The Monday Kickoff

Start your week with set of links on a variety of topics, served fresh each Monday

Welcome to this week's edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I've found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

Instead of me pontificating, here's an idea we should all embrace:

I can’t be working efficiently and at my top game worrying about what other people think about me, or are going to think about me. — Anson Mount

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Politics

How the First Punk in East Germany Became an Enemy of the State, wherein we meet Britta Bergmann, a teenager from East Berlin who used a love of punk rock to express her individuality under a repressive government and became a target of that government.

War and Peace in Chicago, wherein Walter Nicklin looks back at the protests at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, and sees times and how political engagement have changed over the last 50 years.

How AI could kill off democracy, wherein we learn that artificial intelligence (AI) systems can sometimes make better decisions that humans, but that relying on algorithms can lead to a loss of the ability to hold people accountable.

Business

He Could’ve Been a Colonel, wherein we hear the story of Ollie's Trolley, the hamburger restaurant that seems poised to take the fast food world by storm, but which arrived on the scene decades too soon.

Missing the Dark Satanic Mills, wherein we get a glimpse into the history of the factory, and with the glimpse we start understanding why factories have always been places of great fascination.

The Real Cost of Working in the House of Mouse, wherein we learn about how workers — sorry cast members — at various Disney theme parks are barely scraping by (and often not even that) thanks to the parent corporation's focus on profits over people.

Writing

The New Reading Environment, wherein the editors of n+1 magazine explore the often fraught relationship between editors, writers, and readers, and how that relationship has changed (maybe not for the better) in the age of online reading and social media.

How to Write a Synopsis in 4 Easy Steps, wherein we learn that preparing an effective summary of what you're writing is no easy task and are offered some solid advice for doing the job properly.

Reclaiming the Freedom of the Rough Draft, wherein we learn that the first draft of anything we write doesn't need to be polished or disciplined or structured or even good. It's our starting point for writing that will be good.

And that's it for this Monday. Come back in seven days for another set of links to start off your week.

Scott Nesbitt


If you enjoy The Monday Kickoff, please consider supporting it by buying me a coffee or a smoothie, or making a micropayment via Liberapay, Plasso, or PayPal. Even if you don't, I'll keep doing this. Your support (even if you just read this space) is appreciated!


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

Welcome to this week's edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I've found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

It's hard to believe another month has rolled around. Maybe it's true that time does move faster the older you get. But as time passes, there's also more interesting material to read out there. And, sadly, less time in which to read it ...

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Ideas

The Known Known, wherein we get another entry from the what's new is old again files, this time examining how threats to privacy have always been with us.

In Praise of Spacing Out, wherein we learn that we can't, and shouldn't, maintain a constant state of mindfulness, and why slipping into the occasional reverie can be beneficial.

The Psychology Behind Why Clowns Creep Us Out, wherein Frank T. McAndrew discusses his research into why people are, and have long been, uncomfortable (or worse) around clowns.

Productivity

Productivity, wherein Sam Altman shares some simple but effective tips and tricks he uses to get his work done.

The Complete Guide to Increasing Your Focus, wherein Scott H. Young walks us through a training program that can help us eliminate distractions and teach us to put all our attention into what we're doing.

Read less. Learn more., wherein we're told that a combination of slow reading, reading in depth, and focus can help us retain more of what we read and help us apply it to our lives.

Odds and Ends

Descend Into Great Britain’s Network of Secret Nuclear Bunkers, wherein we get a peek into some Cold War era bunkers in the UK, all lovingly restored, and learn about what they were for and the conditions the people who would be in them could expect when the bombs started dropping.

I Listen to 35 Hours of Podcasts Every Week. Is That ... Bad?, wherein Sirena Bergman looks at whether or not inundating our brains with podcasts is beneficial, and discovers that it might not be.

Wikipedia has resisted information warfare, but could it fight off a proper attack?, wherein Carl Miller explores how a state-backed effort could subvert Wikipedia in the so-called information wars by using the site's reputation system and by taking advantage of its openness.

And that's it for this Monday. Come back in seven days for another set of links to start off your week.

Scott Nesbitt


If you enjoy The Monday Kickoff, please consider supporting it by buying me a coffee or a smoothie, or making a micropayment via Liberapay, Plasso, or PayPal. Even if you don't, I'll keep doing this. Your support (even if you just read this space) is appreciated!


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

Welcome to this week's edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I've found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

It's good to be back at Mission Control in Auckland. My time away last week was nice (as it always is), but home truly is where I want to be.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Ideas

Ending the paper trail, wherein we're exposed to the document digitisation plan of Finland's National Archive — which scans and destroys paper documents — and learn about the true purpose of archiving.

