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, 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

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.

Even though we're in what some people are calling a new normal, things are still pretty weird around the world. And scary. And frustrating. And demoralizing. To take your mind off that, I've got some good reads for you this week.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Online Life

A Better Internet Is Waiting For Us, wherein Annalee Newitz ponders an online world without social media, or a social media over which you have more control, and discovers that world could be a better place than today's internet.

The Death of the Good Internet Was an Inside Job, wherein Jason Linkins laments an internet killed by algorithms and social media (but one that's not actually dead).

The Internet of Beefs, wherein Venkatesh Rao takes us on a journey into the depths of what the internet has become (and, really, always has been), showing us what a zero-sum cesspool the online world can be.

Writing

Why Grammar Nerds Keep Getting So Furious With the Associated Press, wherein we discover how easy it is to get under the skin of certain pedants, ones who could choose not to use the AP style guide rather than venting their anger.

The Year in Pivoting to Video, wherein David Roth recounts his experiences at online media companies that invested heavily in video content but discovered that, as it turned out, people did not really watch very much video.

Telling Stories In Order to Live: On Writing and Money, wherein Sarah Menkedick shares the realities (a few of them quite harsh) that she learned since becoming a full-time freelance writer in 2008.

Ideas

The Deadly Consequences of Rounding Errors, wherein we learn that choosing the wrong method for rounding numbers can have deep, and sometimes disasterous, consequences in a number of areas of our lives.

From the pyramids to Apollo 11 – can AI ever rival human creativity?, wherein the authors argue that while artificial intelligence can aid humans in creating and innovating, AI can't replace the human imagination and what that imagination can wrought.

The Symbolic Seashell, wherein we discover how the humble beauty of the seashell has had a huge influence on humans over the ages.

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 Mysterious Lawyer X, wherein we learn how a talented and driven Australian lawyer made her name defending heavy-duty criminals, while at the same time informing on them to the police, and learn about the personal and professional prices she paid for that.

The Doctor, the Dentist, and the Killer, wherein we learn how the breakup of a relationship led to obsession and a murder-for-hire plot.

Bank of the Underworld, wherein we learn about the rise and rapid fall of Liberty Reserve, a digital currency and online money transfer service that was widely used by criminal enterprises of all sizes.

The Dark Side of Technology

Technology Sabotaged Public Safety, wherein Ian Bogost explains how technology companies have created so many so-called innovations in what's essentially a vacuum, but without any regard for what the actual impact of those innovations might be.

The Captured City, wherein Jathan Sadowski argues that the technologies and systems that make up the so-called smart city are the next step in the high tech militarization of society.

Your online activity is now effectively a social credit score, wherein we learn how companies are using records of online activity to restrict and, regularly, terminate peoples' services even if they're not doing anything harmful or illegal.

Business and Economics

Why so many of the world’s oldest companies are in Japan, wherein we discover the reasons, many of them unique to Japan, that enable firms of all sizes to endure for 100 years or more. Often more.

Welcome to the Bullshit Economy, wherein David Dayen argues that many modern tech firms have messed up the economy and the rot that those firms have caused has seeped into politics as well.

In the Shadow of Big Blue, wherein Ellyn Gaydos looks at IBM's legacy of damage to health and to the environment in American towns in which the tech giant once had factories.

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 seems like the news is nothing except stories about COVID-19. That volume of stories is enough to wear you down, to deflate your spirits, to numb you to the seriousness of the situation. But don't worry. Here are a few somethings else to read, to take your mind off the current craziness. At least for a few moments.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Technology

On Reading Issues of Wired from 1993 to 1995, wherein Anna Wiener wistfully looks back at the early days of the digital lifestyle magazine and hints at how the vision of the future put forward in its pages both became a reality and fizzled out.

Meet the pirate queen making academic papers free online, wherein we learn about Alexandra Elbakyan's efforts to make academic research freely available, and discover something about the struggle between open access publishing and more traditional academic and scientific pubishing.

Early cloud computing was like borrowing a book from the library, wherein we dip into the what's new is old again files and revisit the days of computer time sharing which has a remarkable similarity to what we call cloud computing today.

Ideas

Is travel the secret to a long life?, wherein Paul Theroux ponders, as he travels through Mexico in his eighth decade, the rejuventating effect that travel (and not tourism) can have on us as we grow older.

Freedom of thought is under attack – here's how to save your mind, wherein Simon McCarthy-Jones argues that tech companies and modern media are trying to hijack our thinking, and that we must use something akin to international human rights law to protect our freedom of thought from Big Tech's onslaught.

