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:

Science

Half the matter in the universe was missing – we found it hiding in the cosmos, wherein J. Xavier Prochaska outlines how his team unraveled a vexing cosmological problem: where the missing matter in the universe is.

Drowning in Light, wherein Dirk Hanson explores how as lighting gets cheaper we use more of it, and how the effects us psychologically and physically.

Four amazing astronomical discoveries from ancient Greece, wherein Gareth Dorrian looks at some astronomical theories that ancient Greek scholars came up with, theories that were only embraced and confirmed many centuries later.

Online Life

It's Time to Get Back Into RSS, wherein Daniel Miessler advocates embracing RSS feeds again so you can curate your own input garden and make that garden a meaningful part of the consumption experience.

On Digital Gardens, Blogs, Personal Spaces, and the Future, wherein Justin Tadlock years for the simpler days of the personal website, where not everything someone published online was a blog with a content strategy.

Is This Amazon Review Bullshit?, wherein we learn more about fake reviews on the ecommerce site and how to spot them.

Ideas

In valuing only how to argue, we are forgetting how to talk, wherein Nesrine Malik points out that argument and discussion aren't the same, and that we need more of the latter than the former if we want to better disagree with each other.

Lateral thinking is classic pseudoscience, derivative and untested, wherein Antonio Melechi skewers Edward de Bono's ideas around creativity and shows that they weren't as fresh or original as de Bono claimed.

More than arm’s length: reimagining rituals in a technologically mediated pandemic-centric era, wherein anthropologist Caitlin E. McDonald looks at how the coronavirus pandemic has so quickly changed rituals, even small ones, 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

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 been a while since I've done an edition on a single theme, so I thought it was about time. I hope you enjoy this week's selection of reads.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

The Perks of Being a Weirdo, wherein Olga Khazan looks at the creative upside to being different from everyone around you.

For the full life experience, put down all devices and walk, wherein John Kaag and Susan Froderberg explain the joys and benefits of walking without aim, without a destination in mind.

The Analog City and the Digital City, wherein L. M. Sacasas ponders how the political and ideological divisions in our society are caused by adherence to either old or new mores or ethoses.

The Tragedy of Costs and Benefits, wherein Roberto Tallarita explains that crises encourage simplistic contrasts, but that those contrasts don't take into account wider, more subtle factors.

Urban Auscultation: Listening to the City, wherein Shannon Mattern looks at experiencing cities more deeply not just by sight and smell, but by paying closer attention to the sounds and rhythms of those cities.

The Case Against Thinking Outside of the Box, wherein Jordan Shapiro aruges that creativity doesn't happen on demand and that inspiration for creative and innovative ideas usually comes from external factors.

The Science of Reading, wherein Charles Fernyhough ponders the voices we hear inside our heads when we read fiction.

More than arm’s length: reimagining rituals in a technologically mediated pandemic-centric era, wherein anthropologist Caitlin E. McDonald looks at how the coronavirus pandemic has so quickly changed rituals, even small daily ones, around the world.

Don't blame social media for conspiracy theories, wherein Joseph E Uscinski argues that people who believe and embrace conspiracy theories would do so even without social media and the internet.

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

Home Screens, wherein Drew Austin postulates that while the tech industry claims digital solutions can replace face-to-face interactions, the coronavirus pandemic is drawing attention to what technology can't do.

The Power of Lo-TEK, wherein we're introduced to the local technologies, traditional ecological knowledge (Lo-TEK) movement, which explores so-called primitive technologies and how we can use them in the modern world.

The Digital Afterlife, wherein Brian J. Barth explains what happens, and what should happen, to our online accounts and digital assets after we die.

Ideas

How social and physical technologies collaborate to create, wherein we're treated to an examination of how both technologies evolve, hand in hand, as physical change spurs social change, which spurs physical change.

A New Connection with the Lost Art of Phone Conversation, wherein Daphne Merkin discusses how the traditional phone call is coming back into vogue, all thanks to COVID-19 lockdowns.

is minimalism the antidote to runaway industrialization?, wherein Greg Fish looks at the financial, environmental, and human costs of people continually buying cheap goods which they must regularly replace.

