilde Ride | January 5, 2013

There is not a shred of proof that Oscar Wilde quipped, upon entering the United States, “I have nothing to declare except my genius.” But, given his record of wit, newspaper publishers seem to have been quite happy to simply print the legend—and who could ever blame them?

It is oddly fitting that the most prominent relic of Wilde’s 1882 tour of the United States is possibly apocryphal, given that the actual substance of the tour seems, short of a few narrowly-missed meetings, the stuff of dime novels and historical fiction. Declaring His Genius: Oscar Wilde in North America, Roy Morris, Jr.’s delightful account of the tour, sets a visitor from one realm (Wilde) careening into one that seems impossibly separate (early Gilded Age America); not merely drinking elderberry wine with Walt Whitman in Camden, or holding chilly conversation with Henry James in Washington, but lecturing in Saint Josephs, Missouri, two weeks after the death of Jesse James, calling on an elderly Jefferson Davis at his Mississippi plantation, and falling prey to a con-man in New York’s Tenderloin...

Eunuchs Of The Universe: Tom Wolfe On Wall Street Today
Tom Wolfe, Newsweek | Eunuchs Of The Universe: Tom Wolfe On Wall Street Today | January 4, 2013

Come join us as we go back seven months to the apex of the history of American capitalism in the 21st century. We find ourselves in a swarm of fellow starstruck souls outside the Sheraton Hotel on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan, churning, squirming to slip past a battalion of cops and a platoon of security operatives in gray suits with small white techno-polyps in their ears attached to coils of white intercom cord trying to keep us under control… as we all but trample the raggedy, homeless-looking ranks of the television crews and every other laggard in our way.

We are ablaze!—ablaze with excitement, burning, yearning for a glimpse of the John Jacob Astor, the Andrew Carnegie, the E.H. Harriman, the John D. Rockefeller, the Henry Ford, the Bill Gates of our century… and that’s him! Look at him! He’s not wearing Astor’s wing collar debouching a silk four-in-hand or John D.’s stiff silk topper and morning coat with a red carnation in the buttonhole of the left lapel and a pair of striped pants, nor even Bill Gates’s off-the-Joseph A. Bank—rack sack suit. No, our man is only 27 years old and attired as a tycoon of our time… His shirt is a gray T-shirt, one of the 30-some gray T-shirts he has on hand in order to make sure he is clad in the same rebelliously fashion-defying teenager garb every day… and over it, a dark-gray sweatshirt with a hood, a garment known familiarly as a hoodie. From this day, May 7, 2012, forward, the hoodie becomes his symbol, his trademark, his battle standard...

A Careful Writer Stalks The Truth About Scientology
Charles McGrath, The New York Times Book Review | A Careful Writer Stalks The Truth About Scientology | January 4, 2013

The writer Lawrence Wright doesn’t seem at all the sort of person you’d find in public wearing a black cowboy shirt emblazoned with big white buffalos. He’s shy, soft-spoken, a little professorial. But as if he didn’t have enough to do, besides working on three plays simultaneously and getting ready to publish a new book in two weeks, Mr. Wright has been taking piano lessons with Floyd Domino, the two-time Grammy winner, and on a recent Saturday, in his buffalo shirt, he played in a concert at the Victory Grill here with the band WhoDo. Mr. Wright was at the keyboard, and sang solo on “Sixty-Minute Man” and the Count Basie tune “She’s Funny That Way.” Not bad for a bookworm.

“I decided a while ago that I would only do things that are really important or really fun,” Mr. Wright said. “This is really fun.”

More fun, probably, than dealing with lawyers. His new book, “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief” (Knopf) is about the famously litigious Church of Scientology, and he said he has received innumerable threatening letters from lawyers representing the church or some of the celebrities who belong to it...

The Incredible Story Of What Happened When Two Gay Men Were Harassed While Waiting For Pizza

This past weekend I was a part of something incredible that happened in my community of Columbus, Ohio. After a fun night out in the Short North, my friend Ethan and I ventured down the street to a popular pizza truck called Mikey's Late Night Slice. As a frequent late night visitor to the truck I knew the requisite wait in line is part of the process for securing an insanely good slice of pizza. It was really cold so Ethan and I were holding hands and standing close together to keep warm, we were laughing and joking about all the fun we'd had that night, when all of the sudden the guy in front of us turns around and tells us to cut our "gay shit" out.

 

 

Joel Diaz

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The Incredible Story of What Happened When Two Gay Men Were Harassed While Waiting for Pizza

Posted: 01/02/2013 2:28 pm

 

 

 

 

 

This past weekend I was a part of something incredible that happened in my community of Columbus, Ohio. After a fun night out in the Short North, my friend Ethan and I ventured down the street to a popular pizza truck called Mikey's Late Night Slice. As a frequent late night visitor to the truck I knew the requisite wait in line is part of the process for securing an insanely good slice of pizza. It was really cold so Ethan and I were holding hands and standing close together to keep warm, we were laughing and joking about all the fun we'd had that night, when all of the sudden the guy in front of us turns around and tells us to cut our "gay shit" out.

I was a bit startled  by his words but I didn't expect what happened next. Almost every single person in that line made it known to him it was not OK for him to speak to us like that...

Angelo Mozilo, Former Countrywide CEO, Claimns He Doesn't Know What 'Verified Income' Is

Another day, another corporate titan suffering from devastating amnesia. This time, the memory-loss patient is none other than Angelo Mozilo, the former CEO of Countrywide Financial.

Deposed in the landmark lawsuit between the monoline insurer MBIA and Countrywide/Bank of America, Mozilo professed not to know the difference between "verified" income and "stated" income. He also made some incredible remarks regarding his notorious "Friends of Angelo" lending program, in which, among others, political figures like North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad and Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd received Countrywide mortgages on highly advantageous terms just because they were tight with the CEO...

Peter Pan, Alzheimer's Patient
Brad Leithauser, The New Yorker | Peter Pan, Alzheimer's Patient | January 2, 2013

...“Peter Pan” is another matter: a different book whenever you pick it up. In this year, the seventy-fifth anniversary of Barrie’s death, I read it twice. Recent rereadings have left me increasingly feeling that the book’s preoccupation with forgetfulness—an utter lack of fixity—is a little chilling. Naturally, the book’s heroine, the levelheaded girl-child Wendy (an instinctive nanny and nursemaid, or, in modern parlance, a born primary care-giver) sees the issue most clearly. Peter’s hopeless. He can’t retain anything. I know of no other children’s book in which forgetfulness is so pervasive and disquieting a theme. Wendy begins fretting about Peter’s memory even before they reach the Neverland. While still in mid-flight, he seems to forget the names of Wendy and her two younger brothers. The book’s high jinks haven’t yet begun, and already, debating within herself, she’s worried about his ability to retain them: “ ‘—And if he forgets them so quickly,’ Wendy argued, ‘how can we expect that he will go on remembering us?’ ” Wendy is confronted with the prospect of Peter Pan, Alzheimer’s patient...