Word of Mouth

Word of Mouth airs at 2 pm Monday through Thursday, weeknights at 9 pm, and noon on Sunday.

Word of Mouth is the sound of new ideas, hosted by Virginia Prescott, and produced by Taylor Quimby, and Logan Shannon. Our Senior Producer is Maureen McMurray

You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes or find us on Stitcher.

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5.3.15: Words, Words, Words

May 1, 2015
Logan Shannon / NHPR

Today’s show is all about words –written, spoken, or spelled – starting with the emotional, and surprisingly partisan debate over whether to continue teaching cursive. Later in the show we’ll explore the art of inventing new words and languages. And, how do you spell stereotype? We’ll discuss the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which has been won by an Indian American student every year since 2007.  

CatWarren.com/press

For most pet-owners, dogs are a symbol of love and loyalty.  Throughout history though, man's bestie has also held darker associations.  Today, we talk about death and the dog, from Greek mythologies three-headed hell-hound named Cerberus, to the modern use of cadaver-detection dogs. Plus, we go on the trail with a blind hiker and his guide dog as they summit 48 of New Hampshire's 4,000-footers in a single winter! 

http://narrativesinemoji.tumblr.com/

While emojis have become a universal cellular language, the origin of the modern-day hieroglyphic is actually rooted in Japan. Inspired by Manga, or Japanese comics, designer Shigetaka Kurita created the early blueprint of the modern-day emoji as a way to motivate Japanese teens to buy pagers in the late-nineties. 

Since then emojis have become a fixture of digital communication. While some decry emoji-culture as a linguistic fast track to the erosion of language, some intellectual and artistic circles are welcoming emoticons with open arms.

L: Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum|Public domain

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, and “Operation Babylift” which evacuated thousands of supposedly orphaned South Vietnamese children who were then relocated to homes in American and beyond. On today’s show we’ll revisit the controversial program and get a firsthand account from one of the airlifted children.

windishagency.com

The Juan MacLean will be playing live at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth at 9:00 pm tonight (April 29th). Tickets and more information on the show can be found at this link.

When you think of electronic musicians, DJ's that spin thumping dance tracks to swarms of sweaty dancers at A-list parties, do you think of Dover, NH?

Jana Brooks / facebook.com/theknightshall

With the Medieval Combat World Championships just around the corner, Jaye Brooks, senior instructor and owner of The Knights Hall, doesn’t want to risk any late-in-the game injuries. Usually his men would be practicing judo throws and boxing drills while wearing sixty to eighty pounds of armor. Today, they take turns beating on car tires with two-handed axes, swords, and maces.   

David Goehring via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/4mMuQE

After Walter Scott was fatally shot by a South Carolina police officer last month, his family speculated he fled the police because he feared going back to jail for unpaid child support. On today’s show: a closer look at child support policies and why some argue it keeps poor men trapped in a cycle of debt, unemployment and prison. 

Then, the modern answer to hieroglyphics, emoji can convey tone and emotion in a single image. Later we’ll delve into emoji use around the world, and what it reveals about cultural and national identities. 

Courtesy of the Carson Entertainment Group / JohnnyCarson.com

The late night talk show monologue is one of few times TV audiences can still share a good laugh. On today’s show, we’ll talk to a seasoned comedy writer about the one time of day when power, rather than partisanship, is the punch line.

Then we’ll speak with an English professor who ditched his tweed jacket and elbow patches and joined a mixed martial arts gym to find out why men love to fight.

Plus, sabermetrics spawned a revolution in how baseball teams were built and inspired a blockbuster movie starring Brad Pitt, but does empirical analysis of baseball statistics still work today?

Logan Shannon / NHPR

Disasters in developing nations bring out the better angels of the world’s governments and citizens, but where that aid goes has a lot to do with media coverage. On today’s show, we discover why the world’s worst disasters don’t always get the most aid. Also today, a political scientist argues that fringe candidates have a shot at the presidency – if they can get the support of their party. And, if you think Chris Christie is the first presidential candidate whose weight could make or break him, think again.

Putting Our Cursive Skills To The Test

Apr 23, 2015
http://dailyeducationupdate.blogspot.com/2012/11/state-board-of-education-to-debate.html

The Word of Mouth team wondered just how well our primary school cursive instruction stuck many years later, so we decided to put it to the test. The same issues that plagued us as children, continue to come up as adults. Why does the capital cursive 'Q' look like the number '2'? Why does the lowercase 'z' look nothing like the letter 'z'? 

