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.

Greetings from Raleigh, NC. I'm at the 2019 edition of a conference called All Things Open. As you read this, I'll be experiencing all manners of open source goodness in the forms of talks and demos. So, what are you doing this morning?

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Science

The Aesthetic Beauty of Math, wherein Karen Olssen ponders how mathematics, when done well, is a form of art to the right set of eyes and the right kind of mind.

Perhaps the best dinosaur fossil ever discovered. So why has hardly anyone seen it?, wherein we learn about an amazing find of dinosaur remains on a ranch in Montana, and about both the interest it sparked among paleontologist and the legal battles the discovery of those remains ignited.

How Space Technology is Revolutionizing Archaeology, wherein we're introduced to astroarchaelogy and learn about its potential in helping us bring the answers to life, on Earth, looking down from outer space.

Travel

The Best Way to Tour a City Is Through Its Grocery Store, wherein we learn the joys of exploring foreign lands by popping into their grocery stores and discovering more than local foods, and the joys of doing that in our own countries.

The Invisible City Beneath Paris, wherein Robert Macfarlane introduces us to the world of urban explorers by taking us through his sometimes scary and claustrophobic journey below the streets of The City of Light.

The liberating experience of traveling without a smartphone, wherein we get the results of a study that show how travelling without technology can be frustrating and anxiety inducing, but also liberating and something that puts travellers more into the moment.

Odds and Ends

What Happens When Satanists Try to Build a Public Monument?, wherein we learn that in some parts, religious freedom is only free to those who practice the so-called “right” religions.

New Coke Didn’t Fail. It Was Murdered, wherein Tim Murphy chronicles what killed New Coke in 1985, and how that campaign against an update to a popular beverage stemmed from a sense of dispossession and an unwillingness to adapt to change.

Going Down the Pipes, wherein we revist the article that inspired the 1999 movie Pushing Tin, and learn about the sometimes wacky and always high-stress world of air traffic controllers in one of America's busiest air travel corridors.

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 about next week's kickoff: for many of you, that edition will be coming a day late. I'll publish the kickoff on Monday, but Monday in North America. Why? I'm taking my annual trip to Raleigh, NC and that'll play a few fun games with my sense of time and location. But Monday is Monday, no matter where or when it is ...

Speaking of which, let's get this Monday started with these links:

History

The Myth of Blubber Town, an Arctic Metropolis, wherein we learn about Smeerenburg, a seventeenth century Dutch whaling station that, despite being never more than a desolate outpost, gained a legendary status among sailors, writers, and the wider public.

'A Compelling Power': When Mesmerism Came to America, wherein Max Nelson explains how, for a few years in the middle of the nineteenth century, the practice of mesmerism took hold in America and looks at some of the uses people proposed for it.

Pinkerton Spy, Feminist Icon – Meet Kate Warne, America's first female detective and spy, who thwarted an assassination plot on Lincoln, wherein we hear the story of Kate Warne who, in the mid-nineteenth century, was one of the top detectives at the legendary Pinkerton agency, and opened up an entire field to women like herself.

The Dark Side of Technology

Singapore: Laboratory of Digital Censorship, wherein we learn that Singapore's new Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act is, on the surface, well intentioned but that below the surface it's yet another tool for the governing party to control speech, criticism, and opinion.

Ghosts of the Future, wherein Julia Foote likens the so-called smart home to the settings of horror fiction and movies, and examines how there is a tangible aspect to the internet of things, even if we can’t always see it.

Americans Are Making Phone Farms to Scam Free Money From Advertisers, wherein we enter the shady world of people who use multiple cheap smartphones to tap their way to (albeit small) amounts of money by faking engagement with online content.

Crime

The Grand Schemes of the Petty Grift, wherein we enter the world of Jeremy Wilson, a small-time con artist whose dissembling was an escape from his dismal reality, but an escape that (in his head, at least) blurred into that reality.

The Rise and Fall of a New York Shock Jock, wherein we learn how the gambling addiction of New York sports radio host Craig Carton led him to scam millions, and how that resulted in his personal and professional downfall.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Defrauding Agency, wherein we learn about the exploits of Sarah Howe, a nineteenth-century scammer who ran a Ponzi scheme (long before Ponzi came on the scene) that targeted single, working American women.

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.

Another fine mix of articles comes your way this week. Some of them on topics that I feel very strongly about. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Business and Economics

The Wealth Detective Who Finds the Hidden Money of the Super Rich, wherein we learn about the work of Gabriel Zucman, an economist working towards making the world a more (financially) egalitarian place.

Nestlé Makes Billions Bottling Water It Pays Nearly Nothing For, wherein we read how yet another major global corporation makes huge amounts from what should be a public resource, all without giving much (if anything) back.

Why Doing Harm Is Profitable, wherein Nathan J. Robinson examines the reasons corporations are willing to, time and again, choose profit over safety, the environment, and people.

