The Monday Kickoff

Start your week with nine curated reads, served fresh each Monday

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.

We're a week into a new year. I hope things are looking good, or looking up, for you. It's too early to say how the year is going to go, but we can all be positive, can't we?

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

The Horrors of Facebook

'It's digital colonialism': how Facebook's free internet service has failed its users, wherein we discover that some internet might not be better than no internet, and how services like Facebook's Free Basics can contribute to the spread of misinformation and track users.

The Autocracy App, wherein we read about how Facebook doesn't just undermine privacy but also inflicts harm on democracies around the globe, and just how difficult it might be to reign in the company and wean people off it.

“He Doesn’t Believe in It”: Mark Zuckerberg Has Never Cared About Your Privacy, and He’s Not Going to Change, wherein we see how Facebook's problems with (your) privacy stem from the attitudes of the people at the top of the company, and how most users don't seem to care.

Productivity

The lost art of concentration: being distracted in a digital world, wherein we're (re)introduced to the various ways the digital world has pummelled our concentration and attention, and learn some effective techniques for getting them back.

What’s All This About Journaling?, wherein yet another person discovers the productivity (and therapeutic) benefits of writing in a journal — benefits researchers are actually studying.

How productivity tools hurt your work relationships, wherein we discover that while so-called productivity tools can give us a boost, they can do so at the cost of face-to-face interaction with our co-workers and teams.

Odds and Ends

How Curry Became a Japanese Naval Tradition, wherein we learn about the Japanese navy using a unique take on the venerable Indian dish to stave off beriberi, and how that dish became popular with wider Japanese society.

The Past, Present, and Future of 'Asteroids', wherein the origins of the classic arcade game are presented to us, we discover its influence on future programmers is presented to us, and we learn why Asteroids remains popular decades after its debut.

The Time Capsule That's as Big as Human History, wherein we're told the tale of Martin Kunze's efforts to create a time capsule, deep within an Austrian salt mine, that consists of ceramic tablets preserving the stories of ordinary people around the world.

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

Scott Nesbitt


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

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.

It's hard to believe 2018 is about to come to an end — that's how quickly the year has flashed by. To be honest, it's been a mixed year for me. Low key, but also occasionally disappointing. Let's hope 2019 turns things around. For us all. Everywhere.

And let's keep this thought from Warren Ellis at the front of our minds over the next 365 or so days:

A thought for the new year: try to stay home for a bit and make some things that might last, please?

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Arts and Literature

Did the Creator of The Twilight Zone Plagiarize Ray Bradbury?, wherein we're walked through the contention of science fiction legend Ray Bradbury (and others) that Rod Serling indirectly copied the work of various SF writers, and how that contention killed a friendship.

City of screens, wherein Anna Aslanyan explores four short films which attempt to capture the experience of interacting with cities through new technologies.

Why Translation Deserves Scrutiny, wherein Tim Parks ponders whether literary translators should be given some leeway to make gaffes, or if criticizing a translation for plain errors is hardly a crime.

Ideas

The Archipelago of Hope, wherein Gleb Raygorodetsky explains how the inextricable relationship between Indigenous cultures and their territories forms the foundation for climate change resilience.

Should you feel sad about the demise of the handwritten letter?, wherein we learn why letters crafted with pen and paper can create a lasting, more human connection between the writer and the reader.

Dystopia In Fiction And In Fact, wherein we discover that an authoritarian dystopia might not play out as it would in George Orwell's 1984, but could be happening without us even knowing it.

Crime

The Hunt for the Watch Thieves of Southern California, wherein we hear the story of how a promising professional baseball prospect and a hardened felon teamed up to undertake one of the most sophisticated and lucrative smash and grab crimes in U.S. history.

The Watcher, wherein we learn how a family buying their dream home in a small New Jersey town walked into a nightmare all thanks to someone sending them anonymous, sinister letters.

The Stranger in the Shelter, wherein we hear the tale of the first documented murder on the Appalachian Trail, and what happened to the three people involved in that tale before and after the fateful event in 1974.

