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:

Crime

The lawyer who tried faking his death, and the writer exposing his crime dynasty, wherein we learn about Alex Murdaugh, a powerful and influential lawyer accused of murder and embezzlement, and about Mandy Matney, the reporter who doggedly pursued the Murdaugh story.

The popular electronics chain that scammed America, wherein we learn how the family behind the Crazy Eddie electronics stores pulled off a massive fraud, and how that fraud was discovered.

Conwoman, wherein we learn how Jody Pearson-Harding became one of Australia's notorious confidence tricksters and how she was eventually captured.

History

The Deadly Cyclone That Changed the Course of the Cold War, wherein we learn how a powerful cyclone had huge political ramifications, not just in the place where it cause massive devastation but also around the world.

A New Story for Stonehenge, wherein we learn how researchers have uncovered more about the origins and history of the famed and fabled English stone circle.

That time when Soviet rocket scientists nearly nuked New York City, wherein we learn how during an attempt to send a probe to Mars in the early 1960s, an ICBM was almost launched at the United States instead.

Arts and Literature

The Editor Who Moves Theory Into the Mainstream, wherein we learn about Ken Wissoker, head of Duke University Press, and how he took DUP from being a typical academic publisher to one whose books (more to the point, the ideas within) have gained a solid foothold outside of academia.

Novelists are afraid of class, wherein Phillip Hensher examines why many fiction writers today find exploring social differences in their work to be taboo.

Nil by page, wherein Andrew Gallix looks at why writers fear the blank page, but also at how a blank page can be a beautiful, wonderful thing.

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

Beware the FOMO Bullies of Technology, wherein Charlie Warzel cautions us to be wary of Web3, by expressing their ambivalence towards it, regardless of what the so-called visionaries and shills are saying.

Can Computers Learn Common Sense?, wherein we learn about the attempts by artificial intelligence researchers to solve a problem that's been befuddling them for decades: how to effectively impart common sense to machines.

Under digital surveillance: how American schools spy on millions of kids, wherein we learn how schools in the US monitor students via their devices, and how that scrutiny continues outside of school hours.

History

The Writing’s on The Wall: Reading Roman Graffiti, wherein Jerry Toner gives us a peek at the forms that graffiti in ancient Rome took and what we can learn from it.

The world’s oldest pants are a 3,000-year-old engineering marvel, wherein we learn that an item of clothing that we take for granted is, or at least can be, something a bit more complex than it appears to be.

Abraham Lincoln, True Crime Writer, wherein we get to read a short story, written by 16th president of the United States when he was a lawyer, based on a case that he defended.

Business and Economics

How to lose $1B in 10 seconds, wherein we learn how Gerald Ratner transformed his family's jewellery chain, how thanks to the backlash from an ill-advised speech, helped destroy that chain, and how Ratner's mistake is being repeated today.

'Worthy of a Bond villain': the bizarre history of libertarian attempts to create independent cities, wherein we get a quick tour of proposed libertarian paradises, all of which either never got off the ground or quickly fizzled out.

Online shopping in the middle of the ocean, wherein we learn how locals, using ingenuity and hard work and a home-grown courier service, brought ecommerce to remote islands in French Polynesia.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Ideas

Nostalgia for Nostalgia, wherein Alexandra Fiorentino-Swinton examines how their generation views nostalgia compared to the (very different) view held by their parents' (mainly analog) generation.

Ours is the Waste Age: that’s the key to transforming the future, wherein Justin McGuirk explores what a culture of waste is, how it came about, and why we need to take it seriously.

City of Weeds: On Wastelands and the Emergence of Urban Ecology, wherein Matthew Gandy examines the diversity and wonders of urban flora, in all of its forms.

Arts and Literature

On Writing: An Abecedarian, wherein Priscilla Long looks at the aspects, history, and joys of writing, using a unique literary form.

The Beatle Who Got Away, wherein we learn a bit about the influence that Stuart Sutcliffe had on the nascent music legends, even after his death.

