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:

History

Why Lafcadio Hearn's Ghost Stories Still Haunt Us, wherein we delve into the writer's life and motivations, and why his works still grip us over 100 years after his death.

The CIA's Secret Quest For Mind Control: Torture, LSD And A 'Poisoner In Chief', wherein we learn about the work of Sidney Gottlieb, who ran the CIA's MK-ULTRA mind control program, and how he was the unwitting godfather of the entire LSD counterculture.

The Soviet InterNyet, wherein we're told the tale of how two attempts to create an internet-like network in the Soviet Union were scuttled, and the warning that provides to the internet today.

Online Life

We street-proof our kids. Why aren't we data-proofing them?, wherein we learn how insidious and invasive data tracking by tech giants is, and how we're failing young people by not better teaching them how to protect their data and their privacy.

404 Page Not Found, wherein Kate Wagner waxes nostalgic about the internet she came of age using, before it became the fragmented, commercial, digital wreck we know today.

Technostress: how social media keeps us coming back for more even when it makes us unhappy, wherein we discover some research that shows how addictive social media can be, and how some people try to deal with the stress of that addiction but only get sucked further into the black hole that's social media.

Arts and Literature

'Your ego has to be left at the door': the secret life of the understudy, wherein we hear, first hand, about the experiences of talented people who work in the shadow of others but whose efforts are key to the success of those others.

Translation and the Family of Things, wherein writer Crystal Hana Kim recounts how she discovered that poetry helped here find new meaning within and across linguistic boundaries in her own family (and in the wider world).

The Chelsea Affect, wherein playwright Arthur Miller recalls the months during which he lived in New York's Hotel Chelsea, and the parade of interesting and downright strange characters that passed through the hotel's doors during that time.

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 last seven days made up a strange roller coaster of a week, didn't they? I hope that doesn't set the tone for 2020.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Environment

Is paper really better than plastic?, wherein we learn more about the process of making paper than we might want to, but also learn that process (and what happens afterwards) isn't always as clean and sustainable as we suspect.

The Planet Needs A New Internet, wherein we discover how the world's changing climate will endanger the infrastructure of today's internet, and learn about the kinds of changes we need to make the future internet sustainable.

Why 'flight shame' is making people swap planes for trains, wherein we learn more about the growing flight shaming phenomenon, how it's changing the travel habits of some, and why it might not be for everyone.

Technology

How We Misremember the Internet's Origins, wherein Ingrid Burrington explains that the internet came to be as a result of ad hoc actions and experiments undertaken with little sense of foresight or posterity, and not grand and idealistic plans.

Unix at 50: How the OS that powered smartphones started from failure, wherein we get a bit more of the history of the venerable and ubiquitous operating system and learn how its creator didn't let a significant defeat stop them.

Nokia's collapse turned a sleepy town in Finland into an internet wonderland, wherein we learn how the town of Oulu in Finland's far north bounced back after the mobile phone giant, which was the area's biggest employer, went into a downward spiral.

Ideas

Nietzsche's Eternal Return, wherein Alex Ross examines the continuing appeal of the German philosopher's thinking to people of a range of intellectual and political persuasions.

Fugitive Libraries, wherein Shannon Mattern looks at the history of black libraries in America, and how librarians and others are trying to remedy the lack of diversity in libraries.

Why Data Is Never Raw, wherein we learn a few fundamental truths about what we call data, one of those being that it's not always as pure and untainted as we like to think it is.

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.

And welcome to 2020. I hope the new year is treating you well. OK, it's only six days old but why not be optimistic?

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Business

The fight to stop Nestlé from taking America's water to sell in plastic bottles, wherein we hear yet another tale of a mega corporation profiting from what's essentially a public resource and not giving much (if anything) back, and about the efforts to fight that corporation.

Beware Arguments For Privatization, wherein we learn that handing public assets over to corporations to run might not be the best approach, but instead that you have to invest in your public resources if you want them to be good.

I Accidentally Uncovered a Nationwide Scam on Airbnb, wherein we discover how Allie Conti stumbled upon a wide-ranging fraud perpetrated by fake Airbnb hosts, and what the company did (and didn't) do when alerted to that fraud.

