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.

It's an interesting (at least I think it's interesting) mix this week, with a couple of articles from some sources I don't usually dip into. That doesn't mean they're not the usual quality I look for. It's just that there's always something new to discover.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Arts and Literature

When the Highest Paid Hollywood Director Was a Woman, wherein Sasha Archibald introduces us to the life and work of pioneering filmmaker Lois Weber, and to the attempt to write her out of film history.

Malcolm McDowell and the making of Lindsay Anderson’s 'O Lucky Man!', wherein we learn about the beginnings and fraught journey to completing the classic early 1970s film O, Lucky Man.

Was Shakespeare a Woman?, wherein we're drawn into another chapter of a never-ending literary saga, and are introduced to yet another theory about who actually wrote the plays and sonnets attributed to the Bard of Avon.

Technology

The Do’s and Don’ts of Tech Regulation, wherein Aral Balkan shares some ideas about the right ways and wrong ways in which governments can regulate companies like Facebook.

Cheating At Monopoly, wherein Rob Larson reminds us that, regardless of what certain founders and their cheerleaders say, the basis for what many tech giants are peddling wasn't created by them, but was the result of government-funded research at academic institutions and by the military.

Most Tech Today Would be Frivolous to Ancient Scientists, wherein we take a walk down the path of what's new is old again and learn that, despite modern STEM sorts, imagining they had invented everything, the work of ancient Greeks and Romans is the foundation for much of today's engineering and technology.

Odds and Ends

The Torments of Spring, wherein Christopher Benfey examines why some people dread the onset of the season before summer, and how April can be the cruelest month.

Notes on Being Very Tall, wherein Nicholas Kulish explains the physical, social, and psychological roadblocks that people over two metres in height face.

The violent attack that turned a man into a maths genius, wherein we hear the story of how Jason Padgett went from being concerned only with having a good time to someone who sees math everywhere, all thanks to a brutal blow to the head.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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.

July is a week old, and before we know it the end of the year will be upon us. It all happens so fast, doesn't it? Sometimes, I feel that we don't get enough time for reflection. So I guess we need to take as much of that time as we can.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Ideas

How Did Conspiracy Theories Come to Dominate American Culture?, wherein we learn that conspiracy theories have been woven into the fabric of America since the beginning of the nation, but now have emerged as the belief system of the twenty-first century.

A Social – and Personal – History of Silence, wherein Jane Brox explains why silence is necessary is a world filled with sound and noise.

An Appalachian Trail, wherein we learn that the Appalachian Trail was meant to be more than a hiking path. It was meant to be a wholesale reinvention of social life, economic organization, and land use.

The Dark Side of Technology

China wants to shape the literary taste of its netizens, but is it working?, wherein we learn that China's censorship extends to fiction posted online that could potentially offend the government — including a writer whose editors deleted the number 64 from his story.

Using GPS instead of maps is the most consequential exchange of technologies in history, wherein Lucian K. Truscott IV explains that GPS supplanting physical maps could have some very bad consequences, especially for the military.

What Turing Told Us About the Digital Threat to a Human Future, wherein Timothy Snyder examines mathematician Alan Turing's imitation game and ponders, 70+ years on, the effects of that idea on humanity in light of the rapid development of artificial intelligence.

History

Tracing the Incredible Journey of Polynesians Around the Globe, wherein Christina Thompson ponders how, when, and why groups of prehistoric people were able to find and colonize islands scattered throughout the south Pacific.

Japan's World War II poster propaganda against Britain in India, wherein we learn about Japan's efforts to win the hearts and minds of people on the Indian sub continent (and the rest of Asia) during World War II.

The curious origins of the dollar symbol, wherein we're exposed to some interesting theories about where the ubiquitous symbol for money came from.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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:

Technology

Could We Blow Up the Internet?, wherein we learn that it's not all that easy to physically destroy or cripple (or even heavily damage) the infrastructure that delivers the internet.

The continuing, appalling idiocy of “modern”, “smart” phones, wherein we learn that true innovation in the smartphone world isn't around features and ergonomics, but should be focused on creating a standard battery for all phones.

On the Trail of the Robocall King, wherein we enter the world of one of TripAdvisor's fraud investigators, who tracked down a notorious autodialer operator, and in which we learn how big a problem robocalling is in the U.S.

Environment

A Future Without Fossil Fuels?, wherein Bill McKibben analyzes the global move towards renewable energy, the obstacles that move is still facing, and the consequences it will have on the energy industry.

A World Without Clouds, wherein we learn how losing clouds, in conjunction with climate change, could result in the Earth warming to catastrophic levels.

