Upgrade to remove ads
Barron's 1100 Words You Need to Know [Sentences]
Week 1 - 48
Terms in this set (585)
1-1. Reading Wisely
The youngster who reads voraciously, though indiscriminately, does not necessarily gain in wisdom over the teenager who is more selective in his reading choices. A young man who has read the life story of every eminent athlete of the twentieth century,
or a coed who has steeped herself in every social-protest novel she can get her hands on, may very well be learning all there is to know in a very limited area. But books are replete with so many wonders that it is often discouraging to see bright young people limit their own experiences.
1-2. Solving the Servant Problem
The worlds of science-fiction abound with wonders. Yet modern technology progresses so rapidly that what may be today's wild dream may be next year's kitchen appliance. A British scientist has prognosticated that within ten years every suburban matron will have her own robot servant.
One task this domesticated automaton will not have to contend with will be scouring the oven because even today the newest ranges can be "programed" to reduce their own baked-on grime to easily disposed of ashes.
1-3. It's a Man's World
How paradoxical that the world's greatest chefs have all been men! Cooking would clearly seem to be a field that lies exclusively within women's realm,
yet the annals of cookery are replete* with masculine names: Brillat Savarin, Ritz, Diat, Larousse. To compound the puzzle, there has rarely been a tinge of rumor or scandal casting doubts on the masculinity of these heroes of cuisine.
1-4. How Not to Get Your Way
It is difficult to change someone's opinion by badgering him. The child who begs his mother to "get off his back" when she implores him for some assistance with the household drudgery,
may very well plead interminably for some special privilege when he wants something for himself. How paradoxical* that neither is able to perceive that no one likes being nagged.
to eat humble pie
to admit your error and apologize
After his candidate had lost the election, the boastful campaign manager had to eat humble pie.
a pig in a poke
an item you purchase without having seen; a disappointment
The mail order bicycle that my nephew bought turned out to be a pig in a poke, and he is now trying to get his money back.
a flash in the pan
promising at the start but then disappointing
The rookie hit many home runs in spring training, but once the season began he proved to be a flash in the pan.
to pour oil on troubled waters
to make peace, to calm someone down
When I tried to pour oil on troubled waters, both the angry husband and his wife stopped their quarrel and began to attack me.
Reggie the Con Man
In the annals of crime, there are few scoundrels who could match the exploits of Reggie Hayes, who also used the names of Reginald Haven, Ricardo Hermosa, Father Harris, and dozens of other aliases.
Reggie's police record, principally in Chicago and Baltimore, is replete with scams that he perpetrated upon gullible people. Generally, his favorite target was a matron who should have known better.
Dressed as a priest (''Father Harris"), he was most convincing, however. His method of operation was to "find" a wallet stuffed with hundred dollar bills outside a supermarket and then implore an unsuspecting woman to share his good fortune, since there was no identification in the wallet.
But first, to establish her credibility, his victim had to put up a sum of money as a testimonial to her good faith. Mrs. Emma Schultz, age 72, tearfully told the police that she had withdrawn $14,000 from her bank and placed it in a shopping bag supplied by the helpful priest.
He told her to hold onto the bag while he went next door to a lawyer's office to make the sharing of their good fortune legal.
After a seemingly interminable wait, Mrs. Schultz discovered to her chagrin that the heartless thief had skipped out the back way, leaving her "holding the bag" a switched bag containing shredded newspaper while he made his getaway with her life savings.
2-1. To the Point
Calvin Coolidge, our thirtieth president, was named "Silent Cal" by reporters because of his laconic speech. One Sunday, after Mr. Coolidge had listened to an interminable* sermon, a throng of newsmen gathered around him.
An intrepid reporter accosted the Chief Executive: "Mr. President, we know that the sermon was on the topic of sin. What did the minister say?" "He was against it," the reticent Coolidge replied.
2-2. If I Had the Wings of an Angel
Casting a furtive glance over his shoulder, the felon slipped out the main prison gate to be swallowed up in the British fog. A plethora of escapes from supposedly secure prisons embarrassed the hapless wardens.
their problems, the officials were badgered
by irate citizens who accused the guards of accepting bribes from convicts whose motto was: "Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage."
2-3. Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?
Under the pretext of being a surgeon he gained entry to the hospital. When interviewed by the director, he had to fabricate a tale of his medical experience, but he was so adroit at lying that he got away with it.
It was not until the phony "doctor" began to gesticulate wildly with his scalpel, that a vigilant nurse was able to detect the fraud. In the annals* of medical history there have been a number of such cases.
2-4. You've Got To Be a Football Expert
As an avid football fan, I try to see every game the Jets play. Whenever I can cajole my father into accompanying me, I try to do so. He has only a rudimentary knowledge of the game,
and since I am steeped* in it, I enjoy explaining its intricate details to him. It certainly does enhance your appreciation of football when you are aware of every nuance of the sport.
the sword of Damocles
any imminent danger (a king seated one of his subjects underneath a sword that was hanging by a hair, in order to teach him the dangers a king faces)
Although the president of the company seemed quite secure, he always complained that there was a sword of Damocles hanging over his head.
a too costly victory (King Pyrrhus defeated the Romans but his losses were extremely heavy)
In heavy fighting the troops managed to recapture the hill, but it could only be considered a Pyrrhic victory.
a wet blanket
one who spoils the fun
Everyone wanted the party to go on, but Ronnie, the wet blanket, decided to go home to bed.
to beard the lion in his den
to visit and oppose a person on his own grounds
Having decided to beard the lion, I stormed into the manager's office to ask for a raise.
The Best Laid Plans
Gloria Rogers overslept and then had to sprint to catch the same Greyhound Bus that she boarded on the last Thursday of every month.
After a three-hour uneventful ride, she finally arrived at the bus terminal where a courtesy van was ready to transport bus passengers to Visitors Day at the State Penitentiary.
Although Gloria tried to act casual, she was more than a little nervous. Her boyfriend, Art, a convicted felon, had managed to gain admittance to the prison's hospital on the pretext of having a gall bladder attack.
Under her own slacks and bulky sweater, Gloria was wearing a set of clothes that she removed in the hospital bathroom and passed on to Art. He planned to use them after making his escape in the back of the prison ambulance that was parked outside his ward.
Art had spelled out his escape plan during Gloria's last visit, spending an hour trying to cajole her into being his accomplice. All that she had to do was appear to have a seizure. Then she would fabricate a story about her epilepsy while Art, with the smuggled clothes concealed under his prison bathrobe, would slip out of the ward during the excitement.
Unfortunately for the schemers, a vigilant hospital guard spotted Art climbing into the rear of the ambulance and quickly foiled the escape attempt. The result was that Art had three years added to his sentence and Gloria was imprisoned for her role in the misadventure.
3-1. The Pep Talk
"If there's one thing I loathe," the coach said, "it's a quitter." He had good reason to reprimand us at half-time, because the scoreboard revealed that we were losing, 4520.
Our lackluster performance indicated to him that we had forgotten the rudimentary* aspects of basketball. His caustic remarks fired us up, however, and we dashed out, determined to wrest control of the game from our rivals.
3-2. The Handcuff Is Quicker Than the Eye
Slippery Eddie, the infamous pickpocket, was back at work, and every detective had to be especially vigilant.* Eddie's technique was to jostle a victim toward a confederate who would then slip the man's wallet out of his back pocket
while Eddie was stammering an apology to the confused dupe. Within a week the incipient crime wave came to an end when Slippery Eddie inadvertently chose the chief of police for his victim. Although Eddie loathes* Sing Sing, it's his permanent address now.
3-3. Courtroom Drama
There was an ominous silence when the jittery defendant rose in court. He explained in a tremulous voice what had led him to repudiate his confession made at the police station on the night of the crime.
The audience began to buzz excitedly until the judge demanded a cessation of the noise. Although the district attorney bristled with anger, the defendant kept insisting that his rights had been violated because he had not been told that he could see a lawyer before confessing.
3-4. Call Me By My Right Name
My cousin refers to himself as a ''sanitary engineer"a euphemism for garbage collector. There are any number of people who try to find more respectable or glamorous titles for the mundane jobs they hold.
It may seem incongruous to call an undertaker a "condolence counselor," or to refer to a taxi driver as a "transportation expediter," but some prefer those titles. As a matter of fact, our butcher has stipulated that from now on he wants to be known as a "meat coordinator." He became irate
when I inadvertently
called him "Butch."
insincere tears (crocodiles were said to cry while eating their prey)
When the football player broke his leg, his substitute wept crocodile tears.
to carry the day
to win the approval of the majority
The secretary's motion that we adjourn for lunch carried the day, and we headed for the restaurant.
disreputable part of town, inhabited by derelicts and people "on the skid"
The presence of so many bars has turned our neighborhood into another Skid Row.
to go up in smoke
to come to no practical result (kindling smokes but it will not light a fire)
The mayor's plans to get the gubernatorial nomination went up in smoke when he couldn't end the costly strike.
Desert Storm Decision
In the 1991 Persian Gulf War, where the United Nations forces, led by Americans, ousted the invading Iraqi army from Kuwait's soil,
the cessation of combat took place in short order after the Allies were able to wrest control of the skies from the infamous Saddam Hussein's air force.
General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the U.S. field commander, tended to bristle when asked by the media why he hadn't pursued the enemy all the way to Baghdad, saying: "It would have been foolhardy for us to try to occupy that capital city and pile up American casualties from sniper attacks by Iraq's guerillas.
That may be hard for you Monday morning quarterbacks to understand but I thoroughly agreed with the president who was convinced that such an action would have sent a bad message to the Arab world and would have splintered the Allied partnership."
Schwarzkopf reiterated that it was his mission to hurl back the invaders with a minimum of bloodshed but not, he added in a caustic tone, "to splatter Saddam over the desert sands.
That dictator's days are numbered," the general concluded, "but I expect his end is likely to come at the hands of his own people."
4-1. Mullins a K.O. Victim
When the bell sounded, K.O. Mullins responded with alacrity. He sprang from his stool and charged across the ring, showing disdain for the champion's strength.
Although this belligerent attitude impressed the referee, it failed to intimidate the champ. That intrepid
battler laid the hapless
Mullins low with an adroit* feint and an uppercut.
4-2. Mullins Throws Down the Gauntlet*
The pugnacious K.O. Mullins demanded a rematch. He took a full-page newspaper advertisement to promulgate his challenge. When the champ's manager saw the brash announcement,
Mullins, who was surrounded by a throng
of newsmen. The manager openly scoffed at Mullins and belittled his fighting ability. Mullins then lost his temper and fearlessly punched the manager, knocking him from his wheelchair.
4-3. Mullins Forced to Eat Humble Pie*
The irate* 80-year-old manager pressed charges against K.O. Mullins, suing him for assault. As tangible evidence of the attack, he pointed to a deep laceration over his eyebrow that had required ten stitches.
When the case was brought before the court, the judge castigated Mullins for the sordid incident. In addition to a costly financial settlement, Mullins was required to make a public apology to the octogenarian.
4-4. The Decline of Mullins
Mullins sought solace in whiskey. Once a highly respected aspirant for the lightweight crown, he now found himself associating with the dregs of Skid Row.* He would work himself into an alcoholic frenzy
in which he would trumpet scurrilous attacks on the champ, the old manager, and the judge. One avid* fight fan attributed Mullins' absence from the ring to sickness, saying that he was "recovering from a bad case of SCOTCH."
to throw down the gauntlet
to challenge someone (when the gauntlet, or medieval glove, was thrown down, the challenger was required to pick it up)
The principal of our rival school threw down the gauntlet, and we had no choice but to accept the challenge.
feeling no pain
Although the party had just begun, after his first drink he was feeling no pain.
to have no choice at all (Mr. Hobson owned a livery stable but he did not allow the customers to pick their own horses)
Despite all the talk about democracy in my family, my father usually gives the rest of us Hobson's choice.
to rule the roost
to be in charge, to be master (a roost is a perch where domestic birds can sleep)
Although he is a lowly private in the army, at home he rules the roost.
Want to Run for Office?
In recent years, we have seen the phenomenon of incumbent politicians retiring in record numbers. When interviewed, many of them admitted that they had lost their taste for the job because of the abuse to which an aspirant for office is subjected.
"My last campaign was a sordid affair in which my opponents did everything to belittle my record and air scurrilous charges about my private life," said one congressman. "I don't have to stand still for such treatment," he added, "which was terribly embarrassing to me and my entire family."
Citizen groups, appalled by the candidates' mudslinging, have sought to do something about the situation. Committees have been formed in a number of states to study ways to elevate the tone of the process, reduce the emotionalism, and eliminate the frenzy of name calling that is generated as election day draws near.
"Unless we clean up this mess," said the chairman of an Illinois caucus, "we will lose the best and the brightest from the political arena. After all, who but a masochist wants to be a punching bag, the subject of daily vilification in the media, and a target for every malcontent in town?"
During my first weeks at the new school I observed that cheating was rampant. I had always considered it rather inane to cheat on a test because of my code of ethics, and because so much was at stake.
Apparently the other students didn't concur. In fact, even the presence of a proctor did not intimidate* them. Far from being a clandestine activity, the cheating was open and obvious.
5-2. Cracking Down
Mr. Dorsey, our new principal, determined to do something about the flagrant cheating at our high school. He issued bulletins and began to admonish those teachers who did not proctor alertly.
Under duress, the faculty reported the names of the culprits. Several crib sheets were turned in as tangible* evidence of the cheating. Mr. Dorsey's inexorable campaign against the wrong-doers seemed to be paying off.
5-3. Star Player Is Caught
The cheating scandal came to a head when Art Krause, our football captain, made the egregious mistake of getting caught cheating on a midterm exam. If Art were suspended for his part in that sordid
affair, our chances for winning the city championship would go up in smoke.
The distraught coach asked the principal to overlook Art's duplicity, but Mr. Dorsey replied in an acrimonious fashion that the players had been given ''a plethora" of athletic instruction but a paucity of moral guidance."
5-4. Our Pyrrhic Victory*
Mr. Dorsey summoned a representative group of teachers and student leaders to his office in order to elicit their reactions to the suspension of the football captain. He told them that cheating was a pernicious disease that could not be tolerated at our school.