Work

I Have No Idea What “Hard Work” Means, wherein Aisling McCrae examines the phrase hard work, and concludes that proclaiming that you work hard doesn't make you exceptional or even special.

We have the tools and technology to work less and live better, wherein Toby Phillips argues that working less and having a good life is possible, but only if we structure our work and society towards that goal.

The Company That Branded Your Millennial Life Is Pivoting To Burnout, wherein we're left to wonder whether we need a startup, and the brands it promotes, to tell us that it's OK to enjoy daily life.

Odds and Ends

Gimme Shelter, wherein Wes Enzinna takes us on a personal tour of the housing situation in the Bay Area, through the lens of his life in a tiny backyard shack over the space of 11 months.

The Way Words Mean, wherein we discover that words an have several levels of meaning, one of which also offers levels of subtlety in what we say and write.

He Never Intended To Become A Political Dissident, But Then He Started Beating Up Tai Chi Masters, wherein we hear the story of Xu Xiaodong, a Beijing mixed martial arts instructor known for speaking his mind on a variety of political topics but who saves his (physical) wrath for fraudulent proponents of traditional martial arts.

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 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

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 silly season is well and truly upon us. Not that I really care. Christmas isn't my thing. But if it is yours, I hope you have a merry one. And if it isn't, I hope you get some time to kick back and relax.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Crime

The True-Crime Writer in Cellblock B4, wherein we discover how convicted fraudster Matthew Cox used writing to come to grips with himself and to learn about his motivations for his crimes, and to try to turn his life around.

The Tragic, Violent History of the Brooklyn Waterfront, wherein Nathan Ward tells the tale of how the murder of New York City longshoreman and labour activist Pete Panto not only inspired his fellow dock workers but also quite a bit of literature and film.

Inside the Phone Company Secretly Run By Drug Traffickers, wherein we delve into the murky world of firms that provide custom, encrypted smartphones to criminals.

Business and Economics

High finance is wrecking the economy and the planet—but it won’t reform itself, wherein we learn that the financial world's touted reforms are like lipstick on a particularly hideous pig, and that deeper, systemic changes are needed to truly change the industry.

I Worked at Capital One for Five Years. This Is How We Justified Piling Debt on Poor Customers., wherein we learn just how low one financial company goes to try to boost its customer numbers and to keep those hapless customers in its thrall.

Inside TurboTax’s 20-Year Fight to Stop Americans From Filing Their Taxes for Free, wherein we get a glimpse of the dirty tricks one company has been using to retain its market share and its profits.

Odds and Ends

What it was like to fly the baddest airplane the world has ever known, wherein former test pilot and astronaut Joe Engle recounts his experiences at the controls of the X-15 rocketplane.

Union Station, wherein David A. Banks argues that we need more public train systems, despite what some right-wing commentator say, and explains how doing that contains lessons for nationalizing digital infrastructure.

The Smartest People in the Room? What Silicon Valley’s Supposed Obsession with Tech-Free Private Schools Really Tells Us, wherein Morgan G. Ames reminds us that people with deep expertise in one area don't, despite what those people may believe, don't have deep expertise or knowledge in other fields.

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.

Once again, an edition on a single theme. That theme? The environment, and how we interact with it. Here are nine articles that will either get you thinking or will annoy you:

The air conditioning trap: how cold air is heating the world, wherein Stephen Buranyi looks at how air conditioners have become a driver of climate change, how we can reduce our dependency on it, and that obstacles in the way of that shift.

Can you cool a house without air conditioning?, wherein we learn that there are more traditional and effective ways to cool buildings, and that modern air conditioning should only be used as a last resort.

Who will pay for the huge costs of holding back rising seas?, wherein we learn about what needs to be done to protect towns and cities threatened by rising seas, how much that will cost, and how hard it is to find that money.

Flight Shame: The Climate Hazards of Air Travel, wherein Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow takes a deep dive into the issues and ideas that the non-flying movement is wrapped up in.

