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Tuesday - March 25, 2014

Let Me See Your ID Again

Passport_cardWhen we think of IDs (identification documents), we often think that having our photo on it makes it impossible for anyone else to use it. That’s not necessarily (100%) true.

A study published recently tested how well people spotted (identified; found) fake (not real or authentic) IDs, especially in real-world (true; actual) situations. For example, one place where you want to know if someone is using a fake ID is in an airport security line.

But in that sort of real-world situation, the person looking at IDs is unlikely to come across (see) many fake IDs. The overwhelming (by a large amount) majority of people use their real IDs at an airport.

And that’s precisely the problem. According to the results of this study, the less frequently a person comes across a fake ID, the less likely he or she is able to spot one. In the study, when the frequency of fakes was high, the study participants were wrong only 20% of the time. But when there were fewer fakes, they were wrong 40% of the time.

Part of the difficulty in using photo IDs to identify people is that people age (grow older), change their hairstyles, wear glasses or not, or wear make-up or not (cosmetics worn on the face to improve one’s appearance). In the study, many of the photos were taken months or years before the time of the study, which also match real-world conditions. In the U.S., many passports and drivers licenses are valid (acceptable by law or rule) for 10 years or more.

I recently renewed (extended the period for) my California driver’s license. When I got my previous license, it was good for (valid for) 10 years. I was able to renew my license for five more years using the government website without having a new photo taken. This means that at the end of the five-year period, my picture will be 15 years old. Without plastic surgery (medical procedures to improve my appearance) or a wig, I will look very different and much older than when I first had the picture taken back in the Clinton administration (when Bill Clinton was president of the U.S.).

Who might be good at spotting fake IDs? In other words, what kind of person sees a lot of fake IDs as part of his or her job? One answer will not surprise you: bouncers, people hired by nightclubs and bars to keep out people who are underage (younger than the legal drinking age, usually 21) or who are causing problems. They encounter fake IDs all the time, especially here in the U.S.

Perhaps the solution is simply:  Hire more bouncers as security screeners (people who check documents to be sure that person is safe to allow into a place)!

- Jeff

Image Credit: Passport card from Wikipedia


Sunday - March 23, 2014

Podcasts this Week (March 24, 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 984 – Competing in Business

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 go under” and “to slash prices.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “How Small Businesses Fight Undercutting Prices.”
“Many ‘mom and pop businesses’ (small, family-owned businesses) are being…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 443

Topics: American Musicals – Fiddler on the Roof; How to Sue Somebody (How Civil Lawsuits Work); reporter versus journalist versus correspondent; expense versus expenditure versus cost; bottom line; to run (something) by (someone)

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Streisand Effect.”
“The Streisand Effect is a ‘phenomenon’ (unusual or remarkable event) that occurs when a plan to hide…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 985 – School Fundraisers

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 hit up” and “brick.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “School-Business Partnership Fundraisers.”
“As ‘school funding’ (the amount of money available to pay for schools) is ‘cut’ (reduced)…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Thursday - March 20, 2014

Elbow Doctor

Baseball_pitching_motion_2004r“It’s time for … baseball!”*

Yes, baseball season is almost here. And we who live in Los Angeles hope, once again, that our teams will do well. For Jeff it’s the Dodgers. For me the Angels. And both teams look good going into (at the beginning of) the new season.

When baseball season begins in two weeks, many players, especially pitchers**, will be able to play because of the pioneering (to do something for the first time) work of Dr. Frank Jobe. In 1974, Dr. Jobe, who died recently at the age of 88, developed a surgical procedure (medical operation) that has made it possible for more than 1,000 baseball players to continue playing after seriously injuring an elbow.

Pitchers often throw the baseball more than 100 times per game. They throw very hard and their pitching motion (arm movement) twists (turns) and bends (moves it so it’s not straight) the elbow and puts a large amount of stress (force or pressure) on the ligament (strong flexible material that holds the bones together) in the elbow.

After a while the ligament may begin to tear (pull into pieces). And it stretches (becomes longer) so much that it can’t hold the bones tightly together. When this happens, a pitcher begins to feel pain on the inside of his elbow. The elbow may begin to feel loose, and the pitcher may experience tingling (stinging feeling) or numbness (loss of feeling) in some fingers. If the ligament damage is bad enough, it ends a pitcher’s career. Or it did until Dr. Jobe developed what we now call Tommy John surgery, named for the first player to receive the procedure.

