The Monday Kickoff

Kick off 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.

Confession time: I don't read much, if any, news these days. That's difficult for someone with a degree in journalism to admit, especially in public. To be honest, most news these days either depresses me or bores the you-know-what out of me.

It's not that I'm trying to insulate myself from everything that's going on in the world. Far from it. The news ... well, it doesn't capture my imagination any more. Instead, I take comfort (on many levels) in reading what I share with you each Monday. It might not be news, but those article look at topics that interest me and which I care about. And in a depth that we don't get from the news.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Ideas

The Long Game of Creativity: If You Haven't Created a Masterpiece at 30, You're Not a Failure, wherein we learn that we don't necessarily have our best ideas when we're young, and that creativity often needs time to percolate.

Post-Authenticity and the Ironic Truths of Meme Culture, wherein we get a lesson in modern media. And it's a harsh, sometimes depressing, lesson at that.

Pay for your words, wherein Peter Pomeratsev explores what he calls the real nightmare of social media: that the firms culling our data from those platforms know more about us than we realize about ourselves.

Science

An Ice Fountain Brings Water to the Himalayan Desert, wherein we hear the story how (and why) engineer Sonam Wangchuk used ice stupas to bring water to a remote and arid Himalayan village, and how (and why) he wants to do that elsewhere in the world.

How Complex Networks Explode with Growth, wherein we learn about how fragile, rather than robust, complex networks become as they grow, and how the physics of coffee can help detect problems in those networks before they blow up.

My Adventures With the Trip Doctors, wherein we discover the potential and promise of using certain psychedelics to treat mental health issues, and the obstacles that lie in the path of therapists who advocate that therapy.

Various

In defense of being average, wherein Mark Manson argues that being exceptional isn't the new normal, and that not being extraordinary doesn't mean you're worthless.

The Doting Father Who Robbed Armored Cars, wherein we learn part of the story about an seemingly ambitious, upstanding man who was allegedly the mastermind behind a string of brutal armoured car robberies in Houston, Texas.

James Fallows on the Reinvention of America, wherein the writer for The Atlantic argues that the United States is moving toward becoming a better version of itself faster than most Americans realize.

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 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.

Can't believe I turned 51 last week. It's been a blur, this thing call my life. A lot of good mixed with quite a bit of OK, and some bad thrown in there just to keep me on my toes. I have to say, though, that I have fewer than six regrets in my life and none of them major or potentially life altering. Not bad ...

Enough of that. Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Various

The Apology Tour, wherein writer Jonny Auping chronicles his efforts to make amends with everyone he's slighted over the years, and their (and his) reactions to that effort.

Hōshi: A Short Documentary on the 1300-Year-Old Hotel Run by the Same Japanese Family for 46 Generations, wherein we learn about the second oldest hotel in the world, located in Komatsu, Japan, and the struggles of the owners to maintain the family tradition in the face of one younger member who wants to go her own way.

Twitter threats: shocking – but no longer shocking, wherein Stig Abell argues that social media companies really need to do more to protect their users from abuse.

Writing

10 Things You Should Avoid as a New Writer, wherein some traps neophyte writers can fall into are exposed, and how and why you should dodge them.

5 Formulas To Write 500 Words A Day, wherein we learn some solid strategies that can help you build and maintain a writing habit.

Forget Storytelling, wherein entrepreneur Nate Kontny points out that you don't always need to tell a story with everything you do, and that the storytelling mindset can hold you back.

Productivity

Mental Resiliency: Letting Go of the Guilt of Not Getting Things Done, wherein Leo Babauta explains that not being hyper-productive isn't a bad thing and that you shouldn't beat yourself up if you're not.

4 Tips to Quit Multitasking and Focus on Getting More Done, wherein we learn that multitasking doesn't work and a few strategies that can help us focus on one task at a time.

How to Achieve Your Goals with Any Task Management System, wherein we learn something I've been saying for years: you are the key to achieving your goals and getting things done, not some app or software or high-end notebook and pen.

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 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.

And it's been quite an interesting week of reading. I've been immersed in a heady, fascinating, and sometimes disheartening mix of prose. Some of it I found hard to believe (though I should know better by now), and the rest I just had to nod my head in agreement with.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Business

In Racine County, neatly maintained homes and dream houses are being designated ‘blighted’ to make way for Foxconn, wherein we hear the sickening tale of a local government in Wisconsin conspiring to drive people out of their homes to make way for a factory being built by a Taiwanese electronics maker.

The spectacular power of Big Lens, wherein we discover how concentrated the power has become in the global eyeware business, and how cutthroat that business can be.

For Amusement Only: the life and death of the American arcade, wherein Laura June chronicles the emergence of the video game arcade in the 1970s, and that institution's sudden, brutal crash in 1983.

