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:

Business and Economics

Kenya’s first smart city promised everything. 13 years on, it’s still a construction site, wherein we learn about the grand plans for Konza City, a proposed tech hub that, after almost a decade and a half years, isn't near completion, let alone close to fulfilling any of its promise.

Why most gas stations don’t make money from selling gas, wherein Zachary Crockett explains that fuel is often a loss leader for gas station owners, and that the real money is made inside the store.

Contrary to popular and academic belief, Adam Smith did not accept inequality as a necessary trade-off for a more prosperous economy, wherein Deborah Boucoyannis argues that the Scottish political economist was against the the concentration of wealth, and that his work indicates that profits should be low and labor wages high.

Ideas

The Logic of Corporate Accounting Took Over Our Language, and We Hardly Noticed, wherein Robin Kaiser-Schatzlein looks at how the concept of return on investment began being applied to all aspects of our lives and how that ejected complicated, ethical negotiations for the narrow certainty of finance.

I’m a Luddite. You should be one too, wherein Jathan Sadowski explains what a Luddite actually is (and it's not what many people think), and why that's a good belief to hold.

Why is the English spelling system so weird and inconsistent?, wherein we learn that the language's strange, and often illogical, spelling and pronunciation systems came about thanks to the printed word, which came to prominence at a time when the norms linking spoken and written language were up for grabs.

Writing

Blogging is dead. Long live blogging. Or, why the Substack hype is much ado about very little, wherein Dan Kennedy argues that if you strip away the hype, the popular email newsletter platform is, in fact, just a new twist on blogging.

Notes on Craft, wherein Lauren Elkin explains the importance of keeping a journal to her writing, and how that journal has moved from being analog to one of the digital variety.

Machine writing is closer to literature’s history than you know, wherein Yohei Igarashi points out that writing done by artificial intelligence should be familiar to us since we've relied on probable language for much of human history.

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

Data Relations, wherein Salomé Viljoen explains the negatives (for us, anyway) of the datafication of everything, and suggests ways to redress the balance.

How the IBM PC Won, Then Lost, the Personal Computer Market, wherein we learn how Big Blue took the nascent personal computer market by storm in the 1980s, and about the missteps that quickly sent all of that on a slide downhill.

This is how democracy dies, wherein Jamie Bartlett opines that the apocalypse will come at the weak hands of bureaucrats who refuse to question the algorithms that increasingly control everything in our lives.

Arts and Literature

The Man Who Made Black Panther Cool, wherein we learn about writer Christopher Priest, how he broke into the comics industry, bounced in and out of that industry over the decades, left an impression and yet is still unknown to many readers.

Remembering Harry O, The Seventies' Second Best, Mostly Forgotten Private Eye Series, wherein we (re)learn about the dark but surprisingly appealing detective series starring David Janssen that ran for just two season in the early 70s.

The Rise of the Crypto Writer? On What Literary NFTs Might Mean for the Book World, wherein Walker Caplan tries to make sense of the emerging space of writers trying to sell their works as non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Odds and Ends

Penniless: why a Victoria man has gone two decades without money, wherein we learn how David Arthur Johnston came to renounce money and has survived since the early 2000s without it, and how his efforts help changed laws around homelessness in Victoria, BC.

The Nonmachinables, wherein we learn about the Bureau of Hards, the department of the USPS that deals with letters and parcels with addresses and other information on them that not even sophisticated scanning and recognition technology can decipher.

In defense of Scrabble, wherein Neda Marie Valcheva explains how the classic board game is an integral part of the fabric of her family.

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

So You Thought You Didn’t Like Manga?, wherein we take a dive into an alternative world of Japanese illustrated storytelling, one which experiments with style of art, storytelling, and mature themes.

How NOT to Read: Learning from A Confederacy of Dunces, wherein Jessica Hooten Wilson argues that John Kennedy Toole's novel is more than a comedy: it's a cautionary tale against our penchant for misreading good books.

Walking Shadows, wherein we learn about the importance of actors to Elizabethan playwrights an how those actors influenced the work of the scribes.

