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Lesson 21 What's So Big about Moby Dick?白鲸记

  A pretty, young lady goes swimming alone off the coast of New England in twilight. She is an agile swimmer, full of grace and speed. Without warning, though, she disappears from sight, only to reappear a moment later, screaming in pain. A few shocking moments later, she is again dragged under the water, this time only to reappear the next morning in pieces of the shore.

  Sound familiar By now nearly everyone has seen or heard the story of a killer Great White Shark in Jaws, a hit novel turned into a blockbuster movie. Few people realize, however, that the story broadly follows the events depicted in what many people consider one of the best of American novels. Published in 1851, Moby Dick has been making waves ever since.

  The author, Herman Melville, was born in New York on August 1 1819. As a youth in a large family he suffered many insecurities due to the family's constantly changing fortunes. As a young man he worked as a farmer and seaman, the latter providing most of the material for several of his later novels and essays. In his 20s Melville found fame with two novels based on imaginary happenings in the South Pacific. Moby Dick, ironically, was not well received. Afterwards, Melville produced another masterpiece, Billy Budd. He continued writing until his death in 1891.

  Why has Moby Dick since become such a classic despite its initial lukewarm reception Melville had a keen eye for not only the human condition but for the tenor of his times the Unites States was in his day a country of disadvantaged and mistreated immigrantsmany of whom became sailors and laborers, with untrammeled capitalism crushing both nature and man underneath its new country exuberance. His stress on the individual and fate-often pessimistically, or at least realistically——were harbingers of the future of literature.

  Why does the story of Moby Dick continue to enthrall generation after generation The story line is simple enough a mad sea captain vows revenge against a white whale shich, on a previous expedition, bit off one of his legs. In his vain attempt at justice against nature, the captain meets the ultimate tragedy. This was no documentary, however the characters and setting become vehicles for far larger and more universal themes of the setbacks and successes of the human spirit as well as its darker urges. So accurately does Melville depict the whaling scenes and sea voyages that the reader is taken on an exhilarating ride. Coupled with the absorbing, mad Captain Bhab, the book is “a good read” even by 20th century standards.

  Earlier in this century, the Nobel Prize winner Ernest Hemingway penned the Old Man and the Sea, another story of a man's struggle with nature on the open ocean. This theme strikes a chord in Americans, whose culture developed along the Atlantic coast of North America and whose seaward passage from the Old World took them to the colonies of the 18th century or the young country of the 19th century by the millions. This fascination with the maritime still holds today over half the population of the United States lives in counties touching the Atlantic, Pacific, or Gulf coasts. Perhaps some future writer will once again use the metaphor of sailors and the sea to create yet another Great American Novel.


Lesson 22 Hearth of American Culture


  When people think of American culture and values, they are unconsciously referring to a set of principles, a world view, and a lifestyle which can best be found in Boston, capital of the state of Massachusetts and the major city in all of New England, those six relatively small states tucked away in the northeastern corner of the US. Although Boston is perhaps the seventh or eighth largest city in the US, no other city in America can compare with the influence which Boston has had on teh development of government, education, medicine, and the arts.

  This influence is due in no small part to Boston's central role in the building of a new nation. Many people think that the Unites States was established in 1776 however, that was the year of the Declaration of Independence, a revolutionary document claiming self-rule from its mother country, England. Actual independence——the formation of a government with an acting president George Washington)——did not begin until 1789. Boston was nearly middle-aged then, as it had had its beginnings a century and a half earlier, in 1630. It maintained its position as the colonies' pre-eminent center for politics, education, and commerce until the mid-18th century, when both New York and Philadelphia the young nation's first and second capitals, respectively overtook Boston in size.

  Boston was settled by religious immigrants from the Church or England. It was with these early settlers that the first outlines of an American culture began a strict adherence to religious dicta, diligence in work, educational aspirations, and a conservative lifestyle. Because Boston is closer to Europe than any other city in the US, it was the point of entry to the colonies until the 19th century, when New York became the new magnet for the “poor, tired, and huddled masses” who were to become the backbone of the new American economy. Boston remained, however, an important commercial center until the 20th century.

  Today Boston caters to finance and banking, education, and medicine, with some of the top international mutual fund and insurance companies, world-renowned educational institutes, and state-of-the-art medical centers and schools. The city has also managed to preserve much of its earlier identity as the home of the American Revolution thus, tourism is an important sector in the economy of Boston as well. Like San Francisco or New Orleans, Boston has a reputation for being a pleasant city to admire while walking around it.

