The Dann Chronicles
The Dann Chronicles Podcast
The Dann Chronicles: September 🌾

The Dann Chronicles: September 🌾

LIMITED EDITION T-SHIRT! Also, the fall of Wirecutter, your car gets creepy, a warm welcome-back to PJ Vogt, neat new iOS features, and two manageable TV recommendations

September 2023

Hey all,

Next month is officially the three-year anniversary of this newsletter. That's three years of interesting links, cool products, entertaining movies, and funny videos.

To celebrate, I'm launching a special limited edition Dann Chronicles t-shirt. If you like the design, act quickly, because it will only be available until October 14th. Then, it will be gone forever.

Check out the Dann Chronicles t-shirt

If that's not enough to entice you, your purchase will go to a good cause. 100% of the proceeds will go to the Entertainment Community Fund.

As you know (since you read my newsletter), I love watching movies and TV shows. As such, I've been following the writers (and now actors) strike closely. This three-year anniversary of The Dann Chronicles monthly newsletter seemed like a great opportunity to engage my readers and try to help.

The Entertainment Community Fund (formerly Actor's Fund) helps support programs that foster stability and resiliency, and provide a safety net for performing arts and entertainment workers.

With this t-shirt, you can simultaneously help both writers and actors negotiate better terms in this age of streaming media and show your support for The Dann Chronicles newsletter.

Order a t-shirt now


✂ Cut and dry

The Wirecutter was a trailblazer in the world of online reviews. It first launched to a world filled with junk user reviews (of dubious authenticity) and SEO-spam websites. The Wirecutter's approach was different: bring in an expert, perform hours upon hours of meticulous testing, and write the most detailed article separating the wheat from the chaff. If Wirecutter said something was the best, it was the best.

So, then, what happened?

I know I've noticed it. A subtle decline in the (quality? trustworthiness?) of the reviews. It's not something that I can really specifically put a finger on. More a sense. A deterioration starting roughly when the publication was purchased by the New York Times...

Fortunately, Charlie Warzel of The Atlantic (gift article) digs into this change with all the rigor and detail of an original Wirecutter article.

The findings? The world has simply changed. Writers are comped differently, most product categories are now filled with just-fine clones, and the rise of "trust influencers" (ie people on TikTok/Instagram).

As Stephen King would say in The Dark Tower series: the world has moved on.

🚗 Wake and Brake

I like to consider myself fairly privacy-focused, going so far as using Proton Mail (instead of Gmail) for email and Kagi (instead of Google Search) for web searches.

But I never thought I'd need to worry about cars, in relation to privacy. But it turns out car companies might be the most egregious privacy violators of any industry ever.

Nissan is one of the worst offenders, but at least they're honest(?) about it. From their official privacy policy, written in plain English, here are some of the things Nissan collects and/or reserves the right to sell (emphasis mine [sorry that, like, the entire quote is emphasized]):

Sensitive personal information, including driver’s license number, national or state identification number, citizenship status, immigration status, race, national origin, religious or philosophical beliefs, sexual orientation, sexual activity, precise geolocation, health diagnosis data, and genetic information.

They save both data collected and inferred. I have no idea how they're collecting or inferring this data, but they've got it.

Have you read your car's privacy policy?

PS: I can't believe there are still people out there who aren't using protection. Please please please freeze your credit.

👂 Welcome back, Podder

One of my favorite podcasters, P.J. Vogt, is back with a new podcast called Search Engine. His latest episode, exploring why Netlfix (and other streaming services) hide show viewership analytics numbers, is both interesting and engaging.

I'd expect nothing less. P.J. Vogt cut his teeth on NPR co-hosting (along with Alex Goldman) a show about the Internet called TLDR. Then, the two very publicly left NPR to join Alex Blumberg's then-new Gimlet Media, helming a similarly-themed show called Reply All (which includes possibly my favorite podcast episode of all time).

P.J. Vogt left Reply All in 2021 (there was a bit of drama) and remained largely quiet (minus his continued Twitter/X presence, and a self-produced limited-series podcast).

It's wonderful to see him back, doing what he does best: highly polished podcasts covering a range of super interesting content. It's like an old friend returning, and I'm all for it.

📞 Phone-y News

The new iPhone 15 and 15 Pro recently made all the headlines, but it's last week's release of iOS 17 that's the more interesting bit of news.

As usual, I turn to the funny and entertaining Joanna Stern (WSJ) for the most entertaining and accessible (video) summary of new features.

The features I'm most excited for?

  • Standby Mode

  • Contact Posters

  • Improved f@^#ing autocorrect

  • Personal voice (just because it's fun)

  • Custom stickers

  • Check in

As long as you've got an iPhone XR (2018) or newer, you get the full update for free. Isn't that better than buying a new phone?

📺 Lighten Up

Television has gotten so serious. It feels like every time someone recommends a new show, it's some involved, dramatic, melodrama with five+ seasons (and still going) and dense, hour-long episodes. Often, these recommendations go in one ear and out the other, because it feels too overwhelming to try and catch up.

Sometimes you just want a fun comedy with manageable 30-minute episodes. And that's why I have no problem recommending two fantastic shows that ended (as in, series finale ended) this year.

How To With John Wilson (three seasons, six episodes each) is a delightful 30-minute HBO show, produced by Nathan "For You" Fielder. I might be a bit biased, since it's about New York City, but I can't get enough of his dry comedy paired with the improbable candid footage he (and his team) collects. The series finale was strange, delightful, and a great way to cap the series. 9.5/10

Barry (four seasons, eight episodes each) is also a delightful 30-minute HBO show, also a comedy, albeit much darker than How To. The series finale, which aired in May of this year, reminded me of the ending of Breaking Bad. I was left thinking, "wow, these writers really know how to land a plane." 9.7/10

Did you watch either of these shows? I would love to hear your thoughts.

End note

If you've enjoyed this, I'd love it if you shared it with a friend. You can send them here to sign up.

And don’t forget to snag one of the Dann Chronicles t-shirts while they’re available. They’ll only be available for a limited time (through Oct 14) and all the money raised goes to a good cause.

Sure, I'll get a Dann Chronicles t-shirt

Thanks for reading. Until next time,

The Dann Chronicles
The Dann Chronicles Podcast
An awesome audio companion to the monthly Dann Chronicles email newsletter. It's more than just the stories, it's WHY the stories, too.