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.

Instead of me trying (and failing) to come up with something witty, wise or inspiring, let's get this Monday started with these links:

Space

What You Didn’t Know About the Apollo 11 Mission, wherein we discover more than a few facts about the first moon landing, including its (lack of) popularity among citizens and politicians, and about some of the motivations for America's moonshots.

Here Is the Soviet Union's Secret Space Cannon, wherein we get a peek at the repurposed weapon that was added to one of the USSR's Almaz military orbiting stations in the 1970s for protection (and maybe other purposes, too).

Humans will ruin outer space just like they’ve ruined everything else, wherein Monica Vidaurri argues that as human activity in space increases, that activity will mirror previous eras of expansion, colonization, exploitation, and imperialism.

The Dark Side of Technology

How ‘dark patterns’ influence travel bookings, wherein we learn how ecommerce websites use verbal and visual nudges to try to influence who, what, and when we buy something, and why those nudges are misleading.

The Fantasy of Opting Out, wherein we learn that it's almost impossible not to be under watch by powers greater than ourselves, and that obfuscation might be a better strategy than trying (unsuccessfully) to completely opt out.

The Hacker Who Took Down a Country, wherein we learn about Daniel Kaye, who created a massive botnet that took down Liberia's telecommunications infrastructure, a botnet which then got out of control.

Odds and Ends

Prescription for Journalists: Less Time Studying Twitter, More Time Studying Math, wherein John P. Wihbey argues that journalists need to shift their focus from the superficial and what's easy to digest, and focus on being able to interpret and communicate data.

The Secret to Shopping in Used Bookstores, wherein we learn that a visit to a used bookstore can be more than a chance to score a cheap read; it's an opportunity to expand our reading horizons.

Where Am I?, wherein Heather Sellers tells us how she learned her inability to orient and locate herself wasn't something unique, and how she developed strategies to deal 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.

Something you're not going to find in this space is one or more links to a certain virus that's stomping on the world at the moment. There's so much information, good and bad, out there about this situation that me linking to any of doesn't do much good. Just remember not to panic and to take steps to protect yourself and those around you folks.

I know you have it in you to be sensible. Don't let me down.

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

Technology

AIM was the killer app of 1997. It’s still shaping the internet today, wherein we discover how the once-ubiquitous messaging tool became the template for not just the other instant messaging apps that followed, but also for how software developers and designers approached user experience.

Thanks for inspiring a generation of pointless gadgets, Keurig, wherein the creator of the coffee maker is taken to task for inspiring a whack of wasteful devices that require even more products to make it functional.

How The Invention Of Spreadsheet Software Unleashed Wall Street On The World, wherein we discover how a tool that was intended to save time and effort turned into an unstable and unreliable financial weapon.

Environment

It’s Time To Talk About Solar Geoengineering, wherein we're introduced to the concept of solar geoengineering, and learn why in some circles it's considered one of the keys to fighting climate change.

Forest for the Trees, wherein Rosa Boshier explains that the idea of nature is a multi-faceted one, and that no matter where we are or what we think, we're often within nature.

To decarbonize we must decomputerize: why we need a Luddite revolution, wherein Ben Tarnoff looks at how the world's hunger for data is helping to warm the planet (in a bad way) and argues that not all spheres of life should be rendered into data and computed upon.

Odds and Ends

My fancy smartphone could never give me what the landline gave my grandmother, wherein Manavi Kapur recalls how a landline telephone gave her grandmother and her grandmother's sisters a strong familial bond, despite the physical distances between them.

Recorded for Quality Assurance, wherein Camilla Cannon explains that the monitoring of customer service calls has as much to do with surveillance as it does with improving customer service.

The Day I Found Out My Father Was a Spy, wherein Steve Healey recounts the effects of that revelation on his family, and how he used writing poetry to make some sense 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.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Business

The uncertain future of your neighborhood dry cleaner, wherein we discover how startups have been trying to disrupt the drycleaning industry in New York City, and how those efforts are harming that industry as a whole.

Prime Mover: How Amazon Wove Itself Into the Life of an American City, wherein we take a deep dive into what Amazon and its business practices are doing to other business, and to workers, in Baltimore.

