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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.

Vagine: A New Biography
Naomi Wolf, The Guardian | Vagina: A New Biography | September 5, 2012

In an exclusive extract from her new book, the feminist writer explains how sexist langauge can wreck women's lives...

Bits Of Mystery DNA, Far From 'Junk,' Play Crucial Role
Gina Kolata, The New York Times | Bits Of Mystery DNA, Far From 'Junk,' Play Crucial Role | September 5, 2012

Among the many mysteries of human biology is why complex diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and psychiatric disorders are so difficult to predict and, often, to treat. An equally perplexing puzzle is why one individual gets a disease like cancer or depression, while an identical twin remains perfectly healthy.

Now scientists have discovered a vital clue to unraveling these riddles. The human genome is packed with at least four million gene switches that reside in bits of DNA that once were dismissed as “junk” but that turn out to play critical roles in controlling how cells, organs and other tissues behave...

Special Ops Veterans Respond To Navy SEAL Book 'No Easy Day'

One day before Mark Bissonnette's controversial tell-all on the bin Laden raid is released, his colleagues have published their own e-book response to what they call the "greatest betrayal"...

 

Project Aims To Harness the Power Of Waves
Kirk Johnson, The New York Times | Project Aims To Harness The Power Of Waves | September 4, 2012

About 15 years ago, this environmentally conscious state with a fir tree on its license plates began pushing the idea of making renewable energy from the ocean waves that bob and swell on the Pacific horizon. But then one of the first test-buoy generators, launched with great fanfare, promptly sank. It was not a good start.

But time and technology turned the page, and now the first commercially licensed grid-connected wave-energy device in the nation, designed by a New Jersey company, Ocean Power Technologies, is in its final weeks of testing before a planned launch in October...       

The John Cage Century
Alex Ross, The New Yorker | The John Cage Century | September 4, 2012

John Cage would have been a hundred years old tomorrow. Scratch that: Cage is a hundred. He remains a palpably vivid presence, still provoking thought, still spurring argument, still spreading sublime mischief. He may have surpassed Stravinsky as the most widely cited, the most famous and/or notorious, of twentieth-century composers. His influence extends far outside classical music, into contemporary art and pop culture. When I wrote at length about Cage in 2010, I noted that he accomplished something like a colossal land grab, annexing the entire landscape of sound, from pure noise to pure silence. If you hear several radios playing together, it sounds like Cage. If the P.A. system makes a horrible noise during a lecture, it sounds like Cage. (I’ve used that joke more than once.) Because Cage made his music sound like the world, the world sounds like Cage. It’s a neat trick, and it could be done only once...

McDonald's Opens Vegetarian-Only Restaurant
BBC Business News | McDonald's Opens Vegetarian-Only Restaurant | September 4, 2012

The standard-bearer of the hamburger, McDonald's, is bowing to local demand and is opening a meat-free restaurant in India...

Greed And Debt: The True Story Of Mitt Romney And Bain Capital
Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone | Greed And Debt: The True Story Of Mitt Romney And Bain Capital | August 30, 2012

The great criticism of Mitt Romney, from both sides of the aisle, has always been that he doesn't stand for anything. He's a flip-flopper, they say, a lightweight, a cardboard opportunist who'll say anything to get elected.

The critics couldn't be more wrong. Mitt Romney is no tissue-paper man. He's closer to being a revolutionary, a backward-world version of Che or Trotsky, with tweezed nostrils instead of a beard, a half-Windsor instead of a leather jerkin. His legendary flip-flops aren't the lies of a bumbling opportunist – they're the confident prevarications of a man untroubled by misleading the nonbeliever in pursuit of a single, all-consuming goal. Romney has a vision, and he's trying for something big: We've just been too slow to sort out what it is, just as we've been slow to grasp the roots of the radical economic changes that have swept the country in the last generation...

Dispatches From The Republican National Convention: Here's A List Of Some Of The Whoppers That Paul Ryan Served Up Wednesday Night

Rice got the best pre-Ryan reception, definitely, but these nights are rigged for the veep speeches. The lights dim a little. The floor gets packed—so packed that reporters were told to stay away, lest we violate fire codes, starting at 10:20 pm.

So I was in the cheap seats, not on carpet, when Ryan plowed through one of the more impressive strings of whoppers we've seen at this level. Ryan's been doling out chunks of this speech for weeks, which made the fibs sound even stranger.

In the spirit of the Internet, I will package them in listicle form...

Rapists, Beware: Detroit Prosecutor IDs 21 Attackers in 'Rape Kit' Investigation

Twenty-one serial rapists have been identified in a massive investigation led by Detroit prosecutor Kym Worthy—and her manhunt has only just begun.

Worthy is leading a charge to investigate more than 11,000 police “rape kits”—which contain swabs of semen, saliva, and other evidence of rape—so the rapists can be brought to justice. The thousands of rape kits had piled up in a dusty police warehouse in Detroit for years, ignored, until one of Worthy’s colleagues stumbled upon them in 2009. Since then, an outraged Worthy has been fighting to get the kits logged, tested for DNA, and then entered into the national DNA database...

The Secret Weapon: All Of Us
Nicholas D. Kristof, The International Herald Tribune, Op Ed | The Secret Weapon: All Of Us | August 29, 2012

...

Prof. Robert S. McElvaine of Millsaps College examined employment data for the 64 years from the beginning of Harry Truman’s presidency to the end of George W. Bush’s. He found that an average of two million jobs were created per year when a Democrat was president, compared with one million annually when a Republican was president.

More pointedly, and unfortunately for Romney, business executives have only a mediocre record when transferring their skills to government...