Environment

Are There Potential Downsides of Going to 100 Percent Renewable Energy?, wherein we learn that switching to renewable energy could have environmental consequences, especially around the mining of raw materials to create things like solar panels and batteries.

The California coast is disappearing under the rising sea. Our choices are grim, wherein we get a front-row seat at the Golden State's fight against an ever-encroaching ocean, an ocean that always wins.

A Dark History of the World’s Smallest Island Nation, wherein we learn how the tiny Pacific nation of Nauru went from being undeveloped to becoming relatively wealthy thanks to phosphate mining, then went to rags and worse in the aftermath of that mining.

Writing

How I Write My Books, wherein French author Anne Serre outlines the process she follows when writing, and shares the thoughts and tricks she has while doing the deed.

On Keeping a Notebook: A Reading List, wherein Jeanne Bonner shares some of her favourite articles about how and why writers use paper and pen to jot down ideas and organize their thoughts and work.

Umberto Eco's Guide to Writing a Thesis, wherein the novelist and academic offers some excellent and solid advice that can help anyone writing a thesis, or any other work of non fiction.

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.

Have you ever started reading something and it just either didn't click with you or it didn't live up to your expectations? That's what happened a couple or three times this last week. Which, as you can guess, made compiling this Monday's kickoff a bit more difficult. Luckily, there's a lot of good reading out there.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Arts and Literature

Reading Lessons, wherein Irina Dumitrescu show us how we read evolves and changes based on the complexity of what we read, and that reading also evolves to adapt to the nuances and styles of authors we latch on to.

One Night Wonder, wherein we join the two young creative minds behind the failed Broadway musical Glory Days, discover how they learned the lesson that on Broadway failure is more common than success, and that their play bombing wasn't the end of their careers or artistic aspirations.

Why is Irish literature thriving? Because its writers and publishers take risks, wherein we find out that publishers large and small in Ireland are willing to take a chance on older and unproven authors, chances that are paying (literary) dividends.

Science

The maths problem that could bring the world to a halt, wherein we learn about dynamic resource allocation, why it's so important to the modern world, and how researchers are trying to make solutions to dynamic resource allocation problems faster and more standardized.

Before the Shaking Starts, wherein Trevor Quirk takes us on a personal and geological tour of an earthquake zone in Utah, and discovers both how violent the Earth can be and how unprepared (or just plain oblivious) many people are to the dangers of seismic unrest.

How modern life is transforming the human skeleton, wherein we learn about the discipline of osteobiography, and discover how the bones beneath our flesh are very much alive ... and they're constantly being broken down and rebuilt.

Ideas

Why Does a Language Die?, wherein Don Kulick ponders that question by examining the languages of Papua New Guinea, and concludes that it's not the right question to ask.

Sweetness and strangeness, wherein we dive into the world of the metaphor, and learn why metaphors are so integral to both human language and human thought.

The New Preschool is Crushing Kids, wherein we enter the classrooms of (very) young Americans and learn that what they're being taught and exposed to isn't helping them develop as students or as well-rounded people.

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 Troubling Business of Bounty Hunting, wherein we enter the world of the bail enforcement agent, and learn that chasing down criminals for bail bond firms isn't the high-octane adventure many people imagine it to be.

King of the Snitches: The Fashion Photographer Who Duped Drug Lords and the DEA, wherein we enter the world of Baruch Vega who played a dangerous game with the American authorities and Colombian narco trafficantes, and how he almost won that game.

Year of the Mad Bomber, wherein we learn about Sam Melville who, in the late 60s and early 70s, changed the face of radicalism in the United States through acts that got him sent to prison but which gained him the admiration and respect of some of the more aggressive leftist movements of that era.

History

When pirates studied Euclid, wherein Margaret Schotte chronicles how navigation went from something learned through on-the-job training to being an area of serious classroom study and something of a science.

The Rocket Scientist Who Had to Elude the FBI Before He Could Escape Earth, wherein we learn about Frank Malina, an almost-forgotten pioneer of American rocketry, and about the political and legal trouble that dogged him because of his politics.

The Parachuting Female Photojournalist Who Dove Into War Headfirst, wherein we learn the remarkable story of photojournalist and war correspondent Dickey Chapelle, who bucked the attitudes of her age and who never really got the due that she deserved.

Odds and Ends

I Spent My Childhood Helping My Mom Sell Dead People’s Junk, wherein Cameron Maynard recounts growing up in his mother's estate sale business, and the moment he decided to separate myself from an ecosystem that constantly recycled the detritius of other people's lives.

There Are Some Fires That Get Put Out, and Some That Don’t, wherein two years after the tragic Grenfell Towers fire Erica Eisen looks back on the event and how it's been difficult (if almost imposssible) for the former residents to get anything resembling justice.