Everything We Do Not Know, wherein Aaron Gilbreath examines, through his personal choices, the potential long-term environmental effects of the Fukushima reactor disaster upon the oceans and our food supplies.

Grow Up, wherein Soraya Roberts reminds us that when it comes to fighting climate change, the children are leading us but that many adults are refusing to listen to them.

Dreamboats, wherein we're introduced to the ways in which the ocean shipping industry intends to go green, and discover the challenges the industry faces in making that move.

Kincade Fire: The Age of Flames Is Consuming California , wherein Matt Simon, by examining the spate of wildfires in California in recent years, introduces us to the Pyrocene, an era like the Ice Age, but with fire. Scary stuff.

What Japan can teach us about cleanliness, wherein we're reminded that it's up to all of us to keep our towns, cities, and countries clean and to do that we need to ingrain the idea into everyone's consciousness.

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.

This week brings another weird and wonderful mix of articles and essays for your reading pleasure. The picks are kind of a jumble, but they're worth your time. I mean, would I lie to you?

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Space

The Race to Develop the Moon, wherein we learn about the fresh fascination countries and corporations have with the Earth's only natural satellite, and get a glimpse into the plans that those countries and corporations have for the Moon.

Moon Fever, wherein we discover a bit more about the events that led to the first humans landing on the Moon, and the motivations of some of the people behind that effort.

How the first exoplanets were discovered, wherein we go back to 1992 and learn how astronomers, quite unexpectedly, caught glimpses of the first planets seen outside of our solar system.

Technology

How We Think about E-Waste Is in Need of Repair, wherein we learn that recycling our electronic waste isn't enough. We need to be able to repair and upgrade it ourselves, with off-the-shelf components.

Pagers, faxes and cheques: Things that might seem obsolete, but aren't, wherein we learn why three technologies doggedly cling to existence, even though there are more modern alternatives, and the fate that awaits them.

Silicon Valley: A Region High on Historical Amnesia, wherein we get a brief history of how, through government largesse no less, Silicon Valley became what it is today, and how both libertarians and the tech corridor's denizens have either forgotten or tried to rewrite that narrative.

Odds and Ends

The Amateur Cloud Society That (Sort Of) Rattled the Scientific Community, wherein we find out how a website created just for fun, and the site's creator, built a community of people who love clouds and prodded the stuffy World Meteorological Organization to add a new type of cloud to its atlas.

Dark crystals: the brutal reality behind a booming wellness craze, wherein we learn about where the crystals that are fuelling the fad come from, the conditions under which people mine them, and how the money they make isn't commensurate with the risks they're taking.

Why are the Rich So Mean?, wherein Christopher Ryan argues that the compounded disappointment of being lucky but still feeling unfulfilled causes those with a lot of money to distance themselves from those with less, and to view them with disdain.

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.

This time 'round, I've opted for a slightly different mix of categories. Two dovetail nicely, while the other really stands out. You'll know what I mean in a moment.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Writing

The Liberation and Consternation of Writing a Whole Book with Paper and Pen, wherein author Jeff Gordinier guides us, while writing this article on a train, through the joys and perils of writing a first draft (of anything) by hand.

Novelist Cormac McCarthy’s tips on how to write a great science paper , wherein the celebrated author offers up some great tips for researchers writing journal articles, and for anyone writing anything else.

The Three Words That Almost Ruined Me As a Writer: 'Show, Don't Tell', wherein Sonya Huber explains why that classic bit of writing advice doesn't always work and doesn't always apply to what you're writing.

Arts and Literature

On Narrative Medicine and Finding a New Language For Illness, wherein Marcus Creaghan argues that we need to find newer, more expressive ways for patients to explain what ails them and for doctors to learn how to coax that information out of those patients.

Gaugin and Van Gogh’s social networks, wherein we learn that two artists, who are widely considered to be solitary figures, actually leaned on a wide network of social and personal connections as they created their masterpieces.

Carol Reed’s ‘The Third Man’: How Orson Welles Stole a Show He Was Barely In, wherein we go behind the scenes of the classic thriller, and learn not only how Orson Welles put his stamp on the film but also get insights into the script, casting, directing, and editing.

