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.

There's a slightly different mix of reading on offer this week, but it's a mix that touches a few ideas that have been poking at my brain for the last little while. Which, I guess, is why they're collected here.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Business and Economics

How Utilities Stall Progress on Alternative Energy, wherein we learn how some large energy companies in the U.S. may be using the law and their leverage to slow down the adoption and spread of renewable energy, all in the name of maintaining their status quo.

How to build a business that lasts more than 200 years, wherein we peek into the world of shinise, Japanese companies that have been in business, and in the hands of the same families, for over 100 years, and learn how some shinise survived the passage of time and changes in tastes.

Why states and cities should stop handing out billions in economic incentives to companies, wherein we learn that governments throwing all that money at corporations rarely (if ever) results in the touted benefits or returns.

Productivity

Once I wasted 1,152 hours being productive, wherein Annie Mueller learns something I've been saying for years: tools don't make you productive. You and your focus do.

You Don’t Need to Clear the Decks to Focus on Important Work, wherein Leo Babauta explains why looking for the perfect time and place to tackle that big piece of work isn't the way to do the deed, and offers advice about how to fit that work into everything else in your life.

Why busy-ness is so damaging, wherein Jackie Smith and Joyce Dalsheim examine how capitalist society wants to keep us continually busy, and how being busy limits our ability to improve our overall happiness, promote greater equity, or save our endangered planet.

Odds and Ends

The High Priest of Heavy Metal, wherein we're introduced to Robert Culat, priest and metal aficionado who has no trouble reconciling the extreme music he loves with his faith.

The Revenge of the Poverty-Stricken College Professors Is Underway in Florida. And It's Big, wherein we learn about the efforts to unionize low-paid adjunct professors at Florida universities, professors who are part of the working poor.

A less polite version of Japanese is helping foreigners stay safe during disasters, wherein we learn how government workers in the Japanese city of Soja are adopting a simplified, less formal style of Japanese (known as yasashii nihongo) to effectively communicate with foreign residents during times of crisis.

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.

As it turns out, I was the last person at The Day JobTM to come down with a cold. After about three months of battering, my immune system decided to tap out and tell me I was on my own. Being in a haze of cold meds made reading and writing up this week's recommendations more difficult than it normally is. I did it anyway. So, I do care.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Arts and Literature

The 1968 sci-fi that spookily predicted today, wherein we're exposed to the work and workstyle of British SF author John Brunner, who was able to uncannily predict the (for him) future world.

Bookish Fools, wherein Frank Furedi looks at the long history of pompous, pretentious, and showy readers, and discusses why physical books are becoming markers for cultural distinction in our digital age.

H. G. Wells and the Uncertainties of Progress, wherein Peter H. Bowler examines the writer's visions of the future from his fiction and non fiction, visions that are tinged with both hope and pessimism.

Technology

How the First Smartphone Came Out in 1994, But Flopped, wherein we dip into the what's new is old again files, learn that building a technology without the proper supporting infrastructure is doomed to fail, and discover that we can't predict the effects that technology's spawn will have upon us in the future.

Bug Fixes, wherein Paul Ford shares a paen to open source code, one which even a someone with no technical skill or knowledge can both understand and appreciate.

Would your mobile phone be powerful enough to get you to the moon?, wherein Graham Kendall looks at that question and, despite the huge leaps in technology since 1969, comes away in awe of what a small computer was able to do.

Ideas

Mending hearts: how a ‘repair economy’ creates a kinder, more caring community, wherein we enter the world of tinkerers and repairers, who are trying to prolong the life of consumer goods, and learn how doing that saves money, protects the environment, and can help bolster society.

Noah Webster’s civil war of words over American English, wherein we learn how the namesake of the popular dictionary fought, and in many ways lost, battles to shape the American variant of the English language.

What’s in the Water, wherein Shelley Puhak reflects on the destruction of an invasive species of fish in her Maryland hometown, and how we don't always see what's in the water (whether physically or metaphorically).

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 just realized that a couple of days ago marked the seventh anniversary of my arrival in New Zealand. It doesn't seem like that long ago, but it seems longer. In a good way. I'm looking forward to what the next seven years hold.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Online Life

Can “Indie” Social Media Save Us?, wherein Cal Newport ponders whether moving away from services like Facebook and Twitter to more decentralized ones can change our online lives (for the better).

The information arms race can’t be won, but we have to keep fighting, wherein Cailin O'Connor examines the never-ending battle against misinformation and disinformation online, and explains that while the information wars we're fighting may never end we have to keep fighting new threats as they emerge.

The Internet Has Made Dupes—and Cynics—of Us All , wherein Zeynep Tufekci ponders the two-sided coin that's our relationship with information on the internet: do we believe it or distrust it? And how do we regain the upper hand?