The Vulnerability of Home on an Afflicted Planet, From California to Calcutta, wherein Torsa Ghosal ponders the effects of climate change on her homes (India and the U.S.), and how in that regard the two countries aren't all that different.

Odds and Ends

How To Lose Everything And Get Some Of It Back, wherein we hear the story of former pro basketball player Gus Gerard who, after sliding into the abyss of addiction, managed to pull himself back out and put himself on the road to a relatively normal life.

Smartphone Seminar, wherein Camille Miller shares the story of how her 86-year-old grandfather bought his first iPhone and how he understands better than most of us what this technology is for.

The New Social Network That Isn’t New at All, wherein we learn why newsletters are (re)gaining popularity, and why many people and firms are using them rather than social media to share and promote their work.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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.

Crazy days these are, folks. Crazy days. But in all the craziness, don't forget to tell your nearest and dearest how much they mean to you.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Productivity

A Guide to Letting Go of Stress, wherein Leo Babuata teaches us how to handle the avalanche of ... well, everything in our lives that weighs on us.

The Ultimate Productivity Hack is Saying No, wherein James Clear explains that to actually get some things done, you have to refuse to do many other things.

The life-saving power of a simple checklist, wherein we learn how following a checklist can help surgeons to not gloss over small but vital steps during operations, and how a checklist can help in other areas of work and life, too.

Ideas

The Digital Unconformity, wherein Doc Searles ponders whether or not our digital footprints will survive into the future, and if they do whether or not anyone will be able to read or understand those footprints.

Has the New Dark Age Begun Yet?, wherein Peter Fleming explains the need to chronicle the decline of civilization (ours, in case you're wondering) and how knowing how to face the awful truth permits us to finally face ourselves.

The Beauty of Being Satisfied With 'Enough', wherein we learn that maybe we should rethink our relationship with possessions and the earth, and try to achieve excellence, integrity and contentment over wealth and power.

Business

Do Corporations Like Amazon and Foxconn Need Public Assistance?, wherein E. Tammy Kim argues that government incentive packages to big businesses in auction-ready form, are generally undemocratic, and that the people in the communities affected by those incentives should be consulted at all stages of those deals.

Have We Reached Peak Lyft?, wherein Daniel Albert looks at the phenomenon of Peak Car and how companies like Uber and Lyft are making an almost Quixotic effot to fill the supposed gap of people buying fewer cars and to fulfill their need to get around.

The Corporations Devouring American Colleges, wherein we learn about the online program management companies that have wormed their way into American higher education, and how those companies have helped contribute to rising tuition costs and levels of student debt.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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:

Work

Why Are Young People Pretending to Love Work?, wherein we learn how and why millenials came to embrace the cult of the hustle, and about the negative effects of that embrace.

Workism Is Making Americans Miserable, wherein we see how work has gone from being a way to buy us free time to being central to our identities and lives, with the inevitable negative effects.

On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs, wherein David Graeber looks at how someone was out there making up pointless jobs just for the sake of keeping us all working.

Writing

Old-school writing tools boost creativity, focus—and speed, wherein we discover that being a good writer has little or nothing to do with the tools that you use, but instead is a matter of focus and hard work.

Storytelling Tips from the Writer of Blade Runner, wherein Hampton Fancher imparts some solid advice that can make your fiction or screenwriting stronger, more interesting, and more compelling.

On Taking Time, wherein Elizabeth Cook explains that sometimes writing requires an author to step back and ponder, rather than merely put the first thing that comes into their heads on the page.

Odds and Ends

Unwanted at Midlife: Not Old, but “Too Old”, wherein we learn about middle ageism, which holds back or even halts the careers of perfectly competent and capable older workers in all occupations.

The Politics of UFOs, wherein we get a look into the community of UFO researchers and believers, the ways is which the community is riven, and how fears of provocateurs and infiltrators are widening those divisions.

Lost at Sea, wherein Joe Kloc enters the world of anchor outs, people living on boats and barges in the small bays around San Francisco, and tells us about their struggles to survive both day to day and outside of society.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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.

You might know that I write the occasional ebook. One that I've recently (re)published is a collection of essays about my travels around Japan titled Glimpses of the Rising Sun. It's not your typical travel book; it's a personal journey through another country. Until July 7th, you can get the book for half price using the discount code 68jumtj.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Technology

Why there’s so little left of the early internet, wherein we discover the efforts to archive the web for posterity, and the problems facing the organizations trying to do that deed.

Moral technology, wherein Paula Boddington warns that there are too many levels of subtlety and ambiguity in our lives and our world to allow artificial intelligence to make all of our major decisions for us.