Indie booksellers persevere despite Amazon, rising costs, wherein we discover that in spite of a variety of challenges, small independent bookstores in the U.S. continue to survive and, in some cases, thrive.

The Dark Side of Technology

Cryptoqueen: How this woman scammed the world, then vanished, wherein we hear the tale of OneCoin, a highly-touted cryptocurrency that gained a massive amount of investment, and learn about what happened when OneCoin's founder disappeared with all that money.

Waze Hijacked L.A. in the Name of Convenience. Can Anyone Put the Genie Back in the Bottle?, wherein we learn how the direction and mapping company, fuelled by the work of unpaid “editors” who have no experience or training in traffic management, is causing congestion and havoc on the streets of Los Angeles.

As a Facebook moderator I saw the worst of humanity. We need to be valued, wherein we get a brief glimpse into the world of the poorly-paid, highly-stressed, overworked, and underappreciated content moderators at the social media giant. And what we get to see isn't pretty.

Productivity

How busyness leads to bad decisions, wherein we're reminded that having too much on your plate means nothing gets done. And if it does get done, it won't be to the quality it deserves.

A Guide to Managing Your Time When You’re Always Behind, wherein Leo Babauta shares a simple way to do just that, with solid advice on how to overcome obstacles that are in your way or which you put in your way.

How to conquer work paralysis like Ernest Hemingway, wherein we learn about the writer's technique of useful interruption, how it can help us reach done, and how researchers are looking at how it applies to fields other than writing.

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.

Welcome to March. We're supposed to be heading into autumn in the southern hemisphere, but it still feels like summer. Shades of 2012, it seems. I'm not going to complain.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

History

Adriano Olivetti, Industrialist, Typewriter King… Antifascist?, wherein we discover how the Italian industrialist collaborated with the Office of Strategic Services to undermine Mussolini and his crew during World War II.

The Untold Story of the Secret Mission to Seize Nazi Map Data, wherein we're told the tale of the work of an U.S. army intelligence unit whose mission was to collect information that promised not only to hasten the end of the war but also to shape the world order for decades to come.

Picturing a Voice: Margaret Watts-Hughes and the Eidophone, wherein we learn how a nineteenth century Welsh singer created a device to measure her voice, and how that device morphed into a tool to explore visual forms created by human voices.

Ideas

Idleness, wherein Charlie Tyson ponders what idleness is, why we're against it, and whether or not idleness can be something positive.

Jonathan Ledgard Believes Imagination Could Save the World, wherein we learn about some of the work of journalist and novelist Jonathan Ledgard, who believes that wild ideas, sometimes the wilder the better, are the key to making the Earth a better place.

Pico Iyer on the Infinite Silences of Japan, wherein the essayist and novelist explains how silences are a key component of the Japanese language and of the Japanese countenance.

Odds and Ends

How to repopulate rural Spain? Sell its villages, wherein we learn about a woman who is selling abandoned villages in Galicia in an attempt to save them.](

Inside the secret world of America's top eavesdropping spies, wherein we get a brief glimpse at the Special Collections Service, a shadowy U.S. intelligence unit that uses technology and sometimes, sheer chutzpah, to collect information about America's enemies and allies.

The gore, guts and horror of an NFL fumble pile, wherein several retired American football players recount some scary tales about one vicious aspect of their sport, an aspect that some players embraced.

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 hard to believe that February is coming to an end. Sure, it's the shortest month but no one said it has to fly by the fastest.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Science

The future that graphene built, wherein we're (re)introduced to the miracle material graphene, to the similar materials it spawned, and the uses of those materials now and in the future.

What we get wrong about time, wherein we learn that our minds experience and interpret time differently than what physics tells us about time, and that no matter what the way in which time warps in certain situations will continue to surprise and unsettle us.

Mind the Gap Between Science and Religion, wherein Sabine Hossenfelder argues that some of her fellow scientists need to remember not to confuse postulates with conclusions and mathematics with reality.

Technology

The Crypto Family Farm, wherein we learn about an American family that makes its way by trading cryptocurrency, and at the same time learn a bit more about the history and volatility of those currencies.

