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Sunday - June 29, 2014

Podcasts This Week (June 30, 2014)

Get the full benefits of ESL Podcast by getting the Learning Guide. We designed the Learning Guide to help you learn English better and faster. Get more vocabulary, language explanations, sample sentences, comprehension questions, cultural notes, and more.

Get the Learning Guide and support ESL Podcast today by becoming a Basic or Premium Member!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 1012 – Preventing Shoplifting

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “to root out” and “to weigh.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Mystery Shopping.”
“Many businesses use the services of ‘mystery shoppers,’ also known as ‘secret shoppers,’…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 457

Topics: Famous Songs – “Mack the Knife”; Monument Valley and the Valley of the Gods; stem versus stalk versus shoot; using one’s middle name as one’s first name; indeed

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Nicknames of Famous Gangsters.”
“The American Mafia, also known as the mafia, refers to criminal organizations that were ‘historically’ (in the past) formed…”- READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1013 – Living With a Hoarder

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “perfectly” and “to store.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Collyer Brothers.”
“In 1947, the Collyer brothers ‘became a household name’…”- READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Thursday - June 26, 2014

The Lively Morgue

tumblr_m59b96PqCe1r5568mo1_1280If you walk down two flights (a set of steps between one floor and the next) of stairs to the basement of an office building near Times Square and through some heavy metal doors, you’ll enter a place people rarely see – the morgue of the New York Times.

Lively” (full of life) isn’t a word you’d usually associate (connect) with “morgue.” Usually a morgue is a building or room in a hospital where bodies are kept until they are buried.

In the newspaper business, a morgue is something quite different. A newspaper morgue is an archive – a historical collection of photographs and information. Jeff Roth, who is the Times’ “morgue keeper,” called their morgue a “living, breathing thing” in an interview with National Public Radio (NPR). The photos and other documents in the morgue are used for historical stories and when writing obituaries – short biographies (story of a person’s life) that are written when someone dies.

The Times’ morgue is very large. In fact, huge (extremely large; enormous) would be an even better word to describe it. According to The Lively Morgue web site, the photos and other information fill 4,000 drawers. If you count all the forms (kinds) of traditional photographs, there are at least 10 million. To that you can add 13,500 DVDs, each containing about 5 gigabytes worth of images. If you have trouble wrapping your head around (understanding) all those numbers, think about it like this: If the Times published 10 of the traditional photos every weekday (Monday through Friday), it would take until the year 3935 to publish all of them.

A little more than two years ago, the Times created The Lively Morgue web site to begin to make it possible for people to see – and buy – their photographs and to share in the life and history of New York and the United States as well as in major events in world history.

Every month the Times chooses a group of photos at random (without plan or pattern) to add to The Lively Morgue web site. The most recent photos are on the home page, and you can find all the photos they have published on the archive page. When you click on a photo, you will be shown the back of the photo with a description and information about how it was used when it appeared in the Times.

Photographs like those in The Lively Morgue are great teachers. When we take time to study them, we can learn a lot about the life and history of the people and places we see in them. If you’d like to spend some time in the morgue, here is the link to The Lively Morgue home page. And here’s a short video introduction to The Lively Morgue by Jeff Roth.

~ Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English web site, where you’ll find clear explanations and practical suggestions for better English.

Photo from The Lively Morgue.


Tuesday - June 24, 2014

A World Cup of Something Else

2014_FIFA_World_Cup_-_Wikipedia__the_free_encyclopedia

Teams competing in the World Cup, 2014

The World Cup is in full swing (is already in progress), and millions of people around the world are watching their favorite teams compete (play against each other). Even here in the U.S., there are millions who watch soccer (or “football“). You can’t go to a bar here in Los Angeles – a city of immigrants, after all – without seeing a group of people gathered around (next to) a large-screen TV watching a game (and yelling or screaming).

To win the World Cup, you need talent and probably a little luck. But what if the World Cup were not decided by two teams kicking a ball on a field, but rather some other measure or factor?

For example, if we took the 32 countries that are competing in this year’s World Cup and decided to give the victory to the country with the biggest population instead of the best team, the winner would be the United States (with 318.9 million people).