Business and Economics

Garbage Language, wherein Molly Young looks at the growth of meaningless language in business and the workplace, and how it's become the norm at all levels in an organization.

Draining the Risk Pool, wherein Jathan Sadowski examines how so-called corporate wellness programs lead employers and insurers to adopt surveillance technologies that invade both the work and private lives of employees.

Why We Need Cooperatives for the Digital Economy, wherein James Muldoon argues the need to shift to community run and owned digital platforms, ones which put people and their communities, and not profits, first.

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.

Over the last few weeks I've received emails from a handful of readers, thanking me. Not (just) for these posts, but also for introducing them to new publications. I'm happy to be of service.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Science

The Rise of Junk Science, wherein we discover the rapidly-growing number of academic journals that publish low-quality research, and the harm that those journals do not just to the academic and scientific communities but to knowledge as a whole.

Feynman | Making the extraordinary look easy, wherein we learn a little about how the legendary physicist did what he did, and discover a bit more about his various sides (including some not-so-nice ones).

Why are we losing the wayfinding skills of our ancestors?, wherein we learn how the ability to find our way was baked into our DNA, why people lose that ability, and what happens when they do.

History

The Kentucky Miner Who Scammed Americans by Claiming He Was Hitler and Plotting a ‘Revolt’ With ‘Spaceships’, wherein we learn about William Henry Johnson, and African-American coal miner and preacher, who from 1946 to 1956 managed to convince some German Americans that he was Hitler preparing for a comeback and scammed thousands from them.

The Norwegian Attack on Heavy Water That Deprived the Nazis of the Atomic Bomb, wherein we learn about Operation Gunnerside, a move to cripple Germany's heavy water production capabilities in World War Two.

Into the Unknown, wherein we discover how Antarctic explorer Douglas Mawson pushed through a desperate, deadly situation to survive in one of the most inhospitable places on the planet.

Crime

The Real-Life Bank Heist that Reads Like an Oceans 11 Sequel, wherein we learn about an audacious heist at a Buenos Aires bank, and how this seemingly perfect crime was undone by marital strife.

What to Make of Murph the Surf?, wherein we hear the story of Jack Roland Murphy, a former champion surfer and violent criminal, and his attempts to right his past wrongs.

The Malaysian Job, wherein we learn about a financial scam with its roots in Asia, but which reached around the globe — sometimes with deadly consequences, and which further tarnished the reputation of a large investment bank.

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:

Space

Reflections on Project Orion, wherein physicist Jeremy Bernstein looks back on his participation in a project to build a spaceship driven by nuclear bombs, and shares something that Freeman Dyson (a driving force behind the project) wrote about it.

Here’s how we could mine the moon for rocket fuel, wherein we learn about some ideas to do just that, and about some of the obstacles that are in the way.

The Case Against Mars, wherein Byron Williston outlines the arguments against colonizing space, which have little to do with technology and a lot to do with humanity's lack of maturity and development.

Productivity

Can we escape from information overload? wherein Tom Lamont explores what happens when people try to cut themselves off from digital stimulation and distraction.

Want to Be More Productive? Try Doing Less, wherein Kare Northrup argues that productivity isn't about having a jam-packed to-do list, and offers some adivce about how to scale back to get more done.

How to Work Alone, wherein we get some useful tips for creating the space where intense concentration becomes easily accessible.

Odds and Ends

Why Japan is obsessed with paper, wherein we learn the whys and hows of Japan's love affair with products made from wood pulp, and why that love seems to be gradually fading away.

The Acrobatic Immigrant Who Invented Pilates in a Prisoner of War Camp, wherein we learn how Joseph Pilates used a World War One internment camp on the Isle of Man as a laboratory to develop the exercise system that bears his name.

How Japan’s global image morphed from military empire to eccentric pop-culture superpower, wherein Marc Bain examines how our view of Japan has changed over the decades, but with one constant always there: the power of the country's pop culture, and that pop culture's appeal worldwide.

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:

History

The WW2 flying wing decades ahead of its time, wherein we learn why aeronautical engineers are still looking to the 1940s designs of the Horton brothers to create the next generation of military aircraft.

