Kickoff For November 25, 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’m not in any mood to mess around with marginally-witty or barely-profound intros today, so instead let’s get this Monday started with these links:


The Theranos Effect: When Cutting-Edge Scientists Are Frauds, wherein we get a brief glimpse at some researchers who perpetuated medical research frauds, why they did it, and the aftermath of those frauds.

The Storytelling Computer, wherein we’re introduced to the work of the late AI researcher Patrick Henry Winston who believed that storytelling was so central to human intelligence, it was also the key to creating sentient machines.

Publish houses of brick, not mansions of straw, wherein William G. Kaelin Jr. argues that researchers need to publish scientific papers with more depth rather than papers packed with overly-broad claims and piles of data and citations.


Blast From the Past, wherein various experts discuss a secret nuclear weapons test in 1979, carried out by an ally of the U.S.,which the U.S. covered up, and the implications that test could have on us today.

Shackleton’s Medical Kit, wherein Gavin Francis reflects on his time as medical officer at Halley Research Station in Antarctica, and ponders how medicine has advanced since the time Ernest Shackleton explored the frozen continent.

The Only WWII Battle On American Soil Left 5 Dead — And No Trace Of The Enemy, wherein we learn a bit about 1942’s so-called Battle of Los Angeles which, in a country stoked by fear and paranoia, caused damage to the city but which resulted in no enemy losses.

Odds and Ends

An Illustrated History of the Picnic Table, wherein we trace the evolution of the humble picnic table from its origins as an ad-hoc creation to something that changed our relationship with the outdoors.

The Mysterious Evacuation of Sunspot Observatory, wherein we learn about the conspiracy theories surrounding the sudden closure of a research facility in New Mexico, and the very earthbound explanation for that closure.

Curses! The birth of the bleep and modern American censorship, wherein we discover the history of the famous broadcast censorship bleep, and how it’s been used, abused, and parodied over the decades.

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

Scott Nesbitt