To do Tommy John surgery, the surgeon removes a length of tendon (another kind of connecting material) from somewhere in the patient’s body. He also drills tunnels (holes for the tendon to pass through) in the upper and lower bones of the elbow. He passes the tendon through the tunnels, connects the ends to the bones, and adjusts the tension (tightness) of the tendon. When he finishes, the tendon often looks like a figure eight (the pattern or shape of the number eight) as it passes in and out of the tunnels.

After Dr. Jobe operated on Tommy John’s elbow, Tommy went on to have a successful pitching career. According to the Los Angeles Times, he pitched so well after the surgery that Pete Rose, a famous hitter, said, “I know they had to give Tommy John a new arm. But did they have to give him [Sandy] Koufax’s (Koufax was one of the best pitchers ever)?”

If you watch baseball – American or from another country – there’s a good possibility that you’ll see a pitcher who is able to pitch today because of Dr. Frank Jobe’s Tommy John surgery.

* Vin Scully, legendary (famous and admired) broadcaster (person who describes games on TV and radio) who has broadcast Los Angeles Dodger baseball games for 65 years, always begins his broadcasts with, “It’s time for Dodger baseball!”

** For more about pitchers, read my blog post The Knuckleballer.

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

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons. 


Tuesday - March 18, 2014

It’s Still Mom at Bedtime

François_Riss_LullabyIf you’re part of a working couple (two people who are married or in a committed relationship) with children these days, you’re probably sharing more of the household (related to home) work than parents did 50 or 75 years ago.

According to the American Time Use Survey (set of questions asked of many people) conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor, men and women now work roughly (about; approximately) the same number of hours each week, although men still work more paid hours and women work more unpaid hours. And while men report doing more at home, there is still one area where moms do the lion share of the work (do the majority or most of the work): childcare (taking care of children).

You may think, well, if fathers are doing more of the other housework, such as vacuuming (using a machine to remove dirt from floors, rugs, and carpets), then the housework is equally divided (split evenly) and everyone’s happy, right? Not according to sociologists (people whose job is to study how people interact and other social issues).

According to recent research, childcare is much more stressful than household tasks done alone, such as washing the dishes. As one mother put it (illustrated it; explained it) in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “dishes don’t talk back,” meaning dishes don’t argue or reply in a disrespectful or disobedient (not doing what one is told) way. And at bedtime (time when people prepare for sleeping) when parents have to deal with children who are perhaps at their grumpiest (most bad-tempered) and most reluctant (not wanting to do something), it’s moms who are most often doing this duty (work).

According to the American Time Use Survey, in a dual-income (both members of a couple with paying jobs) family, the mother is three times more likely to have her sleep interrupted (caused to stop for a period of time) if the couple has a child under the age of one than the father is, and stay-at-home mothers (mothers not working in jobs outside the home) get up six times more often than fathers. Less sleep and more interrupted sleep means more stress.

Do these figures (numbers) and observations jibe with (agree with) what you’ve observed among families where you live? Are fathers and mothers sharing the work at home equally, not only in the amount of time needed but in the level of stress involved?

- Lucy

Image Credit: François Riss Lullaby from Wikipedia


Sunday - March 16, 2014

Podcasts this Week (March 17, 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 982 – Home Shopping

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 “off” and “steal.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Celebrity Product Lines.”
“Many ‘celebrities’ (people who are famous for acting, singing, sports or other things)…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 442

Topics: American Presidents – Woodrow Wilson; junction versus intersection versus interchange; proprietary versus patent; to bluff (one’s) way into a secure area

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Presidential Illnesses.”
“Being the leader of any ‘nation’ (country) would be a ‘stressful’ (causing a lot of worry and tension) job…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 983 – Breaking Bad Habits

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 break” and “to share.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Common Bad Habits in Conversation.”
“Many people have bad habits in ‘conversation’ (speaking with other people)…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Thursday - March 13, 2014

What Did Charlie Chaplin Sound Like?

OriginalNipperWikipedia is a useful, though not always reliable (able to be trusted), source of information about people in the news, in history, and popular culture. Now, it may also become a place to go to find out what people sound like (the characteristics of their voice).

