Kickoff For February 10, 2020

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.

And those last 168 hours have been hectic ones. A lot got done, but not as much as it seems. Mainly because I didn’t get to tackle what I wanted to tackle. I hope the last seven days have been better for you.

Let’s get this Monday started with these links:


The world’s oldest recipe decoded, wherein we learn how a group of scholars deciphered a 4,000-year-old Middle Eastern recipe, and discovered a bit about everyday life millenia ago.

Stasiland, wherein Anna Funder reminisces about her visit in the 1990s to what were the offices of the East German security service in Leipzig, and describes the chilling absurdity she encountered.

The Communist Plot to Assassinate George Orwell, wherein we learn about how the writer managed to evade capture, and most certainly murder, at the hands of Soviet agents in civil war era Spain.


How Neil Young’s failed anti-streaming business helped the music industry, wherein we learn how the legendary musician failed to read both the market and the advances in streaming technology, but how his ideas inspired other services to deliver high-quality streaming audio.

Big Calculator: How Texas Instruments Monopolized Math Class, wherein we discover how the tech giant made its wares the de-facto standard in American math classes, and the effects that has on students who can’t afford them and teachers who regularly pay for those calculators out of their own pockets.

How airships could return to our crowded skies, wherein we learn that the airship industry never died and discover how it’s started a slow, steady resurgence.

Arts and Literature

The Resurrection of the Greatest Sci-Fi Writer You’ve Never Read, wherein we learn about John M. Ford and his literary work, and the efforts of Isaac Butler (and others) to get Ford’s work back into print.

Good Bad Bad Good, wherein Adam Wilson analyzes TV from this century to determine if it truly is as good as people believe, and tries to decide whether or not those shows marked a new golden age of TV.

The Book Disease, wherein we learn about early 19th century bibliomania and about Thomas Frognall Dibdin who popularize it in England.

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

Scott Nesbitt