How Coolness Defined the World Wide Web of the 1990s, wherein we learn that the Cool Site of the Day/Week lists that sprang up on the early web gave people guideposts to sites that were broadly in tune with the ethos of the web.

Would a longer lifespan make us happier? A philosopher's take, wherein we ponder the effects, both good and bad, of increased longevity on ourselves and on our societies.

Technology

What is the dark web? The good and bad of the Internet’s most private corner, wherein we get a look at what some people believe to be the scary depths of the internet, an article that avoids being sensational or mongering our fears.

Three ways making a smartphone can harm the environment, wherein Patrick Byrne examines some of the key metals in smartphones, what they do, and the environmental cost of pulling them out of the ground.

How Duterte Used Facebook To Fuel the Philippine Drug War, wherein we learn just what can happen if Facebook is the way in which most people in a country access the internet, and the effects that can have on public opinion. It's not pretty.

Crime

The big squeeze, wherein we discover that the rise of the mafia in Sicily happened, in part, to the boom in the citrus fruit trade and that mixing valuable resources and weak institutions produces a volatile cocktail.

How a Brutal Mafia Enforcer Became a Deadly Serious Marathoner, wherein we hear the story of Rahul Jadhav, a former guman for a mobster in Dombivli, India who turned to running to help vent his anger and as a way of reintegrating with a society that didn't seem to want him.

The Disappeared, wherein we hear the tragic story of how the police in a town in Long Island, New York utterly failed the Latino community there.

And that's it for this Monday. Come back in seven days for another set of links to start off your week.

Scott Nesbitt


If you enjoy The Monday Kickoff, please consider supporting it by buying me a coffee or a smoothie, or making a micropayment via Liberapay, Plasso, or PayPal. Even if you don't, I'll keep doing this. Your support (even if you just read this space) is appreciated!


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

Welcome to this week's edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I've found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

I've been in Raleigh, NC for the last few days, and this morning All Things Open 2018 gets underway. It's always a bit of a change coming back to North America from New Zealand, but it's also great to be around a group of my open source sistren and brethren.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Science

More than just a sparkling gem: what you didn't know about diamonds, wherein we're treated to a short history of diamonds, why they're fascinating, and how they give us a glimpse into the origins of the Earth.

This is Roquette Science, wherein we learn about the pros and cons of indoor vertical gardening, and how we might be able to bring it into our homes with personal food computers.

How virtual worlds can recreate the geographic history of life, wherein we learn how scientists are using simulations of parts of South America to better understand how ecosystems developed on that continent, and to try to predict how those ecosystem might change in the future.

Productivity

Launching Your Project in 20 Minutes, wherein Leo Babauta explains the need for taking action, but also how doing it a bit at a time to makes taking that first big step a lot easier.

The hunter method productivity hack can bring clarity to your day, wherein we're introduced to a method for managing our tasks that goes against the grain of so-called productivity science (is that actually a thing?) and which can help us focus on what we really need to do.

How to Be More Productive Without a To-Do List, wherein we learn about the limitations and constraints of task lists, and pick up some strategies for getting things done without them.

Odds and Ends

The Women Code Breakers Who Unmasked Soviet Spies, wherein we meet some unsung heroes of America's Cold War codebreaking efforts: a group of women who did the mathematical grunt work, but who (until recently) remained in the shadows.

Logged off: meet the teens who refuse to use social media, wherein we get a glimpse into the world of so-called millenials who are spurning the connected world they grew up in, why they're doing it, and the effect it's having on their lives.

Noodle School, wherein, via a documentary video, we travel to Lanzhou in northwest China to discover why budding noodle cooks make the pilgrimmage to that city to learn their craft.

And that's it for this Monday. Come back in seven days for another set of links to start off your week.

Scott Nesbitt


If you enjoy The Monday Kickoff, please consider supporting it by buying me a coffee or a smoothie, or making a micropayment via Liberapay, Plasso, or PayPal. Even if you don't, I'll keep doing this. Your support (even if you just read this space) is appreciated!


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

Welcome to this week's edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I've found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

Next week's Kickoff will be a day late. Well, I'll be publishing it on a Monday, but Monday in North America. Why? I'll be in Raleigh, NC attending a conference called All Things Open and hanging out with the team from Opensource.com. I'm going to put quite a few kilometres and a couple or three time zones under me. Wish me luck.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Technology

The World’s Oldest Blockchain Has Been Hiding in the New York Times Since 1995, wherein we discover that when it comes to the blockchain (as with many technologies), what's new is old again.

