Words to Live By

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Obama speech word cloud Word cloud of Pres. Obama's speech to Congress on jobs on September 8, 2011 (Created at

Ben Zimmer returns to our show to talk about his favorite words of 2011, from "occupy" to new words like "humblebrag," "narbs," and "fomo." Former NPR foreign correspondent Eric Weiner tells about his humorous and thoughtful global quest for spiritual enlightenment. A priest talks about some of the unexpected humor in the Bible. Plus, we’ll look at the dangers professional hockey players and other contact sports players face when they play.

The Words of 2011

Wordsmith Ben Zimmer talks about the year in words—from "occupy" to "supercommittee" to "bunga bunga" to "tiger mother." He'll also look at some of the phrases, like "leading from behind" and "win the future" to tell us what the national vocabulary reveals about 2011. Ben Zimmer writes a biweekly language column for the Boston Globe and is the former "On Language" columnist for The New York Times Magazine. He's also executive producer of and

Let us know what your words of the year are! Leave a comment below!

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Flirtations with the Divine

Eric Weiner describes tackling our most pressing spiritual questions: Where do we come from? What happens when we die? How should we live our lives? His book Man Seeks God: My Flirtations with the Divine is the story of his search and his travels—from Nepal, where he meditates with Tibetan lamas, to Turkey to China, where he attempts to unblock his chi; to Israel, where he studies Kabbalah, and to Las Vegas, where he has a close encounter with Raelians.

Comments [10]

Between Heaven and Mirth

James Martin, SJ, a lifelong Catholic, a Jesuit for over 20 years, and a priest for 10 years, reveals the humor in the Bible, and explains how joy, humor, and laughter help us to live more spiritual lives, understand ourselves and others better. In Between Heaven and Mirth Father Martin illustrates examples of healthy humor and purposeful levity in the stories of biblical heroes and heroines, and in the lives of the saints and the world’s great spiritual masters.

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Sports, Concussions, and Brain Trauma

John Branch, New York Times sports reporter and author of the three-part series “Punched Out: The Life and Death of a Hockey Enforcer,” about Derek Boogaard, a professional hockey player; Alan Schwarz, New York Times education reporter and formerly a sports reporter whose coverage of concussions in sports was nominated for a Pulitzer prize; and Dr. Robert Cantu, neurosurgeon and co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University School of Medicine, discussing the link between contact sports, concussions, and degenerative brain conditions.

Comments [6]

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