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Thursday, February 1, 2018

READER_Bryson prompts



Read TWO of these articles below to be shared  and explained in next class

(Select 15 language items in each to teach your partner). 

   10. Wide-Open Spaces               (p. 52)  

    11. Rule Number 1: Follow All Rules        (p. 56

     12The mysteries of Christmas               (p. 61


Explain the humourous remarks:


1.     I did a foolish thing .... local cafes and seated myself without permission.   
 2.     "Yup," I replied proudly. "Dressed myself too."  
3.     I have seen the sign from every angle but supine.  
4.     the server in this section is very busy, so you may have to wait a while for her to get to you."  
5.     instinctive recognition that these are useful ways of helping to achieve and maintain a civilized and orderly society.  
6.     a little Teutonic order wouldn't go amiss in England-for instance,  
7.     speak freely here, I would support capital punishment). 
8.     written rules-twenty-seven!-of which my favorite is "One Bounce Per Dive on Diving Board." And they're enforced.  
9.     the clerk, who had the charm and boundless motivation you would expect to find in someone whose primary employment perk is a nylon tie.  
10.  "This is expired," he sniffed. "Then I won't ask to drive the plane," I replied.    
11.  He looked at a printed list. "... not on our list of Permissible Visual Cognitive Imagings," he said, or something similarly vacuous. 
 12.  "Are you seriously suggesting that I had this book specially printed so I could sneak on to a flight to Buffalo?" 

13.  Eventually we ended up with a crowd scene .... the supervisor's surpervisor, ...., several inquisitive bystanders ....., and a guy selling jewelry.  
14.  My flight was due to take off in minutes and froth was starting to form at the corners of my mouth. "What is the point of all this anyway  
15.  Anyway, I changed tack and begged.  
16.  I don't suppose anyone has ever shown such earnest, remorseful desire to be allowed to proceed to Buffalo.  
17.  "There is always a little more toothpaste in the tube," I said. "Think about it." (* you always manage to accomplish something if you try a little harder.)



Use these prompts to retell the following chapters.

10. Wide-Open Spaces

  1. talking big scale
  2. the population of the USA
  3. twice the size of France
  4. New Hampshire
  5. metallic wombs
  6. a million immigrants
  7. 6 per cent
  8. 68 people per square mile
  9. Daniel Boone

11. Rule Number 1: Follow All Rules
  1. foolish thing
  2. jump the queue
  3. Teutonic order
  4. public swimming-pool
  5. picture ID
  6. written instructions
  7. tooth paste 

12. The Mysteries of Christmas
  1. “A-Wassailing We’ll Go”
  2. Christmas in Britain vs
    Christmas in America
  3. Thanksgiving
  4. turkey
  5. News Year’s Eve
  6. there are no ...
  7. Boxing Day
  8. shopping malls
  9. alms boxes
  10. Slade 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

stranger in hell

I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After Twenty Years Away by Bill Bryson

NOTES from a big country 

                      or a.k.a

  I'm a Stranger Here Myself         



“In the United States, frozen cheese pizza is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Frozen pepperoni pizza, on the other hand, is regulated by the Department of Agriculture.”

TASK 1. Read these 5 pieces and Get some ideas to express yourself in your article about the book 

TASK 2. Produce an article including what you learnt about American culture, surprises and Bryson's of language.
piece 1____
This book is really a great comfort to foreigners, because what Bill Bryson told the readers mostly resonates with what we've encountered in our daily lives in the U.S.
As foreigners, we usually assume that lack of proficiency in the language is the cause of ineffective communication and it puts us in a very awkward situation. However, in the chapter, "What's Cooking," we know that though a native speaker, Bryson is also bewildered by the complicated terminology the server uses to introduce the special dishes in a fancy restaurant. And in "How to Rent a Car," Bryson has a difficult time figuring out the complexly tiered options in the contract just as I did when I rented a car in the U.S. for the first time. Sometime it makes foreigners feel secure and relieved when realizing that a native speaker is in the same boat.
I am so glad that I got the chance to read this book. Not only did I understand more about American customs and culture, but I also benefited greatly from the author's funny expression and vivid description in English. For foreigners, making ourselves acquainted with American ways of thinking and speaking is crucial to dealing with daily events in a foreign country. In my opinion, Bill Bryson plays the role of a spokesperson for Americans as well as foreigners. In his sarcastic but intriguing tone, Bryson candidly points out some ridiculous phenomena in American society. Some may regard him as a grumpy man complaining a lot in his book, but I was fascinated by his unique humor. I sincerely suggest anyone who would like to travel to the U.S. read this book beforehand. This book is of great help to getting a broad outline of the life style in America.

