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.

On the first week back at The Day JobTM post Christmas, a co-worker idly commented that January was almost half over. She wasn't kidding. Now, here we are in February. A fresh month, and something of a fresh start.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Space

Mars Is a Second-Rate Backup Plan, wherein Caleb Scharf argues that colonizing the solar system's fourth planet might not be the secure existential hedge-fund that some visionaries make it out to be.

An Atlas of the Cosmos, wherein we're taken on a tour of the astronomical project trying to piece together the most complete map yet of the universe and to try to uncover some fundamental truths about the universe.

The Eternal Silence of Infinite Space, wherein Bryan Appleyard examines our fascination with trying to discover extraterrestrial life and how close we may be to finding signs of it.

Environment

130 Degrees, wherein Bill McKibben looks at whether or not humans can survive climate change, and comes to a sobering conclusion about that.

Shifting Baselines, wherein Callum Roberts takes us on a tour of some large swathes of coral reef and looks at what climate change is doing to those reefs and the effect that has on the rest of the world.

Fossil Fuels and the American Way of Death, wherein David Lapp Jost looks at the various ways, some not all that obvious, in which the fossil fuel industry is harming and killing us.

History

Lord of Misrule: Thomas Morton’s American Subversions, wherein we learn about Merrymount, a little-known early American colony that bore witness to a strange and beautiful alternative dream of what America could have been.

How Pez Evolved From an Anti-Smoking Tool to a Beloved Collector’s Item, wherein we learn how the beloved candy tablets came about, mainly because Americans weren't interested in quitting smoking.

'Stores the Road Passes Through': The Drive-In Markets of the 1920s, wherein we learn about the development of Ye Market Place, an early shopping centre in Glendale, California, that became the template for others to come.

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:

Arts and Literature

Why Goodreads is Bad for Books, wherein we learn how the book recommendation site, which started as a path to more diverse reading, is collapsing under its own weight.

An Obscure Road to Hollywood, wherein we discover that the image of the exploited, downtrodden writer in Hollywood of the 30s and 40s is more subtle and nuanced than we've been led to believe.

Nairobi Rising, wherein Nanjala Nyabola reflects on Kenya's main city, on what it is, what it's become, and how the city's writers are digging out from under decades of government censorship..

History

The True Story of Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore, wherein Haonan Li and Victor Yaw look at some of the history if Singapore's modern rise that aren't widely taught or reported on.

The world’s most unlikely spy, wherein we learn about Virginia Hall, one of the most feared Allied spies in World War Two Europe who set up and ran spy networks, and who escaped the Nazis by trekking across the Pyrenees on a prosthetic leg.

Informatics of the Oppressed, wherein we learn how information technology had an impact on libraries in post-revolutionary Cuba and on academe and dissent elsewhere in Latin America.

Ideas

What If Technology Belonged to the People?, wherein Edward Ongweso Jr. ponders whether we can design a better system to replace a predatory and increasingly creepy system of digital capitalism.

What is a minimally good life and are you prepared to live it?, wherein Jill Lawson examines what people can justifiably aspire to as a matter of basic right.

Perfect Harmony, wherein we learn about Solfeggio frequencies and how they're a symptom of the current embrace of pseudoscience among some people.

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, a set of links on a single topic. That topic? The darker side of technology.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

The internet is an angry and capricious god, wherein we learn more about the hollowness of online rage and punishment.

Bot or Not, wherein Brian Justie looks at RECAPTCHA and its relationship to malevolent bots on the internet.

The Cold War Bunker That Became Home to a Dark-Web Empire, wherein we learn how a Dutch internet entrepreneur turned a military installation into a hub for illegal online activity.

When coffee makers are demanding a ransom, you know IoT is screwed, wherein we get another reason why I don't drink coffee and a demonstration of why we should perhaps consider not making all of our devices and appliances smart.