Use the internet, not just companies, wherein Derek Sivers reminds us that there are certain digital skills you should develop for yourself, just so you're not at the mercy of an internet giant.

Minitel, the Open Network Before the Internet, wherein we learn about a precursor to the web created and run by the French government, and about why private industry hamstrung an innovative service.

Ideas

What Is Education For?, wherein Sparky Abraham and Nathan J. Robinson argue that while there needs to be some reform and change in education, a traditional liberal education isn't a waste of time or as useless as some commentators have suggested.

Behemoth, bully, thief: how the English language is taking over the planet, wherein we learn how, for better or for worse, language has risen to the top rung of the global language ladder and how having many languages is a gift.

How ancient cultures explained comets and meteors, wherein we discover a bit about how our ancestors viewed objects falling from or passing across the sky, and how not all of that was superstition.

Writing

Should writers only write what they know? What I learned from my research, wherein Teresa LeClerc examines whether authors should craft characters from backgrounds other than their own, and whether it's useful for writers to walk in someone else's shoes.

The Elements of Bureaucratic Style, wherein we learn that writing in the bureaucratic voice offers soothing pabulum to those whose minds are already made up, or who are predisposed to support bureaucracy, and why that's a dangerous thing.

Why Structure Matters When You Are Writing a Novel, wherein Louise Candlish explains that the form in which you present your characters' story will determine how readers respond to it.

And that's it for this Monday. Come back in seven days for another set of links to start off your week.

Scott Nesbitt


If you enjoy The Monday Kickoff, please consider supporting it by buying me a coffee or a smoothie, or making a micropayment via Liberapay, Plasso, or PayPal. Even if you don't, I'll keep doing this. Your support (even if you just read this space) is appreciated!


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

Welcome to this week's edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I've found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

I'm often asked where I dig up the various articles that I recommend in this space. You might have noticed that there are a core set of publications that I peer into each week. Then, there are other articles and outlets buried in my set of bookmarks that I sometimes turn to. Of course, I can't forget the pointers friends and posts on social media send my way. All of that makes for some great reading.

Speaking of which, let's get this Monday started with these links:

Arts and Literature

History from a High Angle, wherein Richard I. Suchenski examines the work of director Masaki Kobayashi, who combined Japanese and western aesthetics and amazing filmmaking technique to craft some of the 20th century's most moving films.

Bad Romance, wherein we get a glimpse into the cutthroat world of self-published romance novels, the lawsuit that pitted two authors against each other, and how writers game the system on Amazon.

1921 · 1946 · 1984 · 2018 A Genealogy of the Totalitarian Novel, wherein we're introduced to the long-forgotten, early Soviet era novel We, Yevgeny Zamyatin’s banned work that influenced classic novels like Brave New World, 1984, and Player Piano, and how the events in Zamyatin's novel have stunning parallels to the world of today.

Technology

7 Axioms for Calm Technology, wherein user experience expert Amber Case argues that with the flood of internet-connected devices coming into our homes, developers need to to make those devices less obtrusive. To help them on their way, Case supplies the seven axiom of the title of this article.

“I Was Devastated”: Tim Berners-Lee, the Man Who Created the World Wide Web, Has Some Regrets, wherein Sir Tim reflects on what his creation has become, where it took some wrong turns, and what he's trying to do to return the web to its roots.

What Digital Transformation Is Not About, wherein Paul Taylor busts some myths around the murky idea of digital transformation and reminds us that technological shifts require equal measures of changes of perspective and action.

Odds and Ends

The Dancing Plague of 1518, wherein we hear the tale of the epidemic of the choreomania that gripped the city of Strasbourg in the summer of 1518, an affliction which drove people to dance themselves to injury and, sometimes, death.

Color or Fruit? On the Unlikely Etymology of “Orange”, wherein we discover more about the word 'orange' than we might ever want to know, which seems to be the only basic colour for which no other word exists in English.

The Spy Who Drove Me, wherein Julia Ioffe recounts her encounters with an Uber driver while attending a security conference in Aspen, a driver who could have been a well-informed and inquisitive individual or a spy.

And that's it for this Monday. Come back in seven days for another set of links to start off your week.

Scott Nesbitt


If you enjoy The Monday Kickoff, please consider supporting it by buying me a coffee or a smoothie, or making a micropayment via Liberapay, Plasso, or PayPal. Even if you don't, I'll keep doing this. Your support (even if you just read this space) is appreciated!