On Bitcoin, wherein Donald MacKenzie gives one of the best explanations of the cryptocurrency that I've ever read, one which even someone with little technical knowledge can understand.

Travel

There Is No Reason to Cross the U.S. by Train. But I Did It Anyway, wherein Caity Weaver recounts a languid, pensive, and refreshing journey across the U.S. on an Amtrak train.

Embrace slow travel: Head to “Kyoto by the Sea”, wherein we discover that by venturing out of the city of Kyoto you can really learn more about the simple, rich, and fascinating towns that dot that beautiful Japanese prefecture.

Tourists behaving badly are a threat to global tourism, and the industry is partly to blame, wherein Freya Higgins-Desbiolles explains that some people travelling in other countries behave badly because there’s something about being on holiday that simply seems to lower people's inhibitions, and examines how the tourism industry can help with this problem.

Science

Vanishing chimpanzee cultures and the need to save animal knowledge, wherein we discover that chimps, and other animals, hand down knowledge in ways similar to humans, and how destroying their habitats can disrupt that transfer to the point of severely diminishing the chimps' cultural repertoire.

Meet the man who helped double-check the sums to keep Apollo 11 safe, wherein we learn about the work of Dennis Sager, and other NASA mathematicians, who not just ensured that 1960s space shot calculations were correct but also came up with new courses and trajectories for spacecraft on the fly.

Red Sea stone tool find hints at hominins' possible route out of Africa, wherein we're told about the discovery of fairly advanced tools on the western edge of the Red Sea, an area which is the only land bridge that could have facilitated direct hominin movement between Africa and Eurasia in the past two million years.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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.

The results of the poll are in: keep the Monday Kickoff the way it is. As you've spoken, so I'll obey. More or less. I do plan to occasionally publish special editions of the Monday Kickoff that focus on a single topic. When that will happen ... well, I don't even know yet. So stay tuned!

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

Productivity

Focus as an Antidote for Wanting to Do Everything, wherein Leo Babauta teaches us that we can fight our urges to do as much as we think is possible, or help as many people as we can, and focus on what we really need to do and who we really need to help.

I love my ‘dumb phone’. It’s just so slow on the uptake, wherein we learn the joys of using a mobile phone as just a phone, and the sense of calm that can come with disconnecting in this increasingly connected world.

Should You Fix Weaknesses or Focus on Strengths? Here’s How to Decide, wherein Scott H. Young offers some advice about when and how to decide which aspect to focus on.

Environment

Louisiana’s Disappearing Coast, wherein we learn about the attempts over the centuries to control the waters in Louisiana, attempts that are becoming more desperate as the state steadily loses ground to the sea.

Are our cities effectively planning for climate change?, wherein we learn that even cities whith plans for balltling climate change need to do much, much more.

Thirteen Ways of Seeing Nature in LA: Part 1 (and Part 2), wherein Jenny Price ponders nature in the City of Angels, its diversity, and where to find that diversity of nature.

Arts and Literature

On reading, publishing and being working class, wherein Noel Murphy argues that it behooves the publishing world, and society as a whole, to get even more working class people reading and, inevitably, writing.

Home Taping Is Killing Music, wherein we relive the music industry's hysteria of the 1980s, which proclaimed that taping off the radio and off vinyl would put an end to music (and the industry's profits). What's new is old again, indeed.

Does Talking About Books Make Us More Cosmopolitan?, wherein Tim Parks ponders the nature of reading and how it's an intensely personal experience, an experience which isn't the same for all readers of the same book.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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've got nothing pithy or marginally profound to say this time 'round, so let's get this Monday started with these links:

Ideas

How the apocalypse could be a good thing, wherein Sumit Paul-Choudhury ponders whether or not dystopian fiction actually points to something resembling a utopia, one which many of us would never consider to be a utopia.

The History of Humanity, As Revealed By Its Walls, wherein Paul Crenshaw eloquently takes us on a tour of walls — ones which defined long-gone civilizations, and one which define use from birth to death.

A Night in the Engadine, wherein John Kraag recalls his attempts to literally follow in the footsteps of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and trek through the Engadine, where he tried to become closer to Nietzsche and his ideas.

The Dark Side of Technology

Will China’s Ever-Growing Digital Firewall Wreck the Internet?, wherein we learn that more and more countries are following China's lead and censoring or blocking the internet, and discover how that can affect all of us.

Privacy’s not an abstraction, wherein Alex Pasternack ponders privacy, and how easily it can be invaded or taken away from us.

Silicon Valley isn’t just a technostate – it’s something much bigger, wherein Navneet Alang muses about the power and influence that tech giants wield, power and influence they really shouldn't have.

