The Hardy Boys The Final Chapter

The Washington Post:

I recently rediscovered my youth. It made me sneeze.

It lay unremembered at the top of a tall bookcase: 15 vintage Hardy Boys novels by Franklin W. Dixon. In getting them down I took a faceful of dust and beetle carapaces.

I carried the books to my favorite rocking chair, beside my favorite lamp, and reverently broke them open to revisit the literature that had inspired in me a lifelong love of language. The pages were as thick as a shirt collar and ochered with age. They smelled the way old books smell, faintly perfumed, quaintly mysterious, like the lining of Great-Grandma’s alligator handbag out in the steamer trunk. I began to read.

Pretty soon a new smell entered the room.

The Hardy Boys stank.

Lucky Boys Confusion – ‘Stormchasers’ (Album Premiere)

I bought Lucky Boys Confusion’s Throwing the Game on a whim because an online friend told me it had a unique pop-punk meets reggae sound with hooks all over the place. It was my senior year of high-school and that was more than enough to get me to spend my lunch money on an album. I loved it. Now, some 16 years later the band are releasing their first new album in over 10 years and we’ve got an exclusive stream for you to check out. Lead singer, Kaustubh Pandav, describes the album as a concept album that was discovered only after its recording:

Sometimes you just have to reflect back on your art to see what your subconscious mind has been trying to create. It wasn’t until we got to take breath and were able to listen back to this record that we realized that we had just created a concept record. A story of how tragedy and loss lead to strength and courage in hopes to find a little peace of mind. We hope everyone can relate at least to a part of our story.

The album comes out on April 14th and you can pick it up on the band’s webstore. And, if you’re in the Chicago area, the band’s record release show is this Saturday at House of Blues.

NBA Watching the Basketball Tournament’s Innovative Approach to Crunch Time

Zach Lowe, writing for ESPN:

Elam, a Mensa member, has devoted most of his spare time since 2004 to solving the slog of NBA crunch time. Oklahoma City’s win was remarkable to Elam because the Thunder’s deliberate fouling worked.

Elam has tracked thousands of NBA, college, and international games over the last four years and found basketball’s classic comeback tactic — intentional fouling — almost never results in successful comebacks. Elam found at least one deliberate crunch-time foul from trailing teams in 397 of 877 nationally televised NBA games from 2014 through the middle of this season, according to a PowerPoint presentation he has sent across the basketball world. The trailing team won zero of those games, according to Elam’s data.

I’m not convinced this idea doesn’t make most of the game kind of pointless, but it’s definitely outside of the box.

It’s Been a Year

One year ago I retired AbsolutePunk.net and launched Chorus.fm into the world. I can’t believe it’s been a year. First, I want to thank everyone that’s supported the website for a full year and all of you that kept monthly payments on and re-signed up today with a new yearly subscription. Seriously, thank you. I had no idea if this entire endeavor was ever going to work, and all of the support has truly blown me away. I’ve loved getting to know so many of you over the past year and being able to share this experience with you. Again, I can’t tell you thank you enough.

One year in I figured is as good a time as ever to run down some of the numbers from the last 12 months:

  • 5,145 articles posted on the main site.
  • 1,004,735 words written in those articles.
  • 895,137 forum posts.
  • 34,766 registered forum members.
  • 891,056 likes given out.
  • 2,000 private messages sent per month (average).
  • 27 podcast episodes recorded (and 3 bonus episodes).
  • Over 160,000 podcast listens.
  • 83,035,328 pageviews.
  • A 6:40 average session time.
  • 13 “first listen” blogs in the supporter forum.
  • 365 days where I was happy with the choice I made.

Let’s Do It Live (Encore Episode 146)

Thomas Nassiff returns to the show to talk about live albums and when and where we think they work. We talk about our favorites, live bootlegs, and wonder why more bands don’t release more live material. We also talk about March Madness, having birthdays, the other Encore podcast, the other Chorus logo, home automation, books about tech companies, and all our usual stuff.

Hiding Music From Our Parents (Encore Episode 145)

On this week’s episode of Encore I am joined by special guest Ryan Gardner. Ryan joins the show to talk about growing up in this music scene and the bands that we first fell in love with. Then we talk a little about starting young with writing online, the lessons learned and why we think it’s important to just try, and how to maybe parlay that into some kind of career in the future. Freelancing, journalism, and how this alternative music scene has changed over the years rounds out the episode.

Thanks for listening!

Considerations on Cost Disease

Scott Alexander:

So, to summarize: in the past fifty years, education costs have doubled, college costs have dectupled, health insurance costs have dectupled, subway costs have at least dectupled, and housing costs have increased by about fifty percent. US health care costs about four times as much as equivalent health care in other First World countries; US subways cost about eight times as much as equivalent subways in other First World countries.

I worry that people don’t appreciate how weird this is. I didn’t appreciate it for a long time. I guess I just figured that Grandpa used to talk about how back in his day movie tickets only cost a nickel; that was just the way of the world. But all of the numbers above are inflation-adjusted. These things have dectupled in cost even after you adjust for movies costing a nickel in Grandpa’s day. They have really, genuinely dectupled in cost, no economic trickery involved.

This entire post is fascinating.

