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.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Aikido: A Japanese martial art practiced by millions, wherein we learn about the history and practice of a non-violent system of self defense created in the 20th century, and about the global community of practitioners that's developed around it.

Got Tape?, wherein BK Loren walks us through the effort, the joys, and the pains of putting together a grassroots organization in a small American city, and the challenges of keeping it going.

Can Innovation Serve the Public Good?, wherein Shobita Parthasarathy looks at whether the process of innovation can be adjusted to reduce inequality and, if so, how to do that.

What an amusement park can teach us about central banks, wherein Tim Harford uses the place in the title as an analogy to illustrate how economies react to decisions made by central banks.

Are we ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death’ in 2023?, wherein Talia Barnes argues that digital media is a cause of insidious ways our modes of communication degrade the quality of our speech and thought.

She Sacrificed Her Youth to Get the Tech Bros to Grow Up, wherein we learn about Patricia Moore who, in the 1970s and 1980s, disguised herself as an elderly woman to gain insights about how the aged navigated daily life, and used that experience to develop the concept of universal design.

Did You Even Know This Movie Exists?, wherein Adam Nayman takes us into the world of so-called stray movies, and whether any really worthy stray movies are falling through the cracks.

Is the digital dollar dead?, wherein we learn about some of the issues, and roadblocks, around governments creating and adopting digital currency.

Tired of 'circling back' and 'touching base'? How to handle all the workplace jargon, wherein we're reminded of how annoying, irrational, and nonsensical corporate speak can be, and are offered some advice about dealing with 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

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:

The place where no humans will tread for 100,000 years, wherein we follow Erika Benke deep underground into a Finnish storage site for nuclear waste.

The conspiracy of fools: do you have to be a total jerk to succeed in life?, wherein we learn that you can be self confident and assertive without being an egomaniac and a narcissist, but that most of the world has yet to realize it.

In This Essay I Will: On Distraction, wherein David Schurman Wallace explores distraction, what it means for writers, and that perhaps all of us are distracted because we are still learning how to live.

Waiting on tables, mending puppets: the first jobs that shaped researchers’ careers, wherein we learn how early work experience gave some researchers the tools that helped them succeed in their fields.

The strange, secretive world of North Korean science fiction, wherein we get a glimpse into the odd, and oddly fascinating, speculative fiction that's published in the Hermit Kingdom.

Lunik: Inside the CIA’s audacious plot to steal a Soviet satellite, wherein we learn about how, in the late 1950s, American intelligence agents and Mexican federal police hijacked a Soviet rocket, all in the name of national defense.

Goodreads Is Terrible for Books. Why Can’t We All Quit It?, wherein Tajja Isen ponders what the social cataloging site is actually good for, and why it's still so popular despite having a user interface that's just short of terrible.

Netflix is giving you bad taste, wherein Kathleen Stock ponders how the algorithms that streaming services use display recommendations work, and the effect that those algorithms have on us.

Why does non-alcoholic beer taste different?, wherein we're taken through the answer to that question, an answer which has a few facets.

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 year's another month closer to running down. It's happening so quickly, isn't it?

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

The ancient technology keeping space missions alive, wherein we learn how engineers keep satellites and spacecraft, many of them well over 20 years old, running well beyond the proposed life of those missions.

Rome’s libraries were shrines to knowledge — and imperial power, wherein we learn why public libraries in the empire's capital were as much about projecting power as they were about spreading learning.

The limits of our personal experience and the value of statistics, wherein Max Roser argues that there are limits to what we can learn about the world around us first hand, and that to truly understand the world (or just part of it) we need data.

A Small-Town Paper Lands a Very Big Story, wherein we get a glimpse into the power and importance of local journalism with a small Oklahoma paper that broke the story about problems and corruption in the local sheriff's department.

One win, 17,000 defeats – life as a Washington General, wherein we learn about the basketball team that's consigned to perennially lose against the Harlem Globetrotters, and about the joys and frustrations of being a member of that team.

