Episode 6: Soaring college costs, falling car ownership

Will tuition at elite colleges eventually hit $100,000 a year? And will driverless vehicle technology coupled with the ride-sharing economy eventually knock car ownership below 50 percent in America?

In a departure from our normal format, The Underscore hosts Eric Brandner and Davin Coburn debate where college costs are going (way up, but how high?) and where car ownership is going (way down, but how low?).

Continue reading “Episode 6: Soaring college costs, falling car ownership”


Episode 5: 500 presidential candidates and counting

There’s Jeb Bush, Limberbutt McCubbins and Michael Castillejos. It’s not the beginning of a walks-into-a-bar joke, though it surely could be. They’re three of the more than 500 candidates who’ve filed FEC Form No. 2, which is the first official step to run for president. You likely know about Bush, McCubbins isn’t exactly eligible and Castillejos has some big plans.

Hosted by Eric Brandner and Davin Coburn, The Underscore is a podcast exploring and explaining the quirky side of American culture. On this week’s episode, we talk to three of the hundreds of candidates — an actor, a retiree and a libertarian/marijuana reformer — and ask them why they’re running. Which got us thinking…

Continue reading “Episode 5: 500 presidential candidates and counting”

Seven presidential candidates you should know (but you don’t)


Here are seven people you probably haven’t heard of who want your vote in 2016:

1. Josue LaRose: The first man to sign up, LaRose filed to run way back on Dec. 12, 2008. It’s not the first time LaRose has popped up on the political radar. He was lampooned on the Colbert Report in 2012 for starting hundreds of political action committees, including one called Billionaire Josue LaRose’s Dating Women Committee.

2. Thomas Keister: The American Marijuana Party candidate with a Twitter feed that’s made some waves. Keister’s claim to fame is this New York Times story that talked about how he had more Twitter followers than former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee.

3. Lincoln Chafee: The governor Twitter forgot.

4. Limberbutt McCubbins: This is a cat. Whose owner’s friend filed the necessary paperwork. And who also has more Facebook followers than we do.

5. Vermin Supreme: A longtime political agitator, Supreme actually received more than 800 votes in the 2012 New Hampshire Democratic primary.

6. Sydney’s Voluptuous Buttocks: Really funny. But can’t be real. (SFW)

7. Davin Coburn: Our very own co-host has officially thrown his hat into the ring, for no other reason—that we currently know of—than to see how easy it was. You can follow the ups and downs of his campaign here.

How do you get a word in the dictionary? An editor explains


You have a word. It’s a great word. Your friends use it all the time on Twitter. You heard it on a podcast last month. You’ve been using the word forever. But it’s still not in the dictionary.

And you’re the type of person who really wants to change that.

It’s best to start with the idea that you aren’t getting a word in the dictionary on your own. Sure, you can call, tweet at or email the folks at Merriam-Webster. Someone may even read your plea. But even in a best-case scenario, your example is only going into a filing system with the other 15 million-plus citations of potential dictionary additions Merriam-Webster has on file. At some point during a dictionary update cycle, an editor pulls out those alphabetized citations for a sliver of the dictionary (let’s say the words between “boa” and “box”) as part of their evaluation.

Kory Stamper, a lexicographer who works for Merriam-Webster, spoke to us for our podcast episode about how slang spreads. With her guidance, here’s a look at how a word makes it into the dictionary.

Continue reading “How do you get a word in the dictionary? An editor explains”