Is your username a mask that hides … or a hint that reveals?


I grabbed my username randomly when “Chispa,” my first choice, was taken and the system offered Chispa+a bunch of numbers. I didn’t want to be one among a Chispa multitude here, so I pondered another choice. The real-life Chispa, a parrot who lives up to this Spanish word’s meaning in Latin America—spunky and clever—was practicing singing “his song,” a salsa number from Mongo Santamaria. I had modified the actual title, “Bésame Mama,” to “Bésame Chispa, “and the parrot was singing “Bésame … bésame … BAY-sah-may cheese-PAH” over and over.

Our usernames are open to misinterpretation. For a year after I began participating, people thought my name was “Be Same” or “Be Sammy,” and called me “brother.” I, too, misread names—ericlewis0, for example. In my mind, I said “ericale wiso,” missing that the division should be “eric lewis 0.” Other names that are impossible to speak or to spell are unwieldy when a group of commenters mention each other regularly, as in the Daily Bucket. Two members, fll7612 and 6402093 (his user ID number) became “filly” and “64” (and “Redwoodman”) to circumvent this unspeakable difficulty.

Years ago, Community member BFSkinner, who abandoned that name and now participates as CameronProf, asked people to share their username origin stories in “Where does your handle come from?” Several people remarked about the importance of anonymity to avoid harassment for views that aren’t popular at their work. Other responses ranged from pet names or variations on the member’s real name, to clues about the users,  such as professions (exatc, “a retired air traffic controller, hence Ex-ATC”), study organism (Arabiflora, a plant scientist “using the Arabidopsis model system”), and status (Vetwife, “a wife married to a Vet”). 

Mother Mags, who is neither a mother nor named Mags, has a relatable, candid explanation. “It was late, I had too much to drink, something to do with our dog Mags and Mother Jones.” Hanging Up My Tusks offers an explanation that is quintessential Daily Kos: “I was changing my registration from (Republican to Democrat) about the time I registered at DK. I’d been voting primarily Dem for quite a while but had just never changed my registration. I moved from California to Kansas, got involved in the Obama campaign, and officially changed my registration at that time.”

My own username was a spontaneous choice that created unanticipated assumptions of my gender and what I really meant by “Bésame.” In the seven years since I joined in May 2014, I’ve not seen activity from anyone named Chispa, but that’s okay because Bésame has become a comfortable self-identity for me in this community and elsewhere. In the real world—at Netroots and when I moved to an area where I knew no one but a Daily Kos friend—I was called by the nickname Bé (pronounced Bay). I’m attuned to my username now that it hasn’t been anchored to its literal meaning: The declarative statement “kiss me.” I wasn’t thinking about that awkward possibility when I first signed up.

What’s the origin story for your name? If you joined today, would you select something different? Tell us in the poll below or in a comment.

Ten Rescued Stories from 1 PM PT Friday, April 23 to 1 PM PT Friday, April 30, 2021

Among the Community stories Rescue Rangers spotlighted this week are three that discuss different aspects of racism in the U.S. Other stories include a vaccination rant and a history of the Armenian genocide, both tied to the authors’ personal histories, as well worrisome events in China, GOP propaganda, and a personal revelation from the Jan. 6 insurrection. For lighter reading, we rescued a story on Academy Awards candidates and an ode to female jazz musicians. Two authors, JunglelandDan and AAMCWB, revealed their username origins in the rescued stories. 

In addition to awesome work that isn’t receiving the attention it deserves, Rescue Rangers look at an author’s Community participation. We check if they comment on their own stories and comment on or recommend other stories. Because new members may not realize that a Community exists here, we don’t expect the same level of participation from new people that we seek in more experienced members.

A new Daily Kos group, Welcome New Writers, is a project of the Partners and Mentors Team, and helmed by staff members Jay Cuasay and TrueBlueMajority. Their purpose is to promote members whose first content on the site is a story—making their first comment a Tip Jar. Their stories are reblogged to the group to encourage the authors to stick around and participate in the comment threads of their own story, and more broadly on Daily Kos. None of this week’s eight rescued stories was eligible for Welcome New Writers, but three are the authors’ first rescues and one is the member’s first story.

