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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.

11/11/11: The Greatest Binary Day Of All
Dean Praetorius, The Huffington Post | 11/11/11: The Greatest Binary Day Of All | November 11, 2011

November 11, 2011, (or 11/11/11) will be your last binary day for almost a century, so enjoy it while it lasts. We know we will.

Don't know what a binary day is? It's a date that consists of only 1's and 0's when written in mm/dd/yy format (or dd/mm/yy for our European readers). "Binary years" have only 9 such dates, meaning there are only 36 binary days in a century...

Why We Need 'Negropedia'
Ned Vizzini, The Daily Beast | Why We Need 'Negropedia' | November 10, 2011

In 2008, people were talking about a 'post-racial America. But now that race is back at center stage, the times are ripe for Patrice Evans' Negropedia, a funny/serious dissection of the racial landscape...

Euro Fears Spread to Italy as the Debt Crisis Deepens
Steven Erlanger, The New York Times | Euro Fears Spread to Italy as the Debt Crisis Deepens | November 10, 2011

Since the start of the euro crisis two years ago, the big fear has been contagion, that market unease about the high debt and slow growth in Europe’s southern rim would infect the core. On Wednesday, contagion arrived with brute force...

The Tweaker: The Real Genius of Steve Jobs
Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker | The Tweaker: The Real Genius of Steve Jobs | November 10, 2011

Not long after Steve Jobs got married, in 1991, he moved with his wife to a nineteen-thirties, Cotswolds-style house in old Palo Alto. Jobs always found it difficult to furnish the places where he lived. His previous house had only a mattress, a table, and chairs. He needed things to be perfect, and it took time to figure out what perfect was. This time, he had a wife and family in tow, but it made little difference. “We spoke about furniture in theory for eight years,” his wife, Laurene Powell, tells Walter Isaacson, in “Steve Jobs,” Isaacson’s enthralling new biography of the Apple founder. “We spent a lot of time asking ourselves, ‘What is the purpose of a sofa?’ ”...

Crews Rush to Save Russian Mars Probe Stranded in Earth Orbigt
Brian Vastag, The Washington Post | Crews Rush to Save Russian Mars Probe Stranded in Earth Orbit | November 9, 2011

The Russian Mars curse has struck again. Since 1960, the Soviet Union and Russia have launched 18 unmanned missions to Mars. Sixteen failed completely, while two returned data from the planet only briefly. Now engineers are scrambling to save the country’s latest attempt....

Joe Frazier, R.I.P.
David Remnick, The New Yorker | Joe Frazier, R.I.P. | November 9, 2011

The greatest heavyweight championship fight in history took place on October 1, 1975, in Manila, and the combatants were Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. And despite the result—Frazier’s magnificent cornermen refused to let their man, blinded by the welts around his eyes, go into the ring for the fifteenth round—no one would ever call Frazier a loser. “It was like death,” Ali admitted after the fight. “Closest thing to dyin’ that I know of.”...

How the GOP Became the Party of the Rich
Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone | How the GOP Became the Party of the Rich | November 9, 2011

The nation is still recovering from a crushing recession that sent unemployment hovering above nine percent for two straight years. The president, mindful of soaring deficits, is pushing bold action to shore up the nation's balance sheet. Cloaking himself in the language of class warfare, he calls on a hostile Congress to end wasteful tax breaks for the rich. "We're going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that allow some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share," he thunders to a crowd in Georgia. Such tax loopholes, he adds, "sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary – and that's crazy."

Preacherlike, the president draws the crowd into a call-and-response. "Do you think the millionaire ought to pay more in taxes than the bus driver," he demands, "or less?"

The crowd, sounding every bit like the protesters from Occupy Wall Street, roars back: "MORE!"

The year was 1985. The president was Ronald Wilson Reagan...

Chinese-Funded Hydropower Project Sparks Anger in Burma
Andrew Higgins, The Washington Post | Chinese-Funded Hydropower Project Sparks Anger in Burma | November 8, 2011

After five years of cozy cooperation with Burma’s ruling generals, China Power Investment Corp. got a shock in September when it sent a senior executive to Naypyidaw, this destitute Southeast Asian nation’s showcase capital, a Pharaonic sprawl of empty eight-lane highways and cavernous government buildings. Armed with a slick PowerPoint presentation and promises of $20 billion in investment, Li Guanghua pitched “an excellent opportunity,” a mammoth, Chinese-funded hydropower project in Burma’s far north...

A Tale of Two Trees
Michael Daly, The Daily Beast | A Tale of Two Trees | November 8, 2011

Down at the Wall Street movement stands the Tree of Life, and only one block away is the 9/11 Survivor Tree. Michael Daly on how they symbolize American greatness -- and our fractured country...

At Sony Music, a Plan to Dominate the Industry
Ben Sisario, The New York Times | At Sony Music, a Plan to Dominate the Industry | November 8, 2011

A huge self-portrait of Bono hangs in the Madison Avenue office of Doug Morris, the new chief executive of Sony Music Entertainment, and on a nearby table sit his snapshots, arm-in-arm with Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg. Along with a determination to dominate the music industry, Mr. Morris brought them from his last job as head of the Universal Music Group. “My plan here is very simple,” he said on a recent visit, leaning back in his sofa. “To help create the pre-eminent record company in the world.”...