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:

Writing

How to Organize Your Writing, wherein Amy Holland explains why you need to organize your writing and shows you a way to do that effectively.

How to Edit Your Own Writing, wherein Harry Guinness reminds us that editing is one of the keys to good writing, and offers some excellent tips for giving your own work an editorial going over.

Writing Is Thinking, wherein Sally Kerrigan explains why writing about what you do is important, and how writing (and planning to write) can help you think about what you do more clearly.

Online Life

Small b blogging, wherein Tom Critchlow argues that you shouldn't blog for fame, fortune, and glory but instead do it to make interesting connections while also being a way to clarify and strengthen your ideas.

When the Web Was Weird, wherein we learn how the web went from flat, utilitarian pages to more dynamic designs, with some interesting steps in between.

A Text Renaissance, wherein Ventakesh Rao examines the revival (of sorts) of text as a medium for creating and publishing content online.

Ideas

We Are All Ancient Mapmakers, wherein Cody Kommers explains that the idea of a map that all of us carry around in our heads uses the same conceptual framework as the maps crafted by ancient Greek philosophers, with all the physical and cognitive limitations.

Why We Need a Working-Class Media, wherein Carla Murphy argues for a need to hear the voices of working-class people from all races and backgrounds to tell their stories and to demonstrate that they are civic participants who matter.

How New York Is Zoning Out the Human-Scale City, wherein we get a peek into the urban development process in New York City, and learn how the process is tearing the heart out of the city's neighbourhoods and its history.

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

This backpack has it all: Kevlar, batteries, and a federal investigation, wherein we're left to wonder whether Doug Monahan, the man behind the iBackpack crowdfunding fiasco, is an unlucky serial entrepreneur or a serial scammer.

Science for Sale, wherein we see, yet again, how corporations use mercenary scientists to pervert and deny actual science to preserve their profits at the expense of employees and consumers.

Newly Minted, wherein Gaby Del Valle argues that many of the new financial technology startups are nothing more than thinly-disguised payday lenders that target the poor and indebted.

Space

Death on Mars, wherein astrobiologist Caleb A. Scharf explains that among all the challenges facing colonists on Mars, the amount of radiation the planet is exposed to could be the biggest challenge to overcome.

A deep dive into the Apollo Guidance Computer, and the hack the saved Apollo 14, wherein we get a very close look at how the computer that took astronauts to the Moon worked, and how mission controllers got around a serious problem that could have scuttled Apollo 14's landing.

In space, no one can hear you kernel panic, wherein we learn how NASA, not willing to take chances with automated and crewed missions, included multiple redundant computer systems in its probes and spacecraft. Just in case.

History

An atomic marker hidden in plain sight, wherein we visit a section of Santa Fe, New Mexico which was the gateway to the site at which American scientists created the first atomic weapons.

How The CIA Found A Soviet Sub — Without The Soviets Knowing, wherein we learn how the American spy organization teamed up with Howard Hughes to undertake one of the great heists of the 20th century: salvaging a Soviet attack submarine from the bottom of the ocean.

Welcome to Jáchymov: the Czech town that invented the dollar, wherein we take a trip to teh town which created the unit of currency that inspired the dollar but which, ironically, doesn't accept U.S. dollars.

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:

Ideas

If you can read this headline, you can read a novel. Here’s how to ignore your phone and just do it, wherein Judith Seaboyer argues that no matter what your age, you can learn (or relearn) how to read longer, more complex texts by setting aside a space and time to revitalise the neural pathways that once made us immersive readers

The 2010s Have Broken Our Sense Of Time, wherein Katherine Miller argues that the constant stream of information from multiple sources that's been coming at us in the last 10 years has distorted our understanding of when we are.

The Hollow Politics of Minimalism, wherein Jill Steinhauer argues that minimalism, as practiced by many today, isn't a lifestyle choice but an aspirational style — a measure of taste and an opportunity to announce your sophistication.

Technology

The New Uncanny Valley, wherein Jakub Stachurski looks at how communication has changed since moving online, and how that's affected (or not) our social lives and relationships.

How SEO Ruined the Internet, wherein we discover a few more reasons to despise Search Engine Optimization and to shun those who practice it.

The Wrong Goodbye, wherein Heather White ponders the hows and whys of email marketers trying to get us to stop unsubscribing from their messages and newsletters.