piece 2____

 I started reading through the first few pages and am delighted to report that they were so entertaining and accessible that I ended up finishing the book very satified.This book is about America, about consumerism, hypocracy, politics, culture and everything else in between, such as motels and boring interstate highways and the condition of AT&T service these days. Why should all this be so interesting? Because Bill Bryson's voice shines throughout, dissecting normally more complex subjects into bite-sized articles which are eminently readable to the extent that it is at times impossible to stop. Of course, his trademark humour is present too. If you read this in public, there is the risk of embarrassment by your involuntary snorts of laughter.However, 'I'm a Stranger here Myself' isn't perfect. Much of the book is predictable, and 85% of the time, Bill appears to be complaining. Someone as talented as Bill Bryson should know not to engage in such indulgence because the end result is that the reader occassionally feels frustrated over the ostensible monotony. You also can't help but feel that an assemblage of brief columns is not enough to make a book.Although this book is not standard Bill Bryson fare, it still manages to excel. It really is exceptionally enlightening, to read what he has to say subsequent to spending 20 years in England. He compares the contrasts between the two nations and questioning so many aspects of life that Americans take for granted, such as driving from shop to shop when they are merely footsteps apart, or the blatant excesses of junk food. Each article (in my edition, Black Swan) covers only five pages so they are very easy to get into.If you are an American, perhaps you will enjoy this book more than anyone else as you will undoubtedly find it compelling to look into the views of an outsider in the process of 'assimilation'.'I'm a Strange here Myself' doesn't feel like a book, more like a colelction of columns binded together. If you are willing to accept this, it is an extremely rewarding, insightful and refreshingly diverting read. This is enough to gain a hearty recommendation.

piece 3____

Bryson is one of my favorite authors, and some pieces were classic, classic Bryson---so funny you really do laugh out loud for a good long while! I liked best the pieces on pop culture---diners, motels, TV, dieting, etc. However, a few pieces were about subjects you can read about in almost any newspaper editorial any day of the week---government waste and stupidity, how hard tax returns are to prepare, and the overactive legal system, to name some. I found those pieces were not really done as well---they could have been written by any skilled writer and did not have the distinctive Bryson voice. Maybe this is because they were not written for an American audience originally, and maybe those topics are not as overdone in England.

piece 4____

  On the way home, I opened the cover (akin to opening a bag of my favorite chips) and sampled a bite. And another. Soon, I was eight chapters into the thing, wiping tears from my eyes to the amusement of my wife and children. Then, the ultimate test: I read a page out loud to my wife. Now I'm not intimating that she has any laughter inhibitions--she'll laugh up a storm within the first minutes of a good comedy flick--but to subject her to oral readings is to watch her mood take a serious downswing. Must be the expectation levels I project. ("Come on, honey, don't you get it? Are you listening?")Test results: A+Next thing I knew, I was fighting my wife for moments to gobble down another chapter or two. No kidding. Bill Bryson, in his inimitable manner, adds punch and humor to subjects normally as tastless as...well, as week-old chips. He pinpoints the lunacies in our daily routine, the frustrations of red-tape, and the nostalgia of yesteryear. He makes me wonder why we Americans behave in such ways, then leaves me shaking my head at the idea of living anywhere else.We're all strangers, in one way or another, in this diverse land of ours.

piece 5____

The things you enjoyed and cherished might not even be part of your new experiences. The reverse culture shock that is part and parcel of moving back to a place after spending time away from it. Having gotten used to the British way of life and terminology, he struggles to remember/find out the American equivalent of things. His British wife and children, though, seem to love America while he seems to be the one having the most difficult time. Rediscovering America with it’s joys and it’s trials, all the while poking fun at himself and others around him, it was a fun read. I chuckled through the book.Some of the chapters, though did seem dated, after all , this book was written in 1999. Some chapters about computers for instance remind you that this book is of another time. But for most part, it is Bryson’s style of poking fun at the things he observes that stands out. The sentiments and the humour, I have to say, are timeless.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Qinghai-Tibet railway opening, green passageway for wild animals

(Hoaxes NEWS)   Photographer Liu Weiqing claimed he had to wait with his camera in a pit for eight days to capture this image of antelope galloping across the Tibetan landscape as a high-speed train passes overhead on the newly opened Qinghai-Tibet railway. "I wanted to capture the harmony among the Tibetan antelope, the train, men and nature," he said. The photo, widely disseminated by Xinhua, China's state-run news agency, eased concerns that the high-speed train (which started service in July 2006) would disturb Tibetan wildlife. CCTV, China's state-run television network, declared it a top 10 "photo of the year" in late 2006.