Recently, Wikipedia started soliciting (asking for) 10-second sound recordings for the people who have entries (individual pages) on Wikipedia. People and organizations are being asked to supply (give for use) open-licensed (with its use not restricted) and open-format (not restricted by file type) recordings that can be added to entries. The main request is that the recording include the notable person pronouncing their own name to show their own preference, since there is often disagreement.

So far, only a few Wikipedia entries have sound recordings. Among them are those of Emma Thompson, an English actress, and Dustin Hoffman, an American actor. But there are also voices of non-celebrities (people known in popular culture, usually from TV, films, and sports), such as English scientist Jane Goodall, Burmese political figure Aung San Suu Kyi, and American author John Updike.

Unfortunately, so far, there is no recording of Charlie Chaplin, but the project is still in its infancy (at its beginning; only just begun).

Whose voice from today or from history would you most like to hear?

- Lucy

Photo Credit: Original Nipper from Wikipedia


Tuesday - March 11, 2014

Work Would be Great Without the Coworkers

RED # 18355 64-NA-193The French philosopher Jean-Paul Satre once famously said, “Hell is other people.” I’m not sure who poor old (unfortunate) Jean-Paul’s neighbors, friends, or coworkers (people who work at the same place you do) were, but obviously they were not exactly ideal (perfect; the best possible).

There’s no question (no doubt) that getting along with other people can be difficult, especially when you are at your job. A recent article tried to look on the bright side (focus on the positive) of bothersome (causing trouble) coworkers and suggest ways that these types of people can actually be helpful. I’m not sure if I’m buying that argument (am convinced; agree), but I thought I’d talk about a few common terms used for these difficult types of coworkers in the U.S. Perhaps you know someone who fits (is similar to) one of these descriptions:

  • A social butterfly is a person who likes to talk a lot, be around other people, attend parties and other social events, and meet and know a lot of people.
  • A gossip is someone who likes to talk about other people, even if what he says isn’t true. You can have a social butterfly who just likes to chat (talk informally), but who may also be a gossip.
  • A workaholic is someone who works too much, and is always thinking about work, even when not working.
  • Malcontents are people who are generally unhappy and who may find ways to do things they are not supposed to do, or may express their unhappiness in other ways.
  • Someone who is passive-aggressive is someone who shows her unhappiness in small ways, rather than confronting (meeting face-to-face or openly) the person who is making her unhappy. A passive-aggressive person might misplace (lose temporarily) important papers, not return your phone calls, or “forget” to do the things she promised to do for you. So, it’s possible for someone to be a malcontent who is passive-aggressive. Even worse, this person could be a workaholic who is a passive-aggressive malcontent!
  • A narcissist is someone who believes everything should be focused on him or her, believing his or her own ideas, views, and beliefs are the most important. A person who is a narcissist might attract people who are suck-ups.
  • A suck-up is willing to say or do things — such as compliment someone a lot or say how great he is — to get an advantage in the workplace.
  • Backstabbers are people who pretend to be friendly with you, but make critical (disapproving) comments or do things to harm you when you’re not around.

Who do you think are the most disruptive (interfere with your work or cause the most problems) where you work: social butterflies, gossips, workaholics, narcissists, malcontents, suck-ups, backstabbers, or passive-aggressive people?

- Jeff

Photo Credit: Photograph of the Division of Classification and Cataloging


Sunday - March 9, 2014

Podcasts this Week (March 10, 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 980 – Retiring Abroad

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 “fixed” and “to put down stakes.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Retiring Abroad.”
“In the past, many Americans ‘dreamed of’ (thought about and hoped for) traveling abroad in their retirement…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 441

Topics: Ask an American – Saving the oldest photograph; law versus rule versus policy; to stem from versus to be derived from; bring it on; infomercial; hawking; exercise fad

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “What To Do With Photos.”
“In the past, Americans used to keep boxes filled with photos or placed them in ‘photo albums’…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 981 – Diplomatic and Economic Sanctions

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 call off” and “trade.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Types of Economic Sanctions.”
“The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury is responsible for…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Thursday - March 6, 2014

Ruby’s, Hot Rods, and Custom Cars

Rubys CruiseWhen you walk into a Ruby’s Diner in southern California, you take a step back in time, into the 1940s and 50s. The red booths (a table between two long seats), white table tops, soda fountains, and colorful 1940s posters (large printed pictures) are typical of (like, similar to) what you would have found across the U.S. during those years. So is their menu (list of food they sell) – mostly hamburgers, French fries, and milk shakes.