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

Scott Nesbitt


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

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.

It's Christmas Eve here at the bottom of the world, and I still published a new Kickoff. Don't say I never get you anything. Seriously, though, for those of you who celebrate the season, have a merry one. If you don't, I hope you get to take some time off, and spend some of that time with those you're closest to.

And just a reminder: my newsletter, Weekly Musings, debuts on January 9, 2019. If you want to read my (informed) opinions on a new topic every seven days, you can subscribe here.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Business

Tech Workers Now Want to Know: What Are We Building This For?, wherein we discover that more and more employees of tech firms, both large and small, are finally questioning the ethics of (some) of what their employers are creating.

The Crash That Failed, wherein Robert Kuttner recounts the 2008 financial crisis, which should have discredited the belief that unregulated markets produce and distribute good and services more efficiently and how, in the aftermath of the crisis, it's a case of meet the new (financial) boss, same as the old boss.

The real Goldfinger: the London banker who broke the world, wherein we hear the tale of how Siegmund Warburg created a new way for the rich to shuffle money around the world, which revitalized the City of London and eventually led to today's stratospheric inequality

Technology

Look up from your screen, wherein Nicholas Tampio argues that an education involves more than feeding facts into brains via a screen, but rather requires a mix of the passive and the tactile.

All In: The Hidden History of Poker and Crypto, wherein Morgen Peck ponders how the problems online poker encountered in the early 2000s might have been the inspiration for Satoshi Nakajima to create Bitcoin, and explores how that's influencing the development of cryptocurrecy today.

Delete Your Account Now, wherein Harper Simon sits down with digital contrarian Jaron Lanier and discusses how and why the online world has become such a toxic place, and we learn why we should consider sending our social media accounts to the glue factory.

Productivity

Disconnect, wherein we learn that to be our most productive and creative we need to back away. Not just from the internet, but from people and things that can distract us.

A neuroscientist’s baby-step guide from multitasking to single-tasking, wherein we get three pieces of simple, solid advice that can help us complete the task (yes, the use of the singular is deliberate) at hand.

The Little Handbook for Getting Stuff Done, wherein Leo Babauta looks at the benefits of getting stuff done and outlines a program to help us do just that.

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

Scott Nesbitt


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

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.

There's a lot going on in the world right now, and I'm not just talking about what's making the biggest headlines. Sometimes, you just need to step back to clear the palette of your brain. I hope this week's collection of articles is part of your antidote for what's going on and what could be overwhelming you.

And just a reminder: my newsletter, called Weekly Musings, is going live on January 9, 2019. If you're interested, you can subscribe here.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Ideas

How social networks can save lives when disasters strike, wherein Daniel P. Aldrich outlines his reasearch into why people don't leave in the face of danger and how people's social networks impact their evacuation behavior.

We're Not Ready for Mars, wherein Justin Nobel presents a contrarian view of space exploration and colonization, and argues that the attitudes, hubris, and (lack of) morals that are destroying the Earth will do the same in space.

Can libraries save America?, wherein we discover the true power of libraries — places where people from all walks of life can come together in a safe space to learn, to escape, and to join a wider community.

Writing

How to write the perfect sentence, wherein we get some solid advice, and some great examples, of how to make your sentences sing and shine.

The Step Before Writing, wherein we learn something that I've been saying for years: when publishing on the web (or elsewhere), quality is more important than quantity. And quality starts with planning.

The Gilded Age of (Unpaid) Internet Writing, wherein Rebecca Schuman looks back at her introduction to webzines in the late 1990s, and how those publications have devalued (in dollar terms) the work of writers to this day.

Odds and Ends

Project for a Trip to the Golden Venture Crash Site, wherein writer Lisa Chen tries to find the scene of the 1993 wreck of the Golden Venture, and weaves a tale what happened to the migrants who fled that sinking ship.

These 1930s Housewives Were the Godmothers of Radical Consumer Activism, wherein we hear the tale of how a group of housewives in Depression-era Detroit took to the streets, and to Washington, to protest the high price of meat, and what became of their efforts.