Arts and Literature

From Abacus to Zen: A Short History of Tuttle Publishing, wherein we learn a bit about the background of a publishing company that introduced Japan and aspects of Japanese langauge and culture to English-speaking readers.

Tara McLeod: A Typographic Journey, wherein we're introduced to the Kiwi typographer who decided to ply his trade not with digital tools but with a hand press from the Victorian era.

“Lights, Camera-maids, Action!”: Women Behind the Lens in Early Cinema, wherein Marsha Gordon introduces us to the forgotten female camera operators and cinematographers from the early years of the film industry in the U.S.

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.

I'm not in the mood to try to type an intro that's pithy, borderline wise, or marginally amusing. So, let's get this Monday started with these links instead:

Work

How firms move to secret offices amid Covid-19, wherein we discover that some companies have secure sites the open when disasters strike, and learn what's involved in shifting employees and operations to those sites.

Why Today’s Shopping Sucks, wherein Brigid Schulte explains one reason why customer service has deteriorated in the last few years: scheduling algorithms, which force employees to highly-variable shifts which cause stress and uncertainty.

The reason Zoom calls drain your energy, wherein we learn about the psychological and physical factors that videoconferencing and chatting so fatiguing, and discover a few ways to mitigate that fatigue.

Crime

On the Trail of a Silver Thief, wherein we learn about some very daring and very precise burglaries in the American south, and about Blane Nordahl who's accused of being behind those heists.

The Black Widow Bank Robber’s Web of Secrets, wherein we learn (some of) the story of Linda Calvey's descent into crime, a story with many sides and which leaves even more questions unanswered.

The Pirates of the Highways, wherein we get a glimpse into the world of cargo theft, a crime with often innocuous targets but which can reap large rewards for determined thieves.

The Dark Side of Technology

Facial recognition is spreading faster than you realise, wherein we learn that in the UK (and probably elsewhere), authorities are deploying facial recognition tools in places we don't expect.

Killing Giants, wherein Nina Medvedeva ponders the rise of the giants of platform capitalism and how we can try to take power and agency back from them.

From Manchester to Barcelona, wherein Ben Tarnoff examines capitalism and the modern world of technology, compares it to 19th century English textile mills, and concludes that tech is able to harvest value from us simply for existing.

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:

Crime

The Hollywood Con Queen, wherein we learn how one man, using extensive research and a remarkable ability to mimic, managed to bamboozle people at all levels of the entertainment industry.

The Million-Dollar Scammer and His Many Mormon Marks, wherein we learn how Al McKee undertook a massive affinity fraud campaign, taking advantage of the good nature of his neighbours in Utah, fleecing them, and even taking one of them down with him.

The Postal Inspector Who Took Down America’s First Organized Crime Ring, wherein we discover how postal inspector Frank Oldfield took on, and took down, a criminal syndicate intimidating the fruit business in early 1900s America.

Technology

Why I Built a Dumb Cell Phone with a Rotary Dial, wherein Justine Haupt explains the why and how behind her home-brewed mobile phone, and looks at the response it received.

Can tech for good be as profitable as plain old tech?, wherein Marie Mawad and Amy Lewin look at whether European firms can create tech that's profitable, useful, and which actually have a positive social purpose.

A Train to Nowhere, wherein we learn about Britain's hovertrain project from the 1960s, which was touted as revolutionizing train travel but which encountered to many problems and too much competition from other schemes.

Travel

Walking the Kumano Kodo, wherein Edward J. Taylor takes us on a journey down a trail walked by Buddhist and Shinto pilgrims (and others) for centurries.

On the Complicated Questions Around Writing About Travel, wherein Intan Paramaditha gives us a different view of travel, one without the romanticism of much of the travel literature out there and without the glamour of Instagram stories.

Heartlands: Tachiaigawa, wherein Rebecca Saunders takes us on a tour of a working class section to Tokyo, and in doing so exposes us to its rich history.

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, and a new month, started with these links:

Environment

Why working from home might be less sustainable, wherein we discover the toll on the environment that working away from the office, in our own spaces, can take on the environment and learn about some ways to mitigate that toll.