Space

The Manned Orbiting Laboratory and the search for a military role for astronauts, wherein we learn why the US Air Force's Manned Orbital Laboratory project was doomed to die before it came anywhere near becoming a reality.

The last Soviet citizen: The cosmonaut who was left behind in space, wherein we hear the story of Sergei Krikalev who was aboard the Mir space station when the Soviet Union broke up, and who had to stay put in orbit for 10 months before he could come back to Earth.

The Eagle has crashed: the top secret UPWARD program and Apollo disasters, wherein we learn how NASA used spy satellite technology for lunar surveys in the 1960s, and how that technology would have been used in later, crewed missions.

Odds and Ends

Bellingcat and How Open Source Reinvented Investigative Journalism, wherein Muhammad Idrees Ahmad charts the growth of open source journalism in recent years, and looks at the push back from more staid media.

The Quest for B. Cooper, wherein the chance discovery of a handwritten diary in a Kampala bookstore sent David MacDougall on a quest to learn more about the diary's original owner.

The Hiding Place: Inside the World's First Long-Term Storage Facility for Highly Radioactive Nuclear Waste, wherein Robert Macfarlane takes us on a tour of Onkalo, a 1,500-foot deep tomb on a Finnish island that will be used to house the most lethal waste that humans produce, and teaches us about the problems and perils of storing such material over the span of centuries.

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

Scott Nesbitt

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

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Environment

How Can We Stop the Air We Breathe from Slowly Poisoning Us?, wherein we learnhow our lungs work as a prelude to discovering what dirty air does to our lungs, and how we can fight back.

Nuclear power is not the answer in a time of climate change, wherein Heidi Hutner and Erica Cirino argue against replacing fossil fuels with atomic energy slow climate change.

Climate change: 'We've created a civilisation hell bent on destroying itself – I'm terrified', writes Earth scientist, wherein James Dyke contends that our inability to take steps to stop climate change is partly because of a global love affair with growth and with a system we can't control.

History

Who really owns the past?, wherein we ponder what cultural heritage is, why people are so keen to preserve it, and who those preservation efforts actually benefit.

Ancient DNA is revealing the origins of livestock herding in Africa, wherein we learn about research that is piecing together the puzzle about when and how peoples in Africa transitioned to a more pastoral lifestyle, and what that can mean for the future.

We Could Have Had Electric Cars from the Very Beginning, wherein we get a history of the early automobile in America, and learn why petrol-powered vehicles beat out electric ones despite the early successes of EVs.

Odds and Ends

Dementia Stopped Peter Max From Painting. For Some, That Spelled a Lucrative Opportunity, wherein we read about how some of the people around the Pop Art icon have allegedly been taking advantage of his condition and exploiting him.

Tokyo dawn: is the impenetrable city finally opening up?, wherein we discover how Tokyo (and, by extension, the rest of Japan) is starting to become more open and welcoming to outsiders, in a large part because of necessity.

The Curse of the Ship of Gold, wherein we learn how engineer Tommy Thompson's dream of pushing the boundaries of deep sea exploration turned into a living hell of lawsuits, life on the run, and prison 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.

A while back, I mentioned that I'd be devoting the occasional edition of The Monday Kickoff to a single topic. This is one of those editions. I hope you enjoy it!

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Ideas

A City Is Not a Computer, wherein Shannon Mattern posits that the vision technologists have of so-called smart cities might not be the vision that urban areas need, or which city dwellers want.

The Inescapable Town Square, wherein LM Sacasas ponders what social media is and why we can't really escape it.

How the news took over reality, wherein Oliver Burkeman examines our relationship and interaction with the news as it's become more ubiquitous and, to a small degree, and more interactive (not always in a good way) thanks to social media.

Music of the Squares: David Ramsay Hay and the Reinvention of Pythagorean Aesthetics, wherein we're exposed to the ideas of Victorian artist David Ramsay Hay, who applied music theory to physical objects to determine their beauty.

Rules in space, wherein Marko Kovic looks at some of the potential legal and political issues that could result from nations on Earth colonizing space.

Shade, wherein Sam Bloch looks at how shade is unevenly distributed throughout Los Angeles, and explains why shade should be considered a public good in LA (and elsewhere).

The Artificial Intelligence of the Public Intellectual, wherein Soraya Roberts charts the origins, rise, and recent decline of the so-called public intellectual.

The faux revolution of mindfulness, wherein Ronald Purser argues that the current fixation on mindfulness is mostly a crock, and that embracing it can have harmful effects on us and our society.

The Books of College Libraries Are Turning Into Wallpaper, wherein Dan Cohen examines why university students are using fewer dead-trees books and what what caused that change.

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.

