Thursday, March 31, 2011

Women Are Better at Dealing With Money Than Men

Men, Women and Money
Credit to: FabulouslyBroke.com
An international survey has found out that women are better at managing money than men. They work harder to become financially independent and they are not as likely to get into debt as men.

The survey showed that both men and women think the same. Almost 5,000 men and women in 12 countries were asked.

Although 40% of women said they used credit cards most of them thought that having more than one credit card could lead to financial problems. On the other side most women admitted that they spent more than men.

The results of the survey could help companies understand the needs of women because they live longer and usually have less money when they retire. Women who share their money with their husband often suffer more when a relationship ends. Some of them have saved up money if they get into such a situation, others simply don't care.

About 6 out of every 10 women said they were financially independent. However almost half thought that a man should be responsible for paying the mortgage or house payments.



Vocabulary Words: Read the following words, its meaning and the sample sentence. Try using the vocabulary words in your own sentences.

1. survey (n.): a statistical study that shows numbers on a topic
  • The survey says that 40% of women use credit cards.
2. debt (n.): the money that you owe to someone
  • The president of the company does not have a debt to anyone.
3. lead to (v.): cause
  • Eating red meat can lead to heart attacks.
4. admit (v.): to agree that something is true
  • I admit that he is very handsome.
5. needs (n.): things that a person has to have in order to live
  • My husband provides our family's needs.
6. retire (v.): to stop working because you have become too old
  • Grandfather will retire next year.
7. mortgage (n.): the money that you borrow from a bank so that you can pay for your house; you pay back a certain amount every month
  • The couple couldn't pay for the mortgage anymore because they went bankrupt.
Additional Words:

manage: handle
independent: you don't need anyone else
share: to have something with someone else
relationship: a marriage or just living together
responsible: in charge of , its someone's job

Comprehension Check: Read and answer the question. (Based on the article)
1. What was the result of the survey?
2. How can the survey help financial companies?
3. Why are women better at managing money?

Agree or Disagree: Explain your answer.
1. Women are better at managing money than men.
2. I would like to live a life that needs less money.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

At 27, Your Brain Starts Getting Old

The human brain
Credit to: The Digital Anatomist
Old age starts at 27, at least when you look at the human brain. Scientists have found out that the power and strength of the brain is best at 22. In your late 20s certain functions of the brain start getting weaker.

In order to test the powers of the brain people who took part in the studies had to solve puzzles, remember spoken words and retell a story.

In 9 out of 12 tests people got their best results at the age of 22. Memory stays good until 37 , long-term knowledge and general information increases until the age of 60.

The study shows that the ageing of the brain starts much earlier than we think. If we understand what goes on in the brain at an early age, we may find out what goes wrong in diseases like Alzheimer’s.


Source: English-Online

Vocabulary Words: Read the vocabulary words and the example sentences. Make your own sentence using the vocabulary word/s afterwards.


1. disease (n.): illness
  • Example: Cancer is a very serious disease.
2. increase (v.): to go up
  • Example: My salary will increase next month.
3. long-term knowledge (n.): information that you remember for a longer time
  • Example: Native language is a type of a long-term knowledge.
4. strength (n.): power
  • Example: United States' strength is incomparable.
5. study (n.): work you do to find out about a problem
  • Example: The study about cancer cure is improving.

Comprehension Questions: Read and answer the questions.

1. What happens to the brain when a person reaches the age of 27?
2. How did the scientists prove that the brain works best at the age of 22?
3. How did the scientists test the power of the brain?

Agree or Disagree: Explain your answer.

1.  I have an excellent memory.
2. Older people can learn new things just as well as younger people.
3. Younger people have much better memories than older people.
4. To be intelligent is better that to be handsome or beautiful.


