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.

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.

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 prattling on with one of my insipid trains of thought, here's a bit of wisdom I encountered last week:

The new world is struggling to be born, carrying passive repercussions of the past and facing active opposition from the old. The future is in place, and waiting, but we have yet to discover it. Our present position is the bridge between. This position is hazardous, because we are building the bridge while crossing it.

Robert Fripp

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Crime

That Night, It Never Ends: A Story of Life With or Without Parole, wherein we're introduced to some of the people, and to the politics, involved in granting parole to those who committed capital crimes as teens, and to the struggles of everyone touched by those crimes.

How Ex-Cop Rigged McDonald’s Monopoly Game and Made Millions, wherein we hear the strange and sordid tale of Jerry Jacobsen, a seemingly honest ex cop who allied himself with a motley cast of characters and defrauded a fast-food giant of millions by cheating one of its best-known promotions.

The SIM Hijackers, wherein we dive into the dark art of SIM card swapping, by which crackers get control of your mobile phone number and your digital life.

Ideas

How Librarians Survive on the Frontlines of Fake News, wherein we learn just how they do that: by doing their jobs. By providing information that goes beyond the usual Twitter eyeball bytes. By providing information which can help people become better informed.

Who owns the moon? A space lawyer answers, wherein we're introduced to the intricacies of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, and how interpretations of the treaty can open doors to legal battles over the moon and other bodies in our solar system.

Smooth Spaces, Fuzzy Lives, wherein Rachel Andrews explores the physical border between the two Irelands, and how borders (both real and imaginary) divide peoples and divide us within ourselves.

Science

The Bugs Are Winning, wherein we learn how and why bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, the dangers of that resistance, and hear some proposals to slow the process down to save lives.

To Remember, the Brain Must Actively Forget, wherein we learn about the role some researchers believe forgetting plays in forming memories, and discover a bit about the nature of remembering and forgetting.

The Poetry of Victorian Science, wherein we read about the work of Victorian natural philosopher Robert Hunt who melded and connected poetry and science to better describe the wonders of our world.

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.

About a week and a half ago, a reader asked if I'd consider including foreign-language articles in my weekly recommendations. That's a good question, and answer to that question is No. I'm a poly-not, not a polyglot. English is my only language, and unless I can read and understand an article or essay, I can't recommend it.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Ideas

Data! Data! Data!, wherein D.L. Dusenbury examines the idea of data in the context of Sherlock Holmes stories, and how Holmes was the fictional prototype of the observant machines which began appearing in the 20th century.

Terraforming Ourselves, wherein Alexi Sargeant ponders the development of science fiction, how it has always sparked generational battles between authors, and how (in many cases) it failed to deliver a promised future.

Isaac Asimov: Becoming Educated, wherein we get a few very important lessons from the legendary, polymathic author who shows us the value of continually educating ourselves, and the importance of including fiction in that education to further open our minds.

Writing

I Worked in Biology for 17 Years… Then I Became a Writer, wherein Grace Dane Mazur chronicles her journey from scientist to scribe, and how she learned that Visual Arts, Biology, and Writing are all different forms of getting at that necessary activity: Paying Attention.

You don't have to live in public, wherein Austin Kleon makes the case for creative people (not just writers) to step back from social media and focus on creating.

When Poets Write Novels, wherein we're treated to a list of the 10 best novels written by people who are or were better know for writing verse.

Various

‘Day Zero’: From Cape Town to São Paulo, large cities are facing water shortages, wherein we learn how close to a crippling water crisis many large cities around the globe are (or were), and are presented with a few ways to fend off such crises.

They Meet Up in Motels Across America ... to Trade Old Beer Cans, wherein we get a glimpse into the world of people (mostly men) who collect beer cans and beer bottle tops, and delve into their passion for that hobby.

There are two ways to read, but one is useless, wherein we discover that reading doesn't need to be the academic chore we learned it was, and that the way you read plays a major role in what you take away.

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.