Instead of me prattling on, I'll leave you with this piece of wisdom:

The new world is struggling to be born, carrying passive repercussions of the past and facing active opposition from the old. The future is in place, and waiting, but we have yet to discover it. Our present position is the bridge between. This position is hazardous, because we are building the bridge while crossing it.

Robert Fripp

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Science

Why We Should Think Twice About Colonizing Space, wherein Phil Torres argues that humanity shouldn't venture out into the stars, and discusses why doing that could lead to our destruction rather than our salvation.

The Earth's magnetic north pole is shifting rapidly – so what will happen to the northern lights?, wherein we learn about the magnetic north pole and the effects of it shifting on scientists.

Phage therapy: curing infections in the era of antibiotic resistance, wherein we learn about drugs, made from some really disgusting stuff, that may be the key to beating diseases that fight back against our best antibiotics.

Crime

Drugs, guns and politics collided in the small town of Port Richey. Two mayors went to jail, wherein we get a detailed look into the decline and fall of a former mayor of a small city in Florida, and what happened to his successor.

Joe Exotic: A Dark Journey Into the World of a Man Gone Wild, wherein Leif Reigstad regales us the tale of a man whose dreams (and life) crumbled amid personal misfortune, bad business decisions, and accusations of planning a murder.

The mobster in our midst, wherein we learn about John Franzese Jr., whose testimony put his mobster father in prison, his downward spiral, and how he's been trying to reconcile his past.

Technology

Before Netscape: The forgotten Web browsers of the early 1990s, wherein we discover (and some of us old enough to remember those days, rediscover) the diversity of web browsers that came and went in the web's infancy.

Technology Is as Biased as Its Makers, wherein Lizzie O'Shea argues that tech firms need to be more accountable for their creations, and examines the havoc those creations sow.

The global internet is disintegrating. What comes next?, wherein we get a look at how some countries are trying to stop the internet at their borders, and how they're trying to push that idea, and the tech behind it, elsewhere.

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 another interesting mix this week, culled from several familiar and a few new sources. Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Environment

Heaven or High Water, wherein Sarah Miller goes to Miami to discover what the city is doing about the dangers of rising sea waters caused by climate change, and discovers how delusional some people in that city are about those dangers.

Could Adapting for Climate Change Make Inequality in Cities Worse?, wherein we learn that while cities should be trying to battle climate change, they need to also take into account poorer residents when making decisions and putting those decisions into action. Something that's not always happening.

Los Angeles Fire Season Is Beginning Again. And It Will Never End, wherein we get a scary glimpse into what's looking like our climate future, with wildfires burning hotter and more frequently, and with little or nothing we can do to contain or stop them.

Arts and Literature

JT LeRoy: The US's greatest literary scam, wherein we learn how a writer created a controversial literary persona and how her sister-in-law brought that persona to life.

The Joy of Watching (and Rewatching) Movies So Bad They’re Good, wherein Michael Musto revels in, and explains the cathartic pleasure of, watching really bad movies even when there's something better to cast your gaze upon.

Why We Write About This Thing Called the Future, wherein Naomi Alderman looks at how and why SF writers see the future — often as a mirror of society today.

Odds and Ends

A Casino Card Shark’s First Time Getting Caught, wherein Roze Travis tells the tale of how she fell in with a crew of professional card counters, and the first time she got caught and ejected by security at a Las Vegas casino.

Kidnapping: A Very Efficient Business, wherein we learn about the mechanics of kidnapping, and about the (high-priced) cottage industry of kidnapping and ransom insurance that threats of being snatched has spawned.

The Sad Tale of Frank Olson, the U.S. Government's Hallucinogen Fall Man, wherein we're introduce to the highest profile victim of the CIA's MKUltra project and how he became the main poster boy for the criminalization of psychedelic drugs in the U.S.

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 one of those grumpy, plodding Mondays which means that I can't be bothered to offer up any nuggets of dubious wisdom or motivation. So, let's get this Monday started with these links:

Business and Economics

How Inequality Statistics Can Mislead You, wherein we take a closer look at the elephant graph and learn that, for most people around the world, the view of their rise in income isn't as rosy as the graph makes it out to be.

AT&T promised 7,000 new jobs to get tax break — it cut 23,000 jobs instead, wherein we get a glimpse at how yet another large corporation, this time a telecommunications giant, that took advantage of government largesse and deliberately dodged delivering on its promises.

Inside Google's Civil War, wherein we get a look into the internal tensions at the tech giant, tensions that are pitting employees against a management they believe has strayed from the company's core principles.

Science

Your Skeleton Reveals More About You Than You Think, wherein we're introduced to the work of pathologists, and how that work not only helps us understand ourselves, but also understand early humans and even long-extinct animals.