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

Welcome to this week's edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I've found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

Welcome to October! Daylight Savings Time has kicked in here in New Zealand, and with it comes the usual kick to my internal clock. It's cruel losing an hour like that, but all a boy can do is try to adapt. That doesn't mean I have to like it.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Arts and Literature

Does Literature Help Us Live?, wherein Tim Parks argues that while literature can be bleak, it can give us hope and can inspire us to keep going on exactly as we always have.

How Musicians Make Money — Or Don’t at All — in 2018, wherein we're given a sobering peek into the financial realities of trying to make a living as a musician, and learn that most are barely hanging on while they try to create their music.

At Home in Filmistan, wherein William Nakabayashi takes us on to journey to a sprawling studio in the suburbs of Mumbai, which is the home to movie productions but also to indigenous villagers who have occupied the area for over 100 years.

Ideas

Language at the End of the World, wherein we learn about rongorongo, the written script of the people of Easter Island, which no one has been able to decipher, and the rather interesting cast of characters which has tried (and is still trying) to crack it.

One of the Greatest Archeological Mysteries of All Time, wherein we get a bit of background about the discovery of the terra cotta army in Xian, China and the wider historical and archeological mysteries that discovery opened up.

Ghosts on the shore, wherein we discover Japan's relationship with the spirits of the departed, and how that relationship has changed (often, for the better) in modern times.

Business

The Need for Workplace Democracy, wherein Nathan J. Robinson floats the idea that companies need more governance from workers, not just for the benefit of those workers but for the benefit of companies as well.

Tesla, software and disruption, wherein Benedict Evans plumbs the (recent) depths of technology and business to illustrate how a firm creating a so-called disruptive technology, no matter how unpolished at the start, can change the basis of competition in an industry.

We fired our top talent. Best decision we ever made, wherein we learn that a team’s strength is not a function of the talent of individual members. It’s a function of their collaboration, tenacity, and mutual respect.

And that's it for this Monday. Come back in seven days for another set of links to start off your week.

Scott Nesbitt


If you enjoy The Monday Kickoff, please consider supporting it by buying me a coffee, or making a micropayment via Liberapay, Plasso, or PayPal. Even if you don't, I'll keep doing this. Your support (even if you just read this space) is appreciated!


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

Welcome to this week's edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I've found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

Here's something that caught my ear when listening to a podcast recently:

There's more information out there, but no one seems smarter than they were 15 years ago. — Nick Ruffini

Ruffini was talking about music, but he could have been talking about anything. The lesson? More information doesn't make you smarter or wiser. It's how you use that information that matters.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Writing

It’s Harder Than It Looks to Write Clearly, wherein Francine Prose examines what clear writing is, why people can't or don't write clearly, and ways to fix that.

Order Out of Chaos: Patterns of Organization for Writing on the Job, wherein technical writer Richard Rabil, Jr. examines how structure leads to better writing (and not just with technical writing, either).

Notes on Craft, wherein journalist Fred Pearce discusses writing both short-form and long-form non fiction, and the challenges and rewards of working on both.

Technology

The Land Before Binary, wherein we're introduced to computing that doesn't rely on ones and zeroes. Yes, really!

What It's Like to Download Your Facebook Data, wherein Anna Wiener pulls 13 years of her personal information from the social network and is reminded of just what she's put up there over the years, and what Facebook isn't telling us about how it uses the information that you share.

The Bullshit Web, wherein Nick Heer looks closely at the web we've been given, finds it wanting, and sees it as a pile-up of garbage on seemingly every major website that does nothing to make visitors happier.

Odds and Ends

When a Magician's Curse Swung Boxing's Biggest Bout, wherein we hear the tale of how the antics of magician, hypnotists, and part-time boxing manager Jimmy Grippo may (or may not) have helped influence the outcome of a light heavyweight title tilt in 1939.

Forget the Open Concept: It's Time to Bring Back Rooms, wherein Kate Wagner argues against the current trend in open concept living and explains why walling off the rooms in our home might not be a bad thing.

Mixing science and art to make the truth more interesting than lies, wherein we learn that to fight ignorance and pseudo science, it might be better to communicate actual science with a combinations of words and images.

And that's it for this Monday. Come back in seven days for another set of links to start off your week.

Scott Nesbitt


If you enjoy The Monday Kickoff, please consider supporting it by buying me a coffee, or making a micropayment via Liberapay, Plasso, or PayPal. Even if you don't, I'll keep doing this. Your support (even if you just read this space) is appreciated!


