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:

Science

Galileo the Science Publicist, wherein Mario Livio explains that science, now more than ever, needs talented advocates and explains why the Italian astronomer was one of the best.

Slime, wherein Susanne Wedlich takes us through our fascination with this primordial substance, and how we're starting to understand more about it and use it.

Meet the Father of Digital Life, wherein we learn about the life and work of Nils Aall Barricelli, a pioneer in using mathematical models and computers simulate the evolution of what he described as numerical organisms.

History

Inside Abraham Lincoln’s Surprising Career As A National Wrestling Champ, wherein we learn about the U.S. president's skills as a grappler, and how his reputation as a wrestler helped him on the campaign trail.

Raising a Stink, wherein we enter the world of (human) waste collectors in Tokugawa-era Japan and why their pungent cargo was so important to the country at the time.

The Story Of The Max Headroom Incident, America’s Creepiest Unsolved TV Hack, wherein we learn about an infamous signal hijacking in Chicago in 1987, how it was done, and why who did it (and their motives) remains a mystery.

Odds and Ends

The New Luxury Vacation: Being Dumped in the Middle of Nowhere, wherein Ed Caesar recounts his sojourn into the world of the new adventure holiday aimed at the wealthy.

Following In The Footsteps Of Bruno Taut, wherein Ikuru Kuwajima repeats a journey through Japan made by the avant-garde German architect to both see what made Taut appreciate Japan and what has changed in the intervening years.

What It Takes to Climb the World’s Most Forbidding Cliffs, wherein we meet Tommy Caldwell, a legendary figure in the world of rock climbing whose lengthy career in the sport has seen him conquer some of the most challenging rock faces around the globe.

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 10 days into 2022 and, to be honest, it still feels like 2021. Am I being a bit to impatient? Or just a bit too hopeful that something will change for the better? Patience, patience ...

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

History

The Butcher of Havana, wherein we learn about Herman Marks, an American who became a notorious executioner in post-revolution Cuba and what happened after he fled the island nation to return to the United States.

The History of “Radio Row,” NYC's First Electronics District, wherein we learn how, long before Tokyo's Akihabara, a street in Manhattan brought the latest and greatest in electronics to both the hobbyist and the general public.

The Pirate Queen Who Avenged Her Husband’s Death on the High Seas, wherein we learn the story of Jeanne de Clisson who, after her husband was executed for treason, raised an army and then commanded a small squadron of pirate vessels to enact revenge on those who wronged her family.

The Dark Side of Technology

The Downside to Surveilling Your Neighbors, wherein we learn that home surveillance apps, like Amazon's Ring, can be a boon to law enforcement but can also promote vigilantism and racism online.

Luxury Surveillance, wherein we learn how some people, with a bit (or more than a bit) of cash to spare, are willingly and often unwittingly paying corporations and governments to track them.

Singapore’s tech-utopia dream is turning into a surveillance state nightmare, wherein we learn how the technocratic state has become something of a modern, digital panopticon — all in the name of social order.

Environment

'The most important number you've never heard of', wherein we learn about the social cost of carbon which, among other things, accounts for the impact that today's emissions will have on future generations.

The hidden climate costs of America’s free parking spaces, wherein we learn that offering free parking in urban centres in the afternoons and evenings only encourages people to drive more, and how the spaces could be better used.

How flooded coal mines could heat homes, wherein we learn how the traditional source of pollution in the UK could become a source of clean energy.

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

My Father, the Hitman, wherein James Dolan reminisces about his father, a criminal who met a brutal end, an end that kicked off what has become a 37-year search for truth and understanding.

The Company Man, wherein we learn how, from humble beginnings in China and Canada, Tse Chi Lop changed the face of the illegal drugs trade, generated revenue that put many large, legitimate enterprises to shame, and how it all fell apart.

The Greatest Unsolved Heist in Irish History, wherein we learn about the theft of the so-called Irish Crown Jewels in 1907, a heist that involved scandal, embarrassment, and assorted theories — all at a time when Ireland was about to explode with violence.

Work

The future of work is written, wherein Juan Pablo Buriticá argues that the best way to overcome the obstacles and distances (physical and otherwise) of working remotely is through the written word.