Follow-up

Monday, March 28, 2011

Walnuts are the healthiest nut, say scientists

Eating raw walnuts gives the full benefits of antioxidants
Credit to: BBC News

Walnuts are the healthiest of all the nuts and should be eaten more as part of a healthy diet, US scientists say.
Scientists from Pennsylvania told the American Chemical Society that walnuts contain the highest level of antioxidants compared to other nuts.
Antioxidants are known to help protect the body against disease.
The scientists said that all nuts have good nutritional qualities but walnuts are healthier than peanuts, almonds, pecans and pistachios.
Dr Joe Vinson, from the University of Scranton, analysed the antioxidant levels of nine different types of nuts and discovered that a handful of walnuts contained twice as many antioxidants as a handful of any other commonly eaten nut.
He found that these antioxidants were higher in quality and potency than in any other nut.
Antioxidants are good because they stop the chain reactions that damage cells in the body when oxidation occurs.
The antioxidants found in walnuts were also two to 15 times as powerful as vitamin E, which is known to protect the body against damaging natural chemicals involved in causing disease, the study says.
Nuts are known to be healthy and nutritious, containing high-quality protein, lots of vitamins and minerals as well as dietary fibre. They are also dairy and gluten-free.
Previous research has shown that regular consumption of small amounts of nuts can reduce the risk of heart disease, some types of cancer, type two diabetes and other health problems.
Dr Vinson said there was another advantage in choosing walnuts as a source of antioxidants: "The heat from roasting nuts generally reduces the quality of the antioxidants.
"People usually eat walnuts raw or unroasted, and get the full effectiveness of those antioxidants."
Source: BBC News

VOCABULARY WORDS:
antioxidants: substances that slow down or eliminate the disease causing properties in your body by boosting the immune system and allowing your body to fight off disease
potencychemical strength or effectiveness
dietary fibreis a part of plant food that our bodies cannot digest
dairy: raised for milk, butter or cheese
glutena protein found in wheat. It helps provide structure to yeast raised and baked food products. It contains the allergen which causes diarrhea (gluten enteropathy)
consumption: eating

Pre-reading Questions:
Do you like eating nuts?
What are the popular nuts in Japan?

Comprehension questions:
1. Why is walnut the healthiest nut?
2. What are the health benefits of nuts?
3. Is it better to eat raw nuts? Why?

Viewpoint discussion (AGREE or DISAGREE):
1. Vegetables are the healthiest food.
2. Eating healthy foods is enough to make us healthy.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Man jailed for spreading radiation rumors


Rumor
Credit to: chartmovieinfo.com

BEIJING (Reuters) – Police in eastern China have jailed a man for 10 days and fined him 500 yuan ($76.13) for spreading rumors online that a blast at a quake-damaged Japanese nuclear plant had contaminated Chinese waters, state media said.

Authorities in Zhejiang province said a computer company worker surnamed Chen spread fake information about nuclear contamination reaching waters off China's eastern Shandong province, the online version of Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily reported on Monday.

In Chen's comments posted on March 15 under the handle "Old Fisherman" he had urged people to spread the word about the radiation to family and friends, stockpile salt, and not consume products from the sea for a year, the report said.

Last week unfounded rumors about iodine in salt being able to stop radiation sickness rippled across China, causing panic buying of the typically plentiful product.

China has not found any abnormal signs of radiation following the damage at the Japanese nuclear plant, but it is checking imports of Japanese food for contamination.

Chen told police he had come across the information on the Internet and "transmitted it to friends and family without thinking," the People's Daily said.

It said Chen had confessed to a "deep awareness of his mistake" which was "illegal and harmful to society."

($1=6.568 Yuan)

(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Ben Blanchard and Daniel Magnowski)

Source: Yahoo News


VOCABULARY
fine: money paid usually to superior authority, usually governmenal authority, as punishment for a crime or other offence
quake-damaged: damaged by an earthquake
contaminate: pollute
unfounded: baseless, without a basis
rumor: gossip 
rippled: spread

QUESTIONS
Should the man be jailed after spreading radiation rumors?
Is radiation still an issue in Japan? What is the latest news about it?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Men are bigger liars than women, says poll