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Last month the New Hampshire Senate nearly made cursive a mandatory part of public school curriculum. But does the argument for keeping longhand in the classroom have more to do with nostalgia than it does educational outcomes? On today’s show  we go inside the emotional, and surprisingly partisan debate over cursive.

Nottingham Trent University via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/f3kvmU

Sports nutrition is a multi-billion dollar market, but a new study from the University Of Montana is calling so-called recovery foods into question. On today’s show we’ll look at the evidence on whether post-workout energy food and drinks any better for you than fast food.

Then, doctors typically diagnose diseases with blood tests, x-rays, scans, pokes and prods. Later in the show we’ll look at a powerful and prevalent diagnostic tool that’s been used to identify diseases for centuries: the nose.

Neologisms For The Modern World

Apr 21, 2015

In her new book, That Should Be A Word: A Language Lover’s Guide To Choregasms, Povertunity, Brattling, And Other Much-Needed Terms For The Modern World, author Lizzie Skurnick has compiled a mini-dictionary that finally puts a word to the activity of doing a Google search to find the closest bathroom: Loogling.

DVIDSHUB via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/5oAZgp

Disasters in developing nations bring out the better angels of foreign governments and world citizens, but not all aid, or media coverage, is distributed equally. On today’s show we discover why the world’s worst disasters don’t always get the most aid.

Then, if you’ve ever binge-watched a show until you feel sick, you may be suffering from: “shoverdose”.  Check your phone obsessively? Well, you may be “figital”. Later in the show, the joys of made-up words.

Marc Nozell via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/pSQHxq

While many presume Hillary Clinton has the democratic nomination in the bag, there are parts of the democratic base that she still needs to win over, among them: African Americans. On today’s show, did Clinton’s 2008 campaign alienate the black community?

Plus, the Boston Marathon remains Boston Strong, drawing tens of thousands of runners from around the world. We’ll go beyond the pasta bowl to find out what’s on the menu for international runners.

Scripps National Spelling Bee via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/nMQtsf

Since 2007, every single winner of the Scripps’ National Spelling Bee has been Indian-American – a fact that fuels stereotypes about so-called “model minority” students. 

On today’s show: the perils of labeling.  Then, we turn to a different kind of label: electrohypersensitivity. We’ll take a look at a growing group of individuals who claim to be suffering from the condition, and why they’ve moved to the national radio quiet zone. 

Personal Tragedy, Publicly Shamed

Apr 15, 2015
Courtesy of Maggie Baumer

In 2012 Maggie Baumer’s future looked bright. Fresh out of law school she was living in Manhattan and was practicing as an associate attorney at a prominent immigration law firm in the city. Having started her career as a mental health counselor on a psychiatric ward, she was embracing her new field, and was thriving in the world of law. And like many young professionals, she looked forward to letting loose after a stressful work week. That’s just what she was doing on October 27th, 2012.   

The Shame Show

Apr 15, 2015

From Hester Prynne’s Scarlet Letter to stockades in the town square, public shaming has deep roots in America. Today on Word of Mouth: humiliation hits the 21st century.  

Gage Skidmore via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/e2VkE8

When President Lincoln was assassinated 150 years ago, many in the south publicly celebrated his death, but they weren’t the only ones cheering. On today’s show we’ll explore the myth of a country united in mourning.

Also today, a political scientist argues that fringe candidates are just as likely to win the presidency – if they can get the support of their party. And, if you think Chris Christie is the first candidate for whom weight is a presidential issue, think again.

Dave Crosby via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/cfGUQb

How do we know how many fish there are in the sea? How many birds there are in the trees?

When biologists come to us with the estimated number of bison on the Great Plains, it’s easy to imagine where that estimate comes from, but what about the number of newts in the forest?

enablingthefuture.org

Prosthetic hands for kids are often too heavy and expensive for practical use. On today’s show we’ll hear about a company called e-NABLE that has formed a network of volunteers from across the world to create 3-d printed, low-cost prosthetics with a kid-friendly aesthetic.

