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Playlist: Diana Prince's Portfolio

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Big Picture Science (Series)

Produced by Big Picture Science

Most recent piece in this series:

End of Eternity

From Big Picture Science | Part of the Big Picture Science series | 54:00


End of Eternity

Nothing lasts forever. Even the universe has several possible endings. Will there be a dramatic Big Rip or a Big Chill­–also known as the heat death of the universe–in trillions of years? Or will vacuum decay, which could theoretically happen at any moment, do us in? Perhaps the death of a tiny particle – the proton – will bring about the end.

We contemplate big picture endings in this episode, and whether one could be brought about by our own machine creations. 


A Way with Words (Series)

Produced by A Way with Words

Most recent piece in this series:

Little Shavers (#1538)

From A Way with Words | Part of the A Way with Words series | 54:00

Awww_logo_color_square Martha recommends Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen, a deeply personal, exuberant account of falling in love with both ancient and modern Greek by Mary Norris, former copy editor for The New Yorker. Norris shares several intriguing modern Greek terms, such as  diaphani memvrani, or "cellophane," which is cognate with English diaphanous membrane. Another is the modern Greek word for "newspaper," which is ephemerida, a relative of the English word ephemeral, which literally means "lasting but for a day."

Jesse from Newport News, Virginia, wonders about the expression potato quality meaning "poor quality." For at least a decade, commenters on YouTube have used the phrase recorded with a potato to criticize a heavily pixelated or otherwise blurry video.

Jerry in Lutherville, Maryland, was reading a 2018 biography of Nelson Algren, author of The Man with the Golden Arm, that mentions a group in the 1930s that were described as hipsters or hepsters. In the 1930s, the word hipster applied to a jazz aficionado who was in the know about all the cool places to be. Years later, the term hipster came to apply to others who were similarly in the know about such cutting-edge culture as as the best beer, the coolest clothes, the best podcasts. The term hippie, which denotes "a member of the counterculture," probably derives from this word, as do hip and hep, which describe someone "in the know."

It's Quiz Guy John Chaneski's annual wrap-up of the year in limerick form. For example, a notable news story from 2019 is suggested by this rhyme: In China the scientists croon / A triumphant spacefaring tune / They're fans of Pink Floyd / Or so I have hoid / They landed a craft on the . . . what?

Matt from Portage, Wisconsin, says that as a musician, he often finds himself focused on analyzing the structure and quality of a piece of music rather than just sitting back and enjoying it with everyone else. He asks if the hosts face a similar challenge when listening to casual conversation or reading for pleasure. The answer is yes!

If you say you're going to repair to the drawing room after dinner, meaning that that you will "go" to that room, you're using a word that's completely different from the verb repair meaning "to fix." These words come from different roots. The repair that means "to go" derives from the Latin word repatriare, a relative of English repatriate, meaning "to return to one's own country." The other repair meaning "to mend" comes Latin reparare meaning "to restore."

Janie says that when she moved to Nantucket, Massaschusetts, she'd hear oldtimers there describe something in positive terms by saying it was some good. The some here functions as an intensifier that simply means very. This expression isn't limited to Nantucket; it's heard in many parts of the United States.

Why do we refer to small children as little shavers?

Grant recommends the book All This Could Be Yours, the latest novel by Jami Attenberg. A dark glimpse of a family with an imperious father in a coma, and the family comes to terms with his life and effect on them. If you're familiar with her earlier book The Middlesteins, you'll recognize the same sharp, well-observed writing. Other recommendations for the book lovers on your holiday gift list: A Velocity of Being: Letters to a Young Reader, the lavishly illustrated anthology of letters edited by Maria Popova of Brainpickings and Claudia Bedrick, and Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language is a smart, engaging, introduction to language and linguistics by linguist Gretchen McCulloch.

Elijah from Akron, Ohio, was surprised when his girlfriend Jenny observed that he was zhuzhing his hair. Elijah was skeptical that zhuzh, meaning "to make more attractive," was actually a word, until he heard others use it. The word was popularized by Carson Kressley in the original Queer Eye for the Straight Guy reality TV series from the early 2000s. He'd use the word  to denote the action of making something prettier. Variant spellings include zhoosh and joosh, and the term seems to have arisen from secret lingo popular in parts of the gay community in the United Kingdom in the 1960s. The term may derive in turn from a Romany term, zhouzho,  meaning to "clean" or "neaten."

Some succinct words of wisdom from English poet Robert Southey: If you would be pungent, be brief; for it is with words as with sunbeams -- the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.

Brian in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, reports that whenever someone dropped a fork in his house, his mother would say Fork to the floor, company's at the door. She'd also say If your palm itches, you're going to come into money, and If your nose itches, you're going to kiss a fool, and often repeated a superstition that if the first person to enter your house on New Year's Day was a dark-haired person who gave you silver, you'd have good luck the rest of the year.

Jordan from Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada, says that when he used the word gitch, his colleagues from the United States had no idea it meant "underwear." The Second Edition of A Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles has a great entry that includes this term. It's more commonly seen as gotchies, with several variants, including gotch, gonchies, gaunch, gauch, and gitch. The term derives from similar-sounding Eastern European terms for "underwear."

This episode is hosted by Grant Barrett and Martha Barnette.

WNYC's Fishko Files (Series)

Produced by WNYC

Most recent piece in this series:

WNYC's Fishko Files: Sviatoslav Richter

From WNYC | Part of the WNYC's Fishko Files series | 07:12

Saraflat_medium_small Sviatoslav Richter, born March 20 1915, was a pianistic phenomenon, whose broad musical range was backed up by dazzling technique. On the 100th anniversary of his birth, WNYC's Sara Fishko considers his musical gifts as well as his unconventional life.  With guests Michael Kimmelman (NY Times critic, pianist and sometime music writer), pianist Vladimir Viardo, and the late pianist and music critic Harris Goldsmith.

*The excerpts from Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition"  are from Richter's live recording made in Sofia, Bulgaria, on February 25, 1958 

Latin Perspective - Latin Jazz Hour (weekly) (Series)

Produced by Tony Vasquez

Most recent piece in this series:

Latin Jazz Perspective (C-10)

From Tony Vasquez | Part of the Latin Perspective - Latin Jazz Hour (weekly) series | 59:01

Yvettei_small A weekly radio show featuring classic and contemporary Latin Jazz music with 16year veteran Tony Vasquez as the host.