Thursday, December 30, 2010

"The Story of Radio" from VOA




SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: I'm Shirley Griffith.STEVE EMBER: And I’m Steve Ember with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Today we tell about the history of radio and the latest technology.

(MUSIC)

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Our story begins in Britain in eighteen seventy-three. A scientist named James Maxwell wrote a mathematical theory about a kind of energy. He called this energy electromagnetic waves.

His theory said this kind of energy could pass unseen through the air. James Maxwell was not able to prove his idea. Other scientists could not prove it either until German scientist Heinrich Hertz tried an experiment around eighteen eighty-seven.

STEVE EMBER: Hertz’s experiment sounds very simple. He used two pieces of metal placed close together. He used electricity to make a spark jump between the two pieces of metal. He also built a simple receiver made of wire that was turned many times in a circle or looped. At the ends of the loop were small pieces of metal separated by a tiny amount of space. The receiver was placed several meters from the other device.

Heinrich Hertz proved that James Maxwell’s idea was correct. Electromagnetic waves or energy passed through the air from one device to the other.

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Later, Hertz demonstrated the experiment to his students in a classroom. One of the students asked what use might be made of this discovery. But Hertz thought his discovery was of no use. He said it was interesting but had no value.

He was wrong. His experiment was the very beginning of the electronic communications we use today. In recognition of his work, the unit of frequency of a radio wave, one cycle per second, is named the hertz.

STEVE EMBER: Radio waves became known to scientists as Hertzian Waves. But the experiment was still of no use until Guglielmo Marconi improved on the device that created Hertzian Waves. He began his experiments in Italy in eighteen ninety-four.

Guglielmo Marconi
loc.gov
Guglielmo Marconi

Marconi was soon able to transmit sound across a distance of several kilometers. He tried to interest Italian government officials in his discovery, but they were not interested.

Marconi traveled to Britain. His invention was well received there. In eighteen ninety-seven, he established the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company. The company opened the world’s first radio factory in Chelmsford, England in eighteen ninety-eight.

(MUSIC)

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Very quickly, people began sending and receiving radio messages across long distances using equipment made by Marconi’s company.

Ships at sea needed the device. Before Marconi’s invention, they had no communication until they arrived in port. With radio, ships could call for help if they had trouble. They could send and receive information.

All of Marconi’s radios communicated using Morse code. An expert with Morse code could send and receive thirty or forty words a minute. Marconi’s radio greatly increased the speed of communications.

STEVE EMBER: On December twenty-fourth, nineteen-oh-six, radio operators on ships in the Atlantic Ocean near the American coast began hearing strange things. At first it was violin music. Then they heard a human voice. The voice said “Have a Merry Christmas.”

That voice belonged to a man named Reginald Fessenden. He had been working on producing a device that could transmit the human voice or music using radio. He decided to try it for the first time on December twenty-fourth. It was the first time a human voice had been heard on radio.

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Improvements in radio technology now came more quickly. Large companies became interested. Broadcasting equipment and radio receivers were improved.

Fourteen years after Reginald Fessenden’s voice was heard by radio operators at sea, the first real radio broadcast was transmitted. It came from the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The radio program was transmitted on radio station KDKA on the evening of November second, nineteen twenty. The man speaking on the radio was Leo Rosenberg. He was announcing the early results of the presidential election between James Cox and Warren Harding.

STEVE EMBER: Those first KDKA broadcasts led to the success of the radio industry. People began buying the first radios. Other companies decided radio could make a profit. Only four years after the first KDKA broadcast, there were six hundred radio stations in the United States. Radio stations also began to broadcast in other countries.

Radio stations began selling “air time” as a way to pay their workers and to pay for needed equipment. A few minutes of air time were sold to different companies so they could tell about their products to the radio station’s listeners. This method of supporting radio and later television is still used today.

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Radio changed the way people thought and lived. It permitted almost everyone to hear news about important events at the same time. Political candidates could be heard by millions of listeners. The same songs were heard across the country.

The work by British scientist James Maxwell and German scientist Heinrich Hertz led to the development of modern communications technology. This includes television broadcasts, satellite use, cellular telephones, radio-controlled toys and much more.

(MUSIC)

STEVE EMBER: Now we will explain electromagnetic waves. We will begin with Heinrich Hertz’s experiment. You can also try this experiment. First, move the controls on your radio to an area where no station is being received.

Now, you will need a common nine-volt battery and a metal piece of money. Hold the battery near the radio and hit the top of the battery with the coin. You should hear a clicking noise on the radio.

Your coin and battery are a very simple radio transmitter. This radio will not transmit very far. However, if you know a little of Morse code, you could communicate with this device.

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Electromagnetic energy travels almost like an ocean wave – up and down, up and down. It also travels at the speed of light – two hundred ninety-nine million seven hundred ninety-two thousand four hundred fifty-eight meters each second.

Scientists have learned how to separate radio waves into different lengths called frequencies. This permits many radio stations to broadcast at the same time and not interfere with each other.

STEVE EMBER: You may be hearing our broadcast on what is called short wave. These are frequencies between three thousand and thirty thousand kilohertz. They are often called megahertz. One megahertz is the same as one thousand kilohertz.

Short wave is good for broadcasting very long distances. The short wave signals bounce off the ionosphere that surrounds the Earth, back to the ground and then back to the ionosphere.

The first radio broadcasts were made using amplitude modulation. AM radio can be sent over larger distances, but the quality of the sound is not as good as a later kind of radio signal processing, called frequency modulation. FM radio stations transmit in a range of frequencies between eighty-eight and one hundred eight megahertz. AM radio is between five hundred thirty-five and seventeen hundred kilohertz.

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Radio technology continues to improve. Today, VOA broadcasts to satellites in space that send the signal back to stations on the ground that transmit programs with a clear signal.

Radio personality Howard Stern in New York City during his first show on Sirius Satellite Radio in 2006
AP
Radio personality Howard Stern in New York City during his first show on Sirius Satellite Radio in 2006

In the United States, people who want satellite radio programs can buy the services of the company Sirius XM. The company provides listeners with programs about music, news, sports, weather, politics and much more. Many of these programs do not include commercial advertising. People can use these satellite radio services in their cars, homes or on portable devices. More and more radio stations are also broadcasting using digital radio technology.

STEVE EMBER: The Internet is also adding to the expansion of radio programming. Radio stations around the world can put their programs on the Internet for listeners everywhere to hear. The website Pandora began its Music Genome Project to create a database of song descriptions. Pandora’s Internet radio is able to predict what songs listeners will like based on their earlier musical choices. Listeners can create their own personalized radio programming with this and other forms of Internet radio.

We think Heinrich Hertz would look at all these developments and be very proud of the device he made that he thought would never be of any use.

(MUSIC)

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: This program was written by Paul Thompson. It was produced by Dana Demange. I’m Shirley Griffith.

STEVE EMBER: And I’m Steve Ember. Our programs are online with transcripts and MP3 files at voaspecialenglish.com. And you can find us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube at VOA Learning English. Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Clara Barton" Founder of The Red Cross, from VOA




VOICE ONE:

I'm Ray Freeman.