Glorious pages and paper balls, wheerin we're introduced to a sweeping history of secret intelligence services in Russia, and learn why it's important to take a long view of both intelligence and international relations.

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

Scott Nesbitt


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

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.

A little news: starting January 9, 2019 I'll be publishing an email newsletter called Weekly Musings. The bulk of the newsletter will be a short essay — weighing in at anywhere from 500 to 1,200 words — on whatever topic caught my interest over the previous seven days. I'm hoping it'll be an interesting and edifying ride.

You can get in on the ground floor of Weekly Musings by subscribing here. And, no, I won't use your email address for anything other than the newsletter. Promise!

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Algorithms and Us

Autonomous Everything: How Algorithms Are Taking Over Our World, wherein security expert Bruce Schneier explores how our dependency on automated systems causes problems, and opens doors to even bigger problems.

Decision Engines, wherein John Menick weaves a fanciful essay fiction that takes us through various scenarios showing how self-driving vehicles could become deadly hazards to unsuspecting pedestrians.

God is in the machine, wherein we discover what algorithms are, get a high-level look at how they work, and learn that even the people crafting algorithms sometimes don't know what their creations do or can do.

Arts and Literature

The Radio Auteur: Joe Frank, Ira Glass, and Narrative Radio, wherein we get a glimpse into the evolution of two similar, yet quite different, radio raconteurs and how those similarities and differences made for some innovative radio.

Little Bits of Paper Everywhere: An Oral History of Snipehunt Magazine and Kathy Molloy, wherein we get a glimpse at the quarterly magazine that helped shape the tenor and taste of the art scene in Portland in the 1990s, and learn about the woman who was the magazine's driving force.

Grandville, Visions, and Dreams, wherein we're introduced to the stunning, often biting, but always fascinating and innovative work of the 19th century French graphic artist J.J.Grandville.

Science

Rewritable Paper, wherein we find out about a new way to save trees: paper that isn't paper, which you can print on and then erase and then print on again. Science to the rescue once more.

Neanderthals were no brutes – research reveals they may have been precision workers, wherein we learn that Neanderthals were actually a lot more similar to modern humans than we've been led to believe, right down to how they gripped and used objects.

The Race to Reinvent Cement, wherein we learn how researchers and startups are trying to perfect a form of cement that lowers or eliminates the CO2 emissions associated with the process of creating this most important building material.

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

Scott Nesbitt


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

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.

I'm finding it hard to believe that the first week of December has rolled around. I mean, I'm still trying to figure out where June went ...

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Crime

Blood and Oil, wherein we discover how Mexican drug cartels have been moving into the very lucrative business of stealing gasoline, and learn how brutal and cutthroat that business is.

How the Great California Dispensary Heist Went Horrifically Wrong, wherein we're told the shocking story of how the owner of a cannabis dispensary was set up, and the aftermath of a kidnapping and robbery that went very, very wrong.

He Won $19 Million in the Lottery — And Became a Bank Robber, wherein we hear the sorry tale of Jim Hayes who, after blowing a $19 million lottery win, became a homeless junkie and bank robber, and ended up doing a three-year stretch in prison.

Arts and Literature

Are Audiobooks As Good For You As Reading? Here’s What Experts Say, wherein we discover that the differences between audiobooks and print books are probably “small potatoes”, but that reading has the overall edge over listening.

Why dictators can't resist writing books, wherein Lucy Hughes-Hallett examines the book Dictator Literature by Daniel Kalder, and comes to some interesting conclusions about the literary lives of despots.

Where, Exactly, is the Overlap Between Storytelling and Technology?, wherein we get an analysis of the book New Dark Age which explores a present that has come unhinged from linear temporarily.

Odds and Ends

I Was a Chinese Helpline’s Number One Caller. I Had a Problem, wherein Audrey Murray describes her cycle of dependence on a very convenient service in Shanghai, how helpless that dependency made her, and what it took to break that cycle.