HONG KONG -- It turns out that train tracks in Tibet aren't where the antelope play.
Earlier this week, Xinhua, China's state-run news agency, issued an unusual public apology for publishing a doctored photograph of Tibetan wildlife frolicking near a high-speed train.
The deception -- uncovered by Chinese Internet users who sniffed out a Photoshop scam in the award-winning picture -- has brought on a big debate about:
  •  media ethics, 
  • China's troubled relationship with Tibet, and 
  • how pregnant antelope react to noise.

China Eats Crow Over Faked Photo Of Rare Antelope

The antelope imbroglio began in the summer of 2006. The Chinese government was celebrating its latest engineering feat, and an enthusiastic wildlife photographer from the Daqing Evening News was camped out on the Tibetan plateau eating energy bars and waiting for antelope to pass.
(eat crow -idiom)

Photo of antelopes unperturbed by Tibet train exposed as fake

A photograph showing more than 20 Tibetan antelopes roaming calmly under a railway bridge as a high-speed train to Lhasa was passing would have been a perfect propaganda coup for the Chinese government. It would also, no doubt, have beggared credulity. Regarding its value on the propaganda side, China has been saying that these highly endangered animals and others had adapted well to the Qinghai-Tibet railway, thereby justifying the controversial project as environment friendly.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Proverbs are short and pithy sayings that express some traditionally held truth. 
They are usually metaphorical and often, for the sake of memorability, alliterative. 
Learn these 6:
  1.     Without wisdom, wealth is worthless. 
  2.  Fight fire with fire.
  3.     Better bend than break.
  4.  Manners make man.
  5.    Speech is silver, silence is golden.
  6.  What is worth doing is worth doing well. 


Nothing defines a culture as distinctly as its language, and the element of language that best encapsulates a society's values and beliefs is its proverbs.

It's interesting to note that the two most common words in English proverbs are 'good' and 'never'. 

A bit of armchair psychology leads to the conclusion that, if proverbs really do reflect belief, then the English are (or at least were when these proverbs were coined) inclined to be virtuous but negative - not so far from the truth perhaps?

PLUS: For a funny way to end proverbs, 
see what 6-year-old kids did to English beliefs here

Now, ready for a ..... proverbs quizz

a-z> aphorism-witticism

   According to Wolfgang Mieder, author of the book "Proverbs Are Never Out of Season," the definition of a proverb is 

 "a phrase ... which contains above all wisdom, truth, morals, experience, lessons, and advice concerning life and which has been handed down from generation to generation." 
A proverb can help you perfect your conversational English skills, as proverbs often come up in conversation. 
An example is 
"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

Read more: How to Learn English Proverbs

PART3. Follow-up 

Click on ... SMART-Words

Communication: Synonyms for words related to speech -

This collection of synonyms and antonyms also explains the meaning of synonyms to learn how to use them in in spoken words or writing. The meaning of synonyms is highly important in writing essays, papers, abstracts, etc. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

BILL BRYSON - Narrow margings, litlle splinter groups or the odd one or two in a BIG country

In this chapter 37, THE RISK FACTOR,  taken from in "Notes from a bog country", Bryson is comparing living in the United States as a dangerous place than living in The Great Britain. There are two factors of being killed: the untimely and the accidental. 
  • The untimely death is the kind of death that happens normally such choking, heart attacks, and many more. 
  • The accidental death is the death caused by car accidents, gun shots, etc. 
  • Bryson labeled America as an outstandingly dangerous place. 

He supports this by saying, “Every year in New Hampshire a dozen or more people are killed crashing their cars into moose.” These deaths are cause by not paying attention on the roads, not wearing seat belts (40% of the people in this country don’t use a seat belt), and constantly busy with accessories such cell phones, food, etc. (...) Yet everybody that is living in this country is being alarmed by all the wrong things.

TASK. Enjoy the text and find 
22 interesting expressions where he deals with FIGURES!