A revolution in time, wherein Paul J Kosmin recounts how we came to measure the passage of years in the way that we do, and the political, religious, and historical changes that it wrought.

Switch from hunting to herding recorded in ancient pee, wherein we learn how a group of archaeologists used a novel method to determine when neolithic humans began switching to a herding lifestyle in ancient Turkey.

Ideas

Notes on Citizenship, wherein Nina Li Coombes ponders the nature of citizenship, and holding dual citizenship, and how the idea of citizenship doesn't always live up to the expectations that many ascribe to it.

Get Thee to a Phalanstery: or, How Fourier Can Still Teach Us to Make Lemonade, wherein Dominic Pettman examines 19th century French philosopher Charles Fourier's ideas about a perfect society, and how some of those ideas could apply to the modern world.

How Not Having an Opinion Has Improved My Quality of Life, wherein we learn that saying something like I don't have an opinion on that isn't about shrinking from debate, but about avoiding knee-jerk reactions and taking the time to stop and think more deeply about a topic or idea.

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 an interesting (at least I think it's interesting) mix this week, with a couple of articles from some sources I don't usually dip into. That doesn't mean they're not the usual quality I look for. It's just that there's always something new to discover.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Arts and Literature

When the Highest Paid Hollywood Director Was a Woman, wherein Sasha Archibald introduces us to the life and work of pioneering filmmaker Lois Weber, and to the attempt to write her out of film history.

Malcolm McDowell and the making of Lindsay Anderson’s 'O Lucky Man!', wherein we learn about the beginnings and fraught journey to completing the classic early 1970s film O, Lucky Man.

Was Shakespeare a Woman?, wherein we're drawn into another chapter of a never-ending literary saga, and are introduced to yet another theory about who actually wrote the plays and sonnets attributed to the Bard of Avon.

Technology

The Do’s and Don’ts of Tech Regulation, wherein Aral Balkan shares some ideas about the right ways and wrong ways in which governments can regulate companies like Facebook.

Cheating At Monopoly, wherein Rob Larson reminds us that, regardless of what certain founders and their cheerleaders say, the basis for what many tech giants are peddling wasn't created by them, but was the result of government-funded research at academic institutions and by the military.

Most Tech Today Would be Frivolous to Ancient Scientists, wherein we take a walk down the path of what's new is old again and learn that, despite modern STEM sorts, imagining they had invented everything, the work of ancient Greeks and Romans is the foundation for much of today's engineering and technology.

Odds and Ends

The Torments of Spring, wherein Christopher Benfey examines why some people dread the onset of the season before summer, and how April can be the cruelest month.

Notes on Being Very Tall, wherein Nicholas Kulish explains the physical, social, and psychological roadblocks that people over two metres in height face.

The violent attack that turned a man into a maths genius, wherein we hear the story of how Jason Padgett went from being concerned only with having a good time to someone who sees math everywhere, all thanks to a brutal blow to the head.

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.

July is a week old, and before we know it the end of the year will be upon us. It all happens so fast, doesn't it? Sometimes, I feel that we don't get enough time for reflection. So I guess we need to take as much of that time as we can.

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

Ideas

How Did Conspiracy Theories Come to Dominate American Culture?, wherein we learn that conspiracy theories have been woven into the fabric of America since the beginning of the nation, but now have emerged as the belief system of the twenty-first century.

A Social – and Personal – History of Silence, wherein Jane Brox explains why silence is necessary is a world filled with sound and noise.

An Appalachian Trail, wherein we learn that the Appalachian Trail was meant to be more than a hiking path. It was meant to be a wholesale reinvention of social life, economic organization, and land use.

The Dark Side of Technology

China wants to shape the literary taste of its netizens, but is it working?, wherein we learn that China's censorship extends to fiction posted online that could potentially offend the government — including a writer whose editors deleted the number 64 from his story.

Using GPS instead of maps is the most consequential exchange of technologies in history, wherein Lucian K. Truscott IV explains that GPS supplanting physical maps could have some very bad consequences, especially for the military.

What Turing Told Us About the Digital Threat to a Human Future, wherein Timothy Snyder examines mathematician Alan Turing's imitation game and ponders, 70+ years on, the effects of that idea on humanity in light of the rapid development of artificial intelligence.

History

Tracing the Incredible Journey of Polynesians Around the Globe, wherein Christina Thompson ponders how, when, and why groups of prehistoric people were able to find and colonize islands scattered throughout the south Pacific.

Japan's World War II poster propaganda against Britain in India, wherein we learn about Japan's efforts to win the hearts and minds of people on the Indian sub continent (and the rest of Asia) during World War II.

The curious origins of the dollar symbol, wherein we're exposed to some interesting theories about where the ubiquitous symbol for money came from.

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

Scott Nesbitt

Enter your email to subscribe to updates.