He loathed* having to discipline Art Krause so severely, but unless strict measures were taken, the student body would construe the incident as an open invitation to cheat with impunity. "We may lose a football game," the principal said, "but we can salvage our self-respect."
stock in trade
the goods, tools, and other requisites of a profession
A quick wit and a warm smile were the salesman's stock in trade.
to take down a peg
to take the conceit out of a braggart (ship's colors used to be raised or lowered by pegs the higher the colors, the greater the honor)
The alumni thought they had a great basketball team, but our varsity took them down a peg.
to pass the buck
to evade responsibility (the "buck" may have been a piece of buckshot passed from one poker player to another to keep track of whose turn it was to deal)
He always gives me a straight answer and never tries to pass the buck.
to lionize a person
to make a big fuss over someone (the lions at the Tower of London were considered its main attraction)
When the famous poet Dylan Thomas visited the United States, he was lionized wherever he lectured.
Driving While Drunk
Throughout literature we find recurring tales of forthright people who are outspoken in condemning illegal practices only to be brought low themselves when they, or members of their families, commit such acts.
Since literature reflects life, we can expect to find similar instances in which a person's ethics are compromised, and he falls prey to the pernicious evil that he had publicly denounced.
Take the story of Barry Vernon (not his real name), an aggressive Ohio district attorney. Vernon could be counted upon to make acrimonious remarks about anyone who was driving while intoxicated.
On numerous speaking engagements, he railed against drunkenness and swore that any such culprit who was found behind the wheel of a car would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
As fate would have it, Vernon's own son smashed into several cars, injuring four people seriously, and then failed a sobriety test.
Following that flagrant violation of the law, Vernon resigned from office, saying that as a private citizen he would continue his crusade against those who drive under the influence of alcohol. Meanwhile, he wished to spend more time with his son to try to understand the young man's behavior.
6-1. The Newspaper Umbrella
Our neighbor is an affluent inventor whose latest brainstorm, a feasible umbrella substitute, has been featured in many magazines. As simply as the eye can discern, it is a hard plastic strip, about the size of a ruler, which fits comfortably into a woman's handbag or a man's suit jacket. If a person is caught in a sudden rainstorm, he swings the plastic open in the shape of a cross.
Attached to each arm is a clip-like device. Next, he takes the newspaper he is carrying and slides it under each of the four clips. Now, equipped with a rigid head covering he can sally forth to face the elements. To the consternation of the umbrella manufacturers, it has been enjoying a brisk sale, especially among commuters. If it continues to do well, it could have a pernicious* effect upon the umbrella industry.
6-2. Patent Pending
My buddy Verne, a precocious automotive wizard, and I were inspired to do some inventing on our own. We thought it might be feasible* to park a car parallel to a space on the street. Then, by pressing a button, we could raise the four tires off the ground slightly, while dropping two special wheels perpendicular to the curb. It would then be child's play to roll into the narrowest of parking spaces.
We took the idea to Ed Greene who runs the Ford agency in order to elicit
his reaction. After a perfunctory glance at our plans, to our chagrin Ed snorted that our idea was inane,
but we decided that he was just jealous of our brilliance. Tomorrow we are going to start on a computer that will enable us to measure the intelligence of perverse automobile dealers who like to deride the efforts of junior geniuses.
6-3. Hold That Nobel Prize!
Speaking of inventions and discoveries, I just learned that an eminent* scientist in Ohio has developed a pill that contains all the nutritive value of three complete meals. In addition to providing us with the vitamins and minerals we need daily, this pill also gives a feeling of fullness. According to its sponsors, the pill will nourish and satisfy. I hate to disparage such a laudable achievement,
but to me it seems like a most objectionable discovery. Rather than a scientific triumph, I'd be inclined to label it as an egregious* blunder, a scientific disaster, a laboratory fiasco. Is there anyone in his right mind who thinks that a pill can replace the pleasures of devouring hot corn bread, masticating on a thick steak, biting into crisp french fries, or attacking a chocolate sundae? I'm afraid that this is one pill I'll have to eschew from chewing.
6-4. Perfect Products
I guess we'll never be able to quell those persistent rumors about the invention of auto tires that will never wear out, stockings that cannot tear, and pens that won't run dry. A voluble economist informed me that such products will never be marketed. "Can you imagine," he asked, "a manufacturer cutting his own throat?
Why would he sell you an item that you will never have to replace? No," my confidant whispered, "it's part of their scheme of planned obsolescence to sell you merchandise with a limited life span in order to keep you coming back for more." I am dubious about the existence of those perfect products, but then I'm from Missouri.*
I'm from Missouri
a skeptic, one who is not easily convinced
You might swallow his promises, but I'm from Missouri.
day of happiness, time for rejoicing (holidays are red-letter days on our calendars)
My red-letter day came when I was chosen as senior class president.
to let sleeping dogs lie
to let well enough alone, to avoid stirring up old hostilities
The lawyer wanted to open up the old case, but his partner advised him to let sleeping dogs lie.
signal of rejection (Roman emperors could condemn a gladiator who fought poorly by turning their thumbs down)
My father turned thumbs down on our plan to hitchhike to Florida during Easter.
Trouble at Truman High
It was a quiet morning at Harry S Truman High School. ''Too quiet," Principal Edna Suarez remarked to her secretary. "It's just when things are this serene that I start to get an uneasy feeling.''
Mrs. Suarez's sensitivity to life among 3,000 teenagers quickly proved to be accurate. The first evidence of trouble came with a phone call from the teacher in charge of the cafeteria who needed help to quell a disturbance.
When Mrs. Suarez arrived on the scene, much to her consternation, students were pounding on their tables, throwing food on the lunchroom floor, and making a complete fiasco of school regulations. It took the principal only a moment to discern who the two ringleaders were and to summon them to her office.
Vincent, 16, and Elena, 15, admitted to having stirred up the protest. They gave as their reasons the poor quality of food served and the dirty environment. "It's like a pigsty down there," Elena declared, "and the food is fit only for animals!"
What they had done, Mrs. Suarez told them, was inexcusable, and she ticked off a list of reasons that made their conduct dangerous and subject to school discipline. "What you were trying to do," Mrs. Suarez explained, "might be considered laudable by some but you could have come to me, alone or with a committee, to register your complaints.
I would have investigated and, if there was merit to your charges, would have taken the necessary action. Now I'll have to ask you to bring your parents to see me on Monday and to stay home until then."
Vincent and Elena seemed to be chastened by Mrs. Suarez's lecture. However, on leaving her office, Elena told an assistant principal that in a similar incident on a television show she learned that direct, dramatic action usually gets quicker results than lengthy debate.
He advised her to bring that question up in her social studies class when she returned from suspension.
7-1. Much Ado About a Haircut
Perhaps you read about our school in the newspapers? We were one of the first to have a showdown on the topic of long hair for boys. Two honor students, Ron Harris and Len Chester, were sent to the principal by their French teacher, an implacable foe of nonconformists, who went into a paroxysm of anger when she spied the boys in the hall.
At first it seemed like a simple case. The school would reprimand* the boys for their reprehensible appearance and order them to cut their hair or be suspended. But the boys' parents decided that the school had overstepped its jurisdiction they took their case to the newspapers. What had started as a local skirmish now began to take on the appearance of a full-scale war.
7-2. The Tempest Spills out of the Teapot
Once the newspapers got the story, the case of the longhairs became a cause celebre.* Ron and Len were interviewed, seen on TV, and regarded by their fellow students as heroes. "These are not delinquents or hoods," one reporter wrote, "but clean-cut American boys who are being harassed by a monolithic school system."
editorial referred to the school's decision as arbitrary and inane.
A false story even circulated about the boys being rock-'n-roll performers whose indigent families needed their salaries. Finally, the Civil Liberties Union jumped into the fray with a court order stipulating* that the principal be required to show cause why the boys should not be allowed to return to class.
7-3. Haircut Dilemma
The school authorities were stymied. Public opinion had been marshaled against them. No longer was it a simple case of disciplining two wayward lads. Suddenly it had taken on the appearance of a nightmare in which the principal was either hanged in effigy or pictured in cartoons making a villainous swipe at the two innocent Samsons.
But the officials could not allow Ron and Len to flout their authority with impunity.
Members of the school board concurred
with the principal's action but they were cognizant of the popular support for the boys. Clearly a compromise was called for to resolve the turbulent situation.
7-4. Happy Ending?
Following an executive session, the school board ordered the principal to terminate the suspension and to send the boys back to class forthwith. Unless it could be shown that their presence disrupted the learning process, there was no reason to bar the boys. It was a bitter pill to swallow* for the principal whose irritation was exacerbated by the ruling.
But some of the sting was taken out of the victory when the boys appeared in school the next day with their hair clipped to a respectable length. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Just as things were about to revert to normalcy, however, the same French teacher then demanded that a girl be ousted from school for wearing a mini skirt.
a famous law case or controversy
It was a minor dispute, but the ambitious lawyer sought to turn it into a cause celebre.
one swallow does not make a summer
don't jump to conclusions based on incomplete evidence
"Sure, the Yankees won their opening game, but one swallow does not make a summer."
a bitter pill to swallow
a humiliating defeat
It was a bitter pill to swallow for the famous billiard player to be overwhelmed by the 12-year-old girl.
an ax to grind
having a selfish motive in the background
I am always dubious* about the motives of a man who tells me that he has no ax to grind.
The Reading of the Will
One full week after the funeral, the immediate family of millionaire Charles Hudson was gathered in a law office to hear the reading of the deceased's will. Mr. Hudson's wife, thirty years his junior, was prepared for a bitter skirmish with his former wife and her son.
The lawyer, Don Rollins, anticipated a turbulent session because he was the only one who was cognizant of the contents of the revised will that Hudson had ordered drawn up six months prior to his death.
The current Mrs. Hudson, attired in her smart widow's weeds, expected that she would receive the lion's share of the estate. The former Mrs. Hudson felt that she was entitled to most of the estate since she was practically indigent at the present time, despite her substantial alimony payments.
Lawyer Rollins cleared his throat and began to read: "To my present spouse I leave my town house where she can continue to store the jewels, shoes, dresses, and furs she accumulated in two years of shopping and marriage.
"To my son, who has put off finding a career until my estate would enrich him, I leave the sum of ten dollars for cab fare to the unemployment office. "To my former wife whose reprehensible behavior I tolerated for three decades, I leave my beach house where she can continue to work on her tan, something that she prized above our happiness.
"To the Society For the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals I leave the remainder of my entire estate, knowing they will put it to better use than anyone in this room." The lawyer was wrong. No outcries. Silence, supreme silence, reigned among the shocked audience.
8-1. Enter Dr. Thomas A. Dooley
In 1956, Look Magazine named Thomas Dooley as one of the year's ten most outstanding men. Just under thirty years of age at the time, Dr. Dooley had already distinguished himself by caring for a half-million sick and emaciated Vietnamese refugees. When fighting broke out in the divided country of Viet Nam,
the northern Communist Viet Minh forces surged southward, scattering thousands of refugees before them. At the time, Dr. Dooley was a lieutenant, assigned to a tranquil naval hospital in Yokosuka, Japan. Forthwith* he volunteered for duty on a navy ship that had been chosen to transport the refugees to sanctuary in Saigon. The curtain was beginning to ascend on Dooley's real career.
8-2. Dooley's Mission
Aboard the refugee ship, Dooley's destiny took shape. He became painfully cognizant
of the malnutrition, disease, ignorance, and fear that afflicted the natives. In addition, he discerned
how active the Communists had been in spreading their anti-American propaganda. Tom Dooley pitched in to build shelters in Haiphong,
and to comfort the poor Vietnamese there before that besieged city fell to the powerful Viet Minh forces. He was seemingly unconcerned by the many privations he had to endure. For his services, Dooley received the U.S. Navy's Legion of Merit. He told the story of this exciting experience in Deliver Us from Evil, a best seller that alerted America to the plight of the Vietnamese as well as to the sinister menace of communism.
8-3. Stymied* by Personal Sickness
After an extensive lecture tour in 1956, Dr. Dooley returned to Laos to set up a mobile medical unit. Because the Geneva Agreement barred the entrance of military personnel to the country, he resigned from the Navy and went to work as a civilian. That story is told in The Edge of Tomorrow.
Next year, despite a growing illness, the ubiquitous Dooley turned up in the remote village of Muong Sing, attempting to thwart his traditional enemies disease, dirt, ignorance, starvation and hoping to quell* the spread of communism. But his trained medical eye soon told him that the pain in his chest and back was a harbinger of a malignant cancer.
8-4. ''Promises to Keep"
From August, 1959 until his death in January, 1961, Dooley suffered almost continuous, excruciating pain. His normal weight of 180 was cut in half, and even the pain-killing drugs could no longer bring relief. Knowing that he did not have long to live, Dr. Dooley worked without respite on behalf of MEDICO,
the organization he had founded to bring medical aid and hope to the world's sick and needy. The lines of Robert Frost kept reverberating in his mind during those fretful days: "The woods are lovely, dark and deep/ But I have promises to keep/ And miles to go before I sleep." When he finally succumbed, millions throughout the world were stunned and grief-stricken by the tragedy.
to disparage* something that you cannot have (from Aesop's fable about the fox who called the grapes sour because he could not reach them)
Marcia said that she didn't want to be on the Principal's Honor Roll anyway, but we knew that it was just sour grapes on her part.
to swap horses in midstream
to vote against a candidate running for reelection, to change one's mind
The mayor asked for our support, pointing out how foolish it would be to swap horses in midstream.
to cool one's heels
to be kept waiting
The shrewd mayor made the angry delegates cool their heels in his outer office.
a red herring
something that diverts attention from the main issue (a red herring drawn across a fox's path destroys the scent)
We felt that the introduction of his war record was a red herring to keep us from inquiring into his graft.
Aftermath of an Earthquake
The Egyptian earthquake in October 1992 killed 600 residents of Cairo and hospitalized thousands of others, many of whom were expected to succumb as a result of their injuries.
Especially hard hit were the people who inhabited the city's slums, who had to seek sanctuary in those government buildings, schools, and factories that remained standing.
Muslim fundamentalists were active in providing relief to the survivors in the form of food, water, blankets, and tents to house the more than 300 families made homeless by the disaster. In the midst of a rubble-strewn street, a large tent was set up, bearing the banner, "Islam is the Solution."
Believers took the opportunity to spread the message that the earthquake was a harbinger of worse things to come, and that a wayward population must follow God's laws if they expected to ascend to heaven.
Throughout history, following volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, tidal waves, and other calamities that periodically afflict mankind, religious leaders have used such occurrences to bring the people back to their faith. "Unless we return to Allah," said a priest, "we can expect more divine punishment."
Since many Egyptians had expressed unhappiness about their government prior to the earthquake, there was a good chance for Muslim fundamentalists to seize the opportunity to win new converts by showing that the answer to recovery was not through man's efforts but through God's.
