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.

It's hard to believe that February is coming to an end. Sure, it's the shortest month but no one said it has to fly by the fastest.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Science

The future that graphene built, wherein we're (re)introduced to the miracle material graphene, to the similar materials it spawned, and the uses of those materials now and in the future.

What we get wrong about time, wherein we learn that our minds experience and interpret time differently than what physics tells us about time, and that no matter what the way in which time warps in certain situations will continue to surprise and unsettle us.

Mind the Gap Between Science and Religion, wherein Sabine Hossenfelder argues that some of her fellow scientists need to remember not to confuse postulates with conclusions and mathematics with reality.

Technology

The Crypto Family Farm, wherein we learn about an American family that makes its way by trading cryptocurrency, and at the same time learn a bit more about the history and volatility of those currencies.

The Perfect User, wherein we're introduced to the humane tech movement and learn that if left to its own devices, that movement could result ina relatively small group of Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs, developers, and designers are reforming humanity according to a privileged set of values and ideals

The rise and fall of the PlayStation supercomputers, wherein Mary Beth Griggs looks back at a time not so long ago when intrepid researchers strung together tens of the gaming consoles to create cheap and fast supercomputers.

Writing

George Orwell on Writing and the Four Questions Great Writers Must Ask Themselves, wherein Maria Popova takes a closer look at the writing advice doled out by the English novelist/journalist/essayist, and show us that advice is relevant today. Perhaps more so than in Orwell's time.

What Your Draft (and Its Problems) Says About You, wherein Helen Betya Rubinstein examines common problems writers of fiction run into, the reasons for those problem, and offers ways around them.

Seven Tips From Ernest Hemingway on How to Write Fiction, wherein we get some excellent advice for writing not just fiction but anything.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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

It's been another week which has been something of a meat grinder. But I was still able to pull together this week's Kickoff. That's an achievement (however small), isn't it?

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Online Life

The good internet is history, wherein Phillip Maciak laments the passing of several groundbreaking online publications, and ponders what (if anything) will take their places.

I Quit Social Media for a Year and Nothing Magical Happened, wherein Josh C. Simmons looks back at how and why he dumped Facebook and Twitter, his struggles in doing so, and what he got out of turning his back on social media.

Please, My Digital Archive. It’s Very Sick, wherein Tanner Howard ponders the problems that face people trying to preserve their online presences, some of which don't have to to with the technology.

Ideas

Why learning a new language is like an illicit love affair, wherein Marianna Pogosyan explains the emotions and frustrations involved in trying to learn another language, and how that process can subtly change the way in which we communicate in our native tongues.

Ghost Notes, wherein Meredyth Cole ponders the role of smell in forming memories, and the difficulties of doing that on the internet which has no discernable scent.

Citizens need to know numbers, wherein David Spiegelhalter argues the everyone needs some degree of statistical literacy to make sense of, and (when necessary) call BS on, all the data that comes our way.

Odds and Ends

We were supposed to be living in pod houses, wherein Hanson O’Haver looks back at the Futuro house, a flying saucer-shaped habitat, and explores why it never caught on.

Why the world is running out of sand, wherein we discover why the sand used in construction and manufacturing has become such a valuable commodity, and how collecting the good stuff has major environmental and economic consequences.

Churches and States, wherein we dip into the what's new is old again file and learn that the ideas and arguments and objections around the rebuilding of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris are very much like the ones around similar reconstruction efforts in the past.

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 those last 168 hours have been hectic ones. A lot got done, but not as much as it seems. Mainly because I didn't get to tackle what I wanted to tackle. I hope the last seven days have been better for you.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

History

The world's oldest recipe decoded, wherein we learn how a group of scholars deciphered a 4,000-year-old Middle Eastern recipe, and discovered a bit about everyday life millenia ago.

Stasiland, wherein Anna Funder reminisces about her visit in the 1990s to what were the offices of the East German security service in Leipzig, and describes the chilling absurdity she encountered.

The Communist Plot to Assassinate George Orwell, wherein we learn about how the writer managed to evade capture, and most certainly murder, at the hands of Soviet agents in civil war era Spain.

Business

How Neil Young's failed anti-streaming business helped the music industry, wherein we learn how the legendary musician failed to read both the market and the advances in streaming technology, but how his ideas inspired other services to deliver high-quality streaming audio.

Big Calculator: How Texas Instruments Monopolized Math Class, wherein we discover how the tech giant made its wares the de-facto standard in American math classes, and the effects that has on students who can't afford them and teachers who regularly pay for those calculators out of their own pockets.

