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Stolen Passwords, The Perils of Urban Animal Farming, and Bill Clinton’s Missteps

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

Illustration by Robert Neubecker.

What Do Hackers Do With Stolen Passwords? Add them to dictionaries, trade them on the black market, and use them for “spear phishing,” by Will Oremus. In the wake of massive security breaches at LinkedIn and eHarmony, Oremus explains what cyber-crooks do with stolen passwords. Also check out Farhad Manjoo’s piece on fixing terrible passwords and Brian Palmer’s Explainer on which password-recovery question is most secure.

The Butcher Next Door: Why the rise of DIY urban animal slaughter is bad for people and animals,” by James McWilliams. In recent years, urban über-locavores have turned to do-it-yourself butchery to eliminate the distance between farm and table. Though advocates have put forth convincing arguments against the industrial food system, McWilliams explains the hazards of backyard slaughtering.

Bill in a China Shop: What’s up with Bill Clinton? Has he lost his touch or is he playing a more devious game?” by John Dickerson. Bill Clinton’s recent favorable statements about Mitt Romney, Bain Capital, and the Bush tax cuts have left some wondering, what’s up with the former president? Dickerson considers a series of theories to explain Clinton’s undercutting remarks about the Obama campaign.

Too Young for Facebook: Why the social network’s plan to sign up preteens is a very bad idea,” by Emily Bazelon. Earlier this week, Facebook revealed it is considering allowing children younger than 13 to use the site with parental supervision. Reviewing studies on internet and media consumption and Facebook’s motivations, Bazelon argues that Facebook would not be a good place for young kids to grow up.

All Men Can’t Jump: Why nearly every sport except long-distance running is fundamentally absurd,” by David Stipp. Humans can’t compete with animals when it comes to the raw abilities that constitute athletic prowess: quickness, agility, strength, and ballistic precision. There is, however, one sport for which we are superlatively endowed: long-distance running.

 “Fuzzy and Fizzy: The contested science behind Bloomberg’s ban on large-sized sodas,” by Daniel Engber. Last week, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a plan forbidding the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces in restaurants, sports venues, and movie theaters. Setting aside the political debate on the measure, Engber attempts to answer a simple question: Will the soda ban reduce obesity, or not? Also in Slate, William Saletan questions whether it’s hypocritical for Bloomberg to promote eating contests.

My Narcissism Wears Spanx: How to be vain without being a jerk,” by Simon Doonan. Struggling with self-infatuation? Doonan offers advice to fellow narcissists on avoiding the extremes of assholism.

Nameless Victims: The witnesses against Jerry Sandusky shouldn’t be outed against their will,” by Emily Bazelon. On Monday, the judge in the upcoming molestation trial of Jerry Sandusky denied a request from four of the alleged victims to testify without giving their full names. Though a defendant has a constitutional right to confront his accusers, Bazelon argues that in the case of sexually abused victims, the judge’s ruling “strikes the wrong balance between the right to privacy and the right to self-defense.”

You’ll Hate Windows 8: We may all grow to love it, but Microsoft’s radical operating system redesign will require some painful adjustments,” by Farhad Manjoo. Microsoft’s enormous revamp of its Windows operating system will likely cause immediate, head-pounding frustration for users. Though Manjoo predicts users will reconsider some initial complaints with time, he questions whether the redesign will weather the pushback.

The World’s Toughest Job: Try being a human rights lawyer in China,” by William J. Dobson. In an excerpt from his book, The Dictator’s Learning Curve: Inside the Global Battle for Democracy, Dobson chronicles the life and career of Chinese free speech attorney Pu Zhiqiang.