Classic works of literature by William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and other great writers can boost your brain and relieve depression, chronic pain and dementia.Andrew Gregory, The Sunday Times, The Pick-me-up Papers: Dickens better for mental health than self-help books
Here’s a thought-provoking piece from last week’s Sunday Times. Mental health is improved by reading classic works of literature because…
Unusual phrases and unfamiliar words in great works of literature command the undivided attention of readers, provoking moments of self-reflection and helping shift brains into a higher gear.
And, the approach seems to be having a positive impact in clinical scenarios…
There is no evidence bibliotherapy, or reading therapy, can cure mental health disorders, but medics have reported dramatic results in those with poor mental health. Dr Helen Willows, a GP, said she had seen reading “transform the lives of the people that we see day after day at our surgery — those that are stuck, perhaps with low mood or who are socially isolated.”
Dr David Fearnley, executive medical director of the Betsi Cadwaladr University health board and one of the longest- serving medical directors in the NHS, goes further. Reading aloud with others in particular, he says, is “the most significant development in mental healthcare in the past 10 years”.
It’s interesting that, in all areas of life, we pursue ease and a reduction in friction, whether that’s making writing simpler, our background music less intrusive or our daily lives less exercised. But, like resistance work in the gym, or fibre in food, it’s the push-back, the friction that has greatest effect.
Execupundit’s Michael Wade points to a fascinating essay…
By the same token, what we could call behavioral poverty helps explain how some individuals spend their lives mired in poverty and social dysfunction. Behavioral poverty is reflected in the attitudes, values, and beliefs that justify entitlement thinking, the spurning of personal responsibility, and the rejection of traditional social mechanisms of advancement. It is characterized by high self-indulgence, low self-regulation, exploitation of others, and limited motivation and effort. It can be correlated with a range of antisocial, immoral, and imprudent behaviors, including substance abuse, gambling, insolvency, poor health habits, and crime.
Everybody loves to hate the bad guy. Here’s an interesting piece from the BPS on the evolutionary importance of baddies in stories.Continue reading “Our love of villains runs deep”
Here’s a fascinating read. It’s an interview with Danny Goldberg, onetime manager of Nirvana, Bonnie Raitt, Belinda Carlisle, Steve Earle and others.
He talks about reputation and the differences in small business and big business experience. Also, of course, he talks about the complexity of the artist-manager relationship.Continue reading “Greatest [music] managers: Danny Goldberg”
Further to my post on Saturday, the Sunday Times has an article on Ring building a similar relationship with UK police forces: Police and Amazon build ‘surveillance state’ with free all‑seeing doorbells.
Detective Superintendent Andy Smith of Suffolk police, which has provided 1,000 free Ring doorbells, said: “This is massively powerful for us. We have had at least four prolific criminals captured as a consequence of Ring doorbells and, having spoken to a number of victims, [we can say] these devices have provided real reassurance.”
Hannah Couchman, policy expert at the human rights organisation Liberty, described the partnerships as “patently inappropriate” and said: “The blurring of the line between law enforcement and private companies is a real concern.
“Amazon is building a privately run surveillance network. They are turning our front doors into CCTV cameras but without the discussion and public debate you would expect.”
Amazon-owned Ring, the market leader in video doorbells and maker of smart home security cameras, is in the news with a string of stories that beg for the dots to be joined.
Most recently, Ring’s partnership with US police departments has raised concerns over privacy, misuse of data and fears that “Amazon is building a privately run, for-profit surveillance state”.  See here, here, here and here for more information.
And, back in June, it was caught using customers’ video footage in its ads.
So, it’s worth pondering what your doorbell knows about your life.
Your doorbell knows you
If a family member falls seriously ill, your doorbell sees the steady flow of nurses and carers. The uniform that was once a sign of trust could now be a flag for marketing.
Regular visits from service engineers, pest control, florists or police? Your doorbell knows.
You could open your door to more than just a visitor. There’s an algorithm there, too.
After all, the people who come to your door are more public than the search history you’ve already surrendered.
And, Ring’s terms of service of generously broad. The company requires that:
“You hereby grant Ring and its licensees an unlimited, irrevocable, fully paid and royalty-free, perpetual, worldwide right to re-use, distribute, store, delete, translate, copy, modify, display, sell, create derivative works from and otherwise exploit such Shared Content for any purpose and in any media formats in any media channels without compensation to you.”
Google (which owns the popular Nest brand of security camera) has similarly broad terms:
When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide licence to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes that we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.
How long before online ads reflect the visitors to your door?
It’s also worth noting that UK Government guidance on home security cameras states:
“you should make sure that the information recorded is used only for the purpose for which your system was installed.”
But, does that conflict with cloud providers’ terms of service?
Sales of home security cameras are booming
The UK market for Smart Home security devices is largest and fastest-growing in Europe. Data and research firm Statista estimates the UK market to be worth $0.51 billion in 2018 and set to grow at an annual rate of 20.8% between now and 2023.
Of the UK’s 25 million homes, 2.2 million (one in eleven) has smart home security devices fitted. This is forecast to be 6.0 million (almost one in four) by 2023.
Many of these cameras use cloud storage. It makes camera hardware cheaper and easier to install. It also gives the benefit of having your video data stored offsite.
But, how much are we at risk of (once again) becoming the product rather than the customer?
Does the tech that protects your pad while you sleep, sell your secrets while you wake?
 Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, quoted on BBC (2019), Amazon Ring: Police tie-up criticised by anti-surveillance campaigners, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-49191005
 Statista (2019), Smart Home Report 2019 – Security, https://www.statista.com/outlook/digital-markets
Another great podcast from CapX’s Free Exchange series. In this episode, Steven Pinker discusses his recent book, Enlightenment Now.
It’s a fascinating book, but I confess I’ve been reading it all year. The takeaway is clear but the wealth of data takes time to digest. The book is worth the work, but this 30-minute podcast will give you the gist.
You can also get it on iTunes, here.
Photo credit: Rose Lincoln / Harvard University