The Perfect User, wherein we're introduced to the humane tech movement and learn that if left to its own devices, that movement could result ina relatively small group of Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs, developers, and designers are reforming humanity according to a privileged set of values and ideals

The rise and fall of the PlayStation supercomputers, wherein Mary Beth Griggs looks back at a time not so long ago when intrepid researchers strung together tens of the gaming consoles to create cheap and fast supercomputers.

Writing

George Orwell on Writing and the Four Questions Great Writers Must Ask Themselves, wherein Maria Popova takes a closer look at the writing advice doled out by the English novelist/journalist/essayist, and show us that advice is relevant today. Perhaps more so than in Orwell's time.

What Your Draft (and Its Problems) Says About You, wherein Helen Betya Rubinstein examines common problems writers of fiction run into, the reasons for those problem, and offers ways around them.

Seven Tips From Ernest Hemingway on How to Write Fiction, wherein we get some excellent advice for writing not just fiction but anything.

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 another week which has been something of a meat grinder. But I was still able to pull together this week's Kickoff. That's an achievement (however small), isn't it?

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Online Life

The good internet is history, wherein Phillip Maciak laments the passing of several groundbreaking online publications, and ponders what (if anything) will take their places.

I Quit Social Media for a Year and Nothing Magical Happened, wherein Josh C. Simmons looks back at how and why he dumped Facebook and Twitter, his struggles in doing so, and what he got out of turning his back on social media.

Please, My Digital Archive. It’s Very Sick, wherein Tanner Howard ponders the problems that face people trying to preserve their online presences, some of which don't have to to with the technology.

Ideas

Why learning a new language is like an illicit love affair, wherein Marianna Pogosyan explains the emotions and frustrations involved in trying to learn another language, and how that process can subtly change the way in which we communicate in our native tongues.

Ghost Notes, wherein Meredyth Cole ponders the role of smell in forming memories, and the difficulties of doing that on the internet which has no discernable scent.

Citizens need to know numbers, wherein David Spiegelhalter argues the everyone needs some degree of statistical literacy to make sense of, and (when necessary) call BS on, all the data that comes our way.

Odds and Ends

We were supposed to be living in pod houses, wherein Hanson O’Haver looks back at the Futuro house, a flying saucer-shaped habitat, and explores why it never caught on.

Why the world is running out of sand, wherein we discover why the sand used in construction and manufacturing has become such a valuable commodity, and how collecting the good stuff has major environmental and economic consequences.

Churches and States, wherein we dip into the what's new is old again file and learn that the ideas and arguments and objections around the rebuilding of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris are very much like the ones around similar reconstruction efforts in the past.

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 those last 168 hours have been hectic ones. A lot got done, but not as much as it seems. Mainly because I didn't get to tackle what I wanted to tackle. I hope the last seven days have been better for you.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

History

The world's oldest recipe decoded, wherein we learn how a group of scholars deciphered a 4,000-year-old Middle Eastern recipe, and discovered a bit about everyday life millenia ago.

Stasiland, wherein Anna Funder reminisces about her visit in the 1990s to what were the offices of the East German security service in Leipzig, and describes the chilling absurdity she encountered.

The Communist Plot to Assassinate George Orwell, wherein we learn about how the writer managed to evade capture, and most certainly murder, at the hands of Soviet agents in civil war era Spain.

Business

How Neil Young's failed anti-streaming business helped the music industry, wherein we learn how the legendary musician failed to read both the market and the advances in streaming technology, but how his ideas inspired other services to deliver high-quality streaming audio.

Big Calculator: How Texas Instruments Monopolized Math Class, wherein we discover how the tech giant made its wares the de-facto standard in American math classes, and the effects that has on students who can't afford them and teachers who regularly pay for those calculators out of their own pockets.

How airships could return to our crowded skies, wherein we learn that the airship industry never died and discover how it's started a slow, steady resurgence.

Arts and Literature

The Resurrection of the Greatest Sci-Fi Writer You’ve Never Read, wherein we learn about John M. Ford and his literary work, and the efforts of Isaac Butler (and others) to get Ford's work back into print.

Good Bad Bad Good, wherein Adam Wilson analyzes TV from this century to determine if it truly is as good as people believe, and tries to decide whether or not those shows marked a new golden age of TV.