A visit to the one-man computer factory, wherein we visit a craftsperson who makes functional, somewhat whimsical, but beautiful computers in wooden cases.

The rise of pity marketing, wherein Sarah Manavis looks at how struggling creatives are posting sob stories on social media to try to advertise themselves and their work, and how it's not a viable long-term strategy for building an audience.

No absolute time, wherein we about English philosopher David Hume's ideas about time and how they influenced Einstein's theory of relativity.

Landing, wherein Maen Hammad looks back at how he discovered a community of skateboarders in Palestine, and how that helped him get in deeper touch with his roots.

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.

Another month is coming to a close, and another year is winding down. Makes you wonder where all the time has gone ...

But we've still got time to get this Monday started with these links:

They Hacked McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines—and Started a Cold War, wherein we learn about some of the arcane and opaque inner workings of the titular contraptions for spitting out frozen treats, the couple who created a device to give owners of those machines more control, and the battle they're in with the fast food giant and the maker of those machines.

Are luggage-free trips the future?, wherein we learn about not just the virtues of traveling light but also about areas of the travel industry that are encouraging it.

Chicken is the most popular meat in the world. And we’re expected to eat much more of it, wherein Kenny Torella looks at why the domestic fowl has become suck a popular source of food for humans and the effects that's had on us and on the planet.

Why the world’s best vanilla is so easy to steal, wherein we learn why criminals in Mexico are stealing the spice and why it's so hard just to stop that theft.

This Is How Spam Is Really Made, wherein we learn a bit more than we want to about the manufacture of the canned processed pork (and not the junk emails that plague us).

Should Computers Decide How Much Things Cost?, wherein we dive into the arcane world of pricing algorithms and how they're becoming a powerful tool to help companies increase their profits at our expense.

The new “science of reading” movement, explained, wherein we get a glimpse at the latest techniques and theories for teaching kids how to read, and why (like other techniques and theories) this one isn't well understood or well implemented.

How the Army tried and failed to build a bicycle corps, wherein we get a peek at an initiative to put some soldiers in the US military on bike saddles in the late 19th century, and why the initiative came to naught.

The secret movement bringing Europe’s wildlife back from the brink, wherein we learn about a loosely-knit group of European conservationists, both amateur and professional, who are flouting various laws to bring some species of fauna back to their native lands.

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:

When New Seat Belt Laws Drew Fire as a Violation of Personal Freedom, wherein we take a trip back to the America of the early 1980s and resistance to making driver and passenger safety devices in cars mandatory.

Why “anomie” is eroding the soul of our society, wherein Jonny Thompson examines the idea of social norms, how it seems that more and more people are rejecting them, and how that might not be the best approach for a healthy society.

A Living History of The Humble Paper Airplane, wherein we get a glimpse into the origins the ubiquitous homemade toy, and why they're so important to experts studying flight.

Why We Need Hydrogen For A Successful Clean Energy Transition, wherein Holly Jean Buck examines the need for hydrogen as an energy source, and the challenges of making that source a widely-used reality.

Satellites Are Rife With Basic Security Flaws, wherein we're introduced to research that points to many satellites orbiting our planet, which we all rely on daily, as having systems that lack some basic protections against cyber attacks.

The environmental disaster lurking beneath your neighborhood gas station, wherein we learn about some of the dangers of the places at which we fill up our vehicles, and how they're hazardous waste sites.

The Paradoxes of Nostalgia, wherein Kenny Walden muses on the concept of nostalgia, why we indulge in it, and how (in the end) that indulgence is never satisfying.

An A.I. Utopia Is No Place For Humans, wherein Christopher Pearce ponders what the rise of generative artificial intelligence holds for artists and writers, and how those fields (and society as a whole) will suffer because of it.

A World of Networks and Vines, wherein John Barth explores the idea of sleep and how sleep (and lack of it) has shaped lives over the centuries.

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:

The Demise of the Garage Inventor, wherein Joseph Joyce laments the death of the fantasy of the lone genius creating something amazing, and the lack of true innovation in technology today.

