The Monday Kickoff

Start your week with set of links on a variety of topics, 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.

A little news: starting January 9, 2019 I'll be publishing an email newsletter called Weekly Musings. The bulk of the newsletter will be a short essay — weighing in at anywhere from 500 to 1,200 words — on whatever topic caught my interest over the previous seven days. I'm hoping it'll be an interesting and edifying ride.

You can get in on the ground floor of Weekly Musings by subscribing here. And, no, I won't use your email address for anything other than the newsletter. Promise!

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Algorithms and Us

Autonomous Everything: How Algorithms Are Taking Over Our World, wherein security expert Bruce Schneier explores how our dependency on automated systems causes problems, and opens doors to even bigger problems.

Decision Engines, wherein John Menick weaves a fanciful essay fiction that takes us through various scenarios showing how self-driving vehicles could become deadly hazards to unsuspecting pedestrians.

God is in the machine, wherein we discover what algorithms are, get a high-level look at how they work, and learn that even the people crafting algorithms sometimes don't know what their creations do or can do.

Arts and Literature

The Radio Auteur: Joe Frank, Ira Glass, and Narrative Radio, wherein we get a glimpse into the evolution of two similar, yet quite different, radio raconteurs and how those similarities and differences made for some innovative radio.

Little Bits of Paper Everywhere: An Oral History of Snipehunt Magazine and Kathy Molloy, wherein we get a glimpse at the quarterly magazine that helped shape the tenor and taste of the art scene in Portland in the 1990s, and learn about the woman who was the magazine's driving force.

Grandville, Visions, and Dreams, wherein we're introduced to the stunning, often biting, but always fascinating and innovative work of the 19th century French graphic artist J.J.Grandville.

Science

Rewritable Paper, wherein we find out about a new way to save trees: paper that isn't paper, which you can print on and then erase and then print on again. Science to the rescue once more.

Neanderthals were no brutes – research reveals they may have been precision workers, wherein we learn that Neanderthals were actually a lot more similar to modern humans than we've been led to believe, right down to how they gripped and used objects.

The Race to Reinvent Cement, wherein we learn how researchers and startups are trying to perfect a form of cement that lowers or eliminates the CO2 emissions associated with the process of creating this most important building material.

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

Scott Nesbitt


If you enjoy The Monday Kickoff, please consider supporting it by buying me a coffee or a smoothie, or making a micropayment via Liberapay or PayPal. Even if you don't, I'll keep doing this. Your support (even if you just read this space) is appreciated!


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

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

I'm finding it hard to believe that the first week of December has rolled around. I mean, I'm still trying to figure out where June went ...

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Crime

Blood and Oil, wherein we discover how Mexican drug cartels have been moving into the very lucrative business of stealing gasoline, and learn how brutal and cutthroat that business is.

How the Great California Dispensary Heist Went Horrifically Wrong, wherein we're told the shocking story of how the owner of a cannabis dispensary was set up, and the aftermath of a kidnapping and robbery that went very, very wrong.

He Won $19 Million in the Lottery — And Became a Bank Robber, wherein we hear the sorry tale of Jim Hayes who, after blowing a $19 million lottery win, became a homeless junkie and bank robber, and ended up doing a three-year stretch in prison.

Arts and Literature

Are Audiobooks As Good For You As Reading? Here’s What Experts Say, wherein we discover that the differences between audiobooks and print books are probably “small potatoes”, but that reading has the overall edge over listening.

Why dictators can't resist writing books, wherein Lucy Hughes-Hallett examines the book Dictator Literature by Daniel Kalder, and comes to some interesting conclusions about the literary lives of despots.

Where, Exactly, is the Overlap Between Storytelling and Technology?, wherein we get an analysis of the book New Dark Age which explores a present that has come unhinged from linear temporarily.

Odds and Ends

I Was a Chinese Helpline’s Number One Caller. I Had a Problem, wherein Audrey Murray describes her cycle of dependence on a very convenient service in Shanghai, how helpless that dependency made her, and what it took to break that cycle.

The Long, Knotty, World-Spanning Story of String, wherein we learn how the humble, woven cord helped shape the modern world and has pervaded all aspects of our lives (whether we realize it or not).

The Wings Won’t Fall Off, wherein we follow a fearful, yet intrepid, writer on her journey to try to conquer her phobia of airports and airplanes.