[Letter from Alabama] Hard Bargain, wherein we learn about the (ulitmately unsuccessful) efforts to unionize an Amazon facility in Bessemer, Alabama, and the historical parallels to the town's industral and union past.

The ‘great resignation’ is a trend that began before the pandemic – and bosses need to get used to it, wherein Ian O. Williamson explains that employees quitting en masse isn't a new phenomenon, and offers some advice about what firms can do to adapt to, and manage, this situation.

Odds and Ends

The Norwegian art of the packed lunch, wherein we learn about the humble matpakke and how — aside from traditionally being a simple, utilitarian, and boring source of sustenance — it helps contribute to the productivity of Norway's workers.

The CIA Is Trying to Recruit Gen Z—and Doesn’t Care If They’re All Over Social Media, wherein we discover a bit of how the spy agency is trying to attract young recruits, young people who (despite the need for low profile in the intelligence game) pretty much live their lives on social media.

The Day I Got Old, wherein Caitlin Flanagan describes what reaching 60 years of age means to her and what lessons hitting that milestone has taught her.

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.

2021 is almost at an end. Not quickly enough for my taste. I thought this year would be better than 2020. It was, but only slightly. Which isn't much to say. Here's hoping that 2022 is an improvement on the last couple of turns around the Sun.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Work

Why the 'Great Remote Work Experiment' may have been flawed, wherein Bryan Lufkin argues that the so-called experiment in the title of this article started from a biased premise because during the COVID pandemic not everyone was working from home by choice.

Another Truth About Remote Work, wherein we learn that, in the United States at least, remote working isn't as prevalent as it's made out to be and why that is.

Replace Me, wherein Amber Husain recounts her year as an editorial assistant for a publishing company, a so-called professional position that was as dull and repetitive and soul-crushing as the casual jobs they worked prior to that.

Science

The Beauty of Crossed Brain Wires, wherein Sidney Perkowitz explains the neurological function called synesthesia and how research has changed the perception and understanding of it.

Tool use and language skills are linked in the brain – and practising one improves the other, wherein we learn about the link between motor training and mental training, and how they complement each other.

A New Theory for Systems That Defy Newton’s Third Law, wherein we're introduced to exceptional points, a system where similar properties become one and where Newton’s third law becomes moot.

Ideas

Send in the Clouds, wherein we learn how libertarian dreamers are trying to build what they called startup cities and what that actually means.

David Graeber’s Possible Worlds, wherein we learn about the life and work of the radical and unconventional anthropologist who believed that things did not have to be the way they were.

No One Cares!, wherein Arthur Brooks explains that we should care much (if anything) about the opinions that others have of us because others actually have much fewer opinions about us than we realize.

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

Is Amazon Changing the Novel?, wherein Parul Sehgal looks at how the ecommerce juggernaut has transformed not only how we obtain fiction but how we read and write it.

Why is Baseball the Most Literary of Sports?, wherein Lincoln Michel expalins the history of the great American pastime in fiction, and why writers choose to focus on the sport in their novels.

The Most Ambitious Diary in History, wherein we learn about the life and lengthy personal journal of classics professor and writer Claude Fredericks, which despite praise heaped upon it from a number of corners may never be published as Fredericks (and his admirers) hoped.

Online Life

The Internet's Dark Ages, wherein Adrienne LaFrance argues that, in spite of efforts to save it, took much information online is too easily lost for good.

How your personal data is being scraped from social media, wherein we discover how easy it is to grab personal information posted to any social media site and how much information about ourselves we should make publicly available online.

The Internet’s Unkillable App, wherein Dave Pell looks at how, despite the supposed death of email and the prevalence of social media, the humble email newsletter has not only survived but thrived.

Odds and Ends

The Maddening, Twisted Story of the Diplomat Who Became a Troll, wherein we learn about a long-serving U.S. foreign service officer who became an incorrigible anti-Arab troll and how his employer didn't make much of an effort to help stop him.

Two Rich Men Decided to Fund a Failing City. Some People Say They Made It Worse, wherein we learn how a pair of philanthropists in Kalamazoo, Michigan created a foundation to fill gaps in the cities budget but which also potentially set the stage for the super wealthy to control more and more aspects of public life.

