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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.

Portrait of Decline: Willem de Kooning at the MoMA
Ariella Budick, Financial Times | Portrait of Decline: Willem de Kooning at the MoMA | September 29, 2011

The Museum of Modern Art's generous, even prodigal De Kooning retrospective is the most ambitious show New York has seen in a long time – a lavish, knotty and definitive tribute to a tricky and alloyed genius. Not everything here is excellent and some isn't any good at all but the exhibition traverses the crests and gullies of his career with passionate thoroughness. It emboldens De Kooning's champions and fends off his attackers, who have been many and virulent. But what I came away with was the sense that both sides are right...

Earning a Living One Laugh at a Time
Lizzie Simon, The Wall Street Journal | Earning a Living One Laugh at a Time | September 29, 2011

Liam McEneaney is a Brooklyn-based stand-up comic and a writer with a spot on "the fax list," which, despite the outdated reference, is still a term used for those who submit jokes on spec to late-night comedy shows. He estimates that since 2008 he has submitted about 1,100 jokes. Of those he has sold one, to the Weekend Update segment on "Saturday Night Live," which pays $100 per joke...

Why I Miss the Monoculture
Toure | Why I Miss the Monoculture | September 29, 2011

We don't agree on anything the way we agreed about Prince, Nirvana and MJ -- and our cultural life is poorer for it...

This War Can Still Be Won
Fernando M. Lujan, The New York Times Op Ed | This War Can Still Be Won | September 28, 2011

Returning home after 14 months in Afghanistan, I’ve sensed a growing gloom over the American war effort there. Many of the policy wonks, politicos and academics I encounter here seem resigned to failure.

While sipping their Starbucks, a few mutter the word “unwinnable.” They speak in grim sound bites: A gunfight on the United States Embassy’s doorstep. A helicopter shot out of the sky. But before people outside the Beltway accept this hardening conventional wisdom as fact, allow me to offer a different view...

The PeePoo, a Biodegradable Toilet for the Developing World
Sindya N. Bhanoo, The New York Times | The PeePoo, a Biodegradable Toilet for the Developing World | September 28, 2011

It looks like a plastic bag, but in fact the PeePoo is a single-use biodegradable toilet for the developing world. After it is used, the bag is knotted and then buried or sold back to the manufacturer. A lining of urea crystals in the bag helps transform the waste into fertilizer...

The Sixth Beatle?
Paul Theroux | The Sixth Beatle? | September 27, 2011

George Harrison was liberated by rock and roll. Turns out Martin Scorsese was too...

Roger's Reality Show
Howard Kurtz, The Daily Beast | Roger's Reality Show | September 26, 2011

First, Ailes dialed back the Tea Party talk. Now he's turning the GOP race into a political X-Factor -- and steering the election agenda one more time...

Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Dies at 71
Jeffrey Gettleman, The New York Times | Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Dies at 71 | September 26, 2011

Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmentalist who began a movement to reforest her country by paying poor women a few shillings to plant trees and who went on to become the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, died here on Sunday. She was 71...

U.S. To Hand Over Iraq Bases, Equipment Worth Billions
Dan Froomkin, The Huffington Post | U.S. To HandOver Iraq Bases, Equipment Worth Billions | September 26, 2011

With just over three months until the last U.S. troops are currently due to leave Iraq, the Department of Defense is engaged in a mad dash to give away things that cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars to buy and build.

The giveaways include enormous, elaborate military bases and vast amounts of military equipment that will be turned over to the Iraqis, mostly just to save the expense of bringing it home...

What the "Nevermind" Celebrations Get Wrong About Nirvana
Bradford Martin, Salon | What the "Nevermind" Celebrations Get Wrong About Nirvana | September 24, 2011

Twenty years ago today, the now-legendary Nirvana released "Nevermind," the album that exploded the band's glorious, grungy fusion of punk, pop and heavy metal out of the Seattle underground into popular consciousness. Three quick years later, frontman Kurt Cobain's suicide provoked a cascade of overblown eulogies, many proclaiming the troubled musician something along the lines of Newsweek's tribute: "the authentic voice of the 20-plus generation."...