Write Better Songs (Encore Episode 144)

On this week’s episode of Encore I am joined by special guest Jesse Cannon. Jesse has credits on albums from The Menzingers, to Man Overboard, to The Cure. He has managed bands, produced bands, and has written multiple books about the music industry and navigating the current realities of being a musician and a songwriter in the internet era. He joins the show to talk about everything from authentic creativity when writing songs, to originality in music, to the biggest mistakes bands make when recording. We talk about sophomore slumps, how being emotionally aware leads to better music, and the entire idea behind bands writing albums for themselves versus for the fans. There’s a lot here, but it’s a fun one.

New $5 Linodes Are Great Learning Tools

Linode, which is where this website is hosted, has launched a new $5 per month plan:

We’re also introducing the Linode 1GB, our lowest priced instance ever at only $5 per month. We believe this will add a great deal of utility to our service.

I have one of these that I use for testing and to run a few basic maintenance tasks (reports, stat checking, things like that), and it’s great. If you’re at all interested in learning about servers, Linux, and basic web administration, I highly recommend Linode. You can jump in, try things out, and it’s a simple and inexpensive way to learn (they also have good tutorials). If you mess something up, it’s easy to restore and reset and keep playing around. I’m a big “learn by doing” person, and if you’re like me, take the plunge and give it a shot!

As Marco Arment once wrote:

Modern Linux server administration is much easier than you think. If you can write a halfway decent app, you can manage a Linux VPS in your sleep.

You don’t need to compile kernels, build anything from source code, partition any disks, or deal with iptables in most cases. The defaults of good distributions and packages are almost always very secure. And once you set everything up, you can leave it running largely untouched indefinitely. You’ll probably never be woken up at 3 AM to reboot anything or delete log files.

Launching a Color Picker

I really love the Skala color picker for macOS, it’s a great way to grab colors from the screen and find the correct code to use in web development or other design work. I like it so much that sometimes I want to just launch the color picker outside of an app that has it built in. The best way I’ve found to do this is to create a simple AppleScript application (this app apparently does the same thing, but writing your own is fun).

I use this icon with it.

America, America

Jonathan Kirshner:

Worse still, even if we manage to endure the next four years and then oust him in the next election, from this point forward we will always be the country that elected Donald Trump as President. And as Albert Finney knew all too well in Under the Volcano, “some things, you just can’t apologize for.” This will be felt most acutely on the world stage. Keep in mind that in those areas where Trump departs from traditional Republican positions, such as those regarding trade and international security, Congressional power is much weaker. Trump can start a trade war or provoke an international crisis just by tweeting executive orders from the White House. And that damage will prove irreversible. Because from now on, and for a very long time, countries around the world will have to calculate their interests, expectations, and behavior with the understanding that this is America, or, at the very least, that this is what the American political system can plausibly produce. And so the election of Trump will come to mark the end of the international order that was built to avoid repeating the catastrophes of the first half the twentieth century, and which did so successfully — horrors that we like to imagine we have outgrown. It will not serve us well.

Favorite Bands (Encore Episode 143)

Encore 143

On this week’s episode of Encore I am once again joined by special guest Craig Manning. We talk about who our favorite bands are, what makes them our favorites, how that’s changed over the years and what it means to be a “favorite.” We also discuss what artists have the best chance of jumping into that list in the future. Then there’s some Grammy talk, and a look at Andrew McMahon and his career, all of his different projects, and his new album. There may be some album ranking.

We Need Your Help: We’re Expanding Our Supporter Packages

This April will see the one year mark of when I started Chorus. By and large it’s been the most fulfilling stretch of work in my entire career. It’s been stressful. It’s been intense. But it’s also been extremely fun, challenging, and stimulating. As we come up on this anniversary I’ve been working on the first set of changes I want to make to the website to prepare ourselves for the future. There will be some design tweaks coming shortly, but the first thing I want to focus on is tightening up our supporter program.

Our supporter program has been a resounding success. When I started this project I made the argument that I believed the future of online publishing was going to depend on dedicated readers for websites to continue development and publication. Over the last year I’ve only become more convinced of this direction. And, I’ve been blown away by the first year of support from readers of this website. However, one of the main pieces of feedback I’ve heard is: I love this website, I love what you’re doing and want to help make sure it stays around, but I don’t really want to sign up for a forum membership account, is there any way I can become a patron without needing to join the forum community? My goal was to provide that functionality in the easiest form possible and allow readers to help support our continued existence for mere pennies per day.

If that’s all you need to hear, please take a look at our membership packages and sign up, if you want to be woo’d a little bit more, I’ve a longer pitch for you below.

ReadKit 2.5

ReadKit 2.5:

ReadKit 2.5 is a major update that introduces a new design and contains various improvements and fixes. Beside the new UI, this version also adds support for the Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro. Delicious API has been too unstable lately; therefore, this service is no longer supported by ReadKit.

My favorite Mac RSS reader got a nice update.

NightStand for Apple Watch

ElevationLab’s Apple Watch dock, NightStand, is currently on sale:

Just set your watch on, from out of the corner of your eye, no careful alignment required. Locks to your bedside table so you never have to hunt for the cord. Undocking is one-handed. Solid, soft, seamless construction. Low-profile, minimal design.

I looked at a few different charging/docking methods and this is by far my favorite.