VOICE TWO:

And I'm Shirley Griffith with the Special English program, People in America. Every week we tell about a person who was important in the history of the United States. Today we tell about a woman who spent her life caring for others, Clara Barton.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Clara Barton was a small woman. Yet she made a big difference in many lives. Today her work continues to be important to thousands of people in trouble.

Clara Barton was an unusual woman for her time. She was born on Christmas day, December twenty-fifth, eighteen twenty-one. In those days, most women were expected to marry, have children and stay home to take care of them. Barton, however, became deeply involved in the world.

By the time of her death in nineteen twelve, she had begun a revolution that led to the right of women to do responsible work for society. As a nurse, she cared for thousands of Wounded soldiers. She began the American Red Cross. And, she successfully urged the American government to accept the Geneva Convention. That treaty established standards for conditions for soldiers injured or captured during wartime.

VOICE TWO:

Clara Barton really began her life of caring for the sick when she was only eleven years old. She lived with her family on a farm in the northeastern state of Massachusetts. One of her
brothers, David, was seriously injured while helping build a barn. For two years, Clara Barton took care of David until he was healed.

Most eleven-year-old girls would have found the job impossible. But Clara felt a great need to help. And she was very good at it. She also seemed to feel most safe when she was at home with her mother and father, or riding a horse on her family's land.

As a young child, Clara had great difficulty studying and making friends at school. Her four brothers and sisters were much older than she. Several of them were teachers. For most of Clara's early years, she was taught at home. She finished school at age fifteen. Then she went to work in her brother David's clothing factory. The factory soon burned, leaving her without a job.

VOICE ONE:

Clara Barton decided to teach school. In eighteen thirty-six, she passed the teacher's test and began teaching near her home in North Oxford, Massachusetts. She became an extremely popular and respected teacher.

After sixteen years of teaching, she realized she did not know all she wanted to know. She wanted more education. Very few universities accepted women in those days. So Clara went to a special school for girls in Massachusetts. While in that school, she became interested in public education.

VOICE TWO:

After she graduated, a friend suggested she try to establish the first public school in the state of New Jersey. Officials there seemed to think that education was only for children whose parents had enough money to pay for private schools.

The officials did not want Barton to start a school for poor people. But she offered to teach without pay for three months. She told the officials that they could decide after that if she
had been successful. They gave her an old building with poor equipment. And they gave her six very active little boys to teach.

At the end of five weeks, the school was too small for the number of children who wanted to attend. By the end of the year, the town built her a bigger, better school. They had to give her more space. She then had six hundred students in the school.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Within a year, Clara Barton had lost her voice. She had to give up teaching. She moved to Washington, D.C. to begin a new job writing documents for the United States government.

Clara Barton started her life as a nurse during the early days of the Civil War in eighteen sixty-one. One day, she went to the train center in Washington to meet a group of soldiers from Massachusetts. Many of them had been her friends. She began taking care of their wounds.

Not long after, she left her office job. She became a full-time nurse for the wounded on their way from the fields of battle to the hospital.

Soon, Barton recognized that many more lives could be saved if the men had medical help immediately after they were hurt. Army rules would not permit anyone except male soldiers to be on the battlefield. But Barton took her plans for helping the wounded to a high army official. He approved her plans.

VOICE TWO:

Barton and a few other women worked in the battle areas around Washington. She heard about the second fierce battle at Bull Run in the nearby state of Virginia. She got into a railroad car and traveled there.

Bull Run must have been a fearful sight. Northern forces were losing a major battle there. Everywhere Barton looked lay wounded and dying men.

Day and night she worked to help the suffering. When the last soldier had been placed on a train, Barton finally left. She was just in time to escape the southern army. She escaped by riding a horse, a skill she gained as a young girl.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

For four years, Clara Barton was at the front lines of the bloodiest battles in the war between the North and the South. She was there at Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Charleston. She
was there at Spotsylvania, Petersburg, and Richmond. She cleaned the wounds of badly injured soldiers. She eased the pain of the dying. And she fed those who survived.

When she returned to Washington, Clara Barton found she was a hero. She had proved that women could work in terrible conditions. She made people understand that women could provide good medical care. She also showed that nursing was an honorable
profession.

After the war ended, Barton's doctor sent her to Europe to rest. Instead of resting, she met with representatives of the International Red Cross. The organization had been established
in eighteen sixty-three to offer better treatment for people wounded or captured during wars. She was told that the United States was the only major nation that refused to join.

VOICE TWO:

Barton began planning a campaign to create an American Red Cross. Before she could go home, though, the war between France and Prussia began in eighteen seventy.

Again, Clara Barton went to the fields of battle to nurse the wounded. After a while her eyes became infected. The woman of action was ordered to remain quiet for months in a dark room, or become blind.

When she returned to the United States she again suffered a serious sickness. She used the time in a hospital to write letters in support of an American Red Cross organization.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

In eighteen eighty-one, Barton's campaign proved successful. The United States Congress signed the World's Treaty of the International Red Cross. This established the American Chapter of the Red Cross. Clara Barton had reached one of her major goals in life.

The next year she successfully urged Congress to accept the Geneva Convention. This treaty set the international rules for treatment of soldiers wounded or captured in war.

For twenty-five years, Clara Barton continued as the president of the American Red Cross. Under her guidance, the organization helped people in all kinds of trouble. She directed the aid efforts for victims of floods in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and Galveston, Texas. She led Red Cross workers in Florida during an outbreak of the disease yellow fever. And she helped during periods when people were starving in Russia and Armenia.

VOICE TWO:

Clara Barton retired when she was in her middle eighties. For her last home, she chose a huge old building near Washington, D.C. The building had been used for keeping Red Cross equipment and then as her office. It was made with material saved from aid centers built after the flood in Johnstown.

In that house on the Potomac River, Clara Barton lived her remaining days. She died after a life of service to others in April, nineteen twelve, at age ninety.

She often said: "You must never so much as think if you like it or not, if it is bearable or not. You must never think of anything except the need --- and how to meet it."

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

This Special English program was written by Jeri Watson. I'm Ray Freeman.

VOICE TWO:

And I'm Shirley Griffith. Join us again next week for another People in America program on the Voice of America.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"Dust Echoes" Amazing Stories from Australia














Click on the link. You will see a number of circular icons above the picture. Put your cursor over the icons. The second one to the right is "Whirlpool". When you reach that page, click on "Original Story". First read the story, then watch the wonderful animated film. "Whirlpool" is about the conflict between two Australian Aboriginal Tribes, the Salt-Water People and the Fresh-Water People. You can also take a quiz after you watch the video, learn about the cultural background of the story, and the animators. Many thanks to Vukile Mgijima and Nik Peachey for this link.
Dust Echoes

Saturday, November 27, 2010

"The Science of Snow" from VOA




VOICE ONE:

This is SCIENCE IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English. I'm Shirley Griffith.

VOICE TWO:

And I'm Steve Ember. Today, we tell you everything you ever wanted to know about snow.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Winter weather has returned to northern areas of the world. In much of the United States, winter means the return of snow. Snow is a subject of great interest to weather experts. Experts sometimes have difficulty estimating where, when or how much snow will fall. One reason is that heavy amounts of snow fall in surprisingly small areas. Another reason is that a small change in temperature can mean the difference between snow and rain.

