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

Why I Deleted my Social Media Accounts, wherein Daniel Milnor explains why he dumped most of his social media accounts and the effect that it had on him.

A Brief History of the Chinese Internet, wherein Graham Webster walks us through the development and growth of the internet in China, and how the country's government gained so much control over it.

The small web is beautiful, wherein Ben Hoyt explains why creating smaller websites offers you more freedom, more flexibility, and can be better for visitors and the environment.

Work

Calculating Instruments, wherein Joshua Habgood-Coote muses about crowdsourcing and its long history, and how it has contributed to work’s devaluation and destabilization.

Work: A Deep History, from the Stone Age to the Age of Robots, wherein James Suzman outlines some of the myths and misconceptions around work, and reminds us of the folly of clinging to ideas about the necessity of work forged at the anvil of scarcity when we live in an era of unprecedented abundance.

Technology has turned back the clock on productivity, wherein we learn that modern technology isn't making workers more productive but instead is tempting highly skilled, highly paid people to noodle around making bad slides.

Science

This Tenet Shows Time Travel May Be Possible, wherein we learn about a theory that posits time travel could become a reality but that it won't be easy.

The Quest to Tell Science from Pseudoscience, wherein Michael D. Gordin explains that philosopher Karl Popper's concept of falsifiability isn't enough to counter pseudoscience.

How Radio Astronomy Reveals the Universe, wherein we get a glimpse of the history of the science and learn why radio telescopes are an invaluable tool of astronomy.

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:

History

The people’s ambassadress: the forgotten diplomacy of Ivy Litvinov, wherein we learn about the charismatic English woman and how she became the Soviet Union’s unofficial English-speaking hostess.

The Royal Spy Who Became the Feminist Answer to Shakespeare, wherein we learn about Aphra Behn who, in addition to being a spy for King Charles II, was also one of the first women anywhere in the world to make a living as a writer.

Propagating Propaganda: Franklin Barrett’s Red, White, and Blue Liberty Bond Carp, wherein we learn why and how a fish breeder from Philadelphia bred a patriotic carp towards the end of World War One.

The Dark Side of Technology

‘Smart’ Cities Are Surveilled Cities, wherein we learn that so-called smart cities the world over collect more data than we realize and how that data can be used against us.

Why Democracy Needs Privacy, wherein Carissa Véliz explains that privacy matters because the lack of it gives others power over you.

Digital colonialism: the evolution of American empire, wherein Michael Kwet argues that Big Tech is not only global in scope, it is fundamentally colonial in character and dominated by the United States.

Ideas

Uncanny Valets, wherein Amanda Rees looks at the attitudes towards machine intelligence in the East and West, and tries to explain the differences.

Kinds of Potential, wherein Venkatesh Rao examines various kinds of potential, what they mean to him, and what they can mean to us.

How a 'beginners’ mindset' can help you learn anything, wherein we discover the joys of engage in learning for learning’s sake.

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 hard to believe that another week's bitten the dust and that 2021 is almost at its half way point. I'm still trying to figure out where March went.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Science

We are at a crossroads in the search for a new physics, wherein Pedro G Ferreira muses about the problems that physics isn't solving and ponders ways to try to solve them.

Why “Trusting the Science” Is Complicated, wherein Suman Seth explains that offering the titular trust can be difficult if we cannot quite tell where or what the science is.

Why Bumblebees Love Cats and Other Beautiful Relationships, wherein Stefano Mancuso ponders evolution and looks at the disastrous results of humanity messing with nature on a grand scale, results that are often more damaging to us than to nature.

Technology

The lost apps of the 80s, wherein Dave Winer looks back at a time when tools on the tools computer users had at their disposal, which (in contrast to a lot of what's available today) were [H]ighly customizable products, or products with UIs with character, people had something they don't have now — choice.

A View Of The Future Of Our Data, wherein Matt Prewitt outlines the idea of data coalitions, a workable vision for the future of our data, a future that we'll need to fight for.