Readers easily related to Animeraider’s rant I am sick of this $#!^ so let’s compare COVID-19 to polio, as evidenced by over 400 recommendations and 500 comments. Using data and a personal story, the author expresses a frustration felt by many of us: “We mobilized a nation over polio. The polio vaccine was mandatory. We’ve all had it. We don’t have polio. We need to do more now. Screw anti-vaxxers. Screw ‘free choice.’ This is a public emergency. No one’s freedom of choice outranks my right not to die.” Animeraider, who joined in 2007, has written 111 stories with eight rescued.

Windtalker adds family history to 1915 Armenian Genocide finally recognized by U.S. president! The author, “a descendent of Armenians who were massacred by the Ottomans before and during World War I,” intermingles historical facts with their ancestor’s story to describe events leading to the Armenian genocide, and how it parallels similar events in Nazi Germany and colonial America. “As an Armenian American, I do not want to punish the Turkish people or their country for the genocide. I don’t want reparations or forced mea culpas. I have supported Turkish/American owned businesses. I do not hate the Turks. However, I do want them to face their past, admit the reality of what happened in 1915, and realize that this genocide was in fact a genocide—just as many Americans now accept the genocide of Native Americans. It’s time.” Windtalker has written 123 stories since joining in 2011. We’ve rescued 13 of them.

A podcast interview with the author of a new book (subtitled How the Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans—And What We Can Do About It), inspired Dale’s rescued story The Whiteness of Wealth: Chris Hayes’ podcast discussion with tax law professor Dorothy Brown. Brown’s book explains that “tax laws that favor white over Black taxpayers are an instance of hidden, systemic sites of inequality, of a kind that we might call ‘Inequity By Spreadsheet.’” In addition to identifying specific tax laws that create racial inequities, Dale relates Brown’s encounters with white reluctance to acknowledge this reality. When Brown presented “these findings at academic conferences there would be tremendous pushback against the claim that race had anything to do with this, arguing that class was the overwhelming determinant.” Dale, a long-term member with a three-digit user ID, joined in 2003 and has written 66 stories. We’ve rescued at least two.

In Oscar Night: Recommendations from some of the lower-profile categories, JunglelandDan highlights and summarizes “categories and films which rarely receive much attention or notice.” These include Live Action, Documentary, Animated Shorts, and Documentary Feature. Here’s the author’s summary of the Oscar winner in that last category: “My Octopus Teacher—nothing complicated or deep with this one. But given its subject matter, a pleasure to watch for me (I’m a former safari consultant and passionate wild animal junkie). The film is about a filmmaker in South Africa who encounters an octopus in False Bay near Cape Town one day, and establishes a kind of relationship with it, day after day, every day, for nearly a year. It is beautifully, beautifully shot. And octopi are both beautiful and pretty amazing animals. I knew some of this stuff but to see it documented so intimately was phenomenal.” JunglelandDan joined in 2020 and has written 53 stories. This is their first rescue.

The South China Sea is heating up by TheOrchid presents an updated view of China’s activities in the South China Sea area. It is easy, during a pandemic with an attention-grabbing increase in right-wing rhetoric encouraging right-wing violence, to overlook what is happening on the other side of the globe. TheOrchid’s account indicates that China is taking full advantage of our focus on domestic issues. “It seems obvious, therefore, that China’s rapid naval buildup is geared not just towards securing China’s asserted fishing and mineral rights in the South China Sea, but establishing a force projection capability that would thwart a U.S. or U.S.-led coalition response to a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.” TheOrchid joined in 2005 and has written 104 stories.