How airships could return to our crowded skies, wherein we learn that the airship industry never died and discover how it's started a slow, steady resurgence.

Arts and Literature

The Resurrection of the Greatest Sci-Fi Writer You’ve Never Read, wherein we learn about John M. Ford and his literary work, and the efforts of Isaac Butler (and others) to get Ford's work back into print.

Good Bad Bad Good, wherein Adam Wilson analyzes TV from this century to determine if it truly is as good as people believe, and tries to decide whether or not those shows marked a new golden age of TV.

The Book Disease, wherein we learn about early 19th century bibliomania and about Thomas Frognall Dibdin who popularize it in England.

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.

Another month begins. And with it comes some interesting (well, I think so) and varied articles for your reading pleasure. Don't say I never get you anything.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Space

Intelligent Ways to Search for Extraterrestrials, wherein we learn about how some researchers are trying to find alien life, not by scanning for transmissions but by looking for physical traces of alien technology.

V2: The Nazi rocket that launched the space age, wherein Richard Hollingham discusses how the fabled German rocket from the last days of World War II provided the platform from which the subsequent Space Race started.

The Most Precious Commodity of the Next Space Age, wherein we learn why gravity is a key factor in successfully living in and exploring space, and why artificially simulating Earth-like gravity is so difficult.

Crime

The Story of America's Most Prolific Counterfeiter, wherein we enter the world of Frank Bourassa, an ambitious Canadian career criminal who undertook an audacious counterfeiting scheme that drew the attention of both the RCMP and the Secret Service, and learn how that scheme unravelled.

The China Connection: How One D.E.A. Agent Cracked a Global Fentanyl Ring, wherein we learn of the relentless and gruelling work of drug enforcement agent Mike Buemi (and others), work that helped put a dent in a large, international drug trafficking operation.

The 70-year-old retiree who became America’s worst counterfeiter, wherein we hear the story of Emerich Juettner, an elderly junk collector who passed some of the worst fake $1 bills ever made but who got away with it for close to 10 years.

Science

Science is Not About Getting More “Likes”, wherein we learn that scientists regularly dismiss alternatives to so-called accepted theories because they're not popular, but that doing so diminishes science.

Three things the scientific community can do to filter sketchy research, wherein we learn (again) that some scientists are encouraged to publish poor-quality research papers and what other scientists can do to prevent that sub-standard research from circulating more widely amongst their peers.

The woman who reshaped maths, wherein we're introduced to Hilda Geiringer, a pioneer of applied mathematics who, despite her achievements, never broke through the glass ceiling of male-dominated American academia.

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.

Another Auckland Anniversary Day has rolled around, which means a day off. Not that the entire day will be me with my feet up with a drink and a book. I've got things to do, and will be doing them. Well, most of those things ...

A quick note of thanks to the folks who recently pledged support. While not expected, that support is appreciated.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Business

How Facebook Bought a Police Force, wherein we read the tale of how the social media giant paid the city of Menlo Park to form a special unit that patrols its campus and the area around it, and the negative effect that's had on residents of the area.

Amazon’s Next-Day Delivery Has Brought Chaos And Carnage To America’s Streets — But The World’s Biggest Retailer Has A System To Escape The Blame, wherein we discover that the way in which the ecommerce giant treats its warehouse workers extends to the delivery drivers it contracts, with dangerous and sometimes lethal results.

Bally Sente: Saviour of the Arcades?, wherein we learn about videogame pioneer Nolan Bushnell's grand plan from the 1980s to inject new life into the then-flagging arcade game business, and how those plans never came to fruition.

Writing

On Tastelessness, wherein Adam O'Fallon Price argues that short fiction doesn't need vague endings, and that great short fiction is usually unsubtle, pushing through a potentially decorous finale with all the rude impatience of a business traveler catching the red-eye home.

Making, wherein Esther Rutter contrasts the creativity involved in both knitting and writing, and concludes that the power of my hands and head are interlinked.

Don’t Be a Jerk to Your Online Humor Editor, wherein we learn a little more about how freelance writers should properly care for and feed editors of all stripes, and why that's care and feeding is important.

Odds and Ends

Stone Wall, wherein Winifred Bird pens a short paen to the meticulously hand-built stone walls that dot the Japanese countryside, walls which are slowly crumbling and being replaced.

The 'King of Quarters' Defends His Video Game Records, wherein we get a peek into the (overly) competitive world of arcade videogaming, how one record-setting player was accused of cheating, and how he's trying to clear his name and reinstate his records.

Hospital checklists are meant to save lives — so why do they often fail?, wherein we learn that checklists in any environment (not just in hospitals) require careful introduction, shepherding, advocacy, and implementation to be successful.

