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:

Space

When the Earth Had Two Moons, wherein we learn about a new model that tries to explain how our planet's sole satellite took on its current asymmetrical state.

The space station race, wherein we learn about the intended fate of the International Space Station and what the United States hopes to replace it with.

We need a more egalitarian approach to space exploration, wherein Ramin Skibba argues for less corporate influence in efforts to explore the solar system, and for us to consider the moral challenges of that exploration.

History

World Series: The sports data pioneer who spotted baseball's big fix of 1919, wherein we learn about how sportswriter Hugh Fullerton used the detailed notes he took to not only prove that the 1919 World Series was being manipulated by gamblers, but to predict the winners of baseball's championship.

How a handful of prehistoric geniuses launched humanity's technological revolution, wherein we learn about how some key inventions, which helped archaic peoples advance, may have developed and spread — and no just by or to modern humans.

William Wells Brown, Wildcat Banker, wherein we learn how an escaped slave, who became a popular author and lecturer, may or may not have started his own bank in a small Michigan town and how he used that story as a key part of this writing and talks.

Productivity

Tackling Hard Tasks, wherein we get three pieces of simple advice that can help us tackle the difficult work that we're avoiding.

Time management has become harder than ever — and we should be grateful, wherein Brad Aeon argues that our problems with managing our time have a lot to do with choices and freedoms, choices and freedoms that we didn't have 30 or even 20 years ago.

What Would Happen If We Slowed Down?, wherein Cal Newport wonders about what would happen to us professionally if we decided to work 20% less.

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:

Online Life

Social Media Is Attention Alcohol, wherein Derek Thompson argues that social media, especially Instagram, is like a social lubricant that can be delightful but also depressing (of which the weighting is heavily on the depressing side).

Can Matt Mullenweg save the internet?, wherein we learn about what drives the co-founder of Automattic, and why he believes open winning the web is not a matter of if, only when.

Who Owns Our Data?, wherein Aziz Z. Huq looks at how current laws don't provide for ownership of our data, and discusses a model for collective ownership of personal data to counter that.

Writing

Notes on Newsletters, wherein Ben Evans offers a brief history of the email newsletter and how it led to services like Medium and Substack (and others).

From Construction to Teaching: Seven Writers On Their Day Jobs, wherein a group of scribes you haven't heard of (at least not yet) discuss how they make ends meet while trying to launch their writing careers.

Can “Distraction-Free” Devices Change the Way We Write?, wherein Julian Lucas surveys the landscape of devices that purport to help writers focus on their work, and (whether inadvertently or not) veers into the area of tool fetishism among scribes.

Odds and Ends

The Loneliness Of The Long-Distance Pilot, wherein we get a piece of essay fiction about the daily struggles and stresses of a remote combat drone pilot.

My Parents Collect Cans for a Living, wherein Jessica Yauri discusses how she slowly went from shame to pride about how her family earns money to pay their bills.

Doughnuts: The fried treat that conquered the modern world, wherein we learn the genesis of the popular snack, and how the confection has long been tinged with nationalism.

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

No Old Maps Actually Say 'Here Be Dragons', wherein we learn how ancient cartographers did mark unknown territory on their maps and that the hackneyed phrase only appears in one place — and it's not a map.

The hand-cranked calculator invented by a Nazi concentration camp prisoner, wherein we learn about the Curta, a revolutionary portable calculator that was immensely popular from the late 1940s until the advent of portable electronic calculating devices in the early 1970s.

The lost history of the electric car – and what it tells us about the future of transport, wherein Tom Standage looks back at the genesis of electric vehicles, and how the push to shift to the electric car could mean us rethinking not just the propulsion technology that powers cars, but the whole idea of car ownership.

Technology

Can Afghanistan’s underground “sneakernet” survive the Taliban?, wherein we learn about Afghani computer kars, who sell digital media and how they had to adapt their meagre businesses when the Taliban came back into power.

The Magnificent Bribe, wherein Zachey Loeb explains why, despite outcry against a lot of them, people still embrace certain tech platforms and technologies.

Smartphones Are a New Tax on the Poor, wherein we learn that the digital divide is still with us, and that's mainly thanks to the cost of smartphones and data plans, which many low-wage workers can barely afford.

