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.

A Tale of Greek Enterprise and Olive Oil, Smothered in Red Tape
Suzanne Daley, The New York Times | A Tale of Green Enterprise and Olive Oil, Smothered in Red Tape | March 19, 2012

It was about a year ago that Fotis I. Antonopoulos, a successful Web program designer here, decided he wanted to open an e-business selling olive products.

Luckily, he already had a day job.

It took him 10 months — crisscrossing the city to collect dozens of forms and stamps of approval, including proof that he was up to date on his pension contributions — before he could get started. But even that was not enough. In perhaps the strangest twist of all, his board members were required by the Health Department to submit lung X-rays — and stool samples — since this was a food company...

Fighting Stereotypes One Day At A Time
Sophia Chung, Huffington Post | Fighting Stereotypes One Day At A Time | March 18, 2012

In a sea full of software engineers, I stick out like a sore thumb. So much, in fact, that I often need to clarify what I'm doing in a crowd of Silicon Valley's tech elites. The biggest red flag? I'm female.

When I explain that I'm a software engineer, people often respond with surprised expressions or snarky quips about not looking like a "typical" engineer. Most women would find these responses offensive, but these are actually the moments I celebrate most...

The Longform Guide to Early Computing
Max Linsky, Slate | The Longform Guide to Early Computing | March 17, 2012

As the early adopters among us massage their new iPads this weekend, they might want to hearken back to when a computer was a room, and the only thing you touched was a punch-card. Here are our favorite stories from the computer’s early days...

When I Sold Out To Advertising
Ann Abuer, Salon | When I Sold Out To Advertising | March 17, 2012

Like any proper writer and academic, I always shunned the profession. Then I realized I was the delusional one...

Secret Assad Emails Lift Lid on Life of Leader's Inner Circle
Robert Booth, The Guardian | Secret Assad Emails Lift Lid on Life of Leader's Inner Circl | March 16, 2012

Bashar al-Assad took advice from Iran on how to handle the uprising against his rule, according to a cache of what appear to be several thousand emails received and sent by the Syrian leader and his wife.

The Syrian leader was also briefed in detail about the presence of western journalists in the Baba Amr district of Homs and urged to "tighten the security grip" on the opposition-held city in November...

Karzai Sharply Criticizes U.S. Over Shooting Inquiry
Matthew Rosenberg and Sharifullah Sahak, The New YorkTimes | Karzai Sharply Criticizes U.S. Over Shooting Inquiry | March 16, 2012

President Hamid Karzai chastised the United States on Friday, saying that he was at “the end of the rope” over what he termed the United States’ lack of cooperation in investigating the American soldier accused of going on a rampage earlier this month and killing 16 civilians in southern Afghanistan...

Is Silence Going Extinct?
Kim Tingley, The New York Times | Is Silence Going Extinct? | March 16, 2012

Setting off in the predawn gloaming of central Alaska, we were the sounds of swishing snow pants, crunching boots and cold puffs of breath. As sunrise gradually lightened the late November sky, we took visible shape: a single-file parade on a narrow white trail traveling west, deeper into Denali National Park and Preserve. It was three degrees and so still that when we pulled up to rest, I heard no wind, no sibilant leaves, just a barely perceptible ringing in my ears. Tundra swans, kestrels and warblers had all flown south. Grizzlies were asleep in their dens. We tramped over frozen streams and paused to discover water still trickling faintly in hollows below...

Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs
Greg Smith, International Herald Tribune, Opinion | Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs | March 15, 2012

Today is my last day at Goldman Sachs. After almost 12 years at the firm — first as a summer intern while at Stanford, then in New York for 10 years, and now in London — I believe I have worked here long enough to understand the trajectory of its culture, its people and its identity. And I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it...

Is The V-Bomb The New F-Bomb? Can We Limit Jokes Naming Female Anatomy?
Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post | Is The V-Bomb The New F-Bomb? Can We Limit Jokes Naming Female Anatomy? | March 14, 2012

Is the V-bomb the new F-bomb?

And if so, can we declare a moratorium?

In the new comedy “21 Jump Street,” opening Friday, leading men Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill deliver four jokes featuring the word “vagina.” But they’re running a close second to Jennifer Westfeldt, Adam Scott and their co-stars in “Friends With Kids,” an uneven, fitfully funny romantic comedy in which the word is uttered no fewer than five times, a fusillade that grows more grating with every gynecologically themed zinger...

When Gen. Grant Expelled the Jews
Jonathan D. Sarna, Slate | When Gen. Grant Expelled the Jews | March 14, 2012

On Dec. 17, 1862, as the Civil War entered its second winter, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant issued the most notorious anti-Jewish official order in American history: “The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department and also department orders, are hereby expelled from the department within twenty-four hours from the receipt of this order.” Known as General Orders No. 11, the document blamed Jews for the widespread smuggling and cotton speculation that affected the area under Grant’s command...