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:

Technology

Why email loses out to popular apps in China, wherein we learn that the popularity of apps like WeChat in China is a result of people embracing an early 2000s desktop messenger called QQ, which was more convenient (and flexible) than email.

Webwaste, wherein Gerry McGovern looks at how websites have become more and more bloated over the years, the effect of that on user experience and the environment, and offers some advice on how to slim webpages down.

Socialism's DIY Computer, wherein we learn about the Galaksija, an 80s computer that was something like the Raspberry Pi before there was a Raspberry Pi.

Ideas

How We Lost Our Attention, wherein Matthew B. Crawford walks us through how our attention has become more fragmented thanks, in part, to the range of distractions that are literally at our fingertips.

What Irony Is Not, wherein Roger Kreuz explains how irony differs from its related concepts like coincidence, paradox, satire, and parody.

A Brief History of Dangerous Others, wherein we're introduced to the centuries-old trope of the outside agitator who comes into a city or region to wreak havok and to try to impose a sinister (if non-existent) agenda.

Odds and Ends

Meet the company that sells your lost airplane luggage, wherein Zachary Crockett takes us into the bizarre secondary market for lost luggage.

Overexposed: A History of Fotomat, wherein we learn about the little yellow huts that once dotted thousands of parking lots where, for decades, people dropped off their film to be processed.

Back to the Future, wherein Dolly Church takes us on a trip through the history of the drive-in movie theatre, and looks at why it's making a comeback.

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.

And we're back. The last week has been a blur. A busy, stressful blur. Why? My family and I moved house seven days ago. Since then, it's been a matter of adjusting to a new part of the city and a new home. And, of course, there's the seemingly never-ending fun of unpacking boxes and trying to figure out where everything goes. Life could be worse, though.

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

Politics

Privatisation is bad economics and worse politics, wherein Alon Harel presents a moral and philosophical argument against privatizing public services and assets.

The New Nuclear Threat, wherein we're taken through the history of planning for nuclear war, and learn that the threat of such a conflict is still strong.

Disinformed to Death, wherein Jonathan Freedland looks at how disinformation has become so widespread, the threat that it poses, and how we can try to counter it.

Business and Economics

Companies Made Millions Building Unemployment Websites That Didn’t Work, wherein we learn that large consulting and tech firms seem to be more interested i](n snagging fat government contracts than making sure the quality of the work they deliver is up to scratch.

Electric Crypto Balkan Acid Test, wherein we learn how cryptocurrency mining rigs in North Kosovo caused major power fluctuations throughout western Europe, and how that came about.

The Battle to Invent the Automatic Rice Cooker, wherein we learn about what it took for a Japanese manufacturer to create a kitchen appliance that cooks rice by itself, and how that appliance took the market by storm.

Online Life

Look Who’s Talking, wherein Megan Marz examines how user experience writing has evolved in an attempt to make the digital sound more human.

How to know if your online shopping habit is a problem — and what to do if it is, wherein we discover the signs of addiction to buying goods (whether we need them or not) via the internet, and get some advice on how to cut back or stop.

How Link-Begging Became the Most Annoying Search Engine Tactic, wherein we learn about the so-called link economy and how some people are using it as a quick, dirty, and cheap way to build authority online without doing a lot of hard graft.

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.

Just to let you know, the Monday Kickoff will be taking next week off. A few reasons for that, and all of them good. More about that on November 23.

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

Environment

We need ‘slow hope’ in a world of accelerating ecological change, wherein Christof Mauch argues that we need to shift gears downwards, and tell stories about that shift, to help stop our destruction of the environment.

Miami Will Be Underwater Soon. Its Drinking Water Could Go First, wherein we learn how climate change, rising seas, and unchecked limestone mining will smash the Florida city's fresh water supply.

Denmark’s 300-year-old homes of the future, wherein Karen Gardiner shows how the residents of the Danish island of Læsø use eelgrass as thatching for the roofs of houses, why eelgrass is so effective for that purpose, and how people are adapting it to modern houses.

