Limetown

Ten years ago, over three hundred men, women and children disappeared from a small town in Tennessee, never to be heard from again.
 
In this seven-part podcast, American Public Radio host Lia Haddock asks the question once more, "What happened to the people of Limetown?"
 

The new podcast Limetown is fictional (not a spoiler, it's noted on their website), but it's executed in the style of popular non-fictional public radio podcasts like Serial, Radiolab, and that ilk.

Perhaps a medium or genre comes of age once the first spoof or satire can be made, a sign that it's achieved sufficient popularity to support such a joke? This wouldn't be the first attempt to poke fun at this genre, but it's the first native spoof I'm aware of.

Related: Fred Armisen plays Ira Glass on the Doppelgängers episode of This American Life. Armisen first unveiled the impression during a dress rehearsal sketch, but it proved too niche to connect with enough audience members so it never aired. You philistines, I think it's one of Armisen's best impressions.

Spit it out

I listen to podcasts while commuting, and this past year I started listening to them at faster and faster playback speeds. 1.25X, then 1.5X, and now I'm routinely at 1.75 to 2X playback.

Now, when people speak to me in real life, it sounds like they're speaking in slow motion. I think that's one reason I have to dial in some Kendrick Lamar regularly, he's one of the few musicians who sends words at me at the pace I prefer.

Also, he's really talented. Here he is free stylin' to Taylor Swift's Shake it Off on DeDe in the Morning and performing a new untitled track on Colbert.

Things I like

  • The rotisserie chickens from Costco. I dread my monthly or bi-monthly visits to Costco because of the human crush and the four trips I have to make back and forth to my garage to carry all the giant-sized items to my apartment (it's a long walk), but one reward is the juicy $5.99 rotisserie chicken. It's not hard to roast a chicken at home, and you'll get a crispier skin and more control over the flavor, but it won't be as cheap or convenient. It's often perverse economics when unhealthy food is cheaper than preparing a meal from fresh ingredients, but in this case we're just talking about a chicken.
  • Hang Up and Listen. I started listening to podcasts on my commute about a half year ago, and the one I find myself queuing up the quickest as soon as it drops into Downcast on my iPhone. As a modern information omnivore, I'm very impatient at sluggish information delivery rates, and often I find myself skipping or speeding up podcasts that have too much dead space. Stefan Fatsis, Josh Levin, and Mike Pesca have the information and idea flow set just right for me, and the fact that they bring a bit of a geeky outsider's perspective to sports (often contrarian) may make it appealing even to non-sports-buffs.
  • Electronic gear shifting for bikes. The default reaction among cycling purists is to turn their nose up at electronic gear shifting. My last road bike was purchased in 1999, but when I went shopping to build a new road bike I found not a lot had changed. The one very noticeable change was the development of electronic gear shifting. Shimano and Campagnolo both have their own solutions now, though Shimano led the way and had a long head start into market. I ride the Campy system now, and I can't see going back to mechanical shifting. Perfect shifts every time, faster shifts, and the ability to shift under higher torque are great. You can't go wrong with Shimano or Campy's systems, I've ridden both. I chose Campy because the hoods fit my hands better, I like the longer travel of the shifting levers, and you can hold down the shifting lever to shift multiple gears in sequence.
  • Boa closure system. Along the lines of advances in bike technology, I recently upgraded my snowboard and boots, also over 10 years old (outside of my computing technology, primarily my phone and my laptop, I don't like to upgrade my stuff too frequently). Snowboards have new shapes now which are nice, but the technology which has changed my life the most is the Boa closure system, employed on both my new snowboard boots and my new bike shoes. The Boa system consists of a wire that is run through the shoe and that can be tightened with one hand using a circular reel. It tends to distribute the pressure more evenly through the shoe, eliminating pressure points, and it doesn't loosen on its own during your day on your board or bike. Someone should win some prize for inventing this. Can we get Boa closures for my jeans, too?
  • NBA.com's new Stats section. You can find all sorts of new statistics available on NBA.com/stats. Finally, we can see statistics adjusted for pace, shooting zone data, and a lot more. It's a treasure trove I haven't had time to fully explore. A few tidbits: look at Kevin Durant's amazing shooting chart and you'll understand what a smart offensive player he is. His shot volume distribution shows he really knows his own most efficient and valuable shooting locations on the floor. Rajon Rondo led the league, before he went down, in AST, or the number of passes per game that led directly to a basket by a teammate. Top player on that list who isn't a point guard? Lebron. After baseball, no sport has had a statistical renaissance quite like basketball, and this is another step to mainstreaming the vocabulary. If you're a basketball numbers geek, you can kill lots of time there.

The 5¢ Coke pricing mystery

One of my favorite podcasts, which Ken turned me on to, is NPR's Planet Money. I enjoy some long-form podcasts, with episodes approaching two hours at times, but ones like Planet Money are more listener friendly for being concise (you can listen to one in a short commute on foot) and crisply produced and edited, more like edited news segments than audio transcripts of talk radio.

One great recent episode was Why Coke Cost a Nickel for 70 Years. The story of why Coke cost a nickel for the first 70 years after it was made is more interesting than you'd suspect. I won't ruin it for you, go take a listen (or you can read the text summary, but it's only 4:34 long, and in this case, listening to the story conveyed verbally is like hearing a good story around the campfire, a tradition some of the best podcasts have helped to sustain in this high speed scanning/parsing web environment; it's the web's storytelling version of the slow food movement).