Everyone's a Critic, wherein Richard Joseph looks at how book reviewing and literary criticism has changed in recent years, becoming more snarky and akin to hatchet jobs rather than balanced, nuanced critiques.

Travel

The Yankee Who Didn’t Go Home: On Robert Whiting’s “Tokyo Junkie”, wherein, through his memoir, we see Japan from the perspective of a long-time foreign resident of Tokyo.

A dispatch from the end of travel’s brief, troubled golden age, wherein Henry Wismayer examines how he became addicted to travel, how the act of travel has changed over the last couple of decades, and what travel means to him now.

Kanazawa’s Empty Spaces, wherein Steven Seidenberg and Carolyn L. White take us on a tour of the abandoned houses and empty lots of the Japanese city, and give use a glimpse into the changes in modern urban Japan.

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 Uselessness of Useful Knowledge, wherein we learn how science often develops from ideas that have been in practice for decades (often, longer), with knowledge essentially flowing uphill.

How to Break a Theory, wherein we learn why physicists (and other scientists) stress test theories, and how that helps science, and our understanding, advance.

How to Talk to Science Deniers, wherein Massimo Pigliucci explains why it's not a waste of time trying to persuade those who don't believe in science, and looks at ways in which to do that.

Online Life

The Dirty Work of Cleaning Online Reputations, wherein we get a glimpse into the world of companies that try to fix peoples' reputations on the web, a learn about the tactics (both legal and dodgy) that these firms use to achieve their goals.

Real Me and Fake Me, wherein writer Joe Dunthorne recounts his interactions with a person who, for a short while, was impersonating him online.

Taking Stock, wherein Rob Horning examines how the idea of being a creator has changed in the move from the Web 2.0 to Web3 worlds, and how in both worlds technology giants exploit what you create.

Productivity

The Time Hack Everyone Should Know, where in Michelle Drouin introduces us to social economizing, a technique that can help you consciously understand what you like to do and make small, significant shifts to making that a habit.

The curse of sliced bread, wherein Mary Harrington argues that so-called life hacks that purport to save us time and supposedly optimize our work and our lives actually do nothing of the sort, leading to miserable people and hyper-mediated personal productivity.

Your attention didn’t collapse. It was stolen, wherein Johann Hari laments our loss of focus and looks at why it's happening.

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.

For a few days last week, you might have noticed that you couldn't reach this site via mondaykickoff.com. That was all on me. Like the idiot I am, I forgot to renew the domain. Which I was fortunately able to do last Monday. Here's hoping that doesn't happen again!

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Space

What Happens If a Space Elevator Breaks, wherein we learn about what it takes to get into orbit and the possible results of a catastrophic failure of an interesting, but fanciful, way of doing that.

Dawn of the Space Lords, wherein Corey Pein describes the problems and perils of allowing the uber wealthy and their commercial interests to control the space above us and access to it.

Walmart, But for Space, wherein Rand Simberg looks at the advantages and benefits of lower-cost, reusable launchers and spacecraft.

History

Medieval Photoshop, wherein we get a glimpse into the techniques used by woodcut designers in the Middle Ages to edit and manipulate their creations.

How the DC-3 Revolutionized Air Travel, wherein we learn how that airplane was the luxury aircraft of its time and made longer flights viable, but was versatile enough for more rugged tasks.

Americans Have Always Celebrated Hacks and Swindlers, wherein Hugh McIntosh looks back at a time when Americans admired fraudsters, more as redeemable antiheroes than as people they aspired to be.

Ideas

Back To The Victorian Future, wherein Iwan Rhys Morus explores the idea that, taking our cue from the England of the 19th century, many expect entrepreneurs to have our best interests at heart and that their ideas and technology will provide us with a better future.

A surprise story is a self-exploding confidence game, wherein Vera Tobin examines the plot twist and why, when it's well done, a plot twist that grips audiences in the same way a bad one turns audiences off.

How to Want Less, wherein Arthur C. Brooks explains why success, and wanting more, never truly satisfies us or brings us lasting joy.