Work

How working unpaid hours became part of the job, wherein we learn that the perceived need to devote yourself to your job and the illusion of longer hours equaling higher productivity has kept workers at their desks for far longer each day.

Delivery Failed, where we get a look into the strange dealings, and sometimes stranger management culture, at a company that promised to build electric delivery vehicles but collapsed with huge debts and disgruntled, unpaid employees.

Why it's so hard for US workers to ask for time off, wherein we learn about the complex mix of professional pressures and cultural mores that combine to keep US workers pinned to their desks.

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:

Crime

To Catch a Turtle Thief: Blowing the Lid Off an International Smuggling Operation, wherein we take a peek into a corner of the world of wildlife crime: the international trade in baby terrapins, and why that trade is potentially lucrative.

A physicist studied Ben Franklin’s clever tricks to foil currency counterfeiters, wherein we learn a bit about the history of passing fake currency and how people have tried to fight back against those efforts.

The Notorious Mrs. Mossler, wherein we learn about the 1960s trial of a glamorous Houston socialite who was accused of killing her husband, and what happened afterwards.

Technology

Screwed Over, wherein Arianne Shahvisi looks at how planned obsolescence is core to the logic of capitalism and how we need to be able to repair what we buy and own.

Can big tech ever be reined in?, wherein John Naughton explores whether or not it's too late for governments for governments to curb the power and influence accumulated by technology giants over the last 20-odd years.

Half a Billion in Bitcoin, Lost in the Dump, wherein we hear yet another story of a lost Bitcoin wallet, and the efforts of the person who lost it to excavate the hard drive containing his wallet's private key from a Welsh dump.

Odds and Ends

To Be Happy, Hide From the Spotlight, wherein Arthur C. Brooks explains why fame is terrible for happiness, regardless of what we may think.

The anchor-outs: San Francisco’s bohemian boat dwellers fight for their way of life, wherein we learn about a water dwelling subculture in San Francisco's bay area, one that's gradually being destroyed in the push for gentrification.

The Dust That Measures All Our Time, wherein Steven Connor pens a paen to sand, that quasi-choate matter that has so many literary, mythical, and practical uses.

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

The Strange History of the Worst Sentence in English Literature, wherein we discover the history of It was a dark and stormy night, how what came after that sentence is even worse, and about the author who penned that sentence.

In Argentina, cheap government-issued netbooks sparked a musical renaissance, wherein we learn how young people in the South American country embraced small, underpowered laptops and with them unleashed their creativity.

What We Overlook In The Shining, wherein Cale Brooks looks at why some people are obsessed with Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of the Stephen King novel, and tries to plumb the depths of the movie.

Space

Where Aliens Could Be Watching Us, wherein Lisa Kaltenegger explores how planetary scientists have identified exoplanets, which is how alien civilizations could discover Earth.

Can This DIY Rocket Program Send An Astronaut To Space?, wherein we learn about the team that makes up Copenhagen Suborbitals, a group of volunteers at the world's only crowdsourced crewed spaceflight program who are trying to put humans in space without the backing of industry or government.

Technosignatures are a sea change in the search for alien life, wherein Corey S. Powell looks at a new path towards searching for alien intelligence, one that searches for ways in which a civilization modifies its environment in detectable ways.

Business and Economics

Here are responsible shareholder tactics that actually work, wherein Ellen Quigley argues that so-called responsible shareholder tactics generally aren't very effective but that universal owners can change the way a company operates.

Inside Amazon’s Failures to Protect Your Data: Internal Voyeurs, Bribery Scandals and Backdoor Schemes, wherein we learn how the ecommerce giant, in an effort to delight its customers, played fast and loose with the personal information of those customers putting them at all kinds of risk.

Cereal Killers: How 80-Hour Weeks and a Caste System Pushed Kellogg's Workers to Strike, wherein we learn how the breakfast food giant has been jerking its employees around, and how those employees are trying to fight back to gain better wages, better conditions, and more dignity.

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

The Rise of the Elite Anti-Intellectual, wherein we learn about the modern origins of populist anti intellectualism, often promoted by those who can consider themselves to be among the elites whom they decry.