Mending at the Margins, wherein Diamond Abdulrahim visits various garment repair shops in London to try to understand the motivation of the people who run those businesses and why they continue to do so in what's an era of disposable goods.

Martian Colonists Will Use Lax Regulations to Become Genetically Enhanced Cyborgs, wherein Brian Gallagher looks at a near(ish) future in which human colonists on Mars will be mainly bands of adventurers who will use technology to enhance themselves into genetically modified cyborgs.

School Is Not Enough, wherein Simon Sarris argues that schooling alone isn't sufficient to prepare young people for life, and that they need agency and a change to grow without their parents' life scripts.

Is the decline of oil in sight?, wherein Jocelyn Timperley explores the idea of peak oil, what it really means, when we could reach that point, and what's stopping us from abandoning petroleum.

What AI Teaches Us About Good Writing, wherein Laura Hartenberger ponders writing and tools like ChatGPT, and that while generative AI can produce readable prose, an indefinable human element is lacking in the output.

How the Kentucky Cave Wars Reshaped the State’s Tourism Industry, wherein we learn about the surprising high-stakes battles to monopolize tourism in a chunk of the state, and how all of that pushed the people of cave country to actively explore the region for nearly a century.

The Secret Life of the 500+ Cables That Run the Internet, wherein we learn a little about the history of communication by subsea cable, and about why we're getting a lot of our internet via this age-old method.

The town where people live underground, wherein we get a tour of a remote Australian town called Coober Pedy (and a few other towns like it) in which residents escape oppressive heat by building homes and even businesses below the surface.

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:

How to Sharpen a Scythe, wherein Daegan Miller uses the titular act as the starting point to explore the idea of attention, and how it can be a tool for both good and bad.

When Photocopiers Terrified the Publishing World, wherein we once again dip in the the what's new is old again files and look at the fears (many irrational) around the wider spread of a new technology.

Heartlands: Hidden Ginza, wherein Rebecca Saunders takes us on a stroll through the past and the present of the ritzy Tokyo neighbourhood.

The 1970s librarians who revolutionised the challenge of search, wherein we learn about a system created and tested at Syracuse University in the early 1970s, one which academic librarians helped shape and which, in many ways, mirrored search on the modern web.

The Written World and the Unwritten World, wherein Italo Calvino reflects on a life of regularly shifting between focusing on words on a page and the three-dimensional world.

The Law of the Sea Needs a Rewrite, wherein Surabhi Ranganathan argues that modern international laws around maritime freedom must be adapted to the climatic changes that have occurred since the start of the Anthropocene.

The Psychopathology of Digital Life, wherein Martin Gurri examines the (often negative) effects that engagement with the digital world has had on the physical one, and at the resulting fragmentation of societies.

Have You Been to the Library Lately?, wherein we get a glimpse into the changing role of modern libraries, including as a last safe space for the homeless in many cities, and the challenges facing those libraries and the people who staff them.

Why the Four-Day Week is Rocking the World of Work, wherein learn that moving away from the traditional work week can benefit not only employees but companies as well.

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:

On the trail of the Dark Avenger: the most dangerous virus writer in the world, wherein we take a trip to an earlier ear of computing, and learn why Bulgarian programmers wrote computer viruses, and the efforts to find and stop the most dangerous and prolific of them.

Who was the real Robert Oppenheimer?, wherein we get a glimpse into work, the true personality, and the public persona of the theoretical physicist who helped shepherd America's nuclear program into reality.

This Fusion Reactor is Held Together with Tape, wherein we get a look at a cutting-edge fusion reactor which isn't, as the article's title suggests, MacGyver'ed together.

How Thomas Lanier Williams Became Tennessee, wherein we learn a bit about the forces that shaped the playwright and the ways in which he transformed himself over the years.

Delts Don’t Lie, wherein we learn how and why artists in the Renaissance often used male models as subjects when depicting the female form in paintings and in sculpture.