"I didn't have that much to drink" is a man's favourite lie.
Credit: BBC News
Men are more likely to tell lies than women and feel less guilty about it, says a survey. 
In a poll of 3,000 people, researchers found that the average British man tells three lies every day, that's equivalent to 1,092 a year.
However the average woman appears more honest, lying 728 times a year - around twice a day.
Mums are the people mostly likely to be lied to, says the Science Museum who commissioned the survey.
Twenty-five per cent of men say they've lied to their mother, but only 20% of women admit to having lied to their mum.
In comparison, only 10% of people said they are likely to lie to their partner.
Concerning the kind of lies we tell, men said that they most often lie to their partner about their drinking habits. "I didn't have that much to drink" is men's most popular fib.
Whereas women use the line, "Nothing's wrong, I'm fine" most often to hide their true feelings.
"It's just what I've always wanted" is the tenth most likely lie to be told to a loved one by either men or women, suggesting that men and women are quite discerning when it comes to buying presents for each other.
Women are most likely to feel guilty after telling a lie. Eighty-two per cent say it eats away at their conscience, compared to just 70% of men.
Is there such a thing as an acceptable lie? Eighty-four per cent of people think there is. Three quarters of those surveyed believe it's alright to fib if it's to save someone's feelings.
When it comes to the quality of the lie, 55% of Brits think women are the better liars, even though they tell fewer lies.
The survey found that 71% of people think it is fine to protect someone by telling a lie, and 57% would be happy to fib if they didn't like a gift they'd been given.
Katie Maggs, associate medical curator at the Science Museum, says the jury's out as to whether lying is a result of our genes, evolution or our upbringing.
"Lying may seem to be an unavoidable part of human nature but it's an important part of social interaction," she says.
The museum in west London is launching a gallery called "Who am I?" which makes sense of brain science, genetics and human behaviour.

MEN'S TOP 10 LIES
1. I didn't have that much to drink
2. Nothing's wrong, I'm fine
3. I had no signal
4. It wasn't that expensive
5. I'm on my way
6. I'm stuck in traffic
7. No, your bum doesn't look big in that
8. Sorry, I missed your call
9. You've lost weight
10. It's just what I've always wanted
Source: BBC News

VOCABULARY
mum: mother
fibtell a relatively insignificant lie
upbringing: the way we are/were raised by our parents


QUESTIONS
http://esldiscussions.com/l/lies.htmlWOMEN'S TOP 10 LIES

International Coalition Attacks Libya

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi
Credit: ArabNewsBlog.net

An international coalition has launched the first wave of attacks on Libyan air defences and tanks. The military action took place just hours after an emergency summit of world leaders in Paris ended on Saturday afternoon, Paris time. While the leaders were talking, French Mirage fighter jets were seen circling the skies above Libya’s rebel-held eastern city of Benghazi. Soon after, American warships and British submarines launched the first phase of their missile assault. Their aim was to knock out Libya’s air defenses. They fired a total of 112 cruise missiles at more than 20 targets around the capital Tripoli and coastal town of Misurata. Early reports are that Libyan air defences have been severely damaged.

U.S. President Barack Obama said he was reluctant to use force on Libya but believes it is necessary to save the lives of civilians. Speaking in Brazil, he told reporters: "We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy." America is trying to keep a lower profile in the military action against Libya. It does not want the world to think it is attacking another Arab country. This may not be the case with world opinion this time round. The coalition includes Arab states who have promised material support for strikes against Libya. Foreign ministers of the UAE, Qatar, Iraq, Jordan and Morocco were at the summit. It is possible some of these countries may even take part in air strikes on Libyan military targets.

Source: Breaking News English

VOCABULARY
coalitionalliance, an organization of people
wave: set
summita meeting of heads of governments
Mirage: the name of a series of delta-winged fighters and bombers that have been produced by the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation
reluctanthesitant, unwilling
idly: in an idle manner; without specific purpose, intent or effort
tyranta cruel and oppressive dictator

QUESTIONS
1. What does the article say?
2. How long do you think will this civil war last? Or when do you think it will end?
3. Do you think Colonel Gaddafi will attack other countries?
4. What do you think will happen over the coming days/weeks/months?
5. Should other countries meddle with Libya's civil war?

Other questions:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Arizona man gets probation in bloodsucking case

Cartoon vampire
Credit: how-to-draw-cartoons-online.com
PHOENIX – An Arizona man has been sentenced to three years of probation for stabbing a man who refused to let him suck his blood.

Maricopa County Superior Court says 24-year-old Aaron Homer, of Chandler, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced Monday.

