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  • I have nostalgia for the brass and bakelite dawn of technology, when mustached engineers switched brass switches insulated with bakelite, and operated the morse code machine which created sharp electric impulses that were made to fly away as electromagnetic waves from large antennas in California with the speed of light and picked up in London or Vladivostok by machines operated by similarly mustached engineers.

    Well, nostalgia is too big of a word since I was born a few decades later, but I do see similarities between those morse machines and the radios I took apart in the fifties, which still used bakelite.

    Bakelite is an insulating mass pressed together from material I could look up on the internet but I skip it since everybody can do this. It smells in a peculiar unforgiving way when you touch it accidentally with the soldering iron. If I smell burning bakelite ever again, then I'm sure the sensation will transport me back to the attic of my parents' house where I spent my long afternoons and evenings with capacitors and resistors and coils and tubes, trying to recreate a radio working on the superheterodyne principle from scratch.

    (Photograph I took of a picture in the Marconi Station, north of San Francisco, which has been turned into a museum.)
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