Kickoff For August 17, 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.

Let’s get this Monday started with these links:


Reflections on Project Orion, wherein physicist Jeremy Bernstein looks back on his participation in a project to build a spaceship driven by nuclear bombs, and shares something that Freeman Dyson (a driving force behind the project) wrote about it.

Here’s how we could mine the moon for rocket fuel, wherein we learn about some ideas to do just that, and about some of the obstacles that are in the way.

The Case Against Mars, wherein Byron Williston outlines the arguments against colonizing space, which have little to do with technology and a lot to do with humanity’s lack of maturity and development.


Can we escape from information overload?, wherein Tom Lamont explores what happens when people try to cut themselves off from digital stimulation and distraction.

Want to Be More Productive? Try Doing Less, wherein Kare Northrup argues that productivity isn’t about having a jam-packed to-do list, and offers some adivce about how to scale back to get more done.

How to Work Alone, wherein we get some useful tips for creating the space where intense concentration becomes easily accessible.

Odds and Ends

Why Japan is obsessed with paper, wherein we learn the whys and hows of Japan’s love affair with products made from wood pulp, and why that love seems to be gradually fading away.

The Acrobatic Immigrant Who Invented Pilates in a Prisoner of War Camp, wherein we learn how Joseph Pilates used a World War One internment camp on the Isle of Man as a laboratory to develop the exercise system that bears his name.

How Japan’s global image morphed from military empire to eccentric pop-culture superpower, wherein Marc Bain examines how our view of Japan has changed over the decades, but with one constant always there: the power of the country’s pop culture, and that pop culture’s appeal worldwide.

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

Scott Nesbitt