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:

History

Why Lafcadio Hearn's Ghost Stories Still Haunt Us, wherein we delve into the writer's life and motivations, and why his works still grip us over 100 years after his death.

The CIA's Secret Quest For Mind Control: Torture, LSD And A 'Poisoner In Chief', wherein we learn about the work of Sidney Gottlieb, who ran the CIA's MK-ULTRA mind control program, and how he was the unwitting godfather of the entire LSD counterculture.

The Soviet InterNyet, wherein we're told the tale of how two attempts to create an internet-like network in the Soviet Union were scuttled, and the warning that provides to the internet today.

Online Life

We street-proof our kids. Why aren't we data-proofing them?, wherein we learn how insidious and invasive data tracking by tech giants is, and how we're failing young people by not better teaching them how to protect their data and their privacy.

404 Page Not Found, wherein Kate Wagner waxes nostalgic about the internet she came of age using, before it became the fragmented, commercial, digital wreck we know today.

Technostress: how social media keeps us coming back for more even when it makes us unhappy, wherein we discover some research that shows how addictive social media can be, and how some people try to deal with the stress of that addiction but only get sucked further into the black hole that's social media.

Arts and Literature

'Your ego has to be left at the door': the secret life of the understudy, wherein we hear, first hand, about the experiences of talented people who work in the shadow of others but whose efforts are key to the success of those others.

Translation and the Family of Things, wherein writer Crystal Hana Kim recounts how she discovered that poetry helped here find new meaning within and across linguistic boundaries in her own family (and in the wider world).

The Chelsea Affect, wherein playwright Arthur Miller recalls the months during which he lived in New York's Hotel Chelsea, and the parade of interesting and downright strange characters that passed through the hotel's doors during 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.

The last seven days made up a strange roller coaster of a week, didn't they? I hope that doesn't set the tone for 2020.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Environment

Is paper really better than plastic?, wherein we learn more about the process of making paper than we might want to, but also learn that process (and what happens afterwards) isn't always as clean and sustainable as we suspect.

The Planet Needs A New Internet, wherein we discover how the world's changing climate will endanger the infrastructure of today's internet, and learn about the kinds of changes we need to make the future internet sustainable.

Why 'flight shame' is making people swap planes for trains, wherein we learn more about the growing flight shaming phenomenon, how it's changing the travel habits of some, and why it might not be for everyone.

Technology

How We Misremember the Internet's Origins, wherein Ingrid Burrington explains that the internet came to be as a result of ad hoc actions and experiments undertaken with little sense of foresight or posterity, and not grand and idealistic plans.

Unix at 50: How the OS that powered smartphones started from failure, wherein we get a bit more of the history of the venerable and ubiquitous operating system and learn how its creator didn't let a significant defeat stop them.

Nokia's collapse turned a sleepy town in Finland into an internet wonderland, wherein we learn how the town of Oulu in Finland's far north bounced back after the mobile phone giant, which was the area's biggest employer, went into a downward spiral.

Ideas

Nietzsche's Eternal Return, wherein Alex Ross examines the continuing appeal of the German philosopher's thinking to people of a range of intellectual and political persuasions.

Fugitive Libraries, wherein Shannon Mattern looks at the history of black libraries in America, and how librarians and others are trying to remedy the lack of diversity in libraries.

Why Data Is Never Raw, wherein we learn a few fundamental truths about what we call data, one of those being that it's not always as pure and untainted as we like to think it is.

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 welcome to 2020. I hope the new year is treating you well. OK, it's only six days old but why not be optimistic?

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Business

The fight to stop Nestlé from taking America's water to sell in plastic bottles, wherein we hear yet another tale of a mega corporation profiting from what's essentially a public resource and not giving much (if anything) back, and about the efforts to fight that corporation.

Beware Arguments For Privatization, wherein we learn that handing public assets over to corporations to run might not be the best approach, but instead that you have to invest in your public resources if you want them to be good.

I Accidentally Uncovered a Nationwide Scam on Airbnb, wherein we discover how Allie Conti stumbled upon a wide-ranging fraud perpetrated by fake Airbnb hosts, and what the company did (and didn't) do when alerted to that fraud.

Work

I Have No Idea What “Hard Work” Means, wherein Aisling McCrae examines the phrase hard work, and concludes that proclaiming that you work hard doesn't make you exceptional or even special.

We have the tools and technology to work less and live better, wherein Toby Phillips argues that working less and having a good life is possible, but only if we structure our work and society towards that goal.