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

Scott Nesbitt


If you enjoy The Monday Kickoff, please consider supporting it by buying me a coffee or a smoothie, or making a micropayment via Liberapay or PayPal. Even if you don't, I'll keep doing this. Your support (even if you just read this space) is appreciated!


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

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 good to have you back. I hope the last week has treated you well. If not, I hope you were at least able to slap last week across the face with a brick to teach it a valuable lesson.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Technology

Open Source Challenge: Why One Band Chose Linux To Record Their New Album, wherein we we discover that we don't need to be techies to use Linux, and that we can use it to do creative work.

How to Build a Low-tech Internet, wherein we learn the benefits and drawbacks of using inexpensive components and slower connections to bring the internet to rural areas and developing countries.

An introduction to medieval cities and cloud security, wherein we look far into the past to learn how better protect our digital kingdoms.

Politics

Traditional storytelling meets new media activism in Iran, wherein we discover how some artist and activists in Iran are using a combination of traditional Persian storytelling techniques and modern media to make sense of what's happening in their country.

Edward Snowden Reconsidered, wherein Tamsin Shaw presents a contrarian view of folks like Edward Snowden, Laura Potrais, Glenn Greenwald, and Julian Assange and their motivations for doing what they did and do.

Sticks and Stones, wherein we learn that partisan politics has a long history around the globe, and that partisan politics have some very negative effects on people and on nations.

Odds and Ends

The Gay Black American Who Stared Down Nazis in the Name of Love, wherein we hear the story of Reed Pegtram, and American intellectual who refused to leave war-wracked Europe without the man he loved, and learn what happened because of that.

The creation of Missile Command and the haunting of its creator, Dave Theurer, wherein we get a peek into what it took to create the classic arcade game Missile Command, and the literal nightmares that effort spawned in the sleeping mind of its main creator.

Of Donuts I Have Loved, wherein Miranda Dennis walks us through some of the major epochs in her life and looks at how those round pastries with the hole in the middle marked those epochs.

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

Scott Nesbitt


If you enjoy The Monday Kickoff, please consider supporting it by buying me a coffee or a smoothie, or by making a micropayment via Liberapay or PayPal. Even if you don't, I'll keep doing this. Your support (even if you just read this space) is appreciated!


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

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.

At the end of each edition of the Monday Kickoff, I ask (beg?) you to support this project (and, by extension, my other online work). In case you're wondering, I don't use what's dropped into my hat to feather my nest. What people send my way helps pay for the services that I use, for domain renewals, and for donations to the organizations I back. This past while, I've sent the micropayments I've received (and quite a bit of my own cash on top of that) to the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Wikimedia Foundation. That's on top of the monthly donation I make to the Internet Archive.

So if you're interested in supporting my work and supporting some good causes, you can find out how to do that at the end of this post. Thanks!

With that out of the way, let's get this Monday started with these links:

Ideas

The Uneasy Yoke, wherein Blair Hurley recounts how religion has touched and shaped her, even though she doesn't practice any of the faiths she's explored.

The Miracle of the Mundane, wherein Heather Havrilesky examines the joys of living a simple, ordinary life, and discovers that living such a life isn't as easy as it seems.

Autism from the inside, wherein we discover that the way people look at autism, and what they think they understand about it, is all wrong. As the father of a young woman with autism, this article hit home in ways I didn't expect it to.

Arts and Literature

Imploding with Cool, wherein we join writer Iain Sinclair on his literary perambulations around London and discover how much the city's tone and texture has changed over the decades. Sometimes, not for the better.

Why Literature Loves Lists, wherein Brian Dillon examines how lists are used by both fiction writers and essayists, and explains the structure and comfort that lists offer writers.

What is cyberpunk?, wherein Alex Spencer examines the origins of the SF sub genre, and looks at cyberpunk's descendants and its discontents.

Presenting

How to give an effective presentation, wherein Mark Pollard explains that a presentation is more than a set of slides, and walks us through how to plan, structure, and give a presentation worth sitting through.

How to write a talk, wherein we're given some solid, easy-to-do advice on how to come up with an idea for a presentation, develop it, and get ready to give it.

What I wish I knew when I first started speaking internationally, wherein Amber Case offers some useful tips for people who speak at events overseas (or even in their own countries).