9-1. Just Spell the Name Correctly
P. T. Barnum, the great circus impresario, was once accosted
by a woman who showed him a scurrilous
manuscript about himself, and said that unless he paid her, she would have the book printed. Barnum rejected the extortion attempt. "Say what you please," he replied, "but make sure that you mention me in some way.
Then come to me and I will estimate the value of your services as a publicity agent." Barnum obviously felt that adverse criticism was an asset for a public figure. A man who seeks the limelight should not care what is written about him but should be concerned only when they stop writing about him. Barnum's philosophy suggests that we might do well to review the plethora* of publicity given to rabble-rousers and bigots.
9-2. Bigots* Get Publicity
Today, the blatant bigot, the leader of a lunatic fringe, and the hate-monger, each with his tiny entourage, find it relatively easy to attract publicity. Newspapers give space to the virulent activities of those agitators on the grounds that they are newsworthy. TV producers and radio executives, seeking for sensationalism, often extend a welcome to such controversial characters.
"Yes," said the host of one such program, "we invite bigots, but it is only for the purpose of making them look ridiculous by displaying their inane* policies to the public." Some civic-minded organizations have answered, however, that the hosts are not always equipped to demolish those guests, and even if they were, the audience would still be exposed to the venom they spew forth.
9-3. Coping with Bigots*
Suppose a bigot wished to organize a meeting in your neighborhood. Since we cherish freedom of speech, we are loath to deny the request, even if he preaches hatred. As a result, hate-mongers are given the opportunity to rent halls, conduct meetings, publish abusive literature, and solicit contributions. What can be done about them?
One astute observer, Prof. S. Andhil Fineberg, advocates the "quarantine method." His plan is to give such groups no publicity and to ignore them completely. Without the warmth of the spotlight, he feels that the bigot will freeze and become ineffectual. Debating with such warped minds is not feasible
and only tends to exacerbate
9-4. More than Silence
The quarantine method for handling bigots implies more than giving them the silent treatment. Prof. Fineberg urges community-relations organizations to scrutinize the nefarious activities of hate-mongers and to be prepared to furnish information about them to amicable inquirers.
When a rabble-rouser is coming, those organizations should privately expose him to opinion-molders. In addition, constructive efforts should be taken to induce people to involve themselves in projects for improving intergroup relations. Bigger than the vexatious immediate problem is the need to find out the cause for such bigotry and to counteract this sinister* malady that afflicts a segment of our society.
to spill the beans
to give away a secret
Although he was naturally reticent,
when the felon
was intimidated* by the members of the rival gang, he spilled the beans.
to keep a stiff upper lip
to be courageous in the face of trouble
It was admirable to see how the British managed to keep a stiff upper lip in spite of the German bombing.
to have cold feet
to hesitate because of fear or uncertainty
My cousin was all set to join the paratroops, but at the last moment he got cold feet.
to look a gift horse in the mouth
to be critical of a present (from the practice of judging a horse's age by his teeth)
Although I didn't have much use for Uncle Roy's present, I took it with a big smile since I have been taught never to look a gift horse in the mouth.
This Century's Deadliest Disease
When the American public started to hear about the AIDS virus in the 1980s, there was a measure of concern but no real alarm.
After all, some said, it was a problem solely for a small group of intravenous drug users who shared dirty needles, and for the homosexual community. But as the numbers of afflicted people grew during the 1980s and 1990s, we began to scrutinize the tragic news stories more closely.
The deaths of young people like Ryan White and Kimberly Bergalis, not members of the at-risk groups referred to above, convinced us that what was at first regarded merely as a vexatious illness was actually a virulent threat to the general community.
In the mid-1980s, astute medical researchers were optimistic that a vaccine for AIDS would be found in short order. Those predictions proved to be inaccurate. In October 1992, former Surgeon-General C. Everett Koop said that he doubted we would ever find a cure for the disease.
With over 200,000 Americans already having succumbed to the nefarious killer, and another 300,000 who were HIV-positive and could contract a full-blown form of AIDS, Koop's statement sent chills throughout the country.
A prominent AIDS expert, however, took issue with Koop. ''The fight will be difficult," said Dr. Harley Smith, "but we will find an answer before the end of the 20th century."
10-1. Jerry Hart's Sixth Sense
An uneasy feeling had made Jerry Hart miserable all day long. It was difficult to explain, but the similar sensations in the past had been accurate trouble was on the way. Just as some people can predict the onset of inclement weather because of an aching in their bones, so could Jerry detect incipient* disaster.
He sat at his desk, trying to peruse a company report but his efforts were ineffectual.
The gnawing at his insides, the tinge
of uneasiness, the premonition of calamity that besieged* him would not desist. When the phone rang, he recoiled with fear it was his wife and she was hysterical. Their son had been bitten by a mad dog!
As soon as Jerry Hart could get the pertinent facts from his wife, he dashed out of the office on his way home. He jostled
people in the hallway, implored
the elevator operator to hurry, and with flagrant* disregard for an elderly gentleman jumped into the cab he had hailed.
The twenty-minute taxi ride seemed interminable* and all the while horrible thoughts occurred to Jerry. Visions of an ugly mastiff with foaming jaws obsessed him. A crowd of people had gathered in front of his house so that Jerry had to force his way through them. Little Bobby was on his bed, surrounded by a doctor, a policeman, Jerry's doleful wife, his two daughters, and a half-dozen wan neighbors.
10-3. A Time for Decision
The doctor explained the situation calmly, avoiding histrionics. First of all, they didn't know whether the dog had rabies. Secondly, the elusive dog had frustrated all attempts to find him so far. Finally, the decision would have to be made whether Bobby was to undergo the painful vaccination administered daily for two weeks.
Mrs. Hart said that a neighbor who had seen the dog claimed that it had been foaming at the mouth, barking, and growling constantly all symptomatic of rabies. But the policeman interjected that there hadn't been a case of a mad dog in the county in over twenty years; he repudiated
the neighbor's report, advocating
that they do nothing for at least another day. Mr. and Mrs. Hart sat down to think about their next step.
10-4. The Pertinent* Facts about Rabies
"Give me some of the rudimentary
information about the disease, Doc," said Jerry, glancing toward the inert figure of his son. "Well, as you know, the malady
used to be called 'hydrophobia' (fear of water) because one of the symptoms is an inability to swallow liquids. Actually, it is caused by a live virus from the saliva of an infected animal. If saliva gets into a bite wound, the victim may get rabies.
The virus travels along the nerves to the spine and brain. Once the salient characteristics appear (ten days to six months) then death is imminent." ''What are the symptoms?" asked Mrs. Hart. "Pain and numbness. difficulty in swallowing, headaches and nervousness. Also, muscle spasms and convulsions." The squeamish neighbors who were engrossed in the doctor's remarks gasped. "I think we should go ahead with the injections," the distraught* Mrs. Hart said. "I've heard enough."
to pay the piper
to bear the consequences (from the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin)
The cruel leader was doing well at the present time, but he knew that one day he might have to pay the piper.
on the carpet
Because of her repeated lateness, Betty's boss called her on the carpet.
to show one's hand
to reveal one's intentions
When someone joined in bidding for the antique, the dealer was forced to show his hand.
to tilt at windmills
to fight imaginary enemies (from Don Quixote)
The vice president told the committee, "We're really on your side, and if you fight us you'll be tilting at windmills."
The Potato that Strangled Idaho
People who are squeamish about the sight of blood or recoil in horror from most forms of violence would do well to avoid some of the movies now being shown at their local cinemas.
Producers have learned that films that scare the patrons out of their seats, ironically, put millions of fans into those seats, keeping them engrossed in the goose pimple-inducing spectacles that flash across the screen.
Of course, each movie carries with it a rating that indicates its suitability for certain age groups, either because of its subject matter, language, presentation, or level of violence. Pictures with a "G" rating are approved for all audiences, while, at the other end of the scale, those that are given an "X" rating are for adults only with no children allowed under any circumstance.
Getting an ''R" rating indicates that the movie is restricted (no one under 18 admitted without an adult) but some Hollywood moguls consider the "R" to be the magnet that insures box office success. And we can be sure that as long as shock films ring up a merry tune on the cash registers, producers will not desist from making them.
A director who specializes in making gory films involving monsters, vampires, and brutal serial killers boasted in a college lecture that his work was in good taste.
One student who disagreed was provoked to interject that in his opinion the diet of "shock-schlock" movies was in worse taste than those pictures that contained vulgar language and nudity. "At least they're honest," he declared.
11-1. The Search for the Dog (Continued)
Meanwhile, the Harts had notified the local radio stations to broadcast a poignant appeal for the dog's owner to come forward. The station was inundated with phone calls but all leads were fruitless. From what Bobby had told them, a huge dog had leaped out from a red station wagon in the supermarket's parking lot.
After biting Bobby it vanished. The six-year-old was too concerned with the bites he had received to see where the dog disappeared to. The boy's story was garbled, but he did remember that the animal was gray and had a collar. There was little tangible* evidence to go on, but the police remained sanguine.
11-2. No Relief
The normally phlegmatic Jerry Hart was deeply upset. Twenty-four hours had passed without result, and even if the rabies could not be corroborated, Jerry was determined to see that his son received the vaccine. At the suggestion of some friends, he organized a comprehensive search party, zealously fanning out in circles around the supermarket.
They knocked on every door, inspected every dog, and came back empty-handed. Although the Harts were sick with worry (they had to be coerced into going to sleep), little Bobby seemed to be in great spirits. The excruciating* vigil continued.
11-3. The Police Find the Dog
Forty hours had elapsed before the police work and the publicity paid off. By meticulously checking the registrations of every red station wagon in the neighborhood and then cross-checking dog licenses, the police narrowed the search to four owners. After a few telephone calls, the apologetic owner was located and directed to bring her muzzled German shepherd to the Hart domicile.
Bobby identified the dog, and the animal was taken to a veterinary's clinic to have the necessary tests performed. The lax owner, Mrs. McGraw, admitted that the dog had a sporadic mean streak, but she scoffed* at the idea of rabies. Jerry Hart noticed for the first time in two days that his uneasy feeling had departed.
11-4. All's Well That Ends Well
The Harts were greatly relieved to learn that the rash conjecture about the dog was not true. Because the German shepherd was not rabid, the necessity for the painful treatment was obviated. The police gave the dog's owner a summons for allowing the animal to go unmuzzled.
Little Bobby was treated to an ice cream sundae and a Walt Disney double feature. The neighbors searched for other lurid happenings, and Jerry Hart went back to his office. "What kind of dog was that?" his secretary asked. "Oh, his bark was worse than his bite," quipped Jerry.
to feather one's nest
grow rich by taking advantage of circumstances
While working as the tax collector, he adroitly* feathered his own nest.
unreliable, they fail one in time of distress
The general was chagrined* to learn that so many of his supposed supporters were actually fair-weather friends.
to sow one's wild oats
to lead a wild, carefree life
During his teen years, the millionaire avidly* sowed his wild oats.
unexpected financial gain
When the bankrupt company struck oil, the surprised investor received a windfall of $20,000.
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for Richard Sands."
"Deliver us from evil. Lead us not into Penn Station."
Teachers who train students to memorize and then do rote recitations sometimes find that the youngsters have a garbled interpretation of the actual words. Eliza Berman, an educator who is meticulous about her own use of language, invited colleagues to send her examples of confusion in students' writings.
Little did she realize that they would quickly inundate her letterbox with their pet mistakes. As a result, Ms. Berman was able to compile a fairly comprehensive list of howlers that include the following:
"The inhabitants of ancient Egypt were called Mummies. They lived in the Sarah Dessert and traveled by Camelot."
"Homer wrote The Oddity in which Penelope was the first hardship Ulysses endured on his journey."
"Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock."
"King Alfred conquered the Dames."
"Indian squabs carried porpoises on their backs."
"Under the Constitution, the people enjoy the right to keep bare arms."
"In the Olympic Games, the Greeks ran, jumped, hurled the bisquits and threw the java."
"Lincoln was America's greatest Precedent."
Ms. Berman is not too sanguine about eliminating such errors from pupils' compositions and test papers. Her advice: enjoy!
12-1. Off Broadway
When Monte Ziltch told his boss, Mr. Foy, that he was quitting as an accountant to become an actor, the man was convulsed with laughter. After Mr. Foy realized that Monte was obsessed* with the idea, he became quite serious, launching into a diatribe on the importance of responsibility in the younger generation.
Monte confessed that he had been developing ulcers as an accountant, and when his psychiatrist suggested that the sickness was a result of inhibitions, Monte agreed. Now a fortuitous opportunity to get into show business required Monte to make an immediate decision. Mr. Foy stormed out of the office, muttering incoherently about hippies, beatniks, and others of that ilk.
12-2. An All-Round Man
The need for a decision came about when Monte was invited to join a prestigious summer stock company, starting in mid-June. As a mature "apprentice," he would be required to take tickets, paint scenery, prepare placards, assist with lighting, costumes, and props, and carry an occasional spear in a walk-on role.
Since the company would stage five major plays during the summer, as well as a half-dozen shows for children, there was a chance that Monte might actually get a part before too many weeks had elapsed.* In addition, he would be attending the drama classes that were an integral part of the summer theater. The remuneration would be nominal but at last Monte Ziltch would be fulfilling a life-long ambition.
12-3. From Ledgers to Scripts
During the first weeks of the summer, Monte Ziltch didn't even have time to consider whether he had made an egregious
mistake. He was too engrossed
with his work, performing a thousand and one odd jobs around the theater. First there was the opening production of A Chorus Line, then two weeks of The Fantasticks, followed by a poignant* Diary of Anne Frank, which did excellent business.
All through those weeks, Monte painted, carried, nailed, collected, ran, studied, and perspired. He had expunged all traces of debits and credits from his mind, burying himself in the more flamboyant world of the theater. Accounting became anathema to him as the schism between his present utopia and his former drudgery* widened.
12-4. Irony for Merry weather
At last, Monte's chance to perform came. He had played the timorous Lion in a truncated version of ''The Wizard of Oz," which the apprentices had staged. But now there was an open audition to cast the final show of the season. It was to be a jaunty original comedy, given a summer tryout prior to a Broadway opening.
Monte, who by now had adopted the stage name of Monte Merry weather, read for the producers, hoping to get the part of the hero's fractious landlord. Unfortunately, the competition was too rough but the director assigned Monte to a less ostentatious part. And so for the first two weeks in September the stagestruck accountant had a two-minute, two-line part. What was his role? The hero's accountant!
to wear one's heart on one's sleeve
to make one's feelings evident
People who wear their hearts on their sleeves frequently suffer emotional upsets.
to wash dirty linen in public
to openly discuss private affairs
"Let's talk about it privately," his uncle said, "rather than wash our dirty linen in public."
to save face
to avoid disgrace
Instead of firing the corrupt executive, they allowed him to retire in order that he might save face.
warm autumn weather
Parts of the country were deep in snow, but the East was enjoying an Indian summer.