VOICE TWO:

Snow is a form of frozen water. It contains many groups of tiny ice particles called snow crystals. These crystals grow from water particles in cold clouds. They usually grow around a piece of dust.

All snow crystals have six sides, but they grow in different shapes. The shape depends mainly on the temperature and water levels in the air. Snow crystals grow in one of two designs -- platelike and columnar. Platelike crystals are flat. They form when the air temperature is about fifteen degrees below zero Celsius. Columnar snow crystals look like sticks of ice. They form when the temperature is about five degrees below zero.

VOICE ONE:

The shape of a snow crystal may change from one form to another as the crystal passes through levels of air with different temperatures. When melting snow crystals or raindrops fall through very cold air, they freeze to form small particles of ice, called sleet.
Groups of frozen water droplets are called snow pellets. Under some conditions, these particles may grow larger and form solid pieces of ice, or hail.

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

When snow crystals stick together, they produce snowflakes. Snowflakes come in different sizes. As many as one hundred crystals may join together to form a snowflake larger than two and one-half centimeters. Under some conditions, snowflakes can form that are five centimeters long. Usually, this requires near freezing temperatures, light winds and changing conditions in Earth's atmosphere.

Snow contains much less water than rain. About fifteen centimeters of wet snow has as much water as two and one-half centimeters of rain. About seventy-six centimeters of dry snow equals the water in two and one-half centimeters of rain.

VOICE ONE:

Much of the water we use comes from snow. Melting snow provides water for rivers, electric power centers and agricultural crops. In the western United States, mountain snow provides up to seventy-five percent of all surface water supplies.

Snowfall helps to protect plants and some wild animals from cold, winter weather. Fresh snow is made largely of air trapped among the snow crystals. Because the air has trouble moving, the movement of heat is greatly reduced.

Snow also is known to influence the movement of sound waves. When there is fresh snow on the ground, the surface of the snow takes in, or absorbs, sound waves. However, snow can become hard and flat as it becomes older or if there have been strong winds. Then the snow's surface will help to send back sound waves. Under these conditions, sounds may seem clearer and travel farther.

VOICE TWO:

Generally, the color of snow and ice appears white. This is because the light we see from the sun is white. Most natural materials take in some sunlight. This gives them their color. However, when light travels from air to snow, some light is sent back, or reflected. Snow crystals have many surfaces to reflect sunlight. Yet the snow does take in a little sunlight. It is this light that gives snow its white appearance.

Sometimes, snow or ice may appear to be blue. The blue light is the product of a long travel path through the snow or ice. In simple terms, think of snow or ice as a filter. A filter is designed to reject some substances, while permitting others to pass through. In the case of snow, all the light makes it through if the snow is only a centimeter thick. If it is a meter or more thick, however, blue light often can be seen.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Snow falls in extreme northern and southern areas of the world throughout the year. However, the heaviest snowfalls have been reported in the mountains of other areas during winter. These areas include the Alps in Italy and Switzerland, the coastal mountains of western Canada, and the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains in the United States. In warmer climates, snow is known to fall in areas over four thousand nine hundred meters above sea level.

VOICE TWO:

Each year, the continental United States has an average of one hundred snowstorms. An average storm produces snow for two to five days.

Almost every part of the country has received snowfall at one time or another. Even parts of southern Florida have reported a few snowflakes.

The national record for snowfall in a single season was set in nineteen ninety-eight and nineteen ninety-nine. Two thousand eight hundred ninety-five centimeters of snow fell at the Mount Baker Ski area in the northwestern state of Washington.

VOICE ONE:

People in many other areas have little or no snowfall.
In nineteen thirty-six, a physicist from Japan produced the first man-made snow in a laboratory. During the nineteen-forties, several American scientists developed methods for making snow in other areas. Clouds with extremely cool water are mixed with man-made ice crystals, such as silver iodide and metaldehyde crystals.
Sometimes, dry ice particles or liquid propane are used. Today, special machines are used to produce limited amounts of snow for winter holiday ski areas.

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

Snow is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people in the United States every year. Many people die in traffic accidents on roads that are covered with snow or ice.

Others die from being out in the cold or from heart attacks caused by extreme physical activity. Last month, two major snow storms caused serious problems in most of the United States. In the East, one storm dropped lots of snow on communities from North Carolina to the New England states on the weekend before Christmas. The Associated Press reported that at least seven deaths were linked to the storm. Most involved automobile accidents.

The weather caused cancellation of thousands of flights along the East Coast. About one thousand two hundred flights were cancelled at New York City's three major airports.

The storm gave two airports in the Washington, D.C. area their highest one-day snowfall totals for December. The most snowfall was reported in nearby Wintergreen, Virginia, where more than seventy-six centimeters fell. And, the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania received its second-biggest snowfall since record-keeping began.

VOICE ONE:

People may not be able to avoid living in areas where it snows often. However, they can avoid becoming victims of snowstorms. People should stay in their homes until the storm has passed. While removing large amounts of snow, they should stop and rest often. Difficult physical activity during snow removal can cause a heart attack.

It is always a good idea to keep a lot of necessary supplies in the home even before winter begins. These supplies include food, medicine, clean water, and extra power supplies.

VOICE TWO:

Some drivers have become trapped in their vehicles during a snowstorm. If this happens, people should remain in or near their car unless they see some kind of help. They should get out and clear space around the vehicle to prevent the possibility of carbon monoxide gas poisoning.

People should tie a bright-colored object to the top of their car to increase the chance of rescue. Inside the car, they should open a window a little for fresh air and turn on the engine for ten or fifteen minutes every hour for heat.

People living in areas where winter storms are likely should carry emergency supplies in their vehicle. These include food, emergency medical supplies, and extra clothing to stay warm and dry. People in these areas should always be prepared for winter emergencies. Snow can be beautiful to look at, but it can also be dangerous.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

This SCIENCE IN THE NEWS was written by George Grow. Our producer was Brianna Blake. I'm Shirley Griffith.

VOICE TWO:

And I'm Steve Ember. You can comment on our stories at our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for more news about science in Special English on the Voice of America.

