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Episode 1603

If Grandma Had Wheels

While compiling the Oxford English Dictionary, lexicographer James Murray exchanged hundreds of letters a week with authors, advisors, and volunteer researchers. A new collection online lets you eavesdrop on discussions about which words should be...

Dedicated to the Adorable, Useless Floof

Jonathan Saha is an associate professor of history at Durham University in England. His latest book is Colonizing Animals: Interspecies Empire in Myanmar (Bookshop|Amazon), which chronicles how the lives of animals were irrevocably changed by...

Episode 1536

The Black Dog

Books were rare treasures in the Middle Ages, painstakingly copied out by hand. So how to protect them from theft? Scribes sometimes added a curse to the first page of those books that was supposed to keep thieves away — and some were as vicious as...

All Verklempt

Of all the letters in the alphabet, which two or three are your favorites? If your short list includes one or more of your initials, that’s no accident. Psychological research shows we’re drawn to the letters in our name. • If you doubt...

Author Michael Sims

An observation about life and language from author Michael Sims: Every encounter with another human being is like being able to read half a page from the middle of a novel, isn’t it? And then someone grabs the book away. This is part of a...

A Zillion Ergs

You can’t kid a kidder, but you can buffalo a Buffalo buffalo, as we found out in this past weekend’s brand-new episode. We also enjoyed a magical puzzle and we explored: taking a bath or a haircut in finance uncanny valley lazy...