If you visit Ruby’s in Whittier, near where I live, on any Friday evening from May through October, you’ll experience more of the 40s and 50s. That’s when the Ruby’s Diner Friday Night Cruise* fills Ruby’s parking lot with dozens of cars – many of them hot rods and custom cars built during those years.

In the 1930s and 40s, many American young men, especially in California, began to buy older classic (admired by many people) cars and “hop up” or “soup up” (modify, change) the engines to make them more powerful. Sometimes they took out the original engines and put in newer, larger engines and took anything that wasn’t needed off of their cars to make them lighter (have less weight) and faster. They called their cars hot rods; unfortunately no one is sure how the name got started. Roadsters (2-seat open cars) were especially popular for hot rods because they were light and inexpensive (didn’t cost much).

These young men with the hot (powerful, fast) cars began a kind of competition, called drag racing – which Jeff talked about in this week’s English Cafe. In drag racing, two or more cars raced side by side on a street to see which one was fastest over a short distance. Street racing was dangerous and was eventually (after a time) outlawed (made illegal), so after World War II, many hot rodders moved to deserted (unused) airports and raced on the runways.

In the 1950s another kind of hot rod – the custom car – appeared and quickly became popular. Custom cars often had modified engines, like hot rods. But what made them different were changes made to the car’s appearance (how it looks) inside and out, like colorful, unusual paint jobs (if a car has a paint job, it is painted again). When creating a custom car, the goal is to make it look different than any other car. Today there are quite a few custom car shops in California, and some people spend thousands of dollars to have their cars or trucks customized.

The young men – the hot rodders and custom car builders – of the 1940s and 50s are older now and many are gone. But the traditions they started are still alive. You can still find them and their cars at places like Ruby’s Diner all across California.

If you’re interested, Pinterest has a large collection of hot rod and custom car photos, and here is a set of photos of hot rods and custom cars made from the classic 1932 Ford.

*Many young people used to drive their cars slowly up and down a particular street, usually the main street of a town, as a way to spend time with their friends. This was called “cruising”.

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

 Photo credit: cb750cafe.


Tuesday - March 4, 2014

Your Movie Will Begin…Later and Later

AirscreenIf you’ve been to a movie theater recently, you may have noticed that there are more trailers (advertisements for future movies) than ever, and they last (continue; has a duration that is) longer than ever. Film studios (movie companies) pay movie theaters to show trailers of their upcoming (future) movies, and movie theaters in the U.S. have increased the number of trailers shown to about six or seven at many locations, while a decade ago (10-year period previous), only three or four were shown.

Trailers are very effective advertising, second only to (only less effective than) television advertising, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. But there is a constant battle between movie theater owners and movie studios: movie theaters want to show more trailers to make more money, and movie studios want to show longer trailers with a longer lead time (time period before something happens) before a movie is released.

The latest move in this tug of war (contest; battle) was recently made by the National Association of Theatre* Owners, a group that consists of (includes) major theater companies.  It tries to influence rules and policies relating to movies and theaters in its favor (to benefit it).  The Association issued (released) new guidelines (rules) for trailers: they should be no more than two minutes long, and they should not appear more than five months before a movie’s premier (showing in theaters for the first time).

As you can imagine, movie executives (important people working in movie companies) aren’t happy. They say that the new guidelines are not to benefit moviegoers (people who go to movie theaters to see a movie) who have complained about too many and too long trailers. Instead, they say, movie theater owners are making room for (space for) more advertising from other companies.

Are there these types of rules for trailers where you live? Do you like seeing the trailers shown before feature films (main movies)? If you could lay down the law (make the rules), what would be the ideal situation with regard to trailers?

- Lucy

* Note that, in the U.S., the word “theater” is generally spelled with an “er,” not a “re” at the end. However, some organizations and companies in the U.S. like to use British spellings since Americans generally have positive associations with British English.

Photo Credit: Airscreen from Wikipedia