The battery invented 120 years before its time, wherein we learn how and why the lead-iron battery invented by Thomas Edison might be making a comeback.

Odds and Ends

How Tokyo’s Public Housing Defined Japan’s Middle Class, wherein we learn how a style of home transformed housing in postwar Japan, and helped transform the country at the same time.

The Precarious State of the Mom-and-Pop Store, wherein we learn about a New York City couple who've chronicled the slowly-fading world of the city's neighbourhood retailers and learn about some of their finds.

Off-Season on the Jersey shore, wherein Gabrielle Esperdy examines Tyler Haughey's almost desolate photos of urban New Jersey in its off season and we learn how the COVID-19 pandemic has deepened and amplified the meanings of those photos.

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:

History

The missing continent it took 375 years to find, wherein we learn why it took so long to discover the continent of Zealandia.

The buried ship found on an English estate, wherein we learn how the discovery of an ancient ship in an English burial mound changed how we look at Dark Age Anglo Saxons and how it changed the face of archaeology in England.

The Once-Classified Tale of Juanita Moody, wherein we learn a bit about how one NSA officer, who insisted on adopting and using the latest technology, helped transform the way in which intelligence is gathered, analyzed, and published.

Business and Economics

Inside the Cryptocurrency Casino, wherein Andrew Ancheta looks at how digital currencies are going mainstream and argues that they won’t reform the banking system, or correct the over-concentration of wealth and power.

A booming industry based entirely on missed calls helped bring India online — and vanished overnight, wherein we learn about the Indian company ZipDial, which took advantage of Indians' habit of hanging up their mobile phones swiftly (to save money) to create a lucrative business.

The changing climate of risk, wherein we learn that government bonds, which are considered safe investments, could be riskier than we think thanks to climate change.

Productivity

The Guilt of Not Working More, When We're Done for the Day, wherein Leo Babauta reminds us of the dangers of being on the productivity treadmill and offers advice for avoiding the guilt of not constantly working.

The power of simplicity: how to manage our complexity bias, wherein Anne-Laure Le Cunff looks at why people embrace complex solutions and why that's not always a good thing.

The Rise and Fall of Getting Things Done, wherein Cal Newport explores how GTD became popular and we learn that productivity systems don't necessarily make us 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:

Crime

Enter the Dragnet, wherein Sarah Brayne looks at how law enforcement is hoovering up and using even non-criminal data and ponders the wider-ranging implications of that.

How German Librarians Finally Caught an Elusive Book Thief, wherein we learn about Norbert Schild, a cunning, enterprising, and meticulous thief who expertly cut maps from antique tomes (often under the noses of librarians), and how he was eventually caught.

Death of a (Really Good) Salesman, wherein we learn about the rise and fall of a one-time corporate superstar, his turn to robbery to hold things together, and of his tragic end.

Ideas

Really?, wherein David Voron ponders the idea that what we perceive as reality might not actually exist.

On Susan Stebbing and the role of public philosophy , wherein we learn how a book written in the late 1930s and its author offer lessons for us over 80 years later.

Apocalyptic Infrastructures, wherein Laleh Khalili argues that infrastructure must remain public so that we can all continue to benefit from it and to keep it intact.

The Dark Side of Technology

Future Shlock, wherein Jathan Sadowski explores the idea that the utopian vision that tech firms push only benefits them and is a vision that's actually dystopian for the rest of us.

'Spy pixels in emails have become endemic', wherein we learn about those little images embedded in emails, what they're used for, and why they're dangerous.

Tracking dots article, wherein we learn about machine identification codes which offer a way to track people who made hard copies using a particular printer.

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

How English became the language of physics, wherein we learn how in the middle and late 20th century, English supplanted German, French, and even Russian as the major language for physics research.

Blueprints Of Intelligence, wherein Philipp Schmitt ponders how AI diagrams prompt[s] us to consider how their creators think about cognition.