The Tiredness Virus, wherein Byung-Chul Han argues that the COVID-19 pandemic, and its attendant isolation and lockdowns, have afflicted many of us with a deep seated ennui, an ennui which we can't shake.

Same Old, wherein Sun-Ha Hong looks at how speculative visions of a techno-utopian future present an unchanging, uncritical view of society itself, and not a good view either.

Work

Remote Work Incentives Are a Scam, wherein Jake Maynard argues that offering cash incentives to remote workers to entice them to relocate to rural areas is something akin to gap years for white-collar professionals, a mid-life AmeriCorps.

Loving Your Job Is a Capitalist Trap, wherein Erin A. Cech argues that the advice around following your passion has personal and financial risks, and offers some ideas about how to passion seeking less financially risky.

The Great Escape, wherein David Dayen talks with employees who have, or are on the verge of, quitting to learn about the whys underlying the so-called Great Resignation.

Odds and Ends

Gentrifying New York, wherein Leonard Quart laments the changes to the city, ones which are blunting its character and which are done not to help create a more equitable and just city, but to garner immense profit for its developers.

The American Prison System’s War on Reading, wherein Alex Skopic explores why several correctional departments in the US are restricting or banning donations of books to prisoners.

Japan's Concrete Housing: The History of Danchi, wherein we learn about the origins of the bleak-looking apartment blocks that popped up around Japan after World War II, their decline, and how people today are trying to revitalize existing danchi for a new generation.

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

Surveillance, Companionship, and Entertainment: The Ancient History of Intelligent Machines, wherein we learn about humanity's fascination with antonymous mechanical devices, a fascination that dates back many thousands of years.

An Unearthly Spectacle, wherein we get a detailed history of the creation and detonation of the largest nuclear weapon in history: the Soviet Union's Tsar Bomba.

The Biro, the invention that changed the writing game, wherein we learn about how the ballpoint pen came about, and how it went from an expensive curiosity to a cheap, ubiquitous writing tool.

Online Life

The Real Benefits Of Staying Off Social Media, wherein we learn that shunning services like Twitter and Facebook can not only make use happier it also forces us to face our real-world problems.

A History of the Data-Tracked User, wherein Tanya Kant looks at the ethical issues around how commercial web platforms collect and use data, and at the long history behind it.

A young Argentine was caught in a cocaine-fueled celebrity scandal; 25 years later, Google won’t let her forget, wherein, through the story of Natalie Dengri, we learn how difficult it is for anyone to exercise their right to be (digitally) forgotten, even when they did nothing wrong in the distant past.

Odds and Ends

Americans Once Celebrated Thanksgiving with Tricks, Treats, and Mayhem, wherein we learn about Ragamuffin Day, an adjunct to Thanksgiving that was a day when New York’s children had a rare opportunity to cut loose.

Like Clockwork, wherein we learn how the standardization of time in the 19th century changed the way we look at business and fashion.

Why So Many Icelanders Still Believe In Invisible Elves, wherein we learn why over half the denizens of the volcanic island nation believe in those imaginary beings, and how that belief has been woven into everyday life.

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:

Science

Galileo the Science Publicist, wherein Mario Livio explains that science, now more than ever, needs talented advocates and explains why the Italian astronomer was one of the best.

Slime, wherein Susanne Wedlich takes us through our fascination with this primordial substance, and how we're starting to understand more about it and use it.

Meet the Father of Digital Life, wherein we learn about the life and work of Nils Aall Barricelli, a pioneer in using mathematical models and computers simulate the evolution of what he described as numerical organisms.

History

Inside Abraham Lincoln’s Surprising Career As A National Wrestling Champ, wherein we learn about the U.S. president's skills as a grappler, and how his reputation as a wrestler helped him on the campaign trail.

Raising a Stink, wherein we enter the world of (human) waste collectors in Tokugawa-era Japan and why their pungent cargo was so important to the country at the time.

The Story Of The Max Headroom Incident, America’s Creepiest Unsolved TV Hack, wherein we learn about an infamous signal hijacking in Chicago in 1987, how it was done, and why who did it (and their motives) remains a mystery.