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

We’re Killing Ourselves with Work, wherein Scott Koenig argues that our attitudes towards work are holding us back from pushing to work less, and that our jobs aren't our lives.

Family Units, wherein Julian Posada looks at the people, often entire families, in Venezuela who grind away for data annotation platforms (for horribly low pay), at the precarity of the work, and at some solutions that might help those workers.

Infiltrating Amazon: What I learned going undercover at the corporate giant, wherein Mostafa Henaway, an organizer and workers rights advocate, recounts their month working at a Montreal delivery centre and contrasts how Amazon's rhetoric clashes with its treatment of, and attitudes towards, its workers.

Productivity

Working with Your Inner Resistance, wherein Leo Babauta offers some advice that can help you flow around any doubts or blocks that are stopping you from completing a task.

Fighting Infomania, wherein Nate Liason shares some thoughts about why we overload ourselves with information, and offers some advice on how to cut back.

How to: reflect, wherein Andrew Beattie gives us a short course in how to apply reflection to our work and personal lives, and explains the benefits of doing that.

Odds and Ends

Miso Soup Won’t Protect You in a Nuclear War, wherein Molly Osberg looks briefly at the prepper movement in America, how some of the most vocal advocates have pivoted to surviving an atomic war (shades of the 80s!), and why they're wrong.

Grab the Airplane and Go, wherein we enter the world of airplane repossession, and learn a bit about the techniques involved in taking planes back from airlines that can't or won't pay their bills.

The End of the Empress, wherein we get a look into the history of a giant market in Karachi, what it meant to locals, and how its demolition reflects a drive to modernize both the city and Pakistan.

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.

Welcome to a new month. Here's hoping it's turns into something that's better than the last couple have been.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Online Life

Jumping-Off Point, wherein we learn about a term from the early days of the World Wide Web, one which never really caught on although the idea behind it did.

How Minnesota Teachers Invented a Proto-Internet More Centered on Community Than Commerce, wherein we learn how the US state was a technological hotbed in the 1950s and 1960s, and how that lead a group of educators in the American midwest to spearheaded an online service that resembled the original vision of the internet, rather than what the internet became.

The metaverse is a new word for an old idea, wherein we dip in to the what's new is old again files and learn the origins of the concept of the metaverse — something that didn't spring from the brains at Facebook.

Work

Japan's formula for life satisfaction, wherein we get a look into continuing struggles that Japanese workers face to find a balance between work and life, and what some people are trying to do about it.

Our ancestors worked less and had better lives. What are we doing wrong?, wherein Ståle Wig looks at how we evolved from working only as much as we needed to into creatures who seem to be constantly on the job.

Why workers might eventually reject hybrid work, wherein Bryan Lufkin argues that it might be employees, not employers, who push back against the mix of working from home and from the office — mainly because of the inconvenience of shifting between the two and because of the lack of in-person interaction with others.

Odds and Ends

Walking America’s car-centric hellscape, wherein Eve Andrews introduces us to Alex Wolfe and why he takes long walks through pedestrian unfriendly suburbs and urban landscapes.

Heartlands: Kagurazaka, wherein we're taken on a short, but fascinating, tour of a section of Tokyo that while Japanese has a distinctive French flair to it.

The Myth of 'I'm Bad at Math', wherein we discover that I may have been lying to myself all these years (but I still won't be hitting the math textbooks any time soon).

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

In 1989, General Magic Saw the Future of Smartphones, wherein we dig into the what's new is old again files with a look at how the Motorola Envoy presaged the phone interfaces that we use today.

Big Data Stream, wherein Theodora Dryer looks at water management and optimization algorithms that have helped cause water crises in the American west, and at alternatives which can help solve the problem.

Seeing Without Looking, wherein M.R. Sauter examines the failed Sidewalk Labs project in Toronto and how the project's pervasive data collection technology lives on.

History

The messy history of our modern, Western calendar, wherein we learn a bit about the long, fractious history that led us to the admittedly imperfect calendar that we use today.

