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Debating the Use of Real Names Online and Other Fascinating News on the Web

6 minute read

1. My Name Is…

In a moment of distinguished poignancy, the esteemed philosopher Eminem once said: “I am whatever you say I am, if I wasn’t, then why would I say I am?” It turns out that what seemed like a rhetorical question has become more difficult to answer in the age of social networks. After much protesting by a group of drag queens, Facebook has issued a public apology and promised to tweak its policy of requiring that all profiles include user’s “real names.” As The Atlantic’s Jessa Lingel and Tarleton Gillespie explain, what seems like a narrow issue has broader implications: “If we’re willing to look past the glitter, the makeup, and the fabulous hair, the issue beneath is an important one … Must we be ‘ourselves’ online? Can we allow people to be playful or protective about their online personas, while still avoiding the abuses that seem to accompany pseudonymity? And most importantly, who decides?” And won’t the real Slim Shady please stand up?

+ The New Yorker: Who’s real enough for Facebook?

2. Spread Dread

“As a precaution, the four people who live in the home where [Thomas E]. Duncan was staying have been ordered to stay in their apartment and a law enforcement official has been posted outside.” Officials in Texas are working to monitor around 100 people who may have had some kind of contact with the Ebola patient or his family members.

+ Here’s Thomas Frieden, the direct of the CDC: “I have no doubt that we will control this importation, or case, of Ebola so that it does not spread widely in this country.” And here’s NPR: Why is Frieden so sure this virus won’t spread beyond a handful of cases?

+ One of the key challenges facing officials was finding medical workers who were willing to clean the apartment where Thomas E. Duncan was staying.

+ “You see people dying like chickens.” While there is understandable concern around America’s first case of Ebola, it’s worth connecting this relatively minor story to the terrifying, isolating reality of life on the front lines of the Ebola crisis.

3. Secret Agent, Man

“The 6,700-member agency, long an elite class of skilled professionals who prized their jobs, now suffers from diminished luster and historically high turnover rates … Some agents who have sworn to take a bullet for the president and his family have little faith in the wisdom or direction of their ­senior-most leaders.” The turmoil surrounding the Secret Service has led to the resignation of its director, Julia Pierson, who has only held the top spot for eighteen months.

+ “I don’t lose sleep about it. Because the realities are, as a black man, you know, Barack can get shot going to the gas station.” Jelani Cobb: Barack Obama’s Safety.

4. Hard News

In these days of Internet hoaxes and Twitter journalism, we sometimes forget about the excellent journalists who do the hard work of digging deep into hard news. These stories often have a huge impact. Meet Carol Leonnig. You are definitely aware of her work. From Yahoo News: The reporter who brought down the Secret Service’s director.

+ Want to see how big an impact investigative journalism can have? Check out the work of my friends at the excellent Center for Investigative Reporting: 3 investigations, 3 new laws.

5. Be Courteous, Kind and Dangerous

As the protests continue to grow, Hong Kong’s chief executive has offered to have his second in command seek talks with demonstrators.

+ “Rather than presenting scenes of smashed shops or violent confrontations with the police … the photos from central Hong Kong show smiling students sitting around doing their homework, passing out donations of food, and meticulously picking up litter — even sorting out the recyclables.” From Slate: The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

6. Jihadiville

“They have earned their reputations over the past four years by being the first to report key developments later confirmed by mainstream research and reporting — such as the split between the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, the burst of jihadi recruitment in the West, and the entry of Hezbollah into the Syrian battle.” They are not part of any intelligence department. They don’t work for the government. They are self-made experts with an internet connection. From The Boston Globe’s Thanassis Cambanis: The Jihadi Hunters.

7. Enter the Sandman

Netflix has signed Adam Sandler to an exclusive four-movie deal. Don’t laugh. Sandler’s movies have grossed a cool $3.9 billion worldwide. In a prepared statement, Sandler explained: “When these fine people came to me with an offer to make four movies for them, I immediately said yes for one reason and one reason only … Netflix rhymes with wet chicks. Let the streaming begin!” ($3.9 billion…)

+ I find it hard to cheer about content exclusives. I want to watch what I want to watch where I want to watch it. But this deal is probably a good one for both Netflix and Sandler, who as Chris Plante explains, just became Billy Madison: rich, entitled, and rewarded for putting in the least effort imaginable. (And they said the American dream was dead.)

8. Going With the Norm

“He was to shed the gentle Irish intellectual Carroll O’Connor to become the poorly educated, full-of-himself blowhard Archie Bunker, spewing a kind of rancid, lights-out conservatism for a television audience that grew quickly to more than 50 million people.” The Hollywood Reporter has some excerpts from Normal Lear’s new memoir. When it comes to exploring issues of race on television, Norman Lear was ahead of his time. And ahead of our time.

+ Why Tom and Jerry cartoons carry a racism warning.

9. The Offspring of My Discontent

“Nothing in life is allowed to be more important than our children, and we must never speak a disloyal word about our relationships with our offspring. Children always come first … Once our gods have left us, we try to pick up the pieces of our long neglected marriages and find new purpose. Is it surprising that divorce rates are rising fastest for new empty nesters?” Astro and Danielle Teller share their take on how American parenting is killing American marriage. (I can’t wait to see how their kids respond on Snapchat.)

10. The Bottom of the News

“I respect Starbucks for its business sense, customer service and amenities including clean bathrooms and WiFi. But unless I am checking a new store off my list, I would not go there for the coffee.” And this guy (who calls himself Winter) should know. He’s been to 11,733 Starbucks so far.

+ The honey lobby wants the feds to define honey. While we’re on the topic, why do honeybees die when they sting?

+ Mayor Bill de Blasio has never been to the High Line. New York Mayor Bill de Blassio.

+ Elon Musk sent Tesla’s stock soaring with a cryptic Tweet that read: “About time to unveil the D and something else.” The last time I said something like that I ended up spending the night in jail.

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