Odds and Ends

The New Luxury Vacation: Being Dumped in the Middle of Nowhere, wherein Ed Caesar recounts his sojourn into the world of the new adventure holiday aimed at the wealthy.

Following In The Footsteps Of Bruno Taut, wherein Ikuru Kuwajima repeats a journey through Japan made by the avant-garde German architect to both see what made Taut appreciate Japan and what has changed in the intervening years.

What It Takes to Climb the World’s Most Forbidding Cliffs, wherein we meet Tommy Caldwell, a legendary figure in the world of rock climbing whose lengthy career in the sport has seen him conquer some of the most challenging rock faces around the globe.

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 10 days into 2022 and, to be honest, it still feels like 2021. Am I being a bit to impatient? Or just a bit too hopeful that something will change for the better? Patience, patience ...

Let's get this Monday started with these links:

History

The Butcher of Havana, wherein we learn about Herman Marks, an American who became a notorious executioner in post-revolution Cuba and what happened after he fled the island nation to return to the United States.

The History of “Radio Row,” NYC's First Electronics District, wherein we learn how, long before Tokyo's Akihabara, a street in Manhattan brought the latest and greatest in electronics to both the hobbyist and the general public.

The Pirate Queen Who Avenged Her Husband’s Death on the High Seas, wherein we learn the story of Jeanne de Clisson who, after her husband was executed for treason, raised an army and then commanded a small squadron of pirate vessels to enact revenge on those who wronged her family.

The Dark Side of Technology

The Downside to Surveilling Your Neighbors, wherein we learn that home surveillance apps, like Amazon's Ring, can be a boon to law enforcement but can also promote vigilantism and racism online.

Luxury Surveillance, wherein we learn how some people, with a bit (or more than a bit) of cash to spare, are willingly and often unwittingly paying corporations and governments to track them.

Singapore’s tech-utopia dream is turning into a surveillance state nightmare, wherein we learn how the technocratic state has become something of a modern, digital panopticon — all in the name of social order.

Environment

'The most important number you've never heard of', wherein we learn about the social cost of carbon which, among other things, accounts for the impact that today's emissions will have on future generations.

The hidden climate costs of America’s free parking spaces, wherein we learn that offering free parking in urban centres in the afternoons and evenings only encourages people to drive more, and how the spaces could be better used.

How flooded coal mines could heat homes, wherein we learn how the traditional source of pollution in the UK could become a source of clean energy.

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:

Crime

My Father, the Hitman, wherein James Dolan reminisces about his father, a criminal who met a brutal end, an end that kicked off what has become a 37-year search for truth and understanding.

The Company Man, wherein we learn how, from humble beginnings in China and Canada, Tse Chi Lop changed the face of the illegal drugs trade, generated revenue that put many large, legitimate enterprises to shame, and how it all fell apart.

The Greatest Unsolved Heist in Irish History, wherein we learn about the theft of the so-called Irish Crown Jewels in 1907, a heist that involved scandal, embarrassment, and assorted theories — all at a time when Ireland was about to explode with violence.

Work

The future of work is written, wherein Juan Pablo Buriticá argues that the best way to overcome the obstacles and distances (physical and otherwise) of working remotely is through the written word.

[Letter from Alabama] Hard Bargain, wherein we learn about the (ulitmately unsuccessful) efforts to unionize an Amazon facility in Bessemer, Alabama, and the historical parallels to the town's industral and union past.

The ‘great resignation’ is a trend that began before the pandemic – and bosses need to get used to it, wherein Ian O. Williamson explains that employees quitting en masse isn't a new phenomenon, and offers some advice about what firms can do to adapt to, and manage, this situation.

Odds and Ends

The Norwegian art of the packed lunch, wherein we learn about the humble matpakke and how — aside from traditionally being a simple, utilitarian, and boring source of sustenance — it helps contribute to the productivity of Norway's workers.

The CIA Is Trying to Recruit Gen Z—and Doesn’t Care If They’re All Over Social Media, wherein we discover a bit of how the spy agency is trying to attract young recruits, young people who (despite the need for low profile in the intelligence game) pretty much live their lives on social media.

The Day I Got Old, wherein Caitlin Flanagan describes what reaching 60 years of age means to her and what lessons hitting that milestone has taught her.

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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