I stumbled across this quote recently, and it really sums up what I'm once again trying to do with my online presence:

RSS isn’t dead. Social media works great for link notifications, not so much for complete thoughts or even not-fully-baked considerations. The fields are on fire and being sprayed with liquid shit. Dig your own garden, build your own structures, make your own space.

Warren Ellis

If you have the skills and the knowledge (and it doesn't take much of either, trust me!), then I encourage you to make your own space in the digital world.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Science

Why Are New Antibiotics So Hard to Find?, wherein we're taught how antiboitics fight bacteria, how bacteria fight back, and the difficult problem of resistance to some of our most important drugs.

Solid or Liquid? Physicists Redefine States of Matter, wherein we discover the very subtle differences between the two, and what those differences involve.

The tools humanity will need for living in the year 1 trillion, wherein we learn about what intelligent civilizations will do for resources in a far-flung future where so-called dark energy becomes the dominant form of energy in the universe.

Crime

The First Family of Counterfeit Hunting, wherein we meet Rob and Jason Holmes, and hear the story of how they became effective (and hated) online counterfeit investigators.

How one man went from hunting meteorites to being hunted by the law , wherein we watch how a dispute between members of the small community of meteorite dealers took a potentially deadly turn, and landed one of the people involved in jail.

The Biggest Digital Heist in History Isn’t Over Yet, wherein we learn some of the details of a legendary cyber crime that robbed over 100 banks in 40 countries of $1.2 billion (USD), all through rigged ATMs.

Business

The New Startup South, wherein we learn about the city of Greenville, South Carolina, a seemingly unlikely place for a technology hub, and how it's become a boom town for startups.

Clocking Out, wherein Livia Gershon argues that Americans (and many of the rest of us, I'm sure) need to change our attitudes towards the hours that we work for our own physical and mental good.

How the Disposable Straw Explains Modern Capitalism, wherein we discover that the development of the humble straw, now a target of environmentalists, was intertwined with the development of modern America's economy and its culture.

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.

Recently, someone asked me if I expect people to read every link I post in this space each Monday. Of course not! In fact, I don't expect you to be interested in every article I share each Monday. I do hope that you enjoy some of what you read.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Ideas

The danger of absolute thinking is absolutely clear, wherein we learn why the all-or-nothing mindset is an unhealthy thinking style that disrupts emotion-regulation and hinders people from achieving their goals.

How Blackboards Transformed American Education, wherein we learn about the research of Steven D. Krause, which should prompt us to rethink how we view technology and its adoption in the classroom.

Bach at the Burger King, wherein Theodore Giaoia argues that using loud classical music as a weapon against loiterers and the homeless, and using brief snips of it in everything from commercials to B-grade movies, devalues and destroys the beauty of the music.

Technology

It's Time for the Personal Datasphere (Finally!), wherein Andy Updegrove posits that using blockchain and open source software can help us take control of our data, and create the personal datasphere of the article's title.

The Internet of Bad Things, wherein we learn (or maybe re-learn) about the sorry state of security in the digital world. How sorry? As one research states, we should assume everything has been hacked, or could be.

The rise and fall of the gopher protocol, wherein, thanks to an article from 016, we get a picture of what made the gopher protocol the way to interact with the online world, and what led to its demise.

Arts and Literature

When, Exactly, Do Children Start Thinking They Hate Poetry?, wherein poet Chris Harris examines why kids go from loving to loathing poetry in a few short years. That change often revolves around how poetry is taught — making it more complex than it needs to be.

My Dad, the Pornographer, wherein we learn how noted SF writer Andrew Offutt lived a secret double (literary) life as the author of over 300 pornographic novels.

Seeing the Art in Medical Archives, wherein Roslyn Bernstein explores the sometimes wonderful, often eerie intersection of art and anatomical models.

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.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Business

Throw away your corporate training plan, wherein Beatrice Karol Burks argues that changing the mindset of people, rather than teaching them skills or specific software, is the key to so-called digital transformation in government and in the workplace.

