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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.

Novelist Fights the Tide by Opening a Bookstore
Julie Bosman, The New York Times | Novelist Fights the Tide by Opening a Bookstore | November 16, 2011

After a beloved local bookstore closed here last December and another store was lost to the Borders bankruptcy, this city once known as the Athens of the South, rich in cultural tradition and home to Vanderbilt University, became nearly barren of bookstores. A collective panic set in among Nashville’s reading faithful. But they have found a savior in Ann Patchett, the best-selling novelist who grew up here...

Recruiting Veterans, Columbia Finds an Impressive Applicant Pool
Michael Winerip, The New York Times | Recruiting Veterans, Columbia Finds an Impressive Applicant Pool | November 15, 2011

Two years ago, in an effort to attract more veterans to Columbia, Curtis Rodgers, a dean of admissions, began recruiting at military bases. Almost immediately he noticed differences between the Marines and the typical 18-year-old Ivy League applicant. Marines are less aggressive. When Mr. Rodgers asked Sgt. Tiffani Watts at the end of a recent interview if she had any questions, the Marine answered, “I do, sir, but I don’t want to make you late for your next interview, sir.”...

Echoes from a Distant Battlefield
Mark Bowden, Vanity Fair | Echoes from a Distant Battlefield | November 15, 2011

When First Lieutenant Jonathan Brostrom was killed by Taliban fighters in 2008, while attempting a heroic rescue in a perilously isolated outpost, his war was over. His father’s war, to hold the U.S. Army accountable for Brostrom’s death, had just begun. And Lieutenant Colonel William Ostlund’s war—to defend his own record as commander—was yet to come. With three perspectives on the most scrutinized engagement of the Afghanistan conflict, one that shook the military to its foundations, Mark Bowden learns the true tragedy of the Battle of Wanat...

Your Prius' Deepest, Darkest Secret
Kiera Butler, Mother Jones | Your Prius' Deepest, Darkest Secret | November 15, 2011

So you're considering buying a hybrid car. Or maybe you already have. Good for you! You're saving a bundle on gas and reducing your environmental footprint at the same time. But fuel isn't the only natural resource that your car requires. Its motor also contains a small amount of neodymium, one of 17 elements listed at the very bottom of the periodic table. Known as the rare earths, these minerals are key to all kinds of green technology...

Farmer Cultivates His Hmong Roots in Fresno
Diana Marcu, Los Angeles Times | Farmer Cultivates His Hmong Roots in Fresno | November 14, 2011

In a different country and different language, Pang Chang's father told him that if he wanted to survive year-to-year, grow vegetables. But for long-term fortune? Plant trees.

So in the flat, open Central Valley, where the summers burn and the winters can bring freezing snaps, Chang grows mangoes, papayas, 20 varieties of guava — some never before cultivated in the U.S. — and jujubes. Not to be confused with the jelly candy sold as movie snacks...

Gloria Steinem: "I think we need to get much angrier"
Rachel Cooke, The Guardian | Gloria Steinem: "I think we need to get much angrier" | November 14, 2011

Gloria Steinem has been an outspoken figure on behalf of women's rights and the pro-choice movement for half a century. Here, she talks about her opposition to cosmetic surgery and her ambivalence about President Obama...

Occupy Wall Street Protesters Shifting to College Campuses
Malia Wollan and Elizabeth A. Harris, The New York Times | Occupy Wall Street Protesters Shifting to College Campuses | November 14, 2011

 

Goodbye, city park, hello, college green. As city officials around the country move to disband Occupy Wall Street encampments amid growing concerns over health and public safety, protesters have begun to erect more tents on college campuses...

Lives During Wartime
Home Fires, The New York Times | Lives During Wartime | November 11, 2011

Last week, the editors of Home Fires invited readers to send their recollections and photographs of members of the United States Armed Forces in acknowledgment of Veterans Day. Below is a selection of those remembrances submitted by friends and family of veterans, and from veterans themselves...

Should Penn State Cancel Its Season?
Room for Debate, The New York Times | Should Penn State Cancel Its Season? | November 11, 2011

Many Penn State students are angry over the firing of their legendary football coach, Joe Paterno. But a rising number of voices outside the university say the school should go further and cancel Saturday’s game or the rest of the football season altogether, in light of the outrage over the university’s handling of sex-crime accusations against a former assistant coach to Paterno. Should Penn State cancel its remaining games?...

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...