The Monday Kickoff

Start your week with nine curated reads, 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.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Online Life

Someone is Wrong on the Internet: A Study in Pandemic Distraction, wherein Irina Dumitrescu recounts how easy it is to succumb to the many distractions available online, ones which not only puncture your productivity but also do you no good personally.

A plan to redesign the internet could make apps that no one controls, wherein we're introduced to efforts to create a truly decentralized internet, one that's out of the hands of the tech giants.

The rise and fall of Adobe Flash, wherein Richard Moss charts the birth, growth, and decline of a technology that, in some ways, brought the web to life but which also has its share of detractors (and for good reason).

Arts and Literature

How to cheat the bestseller list, wherein we learn how writers have, and continue to, buy large numbers of their own books to ensure that those books crack the top 10 of some bestseller list or the other.

El Topo: The weirdest western ever made, wherein we learn about Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky's cult acid western, and a bit about the auteur himself.

Remember Reading in Public?, wherein Nick Ripatrazone longs for the opportunity to once again read books in public spaces, an opportunity denied many by COVID-19.

History

The record-breaking jet which still haunts a country, wherein we learn about the Avro Arrow, Canada's attempt to develope a supersonic interceptor, and how its high cost killed the project.

A short history of door handles, we learn a little about the evolution of an object that we use every day and probably don't think too much (if anything) about.

The Dr. Strange of the American Revolution, wherein we learn a little about Benjamin Rush, one of the signers of America's Declaration of Independence and who was a pioneer in several areas and disciplines.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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 and Economics

The unsurpassed 125-year-old network that feeds Mumbai, wherein we learn about the city's dabbawallas, who deliver thousands of lunches using low tech means, and how they're able to compete with the well-funded digital players who are trying to enter their world.

The Walkman, Forty Years On, wherein we learn how Sony's portable cassette players came into being and became the iPods of their day.

Dirty Tricks Of The Public Relations Industry, wherein Nick Slater looks at three techniques which the PR industry uses to distort reality and to sway the public.

Politics and Government

Can the liberal order be transformed by global government?, wherein we learn about the origins of the so-called liberal order, where it's going, the challenges it faces, and how it can overcome those challenges.

Abolish Oil, wherein Reinhold Martin argues that to have a truly Green New Deal, we need to do more than just stop using oil and get rid of the entire system of oil production, a system with a colonial legacy and which has left a trail of deaths.

How Corporations Try To Be More Human Than Humans, wherein Eli Zeger examines the good and bad (mostly bad) of recognizing corporations as people.

Technology

On COBOL, wherein Mike Loukides looks at the history of an early programming language, why it was so widely adopted, and we need more people who know and understand COBOL programs.

The Making of the Tech Worker Movement, wherein Ben Tarnoff takes us through the history of what led to the walkouts at several tech giants and why those walkouts are the start of a shift in the way people in that industry view themselves and what they do.

Notes from a Tech-Free Life, wherein Mark Boyle discusses why he turned his back on modern technology, and tried to make living my life.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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:

Writing

On Travel Writing, wherein Jason Wilson ponders what authentic travel, and travel writing, is and means, while also pondering the future of his craft.

Why Do Some Writers Burn Their Work?, wherein Alex George tries to answer that question, and comes to some surprising (and not-so-surprising) conclusions.

What Does It Mean to Be a Cult Writer?, wherein Ian Haydn Smith examines the idea of the cult writer and look at the various subcategories that wordsmiths branded with that label can inhabit.

Productivity

The Lost Art of True Rest, wherein Leo Babauta explains the need for use to rest not only our boidies but our minds as well, and offers some advice around how to do that.

How anxiety affects your focus, wherein we learn how stress and worry can decimate our working memory, and how the effects our personal and professional productivity.

Distracting myself – taking small bites, wherein David Johnson reminds himself (and us) of what I need to do when resistance creeps into my life.

