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Snow Corduroy

A ski slope groomer in Stowe, Vermont, says he and his colleagues use vehicles that make corduroy, the packed, parallel, ridged surfaces of snow that are perfect for skiing. Another term for corduroy, or someone who wears it, is whistle britches...

Are There Such Things as Perfect Synonyms?

Can words ever be perfect synonyms? No. Words can have approximate synonyms, but there are always shades of implicit and explicit meaning. Consider, for example, the terms butt and derrière. Although both refer to the same part of the anatomy, they...

“Pax” by Sara Pennypacker

Martha recommends Pax, by Sara Pennypacker, a book targeted at children but in which adults will find much to admire and mull over. In preparing the book, Pennypacker spent a great deal of time studying the behavior of foxes. Martha shares a...

Whistle Britches

Writers and where they do their best creative work. A new book on Geoffrey Chaucer describes the dark, cramped, smelly room where he wrote his early work. Which raises the question: What kind of space do you need to produce your best writing...