Then, for centuries, meditation has been used to quiet the mind and focus attention. Now, modern technology reveals the medical benefits of mindfulness.

Sex Ed By The Dashboard Light

Apr 12, 2015
Ben Miller via flickr Creative Commons

The talk” is a rite of passage for many young Americans. It often happens either too soon, too late and usually leads to hilarious tales of awkwardness between parent and child. But when it comes to the real nitty-gritty of sex education - that’s when the classroom takes over, for better or worse. For Word of Mouth senior producer Maureen McMurray, it was probably for worse.

Listen to what just might be the most awkward talk about the birds and the bees ever told.


Logan Shannon / NHPR

As schools across the country struggle to meet the new national common core standards, one controversial aspect of education is not part of the curriculum: sex education. On today’s show, the evolving debate around sex ed, which is not strictly an American phenomenon.

Then, parental leave has been shown to benefit infant health and early development, but Jennifer Senior argues that if we truly care about our kids’ well-being, the policy should not stop after the first 12 weeks.

Listen to the full show or click read more for individual segments.

Treat Yourself To Our Favorite Surprise Videos

Apr 9, 2015
Michelle Tribe / flic.kr/p/5T7Ws8

During Virginia's interview with surprisologist Tania Luna [Surprise: Embrace The Unpredictable and Engineer The Unexpected], Tania mentioned googling "animals being surprised" as a great way to see the power and humor of the unexpected. We were not disappointed with the results. But we also looked into the other kinds of surprises that humans experience.

Megan Lynnette via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/8UsssG

Today’s classrooms may come outfitted with iPads and gadgets, but the textbook industry has weathered the digital storm surprisingly well. On today’s show we’ll look at an unexpected threat to the textbook industry:  the rollout of the Common Core standards.

Then, between jam packed schedules and lengthy to-do lists, it’s little wonder that so many people claim they hate surprises. But what can we gain from embracing the unexpected?  A self-described 'surprisologist' makes the case for being caught off guard.

Listen to the full show or click read more for individual segments.

Nathan Rupert via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/aEtJLV

As schools across the country struggle to meet the new national common core standards, one controversial aspect of education is not part of the curriculum: sex education. On today’s show: the evolving debate around sex ed, and why it’s not strictly an American phenomenon.

Plus, from false confessions to inadequate defenses, wrongful convictions can happen for many reasons. We’ll look at faulty eyewitness testimonies, the number one contributing cause of wrongful convictions.

Listen to the full show or click read more for individual segments.

Tiffany Quimby / NHPR

A couple of months ago, we talked to Greg Beck – the creator of a counter-intuitive photo app called The White Album, which basically turns your smartphone into a disposable camera. Here's how it works: when you open the app a simple camera interface opens up. 

Mikko Tarvainen via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/8wnEFW

Parental leave has been shown to benefit infant health and early development, but Jennifer Senior argues that if we truly care about our kids’ well-being, the policy should not stop after the first 12 weeks. On today’s show, the case for taking parental leave when kids are teenagers. 

Plus, we wax nostalgic for the days of the one-hour photo and test a new app that turns your smart phone into a disposable camera.

Listen to the full show or click read more for individual segments.

Nic McPhee via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/4zGJzN

Vocal anti-vaxxers like Jenny McCarthy have got some in the science community saying if you don’t have an advanced degree, you have no right to question the experts.  But are they right?

On today’s show, a science journalist makes a bold argument: that free speech trumps good science. Then, we’ll tackle a controversial question for pet owners: whether or not to keep domestic cats indoors in the name of saving birds.

Plus, we’ll find out why more and more Europeans are ditching Darwin’s theory of evolution and embracing creationism.

Listen to the full show or click read more for individual segments.

Logan Shannon / NHPR

Human beings spend a lot of time satisfying primal urges, but relatively little talking about or studying them. On today’s show, what we can learn by studying hedonism.

Also, hell can mean a bad day, other people, or a threat to sinners, but it wasn’t always so. We'll talk about how hell has evolved, from a place of flaming torture, to tangible horrors here in the real world.

And, at the height of the Ebola epidemic last fall, the hardest hit areas in West Africa not only struggled with containing the virus, but respectfully burying the dead. We’ll take a look at how funeral rites were handled during history’s worst epidemics.

Listen to the full show or click read more for individual segments.

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