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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:

New Water Worlds

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


The seas are rising. It’s no longer a rarity to see kayakers paddling through downtown Miami. By century’s end, the oceans could be anywhere from 2 to 6 feet higher, threatening millions of people and property. But humans once knew how to adapt to rising waters. As high water threatens to drown our cities, can we learn do it again.

Hear stories of threatened land: submerged Florida suburbs, the original sunken city (Venice), and the U.S. East Coast, where anthropologists rush to catalogue thousands of low-lying historical and cultural sites in harm’s way, including Jamestown, Virginia and ancient Native American sites.  

But also, stories of ancient adaptability: from the First American tribes of the Colusa in South Florida to the ice age inhabitants of Doggerland. And, modern approaches to staying dry: stilt houses, seawalls, and floating cities.


·        Jeff Goodell – Journalist and author of “The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World

·        Brian Fagan – Archaeologist and Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, University of California Santa Barbara, and author of many books including “The Attacking Ocean: the Past, Present, and Future of Rising Sea Levels” 

·        David Anderson – Professor of Anthropology, University of Tennessee.  His team’s PLOS ONE paper is “Sea-level rise and archaeological site destruction.” His DINAA site can be used to generate maps of where people were living in the past, up to ca. 15,000 years ago.  

Originally aired August 27, 2018


A Way with Words (Series)

Produced by A Way with Words

Most recent piece in this series:

Scooter-Pooting (#1574)

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


You're waiting for a bus. You wait, and then you wait some more. Finally, two or three buses show up at once, all headed for the same destination. Public transportation professionals have a term for this -- several, in fact: bus bunching, clumping, convoying, piggybacking, or platooning. Banana bus is another bit of jargon for this situation, because the buses are all in a bunch.

Mary in Alexandria, Virginia, wonders when words like senior and senior citizen came to mean "elderly." Senior comes from Latin senex, "old," the source also of Senate and senile. In the 1930s, a politician helped popularize the expression senior citizen as a more appealing term than elderly. Less successful euphemisms proposed for describing older people include vintage and perennial. Having reached the age of 82, Mary prefers to call herself middle old.

Anna in Bellingham, Washington, is puzzled by her younger roommates' use of the expression bet to "sure," "okay," "yes," "cool." This slang has been around for at least 30 years and is sometimes expanded to bet bet or even bet bet bet.

Quiz Guy John Chaneski's puzzle has a visual element. For example, what's the answer if the clues are "Part of a football game" and the letters T I, followed by two blank spaces?

Terry, a native of Akron, Ohio, is curious why it seems no one outside of his hometown uses the term devil strip to mean "the narrow band of grass between sidewalk and street." Devil strip was formerly used this way in a few other cities, but is now heard almost exclusively in Akron, Ohio. This dialectal difference figures in one of the greatest of all stories involving forensic linguistics.

In a previous episode, five-year-old Quinn asked why the letter Q is so often followed by the letter U. A new children's book seems to have been written just for her. Q and U Call It Quits is a funny story about the chaos that ensues for the rest of the alphabet when those two letters quarrel. It's written by Stef Wade and illustrated by Jorge Martin. (Bookshop|Amazon)

Bhavika in San Diego, California, was intrigued to hear an English speaker use the phrase too clever by half meaning "a little too smart for one's own good" or "more clever than prudent." There's a similar phrase in her native Gujarati that translates as "one and a half times clever."

Logan in Wilmington, North Carolina, says he and his friends have long used scooter-pooting to mean "going around having a good time." Both scooter-pooting and scooter-tooting are colloquial terms for casual socializing, and are widespread, although heard primarily in the Southern United States.

In the 19th century, books were especially popular gifts -- cheap enough to be owned by the middle class, but enough of an investment that people kept them for decades, then passed them down to the next generation or donated them to libraries. Increasingly, libraries must decide which of these books to clear out and digitize to make room for more. In the process, they risk losing the record of individual reader's annotations and inscriptions. In Book Traces: Nineteenth-Century Readers and the Future of the Library (Bookshop|Amazon), University of Virginia associate professor of English Andrew Stauffer chronicles a project to uncover and catalogue the "shadow archive" of history hidden in such volumes.

Joan from McKinney, Texas, wonders about the origin of the disparaging term knucklehead. It's a mild insult, and as with blockhead and bonehead, it suggests that someone's head is so full of blocks, bones, or knuckles that there's no room for brains. During World War II, the word knucklehead was popularized by a cartoon featuring Cadet RF Knucklehead, known for setting a comically bad example of things pilots shouldn't do.

Eric from Scranton, Pennsylvania, shares a funny story about having his hopes dashed as a 5-year-old when his teacher told the class they were going down the hall to the laboratory.

If you're selling wolf tickets, you're not being truthful. The expression may arise from the old story about the boy who cried Wolf! when in fact there was none around.

Dawn in Evansville, Indiana, wonders why we dismiss something as nonsense by exclaiming Fiddlesticks! The term arose in the 17th century, most likely because the bow for a fiddle is light, thin, and insubstantial, or in other words, "practically worthless." Its initial F sound helps make it a satisfying substitute for a curse word. The dismissive phrase not to care a fiddlestick's end means "not to care at all."

The history of the word passenger, meaning "someone on some sort of conveyance," is a bit surprising. In the 1300s, a passager was the pilot of a ferry, not one of the other people on board. Later passager acquired what linguists call an intrusive N or parasitic N, and came to apply instead to the people being transported. A similar phonetic process gave us the words messenger, which was originally messager, and scavenger, originally scavager.

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 (E-1)

From Tony Vasquez | Part of the Latin Perspective - Latin Jazz Hour (weekly) series | 59:00

Yvettei_small A weekly radio show featuring the best in classic and contemporary Latin Jazz Music.