     (37) THE RISK FACTOR by Bill Bryson 

Now here is something that seems awfully unfair to me. Because I am an American it appears that I am twice as likely as an English person to suffer an untimely and accidental death. I know this because I have just been reading something called The Book of Risks: Fascinating Facts About the Chances We Take Every Day by a statistical wonk named Larry Laudan.
It is full of interesting and useful charts, graphs, and factual analyses, mostly to do with coming irremediably a cropper in the United States. Thus, I know that if I happen to take up farm work this year I am three times more likely to lose a limb, and twice as likely to be fatally poisoned, than if I just sit here quietly. I now know that my chances of being murdered sometime in the next twelve months are 1 in
11,000; of choking to death 1 in 150,000; of being killed by a dam failure 1 in 10 million; and of being
35 fatally conked on the head by something falling from the sky about 1 in 250 million. Even if I stay indoors, away from the windows, it appears that there is a 1 in 450,000 chance that something will kill me before the day is out. I find that rather alarming.
However, nothing is more galling than the discovery that just by being an American, by standing to attention for "The Star-Spangled Banner" and having a baseball cap as a central component of my wardrobe, I am twice as likely to die in a mangled heap as, say, Prince Philip or Posh Spice. This is not a just way to decide mortality, if you ask me.
Mr. Laudan does not explain why Americans are twice as dangerous to themselves as Britons (too upset, I daresay), but I have been thinking about it a good deal, as you can imagine, and the answer-very obvious when you reflect for even a moment-is that America is an outstandingly dangerous place.
Consider this: Every year in New Hampshire a dozen or more people are killed crashing their cars into moose. Now correct me if I am wrong, but this is a fate unlikely to await anyone in the United Kingdom.
Nor, we may safely assume, is anyone there likely to be eaten by a grizzly bear or mountain lion, butted senseless by bison, seized about the ankle by a seriously perturbed rattlesnake, or subjected to an abrupt and startling termination from tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, rock slides, avalanches, flash floods, or paralyzing blizzards-all occurrences that knock off scores, if not hundreds, of my fellow citizens each year.
Finally, and above all, there is the matter of guns. There are 200 million guns in the United StatesGenerated by ABC Amber LIT Converter,
and we do rather like to pop them off. Each year, 40,000 Americans die from gunshot wounds, the great majority of them by accident. Just to put that in perspective for you, that's a rate of 6.8 gunshot deaths per 100,000 people in America, compared with a decidedly unambitious 0.4 per 100,000 in the United Kingdom.
America is, in short, a pretty risky place. And yet, oddly, we get alarmed by all the wrong things. Eavesdrop on almost any conversation at Lou's Cafe here in Hanover and the talk will all be of cholesterol and sodium levels, mammograms and resting heart rates. Show most Americans an egg yolk and they will recoil in terror, but the most palpable and avoidable risks scarcely faze them.
Forty percent of the people in this country still don't use a seat belt, which I find simply amazing because it costs nothing to buckle up and clearly has the potential to save you from exiting through the windshield like Superman. (Vermont, which is one of the few states to keep careful track of these things, reported that in the first ten months of 1998, eighty-one people were killed on the state's roads-and 76 percent of those people were not wearing seat belts.) Even more remarkably, since a spate of recent newspaper reports about young children being killed by airbags in minor crashes, people have been rushing to get their airbags disconnected. Never mind that in every instance the children were killed because they were sitting in the front seat, where they should not have been in the first place, and in nearly all cases weren't wearing seat belts. Airbags save thousands of lives, yet many people are having them disabled on the bizarre assumption that they present a danger.
Much the same sort of statistical illogic applies to guns. Forty percent of Americans keep guns in their homes, typically in a drawer beside the bed. The odds that one of those guns will ever be used to shoot a criminal are comfortably under one in a million. The odds that it will be used to shoot a member of the household-generally a child fooling around-are at least twenty times that figure. Yet over 100 million peo-ple resolutely ignore this fact, even sometimes threaten to pop you one themselves if you make too much noise about it.
Nothing, however, better captures the manifest irrationality of people toward risks as one of the liveliest issues of recent years: passive smoking. Four years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency released a report concluding that people who are over thirty-five and don't smoke but are regu larly exposed to the smoke of others stand a 1 in 30,000 risk of contracting lung cancer in a given year. The response was im-mediate and electrifying. All over the country smoking was banned at work and in restaurants, shopping malls, and other public places.
What was overlooked in all this was how microscopically small the risk from passive smoking actually is.
Bill Bryson

A rate of 1 in 30,000 sounds reasonably severe, but it doesn't actually amount to much. Eating one pork chop a week is statistically more likely to give you cancer than sitting routinely in a roomful of smokers.
So, too, is consuming a carrot every seven days, a glass of orange juice twice a month, or a head of lettuce every two years. You are five times more likely to contract lung cancer from your pet parakeet than you are from secondary smoke.
Now I am all for banning smoking on the grounds that it is dirty and offensive, unhealthy for the user, and leaves unsightly burns in the carpet. All I am saying is that it seems a trifle odd to ban it on grounds of public safety when you are happy to let any old fool own a gun or drive around unbuckled.
But then logic seldom comes into these things. I remember some years ago watching my brother buy a lottery ticket (odds of winning: about 1 in 12 million), then get in his car and fail to buckle up
(odds of having a serious accident in any year: 1 in 40). When I pointed out the inconsistency of this, he looked at me for a moment and said: "And what are the odds, do you suppose, that I will drop you four miles short of home?"
Since then, I have kept these thoughts pretty much to myself. Much less risky, you see.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The war to win fundamental rights - From Stone wall to Audre Lorde - NYC 2014