The Long, Knotty, World-Spanning Story of String, wherein we learn how the humble, woven cord helped shape the modern world and has pervaded all aspects of our lives (whether we realize it or not).

The Wings Won’t Fall Off, wherein we follow a fearful, yet intrepid, writer on her journey to try to conquer her phobia of airports and airplanes.

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

Scott Nesbitt


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

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.

It's good to have you back. I hope the last week has treated you well. If not, I hope you were at least able to slap last week across the face with a brick to teach it a valuable lesson.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Technology

Open Source Challenge: Why One Band Chose Linux To Record Their New Album, wherein we we discover that we don't need to be techies to use Linux, and that we can use it to do creative work.

How to Build a Low-tech Internet, wherein we learn the benefits and drawbacks of using inexpensive components and slower connections to bring the internet to rural areas and developing countries.

An introduction to medieval cities and cloud security, wherein we look far into the past to learn how better protect our digital kingdoms.

Politics

Traditional storytelling meets new media activism in Iran, wherein we discover how some artist and activists in Iran are using a combination of traditional Persian storytelling techniques and modern media to make sense of what's happening in their country.

Edward Snowden Reconsidered, wherein Tamsin Shaw presents a contrarian view of folks like Edward Snowden, Laura Potrais, Glenn Greenwald, and Julian Assange and their motivations for doing what they did and do.

Sticks and Stones, wherein we learn that partisan politics has a long history around the globe, and that partisan politics have some very negative effects on people and on nations.

Odds and Ends

The Gay Black American Who Stared Down Nazis in the Name of Love, wherein we hear the story of Reed Pegtram, and American intellectual who refused to leave war-wracked Europe without the man he loved, and learn what happened because of that.

The creation of Missile Command and the haunting of its creator, Dave Theurer, wherein we get a peek into what it took to create the classic arcade game Missile Command, and the literal nightmares that effort spawned in the sleeping mind of its main creator.

Of Donuts I Have Loved, wherein Miranda Dennis walks us through some of the major epochs in her life and looks at how those round pastries with the hole in the middle marked those epochs.

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

Scott Nesbitt


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

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.

At the end of each edition of the Monday Kickoff, I ask (beg?) you to support this project (and, by extension, my other online work). In case you're wondering, I don't use what's dropped into my hat to feather my nest. What people send my way helps pay for the services that I use, for domain renewals, and for donations to the organizations I back. This past while, I've sent the micropayments I've received (and quite a bit of my own cash on top of that) to the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Wikimedia Foundation. That's on top of the monthly donation I make to the Internet Archive.

So if you're interested in supporting my work and supporting some good causes, you can find out how to do that at the end of this post. Thanks!

With that out of the way, let's get this Monday started with these links:

Ideas

The Uneasy Yoke, wherein Blair Hurley recounts how religion has touched and shaped her, even though she doesn't practice any of the faiths she's explored.

The Miracle of the Mundane, wherein Heather Havrilesky examines the joys of living a simple, ordinary life, and discovers that living such a life isn't as easy as it seems.

Autism from the inside, wherein we discover that the way people look at autism, and what they think they understand about it, is all wrong. As the father of a young woman with autism, this article hit home in ways I didn't expect it to.

Arts and Literature

Imploding with Cool, wherein we join writer Iain Sinclair on his literary perambulations around London and discover how much the city's tone and texture has changed over the decades. Sometimes, not for the better.

Why Literature Loves Lists, wherein Brian Dillon examines how lists are used by both fiction writers and essayists, and explains the structure and comfort that lists offer writers.

What is cyberpunk?, wherein Alex Spencer examines the origins of the SF sub genre, and looks at cyberpunk's descendants and its discontents.

Presenting

How to give an effective presentation, wherein Mark Pollard explains that a presentation is more than a set of slides, and walks us through how to plan, structure, and give a presentation worth sitting through.

How to write a talk, wherein we're given some solid, easy-to-do advice on how to come up with an idea for a presentation, develop it, and get ready to give it.