COMPREHENSION CHECK

1. Changes in ______________ can mean the difference between snow and rain.
a. prediction
b. temperature
c. wind velocity
d. cloud moisture

2. People who live in places where snow is likely should carry _____________ in their vehicles.
a. emergency supplies
b. radio equipment
c. umbrellas and raincoats
d. children story books

3. Columnar snow crystals form when the temperature is about ____________.
a. fifty degrees
b. thirty two degrees
c. five degrees below zero
d. twenty degrees below zero

4. A snow flake is formed when _____________ come together.
a. dust particles
b. water droplets
c. ice pellets
d. snow crystals

5. Melting snow is very important for the country's _______________ .
a. recreation
b. water supply
c. fisheries
d. wild rivers

6. Snow contains _______________ water than rain.
a. less
b. more
c. as much
d. too much

7. When there is fresh snow on the ground, the surface of snow ____________ sound waves. That's why it sounds very quiet and still after a snow storm.
a. reflects
b. absorbs
c. amplifies
d. mixes up

8. Although snow mostly falls in the extreme north and south, the heaviest snow can be found in _________________ regions of the world.
a. mountainous
b. below sea level
c. sub tropical
d. oceanic

9. Another name for this article could be __________________ .
a. "Snow on the East Coast"
b. "California Weather Patterns"
c. "What Exactly is Snow?"
d. "The Formation of Crystals"

10. This story is mainly about _________________ .
a. the dangers of snow storms
b. the beauty of snow landscapes
c. the nature and behavior of snow
d. the difficulty of predicting snow storms


Friday, November 12, 2010

"The Barnyard Fool" from Edcon Publishing




Things you will read about: incubator: a container that hatches eggs by providing warmth, moisture, and oxygen.

protein: a chemical mixture necessary to all living things

"Didn't he play that game like a real turkey?"

How often have you heard a person described as a turkey? Perhaps often, because today the word "turkey" is sometimes used to label someone as a failure, or not smart. We seem to label people "turkeys" because we feel that they are stupid. Of course, labeling people as stupid isn't kind. But whoever started connecting the word "stupid" with "turkey" made a good selection. Of all the barnyard creatures, the turkey takes the prize for sheer foolishness.

Look at a turkey, and you will see that it is almost all body. A tiny head sits on top of its long neck. It is obvious that only a pea-sized brain will fit into that small head, and that a little brain has to operate that big body. The turkey is like the dinosaur of ancient times, almost too stupid to keep on living.

The turkey's reputation for being stupid starts with the egg. If the mother turkey doesn't hide her nest and eggs from the father, he will break them. Obviously, no new turkeys can be born into the world that way. So turkey farmers hatch the eggs without mothers by using a machine called an incubator. The machine keeps the eggs warm and turns them over and over very gently. The incubator acts just as a mother turkey should. Once it is hatched, the turkey's troubles are just beginning. Eating is a necessity for all creatures, so there aren't many that won't eat shortly after birth. But the turkey is one that won't. If left to itself, it will stand in a field of food and starve to death. Turkey raisers must drop shiny objects, like marbles, into the baby turkey's food so that it will peck at the marbles. As it pecks at the shiny marbles out of curiosity, it will pick up food accidentally.

Learning to eat causes another problem for the turkey. Sometimes it doesn't have enough sense to stop. It will keep on eating until it chokes to death. The farmer has to watch each turkey's eating habits closely.

But the business of eating is only the first crisis the turkey faces while growing up. A farmer noticed one day that a turkey chick had a slight limp. Next day, the same chick's wing seemed hurt. On the third day, the poor chick couldn't even stand on its wounded leg. It was obvious that other chicks were attacking the injured one and were doing a little more damage each day. The farmer had to put the chick into a separate pen. Otherwise, the others would have pecked it to death. Turkeys obviously don't look out for each other. A rainstorm can be a crisis on the turkey farm because turkeys don't have sense enough to come in out of the rain. Many of them will stick their beaks into the air and try to drink all the raindrops they can. Naturally, some manage to drown themselves.

Because turkeys are easily frightened, a loud or unusual noise can cause another crisis. The turkeys will run in sheer panic and pile on top of each other against fences. In these stack-ups, many are smothered. But the turkey's low intelligence isn't all "nature's fault. We helped make it that way. How did we do it? By developing turkeys that provide us with our favorite kind of turkey meat. At Thanksgiving Dinner, for instance, we are offered a selection of white or dark meat. Which will most of us choose? We will choose the white meat. As white meat comes from the turkey's breast, the farmer tries to please us by developing fowls with large breasts. The turkey ends up with a lot more white meat on its body, but with no more brains in its head.

Growing meat is the one thing the turkey does well. It does that much better than any other barnyard animal. A steer needs eight pounds of feed to produce one pound of meat, and a pig eats four pounds of feed to produce one pound of meat. The witless wonder, however, needs only two pounds of feed to produce one pound of meat. Also, turkey meat is high in protein. In fact, only fish yield more protein. Compared to the pig and the steer, the turkey wastes little weight on bones of its body. Its meat has only ten per cent fat, but the steer and the pig have from thirty to forty per cent.

Trying to get people to buy more turkey hasn't been easy. Many of us use turkeys only for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners. Just two big selling months a year aren't good for the turkey raising business. It is a necessity for the farmer to sell the birds all year round. Farmers try several ways to sell turkeys throughout the year. One method they use is to sell turkey parts instead of whole turkeys. Legs, breasts, and wings can be bought separately so there will not be days of leftovers. Turkey rolls or roasts, which are often half white meat and half dark meat, are another way to boost sales. These rolls have no bones and can be sliced as a loaf of bread is. You can buy such things as turkeyburgers, turkey steaks, and even turkey lunch meat for your sandwiches. Turkey raisers will continue to look for new ways to sell their product.
Raising enough food for everyone is a world problem today. As one farmer said, "The turkey is an eating machine, and it can really grow meat." Perhaps the turkey may someday become a real barnyard wonder by helping to solve this food crisis.

1. The word "turkey" is sometimes used to label someone who __________
a. has a long neck.
b. is not smart.
c. hides eggs.
d. loves barnyard creatures.


2. The turkey has _____________
a. a pea-sized brain.
b. a small body.
c. a large brain.
d. a brain equal in size to its body.


3. Turkey fathers ______________
a. care for the eggs very well.
b. care for the eggs for the first month.
c. destroy the eggs.
d. hide the eggs.


4. The newly hatched turkey needs help learning __________
a. to eat.
b. to sleep.
c. to peck.
d. to see.


5. Turkeys are frightened by _____________
a. rainstorms.
b. loud noises.
c. snowflakes.
d. other turkeys.


6. The turkey farmer is important in supplying our country with _________
a. food.
b. pets.
c. eggs.
d. feathers.


7. The turkey farmer usually has ____________
a. good sales all year.
b. good sales at Thanksgiving only.
c. good sales at Christmas only.
d. two big sales months a year.


8. "The witless wonder" is another name for ____________
a. the incubator.
b. the turkey farmer.
c. the turkey scientist.
d. the turkey.


9. Another name for this story could be _____________
a. "The Bird That Nobody Loves."
b. "The Stupid, Useful Turkey."
c. "Turkey Farming."
d. "Helping Turkeys Hatch."


10. This story is mainly about ____________ .
a. the problems of raising turkeys.
b. the job of the turkey farmer.
c. the turkey's small brain.
d. the habits and the value of turkeys.


Turkey facts from Youtube:


Sunday, November 7, 2010

"The Business of Winemaking, Part Two", from VOA




FAITH LAPIDUS: I’m Faith Lapidus.

DOUG JOHNSON: And I’m Doug Johnson with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Today we continue our exploration into the world of wine. Last week, we discussed the history, kinds of grapes and how wine is produced. This week, we learn how to taste a glass of wine like a professional. We also discuss changes in the wine industry. And we talk with a wine expert who teaches at the Culinary Institute of America.