The Book Disease, wherein we learn about early 19th century bibliomania and about Thomas Frognall Dibdin who popularize it in England.

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 begins. And with it comes some interesting (well, I think so) and varied articles for your reading pleasure. Don't say I never get you anything.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Space

Intelligent Ways to Search for Extraterrestrials, wherein we learn about how some researchers are trying to find alien life, not by scanning for transmissions but by looking for physical traces of alien technology.

V2: The Nazi rocket that launched the space age, wherein Richard Hollingham discusses how the fabled German rocket from the last days of World War II provided the platform from which the subsequent Space Race started.

The Most Precious Commodity of the Next Space Age, wherein we learn why gravity is a key factor in successfully living in and exploring space, and why artificially simulating Earth-like gravity is so difficult.

Crime

The Story of America's Most Prolific Counterfeiter, wherein we enter the world of Frank Bourassa, an ambitious Canadian career criminal who undertook an audacious counterfeiting scheme that drew the attention of both the RCMP and the Secret Service, and learn how that scheme unravelled.

The China Connection: How One D.E.A. Agent Cracked a Global Fentanyl Ring, wherein we learn of the relentless and gruelling work of drug enforcement agent Mike Buemi (and others), work that helped put a dent in a large, international drug trafficking operation.

The 70-year-old retiree who became America’s worst counterfeiter, wherein we hear the story of Emerich Juettner, an elderly junk collector who passed some of the worst fake $1 bills ever made but who got away with it for close to 10 years.

Science

Science is Not About Getting More “Likes”, wherein we learn that scientists regularly dismiss alternatives to so-called accepted theories because they're not popular, but that doing so diminishes science.

Three things the scientific community can do to filter sketchy research, wherein we learn (again) that some scientists are encouraged to publish poor-quality research papers and what other scientists can do to prevent that sub-standard research from circulating more widely amongst their peers.

The woman who reshaped maths, wherein we're introduced to Hilda Geiringer, a pioneer of applied mathematics who, despite her achievements, never broke through the glass ceiling of male-dominated American academia.

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 Auckland Anniversary Day has rolled around, which means a day off. Not that the entire day will be me with my feet up with a drink and a book. I've got things to do, and will be doing them. Well, most of those things ...

A quick note of thanks to the folks who recently pledged support. While not expected, that support is appreciated.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Business

How Facebook Bought a Police Force, wherein we read the tale of how the social media giant paid the city of Menlo Park to form a special unit that patrols its campus and the area around it, and the negative effect that's had on residents of the area.

Amazon’s Next-Day Delivery Has Brought Chaos And Carnage To America’s Streets — But The World’s Biggest Retailer Has A System To Escape The Blame, wherein we discover that the way in which the ecommerce giant treats its warehouse workers extends to the delivery drivers it contracts, with dangerous and sometimes lethal results.

Bally Sente: Saviour of the Arcades?, wherein we learn about videogame pioneer Nolan Bushnell's grand plan from the 1980s to inject new life into the then-flagging arcade game business, and how those plans never came to fruition.

Writing

On Tastelessness, wherein Adam O'Fallon Price argues that short fiction doesn't need vague endings, and that great short fiction is usually unsubtle, pushing through a potentially decorous finale with all the rude impatience of a business traveler catching the red-eye home.

Making, wherein Esther Rutter contrasts the creativity involved in both knitting and writing, and concludes that the power of my hands and head are interlinked.

Don’t Be a Jerk to Your Online Humor Editor, wherein we learn a little more about how freelance writers should properly care for and feed editors of all stripes, and why that's care and feeding is important.

Odds and Ends

Stone Wall, wherein Winifred Bird pens a short paen to the meticulously hand-built stone walls that dot the Japanese countryside, walls which are slowly crumbling and being replaced.

The 'King of Quarters' Defends His Video Game Records, wherein we get a peek into the (overly) competitive world of arcade videogaming, how one record-setting player was accused of cheating, and how he's trying to clear his name and reinstate his records.

Hospital checklists are meant to save lives — so why do they often fail?, wherein we learn that checklists in any environment (not just in hospitals) require careful introduction, shepherding, advocacy, and implementation to be successful.

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

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

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