Odds and Ends

Walking Is Making a Major Comeback, wherein Gloria Liu chronicles her discovery of walking as both a form of physical exercise and a way to work the shit out of your head.

Searching for Bee Swarms in the Heart of New York City, wherein Arthur Coté takes us into the world of urban beekeeping, and shares its unique challenges and joys.

Tea, Biscuits, and Empire: The Long Con of Britishness, wherein British expat Laurie Penny shows us the two sides of her home country, both of which are simultaneously fascinating and terrifying.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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:

Space

Interstellar space travel will have language complications for astronauts, wherein we learn that the language used by travellers (and their descendants) on long-duration missions could change so much as to be incomprehensible to folks on the Old Planet.

Chrysler's Radical Space Shuttle Design Was 50 Years Ahead of Its Time, wherein we get a glimpse of the radical, strange, and just plain innovative design that the automaker came up with for a reusable spacecraft.

The Trouble with Counting Alien Civilizations, wherein Caleb Sharf explains that it's difficult, if not downright futile, to try to estimate the number of extraterrestrial civilizations, especially when those estimates are based on how life developed on Earth.

The Dark Side of Technology

Auto Controllers, wherein we discover the world of the starter interrupt device, which lenders can use to disable someone's car and which can be both a safety hazard and ruthless tools of financial extraction.

Who Is Responsible When Autonomous Systems Fail?, wherein Madeleine Clare Elish discusses how blame is, and can be, apportioned when automation and AI go awry.

Your data makes the web personal, wherein Christina Morillo examines the good and the bad of the personalization algorithms used online.

Work

What the Dutch can teach the world about remote work, wherein Katie Bishop examines the cultural and technological reasons that have enabled companies and workers in the Netherlands to make remote working a more viable alternative.

The real cost of Amazon, wherein we get another look into the ecommerce giant's warehouses, this time with a focus on how it's reacting to both labour unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The death of the open-plan office? Not quite, but a revolution is in the air, wherein Andrew Wallace looks at the changes that open-plan offices are going through due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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 from the promote my own work department: I've just published Learning HTML: A Quick and Dirty Guide for Writers. Aimed at technical writers, bloggers, journalists, and content strategists, this ebook teaches the basics of formatting writing for the web. You can read a sample chapter and buy a copy of the ebook at Gumroad.

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

Crime

How Four Americans Robbed the Bank of England, wherein we learn how a group of 19th century American con men used the laxness of English banks to try to defraud those banks of a pile of money, and how they almost got away with it.

The Master Thief, wherein we learn about how Sean Murphy became an accomplished thief, how he pulled off the biggest score of his career, and how that score caused his downfall.

A Thousand Pounds of Dynamite, wherein we hear the story of how a Hungarian refugee and former successful businessman roped his sons into a brilliant, but failed, extortion scheme involving a bomb that couldn't be defused and a Lake Tahoe casino.

Work

Death of the office, wherein Catherine Nixey explores that origins and rise of the modern office, why it became the symbol it became, and how its decline started.

Sleeping with Amazon, wherein David Gutowski recounts his time working for Amazon Books, and how that job was both a blessing and a curse.

How the World’s Most Venomous Fish Convinced Me to Stop Working Myself to Death, wherein Ali Francis looks back at her descent into the dangerous pit of the workaholic, and how almost dying on a surfing trip to Barbados made her reconsider her working life.

Odds and Ends

Last Pole, wherein Julian Chehirian recounts his attempts, as an employee of the state of New Jersey, to learn more about the former site of an AT&T transatlantic telephone receiver site.

The ingredients for a longer life, wherein David Robson explores why people in so-called Blue Zones live longer than folks residing elsewhere in the world.

What Do They Know of English, Who Only English Know?, wherein Colin Marshall ponders foreign languages, the people who speak more than one of them, and the reasons those people learn multiple languages.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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

Half the matter in the universe was missing – we found it hiding in the cosmos, wherein J. Xavier Prochaska outlines how his team unraveled a vexing cosmological problem: where the missing matter in the universe is.