Regis, Oprah, Sally Jessy, et. al.
The television talk shows of our era, featuring such prestigious public figures as Regis Philbin, Oprah Winfrey, and Sally Jessy Raphael, attract millions of daytime viewers and constitute a powerful influence on the American scene.
When the media can hold the attention of so sizable a chunk of couch potatoes, it pays to scrutinize it closely. A student at Stanford University, doing her doctoral thesis on the unusual popularity of the afternoon talk shows, noted the fierce competition among those programs for guests who are off the beaten track. According to her:
"Almost every irregular, flamboyant life-style you can think of has already been featured on one of the shows and probably on all of them, when you add Montel Williams, Jerry Springer, and others of that ilk who serve as network hosts.
They have shown teenagers who marry people in their sixties, daughters and mothers who date the same man, men who have gone through a marriage ceremony with other men, women with prominent tattoos, and other people who are totally free of inhibitions."
"Remuneration for our guests is so small," said a producer, "that these shows are inexpensive to put on. And say what you want about good taste, millions watch us every day, and as long as the ratings are that healthy, sponsors will pay good money to be identified with us."
13-1. A Visit to the President
In the winter of 1941, Enrico Fermi and a number of other distinguished scientists importuned President Franklin Roosevelt for authorization to begin an all-out effort in atomic energy research. The scientists were alarmed by incontrovertible evidence of surreptitious German experiments, and they asked for speedy approval. Italian-born Enrico Fermi was the ideal man to lead the atomic research.
Already in 1938 he had won the Nobel Prize for work with radioactive elements and neutron bombardment. Fermi had found a haven from the Fascists (his wife was Jewish) and he knew that if the Germans were the first to develop an atomic bomb it would mean that Hitler could subjugate the entire world. The international race for atomic supremacy was on.
13-2. The Ultimate Weapon Takes Shape
Enrico Fermi designed a device that could eventuate in a chain reaction. It consisted of layers of graphite, alternated with chunks of uranium. The uranium emitted neutrons, and the graphite slowed them down. Holes were left for long cadmium safety rods. By withdrawing those control rods Fermi could speed up the production of neutrons, thus increasing the number of uranium atoms that would be split (fission).
When the rods were withdrawn to a critical point, then the neutrons would be produced so fast that the graphite and cadmium could not absorb them. In that manner a chain reaction would result. Slowly, Fermi's first atomic pile began to grow in a subterranean room at Columbia University. The big question remained was it viable?
13-3. The Squash Court Experiment
As the pile grew, so did the entire project. Fermi moved his materials to an abandoned squash court under a football stadium at the University of Chicago. His pace accelerated because they were proceeding on the premise that the Germans were close to atomic success. Six weeks after the pile had been started, its critical size was reached.
Three brave young men jeopardized their lives by ascending* the pile, ready to cover it with liquid cadmium if anything went wrong. Almost fifty scientists and several incredulous observers mounted a balcony to watch. One physicist remained on the floor; it was his job to extract the final cadmium control rod. Unbearable tension permeated the atmosphere. Fermi completed his calculations, waited for a propitious moment, and then gave the signal.
13-4. The Italian Navigator Lands
The chain reaction took place precisely as Enrico Fermi had surmised. After twenty-eight minutes he curtailed the experiment, giving the signal to replace the control rod. The normally reserved scientists, unable to repress their excitement, let out a tremendous cheer and gathered around Fermi to shake his hand.
Although it was time to celebrate, some of the men remarked soberly that "the world would never be the same again."
On December 2, 1942, the news of Fermi's achievement was relayed in a cryptic telephone message: "The Italian Navigator has reached the New World." "And how did he find the natives?" "Very friendly." The Atomic Age was inchoate but truly here!
to take the bull by the horns
to face a problem directly
After several days of delay, the minister decided to take the bull by the horns, and so he sent for the vandals.
the lion's share
the major portion
Because the salesman was essential to the business, he demanded the lion's share of the profits.
out of the frying pan into the fire
to go from a difficult situation to a worse one
I thought I had escaped, but actually I went out of the frying pan into the fire.
to keep the pot boiling
to see that interest doesn't die down
Dickens kept the pot boiling by ending each chapter on a note of uncertainty and suspense.
Drug Smugglers Beware
The cryptic message came to Officer Matt Jagusak: "Drug search tomorrow bring pig."
Jagusak, with the Union County New Jersey Sheriff's Department Search and Rescue Unit,
had to importune his superiors to put Ferris E. Lucas, a super sniffer, to work. Lucas is a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig with a fantastic olfactory sense that is one million times greater than a human's and could be our ultimate weapon in breaking up the drug trade.
A canine trainer offered the pig to Union City, suggesting that its intelligence and unique skill will make Lucas a viable fighter against illegal narcotics. Jagusak has already taught his 55-pound porker-detective how to find cocaine, hashish, and marijuana.
While some law enforcement officials were incredulous at first, they quickly became believers when they saw the Sherlock Holmes of the sty locate underground drug scents that had eluded trained dogs. "I don't care if it's a dog, a pig, or an elephant," Jagusak's boss said. "If it benefits the department and our community, we'll try it."
14-1. Sunday Morning at Pearl Harbor
At breakfast time on Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, Dorie Miller was serving coffee aboard the battleship West Virginia. Dorie was black, and the highest job to which he could then aspire in the U.S. Navy was that of messman. While Dorie was technically a member of a great fighting fleet, he was not expected to fight.
Most Army and Navy officers inveighed against blacks as fighting men. Although blacks were nettled by such overt prejudice, Dorie Miller apparently accepted being relegated to the role of a mess hall servant. Now, as he poured the coffee, Dorie was wondering why the airplanes above were making so much noise on a peaceful Sunday morning.
14-2. The Infamous* Attack
The coffee cups suddenly went spinning as an explosion knocked Dorie Miller flat on his back. Jumping up from his supine position, the powerfully built messman from Waco, Texas, headed for the deck. Everywhere that Dorie looked he saw smoke and mammoth warships lying on their sides.
Overhead dozens of Japanese dive bombers controlled the skies without a U.S. plane to repulse their attack. The havoc was enormous. Without hesitating, Dorie joined a team that was feeding ammunition to a machine gunner who was making an ineffectual* attempt to protect their battleship from being razed by the torpedo planes.
14-3. The Heroism of Dorie Miller
Men all around Miller were succumbing* to the lethal spray of Japanese bullets. He dragged his captain to safety and turned back to see that the machine-gunner had been killed. Dorie took the big gun and trained it on the incoming bombers. Within the space of ten minutes he was credited with destroying four bombers while dodging the bullets of their fighter escorts.
The enemy scurried away, having struck the incisive blow that precipitated U.S. entrance into World War II. Amidst the dead bodies and the ruined fleet were the heroes such as Dorie Miller. The Navy had told him that he did not have to fight but he hadn't listened. The Navy had attempted to stereotype him, but Dorie changed all that.
14-4. ''For Distinguished Devotion to Duty"
Some months later Dorie Miller was serving on an aircraft carrier when Admiral Chester Nimitz, the Commander of the Pacific Fleet, came aboard to preside over a special awards ceremony. In stentorian tones the Admiral presented Miller with the prestigious* Navy Cross,
commending him for a singular act of valor and "disregard for his own personal safety." Miller's heroism helped to shatter the bias against African-Americans in the armed forces. Although he could have accepted a sinecure at a U.S. naval base, Dorie chose to remain in the combat zone where he was killed in action in December, 1943.
to bury the hatchet
to make peace
After not speaking to each other for a year, they decided to bury the hatchet.
a lawyer of outstanding ability
His case is so hopeless that it would take a Philadelphia lawyer to set him free.
to gild the lily
to praise extravagantly
There was no need for the announcer to gild the lily because we could see how beautiful the model was.
to steal one's thunder
to weaken one's position by stating the argument before that person does
I had planned to be the first to resign from the club, but my cousin stole my thunder.
Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice
Teen Talk Barbie, the best-selling $50 model, has gone a step too far in the opinion of the American Association of University Women.
Representatives of that group were nettled to hear that one of the four phases that the doll is programmed to utter is, "Math class is tough."
For years the university professors, as well as members of feminist organizations have inveighed against the stereotype that portrays girls as weak math and science students. "Because that brainwashing message is conveyed to girls at an early age, they come to accept what we consider to be a blatant bias," said Dr. Ellen Kaner, a Dallas chemist.
"We are just beginning to make progress in our campaign to recruit women for challenging, well-paying careers in math and science," she added, "and were shocked to learn that Barbie is spreading such harmful nonsense."
Executives of the company that manufactures Teen Talk Barbie had to scurry to set matters right. They admitted that the phrase in question, one of 270 selected by computer chips, was a mistake.
In a press release, their president said, "We didn't fully consider the potentially negative implications of this phrase. Not only will we remove it immediately but will swap with anyone who bought the offending doll." We wonder how Ken feels about the matter.
15-1. Danny Escobedo Goes to Jail
In 1960, a young Chicagoan, Danny Escobedo, was given a 20-year jail sentence for first-degree murder. Danny had confessed to complicity in the killing of his brother-in-law after the police had refused to allow him to see his lawyer.
Actually, Danny was tricked into blaming a friend for the liquidation of his sister's husband, thereby establishing himself as an accomplice. Despite the fact that Danny later recanted his confession, he was found culpable and jailed. Danny had been stereotyped
as a hoodlum and nobody raised an eyebrow over the hapless
15-2. Escobedo's Lawyer Appeals
Barry Kroll, a Chicago lawyer, took an interest in Danny Escobedo's case. Kroll felt that his client's rights under the Constitution had been abrogated. Since the alleged accomplice,* Escobedo, had been denied access to an attorney, Kroll asked the courts to invalidate the conviction.
He proposed that lawyers be entitled to sit in when the police question a suspect but the Illinois courts rejected that on the grounds that it would effectively preclude all questioning by legal authorities. If such a law were upheld, the police felt that it would play havoc* with all criminal investigations.
15-3. An Historic Supreme Court Ruling
Lawyer Kroll persevered in his defense of Danny Escobedo. The case was argued before the Supreme Court, and in 1964, in a landmark decision, the Court reversed Danny's conviction. Legal aid, said the judges, must be instantly available to a suspect.
"A system of law enforcement that comes to depend on the confession," one Justice declared, "will, in the long run, be less reliable than a system that depends on extrinsic evidence independently secured through skillful investigation." A Justice who declaimed against the decision said, however, "I think the rule is ill-conceived and that it seriously fetters perfectly legitimate methods of criminal enforcement."
15-4. The Effects of the Escobedo Decision
After Danny Escobedo's release from prison, hundreds of inmates began suits for their freedom on the grounds that their rights had been violated, too. Each case was heard on its merits, and in numerous instances people who had been convicted of serious offenses were freed because of the new standards established in the Escobedo case.
After getting out, Danny was not a paragon of virtue, according to the police. He led a nomadic existence, drifting from job to job, and was arrested frequently. With asperity, and a few choice epithets, Danny referred to police harassment.* Although the Escobedo case was a controversial one, most agree that it inspired better police training, better law enforcement procedures, and improved scientific crime detection.
absentmindedness or daydreaming
When the young genius should have been doing his homework, he was frequently engaged in woolgathering.
to conceal defects, to give a falsely virtuous appearance to something
Although a committee was appointed to investigate the corruption, many citizens felt that their report would be a whitewash of the culprits.*
to break the ice
to make a start by overcoming initial difficulties
The auto salesman had a poor week, but he finally broke the ice by selling a fully equipped Cadillac.
a secret means of spreading information
The grapevine has it that Ernie will be elected president of the school's student council.
The Nostalgia Factory, a Boston art gallery, staged an exhibit of advertisements that had outraged various segments of the community. For example, one of the fast food chains ran a TV commercial that showed unattractive school cafeteria workers in hairnets, making that experience less tasty than a visit to Roy Rogers.
Another ad that drew criticism from psychiatrists and groups such as the Alliance for the Mentally Ill suggested to readers that, if they had paid $100 for a dress shirt, they were fit candidates for a straitjacket. Similar sensitivity had restricted ad writers from using terms such as "nuts" or "crazy."
Why such protests and where do they come from? Who is asking companies to abrogate contracts with those agencies that are culpable in creating racist types of commercial messages?
Parents who took exception to the Burger King spot that announced, "Sometimes You Gotta Break the Rules," said no to it because it gave the wrong message to their children. And when a potato chip maker's ad featured a "bandito," angry Mexican-Americans used some choice epithets in denouncing such a stereotype.
The conclusion to be reached is that segments of the population have become increasingly vocal about "insensitive" ads, demanding that corporations recant and never again commission advertisements that are clearly controversial , provocative, and harmful to good human relationships.
16-1. Meet the Bees
One of the most interesting inhabitants of our world is the bee, an insect that is indigenous to all parts of the globe except the polar regions. The honeybee is a gregarious insect whose habitat is a colony that he shares with as many as 80,000 bees. Although the individual bees live for only a few days, their colony can be operative for several years.
A cursory study of the activities of these insects reveals an orderliness and a social structure that is truly amazing. For example, bees in a particular hive have a distinct odor; therefore, when an interloper seeks access
they can identify him quickly and repulse
16-2. Queens, Workers, Drones
Each colony of honeybees consists of three classes: a) the queen who is a prolific layer of eggs; b) the worker who is the bulwark of the colony; and c) the sedentary drone whose only function is to mate with a young queen. The queen lays the eggs that hatch into thousands of female workers;
some queens live as long as five years and lay up to one million eggs. The frugal worker builds and maintains the nest, collects and stores the honey, and is the antithesis of the lazy drone, or male honeybee, who does not work and has no sting. When the drone is no longer needed, the workers, in effect, liquidate* him by letting him starve to death. It's a cruel, cruel world!
16-3. Spotlight on the Worker
Let us examine the activities of the altruistic workers in greater detail. After the workers have constructed a hive of waterproof honeycomb (made from beeswax), the queen begins to lay eggs in the first cells. While some workers embellish the hive, others fly out in search of nectar and pollen. With their long tongues they gather nectar and use their hind legs to carry the pollen from the flowers.
They fly directly back to the hive and then dance around the honeycomb, their movements indicating the direction of the flowers. Meanwhile, other workers have been cleaning cells, caring for the young, and guarding the precious cache of nectar. Another special coterie is entrusted with heating or cooling the hive. Dedicated to the welfare of the queen and the entire insect community, all of these workers display a complete absence of cupidity.