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FAITH LAPIDUS: Last week, we talked about different kinds of grapes and the importance of climate and geography on how a wine tastes. Now we learn how to look for and taste those qualities.

If you know how to study a glass of wine, it can tell you about its history. Studying a wine involves using several senses, not just taste.

DOUG JOHNSON: First, pour the wine into a glass and look at it. It might help to put a piece of white paper behind the glass so you can see the color clearly. Color can tell a lot about the kind of grapes, where the wine is from and its age. Look at the clarity, thickness and color of the wine.

A white wine might be almost colorless, or it could have a deep golden color. White wines go darker with age. White wine made from grapes grown in a cool climate is often paler, with a higher amount of acid. A white wine from grapes grown in a warmer climate is often yellower, with less acid, though there are exceptions to this rule.

FAITH LAPIDUS: The color of red wine can be purplish red to brick red. Red wines often become paler with age. Red wines grown in warmer climates often have deeper color than those grown in cooler climates.

Next, turn the glass so that the wine moves around inside. This brings air into the wine, so that it releases its smell. Smell the wine deeply. A wine’s smell is actually more telling than its taste. To use a wine term, what can you learn about the wine from its “nose”? Is the wine fruity? Does it smell like oak? Do you smell grass or maybe honey? Maybe the smell is like butter or a mineral. It may be complex or intense.

DOUG JOHNSON: Now it is time to taste the wine. Move it around in your mouth. You may recognize some tastes because you identified them while smelling the wine. You can also consider the wine’s sweetness and its sharpness, or acidity. You may note the taste of tannin. Tannins are chemicals that are found in the skin and seeds of grapes. They are also found in tea. Tannins taste bitter and seem to coat your mouth. To make a good wine requires a balance between sugar, acidity, tannin and alcohol.

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FAITH LAPIDUS: Professional wine tasters have many special words to describe wines. Some adjectives might be surprising. For example, a wine that feels smooth might be described as “velvety” or “silky.” A wine that does not have enough acidity is “flabby” or “fat.” A wine with a strong tannin taste could be “chewy.” And white wines with a lively taste could be described as “crisp”, “zesty” or “steely.”

Many wine experts can identify the kind of wine without ever seeing the label on the bottle. This is because they know the qualities of the look, smell and taste of a wine.

DOUG JOHNSON: One famous wine-tasting helped change the history of the wine industry in the United States. The Paris Wine-Tasting of nineteen seventy-six is also known as the Judgment of Paris. A British wine expert organized a wine-tasting in France. He invited producers of California wines to take part in the competition against the most famous producers of French wines. At the time, France was known for producing the best wines in the world. California wine was relatively unknown outside the United States.

FAITH LAPIDUS: The top food and wine experts from France were the judges. They did a “blind” tasting, meaning they did not know what wines they were drinking. The winners for both the red and white wine categories were California wines from Napa Valley. Many wine experts were shocked. This event helped change opinions about wine produced in the United States.

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DOUG JOHNSON: The wine industry has changed a great deal since the nineteen seventies. The United States is now the fourth largest producer of wine in the world. California produces about ninety percent of the wine in the United States, followed by the states of New York, Washington and Oregon.

Americans are also drinking more wine than ever before. Industry studies show that the amount of wine drunk in the United States has been steadily increasing for the past sixteen years. In fact, Americans now spend more money on wine than any other country in the world. Industry experts say the United States will soon pass France and Italy as the top consumer of wine by volume.

FAITH LAPIDUS: Even the recent economic recession has not stopped Americans from drinking wine. Reports say Americans are buying more wines in stores rather than ordering them in restaurants. Other experts say the recession has made Americans explore and discover wines that are less costly.

We talked with wine expert Steven Kolpan about his thoughts on the wine industry. Mr. Kolpan is a writer and a professor of wine studies at the Culinary Institute of America. We asked Mr. Kolpan what areas of the world are producing interesting wines these days.

STEVEN KOLPAN: “Canada is producing some excellent wines. Greece is now producing some really interesting wines. I think we have an association with Greek wines that’s not all that positive, but the new Greek wines are really great.”

DOUG JOHNSON: Steven Kolpan also discussed another emerging country in the wine industry. In two thousand eight, China was listed as the seventh top wine-producing country in the world.

STEVEN KOLPAN: “China is positioning itself to be a very strong player in both the import market in their own country but also their domestic market. And I think they would like to have a presence in the export market as well.”

He says it might not be long before China is producing top quality wines.

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FAITH LAPIDUS: One major trend in the wine industry today is the growing effort by producers to make wine in a way that does not harm the environment. Many producers are making organic wines, or wines that are “sustainably” grown. Efforts to be more “green” include using water more responsibly, reducing chemicals used to kill insects and rethinking the wine bottle.

DOUG JOHNSON: Even one of the most traditional wine areas in the world is making some major changes in an effort to be more green. The Champagne area of France is famous for its sparkling wine. Producers there are working to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions spent transporting wine around the world. One way they have done this is to make wine bottles lighter so they require less energy to transport.

The newer Champagne bottle only weighs about sixty-five fewer grams than the traditional nine hundred gram bottle. But this small change could make a big difference in the future. The Champagne industry says carbon pollution could be cut by eight thousand metric tons a year once all producers use the lighter bottle.

FAITH LAPIDUS: Another concern linked to the environment is the effect of climate change on wine-producing areas. Steven Kolpan says the immediate effect of climate change in some areas has been helpful. In cooler climates, warmer weather has helped grapes ripen more fully. But he says that warmer wine producing areas around the world will suffer.

STEVEN KOLPAN: “We are going to see a huge shift in the wine market due to climate change. And, I think California is going to be deeply affected by it because the climate models for the immediate and long term future in California are not at all promising for wine.”

DOUG JOHNSON: To face climate change, producers might have to move their vineyards to cooler areas. Or, they might have to grow a kind of grape that can survive in higher temperatures.

In the future, rising temperatures may open up possibilities to countries that otherwise could never compete in the wine industry.

FAITH LAPIDUS: Steven Kolpan has been working with wine for more than thirty years. But he says he is still surprised by its qualities. He reminds us that a glass of wine is made up of water, alcohol and a small percentage of chemical substances. And yet he says:

STEVEN KOLPAN: “Think of it for a second. When you have a glass of wine in front of you and you smell it. And let’s say it’s a glass of red wine. And you smell cherries and blackberries. And you smell leather and you smell earth and you smell all these things, none of them are in there. That’s what’s so amazing about it. It’s this magical potion.”

DOUG JOHNSON: Our program was written and produced by Dana Demange. ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­I’m Doug Johnson.

FAITH LAPIDUS: And I’m Faith Lapidus. You can comment on our programs and find transcripts, MP3s and podcasts at voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

"The United States Constitution" from VOA




Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION – American history in VOA Special English.

The United States became a nation in 1776. Less than a century later, in the 1860s, it was nearly torn apart. A civil war took place, the only one in the nation's history. States from the North and the South fought against each other. The conflict involved the right of the South to leave the Union and deal with issues -- especially the issue of slavery -- its own way.

This week in our series, Frank Oliver and Tony Riggs describe how the Constitution survived this very troubled time in American history.