Ideas

Escape the echo chamber, wherein we learn about epistemic bubbles and echo chambers, their differences and dangers, and how to get out of those bubbles and chambers (or avoid sliding into them).

Reading Das Kapital as a Victorian crime novel, wherein we learn that Marx's viewpoint and sympathies were reflected in the novels of his time, and that we can read Das Kapital not as an economic tome but as a perverse and yet uncompromising piece of crime fiction.

Databodies in Codespace, wherein we learn about the Human Project, a (creepy, to be honest) 20-year project to quantify the human condition by collecting data about all aspects of the lives of a group of volunteers.

Technology

Dear Developer, The Web Isn't About You, wherein web developer Charlie Owen explains the history of the web and why using the so-called latest and greatest web technologies doesn't always provide the best user experience.

From USENET to Facebook: The second time as farce, wherein we learn that what's new is old again, and that the problems we see in social media aren't anything new. They've been with us since almost the dawn of the internet. But there is a solution: consistent moderation.

Palantir Knows Everything About You, wherein we learn about how a somewhat notorious tech company operates, how much data they're helping authorities and businesses gather, and how some of that data is being used. Yep, it's scarier and creepier than you might believe.

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 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 that another month is just about to close up shop. That tempus do fugit, and I often wonder where it goes when it's gone.

There are few better ways, though, to spend your time than with some good reads. With that in mind, let's get this Monday started with these links:

Ideas

Who Killed Tolstoy, wherein during a Tolstoy conference, scholar Elif Batuman ponders whether the great Russian author died of illness in Astipovo or was poisoned by someone close to him.

Dry, The Beloved Country, wherein we learn that the drought in Cape Town, South Africa has evolved beyond being a climate crisis. It's a social experiment that's forcing people to change their attitudes and outlooks about ... well, everything.

Are the JFK Conspiracies Slowly Dying?, wherein we learn why conspiracy theories seem to linger long past their use-by dates, and why interest in JFK assassination theories appears to be petering out.

Open Source

Some Open Truism, wherein my buddy Dr. Bryan Behrenshausen reflects on Foundations of an Open Source World, the course he taught at Duke University in late 2017.

Public Domain Is Not Open Source, wherein we learn that the two terms mean very different things and why we should never use them as synonyms.

e-NABLE: Open technology, faster progress, wherein over the space of about nine minutes we witness how open source can change the lives of children with missing limbs, the lives of their loved ones, and the lives of the people involved in a project called E-Nable.

Various

Duel in the Sun, wherein we relive the gripping duel for running supremacy between Dick Beardsley and Alberto Salazar at the 1982 Boston Marathon.

Never Solved, a College Dorm Fire Has Become One Man’s Obsession, wherein we witness a seemingly quixotic quest to try to exorcise a demon from his past, and perhaps gain some peace for the victims of a tragedy (and their loved ones).

Japan’s Rent-a-Family Industry, wherein we enter a world where hired actors slip into the lives of the lonely and lost, and how their presence (and sometimes counsel) can change those lives.

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 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 often quote Bill Murray playing Hunter S. Thompson in the movie Where the Buffalo Roam by saying It still hasn't gotten weird enough for me. That doesn't mean life is boring. It definitely doesn't have to be. Life can be an interesting mix, much like what I've been reading these past few weeks.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Writing

There Are More Than Six Ways to Tell a Story, wherein writer Matthew Baker thumbs his nose at an AI's contention that stories rely on six major emotional trajectories, and explains the techniques he used to write his latest short story collection.

This Is What It Was Like Learning To Report Before Fake News Was The Biggest Problem In The World, wherein a now-seasoned journalist takes a look back at his on-the-job education — warts, mistakes, missteps, and all.

How Do We Write Now, wherein we learn how one writer breaks the shackles of distraction to start, and finish, her work.

Politics and Finance

The junhu and the art of everyday politics in Imperial China, wherein get a glimpse of how military households (called junhu) operated in Ming dynasty China, and how they helped hasten the decline of that dynasty.

Bitcoin: Mt. Gox Villain Mark Karpeles's Surprise Redemption, wherein we learn a bit more about the story behind the collapse of the largest bitcoin exchange, and how the fallout from that collapse is still happy slapping the exchange's former CEO.

1968: When the Communist Party Stopped a French Revolution, wherein we discover how divided the factions on the left wanting change truly were in that year, how those divisions scuttled a potential revolution, and how the failure of that revolution changed French politics in the decades that followed.

Ideas

The Dawn of Dining, wherein we're treated to a short history of the concept of dinner. It's actually a lot more fascinating than it sounds.

Made in Taiwan? How a Frenchman Fooled 18th-Century London, wherein we hear the story of a mysterious individual who briefly enchanted London society with tales of manners, language, ritual, and cannibalism from a far-off land that didn't exist.