  What can one do in Boston? Important historic sites, well-preserved examples of architecture from the 17-20th centuries, and spacious parks invite the tourist or resident to smell the roses while in Boston. Its unhurried but sophisticated citizens boast not only high incomes but also high levels of education. Music flourishes here the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the New England Conservatory of Music, and the Boston Pops Orchestra offer first-class musical entertainment in both public and private venues. The Museum of Fine Arts is a major world gallery. Scince Park, situated midway between Boston and its major satellite city, Cambridge, offers the Museum of Science. Had enough of high-brow culture”? Boston affords its citizens and visitors many first-class restaurants and shopping dockside in Faneuil Hall. Historic walking tours are a must for the tourist, especially Boston Commons, a city park, and Beacon Hill, with its roads still paved with the original stones from the 17th century. Admirers of university campuses steeped in tradition should see Harvard, the nation's oldest university 1636, as well as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Emerson College, Boston College, and Boston University, all in the metropolitan area.

  In short, no matter one's interest is, any visitor is sure to enjoy his stay in Boston, hearth of American culture and still a leader in education, medicine, and music.


Lesson 23 Paper's Long March纸张的演进


  Remember when the 1980s brought us the first wave of the modern computer and electronics revolution At that time heady young technocrats forsaw the paperless office. It was claimed that paper would become a thing of the past as everyone would access all information needed from video screens.

  The reality today is quite different. More paper than ever is being used in offices schools and residential homes. One's first possession in life is a birth certificate made of paper. Childhood immunizations are recorded on paper and kept in the doctor's office and at home. What would school be like without paper Paper follows most people throughout their education and into their working life. Wedding invitations and marriage certificates are printed on paper as are virtually all major life passages and social occasions. Finally’ a death certificate on paper will continue to be around long after the person named on it. Perhaps the one item which defines mofern civilization more than any other is paper.

  The word paper derives from papyrus the name of a riverside plant similar to grass from which an ancient form of paper was used in Egypt and Mesopotamia. It could be argued that these empires were made possible by the use of official records on papyrus. However’ paper as we know it today has its origins in the Han Dynasty of China. In about A.D. 105’ an official in the imperial court produced the forebear of what has become today the world's most indispensable product. The art of paper making reached westwards to Baghdad’ Iraq in the 8th century at the height of the Islamic culture. From there it entered Europe’ where it was polished into its contemporary from during the 19th century.

  Paper can be made from any plant but trees are the best source of cellulose for paper production. In fact earlier forms of paper were made from processed cotton waste and rags but trees contain a better proportion and type of cellulose than any other plant. In countries with a deficiency of forest land’ other natural fibers such as sugar cane pulp’ bamboo’ cereal straws’ flax’ and hemp are used. Today's paper and paper product mills rely on a steady inflow of wood logs or chips. In the US alone’ the paper and paper products industry in worth more than US $ 80 billion’ with world production well over 100’000’000 tons annually.

  Everyone knows what paper is since most people use at least one sheet of it a day but few people stop to consider the different kinds of paper available to us today. Office workers are well aware of the many kinds of paper they use such as regular typing or computer printing or copier paper. They also come into contact with bond’ a high-grade paper used for important documents. It is thicker and more durable than other forms of paper. Book paper comes in at least four different finishes. These may be seen in books’ magazines’ brochures’ and calendars. Newsprint is used for newspapers and some magazines or books’ while craft paper is used for shopping bags. Paperboard is seen daily as box lunch containers’ cardboard boxes’ and even building materials. Finally sanitary paper has been developed for use in tissue paper paper toweling and paper napkins. Carbon paper postcards and envelopes are also daily use items made of paper. Even a tea bag is made of paper

  Paper and its products seem endless but conservation of even the abundant resource of trees is in everyone's interest. Recycling of paper and better designed pulp and paper factories have helped decrease waste. Many offices encourage the use of both sides of a piece of paper’ for example’ and students or private organizations sometimes collect old newsprint to send to reprocessing centers. By conserving paper’ the average paper user in his lifetime can save at least one tree from being felled. As valuable as trees are’ and as valuable as paper is’ everyone should cooperate to use this essential commodity wisely.


Lesson 24 Coffee or tea break?


Do you prefer a coffee break or a tea break? Are you getting off the lift at the ground floor, or are you going to get off the elevator on the first floor? Travelers to English-speaking countries have to adjust to differences between British and American English. There are also cultural traditions to understand, ways of life which differ between London and New york, Auckland and Toronto, and Sydney and San Francisco. Learning these differences is fun, and, when you travel to different English-speaking countries, it's very useful.