Memory and Empathy in a Japanese School Lunch, wherein we learn of a new ritual at some Japanese schools: special meals on the March 11 anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, and how those meals might help students remember empathy for their fellow man and the capricious nature of 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.

There's a slightly different mix of reading on offer this week, but it's a mix that touches a few ideas that have been poking at my brain for the last little while. Which, I guess, is why they're collected here.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Business and Economics

How Utilities Stall Progress on Alternative Energy, wherein we learn how some large energy companies in the U.S. may be using the law and their leverage to slow down the adoption and spread of renewable energy, all in the name of maintaining their status quo.

How to build a business that lasts more than 200 years, wherein we peek into the world of shinise, Japanese companies that have been in business, and in the hands of the same families, for over 100 years, and learn how some shinise survived the passage of time and changes in tastes.

Why states and cities should stop handing out billions in economic incentives to companies, wherein we learn that governments throwing all that money at corporations rarely (if ever) results in the touted benefits or returns.

Productivity

Once I wasted 1,152 hours being productive, wherein Annie Mueller learns something I've been saying for years: tools don't make you productive. You and your focus do.

You Don’t Need to Clear the Decks to Focus on Important Work, wherein Leo Babauta explains why looking for the perfect time and place to tackle that big piece of work isn't the way to do the deed, and offers advice about how to fit that work into everything else in your life.

Why busy-ness is so damaging, wherein Jackie Smith and Joyce Dalsheim examine how capitalist society wants to keep us continually busy, and how being busy limits our ability to improve our overall happiness, promote greater equity, or save our endangered planet.

Odds and Ends

The High Priest of Heavy Metal, wherein we're introduced to Robert Culat, priest and metal aficionado who has no trouble reconciling the extreme music he loves with his faith.

The Revenge of the Poverty-Stricken College Professors Is Underway in Florida. And It's Big, wherein we learn about the efforts to unionize low-paid adjunct professors at Florida universities, professors who are part of the working poor.

A less polite version of Japanese is helping foreigners stay safe during disasters, wherein we learn how government workers in the Japanese city of Soja are adopting a simplified, less formal style of Japanese (known as yasashii nihongo) to effectively communicate with foreign residents during times of crisis.

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.

As it turns out, I was the last person at The Day JobTM to come down with a cold. After about three months of battering, my immune system decided to tap out and tell me I was on my own. Being in a haze of cold meds made reading and writing up this week's recommendations more difficult than it normally is. I did it anyway. So, I do care.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Arts and Literature

The 1968 sci-fi that spookily predicted today, wherein we're exposed to the work and workstyle of British SF author John Brunner, who was able to uncannily predict the (for him) future world.

Bookish Fools, wherein Frank Furedi looks at the long history of pompous, pretentious, and showy readers, and discusses why physical books are becoming markers for cultural distinction in our digital age.

H. G. Wells and the Uncertainties of Progress, wherein Peter H. Bowler examines the writer's visions of the future from his fiction and non fiction, visions that are tinged with both hope and pessimism.

Technology

How the First Smartphone Came Out in 1994, But Flopped, wherein we dip into the what's new is old again files, learn that building a technology without the proper supporting infrastructure is doomed to fail, and discover that we can't predict the effects that technology's spawn will have upon us in the future.

Bug Fixes, wherein Paul Ford shares a paen to open source code, one which even a someone with no technical skill or knowledge can both understand and appreciate.

Would your mobile phone be powerful enough to get you to the moon?, wherein Graham Kendall looks at that question and, despite the huge leaps in technology since 1969, comes away in awe of what a small computer was able to do.

Ideas

Mending hearts: how a ‘repair economy’ creates a kinder, more caring community, wherein we enter the world of tinkerers and repairers, who are trying to prolong the life of consumer goods, and learn how doing that saves money, protects the environment, and can help bolster society.

Noah Webster’s civil war of words over American English, wherein we learn how the namesake of the popular dictionary fought, and in many ways lost, battles to shape the American variant of the English language.

What’s in the Water, wherein Shelley Puhak reflects on the destruction of an invasive species of fish in her Maryland hometown, and how we don't always see what's in the water (whether physically or metaphorically).

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 just realized that a couple of days ago marked the seventh anniversary of my arrival in New Zealand. It doesn't seem like that long ago, but it seems longer. In a good way. I'm looking forward to what the next seven years hold.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Online Life

Can “Indie” Social Media Save Us?, wherein Cal Newport ponders whether moving away from services like Facebook and Twitter to more decentralized ones can change our online lives (for the better).

The information arms race can’t be won, but we have to keep fighting, wherein Cailin O'Connor examines the never-ending battle against misinformation and disinformation online, and explains that while the information wars we're fighting may never end we have to keep fighting new threats as they emerge.