Not all early human societies were small-scale egalitarian bands, wherein we learn that the image of small, mobile, egalitarian bands of hunter gatherers is only a small part of the picture and that those bands may actually be an outlier.

Technology

The Case Against 'STEM', wherein M. Anthony Mills argues that we shouldn't lump science and technology together as educational pursuits since the aims and goals of the two are different.

The pandemic and a boom in digital services have revolutionized how we die, wherein Marianne Bray looks at how startups are working overtime to digitize practices around death.

How and why I stopped buying new laptops, wherein Kris De Decker explains why he tries, wherever possible, to bring new life to older laptop computers — and it's not all about saving money.

Odds and Ends

How some people can end up living at airports for months – even years – at a time, wherein Janet Bednarek looks at the ways and the whys some people take up residence in terminals for weeks, months and sometimes years.

The new use for abandoned oil rigs, wherein we learn about efforts to turn disused oil rigs as the framework for growing coral reefs.

When the Cholera Came, wherein Lindsey Hilsum contrasts living in the time of coronavirus and its requisite lockdowns and the cholera outbreak in Rwanda in the early 1990s.

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:

History

Is Westernisation fact or fiction? The case of Japan and the US, wherein Jon Davidann argues that Japan from the 19th century onward wasn't westernized but that the Japanese looked at the West and question[ed] and critique[d], embrace[ed] and reject[ed] as they saw fit.

The Audacious Tabloid Couple Who Scammed Their Way Into New York’s High Society, wherein we learn how a pair of clever, charismatic con artists took NYC by storm, and of their sad fates.

José Epita Mbomo, the Spanish electrician who sabotaged the Nazis, wherein we hear the long-untold story of an immigrant to Spain who used his skills to thwart, in a small way, the Wehrmacht during World War Two.

Technology

Where the internet was delivered by a donkey, wherein we learn about the internet-in-a-box, which is a repositor[y] of downloaded internet content that can be accessed by offline communities and how it's being used in Kyrgyzstan (and elsewhere).

From Tech Critique to Ways of Living, wherein Alan Jacobs ponders breaking our of the scary, invasive walled gardens of big technology firms and opting instead for the cultivation of the “digital commons” of the open web.

Platform Capitalism, Empire and Authoritarianism: Is There a Way Out?, wherein David Murakami Wood posits that giant digital platforms have too much power and influence over all aspects of our personal, political, and economic lives.

Odds and Ends

A joyless trudge? No, thanks: why I am utterly sick of ‘going for a walk’, wherein Canadian expat Monica Heisey ponders, and is puzzled by, the English obsession of walking as a pastime.

I’ve Lost My Identity’: On the Mysteries of Foreign Accent Syndrome, wherein Roger Kreuz and Richard Roberts briefly looks at why FAS occurs, the effect on those afflicted with it, and how *our self-concept is intimately tied up with how we speak and how we sound to others.”

Roadside Picnics: Chernobyl UFOs & The Falcon Lake Incident, wherein Darmon Richter looks at the parallel UFO cultures that have developed in two very different places but which share some similarities.

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 a holiday Monday down in my part of the world, but I'm not slacking off. See? I do care!

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Science

The less equal we become, the less we trust science, and that's a problem, wherein Tony Ward briefly explores why trust in science is dipping and why that's becoming a major problem.

How Intelligent Could Life Be Without Natural Selection?, wherein Arik Kershenbaum ponders whether intelligence, and the ability to bypass natural selection, [can] also bypass the limits that the natural world imposes?

How lightning strikes could explain the origin of life—on Earth and elsewhere, wherein Neel V. Patel looks at how lightning could have been a literal spark of life on the primordial Earth, and discusses the consequences that could have for the search for extraterrestrial life.

Technology

Recommended Writing, wherein Crystal Chokshi looks at predictive text algorithms and the negative effects that those algorithms have on writing (and more).