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America's Civil War lasted four years. Six hundred thousand men were killed or wounded. In the end, the slaves were freed, and the Union was saved.

Abraham Lincoln was president during the Civil War. He said the southern states did not have the right to leave the Union. Lincoln firmly believed that the Union of states was permanent under the Constitution. In fact, he noted, one of the reasons for establishing the Constitution was to form a more perfect Union. His main goal was to save what the Constitution had created.

One cannot truly understand the United States without understanding its Constitution. That political document describes America's system of government and guarantees the rights of all citizens. Its power is greater than any president, court or legislature.

In the coming weeks, we will tell the story of the United States Constitution. We will describe the drama of its birth in Philadelphia in 1787. And we will describe the national debate over its approval. Before we do, however, we want to tell how that document provides for change without changing the basic system of government.

(MUSIC)

If you ask Americans about their Constitution, they probably will talk about the Bill of Rights. These are the first ten changes, or amendments, to the Constitution. They contain the rights of all people in the United States. They have the most direct effect on people's lives.

Among other things, the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech, religion, and the press. It also establishes rules to guarantee that a person suspected of a crime is treated fairly.

The Bill of Rights was not part of the document signed at the convention in Philadelphia in 1787. The delegates believed that political freedoms were basic human rights. So, some said it was not necessary to express such rights in a Constitution.

Most Americans, however, wanted their rights guaranteed in writing. That is why most states approved the new Constitution only on condition that a Bill of Rights would be added. This was done, and the amendments became law in 1791.

One early amendment involved the method of choosing a president and vice president. In America's first presidential elections, the man who received the most votes became president. The man who received the second highest number of votes became vice president. It became necessary to change the Constitution, however, after separate political parties developed. Then ballots had to show the names of each candidate for president and vice president.

There were no other amendments for sixty years. The next one was born in the blood of civil war. During the war, President Abraham Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation. That document freed the slaves in the states that were rebelling against the Union. It was not until after Lincoln was murdered, however, that the states approved the Thirteenth Amendment to ban slavery everywhere in the country.

The Fourteenth Amendment, approved in 1868, said no state could limit the rights of any citizen. And the Fifteenth, approved two years later, said a person's right to vote could not be denied because of his race, color, or former condition of slavery.

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By the 1890s, the federal government needed more money than it was receiving from taxes on imports. It wanted to establish a tax on earnings. It took twenty years to win approval for the Sixteenth Amendment. The amendment permits the government to collect income taxes.

Another amendment proposed in the early 1900s was designed to change the method of electing United States Senators. For more than one hundred years, senators were elected by the legislatures of their states. The Seventeenth Amendment, approved in 1913, gave the people the right to elect senators directly.

In 1919, the states approved an amendment to ban the production, transportation, and sale of alcohol. Alcohol was prohibited. It could not be produced or sold legally anywhere in the United States.

The amendment, however, did not stop the flow of alcohol. Criminal organizations found many ways to produce and sell it illegally. Finally, after thirteen years, Americans decided that Prohibition had failed. It had caused more problems than it had solved. So, in 1933, the states approved another constitutional amendment to end the ban on alcohol.

Other amendments in the twentieth century include one that gives women the right to vote. It became part of the Constitution in 1920.

Another amendment limits a president to two four-year terms in office. And the Twenty-sixth Amendment gives the right to vote to all persons who are at least 18 years old.

The Twenty-seventh Amendment has one of the strangest stories of any amendment to the United States Constitution. This amendment establishes a rule for increasing the pay of senators and representatives. It says there must be an election between the time Congress votes to increase its pay and the time the pay raise goes into effect.

The amendment was first proposed in 1789. Like all amendments, it needed to be approved by three-fourths of the states. This did not happen until 1992. So, one of the first amendments to be proposed was the last amendment to become law.

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The twenty-seven amendments added to the Constitution have not changed the basic system of government in the United States. The government still has three separate and equal parts: the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch. The three parts balance each other. No part is greater than another.

The first American states had no strong central government when they fought their war of independence from Britain in 1776. They cooperated under an agreement called the Articles of Confederation. The agreement provided for a Congress. But the Congress had few powers. Each state governed itself.

When the war ended, the states owed millions of dollars to their soldiers. They also owed money to European nations that had supported the Americans against Britain.

The new United States had no national money to pay the debts. There was an American dollar. But not everyone used it. And it did not have the same value everywhere.

The situation led to economic ruin for many people. They could not pay the money they owed. They lost their property. They were put in prison. Militant groups took action to help them. They interfered with tax collectors. They terrorized judges and burned court buildings.

The situation was especially bad in the northeast part of the country. In Massachusetts, a group led by a former soldier tried to seize guns and ammunition from the state military force.

Shay's Rebellion, as it was called, was stopped. But from north to south, Americans were increasingly worried and frightened. Would the violence continue? Would the situation get worse?

Many Americans distrusted the idea of a strong central government. After all, they had just fought a war to end British rule. Yet Americans of different ages, education, and social groups felt that something had to be done. If not, the new nation would fail before it had a chance to succeed.

These were the opinions and feelings that led, in time, to the writing of the United States Constitution. That will be our story in the coming weeks of THE MAKING OF A NATION.

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Our program was written by Christine Johnson and read by Tony Riggs and Frank Oliver. Transcripts and MP3s of our programs are at voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION, an American history series in VOA Special English.

COMPREHENSION CHECK, CHOOSE THE CORRECT ANSWER

1. In 1860, the United States was nearly torn apart by __________ .

a. slavery
b. The Civil War
c. The Thirteenth Amendment
d. Shay's Rebellion

2. After the Revolutionary War, the new nation had many _______ .
a. debts
b. enemies
c. presidents
d. prisoners

3. An amendment passed in 1919 known as ___________ failed, and had to be repealed.
a. The Emancipation Proclamation
b. The Right to Freedom of Speech
c. Prohibition
d. The Right to Vote

4. An addition or change to The Constitution is called __________________ .
a. a bill
b. an amendment
c. a new law
d. a misfortune

5. The Bill of Rights are __________________ .
a. the last ten amendments
b. the first amendment
c. the first ten amendments
d. the anti-slavery amendments

6. The right to freedom of religion is guaranteed by ______________ .
a. the twentieth amendment
b. the Congress
c. The Bill of Rights
d. Emancipation Proclamation

7. The amendment that gives women the right to vote was approved in _________ .
a. 1992
b. 1787
c. 1933
d. 1920

8. All of the slaves were freed because of The ________ .
a. Constitution
b. Thirteenth Amendment
c. Bill of Rights
d. Emancipation Proclamation

9. Another name for this article could be _________________ .
a. "The Law of The Land"
b. "The Legacy of Abe Lincoln"
c. "Near Collapse of The U.S.A"
d. "The Bill of Rights"

10. This story is mainly about ________________ .
a. The Civil War
b. the importance of The Constitution
c. the first ten amendments
d. the fight against slavery

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Angry Ghosts" from Edcon Publishing




Something you will read about: "poltergeist", a spirit or ghost that makes its presence known by tapping, slamming doors or making other noises which are unexplainable.

Do ghosts really exist - or are they products and extensions of the imagination?