The forgotten medieval habit of 'two sleeps', wherein we learn that the sleeping habits that we take to be our norm are of a more recent vintage, and discover how some of our ancestors slept.

Learning Sixteenth-Century Business Jargon, wherein we learned why English mercantile houses enforced strict codes of conduct and behaviour, and why they prized the ability to communicate effectively in their employees, whether in English or in foreign tongues.

Arts and Literature

How to Write a Book in Ten Days, wherein Meg Elison outlines how to do just that, and what you need to do after those 10 days pass.

Francis Ford Coppola’s $100 Million Bet, wherein we tread some familiar ground in an interview with the legendary filmmaker, and learn about a risky but very personal cinematic project that he's itching to tackle.

Why the great books still speak for themselves, and for us, wherein Roosevelt Montás argues that the so-called Western canon isn't only for privileged white people, but offers everyone a chance to hear a living voice to issues of urgency and relevance in their own lives.

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

Against Translation, wherein Benjamin Moser, a translator himself, ponders the subtleties that are lost in translation and laments the need to transfer critical power to people outside a writer’s own language.

Out of Sir Vidia’s Shadow, wherein Paul Theroux describes the intricacies of his friendship with V.S. Naipaul, the man's quirks as a writer and person, and how Naipaul influenced Theroux's growth as a writer.

Listening to Books, wherein Maggie Gram describes the appeal, and joys, of audiobooks and looks at why some people look down upon them.

Work

Why do we buy into the 'cult' of overwork?, wherein we learn a few reasons why many people look up to, and try to emulate, those who work long (almost impossible) hours.

Your work is not your god, wherein Jonathan Malesic dissects the idea that if I got the right kind of job, then success and happiness would surely follow.

Smile, wherein we get a piece of short fiction that illustrates the grinding difficulties of dealing with management while working from home.

Odds and Ends

The Art of Negativity, wherein Enis Yucekoralp examines the necessity of negativity, which contains the seed of critical thought and a beneficial duty to engage with one's internal feelings.

How the Chinese Language Got Modernized, wherein Ian Buruma examines how Chinese has evolved over the centuries, and how reformers in the modern era radically changed the language — especially the written script.

‘At 6pm every evening the screen went blank’: the outlandish tale of the UK’s TV blackout, wherein we learn about the toddler's truce in 1950s Britain, which tried to limit how much TV a child could watch, and how it gradually faded away thanks to the advent of commercial television.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Ideas

Was Plato a mythmaker or the mythbuster of Western thought?, wherein Tae-Yeoun Keum explores whether the Greek thinker was to blame for steering philosophy away from myth, or bringing it closer to myth.

Marxist Astronomy: The Milky Way According to Anton Pannekoek, wherein we're introduced to the Dutch astronomer and his idea that what we see in the night sky changes its shape depending on the lived experiences of the viewer.

A history of disruption, from fringe ideas to social change, wherein David Potter explains the core characteristics of the kind of disruption that imposes shifts so radical that a society could not go back to the way it had been.

Crime

The ultra-violent cult that became a global mafia, wherein we learn about Black Axe, a frightening criminal group in Africa that has not only infiltrated politics but also has gained a world-wide reach.

What lies beneath: the secrets of France’s top serial killer expert, wherein we learn about Stéphane Bourgoin, and the online group that's been working to out him as a plagiarist and a fraud.

The Traveler and His Baggage, wherein we learn about Marcel Petiot, who may have been a prolific mass murderer (in the guise of helping people escape the country) during the German occupation of France in World War Two.

Odds and Ends

Concealment and Compassion, wherein Shannon Mattern takes us though the history of how dementia has been treated, filtered through her mother's battle with the affliction.

The Mystical, Magical, Terrifying Supernatural Cats of Japan, wherein Zack Davisson explores the folklore behind the country's love-fear relationship with felines.

Whiffing, Fast and Slow, wherein William Harris ponders whether America's pastime is actually boring, and explores why someone might believe that.

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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