  So, what is a coffee or a tea break? Americans and Canadians prefer coffee drinking to tea drinking. Tea lovers need not worry, though millions of North Americans drink tea and only tea every day. Though teahouses are rare there, every supermarket has a wide variety of Far Eastern, South Asian, and herbal teas to choose from. Still, coffee is the preferred drink in the Americas after all, South America is one of the world's greatest coffee-producing areas. One social custom is the US and Canada is the mid-morning and mid-afternoon coffee break. This is very informal it may be spontaneous Hey! Let's break for coffee or institutionalized The coffee break in our office is from 330-350 daily. Coffee or tea may be drunk only, or, more likely, a selection of baked goods such as doughnuts, cookies, slices of cake, or crackers will be available, too. These breaks are not only for eating and drinking but also for chatting.

  In Great Britain, New Zealand, and Australia, people prefer a spot of tea during their tea break in the mid-morning or mid-afternoon, and later on at home, they have high tea in the early evening. High tea consists of a light, cold meal or baked goods, followed by a more substantial meal later in the evening. Tea breaks may be formal in homes, witha silver tray filled with tea cups on saucers, a silver bowl with sugar, and a silver pitcher with cream brought into a living room, dining room, or drawing room. Baked goods are also served at tea breaks. In both the UK and the US as well as in other English-speaking countries, most people eat three full meals daily, but stopping for coffee or tea breaks has also become customary.

  Another useful difference to understand between the British and American ways of life concerns traffic, which is of the utmost importance to travelers or visitors. In London, one takes the underground, whereas in New York it's the subway whether or not traveling below the ground. Streetcars are taken in American cities, but trams are found in Britain. Make sure you fill up with gas at the gas station in Miami, but in Manchester you should top up the tank with petrol at the petrol station. Not sure whether you need oil?Check under the bonnet in Bristol but the hood in Houston. Check your wing mirror in Wales but your side mirror in Rochester. And watch out for those traffic circles in Tampa but those roundabouts in Reading.

  It should not surprise anyone that British and American English are a little different grammatically Americans say, I don't have and I have a lot but the British say I haven't and I have much”). Their pronunciation and vocabulary also differ. These should not be sources of consternation when you visit different Anglo countries instead, they should be occasions for adventure and enjoyment. Just as Mandarin-speaking foreigners can manage their way through the various dialects of Mandarin spoken in mainland China, so, too, should anyone versed in conversational English——of any stripe——succeed in having fun witht he different worlds of English.


Lesson 25 Earthquake Precautions 地震防范措施


Bam! The bathroom door slamming against the wall woke me out of a sound sleep. Groggily wending my way inthe dark to the bathroom, I secured the door latch to make sure I would have no further interruptions of much-needed sleep. I then lumbered back into bed and started to drift off.

Not for long. My body, the bed and the whole bedroom began shaking. After a few confused and frightening seconds, I realized “Eearthquake!” “Big one,” I added, noting that the neighborhood dogs had joined in the weird sounds the hill around my hourse were making. Within moments I was out of bed and on my feet, contemplating leaving the house. “I'll wait,” I comforted myself. “Even these big ones pass in a few seconds.”

This one wouldn't. It kept coming everything was shaking and trembling, rattling. I heard a pane of glass crash oneto the floor. The walls of the house and the things attached to them seemed to heave, not just shudder. I then noticed that the street lights had failed and my heart was pounding harder than when I used to lift weights. I acknowledged my fear.

Realizing that there was no time to flee the house, I simply waited and waited. The nearly one-minute long tremblor finally subsided, and my reasoning came back to me. All was well, or well enough. I walked unsteadily to another room and looked outside. A neighbor with a flashlight was checking on his and others' homes for damage.

I knew it had been a major quake, though not centered where I lived. The next day I learned that a 7.6 Richter-scale earthquake had devastated the lovely rural communities of central Taiwan. For the next few weeks, everyone's life was centered around the quake due to the constant media coverage and electricity rationing.

Taiwan is but one of many places situated along the “Ring of Fire” encircling nearly half the globe around the Pacific Ocean. Constant volcanic and earthquake action occurs here, sometimes with cataclysmic results. In this century alone, major earthquakes have taken more than one million lives. Many more have been injured and made homeless.The economic, social, and personal costs are immeasurable.

Over the past quarter century, many countries in earthquake-prone areas have begun to educate their citizens on how to take appropriate precautions for earthquakes. The following list has been compiled from experience.

Before the earthquake

Prepare an earthquake kit near everyone's bed these kits should include drinking water, a flashlight with fresh batteries, and dry food.

Place an extra pillow, blanket, or quilt near the bed to be placed over the head during the earthquake and for warmth if trapped afterwards….


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