Kickoff For August 24, 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.

Over the last few weeks I’ve received emails from a handful of readers, thanking me. Not (just) for these posts, but also for introducing them to new publications. I’m happy to be of service.

Let’s get this Monday started with these links:


The Rise of Junk Science, wherein we discover the rapidly-growing number of academic journals that publish low-quality research, and the harm that those journals do not just to the academic and scientific communities but to knowledge as a whole.

Feynman | Making the extraordinary look easy, wherein we learn a little about how the legendary physicist did what he did, and discover a bit more about his various sides (including some not-so-nice ones).

Why are we losing the wayfinding skills of our ancestors?, wherein we learn how the ability to find our way was baked into our DNA, why people lose that ability, and what happens when they do.


The Kentucky Miner Who Scammed Americans by Claiming He Was Hitler and Plotting a ‘Revolt’ With ‘Spaceships’, wherein we learn about William Henry Johnson, and African-American coal miner and preacher, who from 1946 to 1956 managed to convince some German Americans that he was Hitler preparing for a comeback and scammed thousands from them.

The Norwegian Attack on Heavy Water That Deprived the Nazis of the Atomic Bomb, wherein we learn about Operation Gunnerside, a move to cripple Germany’s heavy water production capabilities in World War Two.

Into the Unknown, wherein we discover how Antarctic explorer Douglas Mawson pushed through a desperate, deadly situation to survive in one of the most inhospitable places on the planet.


The Real-Life Bank Heist that Reads Like an Oceans 11 Sequel, wherein we learn about an audacious heist at a Buenos Aires bank, and how this seemingly perfect crime was undone by marital strife.

What to Make of Murph the Surf?, wherein we hear the story of Jack Roland Murphy, a former champion surfer and violent criminal, and his attempts to right his past wrongs.

The Malaysian Job, wherein we learn about a financial scam with its roots in Asia, but which reached around the globe — sometimes with deadly consequences, and which further tarnished the reputation of a large investment bank.

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

Scott Nesbitt