The Frenchman Who Pioneered the Modern Mercenary Industry, wherein we learn how Bob Denard became a mercenary kingpin, laying the basic template for the so-called private military companies to come.

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:

Productivity

Create a Place for Everything That Matters, wherein Leo Babauta discusses having physical and mental spaces for everything that's worthwhile in our lives.

Productivity Systems Fatigue Me, wherein James Bedford explains how he got sucked down the black hole of trying to find the best productivity tool, but decided to go back to basics.

Time management has become harder than ever — and we should be grateful, wherein Brad Aeon argues that our problems with time management have a lot do with choice and freedom, choice and freedom that we didn't have 30 or even 20 years ago.

Technology

Students who grew up with search engines might change STEM education forever, wherein we learn that, in the minds of today's students, concepts like files and folders have been replaced by search and one big directory, and how that might change the way in which organizing digital data will look in the future.

Beyond Smart Rocks, wherein Karen Ingram looks at efforts to replace silicon-based computers with something more sustainable (and biological).

Virtual Reality Is the Rich White Kid of Technology, wherein we learn that after decades of development and billions of dollars invested, virtual reality still hasn't matched the hype or the expectations around it, and yet companies still keep investing in the technology.

Odds and Ends

Invisible Loyalty, wherein Jan Morris pens a love letter to her native Wales, a country that cartographers tried to fold into England in the early 2000s.

Why Tokyo Works, wherein we learn how a city of tens of millions seems to operate smoothly thanks to the very different way in which the city is designed and zoned.

The Secrets of The World’s Greatest Freediver, wherein we're taken into the sport of freediving, discover the approach of its top competitor, Alexey Molchanov, and get a glimpse into his visions of the future of the sport.

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

Socialist Cyborgs, wherein we learn how, starting in the late 1980s, Bulgaria became the launching point for many an early computer virus.

Tokyo's Government Is Finally Saying Goodbye to the Floppy Disk, Kind Of, wherein we learn that the city's government is, in some cases reluctantly, starting to move away from the venerable storage medium in favour of online systems.

Retro Collectors are Uncovering Hoards of Old Data, wherein we hear stories of people buying older computing hardware and discovering software and data that both unearths some computer history and which can be troubling.

Online Life

Leave no trace: how a teenage hacker lost himself online, wherein we learn how a young Dutch computer enthusiast came to hack his country's main telecommunications operator, and what happened to him afterwards.

How to Make a Website, wherein we learn a bit about the origins, and reasons for the longevity of, WikiHow, the venerable crowdsourced how-to website that everyone forgets until they need it.

Meet the Self-Hosters, Taking Back the Internet One Server at a Time, wherein we learn about digital hobbyists who are trying to revive, in a small way, the idea of the decentralized web by running the software and services they use on their own web servers.

Ideas

Mediocratopia: 11, wherein Venkatesh Rao argues that in times of stress, lowering your standards is, in fact, the virtuous thing to do.

Reading Like a Roman: Vergilius Vaticanus and the Puzzle of Ancient Book Culture, wherein we learn about a particularly well-preserved book by Virgil, and how it survived so long in that state for so long when other works didn't.

Political Science Has Its Own Lab Leaks, wherein Paul Musgrave argues that ideas, often half formed or misunderstood, can move from academic environments and can gave widespread, negative effects on the world.

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

Scott Nesbitt

Welcome to this week's edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I've found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Science

The Tyranny of Spreadsheets, wherein Tim Harford looks at the history of, and problems with, spreadsheets, and at how powerful data can be when handled well — and how much damage is done when the data are fumbled.

The End of Reductionism Could Be Nigh. Or Not., wherein we discover the conjecture of one scientist that the next big set of breakthroughs in their field might not come from breaking concepts down but by looking at bigger pictures, and why that actually might not be the case.

A biography of the pixel, the elementary particle of pictures, where Alvy Ray Smith outlines the idea of where those little bits of information that make up images come from, and argues that they are the profound and exact concept at the heart of all the images that surround us.