16-4. The Saga of the Queen Bee
Although the virtuosity of the workers is remarkable, the queen bee is really the main story. Workers choose a few larvae to be queens, feeding them royal jelly, a substance rich in proteins and vitamins. While the queen is changing from a larva to a pupa, a team of workers builds a special cell for her. Soon the young queen hatches, eats the prepared honey, and grows strong.
After she kills any rivals who have the temerity to challenge her, an amorous note is injected. She flies from the hive and mates with one or more drones on her first flight. Then the process of egg laying begins. When her progeny saturate the hive, scouts are dispatched to find a new location, and the bees swarm after their leader to begin the amazing cycle again.
in a bee line
taking the straightest, shortest route (that's the way a bee flies back to the hive after he has gathered food)
When the couple left, the babysitter made a bee line for the refrigerator.
the world, the flesh, and the devil
temptations that cause man to sin
By entering the monastery he sought to avoid the world, the flesh, and the devil.
to make bricks without straw
to attempt to do something without having the necessary materials (In the Bible we read that the Egyptians commanded the Israelites to do so)
My uncle's business schemes always fail because he tries to make bricks without straw.
to have the upper hand
to gain control
I had him at my mercy, but now he has the upper hand.
Cheating a Cheater
''Our neighborhood was so tough," the comedian joked, "that two guys held up a bank and were mugged as they ran to their getaway car."
Later that evening, as Roy and Timmy were discussing the comic's routine, Roy was reminded of a true (he said) story that went like this:
Mr. D., the gang kingpin in our community, loved money. Like Silas Marner, the frugal weaver of George Eliot's novel, he enjoyed counting his treasure each Friday night.
Mr. D's cache was concealed in a wall safe behind a painting in his office. The $50 and $100 bills made his hands dirty as he counted them but Mr. D didn't mind. The filth of the lucre did not disturb him at all.
One Friday evening, Roy continued, a brash interloper had the temerity to try to steal the ill-gotten gains. Having bought the combination from a relative who had installed Mr. D's safe, he stuffed his loot into a laundry bag and was halfway out the door when he spied a $10 bill on the floor. His cupidity made him go back for that small change, and in that moment, Mr. D. arrived on the scene.
The quick-thinking thief blurted out, "I'll have the shirts back on Friday." Hoisting the laundry bag over his shoulder, he was out the door before the confused mobster could figure out what had happened. Timmy, who had listened patiently, said, "I don't believe a word of that story because it would take a guy with a great deal of starch to pull it off!"
17-1. A Plan to Fool the Nazis
One of the truly remarkable stories of World War II concerns a ruse* that was perpetrated with such consummate skill that it saved the lives of many Allied troops and helped to shorten the war. The simple, bold, and ingenious subterfuge which British officers concocted is the subject of Ewen Montagu's classic, The Man Who Never Was.
In short, the idea was to plant fallacious documents concerning the Allied invasion of Europe upon a dead officer, have his body recovered by agents who would transmit the false information to Germany, and then observe the effects of the plan.
17-2. "Major Martin" Goes to War
After Commander Montagu and his colleagues had been given official approval for their dangerous escapade, they encountered manifold problems. First, they conducted an assiduous search for a body that looked as though it had recently been killed in an airplane disaster.
Then, a detailed history of the man had to be invented that would be so impeccable that the enemy would accept its authenticity. This meant documents, love letters, personal effects, keys, photographs, etc. Each step was fraught with difficulty, but the schemers were unbelievably resourceful. As a result, in the late spring of 1942, "Major Martin" was prepared to do his part for his country.
17-3. The Plot Thickens
A submarine took the body out to sea. Then, "Major Martin," the man who never was, was slid into the murky Atlantic waters off the coast of Huelva, Spain. Attached to this courier's coat was a briefcase that contained the components of the hoax. Shortly thereafter, the Spanish Embassy notified the British that the body had been recovered.
But Commander Montagu learned that the important documents had already been scrutinized
and later resealed so that the British would not be suspicious. The secret information was transmitted to the German High Command, through a labyrinth of underground networks, to be evaluated. Now the true test of the months of assiduous
planning would come the question remained, would the Germans swallow the bait?
17-4. A Puzzle for His Majesty
The conspirators had reason to exult, for all evidence attested to the fact that the German High Command was gullible about "Major Martin." Their defense troops were moved away from the true invasion sites and deployed to areas that were inconsequential.
Subsequently, when the actual attack took place, Allied casualties were minimized. After the war, Commander Montagu received a medal from the king of England. At the presentation ceremony, the king politely inquired where the young officer had earned his citation. "At the Admiralty," Montagu replied, presenting the king with a genuine enigma.
to draw in one's horns
to check one's anger, to restrain oneself
The performer drew in his horns when he saw that his critic was an eight-year-old boy.
to put the cart before the horse
to reverse the proper order, do things backwards
My assistant was so eager to get the job done that he often put the cart before the horse.
to turn the tables
to turn a situation to one's own advantage
The wrestler thought that he could pin me to the mat, but I quickly turned the tables on him.
a chip off the old block
a son who is like his father (from the same block of wood)
When we saw the alcoholic's son enter the liquor store, we assumed that he was a chip off the old block.
Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in an assiduous review of Social Security disability payments, focused on Jack Benson, a resourceful Seattle panhandler. Mr. Benson had claimed that whatever money he collects on the street can be compared to the funds raised by legitimate charities, and, therefore, he is entitled to a federal deduction.
Government officials regard his analogy as fallacious and disagree. It is their contention that, since Benson's income is unearned, it should be subtracted from his disability payments.
Mr. Benson may not be highly regarded as a street beggar but that didn't stop him from going into the Federal District Court in Oregon to plead that his appeals for cash are an art form, thereby making him eligible for most of the $472 a month that he had been receiving.
Not so, declared the government, quoting from a 1990 ruling that found that "money received through begging is better classified as 'gifts' rather than as 'wages' or 'net earnings from self-employment.'"
Mr. Benson's lawyer, plunging into the legal labyrinth, has not given up. She countered that, if Jack merely sat on a street corner with his hand out, the government had a good case.
However, in her words, "Jack Benson is a consummate professional who has elevated begging to a respectable level because of his skill in actively seeking contributions." It may take all of Benson's talent as a salesman to get the government to put some money in his collection basket.
18-1. Teaching Chimpanzees to Talk
Two resourceful* psychologists at the University of Nevada have made splendid progress in vocabulary development in chimpanzees. Following a number of abortive attempts to teach French, German, or English to chimps,
the researchers persevered* until they hit upon the American Sign Language system that is often used by deaf persons. They have had to modify the language somewhat in order to accommodate the animals' spontaneous gestures. With a mixture of innate movements and learned ones, some laboratory chimps now have an extensive vocabulary.
18-2. Chimpanzees Are Surprisingly Smart
Washoe, the chimpanzee, has more than a veneer of intelligence; she can signal her desire to eat, go in or out, be covered, or brush her teeth. In addition, she can make signs for "I'm sorry," "I hurt," "Hurry," ''Give me," and a myriad of other terms that are familiar to young children.
This urbane animal can indicate that she craves more dessert by putting her fingers together ("more") and then placing her index and second fingers on top of her tongue ("sweet"). It is irrelevant that Washoe cannot actually talk. What is important, however, is the consummate* ease with which she has mastered her daily assignments.
18-3. Easy to Train
The chimpanzees are deemed by scientists to be the closest to man of all the living apes; consequently, they are fairly easy to train. Several years ago, two married researchers embarked on an interesting project:
they reared and trained a chimp in almost the same manner as they would have raised a child. The animal did beautifully, convincing the couple of the inherent ability of the chimpanzee. Cinema buffs who have seen Tarzan's clever monkey romp through the jungle also recognize the latent intelligence of those animals.
18-4. More Facts About Chimps
Chimps in the laboratory have demonstrated their ability to find their way out of the most tortuous maze. They can press buttons, manipulate levers, avoid shocks, etc. When food is placed out of reach, the animals can prepare a ladder of boxes to reach it. In his natural habitat* the chimpanzee is something of an itinerant.
He goes his nomadic* way through the jungle, living on fruit, insects, and vegetables. With the aid of his long, powerful hands he can swing rapidly from tree to tree and cover considerable ground in his peregrinations. Chimps are loyal in their conjugal relationships, taking only one mate at a time. That may be another barometer of these animals' superior intelligence.
under the wire
just in time
Hank hesitated about his term paper for two months and finally submitted it just under the wire.
to be at large
not confined or in jail
Since the dangerous criminal was at large, all the townspeople began to buy dogs for protection.
to go against the grain
My uncle is in favor of some protests, but certain demonstrations go against the grain.
to wink at
to pretend not to see
There was a plethora* of evidence to show that the border guards would wink at illegal shipments if they were paid in advance.
A Shameful Situation
The plight of the migrant farm worker continues to frustrate the U.S. Labor Department, court officials, legislators, religious groups, and community agencies. Men, women, and children toil six and seven days a week to earn as little as $5 to $10 a week after being overcharged for their food, medicine, and basic living needs.
They are housed in ramshackle dormitories, often with non-functioning toilets a barometer of their employers' contempt for them; they lack hot water and showers, and are given food that is barely fit for human consumption.
Unscrupulous contractors scour the countryside in search of homeless, itinerant, and unemployed men and women, offering to put them to work at good jobs picking fruits and vegetables. The U.S. Labor Department investigates the myriad of complaints of abused workers, issues fines, and revokes the licenses of contractors.
But many such shady employers pay the fines (which they deem to be operating expenses) and continue to run company stores that cheat the workers, subjugate them with drugs and alcohol, accommodate them with advances on their paltry wages at high interest, and use violence against those whom they regard as troublemakers.
Fred Jones, a typical migratory worker from South Carolina, claims to have worked for $6 cash out of his $158 check. His story is repeated by hundreds of others who have been treated shabbily by corrupt contractors.
Until sufficient funds are allocated by state and federal agencies, and until there is the proper public response, these abuses will continue.
19-1. Trouble in Ruritania
King Andre of Ruritania was afflicted
with megalomania, and the people of his country suffered, as a result. After ten years of his profligate rule, the treasury was bankrupt, unemployment was rampant
, domestic strife was mounting,
and the number of the king's opponents who were incarcerated* were legion. Following a bloodless coup, his nephew, Prince Schubert, took command of the poor nation.
19-2. Prince Schubert in Action
Prince Schubert's first move was to declare an amnesty for political prisoners and to invite home all Ruritanian expatriates. Those who had been jailed on false charges were exonerated by special tribunals.
The young leader announced that he would abrogate
all of the oppressive fiats that his predecessor had promulgated.
Things began to look up temporarily for the citizens who perceived in Prince Schubert the sincerity, idealism, and honesty that had been lacking in the mendacious King Andre.
19-3. Reform Movement
In order to improve Ruritania's financial position, an astute* but parsimonious treasurer was installed and given wide pecuniary powers. He tried to get the little country back on its feet by slashing all waste from its budget,
dismantling King Andre's sumptuous palaces, and firing all incompetents. In addition, Prince Schubert was able to get the United States to underwrite a substantial loan that would enable him to start a program of public works. Even so, Ruritania was still in desperate trouble.
19-4. Disappointment and Dedication
When Prince Schubert asked for additional restrictive measures, the people began to balk. Speaking on radio, the young reformer explained the reasons for higher taxes and food rationing; he was blunt when he stated the need for personal sacrifices.
Nevertheless, the resistance to reform was great, and nostalgia for the "good old days" of King Andre began to grow. The people admitted that graft and corruption had been rife under Andre, but at least "everybody got his slice of the pie." Although Prince Schubert was tempted to quit, he determined that he would help the people in spite of themselves.
to play possum
to try to fool someone; to make believe one is asleep or dead
Sensing that his life was in jeopardy
, the hunter played possum until the voracious
it's an ill wind that blows nobody good
someone usually benefits from another person's misfortune
When the star quarterback broke his leg, the coach gave the rookie his big chance and the youngster made good; the coach mumbled, "It's an ill wind."
to know the ropes
to be fully acquainted with the procedures
The president of the senior class knew the ropes and quickly taught me my duties.
behind the eight ball
Susan found herself behind the eight ball in chemistry when she failed to do the term project.
Accounts of supersized creatures such as the Loch Ness Monster and the Abominable Snowman are legion. Despite the lack of hard evidence, some people continue to believe that the depths of our lakes and isolated mountain caves remain the dwelling places of fantasy figures.
Now, a new star for the credulous has surfaced. Japanese television was asked to underwrite a search for Ogopogo, a long-necked reptilian creature said to inhabit Lake Okanagan in the mountains of south-central British Columbia.
Ogopogo stories are rife in that area as people produce photos of rippling water and shadows resembling an enormous serpent with flippers, gliding slowly in large circles.
Those who balk at what they regard as nonsense and pagan superstition are quite blunt in belittling Ogopogo fans. Nevertheless, the legends, which have a life of their own, happily, have brought thousands of tourists and business to the Okanagan Valley.
Recognition of the creature now exists in British Columbia's environmental law which provides protection for Ogopogo. The official description reads, ''An animal in Okanagan Lake, other than a sturgeon, that is more than three meters in length, and the mates or offspring of that animal."
Been wondering about the creature's name? Ogopogo comes from an English music hall song: "His mother was an earwig; his father was a whale; a little bit of head and hardly any tailand Ogopogo was his name."
20-1. La Cucaracha-the Cockroach
The poor cockroach has been called the "most reviled creature on the face of the earth." Nobody loves him except, perhaps, another cockroach. Fiction, nonfiction, and poetry are replete
with derogatory references to these ubiquitous
Public health officials are quick to indict the insects as carriers of viruses that cause yellow fever and polio. Although past evidence has been somewhat nebulous, recent studies also show that an allergy to roaches may contribute significantly to asthma. Little wonder, therefore, that the pesky cockroach is under attack.
20-2. Waiter, Please Take this Bowl of Soup Back to the Kitchen
In addition to menacing our health, cockroaches are smelly, filthy, and ugly. Upon entering a cellar that is redolent with their aroma, you are not likely to forget the odor.
And when you spy the foul culprits
in your sugar bowl or in repose atop your chocolate cake, your disposition may be exacerbated.* Roaches are omnivorous and will feast upon such disparate items as wallpaper, upholstery, nylon stockings, and beer. No one can accuse the hungry and thirsty bugs of being abstemious.
20-3. The Roach Lives On
Cockroaches are the oldest extant winged insects, having been traced back over 350 million years. They have endured the vicissitudes of weather, natural disasters, war, and planned liquidation.* They reside comfortably in caves in South America, in transcontinental airplanes, on mountain tops, in Park Avenue edifices, and in television sets.