The Blue Flash: How a careless slip led to a fatal accident in the Manhattan Project, wherein we're walked through the events that led to physicist Louis Slotin's death at Los Almos in 1946, and the aftermath of the reckless safety standards in America's early nuclear weapons programs.

Creatives are Dorks, wherein Charlotte Gill ponders why there aren't more women in certain fields, and what shapes that imbalance.

How to Be Blind, wherein Andrew Leland discusses his diagnosis of retinitis pigmentosa as a teenager, the steady deterioration of his vision through his adult years, and how he came to embrace being without sight after visiting the Colorado Center for the Blind.

Bing is a Trap, wherein Damon Beres looks at some of the dangers of online search powered by AI.

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:

Lessons From the Catastrophic Failure of the Metaverse, wherein Kate Wagner examines why Meta's much-hyped virtual world was such a monumental flop.

The Night 17 Million Precious Military Records Went Up in Smoke, wherein Megan Greenwell looks back at the 1973 fire that swept through the US National Personnel Records Center, and at both the personal and historic cost of that disaster.

Britain’s forgotten European empire, wherein we take a trip to the Ionian Islands and learn a bit about an oft-ignored outpost of empire, and why Britain's colonial experiment there failed.

I Survived a Weekend at Biosphere 2 Pretending to Be in Space, wherein Sarah Scoles recounts what she learned during a conference at the science research facility, and how her opinion of analog astronaut experiments has changed.

Is Wine Fake?, wherein Scott Alexander tries to discover whether there's any actual reason for, and actual depth to, the pretensions and affectations around fermented grape juice, or whether it's all pretension and affectation.

My A.I. Writing Robot, wherein Kyle Chayka explores AI-powered writing tools, why companies are starting to use them to replace human writers, how that's changing the view of what a writer is, and how A.I. might permanently change our relationship to the written word.

An Excellent View of Oblivion: On Italy’s Vanishing Towns, wherein Dominic Smith recounts a trip to Italy to research a novel, and reflects on the idea of abandonment through the lens of towns and villages in the country that are depopulating.

Encountering the High Arctic, wherein James Conaway tells us of his journey to Ellesmere Island for National Geographic magazine, and how he was essentially lost in the arctic wilderness for a few days.

The 19th-Century Trippers Who Probed the Mind, wherein we learn about the individuals in the 1800s who exposed themselves to various mind-altering chemicals and gasses, in the name of science of course, and how they had to develop new ways to record and describe their experiences.

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:

Writing By Omission, wherein legendary journalist and essayist John McPhee recounts the lessons that he (and other writers) learned over the years about how paring back his work makes it better.

The Little-Known Legend of Jesus in Japan, wherein we hear the fanciful, weird, and strangely wonderful tale of how a Japanese town named Shingo is where some believe Jesus lived and where he was buried.

The False Promise of Opportunity Zones, wherein Timothy Weaver looks at the history of the kinds of investment and incentive programs for lower income regions that were trotted out, and breathlessly praised, by the Trump administration, and how those opportunity zones simply don't work for those they're intended to help.

The Language of Democracy, wherein Max Ridge examines the book Plain Style by cultural critic Christopher Lasche and discusses how it's both an antidote to the rambling and dissembling that engulfs us daily, and as a manual of surveillance for the watchful citizen.

How activity in outer space will affect regional inequalities in the future, wherein Matthew Finch speculates on the ways to combat inequality on Earth by framing the problem in future activity off planet.

Can Ocean Waves Power the Grid? New Technology is Bringing Us Closer Than Ever, wherein Paolo Rosa-Aquino looks at how rough surf could become another cleaner, more sustainable way to power our world.

Alan Turing’s Most Important Machine Was Never Built, wherein we learn about the famed and fabled Turing machine, how it would work, and why one has never been fashioned.

Buried History, wherein we get a glimpse into the archaeological research being done off the Florida coast, which has turned up several sites once inhabited by humans.

Personal Machines and Portable Worlds, wherein Christopher Butler examines how the concept of personal technology has changed since he came of age, and ponders what that term means in a broader sense.

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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