Many ferociously stubborn wills were neededFrom Stone wall -1969 to Audre Lorde - NYC 2014 
Any majority is basically a conglomerate of minorities. Each minority shows a variety of situations in which minorities live.
Some live together in well-defined areas, separated from the dominant part of the population. Others are scattered throughout the country.   
Some minorities have a strong sense of collective identity and recorded history; others retain only a fragmented notion of their common heritage.
A) Remember Harvey Milk?
Milk, among the first openly gay elected officials in the country, had a profound impact on national politics, and his rich afterlife in American culture has affirmed his status as pioneer and martyr.

       Sean Penn, center, portrays Harvey Milk, 
the San Francisco city supervisor who was murdered in 27 Nov 1978

The murderer, Dan White, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to a relatively brief jail term, sparking a demonstration and riot by gay supporters of the murdered men.

B) Begin at the beginning. Stonewall. The  NYC riots -1969 

June 28  marks every year the anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the event largely regarded as a catalyst for the LGBT movement for civil rights in the United States.  The riots inspired LGBT people throughout the country to organize in support of gay rights, and within two years after the riots, gay rights groups had been started in nearly every major city in the United States. At the time, there were not many places where people could be openly gay. New York had laws prohibiting homosexuality in public, and private businesses and gay establishments were regularly raided and shut down.
A police raid on the Stonewall Inn in New York City in 1969 sparked a riot and became the genesis of the modern gay rights movement. Veterans of the riots, along with author David Carter, recount what happened the night history was made.

     Veterans Talk About the Night That Changed The World

C) The Boys in Blue: 

Women's Challenge to the Police

Christina Dunhill (Editor)

Published by Virago, London, 1989

 The British police force remains an overridingly white and male institution. Yet in times of crisis it is to this police force that women must look for protection or redress. This book takes a look at many areas of policing in relation to women in Britain and Northern Ireland today. 

It includes contributions from women personally affected and those working in a wide range of fields: feminist and anti-racist campaigns and support services, the peace movement, local government police monitoring, as well as lawyers and feminist researchers. What happens when girls and women seek police help in cases of rape, child abuse, domestic and racial violence? 

What about those who are subjected to unwanted police attention, which could often be labelled harassment - as political activists, lesbians, black women, Irish and Greenham women, as women coming up against the immigration law or the Mental Health Act, or women working as prostitutes? 

The final section examines closely who the police actually are and considers the changing balance of police powers in the light of recent legislation.

D) Audre Lorde (1934-1992)
Audre Lorde
The Black feminist, lesbian, poet, mother, warrior 

5 reasons why the Audre Lorde Project supports in 2014 the #Not1More Campaign 
to demand that President Obama grant the broadest administrative relief possible and implement an immediate halt to deportations!

1. We stand in solidarity with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans,
and Gender Non-Conforming People of Color migrants, undocumented people,
people in detention, low-wage workers, and all Indigenous-identified
people, and honor the sovereignty of the First Nations on whose land we now
see the US attempt to enforce arbitrary borders.

2. We oppose current systems of policing, surveillance, and immigration
enforcement that use racist, transphobic, homophobic, ageist, classist, and
ableist tactics to falsely accuse, terrorize, and target communities
perceived as threats in order to maintain and further build race and class
hierarchy in the United States.

3. We demand the abolition of all prisons and immigrant detention centers,
where transgender and gender-non conforming people are forced into solitary

4. We oppose the Secure Communities program, the 287(g) program, the
Criminal Alien Program, and all ICE ACCESS agreements that allow local law
enforcement to act as agents of immigration. We oppose the use of ICE
holds, Operation Streamline, and any enforcement provisions that build more
walls and increase collaboration between local police and ICE.

5. We demand an end to the displacement of our communities and the
militarization of our lives, from the increased policing of communities of
color in the US to the current apartheid in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied


More about the campaign: On August 2nd, 2014 
Southerners On New Ground [SONG], Transgender Law Center [TLC] and many others are joined forces in Washington, DC, to amplify the national call to demand that President Obama grant the BROADEST ADMINISTRATIVE RELIEF possible and implement an immediate halt to deportations!