Living in an Extreme Meritocracy Is Exhausting, wherein we learn that faith in a meritocracy in the work and business worlds comes with a number of tradeoffs, especially being consistently and constantly judged in the workplace.

After 5 years and $3M, here's everything we've learned from building Ghost, wherein we see how a boostrapped online business became a popular and profitable blogging and web publishing platform, get a glimpse of its triumphs and mistakes, and find out that running a successful open source project has its pitfalls.

Productivity

Procrastination and Technology, wherein it's argued that our fascination with our screens is another step in the evolution of our long-standing social habits, and how we willingly give ourselves over to the distraction economy to get the supposed benefits of mobile services.

Writing in a journal is good for you — and so is throwing it out, wherein we learn that journals are for filling, but not really for reading.

Why I Don’t Use Digital Productivity Tools (or How a Notebook Makes Me More Productive), wherein Curtis McHale shows that you don't need a half dozen mobile and desktop apps to keep yourself organized and on top of what you need to do. All you need is a pen and a notebook (and not necessarily expensive ones, either).

Technology

There are no digital silver bullets, wherein government digital tech expert Dave Briggs offers some solid guidelines on how to plan an organization's digital transformation with the caveat that there are no perfect solutions to your problems.

What should you do when Google gets into bed with the US military?, wherein we discover how tech companies (and not just Google) rationalize working on military and secret government projects, why they do it, and the moral and ethical dilemmas their employees and customers face.

Digg's v4 launch: an optimism born of necessity, wherein we get an insider's look at the frankly shambolic development, launch, and tragic aftermath of a years-long update to the website Digg.

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.

Storytelling has been on my mind a bit over the last couple of weeks. Specifically, what a good story is and how it's structured. One example of a well-told story is the late Chris Squire describing the night he met Jimi Hendrix. Squire, a legendary bassist and founder of the band Yes, tells a fun (though sometimes rambling) tale that has all the elements of a good story. It's also a fun peek into a bit of musical history.

I've been meaning to break down that story for a while, and still might. Stay tuned.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Arts and Literature

How LA Became a Destination on the Rare Book Trail, wherein we're regaled with a tale of two booksellers in Los Angeles in the 1920s and 1930s, a time when the book trade was anything but staid and dull.

She Caught Bullets with Her Bare Hands — and Made Magic's Glass Ceiling Disappear, wherein we're told the story of Adelaide Hermann who, due to circumstances and necessity, went from magician's assistant to headliner, and in doing so changed the world of stage magic.

Early Modern Memes: The Reuse and Recycling of Woodcuts in 17th-Century English Popular Print, wherein we learn about woodcut illustrations and how they were reused, making some of them the stock photos and meme photos of their day.

Business

Tax-Free Storage Wars, wherein we get a glimpse into the world in which the mega wealthy stashes its valuables, and the benefits (even if they're overhyped or non existent) of the facilities they use.

The Crimes That Fueled a Fantastic Brazilian Museum, wherein we're exposed to how Brazilian businessman Bernardo Paz's shady business practices, and even shadier accounting, helped him create a highly-regarded art museum that was carvedout of his country's jungle.

Wish.com and the Rise of Shipping From China, wherein we learn about the potential joys of buying directly from Chinese manufacturers via sites like Wish.com, and the potential problems that come with ordering cheap (in price and quality) goods online.

Various

How an Army of Suffragettes Helped Save America From Starvation, wherein we learn about the Women's Land Army of America which helped feed the country in the waning days of World War One and how those efforts helped lead to the vote for women.

The Tower, wherein Andrew Hagen tells the harrowing tales of some of the people caught up in horror of London's Grenfell Tower fire. It's a long, gripping, beautiful piece of writing soaked in sadness and tragedy.

The Lost Lingo of New York City’s Soda Jerks, wherein we get a glimpse into the lost world of the American soda fountain, the people who worked behind the counter, and how they slung not only refreshing drinks but also clever turns of phrase peppered with a unique slang.

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.