People hate flight shame – but not enough to quit flying, wherein we learn how hard it is to not take an airplane, and that measures (often of the token variety) that both passengers and airlines take don't do as much to offset carbon use as they think or claim.

Japan's ancient way to save the planet, wherein we learn about the concept of mottainai, and how embracing this age-old admonishment we might be able to reduce the amount of waste we generate.

Writing

How to write well, wherein Irina Dumitrescu ponders how we learn to write, how to recognize good writing, and how teacher can do a better job of molding students into good writers.

Sure, Plot is Good, But Have You Tried Talking About Story Shape?, wherein we learn that when writing fiction, you might need to focus on the overall story before you start plotting and writing.

When Dorothy Parker Got Fired from Vanity Fair, wherein we learn how Parker landed a job as a writer at the famed publication, how working there helped her hone her legendary wit, and how by taking a theatre review a bit too far she lost her job but gained a career.

Odds and Ends

Eyam, UK: How a village destroyed itself to save a nation, wherein we learn about the measures a 17th century English village took to quarantine itself to prevent the bubonic plague from spreading to neighbouring towns and villages.

The Knowledge, wherein Barclay Bram takes us into the world of people studying to get their London cab driver's license, and we learn how that industry is coping with a number of existential threats.

The Astonishing Rise of “Blair the Flair”, wherein we hear the story of boxer Blair Cobbs' surreal, obstacle-filled, and often dangerous path to realizing his dream of being a top-ranked professional pugilist.

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.

To try to help get your mind off of the wackiness and sheer weight of life in the time of COVID-19, I've got nine new articles for you. Enjoy.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

History

The American Concordes that never flew, wherein we hear the tale of political turmoil, environmental protests and spiralling costs scuppered plans in the U.S. to develop supersonic passenger airliners.

Stone tools reveal epic trek of nomadic Neanderthals, wherein we learn that the well-known human sub species were not only more intelligent than we've been taught, but they actually ranged and roamed far outside of what's now western Europe.

The Man Who Picked Victorian London's Unpickable Lock, wherein we discover how making seemingly impregnable locks became a big industry in 18th and 19th century England, and about the American who turned that industry on its head by demonstrating that those locks could be breached.

The Dark Side of Technology

How a Good Scam Can Bypass Our Defences, wherein Bruce Grierson discovers, through experience, internet scammers can trick anyone in the right circumstances and why that happens.

The Rise and Fall of a Bitcoin Mining Scheme That Was “Too Big to Fail”, wherein we learn about the rise and inevitable fall of BitClub Network, which exploited cryptocurrency fever to allegedly bilk investors out of millions.

I Sabotaged My Boss With Ransomware From the Dark Web, wherein Drake Bennett takes us down the rabbit hole of online ransomware dealers, and shows us how easy it is for people to acquire and use it (often ineptly).

Productivity

How to escape the tyranny of the clock, wherein Lakshmi Sandhana discusses whether we can actually give up time (or, at least, obsessively watching clocks), and the good and bad of that.

The Art of Doing Nothing, wherein we learn that downtime isn't a bad thing and can, in fact, help boost our productivity in the longer run.

Why procrastination is about managing emotions, not time, wherein we learn that people who procrastinate don't have problems with task and/or schedule management, but instead the root of their problem just might be that the task we’re putting off is making us feel bad.

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 bit of a mixed bag this week, but none of the articles are boring. I hope you enjoy them.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Environment

Australia: The Fires and Our Future, wherein Tim Flannery laments the destructive swaths that bush fires are cutting through his country, and the denial of the link of those fires with climate change at the top of Australia's political and business worlds.

Enduring the Ending of the World, wherein Luke Carmen ponders the bushfires in Australia, and the lessons that they offer to the rest of the world.

In the Bag, wherein Yvette Cabrera explains that not only do Latinos have a long history of being environmentalists (even if they don't call themselves that), many consider themselves to be stewards of the environment.

Technology

Daily life with the offline laptop, wherein Solène Rapenne outlines how she set up one of her computers so that she could use it while escaping the temptations of the internet.

The Secret History of Facial Recognition, wherein we learn about the pioneering work in the 1960s of Woody Bledsoe and his colleagues, which (while secret) proved to be the basis of modern facial recognition technology.

The gadgets that refuse to die, wherein we learn about some obsolete tech that's still kicking thanks to the efforts of people who've grown to love those gadgets.