The Bias in the Machine, wherein we learn how facial recognition system work, and why they so often get it wrong when it comes to gender, age, and ethnicity.

Toxic Internet Culture From East To West, wherein Brett Fujioka examines the origins of, and parallels between, modern online extremism in Japan and the U.S.

Stranger Than Fiction, wherein we learn how an aspiring poet started writing political “news” for The Epoch Times and unwittingly became part of a misinformation machine.

Subscriber City, wherein David A. Banks examines the apps we use in everyday life and how they, and the companies behind them, may ultimately come to administer our access to everything we associate with the freedom of urban life.

How the Awful Stuff Won, wherein Tom Scocca examines how negativity, extremism, lies, and hatred came to dominant the internet in recent years.

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

Scott Nesbitt

Welcome to this week's edition of the Monday Kickoff, a collection of what I've found interesting, informative, and insightful on the web over the last seven days.

This week, a mix of nine interesting reads that don't fit into any single topic. That doesn't mean they're not worth diving into, though. So what are you waiting for?

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Loving the Alien, wherein Stephen Rodrick dives into the wacky UFO subculture and shows us how fervent the believers really are.

The Privileged Have Entered Their Escape Pods, wherein Douglas Rushkoff talks about how, thanks to COVID-19, escapist and survivalist fantasies are becoming a reality for people with the means to step away.

The forgotten history of how automakers invented the crime of “jaywalking”, wherein we learn how big business helped turn the streets into the domain of the car, to the detriment of pedestrians.

The companies that help people disappear, wherein we learn about why some people in Japan abandon their lives and about the firms that help make the process of vanishing easier.

My Dad, the Globetrotting Businessman, Paleographer...and Spy?, wherein Julia Métraux delves into the stories her father told her as a child and discovers that there's even more to him than she thought but not quite as much as she imagined.

The cheap pen that changed writing forever. wherein Stephen Dowling explores the history and development of the ballpoint pen and how it became the ubiquitous writing instrument.

This 'Modern' Invention Is Really 1,000 Years Old, Researchers Discover, wherein we dip into the what's new is old again files and learn that the process to create chromium steel was first used in Iran over 900 years ago.

People Are Discovering the Joy of Actually Talking on a Phone, wherein we learn that thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are opting to connect with close contacts via phone than by digital means.

The intriguing maps that reveal alternate histories, wherein Samuel Arbesman explores *imagined cartographies** and how they point to worlds that might have been.

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 a new year. After the horrors and trials and tribulations of 2020, here's to this year being a bit more stable and sane.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Online Life

What is the Small Web?, wherein Aral Balkan introduces us to the idea of taking control of our own data and privacy by building our own websites and web apps, and hosting them ourselves.

Is Social Media Good For Anything At All?, wherein Zach Baron talks to digital contrarian Jaron Lanier about the ills of social media and where social media could be leading us.

The Truth Is Paywalled But The Lies Are Free, wherein Nathan J. Robinson muses about access to information, and looks at the flaws in both the free access and paywall systems.

Work

Work Hard and Get Rich (Or More Likely, Die Trying), wherein Allegra Silcox explores the idea that the poor are poor because they're lazy, and discovers that there isn't much truth to support that idea.

Digital Piecework, wherein we learn that the touted flexibility of modern gig work is a sham, and that gig workers are doing a lot of unpaid work that benefits someone else.

How self-control can actually unleash your dark side, wherein we learn why model citizens sometimes turn toxic and about the implications of that on the workplace and wider life.

Productivity

Showing Up Even When You’re Not Feeling It, wherein Leo Babauta shares a simple formula for those days when you just can't focus.

From productivity porn to mindful productivity, wherein Anne-Laure Le Cunff explain something I've been saying for years: too many people are too busy trying to organize themselves rather than get things done.