Ginnie Camp, an intelligent and calm eleven year-old girl, was visiting her aunt and uncle in Scotland one autumn. On a dreary evening in late November she became involved in some very disturbing events. Ginnie was in bed, but not yet asleep, when a series of loud knocks echoed through her bedroom. The rest of the family heard them and rushed into the room to see what was happening. However, no one could determine the cause of the knocking. Ginnie's aunt telephoned the next door neighbors and the minister of the church.

The minister hurried over and while he waited on the porch for someone to let him into the house, he heard the mysterious knocking. Upstairs he found everyone listening fearfully to the strange sounds. They seemed to be coming from the head of Ginnie's bed. The minister searched carefully and disproved the idea that someone in the room was secretly causing the knocking.

Then, without warning, a linen chest, which weighed over fifty pounds, dislodged itself from its place in the corner, slowly rose two inches in the air and floated several feet forward. The minister put his hand on the floating chest and felt that it was vibrating gently. Quietly, it settled back down to the floor. To add to this hectic scene, the knockings turned into sawing and scraping sounds.

Events like these went on each night for a week in Ginnie's bedroom. Sometimes a pillow or the blanket dislodged itself from its usual place and moved around without anyone touching it. Two local doctors visited the room with a tape recorder and recorded the various disturbing sounds, but they, too, could not explain what caused them. But this wasn't the end of the hectic experience for Ginnie. One afternoon, after she had returned to school, the teacher happened to glance up from her desk and was shocked to see an empty desk right behind Ginnie rise up a few Inches and move out of place. The teacher inspected the desk with great care and found no strings, wires or ropes attached which could have caused it to move.

The following day, Ginnie was standing next to the teacher's desk getting help with an arithmetic problem, when one end of the desk lifted up and slowly spun halfway around, vibrating gently as it turned. By the end of another week, Ginnie's strange spiritual experiences stopped completely.

What sort of events was poor Ginnie going through? She experienced what is known as a Poltergeist, a German word which means noisy ghost. People have known about poltergeists for hundreds of years. Usually a poltergeist involves loud noises, floating objects, objects thrown hard enough to break on impact and sometimes objects exploding for no reason. Normally poltergeists don't last very long, a few days or at the most a few weeks. Many times they center around persons, usually young, from the ages of nine to thirty.

Poltergeists have the reputation of being humorous, spiritual beings similar to elves, goblins and fairies. As in Ginnie's case, they are mostly loud and annoying. In some cases, however, they aren't a bit funny, but are "angry" and destructive.

For instance, in a German city, the owner of a china shop hired a young man to work for him. Very shortly after, cups, saucers, and dishes began mysteriously shattering while still on the shelves. Many hundreds of dollars worth of china broke before one investigator figured that a poltergeist was related to the young worker. When the young man changed jobs, the dishes on the shelves stopped breaking. Had the young man broken them while no one was watching? The investigator disproved this by keeping a close watch on the youth all the time.

There was also the case of Maryann, a young girl of nineteen, who worked in a lawyer's office but didn't like her job at all. As if this weren't enough to upset her, her boyfriend broke off their engagement for a very odd reason. Eight times in a row they had gone on dates to the bowling alley and each time they hadn't bowled because Maryann's presence fouled up the automatic pinsetters so much that they wouldn't operate. Whenever Maryann left the alley, the pinsetters worked fine.

After the broken engagement, Maryann's apparent impact on electricity started to affect the lights in the lawyer's office. They shorted out or blinked on and off without any apparent reason. When the repairmen came, they couldn't understand why there was such a tremendous load on the wires. They installed an extra generator in the office building but even that didn't solve the problem. At the same time,the telephones began registering calls that no one had ever made.

A professor from a German university came to investigate and he brought a TV camera and recorder. He was able to videotape a heavy painting on the wall which kept turning back and forth. Just as at the bowling alley, everything returned to normal whenever Maryann wasn't in the office.

In other incidents where poltergeists were involved, houses burst into flames or started shooting out jets of water, and the repairmen couldn't find anything wrong with the electric wires or the water pipes.

For centuries, interested investigators of spiritual events have tried to explain what causes these poltergeists. Of course, different investigators have arrived at different conclusions.
There are some knowledgeable investigators who do not believe in any such things as ghosts, spirits or poltergeists. They claim that all such things are frauds or magical tricks performed by the persons involved. It is contrary to common logic, they say, for spirits without bodies to pick up objects and throw them around or to create any kind of noise.

Other investigators, who have personally witnessed poltergeists and have seen floating objects and heard the noises, claim that they do indeed exist. Some of the poltergeists, they admit, could be caused by fraud or tricks but not all of them. These investigators do not agree among themselves on what causes poltergeists. Some of these believers claim that the poltergeists are caused by dead spirits. These spirits are angry because they are trapped here on the earth for some reason and they show their anger by creating noises, throwing things and even interfering with electricity. These believers also state that the angry spirits can often be stopped by ministers performing certain religious ceremonies.

The majority of the believing investigators argue that the idea that spirits cause poltergeists was disproved long ago. This group feels that the answer lies in the human mind itself. Even with all the great things that modern science has achieved, it has yet to understand the full force of the human mind. Could some minds have an impact on things they come in contact with? These investigators think that some angry or upset people, without realizing it, might be able to interfere with electricity or move objects. Exactly how they do this, no one is sure. For now, poltergeists are mysteries without final solutions. Investigators in areas of spiritual phenomena are dealing objectively with the new discoveries, hoping someday to solve the mystery of poltergeists and put them to rest forever.


Comprehension Check

1. The unusual events occurred in Ginnie's ________
a. bedroom.
b. living room.
c. backyard.
d. playroom.

2. Ginnie's aunt called _______
a. the police and fire departments.
b. the neighbors and the minister.
c. the police and the neighbors.
d. her lawyer and the neighbors.

3. According to this selection, Ginnie _______
a. was a strange person.
b. believed in ghosts.
c. liked mysterious things.
d. was a victim of unexplainable events.

4. The second puzzling thing to happen to Ginnie was that _______
a. she heard mysterious noises.
b. a desk spun around.
c. a linen chest dislodged itself.
d. pillows moved by themselves.

5. The author's purpose for writing this story was to _______
a. show us that some people are truly strange.
b. add a vocabulary word to our knowledge.
c. tell about several unusual occurrences.
d. prove ghosts really do exist in our world.

6. According to the author, poltergeists ________
a. are generally friendly, although unusual.
b. are helpful to people and our society.
c. are dangerous and vicious.
d. may center around ordinary people.

7. Maryann's boyfriend broke their engagement because ______
a. she wanted to become a lawyer.
b. she tried to frighten him.
c. strange things happened when she was around.
d. Maryann was a better bowler.

8. When people with poltergeists leave a room, _______
a. things turn sideways.
b. things go back to normal.
c. strange noises occur.
d. things break down.

9. Another name for this selection could be _______
a. "The History of Ghosts."
b. "Poltergeists Around Us."
c. "Interesting Facts About Germany."
d. "Why Do Poltergeists Annoy People?"