What I wish I knew when I first started speaking internationally, wherein Amber Case offers some useful tips for people who speak at events overseas (or even in their own countries).

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

Scott Nesbitt


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

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.

Instead of me pontificating, here's an idea we should all embrace:

I can’t be working efficiently and at my top game worrying about what other people think about me, or are going to think about me. — Anson Mount

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Politics

How the First Punk in East Germany Became an Enemy of the State, wherein we meet Britta Bergmann, a teenager from East Berlin who used a love of punk rock to express her individuality under a repressive government and became a target of that government.

War and Peace in Chicago, wherein Walter Nicklin looks back at the protests at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, and sees times and how political engagement have changed over the last 50 years.

How AI could kill off democracy, wherein we learn that artificial intelligence (AI) systems can sometimes make better decisions that humans, but that relying on algorithms can lead to a loss of the ability to hold people accountable.

Business

He Could’ve Been a Colonel, wherein we hear the story of Ollie's Trolley, the hamburger restaurant that seems poised to take the fast food world by storm, but which arrived on the scene decades too soon.

Missing the Dark Satanic Mills, wherein we get a glimpse into the history of the factory, and with the glimpse we start understanding why factories have always been places of great fascination.

The Real Cost of Working in the House of Mouse, wherein we learn about how workers — sorry cast members — at various Disney theme parks are barely scraping by (and often not even that) thanks to the parent corporation's focus on profits over people.

Writing

The New Reading Environment, wherein the editors of n+1 magazine explore the often fraught relationship between editors, writers, and readers, and how that relationship has changed (maybe not for the better) in the age of online reading and social media.

How to Write a Synopsis in 4 Easy Steps, wherein we learn that preparing an effective summary of what you're writing is no easy task and are offered some solid advice for doing the job properly.

Reclaiming the Freedom of the Rough Draft, wherein we learn that the first draft of anything we write doesn't need to be polished or disciplined or structured or even good. It's our starting point for writing that will be good.

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

Scott Nesbitt


If you enjoy The Monday Kickoff, please consider supporting it by buying me a coffee or a smoothie, or making a micropayment via Liberapay, Plasso, or PayPal. Even if you don't, I'll keep doing this. Your support (even if you just read this space) is appreciated!


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

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.

It's hard to believe another month has rolled around. Maybe it's true that time does move faster the older you get. But as time passes, there's also more interesting material to read out there. And, sadly, less time in which to read it ...

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Ideas

The Known Known, wherein we get another entry from the what's new is old again files, this time examining how threats to privacy have always been with us.

In Praise of Spacing Out, wherein we learn that we can't, and shouldn't, maintain a constant state of mindfulness, and why slipping into the occasional reverie can be beneficial.

The Psychology Behind Why Clowns Creep Us Out, wherein Frank T. McAndrew discusses his research into why people are, and have long been, uncomfortable (or worse) around clowns.

Productivity

Productivity, wherein Sam Altman shares some simple but effective tips and tricks he uses to get his work done.

The Complete Guide to Increasing Your Focus, wherein Scott H. Young walks us through a training program that can help us eliminate distractions and teach us to put all our attention into what we're doing.

Read less. Learn more., wherein we're told that a combination of slow reading, reading in depth, and focus can help us retain more of what we read and help us apply it to our lives.

Odds and Ends

Descend Into Great Britain’s Network of Secret Nuclear Bunkers, wherein we get a peek into some Cold War era bunkers in the UK, all lovingly restored, and learn about what they were for and the conditions the people who would be in them could expect when the bombs started dropping.

I Listen to 35 Hours of Podcasts Every Week. Is That ... Bad?, wherein Sirena Bergman looks at whether or not inundating our brains with podcasts is beneficial, and discovers that it might not be.

Wikipedia has resisted information warfare, but could it fight off a proper attack?, wherein Carl Miller explores how a state-backed effort could subvert Wikipedia in the so-called information wars by using the site's reputation system and by taking advantage of its openness.

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

Scott Nesbitt


The Monday Kickoff is licensed under CC0 Public Domain.

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