Note-taking by hand: A powerful tool to support memory, wherein Hetty Roessingh explores the positive physical and mental aspects of taking notes using pen and paper

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 this is the last week of 2020. I don't have to tell you what a weird, wild, and downright strange ride it's been. Like many of you, I'll be happy to see the back of 2020. Let's hope that 2021 is a better year.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Ideas

Real experts know what they don’t know and we should value it, wherein we learn why true expertise is hard to come by an](d why the voices of so-called pundits and charlatans are heard so clearly.

How Pseudoscientists Get Away With It, wherein we learn how scientific fraudsters use science (which they often scorn) to gain your confidence and then distort the facts for their own purposes.

Cooking from Memory, wherein Barclay Bram explores the idea of culinary memory, which can taint our later experiences with the food we love or discover.

Business

Number Fever: The Pepsi Contest That Became a Deadly Fiasco, wherein we learn how a marketing campaign in the 1990s went wrong, and which is still the cause for simmering resentment to this day.

Why we should be wary of our loud, overconfident colleagues, wherein John Oswald looks at why people in business settings who are the most assertive aren't always the most competent.

How Amazon hid its safety crisis, wherein we learn that what the ecommerce giant tells the world about its safety record at its warehouses is a sham, and that injuries and accidents have actually increased.

Crime

The Pretender, wherein we learn how one half of a nice, normal couple harboured a gambling addiction which compelled her to steal and, eventually, drove her commit multiple murder.

Last Call for Gumshoes, wherein Phil Bronstein waxes nostalgic about the San Francisco private investigators of old, and how they might be a dying breed.

The FBI Team Sent to ‘Exploit’ Protesters’ Phones in Portland, wherein we're seemingly transported back to the days of J. Edgar Hoover and learn about the modern ways the Bureau keeps tabs on those on the left wing.

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 the Silly Season is upon us. I'm still trying to figure out where June went ... But the calendar doesn't lie. And if it is lying, it's doing a great job. Regardless, it's the start of another week, which means we can get this Monday started with these links:

Science

How awe drives scientists to make a leap into the unknown, wherein Helen De Cruz explains that when existing theories and frameworks break down, scientists draw on their emotions to try to spark a new scientific revolution.

Physics in a second language, wherein we learn about some of the challenges that non-native speakers of English face when pursuing and education and a career in physics.

Experimental Imaging at the Birth of Modern Science, wherein Gregorio Astengo explores how scholars during the Enlightenment created visualizations to accompany their research, and how they turned scientific illustration into a form of art.

Arts and Literature

The Strange Tale of the Oldest Science Fiction Novel, wherein Brent Swancer looks back at a 2nd century novel by Lucian of Samos, a novel that laid the foundation for what becam science fiction.

How to read more books, wherein Christian Jarrett discusses the habit changes that we need to make to be able to read more books.

Science Fiction in the Anthropocene, wherein Vandana Singh explains how SF at its best examines our relationships with what's around us, and how it can offer a way out of our troubles.

History

The grim truth behind the Pied Piper, wherein we learn that the fanciful tale might actually have more than a bit of historical truth to it.

For the wanderers who became the Aztecs history was a chorus of voices, wherein we learn how the Aztecs came to record, and recite, history in a way that confounded Europeans.

The Conspiracy on Pushkin Street: The Costs of Humor in the USSR, wherein we learn how, in Stalin's Russia, a poem, a few jokes, and five open minds could spell disaster.

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:

Ideas

Why Paper Maps Matter in the Digital Age, wherein Meredith Broussard discusses how technochauvanism influences us to believe that digital options are always better, even if there isn't any evidence to prove it.

After the crisis, will we build economies that don't cost the planet?, wherein Martin Wright looks at how the world can rebuild economies, post COVID, in more sustainable ways.

How to build a nuclear warning for 10,000 years’ time, wherein Martin Piesing explores the challenges of creating warnings at nuclear waste dump sites, warnings that will literally stand the test of time.