Online Life

Is the Cookie Web Tracker Dying?, wherein we learn that while using cookies to track what you do on line might be in decline, more pervasive tracking technology is on the horizon.

Why every platform wants to be a super app, wherein we learn why platform tech companies in Africa are bundling multiple services into a single mobile app and the consequence it has for users.

How the cookie poisoned the Web, wherein Doc Searles outlines the (relatively benign) origin of the browser cookie and how it came to be a blight on the web.

Work

The five-day workweek is dead, wherein we discover how workers in the US are trying to follow the example of their counterparts overseas and get their employers to test drive a shorter work week.

Why worker loyalty is at a breaking point, wherein Josie Cox examines why, in a world still wracked with COVID-19, many workers are willing to quit their jobs rather than lose the flexibility of working remotely.

‘WE ALL QUIT’: How America’s Workers Are Taking Back Their Power, wherein Lauren Kaori Gurley looks at why low-wage workers in the US are quitting their jobs en masse (and it's not because of laziness or government handouts).

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 Intelligent Forest, wherein Suzanne Simard takes us into a British Columbia forest and ponders whether tree species are linked by a network for mutual aid.

What Makes Quantum Computing So Hard to Explain?, wherein we learn that even a basic understanding of these storied devices and what they do requires a knowledge of the concepts underlying them.

How to Make Sense of Contradictory Science Papers, wherein Haixin Dang and Liam Kofi Bright explain that published scientific studies can contradict each other because publishing those studies is about saying that there is something exciting and interesting that requires further inquiry.

Ideas

Lies and honest mistakes, wherein Richard V Reeves looks at how even honest journalists and careful scholars will sometimes get things wrong.

Colonialism is built on the rubble of a false idea of ancient Rome, wherein Jamie Mackay looks at the myth of a white Rome which, over the last century and a half, underpinned the justification for the aggressive imperialism of western nations.

When Graphs Are a Matter of Life and Death, wherein we learn about the history of the line graph and how it became a key tool for making pictures from numbers which offered a portal to a much deeper connection with time and distance (and more).

Productivity

Having Your Smartphone Nearby Takes a Toll on Your Thinking, wherein we learn that the proximity of a mobile device (and not even using it) can have a negative effect on your thinking and focus.

In praise of habits – so much more than mindless reflexes, wherein we learn that while most of our daily routines seem reflexive, they actually display a great deal of intelligence.

The three-or-four-hours rule, wherein Oliver Burkeman explains why you can't do work that demands serious mental focus for more than about three or four hours a day and offers advice on how to focus on that 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.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Arts and Literature

The Pleasures of Tsundoku, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Book Piles, wherein Antoine Wilson looks at stockpiling books and sees it not as obsession or boarding, but as a source of pleasure and literary discovery.

The changing art of the subeditor: ‘You had to read the type upside down’, wherein Suzanne Warr looks back at how newspaper copy editors did their jobs in the days before it all went digital.

The Death of the All-Powerful Director, wherein we discover how the failure of Heaven's Gate, and the behaviour of its director, changed the way in which Hollywood studios green light and fund movies.

Productivity

Hundreds of Ways to Get S#!+ Done—and We Still Don’t, wherein we learn why it’s so hard to make a to-do app that works, but why people often feel so distraught by their hunt for the perfect organizational system.

Use the Two-Minute Rule To Stop Procrastinating, wherein Fadeke Adegbuyi explains how knocking those little jobs that accumulate in our task lists can lead us to increased productivity.

How Productivity Tools Can Waste Your Time, wherein we learn something I've been saying for a long time: searching for that perfect app isn't going to make you more productive. Doing the work is.

Odds and Ends

Baseball and Japan, wherein we get a brief look at how America's favourite pastime became such a huge phenomenon in Japan.

How are cassettes still a thing?, wherein Radio New Zealand reporter Tony Stamp delves into why the venerable tape format has persisted even though there are more modern options for storing and sharing audio available.