The Prequel Boom, wherein Adam Kotsko examines why studios keep doing prequels if fans hate them and why fans hate them so much in the first place. Yet no matter how much they whine, those fans still pay money to see those prequels.

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 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.

To be honest, I can't think of anything interesting or profound or especially pithy to introduce this week's kickoff. So I'm not going to try. Instead, let's get this Monday started with these links:

Arts and Literature

Crime and the City: Seoul and Pyongyang, wherein we get a look into some of the better crime fiction rooted in the Land of the Morning Calm, and which takes place in the capitals of both Koreas.

200 Years of Frankenstein On Stage and Onscreen, wherein we get a short history of Mary Shelley's classic in the visual media and how that book became inseparable from its film incarnation.

‘Drawing Is Always a Struggle’: An Interview with Art Spiegelman, wherein the celebrated artist and writer discusses his work and a creative process that doesn't always cooperate or make his professional life easy.

Science

Kurt Gödel and the mechanization of mathematics, wherein we learn about the intersection of mathematics and metaphysics and philosophy in the work of German mathematician Kurt Gödel.

Feathered, Furred or Coloured, wherein Francis Gooding reviews Palaeoart by Zoë Lescaze and reveals modern society's long-standing fascination and unease with extinct reptiles.

How to hunt a giant sloth – according to ancient human footprints, wherein we learn how our ancestors managed to stalk, and take down, big, scary mammals using only basic tools and misdirection.

Writing

Stories in your pocket: how to write flash fiction, wherein we're treated to a very detailed tutorial on how to write very short pieces of fiction. There are a few lessons in writing tightly for non-fiction writers in there, too.

Plain Language is For Everyone, Including Experts, wherein we learn a valuable lesson about using clear language when writing: it benefits both consumers and organizations.

How Not to Kill Each Other: A Writer’s Guide to Collaboration, wherein we learn that writing isn't always a solo effort, that collaborating with other writers can be tough, and that there are strategies for making the collaboration work.

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 or PayPal. Even if you don't, I'll keep doing this. Your support (even if you just read and share what's in 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.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend asked me what license I'm publishing The Monday Kickoff under. I hadn't really thought about that — I'm just curating links after all. I didn't think of that as something I needed to license.

After about five seconds of thought, I decided to use a CC0 Public Domain license for the posts this space. Yeah, I'm nice like that ...

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Productivity

The 10 most important things to simplify in your life, wherein Joshua Becker offers some advice that can help you streamline what you do and how you live you life.

In defense of cheap, wherein we learn that it's the quality of what you put down on paper, and not the quality of your paper and pen, that really counts.

Prioritization – More Important Than Any Productivity Technique, wherein we hear something I've been saying for years: productivity isn't about doing more. It's about doing what you need to do more effectively.

Ideas

An Apology for the Internet – From the People Who Built It, wherein some of the pioneers of the early days of the web look back at what it was meant to be and where things went wrong, and offer some potential solutions to the problems facing the online world.

Why 'urban villages' are on the rise around the world, wherein we learn that an urban village is more than just a physical space, and how the concept can transform and strengthen communities.

The Nighthawks of the Giant, wherein Alex R. Jones recounts lonely late nights shopping at a Giant supermarket in Los Angeles, the people he encountered, and how those excursions helped him escape (albeit briefly) the worries and stresses of his daily life.

Open Source

Producing Open Source Software, wherein we learn, in book form, about how successful projects operate, the expectations of users and developers, and the culture of free software.

How to develop the FOSS leaders of the future, wherein my fellow Opensource.com community moderator VM Brasseur explains why leaders of open source projects need to cultivate their eventual replacements to ensure the longevity of their projects.

Williamson Schools to develop open source social studies curriculum, wherein we discover that open source encompasses more than software, and how a school district in Tennessee is using the open source ethos to create textbooks for their students.

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 or PayPal. Even if you don't, I'll keep doing this. Your support (even if you just read ans share what's in 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.

A quick note of thanks to everyone who reads what I publish in this space each week. The response The Monday Kickoff has been getting is exceeding my expectations. I'm glad you're finding what I post here interesting and useful. Please share it freely.

And a special thank you to those of you who've made small pledges of support in the last week or three. I appreciate it. An if you want to support my work (even in a small way), check the end of this edition to learn how to do that.

With that out of the way, let's get this Monday started with these links:

Politics

The Case of Hong Kong's Missing Booksellers, wherein we discover the price of dissent under an authoritarian government, even if that dissent is merely selling the wrong (in that government's eyes) books.

The Left's Missing Foreign Policy, wherein Aziz Rana explains that on matters of foreign policy the Republicans and Democrats aren't all that different, and argues that Democratic Party needs a fully developed non-imperial articulation of American foreign policy.

The demise of the nation state, wherein author Rana Dasgupta argues that the nation state, once the cornerstone of many a society and culture, is being fractured and fragmented, and replaced by something less cohesive and more uncertain.

