Special Episode: 43 Years Since Roe v. Wade

In this special topic episode, we spoke with three guests about the issue of abortion. Clarke D. Forsythe is Senior Counsel at Americans United for Life and author of the 2013 book Abuse of Discretion: The Inside Story of Roe v. Wade. Paige Comstock Cunningham is Executive Director of The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity. Anna Franzonello Paprocki is Staff Counsel at Americans United for Life. Clarke and Anna are both contributing authors of this Constitutional Law and Abortion Primer, which is intended for law students but is also accessible to and helpful for non-lawyers interested in the United States' abortion jurisprudence. 

Sex-selective abortion, which we discussed with Paige, was in the news just this past week. India is considering abolishing its ban on fetal sex testing and adopting a new strategy to prevent sex-selective abortion: mandatory fetal sex testing. The Indiana Senate passed a bill that would ban sex-selective abortions, abortions based on fetal disability, and the sale of fetal tissue. A Washington state Senate committee approved a bill that would ban sex-selective abortions. 

Please contact us with your feedback on this episode! We are eager to hear your thoughts and opinions. And if you found this episode interesting, please share it with your friends and family. 

We are taking a break for the rest of February so check back in March to hear the first episode of Season 3! In the meantime, we encourage you to catch up on old episodes of Vernacular that you may have missed. Thanks for listening!

S2E10: Season Finale

For our Season 2 finale episode, we dedicated the show to two of our favorite things: great pizza and great music. 

First, we brought one of our contributors Jordan Short back on the show--this time with his brother and bandmate Joshua Short--to discuss their new band Father Hands and their recently released EP. We shared an excerpt of their second single "Spine" but head over to their site to listen to the whole song plus two others: "Damage of Love" and "Any Anything."

Then we chatted with Jonathan and Brianna Cowan, the owners and proprietors of Wooden Paddle Pizza, an artisan pizzeria in the Chicago suburbs. Later this month, they will be launching a new podcast, the Unlivable Podcast, where they will share about their challenge for 2016: living on a minimum wage income. We will link to it once it is up and running. If you ever find yourself in Chicagoland, definitely drop by for a pie--specifically their fan favorite "Pretty Fly for a White Pie." 

We also raved about Chicago legend Rick Bayless and two of his restaurants, Frontera Grill and Xoco. Sally bored the majority of you by going on and on about her new Passion Planner. Zac put in a plug for JackThreads, specifically their awesome down puffer jacket (now on sale for only $69?!). 

Hope you enjoyed Season 2! Stay tuned for the launch of Season 3 later this month (fingers crossed)! In the meantime, send us your feedback on the show. What could we do differently? How can we improve? We look forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions. 

S2E9: A Happy Life or a Meaningful Life?

In Episode 9, we spoke with Emily Esfahani Smith, a writer and editor, about her upcoming book. Emily writes about psychology, culture, and relationships for numerous publications including The AtlanticThe New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. She is also the Manners and Morals columnist at The New Criterion and the managing editor of the Hoover Institution's Defining Ideas

In her book, due out in January 2017, Emily explores the differences between a happy life and a meaningful life and how different people find meaning in their lives. She writes about these ideas in many of her articles including "There's More to Life Than Being Happy" (January 2013, The Atlantic) and "Meaning is Healthier Than Happiness" (August 2013, The Atlantic). If you want to read more of her writing, we also recommend "Relationships Are More Important Than Ambition" (April 2013, The Atlantic) and "Masters of Love" (June 2014, The Atlantic). Emily appeared on CBS This Morning in June 2014 to discuss "Masters of Love" after it ranked as The Atlantic's most-read article of the week.

What do you think? Is it more important to lead a happy life or a meaningful life? How do you find meaning in your life? We want to hear from you! Email, tweet at, or Facebook us with your thoughts and opinions.

We at Vernacular wish you a very Happy New Year! Check back for new episodes in January 2016. 

S2E8: Kale Chips, Gene Editing, & Invisibility

In Episode 8, we mentioned one of our favorite vegan bloggers, Angela Liddon, and her cookbook. Her blog is Oh She Glows and her wonderfully accessible (even for non-vegans!) cookbook is available on Amazon. If you want to try her method for kale chips (our favorite!), she has a great tutorial on her blog and the original recipe is in her cookbook. 

We also gave an update on the debate over a new gene editing technique, CRISPR-Cas9, which we first discussed in Episode 8 of Season 1. If you want to read more about it, check out this and this. We plan to discuss this debate at greater length on a future episode, so stay tuned!

If our conversation with Will on invisibility left you wanting more, read this and this for starters.

Hope you enjoyed Episode 8! Check back in a couple weeks for Episode 9, which we'll release right after Christmas. 

Merry Christmas!

Holiday Giveaway with A Short Blonde!