The climate may be sultry or frigid but roaches persevere.
In the words of one writer, "The miraculous survival of the roach is explained by its inherent
adaptability." In fact, a trenchant analysis made the point that any forthcoming nuclear war will be won by roaches, not Russians, Chinese, or Americans.
20-4. Tongue in Cheek*?
The U.S. Public Health Service admits to frustration
in its attempts to destroy the cockroach. As soon as the scientists devise a puissant chemical, some bugs succumb.
But the hardy ones survive and breed a resistant strain. Since the average female produces close to three hundred descendants, little hope is held out for a final solution to the roach problem.
Nevertheless, extermination campaigns continue unabated. Surprisingly, some sentimental souls become maudlin as they consider the persecution of the insects. A writer noted for his levity made a lugubrious plea for a crash program of aid for the cockroach, calling him "a victim of his slum environment."
left holding the bag
to be left to suffer the blame
businessman left his distraught
partner holding the bag.
a lick and a promise
to do something in a hasty and superficial manner
The meticulous* housewife was in so much of a hurry that she could only give the apartment a lick and a promise.
tongue in cheek
Speaking with his tongue in his cheek, the parsimonious* employer promised to double everyone's wages.
to take the wind out of one's sails
to remove someone's advantage
Although Edna was bristling* with anger when she stormed in, I took the wind out of her sails by voicing my own displeasure at the way she had been treated.
Chlorine Compounds on Trial
The chances are that the water supply where you live is disinfected by chlorine, one of the elements on the periodic table. Yet, pesky complaints about chlorine continue unabated, identifying it as a health and environmental risk.
Greenpeace, the environmental activist group, stands ready to indict chlorinated organic elements, alleging that they are toxic. The Federal Environmental Protection Agency is reexamining the health hazards that are prevalent when materials containing chlorine are processed at high temperatures.
And, worldwide, nations are banning chlorine compounds that destroy the earth's protective ozone layer. Harsh treatment, it would seem, for one of nature's basic elements, a component of the table salt we use.
When we enter a pool that is redolent with the aroma of chlorine, we don't associate it with the reviled element now being blamed for tumors, reproductive problems, arrested development, destruction of wildlife, and sundry other ills that plague our planet.
A scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund thinks that chlorinated chemicals should be phased out. "We know they will be persistent if they get into the environment," she said. "They are soluble, so they will build up in the fat of fish, birds, and people."
21-1. Locked in an Ivory Edifice*
Prince Siddhartha Gautama was the scion of a family of warrior-kings in northern India. He was being indoctrinated for the time when he would assume his father's throne. Growing up in an atmosphere of opulence, the young prince was constantly shielded from the cruel realities of the world.
An army of obsequious servants and tutors catered to his every desire, providing Siddhartha with instruction in riding, fencing, dancing, and painting while lavishing fulsome praise upon him. It wasn't until the prince was thirty that he took the first step that led to his becoming the Buddha, one of the world's greatest spiritual leaders.
21-2. Siddhartha's Eyes Are Opened
One day, Prince Siddhartha expressed the desire to leave his lush surroundings and ride out among his people. He was profoundly shaken by the misery, destitution, disease, and excruciating
pain with which his people were constantly afflicted.
Retiring to his room to ponder over what he had seen, he remained there for several days, deaf to the supplication of those who pleaded with him to come forth. It seemed to Siddhartha that his life had been redolent* with decadence, and he was determined to make amends.
21-3. The Enlightened One
Siddhartha exchanged his sumptuous* garments for a monk's yellow robe and went out into the world to do penance for what he considered to be his previous life of sin. First he would cleanse himself by becoming an ascetic then he would study Hindu wisdom in order to be prepared to help his suffering people.
After six years of desultory wandering and attracting only a handful of disciples, Siddhartha came to a huge tree near the Indian city of Gaya. For seven weeks he sat beneath its branches, seeking an answer for his personal torment. Finally, it is said, he underwent a metamorphosis, becoming the Enlightened Onethe Buddha.
21-4. Love Over Hatred, Goodness Over Evil
Buddha outlined the three paths that men might travel: worldly pleasure, self-torment, and the middle path. Only through the middle path could man achieve bona fide peace and salvation. One had to repudiate* materialism, keep his self-control, restrict speech, be open-minded, never lie or steal, reject selfish drives, nurture goodness, etc.
Buddha continued to preach until the age of eighty, spreading the philosophy that man has the power to shape his own destiny. Through good deeds and pure thoughts man may reach nirvana. Interestingly enough, the man who objected to traditional religious worship was to become idolized by millions throughout the world.
two strings to one's bow
two means of achieving one's aim
The salesman had two strings to his bow if a phone call didn't get results, he would appear in person.
on tenter hooks
in a state of anxiety (cloth used to be stretched or ''tentered" on hooks)
The indicted* clerk was kept on tenter hooks by the district attorney.
the fat is in the fire
the mischief is done
him to desist
but he said that the fat was already in the fire.
like Caesar's wife
Mrs. Drake would have to be like Caesar's wife so that no tinge* of scandal would embarrass her husband, our new mayor.
History's Most Extraordinary Person?
In a celebrated essay about Joan of Arc, Mark Twain wrote movingly of her brief moment in the spotlight two short years in which she made an indelible mark on world history.
At age 16 she was illiterate, had never strayed from her sleepy little village, knew nothing of military combat, or courts of law. But at age 17, in a complete metamorphosis she was named Commander-in-Chief of the French army, vowing to restore her king to his throne. Joan attracted many fervent followers, and a disciple called her "France's salvation."
After much gallantry in battle, this bona fide heroine was brought low by treachery at the French court and captured by the enemy. Joan defended herself brilliantly at a court trial, although she could neither read nor write. She was able to forecast future events with remarkable accuracy, correctly predicting her own martyrdom.
Mark Twain understood how geniuses such as Napoleon, Edison, and Wagner could develop but one could ponder the facts for a lifetime without being able to explain how this humble peasant girl could display the qualities of a mature statesman, a learned jurist, and a military wizard. He concluded:
"Taking into account her origin, youth, sex, illiteracy, early environment, and the obstructing conditions under which she exploited her high gifts and made her conquests in the field and before the courts that tried her for her life she is easily and by far the most extraordinary person the human race has ever produced."
22-1. Female Alcoholics
When we juxtapose the words "woman" and "alcoholic" many readers are surprised. However, the plight of America's several million female alcoholics is rapidly increasing in intensity.
But the statistics are inexact because it is estimated that there are nine covert alcoholics for every one under treatment. Women drink to help themselves to cope with life's vicissitudes.
They drink because of financial pressures, incompatibility, frustration,
and related reasons.
22-2. A Profile of the Woman Who Drinks to Excess
The typical alcoholic woman is above average in intelligence, in her forties, married, with two children. She started drinking socially in high school or college. Although frequently incapacitated, she can fabricate a story skillfully and thus conceal her true physical condition. She often attributes her alcoholism to connubial stress, boredom, or depression. A large percentage of the women give family histories of alcoholism.
Most female drinkers would demur at the appellation of "alcoholic"and that makes their treatment all the more difficult. Important Note: How good a detective are you? Did you spot one of the new words that had been introduced earlier? (fabricate) It should be part of your vocabulary now. From time to time in the lessons that follow, your alertness will be tested as a previously learned word is reintroduced.
22-3. Nefarious* Effects of Alcohol
Aside from the reasons offered earlier, doctors have other interesting reasons for the escalation in female drinking. They also indict* social acceptance and indifference to alcohol's potential danger as contributory factors. If women realized the harmful extent of the cumulative effect of alcohol, they might taper off in their public and recondite drinking.
Forty-three percent of the female alcoholics in a survey showed evidence of liver damage, and a quarter of the whole group had a high white-blood-cell count. Almost five percent of the patients died shortly after their release from the hospital.
22-4. Danger Signals
female alcoholic should be cognizant
of certain danger signals: a. Using alcohol in an attempt to palliate her problems. b. Deluding herself about the extent of her drinking habits. c. Drinking at regular time periods, both day and night.
d. Reliance upon alcohol as a prelude to a major social obligation. e. Making unrealistic promises about terminating
her drinking. f. Using alcohol as a medication for real or chimerical illnesses. If in evaluating
her drinking, a woman acknowledged that several of the danger signals applied to her, she should see a physician.
to agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge so as to avoid trial for a more serious offense.
The defendant finally took his lawyer's advice and agreed to a plea bargain of third-degree assault.
in apple pie order
in neat order, good condition
The house was in dreadful condition when Mrs. Maslow arrived, but when she left it was in apple pie order.
trying to gain favor by gifts or flattery
If the way to advancement in this company is through apple polishing, I quit!
the Draconian Code
a very severe set of rules (Draco, an Athenian lawmaker of the 7th century B.C., prescribed the death penalty for almost every violation.)
The head counselor ran our camp according to his own Draconian Code.
Hair Today, . . .
The fact that a hair salon might charge $40 for a woman's shampoo and haircut but only $20 for the same services for a man is a matter of indifference to most citizens. Not so to New York City's Commission on Human Rights, which claimed that such a disparity is discriminatory. Commissioner Dennis De Leon has targeted ''genderbased" pricing as a violation of city law.
Consider the plight of the salon owners. They acknowledge the price difference, explaining that it takes much longer to cut a woman's hair and requires the use of additional products. But a spokesperson for the Department of Consumer Affairs said that beauty parlors will have to cope with the situation honestly, just as dry cleaners and used-car dealers did when they were apprised of the law.
"I know that women are fighting for equality," said the owner of a chain of unisex hair salons, "but this is ridiculous. We cut a man's hair in no time but we have to get more money from our female customers because their styling and cutting takes so much longer."
The argument might be the prelude to an important court case. A city-proposed settlement, however, is to have those salons that are cited for violations of the law offer free haircuts to women for a period of three months before having to pay a stiff fine for repeated offenses. "It's easier to comply," shrugged one owner (bald, himself).
23-1. From A to Z
Ellis Sloane, a teacher of science at a large metropolitan high school, first paid little attention to the fact that his two biology classes were so disparate* in their performance. In most schools the classes are alphabetically heterogeneous, with youngsters' names running the gamut from Adams to Zilch. But Biology 121 had only A's and B's,
whereas Biology 128 had T's, V's, W's, Y's, and Z's. Mr. Sloane, a perspicacious teacher, began to perceive
differences between the two groups: while their reading scores and I.Q.'s were roughly analogous, it was apparent that Biology 128 was replete
with maladjusted students, while Biology 121 had the normal ones.
23-2. What's In a Name?
As Mr. Sloane pursued his investigation of the phenomenon, he discovered that a Dr. Trevor Weston of the British Medical Association had corroborated* his findings. Dr. Weston had studied British mortality rates over a decade,
finding that people whose names began with letters ranging from "S" to "Z" had a life expectancy that averaged twelve years fewer than the rest of the population. Furthermore, those at the bottom of the alphabet tended to contract more ulcers, were more susceptible to heart attacks, and were more likely to be neurotic than those at the top of the alphabet.
23-3. The Perils of the Alphabet
Dr. Weston is convinced that the pedagogue is the culprit.* Since teachers seat their pupils in alphabetical order, the "S" to "Z" child is usually the last to receive his test marks, the last to eat lunch, the last to be dismissed, and so on.
As they are the last to recite, these youngsters feel frustrated* because what they had to say had usually been enunciated earlier. The inordinate amount of waiting that this group has to do causes them to become irascible and jittery. "S" to "Z" people also become quite introspective, convinced that they are inferior to those at the top of the alphabet.
23-4. In the Nature of Educational Reform
Mr. Sloane did not want to perpetuate the disorders that stemmed from the alphabetical arrangement. Not only did he reverse the seating in his other classes,
but he began to badger
the school's administration for a mandate to bring about such changes throughout the building. He called it a compensatory factor to neutralize the catastrophic effects of the traditional policy. Soon, Mr. Sloane earned the appellation
of "Mr. Backwards."
the distaff side
women (distaff was a staff used in spinning)
The men had brandy on the porch, while the distaff side gathered to gossip in the kitchen.
on the qui vive
on the alert
My mother is always on the qui vive for bargains.
to get one's back up
to become angry
Every time his mother mentioned getting a haircut, the young guitarist got his back up.
to bring home the bacon
to earn a living, to succeed
The man's inability to bring home the bacon was the actual reason for the couple's incompatibility.*
Microsociety-An Antidote for School Boredom
Money, taxes, employment, legislation these are topics that we associate with the adult world. George Richmond, a Yale graduate who became a pedagogue in the New York City school system, felt that elementary school youngsters could also be interested, even excited, about such issues.
He experimented in his own classes with the Microsociety in which basic instruction takes place and is reinforced as pupils operate their own businesses, pass laws, live within the parameters of a constitution that they drafted, seek redress within their own judicial system, buy and sell real estate, and so on.
Richmond's book on the Microsociety came to the attention of the school board in Lowell, Massachusetts, and their members decided to give it a try in 1981. In much less than a decade the results were quite remarkable: students exceeded the norm in reading and math; 8th graders passed college level exams; school attendance went up to 96%; and the dropout rate took a nosedive in Lowell.
In Microsociety's heterogeneous classes, mornings are given over to the traditional curriculum. In the afternoon, the students apply what they learned in activities that run the gamut from keeping double entry books, doing financial audits, running a bank, and conducting court sessions to engaging in light manufacture that leads to retail and wholesale commerce.
Other perspicacious school systems have since adopted George Richmond's innovative ideas. "Microsociety," said a Yonkers, New York principal, "gets kids to role-play life!"
A Time Magazine reporter was much impressed with Microsociety's results: "Such an approach would go a long way toward making U.S. public schools a cradle of national renewal."
24-1. Primitive Magic
In the course of their studies of other cultures, anthropologists have reported numerous customs and practices that seem bizarre to the average American. Many primitive people believe that certain inanimate objects have a will of their own and possess some magical powers.
These fetishes may be simple things like a particular feather of a bird or a unique pebble. The fetish might have derived its power, according to members of some tribes, from a god who lives within the object and has changed it into a thing of magic. Fetishes need not only be natural objects, however. An artifact such as a sculpture or carving is also believed to possess supernatural powers.
An outgrowth of the idea of a fetish* is the closely related practice of taboo. Whereas the gods or supernatural powers merely inhabit an object that is a fetish and lend it magic, they will punish the imprudent native who violates their prohibition of an act or use of an object or word that has become taboo.
