For today’s word we turn to a special guest Brian, host and producer of
Coverville. Given that clue I bet you can guess today’s word is cover. Let’s skip the common definition and go straight to the podcast community’s resident expert on covers.

Brian’s definition:
Any song that was performed and released by one artist or group, and then was subsequently released or performed and recorded by another artist or group. I also include a song that was released by the same artist, but performed with a different arrangement or style.

Yes, the song Happy Birthday is is protected by copyright.

If you are interested in recording cover songs check out’s article.

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This podcast is by a virgo but it is not a disaster

I must apologize for an oversight in my January 24th podcast. Fortunately Amy of pointed it out to me. It is pun or play on words. In Contentious Amy writes mainly about issues of content and communication. Hence, her own neologism: contentious meaning full of or related to content. I feel pretty foolish that I didn’t spot that one.

Also, I wanted to mention Amy is podcasting from Boulder, Colorado, my hometown. Which I think is home to several other podcasters:

Today’s word is totally unrelated. It is a word we all know and despise but its etymology is very interesting. The word is disaster. A noun meaning a total failure or a catastrophe.

Now the etymology was pointed out to me by one of my favorite authors Neal Stephenson. He mentions the etymology in the book Snow Crash. Disaster could almost be literal translated from the latin or greek as bad star. The dis- part can mean wrong or not as in disease or disappear. And the -aster part means star as in astronaut, aster (the flower) or more appropriate for today’s word astrology– the “study” of the stars. I presume this word has migrated over the centuries from “bad sign” or “bad luck” to its current definition.

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This podcasting is orthogonal to cooking bacon

Orthogonal, now this is a word I have owed you for awhile.

I have been trying to formulate a complete description of this word, but I have failed so I can only give you the lay definition. Orthogonal is an adjective that describes independent, unrelated variables or elements. For example “I know this is orthogonal to the discussion but…”

Now there are several other meanings and used of orthogonal most notably in mathematics and computer programing. I don’t have the expertise to expound on these so I have posted some links for more thorough definitions.

Butterflies can be psychosomatic when they are in your stomach- a podcast


Today’s word, psychosomatic, is a suggestion posted at In fact the poster, Tim, was kind enough to include the definition too.

It is an adjective of or relating to a disorder having physical symptoms but originating from mental or emotional causes. Or relating to or concerned with the influence of the mind on the body, and the body on the mind.

I want to point out psychosomatic is not the same as hypocondria. A hypochondriac is someone who thinks they are ill. A psychosomatic is someone who is sick and the cause is mental such as stress. Butterflies in your stomach is a perfect example of a psychosomatic symptom and a good example of an idiom too.

Not a very contentious podcast about apophenia


Let’s start off with a comment from Amy Gahran regarding last week’s podcast on apophenia. For those of you reading this post. Sorry you get the bulleted summary:

Be sure to check out Amy’s blog and subscribe to her podcast at

So today’s word is contentious. It is an adjective that describes someone or something that is likely to cause an argument. Often a tired or pointless argument. Reading through Amy’s blog and listening to her podcasts I don’t think Amy’s arguments are tired or pointless.

Be sure to check out here site at or at

I doubt there are any indigent podcasters. Perhaps we can help the indigent.


Dawn and Drew have inspired another word for today’s podcast. This one is from their January 21st podcast. The word is indigent. It is an adjective meaning extremely poor or impoverished. An indigent person lacks even the basic comforts of life.

I recently read the word in reference to the U.S. hospital industry. They have been writing off their care for the indigent off as charity work. Which would be fine except first they try to collect the money then if they can’t they decided, “Oh, wait that is charity work.” Fortunately this practice is coming under increasing legal scrutiny.

If you would like to help the indigent check out for a list of well rated charities.

Podcasting on thin ice

Today’s word is idiom. It is an expression that cannot be understood or translated literally.

For example in english we have the saying “skating on thin ice,” which means in danger- as though someone is ice skating on ice that could break at any minute.

I was reminded of this great word by fellow podcaster Nicole Simon of She turned me onto a great podcast that I think you will like- The Daily Idiom– “Idiom and slang lessons for learners of English.”

I really enjoy doing Today’s Podcast but I am jealous I didn’t think of doing Today’s Idiom.

UPDATE: Here is a great site for looking up all kinds of English idioms-

Happy Birthday Wikipedia from

Happy Birthday Wikipedia. January 15th marks the beginning of Wikipedia’s fifth year. The earliest encyclopedias took decades to produce and didn’t reflect current events or debates. In five years Wikipedia had hit these milestones.

It is difficult to imagine what the next five years will produce.

The name Wikipedia is the combination of two terms wiki and encyclopedia.

The term encyclopedia comes from the Greek words enkyklios paideia meaning a circle of instruction or education. In Latin the Greek words were combined into one word encyclopaedia and that was used to describe a general education course.

Today the word refers to large general reference work.
The modern encyclopedia format dates to 1704 and its establishment is credited to John Harris, editor of the Lexicon Technicum, or the Dictionary of the Arts and Sciences.

The word wiki is a neologism that doesn’t appear in many, if any, printed dictionaries but I am sure it will. It was coined by Ward Cunningham in 1995 to describe web server software that allows users to create and edit a web page through a web browser. In Ward’s words a wiki is “The simplest online database that could possibly work.” The first wiki was the Portland Pattern Repository, a repository of computer programing patterns.

The term wiki was borrowed from the hawaiian wiki wiki which means quick.

A podcast about Chupacabra, thunderbirds, dodos and yetis

What do yeti’s, dragons, Chupacabra, thunderbirds, dodo birds and barking spiders have in common? They are all subjects of today’s word-
cryptozoology. Cryptozoology is the study of mythical or legendary animals. Usually with the goal of establishing or discounting their existence. Cyptozoology can also include the study of extinct animals that still have reported sightings.

I came across this word in a post. The post is about a new online exhibit of cryptozoology hosted by the International Cryptozoology Museum.

200px-Igdodo.jpgIn case your are wondering yeti’s, dragons, Chupacabra and thunderbirds are all mythical or at least highly suspect. The Dodo on the other hand is an extinct flightless bird but there is no known photos or specimens. You can see an artist/scientist best guess of the bird on the right.

By the way have you seen the very cool new iPod- the iShuffle?

Do all these podcast have some meaning or do we just suffer from apophenia?

Today’s word, also a request, is apophenia and none of the mainstream dictionaries defined it. But of course wikipedia had an entry.

Apophenia is a noun describing the false perception of patterns within random or meaningless data. It is the act of seeing connections where none exist. According to this can a be an normal or abnormal phenomenon.

This suggestion by Will Simpson was inspired by the new Michael Keaton movie, White Noise. A movie in which Keaton contacts his dead wife though the white noise of the TV and radio. I haven’t seen the movie but I’ll bet a therapist diagnosis Keaton with Apophenia.

We all probably suffer a little Apophenia when we see a duck in the clouds overhead or the Virgin Mary in a piece of toast.

Now seeing the Virgin Mary in this toast is not Apophenia.