The Secret History of a Cold War Mastermind, wherein we learn about American bureaucrat Gus Weiss' highly-creative efforts to undermine the Soviet drive to acquire Western technology, including one exploit that may or may not have happened.

The Many Lives of Norman Selby, the “Real McCoy”, wherein we're introduced to Norman Selby, a boxer, entrepreneur, actor, convict, and many other things who never seemed to be able to embrace who he actually was.

Ideas

Failed States, wherein Kelly Pendergrast looks at how we lionize those who fail quickly in the tech startup world, but make pariahs of those who are existential failures.

Move Always Toward a Deepening Obscurity, wherein Philip Conners examines his love of the wilderness of New mexico, and why he's embraced the tranquility and obscurity of it.

A place of silence, wherein Liam Heneghan argues that silence and stillness are essential to human life and sanity, and that we need to adapt our cities to that idea.

Online Life

This Is the Internet We Were Promised, wherein Angela Misri argues that, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, we're starting to get an internet that reflects the dreams and ideals of its early, heady days in the 1990s.

Browse Minimally, wherein Ernie Smith tries to convince us that our web browsers do too much and ponders the question What if we cut things down to the bare minimum?

The Pioneer of Online Gambling, wherein we hear the story of how Steve Schillinger launched the World Sport Exchange betting site in the 1990s, and how it all fell apart.

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:

Politics and Government

Time for a New Liberation?, wherein Timothy Garton-Ash reflects on the promise of the Velvet Revolutions of 1989 and how much of that promise failed to materialize.

Science fiction offers a useful way to explore China-Africa relations, wherein Nedine Moonsamy looks at some recent SF short stories published in Africa, and examines what those stories say about how Africa looks at China and its growing influence on the continent.

In Toronto, Google’s Attempt to Privatize Government Fails—For Now, wherein we learn how Google's attempt to turn a large plot of Toronto’s public land into a private lab for data collection failed, and why local governments need to focus heavily on privacy when embedding data-collecting technology in the urban landscape.

Arts and Literature

The Origins of Scandinavian Noir, wherein Wendy Lesser recounts the long history of the mystery novel in Nordic countries and how the genre evolved into its modern state.

Wait, What?, wherein Soraya Roberts explores the cognitive dissonance of western arts and entertainment awards, exemplified by the 2020 Oscar win of Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho.

How Black women are reshaping Afrofuturism, wherein Jonita Davis takes us on a journey into the Africa-centric subgenre of science fiction and introduces us to the new, female voices who are taking it into interesting realms.

Odds and Ends

America's 'fried chicken war', wherein we learn about the origins of a friendly rivalry between two Kansas families that started selling fried chicken just to survive, and whose wares still attact diners from all over.Phone Call in The Age of Coronavirus]

Phone Call in The Age of Coronavirus, wherein Marcia Aldrich ponders the differences between traditional phones and mobiles, and concludes that Cell phones have destroyed the sense of the occasion of a call.

The “Junk Mail” Men: Selling Your Data for over a Century, wherein we dip into the what's new is old again files and learn that companies were using our information to hit us with highly-targeted advertising long before the internet.

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

Cryptography Pioneer Seeks Secure Elections the Low-Tech Way, wherein Ronald Rivest (the R in the RSA cryptographic algorithm) discusses what he believes is a more secure way of voting, one in which technology takes a bit of a back seat.

Meet the Chinese operating system that’s trying to shift the country off Windows, wherein we're introduced to Unifed Operating System, a Linux distribution developed in China as part of a move to facilitate the gradual replacement of American technology in the Chinese government and pillar industries.

Hail the Maintainers, wherein Andrew Russell and Lee Vinsel argue that creating new technology is all well and good, but that maintaining it is just as important, and also raise questions about the technology that we create.

Productivity

Productivity Is Not Working, wherein Laurie Penny wonders if being productive, constantly grinding and hustling, and optimizing aren't the most important things in these trying times.

How to Focus in the Age of Distraction, wherein we learn a few reasons why we get distracted so easily, and are offered some really good advice about how to fight those distractions and get things done.