Drowning in Light, wherein Dirk Hanson explores how as lighting gets cheaper we use more of it, and how the effects us psychologically and physically.

Four amazing astronomical discoveries from ancient Greece, wherein Gareth Dorrian looks at some astronomical theories that ancient Greek scholars came up with, theories that were only embraced and confirmed many centuries later.

Online Life

It's Time to Get Back Into RSS, wherein Daniel Miessler advocates embracing RSS feeds again so you can curate your own input garden and make that garden a meaningful part of the consumption experience.

On Digital Gardens, Blogs, Personal Spaces, and the Future, wherein Justin Tadlock years for the simpler days of the personal website, where not everything someone published online was a blog with a content strategy.

Is This Amazon Review Bullshit?, wherein we learn more about fake reviews on the ecommerce site and how to spot them.

Ideas

In valuing only how to argue, we are forgetting how to talk, wherein Nesrine Malik points out that argument and discussion aren't the same, and that we need more of the latter than the former if we want to better disagree with each other.

Lateral thinking is classic pseudoscience, derivative and untested, wherein Antonio Melechi skewers Edward de Bono's ideas around creativity and shows that they weren't as fresh or original as de Bono claimed.

More than arm’s length: reimagining rituals in a technologically mediated pandemic-centric era, wherein anthropologist Caitlin E. McDonald looks at how the coronavirus pandemic has so quickly changed rituals, even small ones, around the 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

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 been a while since I've done an edition on a single theme, so I thought it was about time. I hope you enjoy this week's selection of reads.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

The Perks of Being a Weirdo, wherein Olga Khazan looks at the creative upside to being different from everyone around you.

For the full life experience, put down all devices and walk, wherein John Kaag and Susan Froderberg explain the joys and benefits of walking without aim, without a destination in mind.

The Analog City and the Digital City, wherein L. M. Sacasas ponders how the political and ideological divisions in our society are caused by adherence to either old or new mores or ethoses.

The Tragedy of Costs and Benefits, wherein Roberto Tallarita explains that crises encourage simplistic contrasts, but that those contrasts don't take into account wider, more subtle factors.

Urban Auscultation: Listening to the City, wherein Shannon Mattern looks at experiencing cities more deeply not just by sight and smell, but by paying closer attention to the sounds and rhythms of those cities.

The Case Against Thinking Outside of the Box, wherein Jordan Shapiro aruges that creativity doesn't happen on demand and that inspiration for creative and innovative ideas usually comes from external factors.

The Science of Reading, wherein Charles Fernyhough ponders the voices we hear inside our heads when we read fiction.

More than arm’s length: reimagining rituals in a technologically mediated pandemic-centric era, wherein anthropologist Caitlin E. McDonald looks at how the coronavirus pandemic has so quickly changed rituals, even small daily ones, around the world.

Don't blame social media for conspiracy theories, wherein Joseph E Uscinski argues that people who believe and embrace conspiracy theories would do so even without social media and the internet.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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:

Technology

Home Screens, wherein Drew Austin postulates that while the tech industry claims digital solutions can replace face-to-face interactions, the coronavirus pandemic is drawing attention to what technology can't do.

The Power of Lo-TEK, wherein we're introduced to the local technologies, traditional ecological knowledge (Lo-TEK) movement, which explores so-called primitive technologies and how we can use them in the modern world.

The Digital Afterlife, wherein Brian J. Barth explains what happens, and what should happen, to our online accounts and digital assets after we die.

Ideas

How social and physical technologies collaborate to create, wherein we're treated to an examination of how both technologies evolve, hand in hand, as physical change spurs social change, which spurs physical change.

A New Connection with the Lost Art of Phone Conversation, wherein Daphne Merkin discusses how the traditional phone call is coming back into vogue, all thanks to COVID-19 lockdowns.

is minimalism the antidote to runaway industrialization?, wherein Greg Fish looks at the financial, environmental, and human costs of people continually buying cheap goods which they must regularly replace.

