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.

Legendary Bass Player 'Duck' Dunn of Booker T and the MGs Dies inTokyo at Age 70

Donald “Duck” Dunn, the bassist who helped create the gritty Memphis soul sound at Stax Records in the 1960s as part of the legendary group Booker T. and the MGs and contributed to such classics as “In the Midnight Hour,” ‘’Hold On, I’m Coming” and “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay,” died Sunday at 70. Dunn, whose legacy as one of the most respected session musicians in the business also included work with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd’s Blues Brothers as well as with Levon Helm, Eric Clapton, Neil Young and Bob Dylan, died while on tour in Tokyo...

Do Toms Shoes Really Help People?
Kiera Butler, Mother Jones | Do Toms Shoes Really Help People? | May 14, 2012

When Toms—a company that, for every pair of shoes you buy, gives a pair to someone in the developing world—was founded in 2006, shoe hoarders rejoiced: A robust collection of kicks was no longer reason for your friends to compare you to a certain Filipina dictator—oh, no! A pile of Toms canvas sneakers and wedge heels actually added to your do-gooder cred. According to its website, by September 2010 Toms had given away more than a million shoes. Toms has since expanded; in addition to shoes it now sells glasses under the same model...

Andrew Sullivan on Barack Obama: The First Gay President
Andrew Sullivan, Newsweek | Andrew Sullivan on Barack Obama: The First Gay President | May 14, 2012

The president's bold support shifted the mainstream. Andrew Sullivan on why it shouldn't be surprising -- Obama's life as a biracial man has deep ties to the gay experience...

'Crossing the Borders of Time:' A Mother's Rekindled Love
Sandra McElwaine, The Daily Beast | 'Crossing the Borders of Time'" A Mother's Rekindled Love | May 13, 2012

Enraptured by her mother's tales of a lost romance on the eve of the Holocaust, Leslie Maitland went to Europe and tracked down the old flame. Sandra McElwaine on the remarkable book...

Family Way
Judith Warner, New York Times Book Review | Family Way | May 13, 2012

Just as everyone was getting ready to throw out the Baby Bjorns and start practicing detachment parenting à la française comes a new book, from the esteemed philosopher Elisabeth Badinter, warning that French motherhood isn’t all it’s cracked up to be...

Jefferson's Lifelong Dream
Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg, Salon | Jefferson's Dream | May 12, 2012

“The only security of all is in a free press.”  Thomas Jefferson wrote these words to the Marquis de Lafayette at the age of 80. The reason Jefferson lauded a free press was that he wished, in tense political times, for the U.S. to function as a deliberative democracy, in which an increasingly better-educated citizenry monitored the policy decisions of its elected representatives and judged whether or not they deserved to remain in office.

A better-educated citizenry. That was Jefferson’s mantra, and it should be ours, too...


Tuition Is Too Damn High
Andrew Leonard, Salon | Tuition Is Too Damn High | May 11, 2012

Government is to blame for rising higher education costs -- but not for the reasons the GOP tells you...


Pur Your Rage Into a Cartoon and Exit Laughing
Paul Boutin, The New York Times | Put Your Rage Into a Cartoon and Exit laughing | May 10, 2012

When you get angry, you can lash out or seethe inside.

Or you can head to the Web to assemble and publish a cartoon to share some of that rage. Many people with little to no artistic ability -- but with some pretty funny tales -- do that in something called rage comics....

How to Use the Internet Wisely, for Your Health and Your Country's
Howard Rheingold, The Atlantic | How to Use the Internet Wisely, for Your Health and Your Country's | May 10, 2012

Use the following methods and tools to protect yourself from toxic bad info. Use them and then pass them along to others. Promote the notion that more info literacy is a practical answer to the growing info pollution. Be the change you want to see...

Primary Results: 5 Takeaways
Maggie Haberman, Politico | Primary Results: 5 Takeaways | May 9, 2012

Conservatives claimed two major victories, and Scott Walker’s main event finally arrived Tuesday night after a tandem set of state-based elections that will have a ripple effect in the fall.

Votes in the Indiana Republican Senate primary, Wisconsin’s Democratic gubernatorial primary for the June recall election and North Carolina’s vote on an amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions are now over, but they’re leaving an indelible mark on the shape of the 2012 contests...