Here, then, are the “winners” of what we could call Alternative World Cups, according to a recent article by the Wall Street Journal:

  • Highest population density (most number of people per square kilometer): Korea, at 468.8 people per square km.
  • Lowest population density: Australia, with 2.9 people per square km.
  • Fastest-growing population: Nigeria, with 2.8% yearly increase.
  • Slowest-growing population: Italy, with -2% yearly change.
  • Most traffic deaths: Iran, with 34.1 deaths per 100,000 people.
  • Fewest traffic deaths: England, with 3.7 deaths per 100,000 people.
  • Most murders: Honduras, with 90.4 murders per 100,000 people.
  • Fewest murders: Japan, with 0.3 murders per 100,000 people.
  • Longest life expectancy (how long you will probably live): Japan, at 84.5 years.
  • Most unmarried women ages 45 to 49: Brazil, with 44.6%.
  • Fewest unmarried women ages 45 to 49: Iran, with 12.6%.
  • Most tourists per person: Croatia, with 2.45 visitors per person.
  • Cellphones per capita (for each person): Russia, with 1.84 phones per person.
  • Biggest smokers: Greece, with 2,795 cigarettes smoked per person per year (that’s 7.6 cigarettes per day).
  • Biggest drinkers: Russia, with 15.1 liters per person per year.
  • Biggest meat eaters: Argentina, with 570 calories per day of meat per person.
  • Biggest vegetable eaters: Korea, with 179 calories per day per person.
  • Biggest sugar eaters: United States, with 569 calories per person per day (as much as an Argentinian eats in meat!).

Not surprisingly…

  • Fattest: United States, with approximately 33% of the population classified as (considered) obese (seriously overweight).

What else could we use to determine the World Cup winner?

~Jeff

Image credit: Wikipedia


Sunday - June 22, 2014

Podcasts This Week (June 23, 2014)

We are grateful to our members and donors, because we are only able to produce this podcast with the generous help of our listeners.

If you enjoy our podcasts, please consider supporting ESL Podcast by becoming a Basic or Premium Member today!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 1010 – Using GPS When Driving

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “receiver” and “fool.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Many Uses of GPS.”
“GPS is a ‘dual-use technology,’ which means that it can be used for ‘military’…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 456

Topics: Ask an American – Offensive mascots; capacity versus capability; to punch in versus to punch out; to put the cat among the pigeons

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Most Common School Mascots.”
“Mascots are used to identify a company, school, or team, so you might expect they would be ‘unique’…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1011 – Building with Wood and Metal

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “grain” and “to try (one’s) hand at.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Protecting the Biggest Trees.”
“American Forests is a nonprofit organization that has a ‘National Big Tree Program’…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - June 17, 2014

“Football” Versus “Soccer”

1024px-U20-WorldCup2007-Okotie-Onka_edit2Americans and Brits have a love-hate relationship (unclear feelings about each other). We love the British and the British hate us.

This is evident (clear) if you watch any British drama shows. Americans are portrayed as (shown to be) loud, brash (aggressive in a rude way), demanding (wanting things now and at a high standard), swaggering (walking and moving as though we think we are better than other people), rich and ostentatious (showing what you have to impress others), and boasting (saying you are great). I could go on and on (continue) — I know some Brits would be happy to – but I think you get the idea. To be honest, I really can’t blame them. If you’ve ever encountered (met) an “ugly American” traveling abroad (overseas), you’d feel the same way, too.

On the other hand, Americans love the British, especially the English, and we portray (show) the British in a very different way in our movies and TV shows. Generally speaking, British characters are well-mannered (behave well toward others), highly literate (read and write very well, knowing the great authors and are well-informed), elegant (graceful and stylish), and sophisticated (have good taste). Americans believe the Brits to be all of those things we are not, and we want to be like them.

Perhaps that’s why here in the U.S., big-city literati (highly-educated people who consider themselves well-read (well-informed about literature and important ideas)) are turning into soccer fans. These Americans follow British teams and gather at bars (places of business where people gather to drink alcohol and to socialize) — or “pubs” to the Brits — to watch games on big-screen TVs.  And, they’ve started calling “soccer” by the British name, “football,” and referring to the field where the game is played by the British term, “pitch.”

All of this is rather silly, in my opinion, and may backfire (have the opposite effect). All we need to do is look at the history of the terms “football” and “soccer” to see why.

The term “soccer” is actually a British term. It was developed in the 1800s to distinguish the sport of soccer, officially called “association football,” from other similar sports, such as rugby football. It was also useful in the U.S. to distinguish this sport from “gridiron football,” the sport that most Americans associate with the term “football.”

For some years in Britain, both terms — “soccer” and “football” — were used interchangeably (one for the other, without any difference in meaning). However, the Brits in the end preferred “football” over “soccer.” Why? Because Americans were using the term “soccer.” They didn’t want to associate themselves with us then, and they may not want to associate themselves with us now.

That’s why I say Brit-loving Americans may find their embrace (acceptance and love) of soccer/football backfiring. The Brits may, once again, find it so distasteful (unpleasant; disgusting) to share terms for a beloved (much-loved) sport that they will come up with (invent; create) entirely new terms to thwart (oppose; prevent someone from achieving their goal) us annoying Americans.

- Lucy

Photo Credit from Wikipedia


Sunday - June 15, 2014

Podcasts This Week (June 16, 2014)

Is your limited English standing in your way? Do you want to improve your English now?

