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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.

Debt Drama Blocks Out Big Picture on Credit
Andrew Ross Sorkin, The New York Times | Debt Drama Blocks Out Big Picture on Credit | July 26, 2011

As Washington continues to debate a debt deal, the Obama administration has been preparing the country for the worst, with officials essentially saying the sky is about to fall.

But so far, oddly enough, nothing has happened. Despite warnings that a deal would need to be brokered by Sunday night before the Asian markets opened, stocks merely stumbled on Monday — the type of weakness usually associated with soft corporate earnings instead of an economic apocalypse...

Terror, Counter-Terror, and Insurgency in Harry Potter, or Why Harry Won
Dan Nexon, The Duck of Minerva | Terror, Counter-Terror, and Insurgency in Harry Potter, or Why Harry Won | July 25, 2011

In the waning days of classes, one of my colleagues asked a student if she’d been among those celebrating outside of the White House the night that President Obama announced the killing of Osama Bin-Laden. “Of course,” she responded, “I mean, they got Voldemort!”...

After Long Wait, Gay Couples Marry in New York
Thomas Kaplan, The New York Times | After Long Wait, Gay Couples Marry in New York | July 24, 2011

Hundreds of gay and lesbian couples across New York State began marrying on Sunday — the first taking their vows just after midnight — in the culmination of a long battle in the Legislature and a new milestone for gay rights advocates seeking to legalize same-sex marriage across the nation...

A Quandary for U.S. Companies: Who to Bribe?
David S. Hilzenrath, The Wall Street Journal | A Quandary for U.S. Companies: Who to Bribe? | July 24, 2011

American companies doing business abroad have a problem: They don’t know who to bribe.

Federal law prohibits the bribery of some people but not others. And the business world argues that the rules of the road are not clear. One guy’s bribe, as it turns out, is another guy’s cost of doing business...

A History of Air Conditioning
Will Oremus, Slate | A History of Air Conditioning | July 24, 2011

Anyone tempted to yearn for a simpler time must reckon with a few undeniable unpleasantries of life before modern technology: abscessed teeth, chamber pots, the bubonic plague—and a lack of air conditioning in late July. As temperatures rise into the triple digits across the eastern United States, it's worth remembering how we arrived at the climate-controlled summer environments we have today...

Race to the Moon Heats Up for Private Firms
Kenneth Chang, The New York Times | Race to the Moon Heats Up for Private Firms | July 21, 2011

Now that the last space shuttle has landed back on Earth, a new generation of space entrepreneurs would like to whip up excitement about the prospect of returning to the Moon. Spurred by a $30 million purse put up by Google, 29 teams have signed up for a competition to become the first private venture to land on the Moon...

China's Fake Apple Stores Mimic Real Thing
Steven Hoffer, The Huffington Post | China's Fake Apple Stores Mimic Real Thing | July 21, 2011

The following is perhaps the greatest Chinese knock-off of all time.

A blogger living the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming, in Yunnan province has discovered bit-for-bit rip-offs of the iconic and well-branded Apple retail stores...

My Guilty Obsession With Swastikas
Steven Heller, Salon | My Guilty Obsession With Swastikas | July 21, 2011

When I was 8 years old a friend gave me a Nazi flag that his father had brought back from the war as a souvenir. Despite my parents' warnings not to upset my grandmother, whose family (I much later learned) perished in Auschwitz, I would often streak through the apartment in her presence wearing the flag as a kind of Superman cape. At the time, I knew nothing about the Holocaust except that Jews were not beloved in Germany, but since religious taunting was common in my Manhattan public school, this fact had little consequence. I was also addicted to watching movies on TV about World War II and, as a wannabe artist, drew more pictures of Nazis than Americans because their uniforms were better...

Bipartisan Plan for Budget Deal Buoys President
Jackie Calmes and Jennifer Steinhauer, The New York Times | Bipartisan Plan for Budget Deal Buoys President | July 20, 2011
Top Right
David Plotz, Slate | Top Right | July 19, 2011

Slate's list of the 25 Americans who combine inventiveness and practicality: our best real-world problem-solvers...