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 Sister's Eulogy for Steve Jobs
Mona Simpson, International Herald Tribune | A Sister's Eulogy for Steve Jobs | October 30, 2011

I grew up as an only child, with a single mother. Because we were poor and because I knew my father had emigrated from Syria, I imagined he looked like Omar Sharif. I hoped he would be rich and kind and would come into our lives (and our not yet furnished apartment) and help us. Later, after I’d met my father, I tried to believe he’d changed his number and left no forwarding address because he was an idealistic revolutionary, plotting a new world for the Arab people.

Even as a feminist, my whole life I’d been waiting for a man to love, who could love me. For decades, I’d thought that man would be my father. When I was 25, I met that man and he was my brother...

Lynda Barry Will Make You Believe In Yourself
Dan Kois, The New York Times Magazine | Lynda Barry Will Make You Believe In Yourself | October 30, 2011

Here are some details about Lynda Barry that didn’t appear in her autobiographical song. She’s a cartoonist whose weekly strip, “Ernie Pook’s Comeek,” was a staple of alternative newsweeklies for almost 30 years. (Next month, the publisher Drawn & Quarterly will release “Blabber Blabber Blabber,” the first in a 10-volume retrospective series of her work.) She dips Copenhagen tobacco and fights against wind farms. She e-mails stupid YouTube links to her old buddy Matt Groening, the creator of “The Simpsons.”...

Democracy Wins in Tunisia
Rep. Jane Harman, The Daily Beast | Democracy Wins in Tunisia | October 29, 2011

From peaceful revolution to free elections in just nine months, the birthplace of the Arab Spring has achieved a stunning transition. Now we must embrace the victors and ensure strong roles for women, former representative Jane Harman says from Tunis...

Euro Bailout: An Animated Explanation
Tom Meltzer, The Guardian | Euro Bailout: An Animated Explanation | October 29, 2011

Are you confused about what the Euro bailout actually is? So were we! Tom Meltzer tries to explain with the help of his animated friends...

Obituary: Sir Hilary Synnott
The Telegraph | Obituary: Sir Hilary Synnott | October 29, 2011

In Bad Days in Basra (2008), his memoir of the six months he spent in Iraq, Synnott recorded, in devastating detail, the chaotic reality behind the Coalition Provisional Authority's attempts to establish civic governance; the dysfunctional relationship between the two occupying powers, Britain and America; and lack of planning and support from the government back home...

Madoff and his Models
Ron Chernow, The New Yorker | Madoff and his Models | October 28, 2011

In financial history, Ponzi schemes—the fraudulent enterprise of paying off old investors with money collected from new ones—are the most peculiar of crimes. Before they are detected, they seem exquisitely pleasing to perpetrators and victims alike. The fraud appears to be a bountiful gift that the confidence trickster, a generous soul and a financial wizard to boot, has bestowed upon a grateful world. Investors frequently revere the schemer, endowing him with magical properties. The schemer, in turn, may come to believe that his scheme isn’t altogether shady and that he will someday generate the sensational returns advertised. For the duration of a Ponzi scheme, it may seem like a victimless crime. Not surprisingly, when the impostor is exposed, the victims experience profound hurt and disillusionment, having trusted implicitly in the schemer against a chorus of naysayers...

The Reign of the One Percenters
Christopher Ketcham, Orion Magazine | The Reign of the One Percenters | October 28, 2011

Income inequality and the death of culture in New York City...

Libya's Sexual Revolution
Ellen Knickmeyer, Foreign Policy | Libya's Sexual Revolution | October 28, 2011

When it comes to love, Muammar al-Qaddafi's Libya was unlucky for unmarried 33-year-old truck driver Ahmed Nori Faqiar. His looks would have benefited if his parents could ever have sprung for a dentist. Lack of means forced him to live unhappily at his childhood home well into adulthood. Marriage, a home of his own, kids -- all are dreams that the wiry Libyan had long ago steeled himself to stop hoping for...

China Reins in Liberalization of Culture
Sharon Lafraniere, Michael Wines and Edward Wong | China Reins in Liberalization of Culture | October 27, 2011

Political censorship in this authoritarian state has long been heavy-handed. But for years, the Communist Party has tolerated a creeping liberalization in popular culture, tacitly allowing everything from popular knockoffs of “American Idol”-style talent shows to freewheeling microblogs that let media groups prosper and let people blow off steam. Now, the party appears to be saying "enough."...

Neil Gaiman, Gloria Steinem, and Other Writers Weigh in on Occupy Wall Street

Earlier this month, the writer Jeff Sharlet emailed novelist Salman Rushdie to suggest a petition for writers who support Occupy Wall Street. Rushdie loved the idea. So Sharlet enlisted the help of fellow journalist Kiera Feldman, plus the assistance of literary magazines n + 1 and Tin House. The website for Occupy Writers went live on October 13. At first a petition and list of signatories, the site soon began publishing: poems by Alice Walker, prose by Francine Prose, and more...