Productivity

How to Be Kind to Yourself & Still Get Stuff Done, wherein Leo Babauta explains that by not being so hard on yourself you can actually boost your productivity.

Three Theories for Why You Have No Time, wherein Derek Thompson argues that technology, instead of alleviating our burdens of work at home and in the office, actually adds to those burdens.

A Radical Guide to Spending Less Time on Your Phone, wherein Ryan Holiday offers some solid tips that can help you put some distance between you and your smartphone, tips which might be able to help you become more relaxed and more productive.

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:

Work

I Quit My Job at 50 to Reinvent Myself. Pro Tip: Don’t Do This, wherein Ivy Eisenberg recounts her attempt, at age 50, to shift out of an unfulfilling career in IT, and how she was forced back into that part of the working world.

Why You Never See Your Friends Anymore, wherein we learn some reasons, both historic and economic, why the hours in which we work, rest, and socialize are becoming ever more desynchronized.

If work dominated your every moment, would life be worth living?, wherein Andrew Taggart muses about a state in which many people exist: where work is the dominant force in their lives.

Writing

Notes on Craft, wherein Jem Calder discusses something many a writer can relate to: working at a numbing day job, feeling that he's squandering his abilities, and writing in the office to retain some sense of selfhood while working in a place I despised.

Relearning to Write After Law School Buried My Voice, wherein Akhila Kolisetty recounts how legal writing stripped the emotion and personality out of her words, and how working with victims of domestic abuse helped her regain both.

Waterlines: On Writing and Sailing, wherein Martin Dumont tells us how nautical-themed literature sparked his love of sailing, and how working as a naval architect inspired him to start writing fiction seriously.

Odds and Ends

Jerry and Marge Go Large, wherein we learn how, working with his wife, an intellectually-curious retiree in Michigan managed to find and legally exploit flaws in two state lotteries, made millions, and how it all ended (though not unhappily).

A scandal in Oxford: the curious case of the stolen gospel, wherein we discover that the world of Classics isn't as boring as it seems, especially when an Oxford don is accused of improperly selling ancient manuscripts to the fundamentalist billionaires behing Hobby Lobby.

Elon Musk: The Architect of Tomorrow, wherein Neil Strauss treats us to a profile of the tech entrepreneur that presents a side of him that the media rarely (if ever) shows.

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.

One month down, and another begins. It's hard to believe how quickly time has been flying lately. Here's hoping that the last week has been kind to you and that things are looking up.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Technology

The man who got rich on data – years before Google, wherein we learn about the work of Herman Hollerith who, decades before tech giants started vacuuming up all of our information, transformed business and bureaucracy with punch cards and tabulating machines.

OSI: The Internet That Wasn’t, wherein we look at two networking protocols that competed to be the standard for online communication, and how the cheap and agile, if less comprehensive of the two became the backbone of the internet as we know it.

Fax on the beach: The story of the audacious, visionary, totally calamitous iPad of the '90s, wherein we learn about the creation and failure AT&T's EO Personal Communicator, which was supposed to bring tablet computing to the business world in the 1990s.

Productivity

When the best way to take notes is by hand, wherein we learn the going analog can be superior to taking notes digitally since with pen and paper you process the information more deeply because you can’t possibly write it all down.

The Problem with “Smart” New Years’ Goals, wherein we learn that setting goals (SMART or otherwise) isn't enough, but instead that we need to take the time to build the habits that will help us reach those goals.

Against Productivity in a Pandemic, wherein Nick Martin argues that even though we're locked down and, maybe, working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, it's no reason to jump on the productivity treadmill just because we can or are expected to.

Odd and Ends

How a plant saved a Japanese island, wherein we learn how the people of Amami Oshima in southern Japan took the toxic cycad tree and turned it into both a source of food and way to survive harsh times, and discover that the knowledge of how they do that is fading away.

How Hong Kong's Protests Turned Into a “Mad Max” Tableau, wherein we learn about how the democracy protests in Hong Kong started, and how they escalated from being relatively peaceful to being more aggressive and violent.

My Neighborhood Sento, wherein David R. Munson tells us how regular visits to his local public bath in Tokyo helped him pull his scattered life back together and helped him feel at home both in my neighborhood and in my very skin.

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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