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Hello again lovely friends, hope all is okay. It's been three weeks since Gary Numan concluded his 40th anniversary tour with two nights at Camden's Roundhouse, and I can't stop thinking about it. The story of Numan's influential career is one of rise, fall and rise again. So this live show was a stylistic clash: the orthogonal synth-pop that made his name, butted up against the gritty post-apocalyptic snarl of the most recent albums.

After four decades of performance, you might expect any artist's early work to sound a little weary, but not so here. Played live, with slick contemporary production and newfound post-industrial overtones, Numan's charmingly mechanistic hit 'Cars' becomes a bright, urgent anthem of searing defiance. And just as the song has found new energy, so has the subject-matter...
Numan performs Cars at the Roundhouse. Can't see it? Click it.
CARS: Our relationship with motoring has been in constant flux for a century. In our era, the car is no longer symbolic of liberation it was when the song was released in 1979. A key change over the song's 40-year lifespan is the common concern for the environmental impact of carbon emissions. Even so, and though rideshare companies chorus how unnecessary they've made it, car ownership is still rising.

If environmental improvement is underpinned by sacrificing our high-carbon habits, then 80% of Brits would give up meat before their car. All the same, and perhaps with pangs of emissions guilt, half of young people want electric cars. Manufacturers are only too happy to oblige with an electric people's car, if only to cover their own emissions guilt.

Consumers love to spend their way out of any problem. Thing is, electric cars are not a green purchase but rather a tech-industry sell. If buying a Tesla is an attempt to save the world, it's a very foolish one. Buy electric for lower cost of ownership, easier maintenance or simply more fun, but the environmental impact of manufacture and disposal of each new car means the greenest car is the one you already own.

In particular, the impact of lithium batteries needs serious consideration. Although lithium production currently outpaces demand from electric vehicles, old batteries are beginning to pile up. Dumping them is problematic; while harvesting useful materials from them remains fiddly unless they're designed with reuse in mind. πŸ”‹
☎️ Why Hundreds of Music Stars Are Giving Fans Their Phone Numbers: Text messaging's high engagement has long intrigued the music industry as a better way to market to fans.

πŸ“œ Pome is short modern poems for your inbox from Matthew Ogle, I strongly recommend signing up to this.

🎹 The Soundtrack of the Early Web: How the MIDI format, for an incredibly short but memorable period of time, became the primary way music was shared on the internet.

🎲 The long-term benefits of losing, according to science: studying the effects, surprisingly positive, of failure.

🌱 The Vegan Blogger Caught Eating Fish: Interesting interview with Yovana Mendoza, who last year was filmed eating fish and subsequently her influential online life imploded. See also: I’m a Normal Person and I Buy My Instagram Followers.

πŸ“Ό These colourful, metallic garments are made of recycled VHS tapes: thereby finally giving me a reason to use this emoji. Loom-weaving with magnetic tape brings about a pleasing mix of old and new.

πŸ’¬ Unconventional Life Hack: Initiate Group Chats Prematurely: Don't wait for a reason. Start a text thread with multiple people, brought together by a vaguely common interest, before it feels warranted.
Driving innovation: Cars beget inventiveness. Although the market tends to force models to be nearly indistinguishable, this is an industry that has brought forth designs as crazy as the DeLorean and a whole host of concepts as bonkers as the 19ft-long Columbus MPV. So when a giant like Ford makes an electric Mustang it might raise some confidence that cars can be futureproofed.

But this stuff is immensely hard even for the most inventive businesses. Dyson made a promising start but, just as pro-Brexit billionaire James Dyson has since abandoned the UK, Dyson's given up on its car having underestimating just how hard it is to get going. The failure of the Dyson project also casts a shadow on the future of electric vehicles as a whole.

What's now clear is just how problematic cars can be. Cities like LA have a serious problem with car density, but shows no possibility of changing. The inventiveness of the automotive giants most often manifests in persuasion rather than engineering; be it lobbying to ensure the car dominates the road rather than the pedestrian, or bankrolling the introduction of a pickup-truck emoji.

On the horizon is the possibility of automotive autonomy, although the machines continue to reveal things they don't yet understand about the real world, such as the unpredictability of pedestrians. The future of haulage will likely not only be electric but also autonomous, and the future of human transport may be airborne. But all of this suggests that accidents might become more numerous and very likely more complicated. We're going to have decide how we feel about that. 🚘
Finally: The Verge delves into the crazy-making world of Bad Button Design. Specifically, the infuriating truth behind elevator buttons. Although I'd take bad buttons over bad touchscreens. Particularly those that sell tickets. Grr. [Thanks JW] πŸ‘Ž

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Found something interesting that I'd like? Is there something you'd like to see more? Or anything else; I'd love to hear from youβ€”hit reply! If these emails are not being delivered correctly, try adding this address to your contacts. More good stuff next week. Meanwhile recent back-issues are in the archive.

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