Kickoff For August 26, 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.

I just realized that a couple of days ago marked the seventh anniversary of my arrival in New Zealand. It doesn’t seem like that long ago, but it seems longer. In a good way. I’m looking forward to what the next seven years hold.

Let’s get this Monday started with these links:

Online Life

Can “Indie” Social Media Save Us?, wherein Cal Newport ponders whether moving away from services like Facebook and Twitter to more decentralized ones can change our online lives (for the better).

The information arms race can’t be won, but we have to keep fighting, wherein Cailin O’Connor examines the never-ending battle against misinformation and disinformation online, and explains that while the information wars we’re fighting may never end we have to keep fighting new threats as they emerge.

The Internet Has Made Dupes—and Cynics—of Us All, wherein Zeynep Tufekci ponders the two-sided coin that’s our relationship with information on the internet: do we believe it or distrust it? And how do we regain the upper hand?


The Manned Orbiting Laboratory and the search for a military role for astronauts, wherein we learn why the US Air Force’s Manned Orbital Laboratory project was doomed to die before it came anywhere near becoming a reality.

The last Soviet citizen: The cosmonaut who was left behind in space, wherein we hear the story of Sergei Krikalev who was aboard the Mir space station when the Soviet Union broke up, and who had to stay put in orbit for 10 months before he could come back to Earth.

The Eagle has crashed: the top secret UPWARD program and Apollo disasters, wherein we learn how NASA used spy satellite technology for lunar surveys in the 1960s, and how that technology would have been used in later, crewed missions.

Odds and Ends

Bellingcat and How Open Source Reinvented Investigative Journalism, wherein Muhammad Idrees Ahmad charts the growth of open source journalism in recent years, and looks at the push back from more staid, conservative media.

The Quest for B. Cooper, wherein the chance discovery of a handwritten diary in a Kampala bookstore sent David MacDougall on a quest to learn more about the diary’s original owner.

The Hiding Place: Inside the World’s First Long-Term Storage Facility for Highly Radioactive Nuclear Waste, wherein Robert Macfarlane takes us on a tour of Onkalo, a 1,500-foot deep tomb on a Finnish island that will be used to house the most lethal waste that humans produce, and teaches us about the problems and perils of storing such material over the span of centuries.

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

Scott Nesbitt