Kickoff For July 2, 2018

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.

2018 has been a slow, reserved year for me. That’s by design. I needed some time to pull back, to recharge, and to rethink. I’m slowly ramping things up, and The Monday Kickoff was the first part of that process.

I’m also working on a new project. It’s not earth shaking, but I think it could be useful and interesting. Keep an eye on Mastodon, Twitter, and this space for details.

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


New Theory Cracks Open the Black Box of Deep Learning, wherein we’re exposed to a concept called instruction bottleneck and how that might be the key to better, more advanced machine learning.

Fahrenheit 2017, wherein we read about the 2017 Thomas Fire, which devastated a swath of California, and learn of the human toll the disaster took on Ventura county.

We Depend On Plastic. Now, We’re Drowning in It, wherein we discover the dangers of microplastics in the world’s oceans, and how they became that danger — not just to the oceans themselves but to life of all sizes in those oceans and, by extension, us.

Arts and Literature

The First Film Ever Streamed on the Internet is Kind of Crazy, wherein Wax, a very strange and very disjointed piece of cinema, is given both a critical and popular re-examination. Kind of crazy indeed …

When the Movies Went West, wherein we learn how, almost by accident, early American filmmakers migrated to California and how the first seeds of what grew to become Hollywood were sown.

Bibliomaniacs in Battersea, wherein we get a guided glimpse at the strange and sometimes wonderful world of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association Rare Books Fair and into the world of book collectors who don’t necessarily collect books in order to read them.


Deadly Chinese Fentanyl Is Creating a New Era of Drug Kingpins, wherein we learn about the new global drug trade through the story of Yan Xiaobing, an unassmuing chemicals distributor in China who the U.S. Justice Department has indicted on charges trafficking various drug analogues.

“I Killed Them All.” The Life Of One Of America’s Bloodiest Hitmen, wherein we discover the exploits and motivations of Jose Martinez, a ruthless yet personable contract killer responsible for dozens of murders across 12 U.S. states.

How Britain let Russia launder its dirty money, wherein we learn how huge sums of Russian money is laundered in the UK, they reasons why, and why it’s allowed to continue.

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

Scott Nesbitt