Novapsyche considers the powerful effect of disinformation and propaganda in To what end? The author asks why: Is it misinformation for its own sake, or the building of something darker that will affect us all? Derek Chauvin’s conviction for the murder of George Floyd was widely seen as appropriate and justified—until the story was washed through the Fox News cycle, after which support for the conviction dropped by 20 points. Polling over the period appears “to bear out that public opinion can be swayed within a mere 48 hours. That’s significant. A 20-point drop in approval of any otherwise neutral position is extraordinary to witness, let alone how even more stunning it would be to manifest that swing into being. We see the power of concentrated, reverberating, monovocal point-talking, especially when it relates to material of the culture wars.” Novapsyche has been a member for 16 years and has authored 21 stories. This is their first rescue.

The modern GOP always looks for some way to prevent teaching issues that go to the heart of a philosophical framework. In the latest example, Idaho Republicans forbid schools from teaching critical race theory, Spud Bud outlines this “academic discipline of examining how the law and government systems adversely affect people of color and challenges the systematic biases and structures that perpetuate racism.” This Idaho bill is typical GOP fare “that plays to the red hat constituency perfectly” in its attempt to perpetuate “the narrative of white victimhood … It attacks educators who would teach the truth about our past as liberal cyphers ‘indoctrinating’ young people, rather than people simply explaining our best understanding of history and the experiences from all points of view.” Spud Bud has been a member since October 2020. This is their first story and rescue.

In Racism in America is exhausting … for everyone! mohistory2 asks, “Do you ever just get plain old tired of seeing the seemingly endless negative effects of institutional white supremacy on this society? (Or do you mostly just try to tune it all out as much as you can?)” The author notes that question “is mostly aimed at white people in general. And white people on the Left a bit more specifically.” Through answering other questions, mohistory2 delineates how racism exhausts white people, using historical and contemporary examples. “When we’re willing to get brutally honest, and scrape away all other aspects of it, from its very first ‘legal’ inception in the mid-1600s colonies, American racism was, is and will always be rooted in a fundamental desire to inflict violence on n****rs (without consequence), above all else … my overall contention here is, we will probably not get significant enough buy-in from those tens of millions of whites (very much including those on the Left) still living comfortably in racial segregation and enjoying the fruits of economic inequality, if we don’t begin to analyze what allowing racial violence to continue is costing them specifically.” Mohistory2 joined in 2017 and has written 35 stories, with three rescued.

History has tried to tell us only white men made significant contributions, despite efforts over the past century to tell the truth: All people of all genders and races have always made significant contributions. Charles Jay adds more evidence to this historical correction in International Jazz Day: The women who fought racism & sexism to open doors for their sisters. Through story and music, the author honors five “trailblazing female jazz instrumentalists—many of them largely forgotten—who battled both racism and sexism to play the music they loved.” These five women have received “the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Awards, the nation’s highest jazz honor which was introduced in 1982.” Charles Jay joined in 2018 and has written 207 stories. We’ve rescued at least four.

In I saw the face of hate,  AAAMCWB recalls the two direct attacks on America that happened in his lifetime: 9/11/2001 and 1/6/2021. The greatest difference between the two was not that one was an external attack and one an attempted overthrow from within, it was the public response. On Sept. 12, 2001, the country was united. On Jan. 7, 2021, “there was a rather subdued outcry that condemned the insurrection. And with it, an equally loud silence from far too many. Was their silence pain? Was it shame? Was it fear? No. That silence was their compliance.” Along with compliance, in AAAMCWB’s small bright-red, mid-American town, was the hair-trigger jump to blame everyone except the insurrectionists. This public reaction led to the author’s realization: “That was the day I learned what hate looks like. It looks like my friends, my co-workers, my neighbors. It looks like almost every person in this small, rural town in central Missouri.” AAAMCWB’s username is explained in this story as an acronym for “Average All-American Middle-Class White Boy.” He has authored 10 stories, with three rescued.

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT is dedicated to finding great writing by community members that isn’t getting the visibility it deserves.

  • To add our rescued stories to your Stream, click on the word FOLLOW in the left panel at our main page or click on Reblogs and read them directly on the group page.
  • You can also find a list of our rescued stories by clicking HERE.

An edition of our rescue roundup publishes every Saturday at 6 p.m. ET (3 p.m. PT) to the Recent Community Stories section and to the front page at 9:30 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. PT).

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