The strange 19th-Century sport that was cooler than football, wherein we learn about competitive pedestrianism, a wildly popular professional sport in the 19th century, which spawned spectacles, highly-paid competitors, and rabid fans.

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

Il Maestro, wherein director Martin Scorsese weaves a moving paen to the artistry of Federico Fellini and the sheer visual magic of his work.

The right angle, wherein James Panero ponders the joys, the wonders, and the timelessness of Isaak Walton's classic treatise on fishing, The Compleat Angler.

Why 1971 was an extraordinary year in film, wherein Christina Newland explores why that year brought so many powerful films before the eyes of the movie-going public.

History

The Long Shadow Of Colonial Science, wherein we learn a bit about some dark chapters in the history of science, ones which involved bolstering colonial power and outright theft.

The Art of Making Debts: Accounting for an Obsession in 19th-Century France, wherein Erika Vause examines the (often humorous) way in which the 18th and 19th century French viewed debts and the relationship between creditors and debtors.

The Twopenny Hangover, wherein Mike Dash looks at the stories of, and the truth (or lack thereof) behind, a particular sort of lodging house that supposedly existed in England from the 19th century until the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Business and Economics

Navigating a new digital era means changing the world economic order, wherein Shamel Azmeh ponders the economic effects of the our digital world and the need to set out a new regime of global governance for the digital age.

Darwinism and Markets Don’t Mix, wherein Matthew Barad argues that if capitalist markets really are Darwinian, it’s clear that they select for ultra-short term and extractive thinking that severely damages the world.

How McKinsey Destroyed the Middle Class, wherein we learn how management consulting firms, like McKinsey, helped hollow out corporations and, as a result, drove wages down and made upward mobility within the corporate structure almost impossible.

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

Why We Should End the Data Economy, wherein Scott Staton explains why we need to push for that, not only to protect ourselves but to protect democracy.

DuckDuckGo's Quest to Prove Online Privacy is Possible, wherein we learn a bit more about the upstart search engine's attempts to convince people that giving up one’s privacy online is not, in fact, inevitable.

Cozy Tech, wherein we learn about how some tech firms are replacing cold textures and materials in their products, which is leading to an upswing in textiles as a component of tech devices.

Ideas

Coleridge the philosopher, wherein we learn that the famed poet was also a prolific, and highly respected, writer of philosophy.

A Life of Meaning, Without Buying, wherein Leo Babauta why many people buy things to get a sense of fulfillment, but don't realize that gaining a sense of fulfillment comes from looking inside themselves and not to material things.

The Silences Between: On the Perils and Pitfalls of Translation, wherein Mark Polizzotti argues that moving between two languages involves more than translating words and ideas, but also taking cultural interpretations into account.

Odds and Ends

Wild Rice Waters, wherein Emily Hicks and Melody R. Stein take us on a journey through the waterways of Minnesota to learn more about efforts to restore wild rice and the obstacles those efforts face.

Heartlands: Shinkoenji, wherein we're taken on a tour of a section of Tokyo, known for its shops and hangouts, but which also boasts an impressive collection of temples and shrines.

Into the Mystical and Inexplicable World of Dowsing, wherein Dan Schwartz meets some of the people who find water with sticks and has some of his ideas challenged.

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

Not-to-do list: a conscious way to break bad habits, wherein Anne-Laure Le Cunff introduces a simple technique to help you break bad habits and to focus on what you really need to do.

The Practice of Truly Enjoying Time Off, wherein Leo Babuta offers some advice about how to take time off and not feel stressed or guilty about it.

In Defense of Thinking, wherein Cal Newport argues that taking time to deeply think about a problem or task lays the foundation of actually dolving it or getting it done.

Space

Should We Terraform Mars? Let’s Recap, wherein Brian Gallagher looks at the (mainly online) war of words around whether humans should change the Red Planet and whether that's even possible.

Could humans have contaminated Mars with life?, wherein geneticist Christopher Mason ponders whether or not there could be life on Mars, in the form of microbes or spores that hitched a ride on one of the close to three dozen probes we've sent there.