Arts and Literature

How I discovered secondhand books, wherein Alexander Larman shares his love of reading, especially used books, and looks at the age-old appeal of older and rare tomes.

I Am Here to Demonize Spotify, wherein Richard Beck discusses how the music streaming service, among other things, degrades the experience of listening to music.

The great 60s electro-pop plane crash: how pioneers Silver Apples fell out of the sky, wherein we learn about the unlikely rise of the electronic music pioneers, and what led to the band's sudden demise.

History

Seeing Things, wherein Emily LaBarge takes us on a physical and historical tour of the City of London, and we discover how the place has changed over the centuries and since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Sicko Doctors: Suffering and Sadism in 19th-Century America, wherein we're taken back to a time when physicians weren't seen as healers, when the popular literary view of them was of someone who wasn't above doing harm to those under their care.

The lost treasures of London’s River Thames, wherein we learn about the mudlarks who squelch around the shores of the river that cuts through London to find artifacts of the city's past.

And that's it for this Monday. Come back in 14 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 modern human mind evolved further and farther back, wherein Gaia Vince argues that so-called modern humans appreared before their migration to Europe, and that the rapid development of our ancestors had a number of factors which had little to do with their geographic location.

Why Is Glass Rigid? Signs of Its Secret Structure Emerge, wherein we learn how researchers, using artifical intelligence, are unlocking the secrets of the perpelxing properties of glass.

The Glassmaker Who Sparked Astrophysics, wherein we're introduced to Joseph Fraunhofer, whose work in the 19th century helped scientists realize that the universe is expanding.

Work

How did flexible work turn from a feminist ideal to a trap?, wherein Sarah Stoller examines the history of flexible work, and how today's interpretation of it is anything but flexible.

Automatic for the Bosses, wherein we learn (more) about how automation and surveillance technology are affecting more and more workers, especially ones who work from home.

The problem with perfectionists, wherein Natasha Frost examines how those in pursuit of perfection can actually negatively affect the workplace environment.

Productivity

Let Each Task Fill Up Your World, wherein Leo Babauta reminds us forget multitasking and do one thing at a time.

The mindset you need to succeed at every goal, wherein David Robson explains that to achieve our long-term goals, we need to think strategically and evolve our thinking as we fail.

How to Be More Productive in a Lockdown, wherein we get some simple but effective advice for doing just that.

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

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

It’s time we revived Rousseau’s radical spirit in schooling, wherein James Brooke-Smith takes us through the history of so-called negative education and argues that perhaps it's time to adopt some of the ideas of radical educators from the past.

Seeing Things, wherein Emily LaBarge takes us on a physical and historical tour of the City of London, in which we discover how the place has changed over the centuries.

Watching Tokyo’s phantom Olympics, wherein Jordan Sand looks looks towards the 2021 Olympics, and mulls the social and economic consequences of holding that event.

Travel

Sealand: A peculiar ‘nation’ off England’s coast, wherein Mike MacEacheran walks us through the surreal yet riveting history of a naval fort off the English coast that has become a nation in its own right.

Heartlands: Jujo, wherein Rebecca Saunders takes us on a tour of the shopping street in the Jujo section of Tokyo, and we discover why it's one of the city's best-kept secrets.

Freiburg: Germany’s futuristic city set in a forest, wherein Kat Barber looks at how the old German city embraces its history but also looks to the future through green glasses.

Odds and Ends

A Cave Kingpin Is Buying Up America’s Underground. What’s His Plan?, wherein we learn about John Ackerman, who seeks out and buys underground caverns in rural Minnesota, and speculate about why he's doing it.

Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Master Auctioneer?, wherein Katy Vine attends a school for aspiring auctioneers in Texas and learns the ins and outs of that fast-talking trade.