If a taboo has been broken, it becomes imperative for the offender to be punished. In many cases, however, the taint on the community may be removed after the priests have performed a special ceremony. Often, the violator of the taboo will be punished or die merely through his own fears of the terrible thing he has done.
24-3. An Absurdity
Although it is probably universal human behavior to be contemptuous of the bizarre
superstitions practiced by inhabitants of unfamiliar cultures, it seems to be somewhat imprudent
to laugh at others before one takes a good, hard look at the absurd taboos
one accepts as part of one's everyday life.
Isn't it somewhat absurd when the "dyed-in-the-wool" bigot, who illogically fears the taint
of close association with blacks (behavior that resembles fear of a taboo), spends most of the summer lying in the sun trying to acquire the color he claims to abhor? Since doctors tell us that excessive sun-tanning may be a cause of skin cancer, our strange yearning for sun-darkened skin has all the qualities of a fetish.
During the Middle Ages most people believed that the devil could enter our bodies when we sneezed, because at that propitious
moment we left our bodies vulnerable. However, this catastrophic
event could be avoided if another person immediately made an entreaty to God.
This was how the practice began of saying ''God bless you" after someone sneezes. Although the tradition continues today, few people are aware of its history. A superstition originates in ignorance when people are unsure of the causes of events. But it continues inviolable over the years because it usually represents our deepest fears.
to get down off a high horse
to act like an ordinary person
When Susan discovered that the young man who was trying to make conversation with her was the son of a millionaire, she immediately got down off her high horse.
the first water
of the best quality, the greatest
Michael Jordan is obviously a basketball player of the first water who would be of enormous value to any team.
set in one's ways
He was a dyed-in-the-wool Republican who would not consider voting for a Democrat.
a highly valuable asset, stock, or property In poker, the blue chips are those with the highest value.
My father's broker recommended that for safety we invest in blue chip stocks only.
Map Makers at Work
We are all caught up in the events that change history and the shape of the countries in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Each time a country changes its name or its borders, there are some people who have their work cut out for them.
They are the map makers the cartographers. These skilled artists know it is imprudent to believe that this year's borders will remain fixed. Has there ever been an inviolable border?
Looking through an atlas of just a few years back, we realize it is simply an artifact of an ever-changing world. If there is one thing for map makers to do, it is to realize how imperative it is for them to keep abreast of world events.
The study of world history is replete with exciting events that have shaken the economic and political past. Geography is the physical rendering of these events. As history moves and changes our lives, it is up to the cartographer to take the inanimate lines of a map and shape the picture of this world in motion.
25-1. The Explosion of Krakatoa
There are few sights that are more impressive and awesome than the eruption of an active volcano. There are few natural events that so singularly* dwarf man's puny attempts to control his environment. Perhaps the greatest volcanic eruption of modern times took place in 1883 when the island of Krakatoa in Indonesia blew up as the result of a volcanic explosion.
An enormous tidal wave resulted that proved catastrophic* to the nearby coasts of Java and Sumatra. New islands were formed by the lava that poured out, and debris was scattered across the Indian Ocean for hundreds of miles. Volcanic material, dispersed seventeen miles into the atmosphere, created startlingly beautiful sunsets for years afterwards.
25-2. A Universal* Danger
Man's ability to obliterate life on this planet has increased at a rapid rate. We are now faced with the deplorable prospect of new weapons that can cause destruction of life and property on a scale far beyond our imagination. No matter who takes the first step to initiate a conflict, the possibility exists that the conflagration will spread and envelop the world.
Much thought has been given to ways and means of preventing this catastrophe.
Some consider it mandatory
that the nuclear powers seek agreement on methods of limiting and controlling these weapons, for in the absence of such an agreement, we may rue the day atomic energy was made practical.
25-3. Taken for Granted
The presence of an ever-flowing supply of fresh, clean water is taken for granted. Unfortunately, this congenial condition is fast disappearing. As our population increases, as industry consumes more water each year, the level of our underground water supply sinks measurably. There is no way to hoard water; there are many ways to conserve it.
During a particularly dry spell, New York City found its reservoirs going dry. Only then did the residents begin to heed the sage advice to limit the wasteful uses of water. Under the aegis of the Water Commissioner, citizens were encouraged to develop habits that would save water. The continued imprudent* waste by each of us of this most basic resource will work to the detriment of all.
25-4. An Ageless Story
Every so often we can read about a man or woman who has reached an age far beyond the limits we ordinarily expect. Reports of a man in Chile or a woman in Turkey who has celebrated the 105th or 110th birthday occur regularly. The natural question is, to what do these people owe their longevity?
Frequently, the answer concerns the fact that the ancient one liked to imbibe regularly of some hard liquor. The photograph will show an apparently virile man or robust woman. Somehow, people who reach this advanced age seem to remain eternally sturdy. There are no signs that they have become senile. Smoking a pipe, or sewing on some garment, these rare specimens of hardy humanity are far from the doddering folk we expect to see.
as broad as it is long
it makes very little difference
Since both jobs pay $5.15 an hour and are equally boring, it is about as broad as it is long whether I take one or the other.
blow hot and cold
swing for and against something
I told Charlie to give up his summer job and come cross-country biking with us. He's blowing hot and cold on the deal at this point.
in the doldrums
in a bored or depressed state
Mary has been in the doldrums since her best friend moved away.
burn the midnight oil
study or work late into the night
If I'm going to pass the test tomorrow, I will have to burn the midnight oil tonight.
Save the Whales, at Least
Have we all become tired of the much used word ''environment"? How often we hear or read about the deplorable state of the world's rivers, forests, air, and earth.
When we lose sight of the fact that countless numbers of creatures have become extinct because their environment could no longer sustain them, then we ignore the possibility that these same changes could obliterate many species that we take for granted.
Our life-style, and that of the billions of others on this earth, puts waste into the air and water. We may rue this careless behavior. While there may still be enough clean water and air for us, the loss of animals and plants can only be a detriment to a good life for the generations that follow.
No one suggests that the solutions to our environmental problems are easy. The nations and people of the world are in competition for the limited riches of this planet. It will take the sagest and most dedicated leaders, under whose aegis educated and concerned citizens will live and work, to protect the environment.
26-1. Informing the Public
Public opinion has an important place in a democracy. The public, often lethargic, is susceptible* to a wide variety of influences. The most prevalent of these is the mass media.
These communications media the press, radio, and television have a paramount position in initiating,* influencing, and shaping public opinion. Bearing this responsibility, the mass media are often accused of being remiss in their duty to inform the public. There has been a great deal of hostile comment leveled against these opinion molders.
26-2. The Lack of Foreign News
The critics rebuke the press for the fact that most newspapers devote somewhat less than 10 percent of their news space to foreign items. In many hundreds of papers this falls below two percent. Why is there this aversion to foreign news?
Newsmen claim that readers evince no interest in foreign affairs. In order to increase reader interest in foreign news, the vogue among editors is to sensationalize it to the point of distortion. Many other papers do only the most superficial kind of reporting in this area.
26-3. Playing It Safe
The average newspaper office receives many times the amount of foreign news than it has space to print. The editor must include or jettison items as he sees fit. It is inevitable that his ideas of what the reader want to know, or should know, are decisive.
Because the newspaper owners do not want to endanger a lucrative business, there is the constant tussle between personal opinion and the desire not to offend too many readers or advertisers. It is intrinsic to the operation of all mass media that they avoid being extremist in their news coverage or editorials.
26-4. A Favorite News Source
The electronic media television and radio have more acute problems than does the press when it comes to news reporting. A normal broadcast can cover only a small part of a news day. The object is to transmit the gist of a story without supplying its background.
Another difficulty of electronic news broadcasting is its transient nature; the viewers or listeners may miss an important story if their attention wanders. On the other hand, because radio and television present news in a more terse and exciting way, they are accepted as the most cogent presentation of news and are preferred and believed above newspapers by most people.
to split hairs
to make fine distinctions
The mother and child spent a great deal of time arguing about the hair-splitting question of whether "going to bed" meant lights out or not.
to strike while the iron is hot
to take an action at the right moment
As soon as John heard that his father had won in the lottery, he struck while the iron was hot and asked for an increase in his allowance.
once in a blue moon
on a very rare occasion
His wife complained that they go out to dinner and a show once in a blue moon.
sleep on it
postpone a decision while giving it some thought
He didn't want to show his hand* immediately, so he agreed to sleep on it for a few more days.
The Wild West
History tells us that, in a showdown in 1881, a notorious outlaw, Billy the Kid, was killed. At least that is the prevalent belief. The real Billy the Kid, William Bonney, is believed to have escaped and lived for many years in Texas. In fact, a man named Brushy Bill Roberts claimed to be the grown-up Billy the Kid.
When Roberts died in 1950, there was the inevitable question about his true identity. As a result, a computer was brought in to test whether there was anything other than a superficial resemblance between the two men. A photo of the Kid and a photo of Roberts were compared on the computer.
In a cogent report from the computer technician, the identity of Roberts was proved to be different from that of the real Billy the Kid. Thus, computer analysis allows us to jettison the idea that Billy the Kid survived the famous gun duel.
27-1. A Musical World
Music reached its pinnacle in the nineteenth century. Every leading nation produced its share of great composers. There was a bewildering array of national schools and musical styles as the once obscure musician came into his own. Music became a widespread and democratic art. The ardent music lover turned to Vienna as the music center at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
However, Paris was not far behind, especially in the field of operatic music. As the century progressed, the Germans became paramount* in orchestral and symphonic music. The growth of German music can be said to have culminated with Ludwig van Beethoven.
27-2. A Giant Composer
Beethoven was able to free music from the traditions* that had tended to constrict it. He was a child prodigy who held an important musical post at the age of 14. He was a successful concert pianist, but when his health began to fail he turned to composing.
Even though bereft of hearing at the age of 49, he did not falter in his work. Some of his later compositions reflect his sadness with his physical condition, but they also evince* an exultation about man and life.
27-3. A Worthy Successor
A successor to Beethoven was Johannes Brahms. Also a prodigy,* he was the object of vitriolic attacks by other composers because of the individuality of his work. They heaped invective upon him for the intensely emotional quality and Germanic style of his writings.
However, it was impossible to besmirch his talents for long, and he was soon one of the most popular composers in Europe. He produced voluminous varieties of compositions. Today, in retrospect, his originality is appreciated, and he is placed among the top romantic composers.
27-4. Gruff but Likeable
In his private life Brahms was considered by his friends as an egotist. He had an extremely lofty opinion of himself and his talents. He was not noted for his humility. Along with this quality, Brahms was known for his pungent sense of humor.
While his closest friends could accept his biting jokes, others found him difficult to warm up to. Brahms was an inveterate stay-at-home. Cambridge University conferred an honorary degree upon him, but he was adamant about staying at home and did not go to receive the honor. Despite the ardent* and romantic nature of his music, Brahms never found the right girl and remained single throughout his life.
to break the ice
to make a beginning, to overcome stiffness between strangers
All after-dinner speakers break the ice by telling a story or joke at the start of their speeches.
loaded for bear
to be well prepared
When the enemy finally attacked the positions, the defenders were loaded for bear.
to bring down the house
to cause great enthusiasm
Popular entertainers can be counted on to bring down the house at every public performance.
to pull one's weight
to do a fair share of the work
Everyone in a pioneer family had to pull his or her own weight.
Hot Enough For You?
In retrospect the year 1990 was a year of record high temperatures across the United States. The cause of this problem is complex.
There are many proposed explanations, from an increase of population to the greenhouse effect. If, in fact, temperatures are continuing to rise as a result of human activity, there should be an ardent search for the causes and the cures.
Scientists are looking into even the most obscure aspects of modern society to determine what might be the long-range effects of our activities. They hope that investigations will culminate in a program to change the harmful ways we contribute to a dangerous trend.
A small increase in the earth's temperature will lead to major difficulties for everyone. We should not falter in our efforts to avoid such disasters.
28-1. A Dangerous Sport
Racing car drivers are vulnerable to dangers that other sportsmen seldom face. Drivers agree that controlling a car at top speeds on a winding course is a singularly
experience. There is the bedlam caused by the roaring motors that move the car from a standing start to 100 miles an hour in eight seconds.
One is shaken by the cacophony of the brakes, larger than the wheels and producing during the course of a 350-mile race enough heat to warm an eight-room house through a hard winter. The driver needs to be on the alert to exploit any mistake by an opponent, and he must be constantly aware of the propinquity of sudden death. All of this makes car racing one of the most demanding games of all. How was your recall today? Did you spot vulnerable as a reintroduced word?
28-2. The Mystery of Creativity
In order to create, it is said that a man must be disgruntled. The creative individual is usually one who is dissatisfied with things as they are; he wants to bring something new into the world to make it a different place. There is no infallible way to identify a potentially creative person.
The speed-up in the sciences has forced schools and industry to seek a panacea for the shortages that they face. The need to discover and develop the creative person has been the source of much study. The paramount
objectives of the studies are to eradicate anything that will impede the discovery of creative talent and to exploit
this talent to the limit.
28-3. The Dutch
The first impression one gets of Holland is that it is a calm, sedate, and simple land. The slow rhythm of life is even seen in the barges on the canals and the bicycles on the roads. One gradually discovers this equanimity of daily existence is not in accord with the intrinsic* nature of the Dutch.
These people are moved by strong feelings that are not compatible with the serenity of the world around them. There is a conflict between the rigid, traditional* social rules and the desire for liberty and independence, both of which the Dutch revere.
28-4. Tulip Fever
The tulip reached Holland in 1593 and was, at first, looked upon as a curiosity. There soon developed an irrational demand for new species. Specimens were sold at awesomely* high prices. In their avarice, speculators bought and sold the same tulip ten times in one day.
The entire Dutch population suffered from the craze. There was an insatiable desire for each new color or shape. At one point a man purchased a house for three bulbs! Before long the inevitable* crash came and the demand for bulbs quickly reached its nadir. A $1,500 bulb could be bought for $1.50. With the moribund tulip market came financial disaster to thousands of people.
a white elephant
a costly and useless possession
When he discovered the 30-volume encyclopedia, dated 1895, in his attic, he knew he had a white elephant on his hands.
lock, stock, and barrel
The company moved its operations to another state lock, stock, and barrel.
a feather in one's cap
something to be proud of
If she could get the movie star's autograph, she knew it would be a feather in her cap.
out on a limb
in a dangerous or exposed position
He went out on a limb and predicted he would win the election by a wide margin.
Read My Lips
For many years it has been the goal of computer specialists to perfect a machine that would understand human speech.
The problem is that the speaker has to be alone and in a quiet room. Noise will impede the computer's ability. In the serenity of a special room, the computer works well.