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

Scott Nesbitt


If you enjoy The Monday Kickoff, please consider supporting it by buying me a coffee or a smoothie, or making a micropayment via Liberapay, Plasso, or PayPal. Even if you don't, I'll keep doing this. Your support (even if you just read this space) is appreciated!


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

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.

Instead of me pontificating, here's an idea we should all embrace:

I can’t be working efficiently and at my top game worrying about what other people think about me, or are going to think about me. — Anson Mount

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Politics

How the First Punk in East Germany Became an Enemy of the State, wherein we meet Britta Bergmann, a teenager from East Berlin who used a love of punk rock to express her individuality under a repressive government and became a target of that government.

War and Peace in Chicago, wherein Walter Nicklin looks back at the protests at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, and sees times and how political engagement have changed over the last 50 years.

How AI could kill off democracy, wherein we learn that artificial intelligence (AI) systems can sometimes make better decisions that humans, but that relying on algorithms can lead to a loss of the ability to hold people accountable.

Business

He Could’ve Been a Colonel, wherein we hear the story of Ollie's Trolley, the hamburger restaurant that seems poised to take the fast food world by storm, but which arrived on the scene decades too soon.

Missing the Dark Satanic Mills, wherein we get a glimpse into the history of the factory, and with the glimpse we start understanding why factories have always been places of great fascination.

The Real Cost of Working in the House of Mouse, wherein we learn about how workers — sorry cast members — at various Disney theme parks are barely scraping by (and often not even that) thanks to the parent corporation's focus on profits over people.

Writing

The New Reading Environment, wherein the editors of n+1 magazine explore the often fraught relationship between editors, writers, and readers, and how that relationship has changed (maybe not for the better) in the age of online reading and social media.

How to Write a Synopsis in 4 Easy Steps, wherein we learn that preparing an effective summary of what you're writing is no easy task and are offered some solid advice for doing the job properly.

Reclaiming the Freedom of the Rough Draft, wherein we learn that the first draft of anything we write doesn't need to be polished or disciplined or structured or even good. It's our starting point for writing that will be good.

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

Scott Nesbitt


If you enjoy The Monday Kickoff, please consider supporting it by buying me a coffee or a smoothie, or making a micropayment via Liberapay, Plasso, or PayPal. Even if you don't, I'll keep doing this. Your support (even if you just read this space) is appreciated!


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

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 hard to believe another month has rolled around. Maybe it's true that time does move faster the older you get. But as time passes, there's also more interesting material to read out there. And, sadly, less time in which to read it ...

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Ideas

The Known Known, wherein we get another entry from the what's new is old again files, this time examining how threats to privacy have always been with us.

In Praise of Spacing Out, wherein we learn that we can't, and shouldn't, maintain a constant state of mindfulness, and why slipping into the occasional reverie can be beneficial.

The Psychology Behind Why Clowns Creep Us Out, wherein Frank T. McAndrew discusses his research into why people are, and have long been, uncomfortable (or worse) around clowns.

Productivity

Productivity, wherein Sam Altman shares some simple but effective tips and tricks he uses to get his work done.

The Complete Guide to Increasing Your Focus, wherein Scott H. Young walks us through a training program that can help us eliminate distractions and teach us to put all our attention into what we're doing.

Read less. Learn more., wherein we're told that a combination of slow reading, reading in depth, and focus can help us retain more of what we read and help us apply it to our lives.

Odds and Ends

Descend Into Great Britain’s Network of Secret Nuclear Bunkers, wherein we get a peek into some Cold War era bunkers in the UK, all lovingly restored, and learn about what they were for and the conditions the people who would be in them could expect when the bombs started dropping.

I Listen to 35 Hours of Podcasts Every Week. Is That ... Bad?, wherein Sirena Bergman looks at whether or not inundating our brains with podcasts is beneficial, and discovers that it might not be.

Wikipedia has resisted information warfare, but could it fight off a proper attack?, wherein Carl Miller explores how a state-backed effort could subvert Wikipedia in the so-called information wars by using the site's reputation system and by taking advantage of its openness.

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

Scott Nesbitt


If you enjoy The Monday Kickoff, please consider supporting it by buying me a coffee or a smoothie, or making a micropayment via Liberapay, Plasso, or PayPal. Even if you don't, I'll keep doing this. Your support (even if you just read this space) is appreciated!


