Lighter cubes/Text-only NPR/Ted Lasso


Recomendo: issue no. 227

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Charcoal lighter cubes
Until recently, I used crumpled sheets of newspaper to start fires under my charcoal chimney, but I stopped subscribing to print editions of newspapers. I started buying Weber Lighter Cubes instead. They’re the size of an ice cube and ignite charcoal briquettes even faster than newspaper. — MF

Text-only NPR
A few years ago, Mark recommended the no-graphics version of CNN’s website and I just recently discovered the text-only version of NPR. It’s very serene scrolling through news headlines without attention-grabbing images or annoying ads. — CD

Uplifting sitcom
The TV sitcom Ted Lasso is as good as everyone says it is. It’s a sophisticated feel-good comedy drama that we really needed in 2020. It’s full of no cliche, no sap, smart positivity that is rare and so welcomed. The world would be a better place if there were more Ted Lassos. The show is very bingeable. I’m eager for more seasons. The 10-part first season runs on Apple TV. If you’ve bought an Apple product in the past year (or know someone who did), you may have free access to Apple TV. — KK

Play the blues with your mouse
Even if you’ve never held a guitar, you can have fun playing a blues lead on this simple web app. Just press the play button to start the backing track and roll your cursor over the buttons at the top of the page. You can’t make a bad sound. If you’re aware of a more sophisticated virtual lead guitar app, let me know! — MF

Charting conceptual history
Google’s Ngram is a nifty tool for researching historical word use, such as the first use of a word/phrase, or how its popularity changes over time. Ngram is 10 years old, but it got a significant upgrade last year so now it includes a lot more old books. I use Ngram to visualize — to a first approximation — the relative importance of a concept over time. Its cool interface lets me click on a date range, and then it will show me excerpts from the historical books from that date with that word or phrase. — KK

Better way to practice being grateful
We have been practicing gratitude all wrong. Instead of noting what you are grateful for, you should try “mental subtraction” and think of one positive event or aspect of your life and then mentally take it away. Contemplate what your life would be like without your home, health, job, partner, etc. and the effect of this will be an enhanced sense of appreciation. — CD

-- Kevin Kelly, Mark Frauenfelder, Claudia Dawson 11/22/20