The Arizona Republic reports 25-year-old Robert Maley once let his roommates suck his blood. But when Maley refused a second time on Oct. 4, he was stabbed.

Chandler police said Maley lived with Homer and his girlfriend.

Maley said the two men were into "vampire stuff."


Source: Yahoo News

VOCABULARY
probationa trial period during which an offender has time to redeem himself or herself
stab: cause physical injury using a knife
pleadappeal or request earnestly; offer as an excuse
aggravateworsen; make worse
assaultattack
sentenceconviction; (criminal law) a final judgment of guilty in a criminal case and the punishment that is imposed

QUESTIONS
Do you consider bloodsucking a crime?
What do you think about the man who wants to suck blood? What is he?
Do believe in vampires?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Japanese Introduce Humanoid Phone, New Set of Nightmares

Elfoid, the humanoid cell phone
Credit: Weird Asia News
Cellular phones have evolved in very odd ways. From the standard brick-sized “Zack Morris” phone of the early nineties to flip phones to phones capable of pinpointing your exact location on a satellite map, the next logical step can only be a phone shaped like a human that features absolutely no keyboard or dialpad…right?

As is customary, Japan has unveiled something very weird and mostly useless. Hiroshi Ishiguro and a group of Japanese researchers from Osaka University have developed a cell phone shaped like a human being. The primary function of the phone isn’t to be useful, but instead to give the user the impression that the user is talking to more than just a signal through a speaker but a real person. I can imagine the only people who would want to use this phone are the very lonely.

The phone, named “Elfoid,” is designed sans keyboard or dialpad, and contains nothing more than a speaker and an LED light on its chest. The light turns blue when the phone is in use and red when in standby mode. Thankfully, the phone doesn’t move, but if for some reason future versions get made, the researchers hope to instill the phone with an eerie form of artificial intelligence, such as motors and shape-memory components, with the ultimate goal being user emotion and movement transference from phone to phone.

Elfoid will not be able to slowly gain sentience and take over the world for the next five or so years, and researchers are promising even more features, such as an accelerometer, temperature sensors, and image and voice recognition functions. Whispering sweet nothings into your ear while you sleep is optional.


Source: Tom's Guide/Weird Asia News

VOCABULARY:
odd: strange
flip phone: a cell phone can be folded
customary: very common
unveiled: revealed
sans: lacking, without
instill: impress or mark or produce or try to produce a vivid impression of
eerie: suggestive of the supernatural; mysterious, scary, freaky
sentience: awareness
accelerometer: an instrument for measuring the acceleration or speed


QUESTIONS:
What other inventions do you think are useless?
What other inventions do you think are scary/freaky?
Do you think scientists can create Artificial Intelligence that is greater than our intelligence?


http://esldiscussions.com/r/robots.html
http://esldiscussions.com/c/cell_phones.html

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tech companies pitch in on earthquake response

Google Crisis Response
Credit: japanprobe.com
SEATTLE – Google, Twitter and other technology companies are finding ways to help following last week's earthquake in Japan.

Google Inc. has an online "person finder" for people seeking information about a missing person.

Microsoft Corp. is offering free technical support and temporary software licenses to companies affected by the earthquake. It has also pledged $250,000 in cash.

Twitter is trying to help organize the flood of information flowing through its system. It is suggesting people use certain tags for general earthquake information, requests for rescue and other related topics.

Amazon.com Inc. and Yahoo Inc. have links on their home pages encouraging people to donate to the relief efforts.

Source: Yahoo News

VOCABULARY
pledge: promise
floodan overwhelming number or amount
tagkeyword or term assigned to a piece of information (if searched, it will be found easily)

QUESTIONS
What can you do to help?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tokyo Electric to start power outage later than planned

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Monday morning postponed the start of unprecedented power rationing thanks to the prospect of smaller-than-expected demand, as the government urged the nation to save electricity following the crippling of nuclear plants in Friday's powerful earthquake.

The postponement means fewer areas in the Kanto region surrounding Tokyo will be affected by the day's region-specific outages of several hours by region through 10 p.m., which are designed to make up for an expected power shortage, the utility said.