The Company That Branded Your Millennial Life Is Pivoting To Burnout, wherein we're left to wonder whether we need a startup, and the brands it promotes, to tell us that it's OK to enjoy daily life.

Odds and Ends

Gimme Shelter, wherein Wes Enzinna takes us on a personal tour of the housing situation in the Bay Area, through the lens of his life in a tiny backyard shack over the space of 11 months.

The Way Words Mean, wherein we discover that words an have several levels of meaning, one of which also offers levels of subtlety in what we say and write.

He Never Intended To Become A Political Dissident, But Then He Started Beating Up Tai Chi Masters, wherein we hear the story of Xu Xiaodong, a Beijing mixed martial arts instructor known for speaking his mind on a variety of political topics but who saves his (physical) wrath for fraudulent proponents of traditional martial arts.

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.

Another year is about to wrap up. So is another decade. The 2010s weren't what I imagined they'd be when I was 10 years old. I doubt the 2020s will, either. But you never know ...

Let's get the last Monday of 2019 started with these links:

History

The Diplomatic Gambit That Opened Cuba Up to the World, wherein we learn that Fidel Castro's attempt at rapproachment with the United States in the 1970s had several consequences that El Jefe didn't intend and didn't foresee.

The mysterious ancient figure challenging China’s history, where we discover a Chinese civilization that prospered almost two millenia before what's accepted as China's first real dynasty.

The “Hidden Armies” of Britain That Battled the Nazis, wherein we get a brief history of the origins of the Special Operations Executive, an organization designed to wage subversive warfare and laid the basis for similar organizations that followed.

Productivity

To Upgrade Your Leisure, Downgrade Your Phone, wherein Cal Newport shares some tips that can help you get back to enjoying your free time, without the mill stone of your smartphone weighing you down or distracting you.

Creating the Habit of Not Being Busy, wherein Leo Babauta shares some strategies that can help us get out of the I'm too busy trap.

Your productivity hacks are useless without this one essential theory, wherein we rediscover something I've been saying for years: productivity isn't about tools or systems, it's about people. And applying the principles of metacognition to what you do can help you become more productive.

Travel

Standing Room Only: On Overtravel and the Joy of the Unsung, wherein travel writer Thomas Swick laments the phenomenon of overtourism, but also delights in the places (both at home and abroad) that most tourists don't know about.

How Theme Parks Kept My Globetrotting Family Grounded, wherein Lacy Warner details her life around the world as the child of a pair of career diplomats, and how amusement parks helped ground her and her family whenever they were back home in the U.S.

The British island that’s not in the UK, wherein we learn a bit more about the Isle of Man, an island that's more apart from the UK than it's part of 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

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.

The silly season is well and truly upon us. Not that I really care. Christmas isn't my thing. But if it is yours, I hope you have a merry one. And if it isn't, I hope you get some time to kick back and relax.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Crime

The True-Crime Writer in Cellblock B4, wherein we discover how convicted fraudster Matthew Cox used writing to come to grips with himself and to learn about his motivations for his crimes, and to try to turn his life around.

The Tragic, Violent History of the Brooklyn Waterfront, wherein Nathan Ward tells the tale of how the murder of New York City longshoreman and labour activist Pete Panto not only inspired his fellow dock workers but also quite a bit of literature and film.

Inside the Phone Company Secretly Run By Drug Traffickers, wherein we delve into the murky world of firms that provide custom, encrypted smartphones to criminals.

Business and Economics

High finance is wrecking the economy and the planet—but it won’t reform itself, wherein we learn that the financial world's touted reforms are like lipstick on a particularly hideous pig, and that deeper, systemic changes are needed to truly change the industry.

I Worked at Capital One for Five Years. This Is How We Justified Piling Debt on Poor Customers., wherein we learn just how low one financial company goes to try to boost its customer numbers and to keep those hapless customers in its thrall.

Inside TurboTax’s 20-Year Fight to Stop Americans From Filing Their Taxes for Free, wherein we get a glimpse of the dirty tricks one company has been using to retain its market share and its profits.

Odds and Ends

What it was like to fly the baddest airplane the world has ever known, wherein former test pilot and astronaut Joe Engle recounts his experiences at the controls of the X-15 rocketplane.

Union Station, wherein David A. Banks argues that we need more public train systems, despite what some right-wing commentator say, and explains how doing that contains lessons for nationalizing digital infrastructure.

The Smartest People in the Room? What Silicon Valley’s Supposed Obsession with Tech-Free Private Schools Really Tells Us, wherein Morgan G. Ames reminds us that people with deep expertise in one area don't, despite what those people may believe, don't have deep expertise or knowledge in other fields.

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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