Business and Economics

Garbage Language, wherein Molly Young looks at the growth of meaningless language in business and the workplace, and how it's become the norm at all levels in an organization.

Draining the Risk Pool, wherein Jathan Sadowski examines how so-called corporate wellness programs lead employers and insurers to adopt surveillance technologies that invade both the work and private lives of employees.

Why We Need Cooperatives for the Digital Economy, wherein James Muldoon argues the need to shift to community run and owned digital platforms, ones which put people and their communities, and not profits, first.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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 few weeks I've received emails from a handful of readers, thanking me. Not (just) for these posts, but also for introducing them to new publications. I'm happy to be of service.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Science

The Rise of Junk Science, wherein we discover the rapidly-growing number of academic journals that publish low-quality research, and the harm that those journals do not just to the academic and scientific communities but to knowledge as a whole.

Feynman | Making the extraordinary look easy, wherein we learn a little about how the legendary physicist did what he did, and discover a bit more about his various sides (including some not-so-nice ones).

Why are we losing the wayfinding skills of our ancestors?, wherein we learn how the ability to find our way was baked into our DNA, why people lose that ability, and what happens when they do.

History

The Kentucky Miner Who Scammed Americans by Claiming He Was Hitler and Plotting a ‘Revolt’ With ‘Spaceships’, wherein we learn about William Henry Johnson, and African-American coal miner and preacher, who from 1946 to 1956 managed to convince some German Americans that he was Hitler preparing for a comeback and scammed thousands from them.

The Norwegian Attack on Heavy Water That Deprived the Nazis of the Atomic Bomb, wherein we learn about Operation Gunnerside, a move to cripple Germany's heavy water production capabilities in World War Two.

Into the Unknown, wherein we discover how Antarctic explorer Douglas Mawson pushed through a desperate, deadly situation to survive in one of the most inhospitable places on the planet.

Crime

The Real-Life Bank Heist that Reads Like an Oceans 11 Sequel, wherein we learn about an audacious heist at a Buenos Aires bank, and how this seemingly perfect crime was undone by marital strife.

What to Make of Murph the Surf?, wherein we hear the story of Jack Roland Murphy, a former champion surfer and violent criminal, and his attempts to right his past wrongs.

The Malaysian Job, wherein we learn about a financial scam with its roots in Asia, but which reached around the globe — sometimes with deadly consequences, and which further tarnished the reputation of a large investment bank.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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:

Space

Reflections on Project Orion, wherein physicist Jeremy Bernstein looks back on his participation in a project to build a spaceship driven by nuclear bombs, and shares something that Freeman Dyson (a driving force behind the project) wrote about it.

Here’s how we could mine the moon for rocket fuel, wherein we learn about some ideas to do just that, and about some of the obstacles that are in the way.

The Case Against Mars, wherein Byron Williston outlines the arguments against colonizing space, which have little to do with technology and a lot to do with humanity's lack of maturity and development.

Productivity

Can we escape from information overload? wherein Tom Lamont explores what happens when people try to cut themselves off from digital stimulation and distraction.

Want to Be More Productive? Try Doing Less, wherein Kare Northrup argues that productivity isn't about having a jam-packed to-do list, and offers some adivce about how to scale back to get more done.

How to Work Alone, wherein we get some useful tips for creating the space where intense concentration becomes easily accessible.

Odds and Ends

Why Japan is obsessed with paper, wherein we learn the whys and hows of Japan's love affair with products made from wood pulp, and why that love seems to be gradually fading away.

The Acrobatic Immigrant Who Invented Pilates in a Prisoner of War Camp, wherein we learn how Joseph Pilates used a World War One internment camp on the Isle of Man as a laboratory to develop the exercise system that bears his name.

How Japan’s global image morphed from military empire to eccentric pop-culture superpower, wherein Marc Bain examines how our view of Japan has changed over the decades, but with one constant always there: the power of the country's pop culture, and that pop culture's appeal worldwide.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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