TEPCO later revealed that the power outage is highly likely between 6 to 7 p.m. when demand for power is high.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano criticized TEPCO for periodically changing the schedule and causing public confusion, saying details such as the areas subject to power outages were not properly conveyed even to the prime minister's office.

"I would like to instruct relevant entities to thoroughly and speedily release accurate information," Edano told a news conference.

A suspension of power had been due from 6:20 a.m. in the first of five regions into which Tokyo and eight prefectures in the power firm's service area had been divided for the blackout measures and from 9:20 a.m. in the second.

The power rationing is expected to last at least until the end of April, affecting most of the 45 million people in the service area. The central Tokyo area, however, will be excluded for a while as central government offices and company headquarters are located there.

Train services were mostly paralyzed in the Kanto region, however.

Among affected railways, East Japan Railway Co. suspended services Monday on most of its lines, except for the Joetsu and Nagano Shinkansen Lines and the Yamanote and Saikyo Line, as well as parts of the Keihin Tohoku, Chuo and Joban lines on which it significantly reduced traffic.

Edano earlier warned that confusion is expected as the step had to be taken at short notice and a very large number of people will be affected.

In an appeal to the nation to reduce electricity use, Edano said, "Maximum efforts by the nation are indispensable, such as avoiding going out unless it is necessary or urgent."

(Mainichi Japan) March 14, 2011

(http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110314p2g00m0dm008000c.html)

VOCABULARY WORDS
unprecedented never before seen or done, without precedent
rationing: the distribution of a fixed portion that is allotted
crippling: disabling / shutting down (cripple: disable)
relevant: involved, directly related, connected, or pertinent to a topic
entities: unit / individual
paralyzed: couldn't function properly
confusion: misunderstanding, disorder
indispensableessential, necessary
urgent: very important


QUESTIONS:
http://esldiscussions.com/e/electricity.html

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Shopping Carts Covered in Bacteria

Shopping Cart
Credit: damencnc.com


A new study into the hygiene of supermarkets has found that shopping carts are dirtier than the store’s bathrooms. Microbiologist Dr Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona conducted research on the handles of 85 carts in four American states. He reportedly found bacteria from human waste on the handles of 72 per cent of them. "That's more than you find in a supermarket's toilet," Dr Gerba said. He explained: "That's because stores use disinfecting cleaners in the restrooms. Nobody seems to routinely clean and disinfect shopping carts." Further, half of the carts in Dr Gerba’s study tested positive for E. coli bacteria, a nasty germ that can cause diarrhea, vomiting and serious infection.

Professor Gerba is known as “Dr Germ” because of the number of studies he has done on bacteria and everyday objects. His previous studies warned of bacteria on reusable shopping bags, airplane seat-back trays, ground-floor elevator buttons, water fountain toggles, computer keyboards, iPads and playground equipment. He said just about anything touched by children has a high chance of contamination. He advised people to wash reusable shopping bags after use, otherwise they’ll become full of “bacterial swamps”. He added: “It’s like wearing the same underwear every day.” Gerba said the best way to avoid getting sick from shopping trolleys is to wipe the handle with a disinfectant cloth and wash your hands often.


Source: Breaking News English
(http://breakingnewsenglish.com/1103/110305-shopping_carts.html)


VOCABULARY WORDS:
hygiene: actions or practices of personal cleanliness that protect health
nastydisgustingly dirty
germ: a very small life form / organism like a bacteria, virus, etc.
vomit: to spit out the foods that a person ate (eat)
toggle: a switch, something that can turn on or turn off a water faucet, gas tank, etc
swamp: habitat, colony
trolleys: push carts


QUESTIONS:
Do you often go to grocery stores?
Do you enjoy going to grocery stores?
What do you usually buy?


http://esldiscussions.com/h/health.html
http://www.rarejob.info/material/beginner/conversation/questions/mat-con-beg-health.pdf

Friday, March 11, 2011

Why Do Songs Get Stuck in Your Head?