The Dark Side of Technology

The biggest lie tech people tell themselves — and the rest of us, wherein Rose Eveleth argues that inexorable march of technology isn't a matter of evolution, regardless of the flip and often naive pronouncements of the people who create that tech.

Omniviolence is Coming, and the World Isn't Ready, wherein we're introduced to the concept technology-based omniviolence, learn how easily malicious individuals can perpetrate it, and discover ways in which to combat it.

Privacy is Power, wherein Carissa Véliz walks us through what power is, how it's used, and why your privacy is a form of power (even if you think you're insignificant).

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'm not in any mood to mess around with marginally-witty or barely-profound intros today, so instead let's get this Monday started with these links:

Science

The Theranos Effect: When Cutting-Edge Scientists Are Frauds, wherein we get a brief glimpse at some researchers who perpetuated medical research frauds, why they did it, and the aftermath of those frauds.

The Storytelling Computer, wherein we're introduced to the work of the late AI researcher Patrick Henry Winston who believed that storytelling was so central to human intelligence, it was also the key to creating sentient machines.

Publish houses of brick, not mansions of straw, wherein William G. Kaelin Jr. argues that researchers need to publish scientific papers with more depth rather than papers packed with overly-broad claims and piles of data and citations.

History

Blast From the Past, wherein various experts discuss a secret nuclear weapons test in 1979, carried out by an ally of the U.S.,which the U.S. covered up, and the implications that test could have on us today.

Shackleton’s Medical Kit, wherein Gavin Francis reflects on his time as medical officer at Halley Research Station in Antarctica, and ponders how medicine has advanced since the time Ernest Shackleton explored the frozen continent.

The Only WWII Battle On American Soil Left 5 Dead — And No Trace Of The Enemy, wherein we learn a bit about 1942's so-called Battle of Los Angeles which, in a country stoked by fear and paranoia, caused damage to the city but which resulted in no enemy losses.

Odds and Ends

An Illustrated History of the Picnic Table, wherein we trace the evolution of the humble picnic table from its origins as an ad-hoc creation to something that changed our relationship with the outdoors.

The Mysterious Evacuation of Sunspot Observatory, wherein we learn about the conspiracy theories surrounding the sudden closure of a research facility in New Mexico, and the very earthbound explanation for that closure.

Curses! The birth of the bleep and modern American censorship, wherein we discover the history of the famous broadcast censorship bleep, and how it's been used, abused, and parodied over the decades.

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.

It's a new week, with a new mix of articles to fill your brain with thoughts and ideas. And who says Monday is the worst day of the week?

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Arts and Literature

The Czech Play That Gave Us the Word ‘Robot’, wherein we learn about Karel Čapek's play R.U.R., and how it shows humanity's hubris by trying to create artificial life.

The Life and Death of an American Indie Press , wherein we hear the tale of Curbside Splendor, a small publisher in Chicago that gained a reputation for both publishing solid books from first-time authors and for stiffing those authors.

Books Won't Die, wherein we go back to a topic I wrote about in 1993: that despite all the advances and so-called innovation in reading technology, the printed book will continue to survive.

Productivity

Live on Purpose, wherein Leo Babauta discusses ways in which we can try to liberate ourselves from our daily grinds, and suggests how we can live with a purpose.

The Key For Remembering, Organizing And Using Everything You Read, wherein Ryan Holiday explains how he uses note cards to become better organized, more creative, and more productive.

Think long term. That's it. That's the advice., wherein we learn how short-term thinking has longer-term repercussions, and about the importance of (and difficulty in) breaking the cycle of focusing on the short term.

Technology

The crowdfunded phone of the future was a multimillion-dollar scam, wherein we learn the story of the Dragonfly Futurefön, a bleeding-edge, crowdfunded device that never saw the light of day, and discover the legal drama involving its creator that unfolded.

Four Years in Startups, wherein Anna Wiener describes how she fell into working for a series of tech startups, and how she became disillusioned with them and the culture that they uniformly incubated.

The Decentralized Web Is Coming, wherein we get a peek at where the web could be going: shifting away from corporate control and back to the original vision for the web. Fingers crossed ...

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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