Feeling Bullish: On My Great-Uncle, Gay Matador and Friend of Hemingway, wherein we learn how Brooklynite Sidney Franklin was drawn into the world of bullfighting, and how he and Ernest Hemingway entered into an unlikely friendship.

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

Someone is Wrong on the Internet: A Study in Pandemic Distraction, wherein Irina Dumitrescu recounts how easy it is to succumb to the many distractions available online, ones which not only puncture your productivity but also do you no good personally.

A plan to redesign the internet could make apps that no one controls, wherein we're introduced to efforts to create a truly decentralized internet, one that's out of the hands of the tech giants.

The rise and fall of Adobe Flash, wherein Richard Moss charts the birth, growth, and decline of a technology that, in some ways, brought the web to life but which also has its share of detractors (and for good reason).

Arts and Literature

How to cheat the bestseller list, wherein we learn how writers have, and continue to, buy large numbers of their own books to ensure that those books crack the top 10 of some bestseller list or the other.

El Topo: The weirdest western ever made, wherein we learn about Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky's cult acid western, and a bit about the auteur himself.

Remember Reading in Public?, wherein Nick Ripatrazone longs for the opportunity to once again read books in public spaces, an opportunity denied many by COVID-19.

History

The record-breaking jet which still haunts a country, wherein we learn about the Avro Arrow, Canada's attempt to develope a supersonic interceptor, and how its high cost killed the project.

A short history of door handles, we learn a little about the evolution of an object that we use every day and probably don't think too much (if anything) about.

The Dr. Strange of the American Revolution, wherein we learn a little about Benjamin Rush, one of the signers of America's Declaration of Independence and who was a pioneer in several areas and disciplines.

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

The unsurpassed 125-year-old network that feeds Mumbai, wherein we learn about the city's dabbawallas, who deliver thousands of lunches using low tech means, and how they're able to compete with the well-funded digital players who are trying to enter their world.

The Walkman, Forty Years On, wherein we learn how Sony's portable cassette players came into being and became the iPods of their day.

Dirty Tricks Of The Public Relations Industry, wherein Nick Slater looks at three techniques which the PR industry uses to distort reality and to sway the public.

Politics and Government

Can the liberal order be transformed by global government?, wherein we learn about the origins of the so-called liberal order, where it's going, the challenges it faces, and how it can overcome those challenges.

Abolish Oil, wherein Reinhold Martin argues that to have a truly Green New Deal, we need to do more than just stop using oil and get rid of the entire system of oil production, a system with a colonial legacy and which has left a trail of deaths.

How Corporations Try To Be More Human Than Humans, wherein Eli Zeger examines the good and bad (mostly bad) of recognizing corporations as people.

Technology

On COBOL, wherein Mike Loukides looks at the history of an early programming language, why it was so widely adopted, and we need more people who know and understand COBOL programs.

The Making of the Tech Worker Movement, wherein Ben Tarnoff takes us through the history of what led to the walkouts at several tech giants and why those walkouts are the start of a shift in the way people in that industry view themselves and what they do.

Notes from a Tech-Free Life, wherein Mark Boyle discusses why he turned his back on modern technology, and tried to make living my life.

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:

Writing

On Travel Writing, wherein Jason Wilson ponders what authentic travel, and travel writing, is and means, while also pondering the future of his craft.

Why Do Some Writers Burn Their Work?, wherein Alex George tries to answer that question, and comes to some surprising (and not-so-surprising) conclusions.

What Does It Mean to Be a Cult Writer?, wherein Ian Haydn Smith examines the idea of the cult writer and look at the various subcategories that wordsmiths branded with that label can inhabit.

Productivity

The Lost Art of True Rest, wherein Leo Babauta explains the need for use to rest not only our boidies but our minds as well, and offers some advice around how to do that.

How anxiety affects your focus, wherein we learn how stress and worry can decimate our working memory, and how the effects our personal and professional productivity.

Distracting myself – taking small bites, wherein David Johnson reminds himself (and us) of what I need to do when resistance creeps into my life.

