Smart Baseball

Smart baseball

One of my most recent books I picked up was a new one called Smart Baseball. I found the look at the “new era” of baseball stats to be very interesting.

Predictably Irrational meets Moneyball in ESPN veteran writer and statistical analyst Keith Law’s iconoclastic look at the numbers game of baseball, proving why some of the most trusted stats are surprisingly wrong, explaining what numbers actually work, and exploring what the rise of Big Data means for the future of the sport.

For decades, statistics such as batting average, saves recorded, and pitching won-lost records have been used to measure individual players’ and teams’ potential and success. But in the past fifteen years, a revolutionary new standard of measurement—sabermetrics—has been embraced by front offices in Major League Baseball and among fantasy baseball enthusiasts. But while sabermetrics is recognized as being smarter and more accurate, traditionalists, including journalists, fans, and managers, stubbornly believe that the “old” way—a combination of outdated numbers and “gut” instinct—is still the best way. Baseball, they argue, should be run bypeople, not by numbers.

I’m a middle of the pack guy when it comes to the new metrics way. I see the value in it, but I also see value in things that can’t be measured. Moneyball brought the new way of thinking into mainstream. Smart Baseball is about bringing it to real life application.

You can buy it on Amazon in hardcover for $16.69 or on Kindle for $12.99. If you use iBooks, it’s also $12.99.

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Kuma 8″ Chef Knife

Kuma 8″ Chef Knife

Let me preface this post by saying that the chef’s knife I’ve been using and loving for the past several months is this one by Misen — more info here — and I intend to write a review of it at some point, but it’s currently on a wait list (as of Aug 22nd, 2017).

In the meantime, if you’re in the market for a chef’s knife but your budget’s a bit on the lower side, I recommend checking out the Kuma Chef Knife. For less than $30 — sometimes less than $20, depending on when you buy — you get a no-frills, decently sharp knife that feels comfortable in your hand, all without breaking the bank.

There’s a kitchen knife aficionado named Ryky Tran who runs the “Burrfection” YouTube channel, and he happens to have a few videos featuring the Kuma knife, the first of which notes the similarity in profile to a $340 knife:


Get the Kuma Chef Knife for $26 on Amazon.

Want more recommendations? Check out our “Kitchen Knives” guide.

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‘Beasts of Balance’ Game


Beasts of Balance is a digital + tabletop game that combines dexterity and strategy. You stack creatures and artifacts (which they spell “Artefacts”) into Jenga-style towers, and everything added to your tower appears in (and interacts with) the world shown in the accompanying iOS or Android app. Be careful though: If the tower falls, the in-app volcano erupts, ending the game.

Watch the trailer:

They just successfully funded a “battles” expansion on Kickstarter, so now’s a better time than ever to check the game out. You can get it for $100 on Amazon.

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Timing — the Automatic Mac Time Tracking App (Sponsor)


Time is your most precious resource. You need to know how you are spending it.
But time tracking sucks. Big Time. (Pun intended.)

The brand new Timing fixes that.
It automatically tracks which apps, documents and websites you use — without start/stop timers.
See how you spend your time, eliminate distracting activities, and improve your client billing.
Timing lets you stop worrying about time and focus on doing your best work instead!
Mind you, this data is super sensitive, so Timing keeps it safe on your Mac.

Download the free 14-day trial today and get 10% off!

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Our thanks to Timing for sponsoring the site this week.

Free Trial


Hudson Durable Goods Waxed Canvas Work Apron


Before I describe this apron, allow me to pull a quote from our 2015 guide, “Waxed Canvas Goods”:

They say people who work with their mind like to unwind by working with their hands. Whether they’re doing fine woodworking, cooking on the grill, serving coffee, or even cutting hair, a hearty and comfortable apron is a blessing.

With that in mind, I’ll point your attention to this 16 oz. waxed canvas apron by Hudson Durable Goods. It’s a durable, water-resistant, and heavy-duty unisex apron made for anyone who takes their craft seriously. It sports double-stitched tool pockets and thick top and bottom hems, and is reinforced with gun-metal rivets & grommets, all of which is to say that it can handle just about any job you throw at it:

  • Woodworking / Metalworking / Leatherworking
  • Cooking / Grilling
  • Gardening
  • Sculpting / Painting / Teaching art
  • Bartending / Coffee brewing
  • …etc

The apron measures 27″ by 34″, and the long straps allow for adjustment for just about any size up to XXL (men’s 50″ waist).

Get it for $35 on Amazon.