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

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 good to be back at Mission Control in Auckland. My time away last week was nice (as it always is), but home truly is where I want to be.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Ideas

Ending the paper trail, wherein we're exposed to the document digitisation plan of Finland's National Archive — which scans and destroys paper documents — and learn about the true purpose of archiving.

How Coolness Defined the World Wide Web of the 1990s, wherein we learn that the Cool Site of the Day/Week lists that sprang up on the early web gave people guideposts to sites that were broadly in tune with the ethos of the web.

Would a longer lifespan make us happier? A philosopher's take, wherein we ponder the effects, both good and bad, of increased longevity on ourselves and on our societies.

Technology

What is the dark web? The good and bad of the Internet’s most private corner, wherein we get a look at what some people believe to be the scary depths of the internet, an article that avoids being sensational or mongering our fears.

Three ways making a smartphone can harm the environment, wherein Patrick Byrne examines some of the key metals in smartphones, what they do, and the environmental cost of pulling them out of the ground.

How Duterte Used Facebook To Fuel the Philippine Drug War, wherein we learn just what can happen if Facebook is the way in which most people in a country access the internet, and the effects that can have on public opinion. It's not pretty.

Crime

The big squeeze, wherein we discover that the rise of the mafia in Sicily happened, in part, to the boom in the citrus fruit trade and that mixing valuable resources and weak institutions produces a volatile cocktail.

How a Brutal Mafia Enforcer Became a Deadly Serious Marathoner, wherein we hear the story of Rahul Jadhav, a former guman for a mobster in Dombivli, India who turned to running to help vent his anger and as a way of reintegrating with a society that didn't seem to want him.

The Disappeared, wherein we hear the tragic story of how the police in a town in Long Island, New York utterly failed the Latino community there.

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

Scott Nesbitt


If you enjoy The Monday Kickoff, please consider supporting it by buying me a coffee or a smoothie, or making a micropayment via Liberapay, Plasso, or PayPal. Even if you don't, I'll keep doing this. Your support (even if you just read this space) is appreciated!


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

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

I've been in Raleigh, NC for the last few days, and this morning All Things Open 2018 gets underway. It's always a bit of a change coming back to North America from New Zealand, but it's also great to be around a group of my open source sistren and brethren.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Science

More than just a sparkling gem: what you didn't know about diamonds, wherein we're treated to a short history of diamonds, why they're fascinating, and how they give us a glimpse into the origins of the Earth.

This is Roquette Science, wherein we learn about the pros and cons of indoor vertical gardening, and how we might be able to bring it into our homes with personal food computers.

How virtual worlds can recreate the geographic history of life, wherein we learn how scientists are using simulations of parts of South America to better understand how ecosystems developed on that continent, and to try to predict how those ecosystem might change in the future.

Productivity

Launching Your Project in 20 Minutes, wherein Leo Babauta explains the need for taking action, but also how doing it a bit at a time to makes taking that first big step a lot easier.

The hunter method productivity hack can bring clarity to your day, wherein we're introduced to a method for managing our tasks that goes against the grain of so-called productivity science (is that actually a thing?) and which can help us focus on what we really need to do.

How to Be More Productive Without a To-Do List, wherein we learn about the limitations and constraints of task lists, and pick up some strategies for getting things done without them.

Odds and Ends

The Women Code Breakers Who Unmasked Soviet Spies, wherein we meet some unsung heroes of America's Cold War codebreaking efforts: a group of women who did the mathematical grunt work, but who (until recently) remained in the shadows.

Logged off: meet the teens who refuse to use social media, wherein we get a glimpse into the world of so-called millenials who are spurning the connected world they grew up in, why they're doing it, and the effect it's having on their lives.

Noodle School, wherein, via a documentary video, we travel to Lanzhou in northwest China to discover why budding noodle cooks make the pilgrimmage to that city to learn their craft.

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

Scott Nesbitt


If you enjoy The Monday Kickoff, please consider supporting it by buying me a coffee or a smoothie, or making a micropayment via Liberapay, Plasso, or PayPal. Even if you don't, I'll keep doing this. Your support (even if you just read this space) is appreciated!


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

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.

Next week's Kickoff will be a day late. Well, I'll be publishing it on a Monday, but Monday in North America. Why? I'll be in Raleigh, NC attending a conference called All Things Open and hanging out with the team from Opensource.com. I'm going to put quite a few kilometres and a couple or three time zones under me. Wish me luck.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Technology

The World’s Oldest Blockchain Has Been Hiding in the New York Times Since 1995, wherein we discover that when it comes to the blockchain (as with many technologies), what's new is old again.

