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.

David Foster Wallace: The Last Audit
Tom McCarthy, The New York Times Book Review | David Foster Wallace: The Last Audit | April 15, 2011

It seems to me there are two ways of understanding the document assembled from a jumble of boxes, disks and printed or handwritten papers that, at the time of David Foster Wallace’s suicide in 2008, ran into the high hundreds of pages — a document that, conscientiously and intelligently whittled down by Wallace’s editor Michael Pietsch to 500-odd pages, is now being published under the title “The Pale King,” and, just as significantly, the subtitle “An Unfinished Novel.”...

Fukushima's Hidden Fallout
Foreign Policy | Fukushima's Hidden Fallout | April 15, 2011

The Japanese government estimates that the damage from the March 11 earthquake alone will top $300 billion, already making it the costliest natural disaster in history. But its broader impact on the global economy may prove even more profound...

How Did Dinosaurs Have Sex?
Brian Palmer, Slate | How Did Dinosaurs Have Sex? | April 15, 2011

The American Museum of Natural History in New York will unveil an exhibition of the world's largest dinosaurs this Saturday. Some visitors may wonder how the creatures could ever eat enough to sustain their size, but the Explainer's mind is in the Jurassic gutter. How did those monsters manage to have sex?...

Notes Of A Military Son
Mark Alexander, Black Voices | Notes Of A Military Son | April 14, 2011

During this week -- Military Families Week -- I am reminded of the valuable lessons I learned from my father about the humanity and importance of those who defend our freedom...

North Korea Identifies Detained American
CNN Wire Staff | North Korea Identifies Detained American | April 14, 2011

North Korea has identified a detained American man, who was arrested last year for "committing a crime" against the reclusive nation, according to state-run media. "U.S. citizen Jun Young Su was arrested in November 2010."...

9 Things The Rich Don't Want You To Know About Taxes
David Cay Johnston, Willamette Week | 9 Things The Rich Don't Want You To Know About Taxes | April 14, 2011

For three decades we have conducted a massive economic experiment, testing a theory known as supply-side economics. The theory goes like this: Lower tax rates will encourage more investment, which in turn will mean more jobs and greater prosperity—so much so that tax revenues will go up, despite lower rates. The late Milton Friedman, the libertarian economist who wanted to shut down public parks because he considered them socialism, promoted this strategy. Ronald Reagan embraced Friedman’s ideas and made them into policy when he was elected president in 1980. For the past decade, we have doubled down on this theory of supply-side economics with the tax cuts sponsored by President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003, which President Obama has agreed to continue for two years.

You would think that whether this grand experiment worked would be settled after three decades...

Rooftop To Table Gardening In NYC
Petrina TV, The Huffington Post | Rootfop To Table Gardening In NYC | April 13, 2011

A new short film by Petrina TV puts some faces to the rooftop farming movement in New York City. Patrick Connolly of Bobo in Greenwich Village explains, "it's great to say your produce came 50 miles from here, but to say that it came from the roof above your apartment building, that's even better."...

How Manhattan Drum-Taps Led
Tom Chaffin, New York Times Opinionator | 'How Manhattan Drum-Taps Led | April 13, 2011

On the evening of April 12, 1861, Walt Whitman attended a performance of Fromental Halévy’s opera “The Jewess” at the Academy of Music, on 14th Street and Irving Place in Manhattan. Just before midnight he was walking down the west side of Broadway, toward the Fulton Ferry to return to his home, in Brooklyn. Suddenly, he later recalled, he “heard in the distance the loud cries of the newsboys, who came presently tearing and yelling up the street, rushing from side to side more furiously than usual.”...

Egyptian Prosecutors Order 15-Day Detention of Hosni Mubarak
David D. Kirkpatrick and Liam Stack, The New York Times | Egyptian Prosecutors Order 15-Day Detention of Hosni Mubarak | April 13, 2011

Former President Hosni Mubarak and his two sons have been detained for 15 days for questioning about corruption and the abuse of power during Mr. Mubarak’s three-decade rule, Egyptian authorities said Wednesday...

A Conflict's Acoustic Shadows
Ken Burns, New York Times Opinionator | A Conflict's Acoustic Shadows | April 12, 2011

More than once during the Civil War, newspapers reported a strange phenomenon. From only a few miles away, a battle sometimes made no sound — despite the flash and smoke of cannon and the fact that more distant observers could hear it clearly. These eerie silences were called “acoustic shadows.” Tuesday, the 150th anniversary of the first engagement of the Civil War, the Confederacy’s attack on Fort Sumter, we ask again whether in our supposedly post-racial, globalized, 21st-century world those now seemingly distant battles of the mid-19th century still have any relevance...