We are partnering with Catherine, creator of the blog A Short Blonde, to offer an amazing holiday giveaway featuring a box of some of our favorite things--with a regional twist! You can enter below (and on Catherine's blog) through December 6! :-) 

UPDATE: The contest is now closed, but congratulations to Victoria, our winner! Victoria won a cookbook (donated by author and Vernacular Podcast guest Ashley Rodriguez), a bag of Soylent, The Right Stuff, Nashville BBQ sauce, and more.

S2E7: Thanksgiving & Gift Guides

In episode 7, we chatted about Thanksgiving foods, traditions, and shopping. We also had Catherine, creator of the blog A Short Blonde, back on the show to share her fantastic holiday gift guides--one for "him" and one for "her." If you're having trouble deciding on gifts for friends or family, definitely check out her helpful guides!

And if you've already decided that you want to give a book but aren't sure which book to give, we created a special book gift guide especially for you:

Vernacular Literary Gift Guide

For the history buff: "The Wright Brothers" by David McCullough

For the person who doesn't like history but needs to learn history: "In the Garden of Beasts" by Erik Larson 

For the bookish anglophile who is a secret romantic: "Gaudy Night" by Dorothy Sayers

For the kid who never grew up: The Redwall Series by Brian Jacques

For the scientist or science geek: "The Martian" by Andy Weir

For your liberal uncle who never stops talking at Thanksgiving: "Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again" By Donald Trump

For your conservative aunt who never stops talking at Christmas: "Outsider in the White House" by Bernie Sanders

For your foodie friend: "Bowl and Spoon" by Sara Forte

For your foodie friend who likes to read (and eat pizza): "Delancey" by Molly Wizenberg

For young children: "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom," "Where the Wild Things Are," and the "Little Blue Truck" series

We wish all our listeners a very happy and delicious Thanksgiving with friends and/or family! If you have an opinion on whether or not it is acceptable to go to the movies on Thanksgiving or Christmas, share it with us (via email, Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments below) and we'll share it on the Inbox segment in Episode 8. Until then, visit our blog and Catherine's to enter our exciting holiday giveaway!

S2E6: Books, Music, Fashion, & Lifestyle (plus more on Mars)

In Episode 6, we briefly discussed the books we are reading. Zac is reading Erik Larson's In The Garden of Beasts and Sally is reading Dorothy Sayer's Busman's Honeymoon. 

Then we had Brandon Showalter, a singer-songwriter, on the show to talk about his creative process and share some of his music. We played an excerpt of his song "Wonderfully Made" off of his 2014 EP "Song of Psalms," which is available on iTunes and Amazon.

We also spoke with Janet Easter, co-founder and style editor of Verily, an online women's fashion and lifestyle magazine. If you are new to Verily, here are several articles she recommends to get you started:

On relationships

 "Can Men & Women Just Be Friends?" (also on that topic: "Gentlemen Speak: Can (and Should) Guys and Girls Be 'Just Friends'?")

On style

"Runway to Realway: Precious Metals"

"Gorgeous Holiday Party Wear for Every Style"

"Classic Winter Coats That Work for Every Occasion"

While the "O, Alma Mater" article on motherhood and higher education that Janet mentioned is no longer accessible online, here are two other articles on motherhood (with many more to choose from in the Verily archives!):

"Becoming a Mom Didn't End My Self-Discovery"

"Motherhood Didn't Ruin My Life, It Made It Better"

In our inbox section, a listener recommended this article from The New Yorker for those interested in learning more about the prospect of colonizing Mars. 

Thanks for listening! We hope you enjoyed Episode 6. Check back in two weeks for our Thanksgiving episode and a special announcement!

S2E5: Science, Science, Science!

In episode 5, we brought three of our contributors back to talk about some of their favorite topics.

With Jordan, we chatted about the new movie The Martian directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain (among many other stellar stars). Have you seen it yet? What did you think? Let us know and we'll share your reviews in our inbox section of the next episode!

We continued the aliens theme in our conversation with Will. He brought us up to speed on the possibility of alien life both on Mars and elsewhere in the universe. If you want to learn more about the Kepler telescope's findings, start with this and this. Do you think there is alien life out there? Email, tweet at, or Facebook us to share your opinions on extraterrestrials. 

With Joshua, we discussed the nature and ethics of nootropics. If you're interested in reading more about nootropics, here are a few resources for you to check out:

"What Are Nootropics--An Infographic"

"A Primer on Nootropics"

"Nootropic Brain Drugs Rise in Popularity for Today's Cutthroat Corporate Climbers"

OptiMind's Nootropics Formula

"Towards responsible use of cognitive-enhancing drugs by the healthy"

What do you think about nootropics? Are there ethical and non-ethical ways to use them? Should we experiment with them at all?

Hope you enjoyed Episode 5! We'll be back next week with Episode 6.