Kickoff For February 18, 2019

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.

This week’s reads were a lot easier to pick. Why? Some of the subjects were on my mind, while others jumped straight out at me off the screen. Well, not in a 3D sort of way …

Let’s get this Monday started with these links:

History and Archaeology

Do civilisations collapse?, wherein we learn that we might need to revise the way in which we think about how states and civilizations decline and peter out.

Axes of Evil, wherein we learn how a deadly incident involving a poplar tree at the Korean DMZ prompted a response that could have developed into something even more tragic.

Mesmerising Science: The Franklin Commission and the Modern Clinical Trial, wherein we join Benjamin Franklin in 1874 Paris as he leads an investigation into animal magnetism and it’s most famed (and infamous) proponent Anton Mesmer.

Arts and Literature

What Was Virginia Woolf Looking for in the Night Sky?, wherein we learn of the author’s fascination with stargazing, and how that fascination bled into her writing.

A good bookshop is not just about the books – at last we realise that, wherein Sian Cain explains that an independent bookshop is more than a place to buy the latest bestseller — they’re agents of culture rather than just instruments of commerce.

How the CIA Helped Shape the Creative Writing Scene in America, wherein we get a glimpse into how conservative, and later CIA, support for the Iowa Writer’s Workshop churned out a couple of generations of writers whose work was used to battle Communism.


Tools Are Not Skills, wherein we’re reminded of something I’ve been saying for years: the cultivation of skills in pursuit of mastery of one’s craft is a worthwhile goal in itself.

Why Is Japan Still So Attached to Paper?, wherein Nikil Saval explores why one of the world’s most technologically-advanced nations still embraces a millenia-old way of recording and sharing information.

The Rise and Fall of the English Sentence, wherein we’re treated to an analysis of complexity in both written and spoken language, and learn why sentences in English have gradually become less complex.

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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