A uniquely Japanese take on nostalgia, wherein we learn about the power of the Japanese word natsukashii and how it can evoke happiness in the minds of the people who say, think, or hear the word.

Environment

Seeing Carbon Through Silicon, wherein Anne Pasek argues that to fight climate change quickly and effectively, renewable energy must follow the same developmental template and path as computing technology.

'Collapsologie': Constructing an Idea of How Things Fall Apart, wherein we learn what the so-called collapsologue are about, and why we might want to take their warnings about our planet seriously.

If Only 19th-Century America Had Listened to a Woman Scientist, wherein we're introduced to the work of Eunice Foote, who did some pioneering work into what we now call climate science, and how that work was, until very recently, lost.

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 week under COVID-19 lockdown begins. It hasn't been easy for anyone, but the alternative is a lot worse. Here's my attempt to help you weather the isolation and to feed your brain with something a bit different. Enjoy!

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Crime

A Brutal Murder, a Wearable Witness, and an Unlikely Suspect, wherein we learn how data from a FitBit was a key in charging an elderly man with the murder of his step daughter, and discover how unreliable that information can actually be.

I spent years scalping tickets and evading police. My journey to hell and back, wherein we hear the tale of how, as a young Mormon questioning his faith, the author got involved in illegally selling event tickets around the globe, and what made him abandon that life.

The Bicycle Thief, wherein we learn how an Olympic track cycling hopeful lost his way and and embarked on a four year spree of robbing banks, using his bicycle as a getaway vehicle.

History

Classics for the people, wherein Edith Hall shows us how working class people in Victorian England and later were able to gain elements of a classical education thanks to free elementary education and museums, cheap printing, and a desire for self improvement.

How New York’s Bagel Union Fought — and Beat — a Mafia Takeover, wherein we learn how a group of scrappy, unionized bagel makers in New York in the 1960s managed to stave off the advances of the local mob, but which later folded under the pressures of automation and modernization.

The ghostly radio station that no one claims to run, wherein we enter the shadowy, and sometimes creepy, world of numbers stations, discover how they came about, and that they're still being used today.

Odds and Ends

Feeling Lucky? A Brief History of Gambling with Dice, wherein mathematician Ian Stewart looks at one of the most popular and enduring ways people try, and have tried, to cheat and beat the gods of probability.

Living with ADHD: how I learned to make distraction work for me, wherein Sarah Stein Lubrano reasons that gamifying education (and other tasks) that require long periods of focus can help people with ADHD, and others, to become better learners and more productive.

The man who made Wolfenstein, wherein we learn the story of forgotten computer game pioneer Silas Warner, his groundbreaking work, and how he never reaped the financial rewards or accolades he deserved.

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:

Arts and Literature

Why Angry Librarians Are Going to War With Publishers Over E-Books, wherein we're taken on a journey into the byzantine, restrictive world of ebook licensing to libraries, and how some libraries are trying to fight back against one particularly recalcitrant publisher.

Why Newspaper “Scoops” Don’t Work in Narrative Nonfiction, wherein Steve Luxenberg explains that while journalism and narrative non fiction are similar, they have slightly different goals and that while a bombshell revelation is often prized in the former, it can ruin the flow of the story in the latter.

The Art of War is Actually a Manual on How to Avoid It, wherein Michael Nylan discusses the insights he gained from translating Sun Tzu's classic treatise and how the book contains lessons for the modern age.

Science

The Dark Side of Light, wherein we get a peek at some cutting-edge research into light pollution and its wide-ranging effects on our environment.

In the beginning, wherein we see how a revolutionary cosmological discovery actually wasn't, and learn about the effect that had not just on the world of cosmology, but on the wider scientific community.

Galactic Settlement and the Fermi Paradox, wherein astronomer Jason Wright looks at why there may be other civilizations that have settled the galaxy, but not in the way we usually think about settlement.

Business

The American Corporation is in Crisis—Let's Rethink It, wherein Lenore Palladino argues that the concept of the primacy of shareholders is essentially flawed and that it's hindering corporations, and offers ideas about how to change the situation.

The Bankrupt American Brands Still Thriving in Japan, wherein Laura Bliss explains why and how former retail giants that collapsed in their home country have found a second life in the Asian island nation.

Inside Documents Show How Amazon Chose Speed Over Safety in Building Its Delivery Network, wherein we learn of the (sometimes deadly) consequences of treating people like machines, and of pushing a flawed system into the world without proper ramp up or testing.

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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