Kickoff For December 30, 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.

Another year is about to wrap up. So is another decade. The 2010s weren't what I imagined they'd be when I was 10 years old. I doubt the 2020s will, either. But you never know ...

Let's get the last Monday of 2019 started with these links:

History

The Diplomatic Gambit That Opened Cuba Up to the World, wherein we learn that Fidel Castro's attempt at rapproachment with the United States in the 1970s had several consequences that El Jefe didn't intend and didn't foresee.

The mysterious ancient figure challenging China’s history, where we discover a Chinese civilization that prospered almost two millenia before what's accepted as China's first real dynasty.

The “Hidden Armies” of Britain That Battled the Nazis, wherein we get a brief history of the origins of the Special Operations Executive, an organization designed to wage subversive warfare and laid the basis for similar organizations that followed.

Productivity

To Upgrade Your Leisure, Downgrade Your Phone, wherein Cal Newport shares some tips that can help you get back to enjoying your free time, without the mill stone of your smartphone weighing you down or distracting you.

Creating the Habit of Not Being Busy, wherein Leo Babauta shares some strategies that can help us get out of the I'm too busy trap.

Your productivity hacks are useless without this one essential theory, wherein we rediscover something I've been saying for years: productivity isn't about tools or systems, it's about people. And applying the principles of metacognition to what you do can help you become more productive.

Travel

Standing Room Only: On Overtravel and the Joy of the Unsung, wherein travel writer Thomas Swick laments the phenomenon of overtourism, but also delights in the places (both at home and abroad) that most tourists don't know about.

How Theme Parks Kept My Globetrotting Family Grounded, wherein Lacy Warner details her life around the world as the child of a pair of career diplomats, and how amusement parks helped ground her and her family whenever they were back home in the U.S.

The British island that’s not in the UK, wherein we learn a bit more about the Isle of Man, an island that's more apart from the UK than it's part of it.

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

Scott Nesbitt