Crime

How Police Secretly Took Over a Global Phone Network for Organized Crime, wherein we learn how European low enforcement rolled up a number of drug dealing operations by infiltrating the dealers' supposedly secure communication infrastructure.

A Heist on Time and a Half: Inside The Most Corrupt Police Squad In The Nation, wherein we dip into the every cop's a criminal file to discover how a squad of Baltimore police officers not only took down drug dealers but also kept some of their product and proceeds for themselves.

The Wildest Insurance Fraud Scheme Texas Has Ever Seen, wherein we learn about how a suspected arson at a regional airport revealed so much more about the shady dealings of a showy and equally shady businessman.

Arts and Literature

How I discovered classical music, wherein Daniel Johnson tells us about how he started listening to classical music as a teenager, and how his love for that kind of music continues to this day.

All Booked Up, wherein Dominic Halton takes a mildly-amusing look at the point (or not) of reading books.

Gordon’s (Still) Alive: Flash Gordon at 40, wherein Alexander Larman looks back at a hokey 1980s SF movies that became an unlikely cult classic.

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

Tune in to the Tummy: Vladimir Zworykin’s Radio Pill, wherein we discover a strange medical diagnostic device created in the 1950s, but which never really caught on.

For the wanderers who became the Aztecs history was a chorus of voices, wherein we learn how the Aztecs came to record and recite history in a multi-layered fashion, a way that confused and confounded the Europeans who encountered them.

The 100-Year History of Self-Driving Cars, wherein we learn that the idea behind autonomous vehicles in nothing new, and how the mistakes of the past are informing the creation of tomorrow's self-driving cars.

Travel

Heartlands: Senzoku, wherein Rebecca Saunders takes us on a tour of a section of Tokyo centered around a large pond that's at the same time pastoral and urban.

The Swedish staycation obsession, wherein Maddy Savage explains how Swedes are content to vacation within their own borders, and how COVID-19 has intensified that.

The Unfolding Geological Language of Taipei, wherein Jessica J. Lee takes us on a personal, slightly different tour of Taiwan's capital, one that looks at the it in relation to the geological features around the city.

Productivity

Work Less, wherein Leo Babauta offers some advice about how you can find the middle ground between working too much and procrastinating.

How to Think Smart About Your Downtime, wherein Christian Jarrett looks at how you can use your so-called idle hours to improve yourself and advance your career.

What Does Boredom Do to Us—and for Us?, wherein Geoff McFetridge takes us into why we feel bored, how it affects us, and why boredom can be a good thing.

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

Why email loses out to popular apps in China, wherein we learn that the popularity of apps like WeChat in China is a result of people embracing an early 2000s desktop messenger called QQ, which was more convenient (and flexible) than email.

Webwaste, wherein Gerry McGovern looks at how websites have become more and more bloated over the years, the effect of that on user experience and the environment, and offers some advice on how to slim webpages down.

Socialism's DIY Computer, wherein we learn about the Galaksija, an 80s computer that was something like the Raspberry Pi before there was a Raspberry Pi.

Ideas

How We Lost Our Attention, wherein Matthew B. Crawford walks us through how our attention has become more fragmented thanks, in part, to the range of distractions that are literally at our fingertips.

What Irony Is Not, wherein Roger Kreuz explains how irony differs from its related concepts like coincidence, paradox, satire, and parody.

A Brief History of Dangerous Others, wherein we're introduced to the centuries-old trope of the outside agitator who comes into a city or region to wreak havok and to try to impose a sinister (if non-existent) agenda.

Odds and Ends

Meet the company that sells your lost airplane luggage, wherein Zachary Crockett takes us into the bizarre secondary market for lost luggage.

Overexposed: A History of Fotomat, wherein we learn about the little yellow huts that once dotted thousands of parking lots where, for decades, people dropped off their film to be processed.

Back to the Future, wherein Dolly Church takes us on a trip through the history of the drive-in movie theatre, and looks at why it's making a comeback.

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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