10. This selection is mainly about _____
a. searching for new ideas.
b. understanding facts.
c. puzzling events.
d. efforts of investigators.

Poltergeist activity recorded on camera:



Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Nelly Bly, Investigative Reporter 100 Years Ago




SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: I'm Shirley Griffith.

RAY FREEMAN: And I'm Ray Freeman with the Special English program, PEOPLE IN AMERICA. Every week we tell about a person important in the history of the United States. Today, we tell about a reporter of more than one hundred years ago.

(MUSIC)

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: The year was eighteen eighty-seven. The place was New York City. A young woman, Elizabeth Cochrane, wanted a job at a large newspaper. The editor agreed, if she would investigate a hospital for people who were mentally sick and then write about it.

Elizabeth Cochrane decided to become a patient in the hospital herself. She used the name Nellie Brown so no one would discover her or her purpose. Newspaper officials said they would get her released after a while.

To prepare, Nellie put on old clothes and stopped washing. She went to a temporary home for women. She acted as if she had severe mental problems. She cried and screamed and stayed awake all night. The police were called. She was examined by doctors. Most said she was insane.


RAY FREEMAN: Nellie Brown was taken to the mental hospital. It was dirty. Waste material was left outside the eating room. Bugs ran across the tables. The food was terrible: hard bread and gray-colored meat.

Nurses bathed the patients in cold water and gave them only a thin piece of cloth to wear to bed.

During the day, the patients did nothing but sit quietly. They had to talk in quiet voices. Yet, Nellie got to know some of them. Some were women whose families had put them in the hospital because they had been too sick to work. Some were women who had appeared insane because they were sick with fever. Now they were well, but they could not get out.

Nellie recognized that the doctors and nurses had no interest in the patients' mental health. They were paid to keep the patients in a kind of jail. Nellie stayed in the hospital for ten days. Then a lawyer from the newspaper got her released.

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Five days later, the story of Elizabeth Cochrane's experience in the hospital appeared in the New York World newspaper. Readers were shocked. They wrote to officials of the city and the hospital protesting the conditions and patient treatment. An investigation led to changes at the hospital.

Elizabeth Cochrane had made a difference in the lives of the people there. She made a difference in her own life too. She got her job at the New York World. And she wrote a book about her experience at the hospital. She did not write it as Nellie Brown, however, or as Elizabeth Cochrane. She wrote it under the name that always appeared on her newspaper stories: Nellie Bly.

RAY FREEMAN: The child who would grow up to become Nellie Bly was born during the Civil War, in eighteen sixty-four, in western Pennsylvania.

Her family called her Pink. Her father was a judge. He died when she was six years old. Her mother married again. But her new husband drank too much alcohol and beat her. She got a divorce in eighteen seventy-nine, when Pink was fifteen years old. Pink decided to learn to support herself so she would never need a man.

Pink, her mother, brothers and sisters moved to a town near the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pink worked at different jobs but could not find a good one.

One day, she read something in the Pittsburgh Dispatch newspaper. The editor of the paper, Erasmus Wilson, wrote that it was wrong for women to get jobs. He said men should have them. Pink wrote the newspaper to disagree. She said she had been looking for a good job for about four years, as she had no father or husband to support her. She signed it "Orphan Girl".

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: The editors of the dispatch liked her letter. They put a note in the paper asking "Orphan Girl" to visit. Pink did. Mister Wilson offered her a job.

He said she could not sign her stories with her real name, because no woman writer did that. He asked news writers for suggestions. One was Nellie Bly, the name of a girl in a popular song. So Pink became Nellie Bly.

For nine months, she wrote stories of interest to women. Then she left the newspaper because she was not permitted to write what she wanted. She went to Mexico to find excitement. She stayed there six months, sending stories to the Dispatch to be published. Soon after she returned to the Pittsburgh Dispatch, she decided to look for another job. Nellie Bly left for New York City and began her job at the New York World.

RAY FREEMAN: As a reporter for the New York World, Nellie Bly investigated and wrote about illegal activities in the city. For one story, she acted as if she was a mother willing to sell her baby. For another, she pretended to be a woman who cleaned houses so she could report about illegal activities in employment agencies.

Today, a newspaper reporter usually does not pretend to be someone else to get information for a story. Most newspapers ban such acts. But in Nellie Bly's day, reporters used any method to get information, especially if they were trying to discover people guilty of doing something wrong.

Nellie Bly's success at this led newspapers to employ more women. But she was the most popular of the women writers. History experts say Nellie Bly was special because she included her own ideas and feelings in everything she wrote. They say her own voice seemed to speak on the page.

Critics said Nellie Bly was an example of what a reporter can do, even today.Critics said Nellie Bly was an example of what a reporter can do, even today.

Nellie Bly's stories always provided detailed descriptions. And her stories always tried to improve society. Critics said Nellie Bly was an example of what a reporter can do, even today. She saw every situation as a chance to make a real difference in other people's lives as well as her own.

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Nellie Bly may be best remembered in history for a trip she took.

In the eighteen seventies, French writer Jules Verne wrote the book “Around the World in Eighty Days.” It told of a man's attempt to travel all around the world. He succeeded. In real life, no one had tried. By eighteen eighty-eight, a number of reporters wanted to do it. Nellie Bly told her editors she would go even if they did not help her. But they did.

RAY FREEMAN: Nellie Bly left New York for France on November fourteenth, eighteen eighty-nine. She met Jules Verne at his home in France. She told him about her plans to travel alone by train and ship around the world.

From France she went to Italy and Egypt, through South Asia to Singapore and Japan, then to San Francisco and back to New York. Nellie Bly's trip created more interest in Jules Verne's book. Before the trip was over, “Around the World in Eighty Days” was published again. And a theater in Paris had plans to produce a stage play of the book.

SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: Back home in New York, the World was publishing the stories Bly wrote while travelling. On days when the mail brought no story from her, the editors still found something to write about it. They published new songs written about Bly and new games based on her trip. The newspaper announced a competition to guess how long her trip would take. The prize was a free trip to Europe. By December second, about one hundred thousand readers had sent in their estimates.

Nellie Bly arrived back where she started on January twenty-fifth, eighteen ninety. It had taken her seventy-six days, six hours, eleven minutes and fourteen seconds. She was twenty-five years old. And she was famous around the world.

RAY FREEMAN: Elizabeth Cochrane died in New York in nineteen twenty-two. She was fifty-eight years old. In the years since her famous trip, she had married, and headed a business. She also had helped poor and homeless children. And she had continued to write all her life for newspapers and magazines as Nellie Bly.

One newspaper official wrote this about her after her death:

“Nellie Bly was the best reporter in America. More important is the work of which the world knew nothing. She died leaving little money. What she had was promised to take care of children without homes, for whom she wished to provide. Her life was useful. She takes with her from this Earth all that she cared about -- an honorable name, the respect and affection of her fellow workers, the memory of good fights well fought and many good deeds never to be forgotten. Happy the man or woman that can leave as good a record.”

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SHIRLEY GRIFFITH: This VOA Special English program, PEOPLE IN AMERICA, was written by Nancy Steinbach. Your narrators were Shirley Griffith and Ray Freeman.