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Episode 1551

Cherry Bombs

An ornithologist says there’s a growing movement to change the name of a pink-footed bird currently called the flesh-footed shearwater. The movement reflects a growing understanding that using flesh-colored for “pink” fails to...

How to Address the President

How should news organizations refer to elected officials, past and present? There’s not much consensus among print and broadcast companies, but most organizations have their own set of rules. For example, NPR’s policy is to refer to the...

Etymology of Mince

What do we mean by the expression “not to mince words”? The New York Times’ Paul Krugman often uses this idiom meaning “to be straightforward and blunt.” The verb mince means “to make small,” and is a...

Humblebrags

Nobody likes a humblebrag. That’s when someone complains about, say, having to choose among their dozen college acceptance letters. Harris Wittles, a writer on television’s Parks and Recreation, runs the Twitter handle @Humblebrag, where...

Pithy Response from Slushpile Hell

The grumpy agent who writes the blog SlushPile Hell received a submission stating, “I have attached a copy of a letter I recently sent to Oprah about my book. She ends her show in September 2011, which leaves little time to select an agent...