Technology

Windows XP turns 20: Microsoft’s rise and fall points to one thing — don’t fix what isn’t broken, wherein Erica Mealy looks at what made XP so popular and how it might have been the apex of not just Microsoft's operating system but the company's focus on its users.

Extinct, wherein Barbara Penner and Adrian Forty look at technology which, for various reasons, didn't survive and how, in pondering that technology, we encounter ghosts of futures that never came to pass.

How Software Is Eating the Car, wherein we learn about the changes to the auto industry in recent years and how software now determines the value of a car.

Space

Alien Dreams: The Surprisingly Long History of Speculation About Extraterrestrials, wherein we learn that humans have been obsessed with wondering about whether life existed off this planet for millennia.

The Red Warning Light on Richard Branson’s Space Flight, wherein we learn about some of the safety concerns at Virgin Galactic and how they're being hushed up.

Asteroid mining could pay for space exploration and adventure, wherein Martin Elvis looks at the benefits, costs, and struggles around extracting resources from the debris of the early solar system.

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

Japan's love affair with the fax machine – a strange relic of technological fantasies, wherein we learn a little bit about why the fax machine has held on for so long in Japan, despite (or perhaps because of) the country's high-tech image.

An AI expert explains why it’s hard to give computers something you take for granted: Common sense, wherein we learn why artificial intelligence systems may never be able to replicate that uniquely human trait.

When Whatsapp Went Down, Brazilian Workers’ Jobs Went With It, wherein we (once again) learn the dangers of relying on a single platform and how that can hit some of the most vulnerable people hard when the platform falters or fails.

Arts and Literature

Ebooks Are an Abomination, wherein Ian Bogost tries to explain that a love — or, in their case a hate — of ebooks is probably a function of what books mean to you, and why.

You Don’t Need To Feel Guilty About Books You Haven’t Read Yet, wherein Ferrett Steinmetz explains why you can't read everything (in any genre of writing) and why that doesn't mean you're woefully unread.

The Stranger-Than-Fiction Secret History of Prog-Rock Icon Rick Wakeman, wherein we learn about the rise, the fall, and the second rise of one of rock's most flamboyant and talented keyboard players.

Ideas

Estate Planning for Humanity, wherein Jeff Hawkins suggests that creating a sustained, long-lasting signal is humanity's best way of making its presence known to the galaxy, and to detect other intelligent species in space.

Disinformation: It’s History, wherein Heidi Tworek looks at the use of analogies and how bad analogies can aid in the creation and dissemination of disinformation.

Why Is It So Hard To Be Rational?, wherein Joshua Rothman argues that being rational isn't just about making the correct choices, but that it also involves a deep understanding of when you're wrong and why.

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:

Online Life

How We Became Infected by Chain E-Mail, wherein Kathryn Schulz examines the history of this irrational, digital annoyance and why it's persisted as long as it has.

Inside the 'I Bought a House At 21' Clickbait Cottage Industry, wherein we discover why those types of articles are popular with publications, and why they generate such a strong backlash from online commenters.

Undercover at a troll farm, wherein we get an account of the experiences of an investigative reporter who was embedded in a company that ran misinformation campaigns linked to Polish political parties and the country's state broadcaster.

Writing

Fake it till you make it, wherein we learn how the index came about, why they cause writers and publishers so much anxiety, and why they're essential.

Field Notes of a Sentence Watcher, wherein Richard Hughes Gibson argues that books on writing may be marketed and presented as how-to manuals, they're best received as field guides.

Move over, Microsoft Word: The race to reinvent document editing, wherein we get a closer look at office productivity tools that move away from the format of the paged document and how they might be poised to help change how we process words and collaborate.

Odds and Ends

Computer Space and beyond: 50 years of gaming, wherein we learn how a multi-billion dollar industry came about thanks to a simple computer game crafted in 1971.

The World’s Most Efficient Languages, wherein John McWhorter briefly examines some of the major and minor languages spoken in the world to try to discover which ones require the fewest words to make a point.

Is This the End of Switzerland’s Chimney Sweep ‘Mafia’?, wherein we learn a bit about the history of chimney sweeping in Switzerland and how the profession, and the monopolies around it, are changing.

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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