Kickoff For December 10, 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.

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.


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