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Pre-order ‘This Book is a Planetarium’ by Kelli Anderson


Designer, artist, and tinkerer Kelli Anderson has an upcoming pop-up book called This Book is a Planetarium that’s different than what you’re probably already thinking. Rather than using pop-up elements to tell a story, this book transforms into six fully functional contraptions that you and/or your kids will love putting together and playing with:

Defying every expectation of what a book can be, this pop-up extravaganza transforms into six fully functional tools: a real working planetarium projecting the constellations, a musical instrument complete with strings for strumming, a geometric drawing generator, an infinite calendar, a message decoder, and even a speaker that amplifies sound.


Jason Kottke got a chance to play with the tiny planetarium and loved it:

When I cracked it open, I actually squealed. Seriously, this thing is super awesome. We took it and my iPhone flashlight into the darkest room in the house and sure enough, there was the Big Dipper projected onto the ceiling…my kids could barely stop saying “this is so cool”.

In this Instagram video, Anderson plays with two of the book’s contraptions (guitar and calendar):

A post shared by Kelli Anderson (@kellianderson) on

The book is slated to release on October 3rd, 2017, and can be pre-ordered now for $26 on Amazon.



Marvel’s ‘The Defenders’ is Out on Netflix


In case you missed the news yesterday, Netflix ~finally~ released Marvel’s The Defenders, the culmination of all four of their superhero shows on the platform: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist. (If you’ve seen those shows by now, it goes without saying that this is no series for kids, however much they might love comic books.)

Seeing these four team up Avengers-style is a real treat for us Marvel fans. The show manages to offer up plenty of fanservice without wasting much time getting new viewers caught up. The music is awesome, especially during Luke Cage’s scenes. Iron Fist is a better fighter here than he was in his own first season. Jessica Jones still has an enjoyable way of mouthing off to everyone. Sigourney Weaver’s villain character is one of the best to come out of the Defenders universe. Charlie Cox’s Daredevil remains my favorite character of the bunch, and he deserves to get some screentime in the MCU someday, perhaps alongside Spider-Man.

In other words, everything about this show is awesome. I don’t want to spoil anything else, but if you’re at all a fan of the previous Marvel/Netflix series and you haven’t started binge-watching this one yet, what are you waiting for?

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Townsends Folding Frying Pan


In last week’s Quality Linkage, I pointed readers to the Townsends YouTube channel, along with their company, Jas. Townsend & Son, Inc, both of which focus on 18th-century living.

As it happens, their company offers a cool foldable handforged iron skillet that you could use if you’re into the whole 18th-century reenactment scene, or if not, you could simply use it on the trail or while camping. It’s a bit thinner than cast iron, so you’ll have to keep a closer eye on it while cooking, but the convenience of the 8″ folding handle when you’re done is worth the tradeoff.


The 6″ pan is actually hammered into its shape, which you’ll be able to tell once you get a close look at its forge markings. Speaking of, you can see some close-ups of the skillet starting at 3:19 of this monk’s outdoor video (yes, you read that right):

The pan also comes pre-seasoned, though you’ll probably want to add a coat or two of your own seasoning before use. At the 4:08 mark of this video, Jon Townsend shows you how to season an earlier version of this skillet over an open flame:

Get the skillet for $96 at

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Quality Linkage: Crown Shyness, Disaster Factories, and Retraining Your Brain to Enjoy Boredom


Welcome to this week’s edition of our Friday Quality Linkage column. Please enjoy this week’s collection of interesting and entertaining links. Brew a fresh cup of coffee, find a comfortable place, and relax.

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Photo: Dag Peak

Photo: Dag Peak

“Crown Shyness” Phenomenon in Trees »

This is one of those things you may have seen around the internet this week, but I’m mentioning it here anyway because I think it’s neat. Crown shyness is a natural phenomenon in some tree species, in which “the crowns of fully stocked trees do not touch each other, forming a canopy with channel-like gaps.”

To this day, the exact reason for crown shyness is uncertain. Professor Alan J. Rebertus wrote about it in 1988:

In northeastern Australia, where eucalypts are subjected to severe and prolonged winds, Jacobs (1955) believed that contact between crowns caused abrasion and death of sensitive growing tips. Putz et al. (1984) found numerous dead twigs on the branches bordering crown shyness openings in black mangrove, as well as a positive correlation between the width of crown shyness openings and how far adjacent pairs of trees travelled as they swayed in the wind.

However, Ng (1977) found no evidence for direct abrasion in Dryobalanops aromatica, a crown-shy species in Malaysia, and suggested that the growing tips were able to sense light and stop growth when nearing adjacent foliage.

