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Word of Mouth 05.19.2012

(Photo by thedamnmushroom via Flickr Creative Commons)

Part 1: The Rise of the Brogrammer

Produced by Jonathan Lynch

In the 1980s classic comedy revenge of the nerds, there was a clear cut boundary between the titular nerds and the preppy, popular frat boys that sought to humiliate them. A recent culture trend in Silicon Valley is looking to completely upend that convention by fusing the two. A new breed of software engineers is on the horizon, and they are just as likely to fine tune code as they are to lift weights and party on the weekend.

Tanseem Raja wrote about the rise of the “brogrammer” forMother Jonesand joins us now to discuss this new generation of geek. 

Part 2: How to Eat a Beaver

Carol Leonard is considered one of the forerunners – or foremothers – of the modern midwifery movement. She was the first midwife certified to practice legally in New Hamsphire back in 1982, and has since delivered more than 1,200 babies safely in their homes. That story is covered in her memoir, “Lady’s Hands, Lion’s Heart: A Midwife’s Saga.”

Today, we’re focusing on a collection of essays on some of the other facets of Carol’s life…like aspiring tree farmer, would-be trapper, and owner, with her husband of Bad Beaver Farm in Ellsworth, Maine. The collection is called Bad Beaver Tales

Part 3: From Elvish to Klingon/America, the Amateur

It’s a fiction writer’s job to create authentic worlds and suspend disbelief. One of the more time-consuming techniques in their toolbox? Inventing new languages – like the two forms of elvish used throughout J.R.R Tolkien's the Lord of the Rings. Michael Adams is a professor of English at Indiana
University, and editor of From Elvish to Klingon: a collection of essays that explores the variety, history, and purpose of the world’s invented languages.

Huffington Post Review 


America loves amateurs. The country was founded by dilettantes and enlightened rebels. Cities, farms and businesses were seeded by adventurous greenhorns and neophytes. Writer Jack Hitt argues that the DIY spirit that generated untold number of patents and subscriptions to Popular Mechanics drives the country’s success and identity. The popular TV shows The Voice and Project Runway continue a long tradition of discovering and rewarding talent. The Mark Zuckerbergs and Sergey Brins of the world remind us that college dropouts and immigrants are still creating ideas that fuel economies, and our daily lives. Jack Hitt has plenty of credentials as contributing editor to The New York Times Magazine and This American Life, and author of “A Bunch of Amateurs: A Search for the American Character.” 

Part 4: Some Unlikely Advice for Graduates...

CHARLES WHEELAN, professor at Dartmouth College and the University of Chicago and is author of 10 ½ Things No Commencement Speaker Has Ever Said and Naked Economics, veered off the motivational script when addressing the 2011 class at Dartmouth, telling the graduates “your worst days lie ahead.”

Wheelan on Talk of the Nation

Top 10 Most Memorable Graduation Speakers

Katie Couric's 2010 Commencement Address 


Charles Wheelan’sunconventional advice for graduates got us talking about the twists and turns of our own post-graduate lives. The path life takes, as we know, zigs as often as it zags…so Virginia Prescott asked a few colleagues to record what they wish they’d been told on that expectant day. 

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