How to poison the data that Big Tech uses to surveil you, wherein Karen Hao looks at movements to deprive the algorithms deployed by tech giants of meaningful data and how they can help return some control to us.

Why France’s new 'repairability index’ is a big deal, wherein we learn how a move by the French government to fight planned obsolescence of electronics might influence companies to make devices we can actually repair.

Ideas

The joys of being an absolute beginner – for life, wherein Tom Vanderbilt looks at the struggles, the joys, and the benefits of learning regardless of your age and whether or not you become good at what you're trying to learn.

Thirteen to One, wherein Marie Mutsuki Mockett looks at her relationship with, and experience of, Japanese culture through the lens of the country's myths and folklore.

The milk of human genius, wherein Lesley Hughes surveys the landscape of companies large and small developing plant-based alternatives to dairy products and how they have the potential to upend the food industry.

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

Texas Republicans Discover the True Meaning of Free Markets, wherein after the extreme weather in Texas in February, 2021, Nathan J. Robinson rightly points out that [P]rice gouging is a feature, not a bug, of free markets.

The Nature of Money, wherein M.K. Anderson looks at how the financial system, and punishments for theft and fraud in that system, skew positively to the moneyed while the poorer suffer.

What bankers should learn from the traditions of pastoralism, wherein Ian Scoones looks at the lessons in resilience and risk management that the financial world can learn from itinerant animal herders.

Productivity

How to Quiet Your Mind Chatter, wherein we learn a technique or two that can help us to tell that annoying, distracting voice inside our heads to shut up.

Rank and File, wherein Robert Minto explores his attempts to become a better note taker, and his eventual revelation that a scholar’s notes were not a life’s work, but only a tool.

Why we procrastinate on the tiniest of tasks, wherein we learn why we let the small stuff loom large and some strategies to change that.

Arts and Literature

How the English Language Failed Banana Yoshimoto, wherein translator Eric Margolis looks at the original English translation of the Japanese's author's breakthrough novel, finds it wanting, and discusses how it helped Yoshimoto become an international literary icon that nearly was.

The Cave of Time, wherein we learn the origins of the Choose Your Own Adventure children's book series and why it became so popular.

Why Computers Will Never Write Good Novels, wherein Angus Fletcher refutes the claims of AI researchers the computers can pen literature, arguing that causal reasoning is beyond digital brains.

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

Don't Hate the Phone Call, Hate the Phone, wherein we learn that making phone calls with a smartphone can be a chore because of the design of the phone and the underlying infrastructure than the intrusiveness of the call itself.

The tyranny of passwords – is it time for a rethink?, wherein Sirin Kale looks at the problems with passwords and some possible solutions to those problems.

The House That Bitcoin Built, wherein we learn about a so-called hacker haven in Buenos Aires and about the impact that what came out of it had on the cryptocurrency world.

Ideas

We live in a wake-centric world, losing touch with our dreams, wherein Rubin Naiman looks at the why and how of REM dreaming and the reasons it's important to our physical and mental well being, and at why we're becoming as dream deprived as we are sleep deprived.

How '15-minute cities' will change the way we socialise, wherein we learn how COVID-19 lockdowns made people in Paris better appreciate their neighbourhoods and communities, and how that could be a template for interacting with cities in the future.

The Beijing Heidegger Reading Group, wherein Coby Goldberg discusses his first experience and struggles with the works of the German philosopher while an exchange student at Tsinghua University.

Online Life

Facebook is a Doomsday Machine, wherein Adrienne LaFrance argues that the social network is more than that, it's more than a media company, that it can harm society just by existing.

Tim Berners-Lee's plan to save the internet: give us back control of our data, wherein we learn about the efforts of the World Wide Web's creator to shift control of data and how it's used online back into our hands.

Digital Immortality, wherein Houman Barekat looks at the small but growing industries devoted to keeping our digital memories alive after we pass on.

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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