Crime

The Mortician and the Murderer, wherein we discover how the unscrupulous son of career morticians took the family business to new, and highly illegal, heights.

The Minnesota Murderess, wherein we hear the tale of Ann Bilansky, the state of Minnesota's first convicted murderess, the charges against her, and her eventual fate.

The Courtroom Artist Who Sketched Trump on Trial, wherein we learn about the work of illustrator Marilyn Church who went from sketching fashion to visually chronicling high-profile court cases for TV and newspapers.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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.

Remember, there's still time to cast your vote on the format that The Monday Kickoff will take in the future. So, please, take part in the poll. And, no, I'm not using it to collect email addresses for any purposes (nefarious or otherwise).

And a quick thank you to the folks who pledged support over the last couple of weeks. That's helped offset the cost of a domain renewal and provided small donations to a couple of open source projects.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Politics and Government

A constitution should help a country govern, not hobble it, wherein Samir Chopra compares and contrasts the constitutions of the U.S. and India, finds common ground, but also a number of fundamental and significant points of divergence.

Geopolitics for the Left, wherein Ted Fertik examines the Marshall Plan, and the thinking behind it, to illustrate that it led to America's current foreign policies and thinking, and what all that could mean in the future.

Why we need to reinvent democracy for the long-term, wherein Roman Krznaric argues that governments need to move away from their short-term thinking and myopia, and consider how to make both the present and future better places.

Writing

Writing Sex for Money is Hard F*cking Work, wherein we learn that professional writers need to pay the bills, too, and get a glimpse at the kinds of hack work they take on to keep the wolf from the door and to make space for their more serious work.

The Most Important Writing Lesson I Ever Learned, wherein Steven Pressfield reminds writers that no one actually wants to read their work, and describes how to go about making that writing worth the audience's time.

Simple words work best for all users – including those with special needs, wherein we're reminded that writing in a simpler style doesn't mean dumbing things down, and that it can make what your writing more palatable to all readers.

Odds and Ends

The People Who Eat the Same Meal Every Day, wherein we enter the world of people who take comfort in simple, repetitive meals, and who shun the complication and mental overhead of extreme variety in what to eat. I can relate to this ...

Cisco Trash Map, wherein Miranda Trimmier recounts the history, past and future, of the abandoned town of Cisco, Utah, through the lens of a friend who's trying to develop a plot of land there.

I Lost My Life to Airbnb, wherein freelance writer Rebecca Holland recounts the five years she rented out her studio apartment in Chicago using Airbnb, and how she eventually learned the true value of home.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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 quick note: I'll be fiddling with the site over the next few days. You might get a warning about The Monday Kickoff being insecure during that time. It isn't. I'm hoping that the changes are quick and seamless, but you know how technology can be. Everything went so smoothly it was scary. Shout out to Matt Baer (the person behind Write.as) for his help.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

The Dark Side of Technology

What Happens if the Law Starts Treating Facebook and Twitter Like Traditional Publishers?, wherein Joshua Geltzer examines Section 30 of the U.S. Communication Decency Act, and explains why even lawmakers misunderstand it, and tries to explain what the section of the Act really means.

If Stalin Had a Smartphone, wherein David Brooks opines that modern technologies can, and do, make things easier for the people who want to control us and that we thought the new tools would democratize power, but they seem to have centralized it.

How Tech Utopia Fostered Tyranny, wherein we discover that in spite of the best intentions of wide-eyed technologists and users, modern technology can help governments keep tabs on everyone and make the world a less democratic place.

Arts and Literature

How I Began to Write, wherein Gabriel Garcia Marquez recounts the road he took to becoming a journalist, essayist, and novelist.

Unmutual friend, wherein Jim Bowen delves into letters from an acquaintance of Charles Dickens' family, which detail the breakup of the author's marriage and how he tried to have his wife committed to an asylum.

Why Are Writers Drawn to Boxing?, wherein Josh Rosenblatt explains the almost irresistible hold that fisticuffs has over some wordsmiths, not just as a subject of their writing but as something to attempt.

Environment

The Astronomical Cost of Clean Air in Bangkok, wherein we're introduced to the horrible state of the environment in Thailand's capital, which most denizens of that city can't escape.

As We Approach the City, wherein writer Mik Awake discusses his sojourns around New York City with fellow writer Emily Raboteau to discover art installation pieces that try to raise awareness of climate change.

An Indigenous Critique of the Green New Deal, wherein we learn about indigenous scholar Leanne Betasamosake Simpson's ideas about climate change, and her contention that combatting climate change will require changes to our thinking about our relationship with the land, water, and each other.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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