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Episode 1550

Queen Bee

An artist asks strangers to write haiku about the pandemic and gets back poetic, poignant glimpses of life under lockdown. Plus, the new book Queenspotting features the colorful language of beekeeping! Bees tell each other about a good source of...

Episode 1528

Gift Horse

The edge of the Grand Canyon. A remote mountaintop. A medieval cathedral. Some places are so mystical you feel like you’re close to another dimension of space and time. There’s a term for such locales: thin places. And: did you ever go...

Jump Steady

To transmit information during wartime, various industries used to encode their messages letter by letter with an elaborate system–a primitive version of today’s digital encryption. Grant breaks down some of those secret codes, and...

Seward’s Other Folly

Long distance communication used to be pretty expensive, but few messages have made a bigger dent than William Seward’s diplomatic telegram to France, which in 1866 cost him more than $300,000 in today’s currency. This pricey message...

Spendthrift Snollygosters

This week, it’s the language of politics. Martha and Grant discuss two handy terms describing politicians: far center and snollygoster. Also, a presidential word puzzle, false friends, spendthrifts, and a long list of 17th-century insults. So...