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Hello gorgeous friends. I grew up in a golden age of consumer electronics. Through the Eighties, TVs, computers and hifis got a little better and a little cheaper with every passing year. Better still, I had three elder siblings from whom I could inherit stuff they upgraded.

One brother gave me an AM radio cassette, on which I could pick up late-night reruns of the Goon Show while camping in the garden. The other brother gave me his booming smokey-perspex National Panasonic hifi system, with a busted tape deck but a good FM radio and turntable. With that one I could raid everyone's record collections, listen to the top 40 on a Sunday afternoon and also pick up pirate stations blaring out acid house and electronica. From someone I also inherited a BBC Micro model B, on which I wrote shoddy BASIC and played Codename: Droid. Good times.
Radio dials are cool. Can't see it? Click harder!
INTRUSION: One birthday my sister bought me my own brand-new Aiwa personal stereo; the kind with little EQ sliders on the front that made barely any difference but looked amazing. Not just bass, but Super Bass. That got me listening closely to big-name albums produced in expensive studios, sparking an interest in production and technology that later kicked off my career. But consumer electronics are very different now: these days, they're listening back at you...

Today's home technology is interdependent and over-intrusive. Our connected devices make those Eighties hand-me-downs look twee and primitive. But handing any of it down to my nieces and nephews isn't as straightforward as it was for my siblings, since little of it can safely be used by unsupervised kids. That's a real shame, as it deprives them of inspiring, magical experiences afforded to me.

This is the time of year when the tech press warns us to think twice before giving gifts with a microphone or camera, as connected devices have a bad history on security and data privacy. It's particularly problematic for those, like children, who can't be expected to grasp the risks. It's complex for parents to assess whether to allow smart speakers or other connected devices into the home.

Buyers may find comfort in that Big Tech invests heavily in the security of its ecosystems, for the repetitional damage of a security breach gets very expensive. So if their devices are intrusive, at least they are only trying sell you more stuff. Probably. But connected devices enter the home made by manufacturers of all kinds, most of whom have limited or no credible security provision. Toy makers are possibly worst. πŸ€–
πŸ•΄ Why some people are impossibly talented: What makes a polymath, and can cross-discipline expertise tackle our most pressing challenges?

πŸ”₯ Climate tipping points: too risky to bet against: politicians, economists and even some scientists have tended to assume that climate tipping points are of low probability, yet they could be more likely than was thought and have high impacts, potentially committing the world to long-term irreversible changes.

πŸ’– It may not take much love to boost your well-being: research suggests brief feelings of love throughout the day may be connected with psychological well-being.

πŸ’· Equal Pay Day campaign mints fake pound coins worth 82p as a reminder that on average UK women earn just 82p for every pound earned by men.

πŸ₯› Glass half-full: how I learned to be an optimist in a week: optimists have fewer strokes, sleep better and live longer than pessimists. Can you adopt optimism as your default outlook? Apparently so, by embracing your Best Possible Self, keeping a gratitude journal and changing your narrative. See also πŸ’₯BLAST! 16 from July.

😷 Massive Attack Launch Major Study of Music Industry Carbon Emissions: while Coldplay have announced they would pause touring until they could approach carbon neutrality, Massive Attack have teamed up with a broad group of climate scientists to map the carbon footprint of band tour cycles, and present options to reduce emissions.

🎀 Hit the High Notes: sing straight into your browser to test your range against famous voices. Don't wait until you're alone. Try it at work, or on the train. G'wan.
Think of the children: All this is a universe away from my sister's gift of a Walkman. At no time did my use of it inform its maker, nor the makers of any music I played, anything about me. But with contemporary technology's intrusiveness, I wonder what this does to the curve of adoption for technological innovations in general. In young families, you could see how uncertainty over security would push the curve backwards. But this then compounds the problem, as we need to be teaching kids about data privacy, the way we teach them about other risks they face.

Users delaying adoption doesn't slow the general rate of technological progression. But Big Tech's approach of wrapping products in evermore complex terms and conditions is ultimately flawed: users cannot consent to terms they can't possibly understand. Further, we're all responsible for the ethics of technology, not only for ourselves but for everyone else, and no matter if or how late they choose to adopt. ✊
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Finally: After watching Mary Beard interviewing the prolific Clive James last year, I remember thinking there remains so much of his work I've not yet uncovered. I put together a playlist of the few old TV shows that made it to YouTube, then started through some of his books I'd not read.

In the week of James' passing, the New Yorker celebrates his flair as a critic. That I enjoyed his memoirs in the wrong chronology somehow doesn't matter, for this is the great skill of the poet: the magic isn't so much what is done, but how. ✍️

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Found something 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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