Is Mars Ours?, wherein Adrian Mann examines some of the ethical issues around humans colonizing and changing Mars in our (and our planet's) image.

The Dark Side of Technology

Why Is Ransomware on the Rise?, wherein we learn how the rules, reasons, and consequences of the titular cyber attacks have changed and what companies should do (but which many don't) to prevent attacks.

This Manual for a Popular Facial Recognition Tool Shows Just How Much the Software Tracks People, wherein we learn how the user guide for a particular facial recognition tool provides insight on just how people can be identified and followed through its facial recognition.

How to Negotiate with Ransomware Hackers, wherein we delve into the murky world of ransomware attacks and learn more about the people who negotiate with the perpetrators.

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

What’s Behind the U.S. War on Science?, wherein Vincent Ialenti examines why so many Americans not only distrust science and scientists, but also why they have lost faith in expertise itself.

The Lithium Mine Versus the Wildflower, wherein we learn about the fight, spearheaded by a pair of passionate botanists, to save a rare plant species, one literally sitting on top of a mineral that can help fight climate change/

What is daydreaming? Parts of the brain show sleep-like activity when your mind wanders, wherein we learn that mind-wandering seems to happen when parts of the brain fall asleep while most of it remains awake.

Productivity

Tagging is Broken, wherein Tiago Forte explains why using tags to organize information is inefficient and counterintuitive.

Wanting More Time for Your Meaningful Work, wherein Leo Babauta offers some simple, yet powerful, advice that can help you make the time and space to do what you really want to do.

Multitasking is a menace – it should come with a health warning, wherein Emma Beddington concludes that multitasking is a necessary evil, but that we shouldn't lionize those who seem to be able to do it.

Crime

The Bank Robbers Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight (Or Do Anything Right, Really), wherein we learn about a trio of hapless would-be gangsters who chose the wrong English bank to try to rob.

The Lazarus heist: How North Korea almost pulled off a billion-dollar hack, wherein we learn how hackers from the secretive communist regime tried, and very nearly succeeded in digitally robbing the national bank of Bangladesh.

The Sky Thief, wherein we learn about Beebo Russell, who stole an Alaska Air passenger airplane from Seattle's airport and what happened afterwards.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Business and Economics

Amazon Prime Is an Economy-Distorting Lie, wherein we learn how the ecommerce giant has been using its virtual monopoly to raise prices among its sellers, and using those gains to subsidize its popular Amazon Prime service.

Cryptocurrency Isn’t All Bad, wherein Mark Leon Goldberg looks at decentralized finance which makes financial services available on blockchain without conventional intermediaries like banks or brokers, and its potential for poorer nations.

Why it's the end of the road for petrol stations, wherein Justin Rowlatt argues that the availability of easily-accessible charging stations is what will make or break electric vehicles.

Ideas

Why humans find it so hard to let go of false beliefs , wherein Elitsa Dermendzhiyska examines why it can be difficult to resist misinformation in the face of corrective evidence.

The Tyranny of Time, wherein we learn why more and more people are arguing that we need to urgently reassess our relationship with the clock.

What Renaissance?, wherein Henrik Lagerlund argues that the Renaissance is an invention by historians, a fiction made in order to tell a story – a compelling story about the development of philosophy.

Work

Can pop-up work holidays help workers de-stress?, wherein we learn how and why companies (at least in the U.S.) have started offering employees unscheduled “self care” days on top of regular paid time off, but how that might not be enough to stave off employee burnout.

The 'Zoom towns' luring remote workers to rural enclaves, wherein we learn how smaller towns in the U.S., far away from the usual corporate and tech hubs, are trying to attract remote workers with the promise of a lifestyle that brings them closer to nature.

Atlassian’s Vision for the Future of Work Is a Cyber-Taylorist Nightmare, wherein Ben Conway argues that the long-term goal of the maker of such software as Jira and Confluence is one that compels us to work, limits our autonomy, and outmaneuvers and divides us when we organize to fight back.

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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