Whatever the reason, the result is striking.

Photo: Blu.

Photo: Blu. View full size here.

Anthropocene Mural in Rome by “Blu” »

I recently stumbled on the r/Heavymind subreddit, which focuses on thought-provoking and symbolic art. The mural shared in this post was made by an Italian artist who goes by “Blu”.

An October 2015 post by Rom Levy of StreetArtNews offers a bit of background and several camera angles of the mural:

After a rather long break, Blu is back in Italy with a fantastic new piece of work which was just completed on the streets of Rome. Painting without a lift using a rope and rappelling against the wall, the Italian artist painted his disastrous vision and evolution of the anthropocene period. As usual with Blu, it’s a simple design which goes straight to the point.

The subject of the mural is a little cynical for sure, but I love looking at all the little details. Click here to see the full-res version.

Kevin Conroy Voices a Scene from The Dark Knight »

Voice actor Kevin Conroy of Batman: the Animated Series and Batman: Arkham fame recently guested on Rob Paulsen’s Talkin’ Toons podcast and ended up doing a rendition of Christian Bale’s ending speech from The Dark Knight, but in his own uniquely gravelly style.

“Malhari” Dance Video »

Sure, you can read about the Bollywood movie this is from or check out the Reddit thread I found it in, but look, sometimes you just need to watch and enjoy a thing, sans context, without overthinking it. This is one of those things.

The Disaster Factory »

Greg Knauss wrote an entertaining article for Offscreen about the “worst case scenario” thinking that professional coding requires and how it affects programmers’ personal lives:

In an environment as insanely chaotic as our modern technological infrastructure – made up of the most advanced science we have, and often held together with chewing gum and good intentions – the only rational response is a deep and abiding paranoia. Experience has taught me to see my software as a writhing mass of Achilles’ heels, a horrific Shoggoth, every line of code a potential disaster. And so I wrap each in a thick, protective layer of negative assumptions, so that when things do go wrong – and they will – the program can (best case) recover quickly or (worst case) not actually kill anyone.

Retraining Your Brain to Enjoy Being Bored »

Jordan Rosenfeld, writing for Quartz:

As a freelance writer, it made sense that I’d check my email frequently. But I also enjoyed surfing the Internet to break up the dull moments of child-rearing. Checking Facebook was a great way to keep tabs on far-flung friends. Before long, I was never bored: not at the post office, the grocery store, or while getting my oil changed. None of this seemed like a problem—until I noticed a creeping feeling of mental clutter, and a significant decline in my creative writing.

It hit me while I was driving one day: I no longer let myself be bored.

Man, that hits home. (Except, replace “Facebook” with “Twitter” to make it even more dead-on.) I found this article via the August 2017 edition of Kevin Rose’s newsletter, The Journal, where he adds:

Lately, I’ve tried to introduce a little boredom into my life by revamping my morning routine. Instead of turning off the alarm on my phone (which pulls me right into notifications and Instagram), I’ve now switched to an analog bedside alarm.

After turning off the alarm, I purposely avoid all electronics (TV, laptop, phone, etc.) for the first hour of the day. I shower, then take the dog to the local coffee shop, leaving my phone at home. Once I have my coffee (or tea, depending on the day) I just sit, letting myself daydream and wake up slowly for about 30 minutes.


Neat Stuff We Published This Week

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Got any suggestions for articles, videos, stories, photographs, and any other links you think we should be posting in our weekly Quality Linkage? Please do let us know on Twitter.


‘Lumino City’ for iOS


It may be a few years old now, but if you’ve never played the iPhone/iPad game Lumino City, I really think you should give it a try. It’s very reminiscent of another favorite game of mine, Machinarium, in that it’s a point-and-click (…er, tap) puzzle adventure that follows a curious hero through a stylized world full of amusing characters and captivating backdrops.

The difference here is that everything in Lumino City has a made-by-hand look and feel to it, which is no accident:

Everything you see on screen was made using paper, cardboard and glue, miniature lights, and motors. State of Play collaborated with award-winning architects, fine-artists, prop-makers, and animators; each discipline brought something unique to the design and execution of the finished game.

The first time the landscape seamlessly transitioned to another vantage point like some kind of stop-motion movie, I actually said “whoa” out loud. Luckily, the game isn’t just a one-trick pony; the story and puzzles both kept me intrigued throughout, and were worth replaying the game just to experience them again.

Watch the trailer to see that beautiful animation style I was talking about:

Lumino City is $5 on the iOS App Store.

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