Use the internet, not just companies, wherein Derek Sivers reminds us that there are certain digital skills you should develop for yourself, just so you're not at the mercy of an internet giant.

Minitel, the Open Network Before the Internet, wherein we learn about a precursor to the web created and run by the French government, and about why private industry hamstrung an innovative service.

Ideas

What Is Education For?, wherein Sparky Abraham and Nathan J. Robinson argue that while there needs to be some reform and change in education, a traditional liberal education isn't a waste of time or as useless as some commentators have suggested.

Behemoth, bully, thief: how the English language is taking over the planet, wherein we learn how, for better or for worse, language has risen to the top rung of the global language ladder and how having many languages is a gift.

How ancient cultures explained comets and meteors, wherein we discover a bit about how our ancestors viewed objects falling from or passing across the sky, and how not all of that was superstition.

Writing

Should writers only write what they know? What I learned from my research, wherein Teresa LeClerc examines whether authors should craft characters from backgrounds other than their own, and whether it's useful for writers to walk in someone else's shoes.

The Elements of Bureaucratic Style, wherein we learn that writing in the bureaucratic voice offers soothing pabulum to those whose minds are already made up, or who are predisposed to support bureaucracy, and why that's a dangerous thing.

Why Structure Matters When You Are Writing a Novel, wherein Louise Candlish explains that the form in which you present your characters' story will determine how readers respond to it.

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

Scott Nesbitt


If you enjoy The Monday Kickoff, please consider supporting it by buying me a coffee or a smoothie, or making a micropayment via Liberapay, Plasso, or PayPal. Even if you don't, I'll keep doing this. Your support (even if you just read this space) is appreciated!


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

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

I'm often asked where I dig up the various articles that I recommend in this space. You might have noticed that there are a core set of publications that I peer into each week. Then, there are other articles and outlets buried in my set of bookmarks that I sometimes turn to. Of course, I can't forget the pointers friends and posts on social media send my way. All of that makes for some great reading.

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

Arts and Literature

History from a High Angle, wherein Richard I. Suchenski examines the work of director Masaki Kobayashi, who combined Japanese and western aesthetics and amazing filmmaking technique to craft some of the 20th century's most moving films.

Bad Romance, wherein we get a glimpse into the cutthroat world of self-published romance novels, the lawsuit that pitted two authors against each other, and how writers game the system on Amazon.

1921 · 1946 · 1984 · 2018 A Genealogy of the Totalitarian Novel, wherein we're introduced to the long-forgotten, early Soviet era novel We, Yevgeny Zamyatin’s banned work that influenced classic novels like Brave New World, 1984, and Player Piano, and how the events in Zamyatin's novel have stunning parallels to the world of today.

Technology

7 Axioms for Calm Technology, wherein user experience expert Amber Case argues that with the flood of internet-connected devices coming into our homes, developers need to to make those devices less obtrusive. To help them on their way, Case supplies the seven axiom of the title of this article.

“I Was Devastated”: Tim Berners-Lee, the Man Who Created the World Wide Web, Has Some Regrets, wherein Sir Tim reflects on what his creation has become, where it took some wrong turns, and what he's trying to do to return the web to its roots.

What Digital Transformation Is Not About, wherein Paul Taylor busts some myths around the murky idea of digital transformation and reminds us that technological shifts require equal measures of changes of perspective and action.

Odds and Ends

The Dancing Plague of 1518, wherein we hear the tale of the epidemic of the choreomania that gripped the city of Strasbourg in the summer of 1518, an affliction which drove people to dance themselves to injury and, sometimes, death.

Color or Fruit? On the Unlikely Etymology of “Orange”, wherein we discover more about the word 'orange' than we might ever want to know, which seems to be the only basic colour for which no other word exists in English.

The Spy Who Drove Me, wherein Julia Ioffe recounts her encounters with an Uber driver while attending a security conference in Aspen, a driver who could have been a well-informed and inquisitive individual or a spy.

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

Scott Nesbitt


If you enjoy The Monday Kickoff, please consider supporting it by buying me a coffee or a smoothie, or making a micropayment via Liberapay, Plasso, or PayPal. Even if you don't, I'll keep doing this. Your support (even if you just read this space) is appreciated!


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.