The Internet Has Made Dupes—and Cynics—of Us All , wherein Zeynep Tufekci ponders the two-sided coin that's our relationship with information on the internet: do we believe it or distrust it? And how do we regain the upper hand?

Space

The Manned Orbiting Laboratory and the search for a military role for astronauts, wherein we learn why the US Air Force's Manned Orbital Laboratory project was doomed to die before it came anywhere near becoming a reality.

The last Soviet citizen: The cosmonaut who was left behind in space, wherein we hear the story of Sergei Krikalev who was aboard the Mir space station when the Soviet Union broke up, and who had to stay put in orbit for 10 months before he could come back to Earth.

The Eagle has crashed: the top secret UPWARD program and Apollo disasters, wherein we learn how NASA used spy satellite technology for lunar surveys in the 1960s, and how that technology would have been used in later, crewed missions.

Odds and Ends

Bellingcat and How Open Source Reinvented Investigative Journalism, wherein Muhammad Idrees Ahmad charts the growth of open source journalism in recent years, and looks at the push back from more staid media.

The Quest for B. Cooper, wherein the chance discovery of a handwritten diary in a Kampala bookstore sent David MacDougall on a quest to learn more about the diary's original owner.

The Hiding Place: Inside the World's First Long-Term Storage Facility for Highly Radioactive Nuclear Waste, wherein Robert Macfarlane takes us on a tour of Onkalo, a 1,500-foot deep tomb on a Finnish island that will be used to house the most lethal waste that humans produce, and teaches us about the problems and perils of storing such material over the span of centuries.

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:

Environment

How Can We Stop the Air We Breathe from Slowly Poisoning Us?, wherein we learnhow our lungs work as a prelude to discovering what dirty air does to our lungs, and how we can fight back.

Nuclear power is not the answer in a time of climate change, wherein Heidi Hutner and Erica Cirino argue against replacing fossil fuels with atomic energy slow climate change.

Climate change: 'We've created a civilisation hell bent on destroying itself – I'm terrified', writes Earth scientist, wherein James Dyke contends that our inability to take steps to stop climate change is partly because of a global love affair with growth and with a system we can't control.

History

Who really owns the past?, wherein we ponder what cultural heritage is, why people are so keen to preserve it, and who those preservation efforts actually benefit.

Ancient DNA is revealing the origins of livestock herding in Africa, wherein we learn about research that is piecing together the puzzle about when and how peoples in Africa transitioned to a more pastoral lifestyle, and what that can mean for the future.

We Could Have Had Electric Cars from the Very Beginning, wherein we get a history of the early automobile in America, and learn why petrol-powered vehicles beat out electric ones despite the early successes of EVs.

Odds and Ends

Dementia Stopped Peter Max From Painting. For Some, That Spelled a Lucrative Opportunity, wherein we read about how some of the people around the Pop Art icon have allegedly been taking advantage of his condition and exploiting him.

Tokyo dawn: is the impenetrable city finally opening up?, wherein we discover how Tokyo (and, by extension, the rest of Japan) is starting to become more open and welcoming to outsiders, in a large part because of necessity.

The Curse of the Ship of Gold, wherein we learn how engineer Tommy Thompson's dream of pushing the boundaries of deep sea exploration turned into a living hell of lawsuits, life on the run, and prison time.

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 while back, I mentioned that I'd be devoting the occasional edition of The Monday Kickoff to a single topic. This is one of those editions. I hope you enjoy it!

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Ideas

A City Is Not a Computer, wherein Shannon Mattern posits that the vision technologists have of so-called smart cities might not be the vision that urban areas need, or which city dwellers want.

The Inescapable Town Square, wherein LM Sacasas ponders what social media is and why we can't really escape it.

How the news took over reality, wherein Oliver Burkeman examines our relationship and interaction with the news as it's become more ubiquitous and, to a small degree, and more interactive (not always in a good way) thanks to social media.

Music of the Squares: David Ramsay Hay and the Reinvention of Pythagorean Aesthetics, wherein we're exposed to the ideas of Victorian artist David Ramsay Hay, who applied music theory to physical objects to determine their beauty.

Rules in space, wherein Marko Kovic looks at some of the potential legal and political issues that could result from nations on Earth colonizing space.

Shade, wherein Sam Bloch looks at how shade is unevenly distributed throughout Los Angeles, and explains why shade should be considered a public good in LA (and elsewhere).

The Artificial Intelligence of the Public Intellectual, wherein Soraya Roberts charts the origins, rise, and recent decline of the so-called public intellectual.

The faux revolution of mindfulness, wherein Ronald Purser argues that the current fixation on mindfulness is mostly a crock, and that embracing it can have harmful effects on us and our society.

The Books of College Libraries Are Turning Into Wallpaper, wherein Dan Cohen examines why university students are using fewer dead-trees books and what what caused that change.

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

Scott Nesbitt

Enter your email to subscribe to updates.