Learn English even faster with the help of the Learning Guide. In it, you’ll get more vocabulary, language explanations, sample sentences, comprehension questions, cultural notes, and more.

Get the Learning Guide and support ESL Podcast today by becoming a Basic or Premium Member!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 1008 – Money Laundering

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “to shut down” and “lord.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “U.S. Laws to Prevent Money Laundering.”
“Money laundering ‘presents’ (represents; is) a major problem for the government…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 455

Topics: American Presidents – James Monroe; to oppress versus to suppress versus to repress; fruit and vegetables versus fruits and vegetables; file not sent/file not supported

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The College of William and Mary.”
“The College of William and Mary is one of the oldest universities in the United States…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1009 – Basic Military Commands

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “drill” and “about face.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Boot Camp.”
“In the United States, the Army is ‘notorious’ (famous in a bad way; famous for something bad)…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Thursday - June 12, 2014

A New Kind Of Streaker

SutherlandAmericans who remember the 1970s probably remember streakers – usually students – who ran naked (without clothes) in public places as a joke or to shock (surprise and upset) people.

Today there’s a new group of streakers. At least that’s what some of them call themselves. But as far as I know, none of them has taken off their clothes to do what they do.

A streak is a period of time during which you continue to be successful or to fail. In sports you hear a lot about streaks, and there have been long ones. Cal Ripken, a well-known American baseball player, played 2,632 games without missing one. That’s an impressive streak!

From 1996 until 2007, the Caltech (California Institute of Technology) Beavers basketball team lost every game they played – 207! That’s not an impressive streak!

Jon Sutherland is one of the new breed (particular kind of person or type of thing) of streakers. He is a streak runner. To be a streak runner, you must run at least one mile (1.6 km) every day under your own power (without any mechanical help), but treadmills (a machine for walking or running in the same place) are okay.

Sutherland recently set an American record for the longest running streak. He has run every day since May 26, 1969. When the Los Angeles Times reported (told) his story, he had run every day for 45 years – that’s 16,425 consecutive (one after the other) days. During that time, he ran about 11 miles (18 km) a day – more than 190,000 miles (305,775 km).

Years ago, one of Sutherland’s friends told him that he had run every day for a year. So Sutherland decided to try it, too. The first year was “no big deal (not so important)”, he says. And pretty (very) soon one year became five, then 10, 15, and now 45 years.

Sutherland’s commitment (a promise to do something) to running have helped him continue to run in spite of (without being stopped by) 10 broken bones, including a broken hip, and arthroscopic surgery – surgery in which doctors insert very small instruments (tools) into small incisions (cuts) so there is less damage and the patient heals (becomes healthy again) faster – to both knees.

Sutherland has a simple explanation for why he runs – “I keep running because I like it. The first thing I think about when I get up every morning is, ‘Where are me and Puck (his dog) going to go? Where are we going to run today?” Sutherland is retired (doesn’t work) now, and he plans to run as long as he can, though he doesn’t run as far every day as he used to. “As long as I’m healthy, I’m going to keep going,” he says. “I’m addicted (not able to stop) to running. It’s all I do.”

The United States Running Streak Association (USRSA) – which was started in 2000 – says that there were 86 streak runners in the U.S. in 2002 and more than 430 in March 2014.

If you’d like to read stories of other streak runners, look at The People Who Can’t Not Run. And if you’d like to hear Jon Sutherland tell his story, watch this short video from the Los Angeles Times.

Are you working on any kind of streak – it doesn’t have to be running?

Since I read Jon Sutherland’s story, I’ve been pushing (strongly encouraging) my students to become streak readers – to read every day, without missing a day – to improve their English.

~ Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English web site.

Photo of Jon Sutherland and Puck is a screenshot from the YouTube video by Los Angeles Times.


Tuesday - June 10, 2014

Medical Diagnosis: “Moron”

494px-Brooklyn_Museum_-_Climbing_into_the_Promised_Land_Ellis_Island_-_Lewis_Wickes_HineIf someone calls you a “moron,” you should be very offended (feel insulted). A moron is someone who is very stupid. The term is harsher (more severe; more of an insult) than “stupid” or “dumb.” Today, Americans use this term as an insult, but in the early 1910s, being a “moron” might put you in a mental hospital (hospital for people with problems of the mind) or get you deported (kicked out of or told to leave a county permanently).

The term “moron” was a medical term invented by a psychologist (doctor studying the mind) named Henry H. Goddard. Goddard was interested in intelligence (how smart someone is) and he created a scale (measurement) to classify people of low intelligence. He initially used the term “feeble-minded” as his first category. (“Feeble” means weak or not strong. The other, more severe, categories of low intelligence were “imbecile” and “idiot,” terms also still used today as insults.)  He didn’t think the term “feeble-minded” was scientific enough, so he created the term “moron.” Today, none of these terms are used in science and medicine, of course.

