Kickoff For January 11, 2021

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.

This week, a mix of nine interesting reads that don't fit into any single topic. That doesn't mean they're not worth diving into, though. So what are you waiting for?

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Loving the Alien, wherein Stephen Rodrick dives into the wacky UFO subculture and shows us how fervent the believers really are.

The Privileged Have Entered Their Escape Pods, wherein Douglas Rushkoff talks about how, thanks to COVID-19, escapist and survivalist fantasies are becoming a reality for people with the means to step away.

The forgotten history of how automakers invented the crime of “jaywalking”, wherein we learn how big business helped turn the streets into the domain of the car, to the detriment of pedestrians.

The companies that help people disappear, wherein we learn about why some people in Japan abandon their lives and about the firms that help make the process of vanishing easier.

My Dad, the Globetrotting Businessman, Paleographer...and Spy?, wherein Julia Métraux delves into the stories her father told her as a child and discovers that there's even more to him than she thought but not quite as much as she imagined.

The cheap pen that changed writing forever. wherein Stephen Dowling explores the history and development of the ballpoint pen and how it became the ubiquitous writing instrument.

This 'Modern' Invention Is Really 1,000 Years Old, Researchers Discover, wherein we dip into the what's new is old again files and learn that the process to create chromium steel was first used in Iran over 900 years ago.

People Are Discovering the Joy of Actually Talking on a Phone, wherein we learn that thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are opting to connect with close contacts via phone than by digital means.

The intriguing maps that reveal alternate histories, wherein Samuel Arbesman explores *imagined cartographies** and how they point to worlds that might have been.

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

Scott Nesbitt