Earworms
Credit: spring.org.uk
Maybe it's "Don't Worry, Be Happy," or perhaps it's "I Will Survive" that's been playing on an unending loop in your head today. These songs made a recent list of the most common earworms – a somewhat gross term that refers to songs that get stuck in your brain.
Psychology researchers now have some clues as to why some songs get so much air-time in our craniums.
Earworms typically develop when you've heard a song a great many times, said Andreane McNally-Gagnon, who researches earworms at the University of MontrĂ©al. People infected with an earworm did not necessarily hear the song recently – it could have been months or years in the past, McNally-Gagnon said, but at some point, it was played over and over.
This may explain why classical musicians typically have the songs they practice stuck in their heads, but for the rest of us, pop songs that get frequent play on the radio are the ones that become earworms.
What you're doing also affects your chances of picking up an earworm. Most people are doing something that is somewhat routine or mindless when an earworm strikes.
"They might be doing household chores, taking a shower or waiting for a bus," McNally-Gagnon said. "Their mind is not occupied by anything."
As a psychologist, McNally-Gagnon is interested in what purpose earworms might serve. In her work, she found that people are more likely to report feeling positive emotions after an earworm has taken hold than they were before it struck.
"A function of earworms could be emotional regulation," she said.
And research into earworms may provide clues to other aspects of our memories. In her study, McNally-Gagnon asked people to sing their earworms. Surprisingly, they very closely matched the original song in pitch, key and pacing, she said.
For a long time, it was thought that people kept only a representative memory of a song in their head, and so when asked to sing it, they might sing it in a different key or at a different speed than the original. But McNally-Gagnon's research shows that songs, like visual memories, are absolute, meaning that the brain holds all of the details of the song's notes and phrasing.
The next step in her research, McNally-Gagnon said, would be to use brain imaging, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), to study the regions of the brain affected by earworms. But to do this, she first needs a reliable way to induce an earworm, so that people lying in brain-scanning equipment can be made to have one.
But for many people, finding ways to purposefully induce an earworm are the opposite of what they would like scientists to be doing. Unfortunately, no research has yet shown a reliable way to get an earworm out of your head either, McNally-Gagnon said.
VOCABULARY:
loopanything with a round or oval shape (in this article, never ending repetition)
earworm: a tune that is stuck in one's head
air-time: the duration during which a radio or television program is transmitted (in this article, the duration which the song is played in our brains)
craniumthe part of the skull that encloses the brain
mindless: unattentive, unconscious
phrasingthe grouping of musical phrases in a melodic line
QUESTIONS:
What does the article say?
Have you experienced earworms?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

These Jokes Set a New Guinness World Record


During a British charity fundraiser on March 5, participants told 228 jokes in under an hour, setting a new Guinness World Record.
The record attempt, held in Kent, England, attracted 242 jokesters and was hosted by the British TV comedy duo Richard McCourt and Dominic Wood. As part of the "Do Something Funny for Money" benefit, the event aimed to raise funds for the Comic Relief charity's Red Nose Day, which is on March 18.
Sponsored by Mini Babybel – the company behind those round, red little wheels of cheese – the Comic Relief relay challenged contestants to tell as many "cheesy" jokes as possible within an hour, with several groups of people simultaneously taking turns telling jokes while GWR judges kept track.
The participants, which were mostly children that had previously registered to take part in the event, set a new Guinness World Record for the most jokes told in a one-hour relay with 228 jokes told in just 44 minutes and 6 seconds.
Here's a few examples of the jokes told at the record-breaking event:
- What did the scarf say to the hat?
You go on ahead. I'll hang around.
- Past, Present and Future walk into a bar. It was tense.

- What's brown and runs around your garden?
A fence.
- Why did the farmer kick the chickens out of his farm?
Because they used fowl language!
- What horse only comes out after dusk?
A nightmare!
- What do you call a cheese that isn't yours?
Nacho Cheese!



Source: Life's Little Mysteries (http://www.lifeslittlemysteries.com/world-record-for-most-jokes-told-in-an-hour-1443/)


VOCABULARY:
jokesterjoker, a person who enjoys telling or playing jokes
cheesy: t rying too hard, unsubtle, and inauthentic (subtle: difficult to understand)
duskthe time of day immediately following sunset


QUESTIONS:
http://www.esldiscussions.com/j/jokes.html