Goddard was concerned about eugenics, the study of how to produce a better race of people by eliminating a population’s “bad” characteristics, such as low intelligence. His ideas were so influential that they affected immigration policy (rules allowing people to enter a country permanently) in the United States.

In 1913, Goddard sent his female assistant to Ellis Island, the entry point for immigrants in the 1800s and early 1900s, to spot (recognize) possible “morons” and to administer (give them) his intelligence tests. He believed that women were more intuitive (able to sense or feel things more easily) and could simply look at a person and determine who is and is not feeble-minded. The result was that 40% of the Jews, Italians, and Hungarians who were tested were determined to be morons. Based in part on his results, the following (next) year, the number of people deported for being feeble-minded doubled (increased 100%).

Goddard’s research was eventually disproved (shown to be false). In fact, Goddard himself later said that some of his most influential work was flawed (had problems). More importantly, he eventually said that he no longer believed that morons were incurable (cannot be treated and made to improve) and that they needed to be segregated (separated) from society and placed in institutions (mental hospitals).

Today, Goddard’s ideas no longer affect immigration policy, but the term “moron” continues to be a legacy (influence after death) and reminder of his dubious (of doubtful use or quality) work in the 1900s.

- Lucy

Photo Credit:  Brooklyn Museum – Climbing into the Promised Land Ellis Island – Lewis Wickes Hine from Wikipedia


Sunday - June 8, 2014

Podcasts This Week (June 9, 2014)

Get the full benefits of ESL Podcast by getting the Learning Guide. We designed the Learning Guide to help you learn English better and faster. Get more vocabulary, language explanations, sample sentences, comprehension questions, cultural notes, and more.

Get the Learning Guide and support ESL Podcast today by becoming a Basic or Premium Member!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 1006 – Taking a Campus Tour

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “stop” and “matter.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “University Campus Events for Parents.”
“When young adults ‘go off to college’ (move out of their family’s home and live independently while studying at the university)…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 454

Topics: Movie – The Shawshank Redemption; The Pentagon; to go ahead versus straight ahead; cheesy and quirky; a few quarters short of a buck

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Oddly-Shaped Buildings in the U.S.”
“Every country has ‘unique’ (not like any other) buildings that are easily ‘identifiable’…”- READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1007 – Getting Mugged

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “purse” and “to get (one’s) hopes up.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Flash Mob Robberies.”
“‘Flash mobs’ are a form of entertainment and social expression…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - June 3, 2014

Why You Can’t Be Creative and Check Your Facebook Page At The Same Time

isolator-500pxAt universities and research organizations today, there is a very common buzzword (a word or phrase that has become popular, like a slogan): collaboration. Collaboration refers to working with others to share ideas, with the aim (goal) of creating something better.

Some scientists, however, are pushing back (resisting). They say that collaboration on the scientists’ own terms (done when they want to, in the way they want to) is fine, but what some call “enforced interaction” — working and communicating with others when you don’t want to — might actually be standing in the way of (preventing) scientific progress.

An organization called Silences of Science was formed (started) to push back against this trend for collaboration and constant communication. Its website says that it “aims (tries) to remind the research community of the creative importance of silence, of interruptions in communication, of isolation and of ‘stuckness’.” Isolation refers to being alone, away from other people. Being stuck means feeling like you can’t move forward because you don’t know how to solve a problem.

A recent article cited (reported) the case of Peter Higgs, the 2013 winner of a Nobel prize for his work on the the Higgs boson, work done primarily (mainly) in the 1960s. Higgs said that the peace and quiet he had to work in those days no longer exists today.

Felicity Mellor, one of the co-founders (one of two or more people who began the organization) of Silences of Science and a professor at the Imperial College London, says that Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton also liked to work alone. Newton in particular (especially) liked to shut himself away (close the door and not see others) and work in isolation. He showed his work to very few people and only published his work reluctantly (without really wanting to). In fact, he only published Principia, his three-volume (three book) work with the laws and theories he’s known for today and regarded as (seen as; believed to be) one of the most important scientific works in the history of science, after much urging (others saying he should).

Other researchers have talked about the importance of what Cal Newport calls “deep work“: periods of very focused concentration when your most important and creative work gets done. Deep work cannot be done when other people are talking to you or in a meeting. It can’t happen when you’re constantly checking your Facebook page and watching cat videos on YouTube. It requires silence and, more often than not, isolation from the environment around you.

When do you get your most important or creative work of the day done?

- Jeff

*Caption below the photo says: “The author at work in his private study (office) aided by (helped by) The Isolator (that thing over his head!). Outside noises being eliminated, the worker can concentrate with ease (easily) upon the subject at hand (what he’s working on ).” I’m going to get myself one of those soon.

Photo Credit: Study Hacks, a blog by Cal Newport