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Episode 1549

Navel-Gazing

In 1971, when a new public library opened in Troy, Michigan, famous authors and artists were invited to write letters to the city’s youngest readers, extolling the many benefits of libraries. One of the loveliest was from E.B. White, author of...

Never Saying Goodbye

Kristin in San Clemente, California, wonders why actors in old movies often hang up the phone without saying goodbye. It’s not just old movies! In fact, you can watch supercuts of lots of modern movies where the same thing happens. Although...

Episode 1532

Off the Turnip Truck

It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time when people disagreed over the best word to use when answering the phone. Alexander Graham Bell suggested answering with ahoy! but Thomas Edison was partial to hello! A fascinating new book about...

Dial Eight in Baseball

In baseball lingo, to dial eight is to hit a home run. According to The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, the expression arose back when traveling baseball players had to dial the numeral 8 on a motel phone in order to begin a long-distance call. This is...

Episode 1526

Abso-Bloomin-Lutely

The autocomplete function on your phone comes in handy, of course. But is it changing the way we write and how linguists study language? Also, suppose you could invite any two authors, living or dead, to dinner. Who’s on your guest list and...