Ideas

How to Defeat Drought, wherein Israel has a few lessons for conserving and better using water to share with the increasingly parched South African city of Cape Town.

Patriarchs in the making, wherein we discover the works of some 17th century artists which are only now being exposed to the eyes of a global audience.

Creating the Cafe Society I Always Dreamed Of, wherein Iris Martin Cohen explains the joys and pains of creating a new literary salon in New York City.

Technology

Blockchain is not only a crappy technology but a bad vision for the future, wherein Kai Stinchcombe argues that not only is blockchain technology worthless and untrustworthy in practice, but it also doesn't increase trust. In anything.

It's Time for an RSS Revival, wherein the case is made to revitalize one of the web's older (and more important) technologies, which has been overlooked in recent years.

Robot cognition requires machines that both think and feel, wherein Luiz Pessosa posits that there's more to intelligence than just the ability to think. There's also an emotional component, which sets humans apart from machines and AI.

And that's it for this Monday. Come back in seven days for more curated 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 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 back!

Recently, a few someones asked me if I read everything that I link to in these kickoffs. Yes, I do.

I do a lot of reading during the week — at lunch, while commuting, while waiting around, and all that — and try share the best of what I read with you. I might not agree with everything I read, but it all does provoke more than a few thoughts.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Various

A Walk to Kobe, wherein author Haruki Murakami recounts the sights and changes he say on a two-day trek on foot from the suburb of Nishinomiya to downtown Kobe, Japan.

Pens and Needles: Reviving Book-Embroidery in Victorian England, wherein we learn about the once-fashionable art of embroidering book covers and how the bibliomania, patriotism, and issues around gender were central to its 19th century revival.

Children of ‘The Cloud’ and Major Tom: Growing Up in the ’80s Under the German Sky, wherein we get a glimpse of what it was like to grow up in Germany towards the end of the Cold War.

Science and Technology

The Left-Handed Kid, wherein the book The Chinese Typewriter: A History gets reviewed, and with it we learn the fraught history of creating a typewriter for a non-Latin language.

Does your DNA really change in space?, wherein we get a glimpse of the science around living in Earth's orbit (and beyond), and what really happens to our bodies when we're in the space — right down to a genetic level.

Three Types of Passphrases, wherein we learn about the differences between passphrases and passwords, why passphrases are important, and the three main types of them. A good primer for anyone interested in privacy.

Productivity

On Simple Productivity Systems and Complex Plans, wherein Cal Newport discusses the need to balance simplifying productivity systems and simplifying your plans.

The Best Ways to Beat Procrastination, wherein you learn two ways to help you break through the barriers that are holding you back and move from doing nothing to reaching done.

Manoush Zomorodi says it's time to get bored, wherein the host of the popular Note to Self podcast explains how to step away from our screens and enjoy the pleasures of boredom to refresh our minds.

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 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.

Last week went by quickly, didn't it? With winter coming to the southern hemisphere, I'm looking forward to days (at least the weekdays) whizzing by like that. Even though it doesn't snow here in Auckland, winter in the Land of the Long White Cloud's biggest city can be a bit numbing at times.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Writing

How to use the em dash correctly, wherein we learn about an overused and often misused piece of punctuation, and how and when to use it.

A look at the evolution of headline writing, wherein the folks at Al Jazeera explore how news headlines have evolved from their humble origins in the 19th century to their current forms (both good and bad) today.

You think writing’s a dream job? It’s more like a horror film, wherein we learn some of the realities of being (or trying to be) a professional writer. Trust me when I tell you that Tim Lott knows what he's talking about.

Science and Technology

Digital Media and the Case of the Missing Archives, wherein it's revealed how quickly and completely writing (or anything) can disappear from the web, never to return.

How Einstein Lost His Bearings, and With Them, General Relativity, wherein the legendary physicist's moment of losing the plot at a crucial point in his career is revealed, as are the lasting consequences of that moment.

Students with complete control over their laptops? For one district, it hasn't been a disaster, wherein the open source powered student technology initiative spearheaded by my buddy Charlie Reisinger is examined. If you want to learn more about this story, read Charlie's excellent book The Open Schoolhouse.

Various

Japan’s Prisons Are a Haven for Elderly Women, wherein we hear the sad tale of Japanese women turning to petty crime to go to prison so they can both have companionship and afford to live. This is part Tokyo Story (a wonderful film, by the way), and part a result of Japan's declining birthrate and rising population of the aged.

Rebuiling Mosul, Book by Book, wherein we learn that it can sometimes take more than erecting buildings to bring a devastated city back from the brink.

Re-Hermit, wherein writer Warren Ellis asks us to ponder and describe how our brains work in an effort to to surface the problems, and perhaps the ways to solve them.

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 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.