On Doing Less to Produce More: A Novelist Embraces a Minimalist Lockdown, wherein we learn how a writer ignored distractions (which weren't unique to the COVID-19 lockdown) and actually managed to get more done in less time while in lockdown.

Online Life

When the Internet Was Made of Sound, wherein we take a trip down memory lane, to the days when people got online using a noisy dialup modem, and learn what each of the sounds issuing from those modems did.

My Oversubscribed Life, wherein Kelly Stout looks at the attractions of subscribing to everything material that you need in your life, and the anxiety and sheer number of problems that can cause.

When David Bowie Launched His Own Internet Service Provider: The Rise and Fall of BowieNet, wherein we get a brief history of the internet service that the singer and tech geek founded in 1998, which included a nascent social network.

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:

Business and Economics

Why Dominant Digital Platforms Need More Competition, wherein Charlotte Slaiman explains why governments need to regulate those kinds of companies to promote competition on and against dominant digital platforms.

Paul Samuelson brought mathematical economics to the masses, wherein we learn how the economist took a complex and arcane branch of his field and made it palatable not just to his colleagues and students, but to the general public.

A Brief History of the Gig, wherein we discover that the rise of ride-hailing companies in San Francisco in the 2010s parallels the changes to the city's taxi business in the 70s and 80s, with similar (bad) effects on drivers.

Crime

Thief steals two planes with a signature and a stamp, wherein we learn how easy it can be for identity thieves to illegally take possession of large items, and discover the effects of that kind of fraud on the victims.

We're In A Golden Age Of White Collar Crime, wherein Michael Hobbes examines how the U.S. justice system has more or less given up on prosecuting white collar criminals, and what that kind of crime is more prevalent than ever.

The 19th-Century Nurse Who Was Secretly a Serial Killer, wherein we learn about Honora Kelley (aka Jane Toppan) who went from orphan to maid to nurse, who harboured a variety of resentments, and channelled that into a killing spree.

Odds and Ends

Eastern Sports and Western Bodies, wherein we learn a little about how the so-called Indian clubs became the fitness rage in England and America, then gradually disappeared.

Under a Sky Fall Full of Stars, wherein David Searcy reflects on the joys of observing the night sky using an old brass telescope.

The rise of Japan's 'super solo' culture, wherein we discover how some of the younger generation in Japan is trying to shrug off the country's traditional group mentality and do things on their own.

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:

Space

Working in the shadow space program, wherein we learn about the work of Richard Passman, a General Electric engineer who worked on several secret reconnaissance and space projects in the 1960s.

The Space Shuttle Was A Beautiful — But Terrible — Idea, wherein we learn that the Space Shuttle did not deliver on its promise of numerous low-cost launches, and hear about how the program could and should have evolved.

“Space, the final frontier”: Star Trek and the national space rhetoric of Eisenhower, Kennedy, and NASA, wherein we learn of the influence that early space policy, which itself adopted the frontier metaphor, had on the development of the classic TV series.

The Dark Side of Technology

Every Place Is the Same Now, wherein Ian Bogost laments how, thanks to technology, our homes have become something that they shouldn't really be, and have lost their original sense of purpose, creating a non place.

Lying Eyes, wherein we discover that old ideas about facial expressions, ideas which are shallow and incomplete, underlie today's facial recognition systems, and learn about that problems that bakes into those systems.

I Must Leave My House, wherein Sean Cooper, in a piece of essay fiction, takes us on a stroll through his neighbourhood in pandemic-era Philadelphia, all under the cold gaze of surveillance cameras.

Ideas

Why emojis and #hashtags should be part of language learning, wherein Heather Lotherington aruges that teachers of foreign languages should include emojis, hashtags, and other online grammars in their curricula to enable learners to lean on cross linguistic elements.

Commuting After Covid, wherein Dan Albert ponders how we'll get around inour cities once the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

Roving bandits and looted coastlines: How the global appetite for sand is fuelling a crisis, wherein we discover why the demand for sand is rising, and learn about the human and economic cost of that demand.

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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