The Atlantic Daily: A Mysterious Crash in Egypt, Lessig Drops Out, Australia Ditches Knighthoods

Investigators probe the crash of a Russian passenger plane, a Harvard Law professor abandons his presidential bid, Australia revises its honors system, and more.

Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Reuters

What We’re Following: What Happened to Metrojet Flight 9268?

Metrojet Flight 9268 could only have been brought down by external forces, a senior Russian aviation official claimed Monday, raising fears that terrorism caused the crash. The airliner broke up in midair Saturday over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing 217 passengers and seven crew members. Egyptian and Russian authorities are probing a claim of responsibility for the crash that is reportedly attributed to ISIS.

Lessig Ends Campaign: Harvard Law professor and Internet pioneer Lawrence Lessig withdrew from the Democratic presidential race on Monday, ending what many considered to be a quixotic campaign-finance-reform campaign for the White House. Lessig cited his exclusion from the debates as a key factor for his decision. He is the third Democratic candidate to withdraw in the last two weeks.

A Knightmare Ends: Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced Monday that the country would no longer name knights and dames to the Order of Australia. His predecessor Tony Abbott briefly reintroduced the titles last year to mockery from the public and press, who jokingly called it a “knightmare.”


An animation showing Hammerfest, Finnmark, Norway, in 1889, then again in 2004. Hammerfest was a fishing community and a market town with the best ice-free harbor in these northerly waters. During the German retreat in February 1945, the entire town was burned down; the houses rebuilt in the 1950s still characterize the town today. For more interactive images of Norway, past and present, visit The Atlantic Photo.


Bryan Fry, who studies venomous reptiles, on toxins: “They aren’t magically created by the toxin fairy.”

Sarah Edelman, an expert on housing policy: “It’s easy to say the housing crisis is over, but for many parts of the country, it’s certainly not.”

Nancy Hoffman, vice president of the education nonprofit Jobs for the Future: “If you want to impede the maturity process for teenagers, put them all together and don’t let them out.”

News Quiz

1. In Australia, failure to _______ incurs a $20 fine.

(See answer or scroll to the bottom.)

2. ARPANET, the precursor to the modern Internet, sent its first message on October 29, _______.

(See answer or scroll to the bottom.)

3. The Kansas City Royals came from behind to win ________ playoff games this season, including all four World Series games.

(See answer or scroll to the bottom.)

Evening Read

Robinson Meyer on the decay of Twitter:

On Twitter, people say things that they think of as ephemeral and chatty. Their utterances are then treated as unequivocal political statements by people outside the conversation. Because there’s a kind of sensationalistic value in interpreting someone’s chattiness in partisan terms, tweets “are taken up as magnum opi to be leapt upon and eviscerated, not only by ideological opponents or threatened employers but by in-network peers.”

Anthropologists who study digital spaces have diagnosed that a common problem of online communication is “context collapse.” This plays with the oral-literate distinction: When you speak face-to-face, you’re always judging what you’re saying by the reaction of the person you’re speaking to. But when you write (or make a video or a podcast) online, what you’re saying can go anywhere, get read by anyone, and suddenly your words are finding audiences you never imagined you were speaking to.

I think [the scholar Bonnie] Stewart is identifying a new facet of this. It’s not quite context collapse, because what’s collapsing aren’t audiences so much as expectations. Rather, it’s a collapse of speech-based expectations and print-based interpretations. It’s a consequence of the oral-literate hybrid that flourishes online. It’s conversation smoosh.

Reader Response

A reader responds to our question of “What to do about ISIS?”:

I’m not sure what the answer is for beating the Islamic State. It might well come down to some U.S. ground troops, at least within Iraq. The DoD considers this a long-term problem, and they’re right to do so. But the apparent lack of concern for other Islamic State affiliates suggests to me that the U.S. is getting close to suffering from a dangerously narrow view. The Islamic State is an insurgency linked to Sunni discontent in Iraq and Syria, but it is also an international terrorist group that can function outside the realm of a traditional insurgency. It worries me that U.S. policy seems to be contradicting itself, focusing on either one aspect or the other rather than the whole. We’re focused narrowly on the military aspect of conflict in Iraq and Syria, and to a lesser extent the political aspects, but not addressing the regional issues that underpin the problem.

Read the rest of this detailed response, and share your own thoughts, here.


Grocery-toting robots designed, Star Trek revived, “Gourmet Cat” poem recovered.

Answers: vote, 1969, eight