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.

An English Thanksgiving, 1942
Thomas Fleming, The Wall Street Journal Opinion | An English Thanksgiving, 1942 | November 24, 2011

With Americans in uniform serving all over the world today, the idea of them celebrating Thanksgiving abroad does not strike anyone as unusual. With Americans locked in a world war in 1942, it certainly was....

The Era of Small and Many
Bill McKibben, Orion Magazine | The Era of Small and Many | November 24, 2011

Earlier this year, my state’s governor asked if I’d give an after-lunch speech to some of his cabinet and other top officials who were in the middle of a retreat. It’s a useful discipline for writers and theorists to have to summarize books in half an hour, and to compete with excellent local ice cream. No use telling these guys how the world should be at some distant future moment when they’ll no longer be in office—instead, can you isolate themes broad enough to be of use to people working on subjects from food to energy to health care to banking to culture, and yet specific enough to help them choose among the options that politics daily throws up? Can you figure out a principle that might undergird a hundred different policies?...

My Life as a White Supremicist
R.M. Schneiderman, Newsweek | My Life as a White Supremacist | November 23, 2011

An FBImole speaks for the first time about life in the seedy world of right-wing terror...

Egypt's Women Warriors Lead Protests in Tahrir Square

Women are on the front lines of Egypt's latest protests, which are raging into their fifth day. The video below shows one radical girl as she marches and chants her way to security forces -- and gets gassed...

On Mars Rover, Tools to Plumb a Methane Mystery
Kenneth Chang, The New York Times | Mars Rover, Tools to Plumb a Methane Mystery | November 23, 2011

There are no cows on Mars. Of that, planetary scientists are certain, which leaves them puzzling over what could be producing methane gas detected in the thin Martian air. Methane molecules are easily blown apart by ultraviolet light from the Sun, so any methane around must have been released recently. Could the gas be burbling from something alive?...

A Serving of Gratitude May Save the Day
John Tierney, The New York Times | A Serving of Gratitude May Save the Day | November 22, 2011

The most psychologically correct holiday of the year is upon us. Thanksgiving may be the holiday from hell for nutritionists, and it produces plenty of war stories for psychiatrists dealing with drunken family meltdowns. But it has recently become the favorite feast of psychologists studying the consequences of giving thanks. Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others, including romantic partners. A new study shows that feeling grateful makes people less likely to turn aggressive when provoked, which helps explain why so many brothers-in-law survive Thanksgiving without serious injury...

Stephen Sondheim Talks About His New Book, 'Look, I Made a Hat'
Malcolm Jones, Newsweek | Stephen Sondheim Talks About His New Book, 'Look, I Made a Hat' | November 22, 2011

<!-- /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} -->Sprawled on a sofa in his Manhattan townhouse, attired in T shirt, gray slacks, and maroon slippers, Sondheim spent an hour last week discussing his work...

All the Single Ladies
Kate Bolick, The Atlantic | All the Single Ladies | November 22, 2011

Recent years have seen an explosion of male joblessness and a steep decline in men’s life prospects that have disrupted the “romantic market” in ways that narrow a marriage-minded woman’s options: increasingly, her choice is between deadbeats (whose numbers are rising) and playboys (whose power is growing). But this strange state of affairs also presents an opportunity: as the economy evolves, it’s time to embrace new ideas about romance and family—and to acknowledge the end of “traditional” marriage as society’s highest ideal...

When Did Liberals Become So Unreasonable?
Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine | When Did Liberals Become So Unreasonable? | November 21, 2011

If we trace liberal disappointment with President Obama to its origins, to try to pinpoint the moment when his crestfallen supporters realized that this was Not Change They Could Believe In, the souring probably began on December 17, 2008, when Obama announced that conservative Evangelical pastor Rick Warren would speak at his inauguration. “Abominable,” fumed John Aravosis on AmericaBlog. “Obama’s ‘inclusiveness’ mantra always seems to head only in one direction—an excuse to scorn progressives and embrace the Right,” seethed Salon’s Glenn Greenwald. On MSNBC, Rachel Maddow rode the story almost nightly: “I think the problem is getting larger for Barack Obama.” Negative 34 days into the start of the Obama presidency, the honeymoon was over.

Since then, the liberal gloom has only deepened...

Bringing Animation Where the News Is
Corey Kilgannon, The New York Times | Bringing Animation Where The News Is | November 21, 2011

Next Media, a Hong Kong-based company with gossipy newspapers in Hong Kong and in Taiwan, has gained an appreciative following for its news cartoons: short animated segments, often humorous and sometimes racy, that provide a visual narrative for major stories.

And nothing is hotter, it seems, than New York City news...