Odds and Ends

Walking Is Making a Major Comeback, wherein Gloria Liu chronicles her discovery of walking as both a form of physical exercise and a way to work the shit out of your head.

Searching for Bee Swarms in the Heart of New York City, wherein Arthur Coté takes us into the world of urban beekeeping, and shares its unique challenges and joys.

Tea, Biscuits, and Empire: The Long Con of Britishness, wherein British expat Laurie Penny shows us the two sides of her home country, both of which are simultaneously fascinating and terrifying.

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:

Space

Interstellar space travel will have language complications for astronauts, wherein we learn that the language used by travellers (and their descendants) on long-duration missions could change so much as to be incomprehensible to folks on the Old Planet.

Chrysler's Radical Space Shuttle Design Was 50 Years Ahead of Its Time, wherein we get a glimpse of the radical, strange, and just plain innovative design that the automaker came up with for a reusable spacecraft.

The Trouble with Counting Alien Civilizations, wherein Caleb Sharf explains that it's difficult, if not downright futile, to try to estimate the number of extraterrestrial civilizations, especially when those estimates are based on how life developed on Earth.

The Dark Side of Technology

Auto Controllers, wherein we discover the world of the starter interrupt device, which lenders can use to disable someone's car and which can be both a safety hazard and ruthless tools of financial extraction.

Who Is Responsible When Autonomous Systems Fail?, wherein Madeleine Clare Elish discusses how blame is, and can be, apportioned when automation and AI go awry.

Your data makes the web personal, wherein Christina Morillo examines the good and the bad of the personalization algorithms used online.

Work

What the Dutch can teach the world about remote work, wherein Katie Bishop examines the cultural and technological reasons that have enabled companies and workers in the Netherlands to make remote working a more viable alternative.

The real cost of Amazon, wherein we get another look into the ecommerce giant's warehouses, this time with a focus on how it's reacting to both labour unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The death of the open-plan office? Not quite, but a revolution is in the air, wherein Andrew Wallace looks at the changes that open-plan offices are going through due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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

A quick note from the promote my own work department: I've just published Learning HTML: A Quick and Dirty Guide for Writers. Aimed at technical writers, bloggers, journalists, and content strategists, this ebook teaches the basics of formatting writing for the web. You can read a sample chapter and buy a copy of the ebook at Gumroad.

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

Crime

How Four Americans Robbed the Bank of England, wherein we learn how a group of 19th century American con men used the laxness of English banks to try to defraud those banks of a pile of money, and how they almost got away with it.

The Master Thief, wherein we learn about how Sean Murphy became an accomplished thief, how he pulled off the biggest score of his career, and how that score caused his downfall.

A Thousand Pounds of Dynamite, wherein we hear the story of how a Hungarian refugee and former successful businessman roped his sons into a brilliant, but failed, extortion scheme involving a bomb that couldn't be defused and a Lake Tahoe casino.

Work

Death of the office, wherein Catherine Nixey explores that origins and rise of the modern office, why it became the symbol it became, and how its decline started.

Sleeping with Amazon, wherein David Gutowski recounts his time working for Amazon Books, and how that job was both a blessing and a curse.

How the World’s Most Venomous Fish Convinced Me to Stop Working Myself to Death, wherein Ali Francis looks back at her descent into the dangerous pit of the workaholic, and how almost dying on a surfing trip to Barbados made her reconsider her working life.

Odds and Ends

Last Pole, wherein Julian Chehirian recounts his attempts, as an employee of the state of New Jersey, to learn more about the former site of an AT&T transatlantic telephone receiver site.

The ingredients for a longer life, wherein David Robson explores why people in so-called Blue Zones live longer than folks residing elsewhere in the world.

What Do They Know of English, Who Only English Know?, wherein Colin Marshall ponders foreign languages, the people who speak more than one of them, and the reasons those people learn multiple languages.

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

Scott Nesbitt

Enter your email to subscribe to updates.