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

Welcome to this week's edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I've found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've had the stuffing kicked out of me mentally and spiritually. I'm not in any state of mind to tap out something pithy this week, so let's get this Monday started with these links:

Politics

'Nothing to worry about. The water is fine': how Flint poisoned its people, wherein we learn the story of what happened with Flint, Michigan's water supply — the mismanagement, the misguided austerity, and the incompetence that harmed residents but also spurred those residents into taking a stand against what was happening.

How Iconic Cookbooks Reflect the Politics of the World Around Them, wherein we see how changes to timeless cookbooks around the world reflected the social, political, and economic realities of the countries in which they were published.

Spain Exhumes Its Painful Past, wherein we learn how Spaniards are trying to create a memorial for the victims of fascism at the burial site of a fascist dictator, and the obstacles that they're encountering.

Crime

The Murder That Exposed the British Class System, wherein we delve into the bizarre murder case involving British peer Lord Lucan, and the seemingly impenetrable wall erected by his aristocratic cronies that might have helped shield Lucan's disappearance.

The Great Chinese Art Heist, wherein we learn about the efforts, both above board and not, to bring works of art plundered by foreign powers back to China.

Inside a Sleazy FBI Sting Involving Diet Clinics, Fitness Models, Money Laundering, and a Supposed Plot to Hire a Hitman, wherein we step into the bizarre, many-layered story of Operation Bo-Tox, an FBI sting targetting a group of small-time money launderers who were made into a bigger threat than they actually were.

Ideas

A Beast for the Ages, wherein Michael Engelhard explores the fraught and often deadly relationship that humans have with the polar bear, and revels in the beauty and majesty of these arctic beasts.

The Water Wars of Arizona, wherein we learn how lack of regulation and industrial-scale farming combined to literally bleed the aquifers in parts of Arizona dry, and how the resulting water crisis is decimating affected regions and the people who live there.

Can These Simple Cargo-Hauling Bikes Save Our Cities?, wherein we're introduced to a few members of New York's Cargo Bike Collective who are trying to change the way we, and our goods, get around the city.

And that's it for this Monday. Come back in seven days for another set of links to start off your week.

Scott Nesbitt


If you enjoy The Monday Kickoff, please consider supporting it by buying me a coffee, or making a micropayment via Liberapay, Plasso, or PayPal. Even if you don't, I'll keep doing this. Your support (even if you just read this space) is appreciated!


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

Welcome to this week's edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I've found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Science

What Caused the Dinosaur Extinction?, wherein we wade into a sea of scientific viciousness, learn that the debate about what wiped out the dinosaurs is still raging, and get introduced to a theory competing with the asteroid strike hypothesis.

The road to bipedalism wasn't straight and narrow, wherein we read about research that looked at the development of foot bones in early homonins, which concludes that our evolution as a species was less linear and more piecemeal than you might assume at first glance.

Why can’t all plastic waste be recycled?, wherein we learn that even if a plastic is recyclable does not guarantee that it will be recycled, and that's because of the cost and difficulty in separating various types of plastics.

Politics

A Global Guide to State-Sponsored Trolling, wherein we discover how governments around the world have co-opted social media to promote their agendas, intimidate and divide opponents, and to stifle dissent.

Is Atheism the Last Unforgivable Sin of American Politics?, wherein we discover that while they number in the tens of millions, non believers in the U.S. are marginalized, even stigmatized and that admitting you're one is the death knell of a political career.

The Death of an Entire System of Political Rule, wherein Tony Wood analyzes the 2018 Mexican elections and ponders if Lopez Obrador's victory can change the face of politics in Mexico.

Odds and Ends

Postcards from the Edge, wherein we're exposed to the dubious charms of a toxic mining pit in Butte, Montana which attracts tens of thousands of tourists each year, but which also poses some major problems for Butte.

Dying Alone in Japan: The Industry Devoted to What’s Left Behind, wherein we peek into the world of Japanese firms that specialize in disposing of the belongings of the deceased, a growing industry in a country with a declining birthrate and an industry that has regional reach.

Turkey's currency crisis has roots in the global financial crisis of 1825, wherein we're reminded that history can indeed repeat itself, and that people who know bettter naively (or maybe arrogantly) believe they won't make the same mistakes that were made in the past.

And that's it for this Monday. Come back in seven days for another set of links to start off your week.

Scott Nesbitt


If you enjoy The Monday Kickoff, please consider supporting it by buying me a coffee, or making a micropayment via Liberapay, Plasso, or PayPal. Even if you don't, I'll keep doing this. Your support (even if you just read this space) is appreciated!


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.