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.

Critic's Notebook: Obama Photo Is A Snapshot Of A Modern, Equal Marriage
Philip Kennicott, The Washington Post | Snapshot Of A Modern, Equal Marriage | November 8, 2012

Who is embracing whom in that photograph of the Obamas that went viral on election night? The photograph, shot from below and isolating the first couple against a cloudy sky, shows the president embracing his wife at a campaign rally in August. The first lady is seen from behind, enclosed in the arms of the president, whose eyes are closed. Sent from the president’s Twitter account Tuesday night shortly after news networks declared him the winner, the photograph was immediately retweeted hundreds of thousands of times, making it the most popular image in Twitter history and propelling it to instant love across a host of social-networking programs...

Romney Lost Because Of My Dad
Grizzard, Daily Kos | Romney Lost Because Of My Dad | November 8, 2012

No, my dad is not Barack Obama, David Plouffe, or even the guy who filmed the 47% video.

But Romney lost because of my dad and voters like him. Today, I have read the predictable Republican tripe about Obama winning because his voting coalition wanted "free stuff." Predictably, these racially driven rants overestimate the number of minority voters in the country and assign prejudicial, nefarious motives to those mythical voters.

What Republicans don't understand is that they lost this election not because black people, or women, or Latinos, or young people or intellectuals decided to vote for Obama. They lost this election because their policies have now gotten too extreme for people like my dad...

Southfield Twp. Voter Appears To Die, Then Asks 'Did I Vote?'
Tom Greenwood and Rod Beard, The Detroit News | Southfield Twp. Voter Appears To Die, Then Asks 'Did I Vote?' | November 7, 2012

Ty Houston, 48, a home care registered nurse, was toiling on his absentee ballot Monday afternoon when things got strange at township offices on 13 Mile.

"I was filling out the form as were an elderly couple sitting at a nearby table," said Houston on Tuesday. "His wife, who was helping him fill out the ballot, asked him a couple of questions but he didn't respond. She screamed for help and I went over to see what I could do."

Houston laid the victim on the floor and went to work.

"He was dead," Houston said...

Checking In On The Bungaloonies
Mary Norris, The New Yorker | Checking In On The Bungaloonies | November 7, 2012

I braved it on Saturday: the return to Rockaway to see what damage the hurricane had wrought. The streets are like dirt roads. Cars are upended against fences. Bicycles are in the trees. The high-water mark is visible in the form of debris stuck to chain-link fences at anywhere from three to five and a half feet. People who rode out the storm were back on the block. My neighbor Tom, who, with his dog and a friend, had spent the night of the rising tide in the loft, is staying with his in-laws in Brooklyn. He told me of another neighbor who had spent the night on a ladder, keeping his daughter’s dog afloat on a piece of Styrofoam. The Master Plumber was staying at Connolly’s (the beloved basement bar was flooded) and had come back for his cats. The chattiest person on the block, her long braid sectioned off with rubber bands, an eternal can of Bud in her hand, has moved back in with her ex-husband. Rochelle was at her mother’s, Patti was at her son’s… Everyone was in shock: wondering how far inland they needed to travel to get to a working cash machine, who would help them drag the sodden sofa to the curb, what will happen to the bungalow colony? Can the places possibly be dried out before the cold weather sets in? Not unless the power comes on soon...

The Five Stages Of GOP Grief
Paul Begala, The Daily Beast | The Fives Stages Of GOP Grief | November 7, 2012

The most powerful and profound words of the 2012 election were spoken by Michelle Obama:  “Being president,” she said, “doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are.” So does running for president. Character is shown in adversity, and President Obama, who took office in the most adverse of circumstances; who stumbled critically in the first debate; who was hit with a depression in his first days of his term and a hurricane in the last, has shown his character. With his relentless, gifted, remarkable team he has accomplished a near-miracle—winning a second term with neither peace nor prosperity to run on.

I am deeply impressed and of course happy. For me this is the best thing since canned beer. But I want to devote this space to my Republican friends. As another president who once drove you crazy used to say, “I feel your pain.”...

Everyone Wants A Slice Of Raspberry Pi
Miranda Sawyer, The Guardian | Everyone Wants A Slice Of Raspberry Pi | November 4, 2012

The L25 programmable computer invented by British scientists has turned into a global sensation. Will it encourage kids to teach themselves code, or just end up in the hands of nerds?

It's 9am on a lovely autumn morning at Cern, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, just outside Geneva. The sun shines on to an open vista of fields and mountains, glistens off nearby lakes. It's an ideal day for cycling, walking, picnicking; almost anything other than messing around with computers in the dark.

I am standing in the dark, watching people mess around with computers. Scruffy young men take cables out of plastic carrier bags and plug them into the back of television screens. They connect up keyboards, slot in SD cards, bung long leads into USB jacks. Parcel tape is slathered over stray cords to stick them in place. Somehow, I thought that Cern, the closest thing to a Bond lab on the planet, would be more sophisticated than this...

Libya Attack Shows Pentagon's Limits In Region
Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt, The New York Times | Libya Attack Shows Pentagon's Limits in Region | November 4, 2012

About three hours after the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, came under attack, the Pentagon issued an urgent call for an array of quick-reaction forces, including an elite Special Forces team that was on a training mission in Croatia.

The team dropped what it was doing and prepared to move to the Sigonella naval air station in Sicily, a short flight from Benghazi and other hot spots in the region. By the time the unit arrived at the base, however, the surviving Americans at the Benghazi mission had been evacuated to Tripoli, and Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were dead...

Hurrican Sandy And The Myth of the Big Government-vs.-Small-Government Debate

Quite a shock the other day to look out my window in Jersey City, and see the Hudson River rushing over what used to be the street in front of my building. For nearly three days my dog and I played Robinson Crusoe and Friday, sleepily watching from our little apartment-island while we waited for hot water, cell service, the internet, even elevators to come back on line.

When I finally got back on the internet and was able to read the news again, I saw that Hurricane Sandy, in addition to being the rare storm to live up to its televised hype, had turned into the last-minute curveball plot twist that always seems to pop up in presidential races...


Chart: Almost Every Obama Conspiracy Theory Ever
Asawin Suebsaeng and Dave Gilson, Mother Jones | Chart: Almost Every Obama Conspiracy Theory Ever | November 2, 2012

Barack Obama's presidency has been an inspiration to many Americans—especially nutjobs. Ever since the first-black-president-to-be appeared on the national political stage, a cottage industry of conservative conspiracy theorists has churned out bizarro, paranoid, and just plain racist effluvia—some of which has trickled into the political mainstream. Below, we've charted some of the Obama-baiters best (i.e. worst) work. (Scroll down for more detailed descriptions of the conspiracy theories in the diagram.)...

Some Notes On The Novella
Ian McEwan, The New Yorker | Some Notes On The Novella | November 2, 2012

When a character in my recent book, “Sweet Tooth,” publishes his short first work of fiction, he finds some critics are suggesting that he has done something unmanly or dishonest. His experience reflects my own. A novella? Perhaps you don’t have the necessary creative juice. Isn’t the print rather large, aren’t the lines too widely spaced? Perhaps you’re trying to pass off inadequate goods and fool a trusting public.

Composers, including those of the highest rank, have never had such problems of scale. Who doubts the greatness of Beethoven’s piano sonatas and string quartets or of Schubert’s songs? Some, like me, prefer them to the symphonies of either man. Who could harden his heart against the intimate drama of Mozart’s G minor trio, or not lose himself in the Goldberg variations or not stand in awe of the D minor Chaconne played on a lonesome violin?...