Now, math wizards are trying to develop a computer that will read lips despite any surrounding cacophony. While some of us think it irrational to believe that a computer can read lips, the experiments go on. And there has been some success.
Progress in all aspects of computer science has been so remarkable that we hesitate to rule out any possibility. There is one infallible rule about the world of computers: the seemingly impossible gets done more quickly than we ever imagined.
29-1. A Sport for Everyone
Of the many highly popular sports in the United States, football must be rated around the top. This sport allows the speedy and lithe athlete to join with the slower and obsese one in a team effort. The skills and strengths of many men are welded together so that one team may work as a unit to gain mastery over its opponent.
The knowledgeable adherent of a team can follow action covering many parts of the playing field at the same time. He is in a state of bliss when his team executes a movement to perfection. However, there is no one more pathetic than the same fan when the opposition functions to equal perfection.
29-2. Rah! Rah! Rah!
The spectators at a football game play more than a superficial* role. A spirited cheer from the stands often gives the player on the field a reason to try even harder. Cheer leaders exhort the fans, who may be in a state of apathy because their team is losing, to spur on the team.
In particularly close games between rivals of long standing, feelings begin to run high, and from time to time a fracas may break out in the stands. While the teams compete below, the fan who is a bit inebriated may seek out a personal adversary. On the whole the enthusiasm of the spectators is usually constricted* to cheering and shouting for their favorite teams.
29-3. The 23-Inch Football Field
The football fan who cannot attend a contest in person may watch any number of games on television. This has the great advantage of permitting an indolent fan to sit in the comfort of his living room and watch two teams play in the most inclement* weather. However, some of the spirit, the gusto, is missing when one watches a game on a small screen away from the actual scene of the contest.
Also, the viewer is constantly exposed to a garrulous group of announcers who continue to chatter in an endless way throughout the afternoon. Should the game be a dull one, the announcers discuss the most banal bits of information. Even in the poorest game there is constant chatter involving one platitude after another about the laudable* performances of each and every player.
29-4. What's On?
One day each week is set aside for college football, and another for the professional brand. Most fans enjoy both varieties. Nothing can put an avid
viewer into a pique more quickly than missing an important contest. It is the dilettante who eschews
the amateur variety and watches only the professional games.
The atypical fan will watch only his home team play; however, enthusiasts will continue to view the most nondescript contests involving teams that have no connection with their own town or school. Some intrepid* fans have been known to watch high school games when that was all that was offered. Public interest in football grows each year, while interest in other sports may be on the wane.
on the spur of the moment
on impulse, without thinking
On the spur of the moment he turned thumbs down* on the new job.
a fly in the ointment
some small thing that spoils or lessens the enjoyment
He was offered a lucrative* position with the firm, but the fly in the ointment was that he would have to work on Saturday and Sunday.
to take French leave
to go away without permission
The star player was fined $100 when he took French leave from the training camp.
in the arms of Morpheus
asleep; Morpheus was the Roman god of dreams
The day's activities were so enervating,* he was soon in the arms of Morpheus.
Each Citizen's Obligation
Of all the democracies in the world, the United States has the most lackluster record when it comes to citizen participation in elections. Every four years the experts try to analyze the reasons for voter apathy.
Often the eligible voter turnout at election time falls below 50%. This, after months of political campaigning, including televised debates, is a pathetic situation.
No matter how hard the candidates woo the voters, the end results are often disappointing. Are the voters so indolent that they would rather stay home watching television than cast a ballot? Does the voter feel that the candidates are stating one platitude after another and is therefore turned off?
The right to vote is so precious that revolutions have taken place where it has been denied. The civil rights struggles of the past were sparked by those who had been denied this right. The greatest adversary of democracy in this country is said to be the failure of citizen participation in the election process.
30-1. In Days Gone By
The man who best described the now extinct life aboard a steamer on the Mississippi River is Mark Twain. Having actually worked aboard the river boats, his writing captures the tranquil
events of those days.
In his book about life on the Mississippi, Twain recalls the idyllic times when man was not in such a great rush to get from one place to another. One chapter deals with the races conducted between the swiftest of the boats.
When a race was set, the excitement would galvanize activity along the river. Politics and the weather were forgotten, and people talked with gusto* only of the coming race. The two steamers "stripped" and got ready;
every encumbrance that might slow the passage was removed. Captains went to extremes to lighten their boats. Twain writes of one captain who scraped the paint from the gaudy figure that hung between the chimneys of his steamer.
30-2. The John J. Roe
Mark Twain's boat was so slow no other steamer would condescend to race with it. With the utmost candor, Twain comments that his boat moved at such a pathetic* pace, they used to forget in what year it was they left port. Nothing would mortify Twain more than the fact that ferryboats, waiting to cross the river,
would lose valuable trips because their passengers grew senile
and died waiting for his boat, the John J. Roe, to pass. Mark Twain wrote in a jocose manner about the races his steamer had with islands and rafts. With quiet humor he continued to malign the riverboat, but his book is replete
with love for this sort of life.
30-3. The Riverboat Pilot
The riverboat pilot was a man considered omnipotent by all. Mark Twain once held that high position. He writes that he felt at the zenith of his life at that time. Starting out as a fledgling pilot's apprentice, he could not abjure* dreams of the time he would become, "the only unfettered and entirely independent human being that lived in the earth." Kings, parliaments, and newspaper editors, Twain comments, are hampered and restricted.
The river pilot issued peremptory commands as absolute monarch. The captain was powerless to interfere. Even though the pilot was much younger than the captain, and the steamer seemed to be in imminent
danger, the older man was helpless. The captain had to behave impeccably,
for any criticism of the pilot would establish a pernicious* precedent that would have undermined the pilot's limitless authority.
30-4. The Double Cross
Many incidents that took place aboard his ship are re-told by Twain. One has to do with a wealthy cattle man who was approached by three gamblers. The cattle farmer had let it be known that he had a great deal of money, and the gamblers were trying to wheedle him into a card game. He protested that he knew nothing about cards. His rustic appearance confirmed that fact. On the last night before landing the three gamblers got him drunk.
When the first hand was dealt, a jubilant expression came over his face. The betting became furious. All of the proper decorum was put aside, and ten thousand dollars soon lay on the table. With the last wager one of the gamblers showed a hand of four kings. His partner was to have dealt the sucker a hand of four queens.
At this point the victim, the charlatan, removed the veneer
of respectability, and showed a hand of four aces! One of the three professional gamblers was a clandestine
confederate of the "rich cattle farmer." They had been planning this duplicity* for many weeks.
a short nap
During the night before the big test, he studied continuously, catching forty winks now and then.
from pillar to post
from one place to another
The company was so large and spread out, he was sent from pillar to post before he found the proper official.
in the lap of the gods
out of one's own hands
I handed in my application for the job, and now it is in the lap of the gods.
He wanted to lead an ascetic* life, but his obsession with liquor was his Achilles heel.
The Environmental Society
A great deal of controversy surrounds the efforts of environmentalists to protect rare species of animals and birds from becoming extinct. In order to save these creatures from destruction stemming from a loss of forests or water pollution, environmentalists try to galvanize large numbers of people to pressure politicians into passing conservation legislation.
Often, however, these proposed peremptory laws are thought to be a burden placed upon business, resulting in a loss of employment. As the world enters the 21st century, the energy and food requirements of an increasing population are at odds with those who would set aside land for birds or animals.
There is a great temptation to malign the motives of environmental advocates. It will take people of good will and candor to resolve the many difficulties that lie ahead.
31-1. Choose Sagely*
Today, the paramount
influence in the forming of public opinion is propaganda. It is not a heresy to our democratic beliefs to state that pressure groups play an important part in our lives. Propaganda makes one vulnerable
to the influences of others. The prudent person will choose between cogent
While propaganda has the ostensible purpose of informing the public, the most fervid propagandists use methods that must be examined by the thoughtful citizen. The ability to distinguish the spurious from the true facts requires more than a perfunctory
examination of prevalent
31-2. A Free Society
In a free society it is intrinsic
that individuals and groups have the inherent
right to propagate ideas and try to win converts. We do not look upon an idea different from ours as an anomaly that should be precluded*.
Nor do we permit only innocuous or congenial
beliefs and forbid those that we believe are dubious
. In a country of competing pressures we are accosted
by a surfeit of propaganda that tends to overwhelm us. Thus, we live in a milieu of ubiquitous* bombardment from countless, and often unrecognized, propagandists.
31-3. Who Listens?
As the quantity of propaganda becomes greater, ideas are presented in more strident tones in order to overcome the increased competition. Those who are the targets of the propaganda find it more difficult to discern* between or analyze the new and expanded pressures.
The concomitant situation that develops with the stepped-up propaganda is one in which the individual retreats into a state of lassitude. He has an aversion
to all attempts to influence him. So we can see the intrinsic
weakness inherent* in an increased level of propaganda. It has the deleterious result of reducing its efficacy upon the individuals or groups who were its objective.
31-4. The People Decide
The place of propaganda in a milieu
that is not free differs from its place in an open society. In a dictatorship there is no competing propaganda. Those who dissent from the official line may do so only in a clandestine
manner. Where there is no open ferment of ideas, the possibility of discerning
the true from the spurious
In a democracy, the inevitable
arbiter of what propaganda is to be permitted is the people. It is incumbent upon each citizen to choose between competing propagandas while remaining cognizant
of the value for a democracy in the existence of all points of view.
to disregard or ignore
She was so piqued
at his uncouth
behavior, she gave him the cold shoulder for over a week.
without rhyme or reason
making no sense
Without rhyme or reason the pennant-winning baseball team decided to jettison* its manager.
final or last (swans are said to sing before they die)
The ex-champion said that if he lost this fight it would be his swan song.
to get the sack
to be discharged or fired
Despite the fact that he was so obsequious
toward the boss, he got the sack because he was lethargic
about doing his job.
Cross My Palm with Silver
People are fascinated by those who say they can predict the future. Fortune tellers continue to attract gullible customers, and horoscopes are examined daily to see if there is something deleterious to worry about in the day ahead.
One specialist who seems to have found a way to predict something of our future is the palm reader. It is her belief that a long ''life line" in the hand means the customer will enjoy longevity.
While this appears to be a spurious way to predict long life, a study done in England measured "life lines" of 100 corpses and came up with ostensible support for the claim: the length of life matched the length of line. The longer the line, the older the person lived to be.
However, there are scientists who dissent with believers in this apparent connection. The "life line" of older people is longer only because the hand becomes more wrinkled with age. Length of line is a concomitant of length of life, not the reverse, say scientists.
32-1. The Library Machine
As automation permeates
many new ideas of life, its effect upon us becomes concomitantly
more profound. Information processing and communications machines are finding their way into libraries. Here they alleviate the burden of storing and bringing out to the reader the accumulation of information
that is becoming more prodigious in this era of specialization and threatening to inundate
our already encumbered
library system. As a way to expedite the selection of pertinent* information for the reader, the machine scans 5,000 words per minute. It is the celerity of machine reading that makes automation in the library so valuable.
32-2. The Language Machine
Those who see the spread of automated machines as a nefarious
force out to usurp the proper functions of mankind have corroboration
for their belief in the language machine.
The paltry handful of expert translators with a profound* knowledge of many foreign languages leaves a wide gap in our sources of vital information. With important technological and scientific work being done abroad, it is difficult to condone the situation.
A machine may be set to treat a foreign language as a coded message that it can analyze and put into English. Perhaps it will not do an impeccable* job, but it will permit the translation of even the most trivial foreign reports and writings.
As bizarre as it might seem, machines are taking over as translators in ever increasing numbers. Don't look back at the "new words." Did you spot bizarre as a reintroduced word?
32-3. A Predicting Machine
While a machine may usurp
many menial tasks typing of letters, making out pay check sit can also work in less mundane
ways. One such example was the use of a computer to predict the results of a football game. All the information about the two teams: speed of the backs, weight of the linemen, past performances of the teams,
even the years served by the venerable coaches was fed into the machine. Extraneous material was avoided. The astute* computer printed the figure "one" for each team. While this may seem ambiguous to the average person, it represented in the succinct language of the computer the actual score of one touchdown for each side: 7-7.
32-4. A Painting Machine
There is even now a computer machine that may make other art forms archaic. Using computer methods, this machine can originate paintings and photographs. A machine that can emulate an artist is not as facetious as it may appear.
Automation is inundating,
some say with deleterious
effects, all areas of self-expression from music to literature. The most rabid adherents
of our technological progress look upon these events as singularly
favorable. They see these as harbingers* of a time when machines will do all of the labor, and man will reap the salubrious benefits.
isolated from life; not in touch with life's problems
Many artists have been said to be living in an ivory tower.
to feather one's nest
to enrich oneself on the sly or at every opportunity
He played up to his senile* aunt in the hope of feathering his nest when she made out her will.
the writing on the wall
an incident or event that shows what will happen in the future
he should have seen the writing on the wall when his girlfriend gave him only a cursory
greeting on his birthday.
on the bandwagon
joining with the majority; going along with the trend
Most advertisements showing many people using a product hope to convince the viewer to get on the bandwagon and buy the item.
A Formidable Opponent
One of the most interesting tests of a computer's ability to "think" occurred in 1992. The world's chess champion, a man of prodigious mental ability in this sport, was challenged to compete against the most powerful computer programmed to play chess.
The question was, could a machine usurp a human's place as the best chess player in the world? The match took place before hundreds of chess enthusiasts and was recorded on film.
While the computer lacked the champion's experience and emotional capacity, it worked with such celerity that it could search ahead for many thousands of choices, well beyond what any human could envision. In fact, the computer had already defeated many venerable chess masters in preparation for the contest.
The result of this test match was salubrious as far as human self-esteem was concerned. The champion won fairly easily. However, there is almost total agreement that it is only a matter of time before we have an electronic chess champion, one incapable of making a blunder. At that point it will be checkmate for all of us.
33-1. At a Loss
With the trivial
sum of five dollars in his pockets, Robert Lacy was feeling far from complacent about the future. In fact, it was his somber estimate that no matter how frugal
he was, his money would run out before the next day. He owed $3.50 in debts to friends; with the remainder he would have to eat enough to maintain his strength.
Hunger would debilitate him to the point where he could not continue his fervid
search for Evelyn. There was no hope of an impetuous stranger suddenly thrusting money upon him. There was still less solace
for him in the hope that, after all this time, he might develop the occult power that would give him a mental image of where Evelyn could be found.
33-2. Making Plans
Robert had arrived in New York a week earlier. He had begun by asking discreet questions of Evelyn's former landlord. There was no need to foment opposition at the very beginning. The landlord was recondite,
and all Robert had been able to glean from the cryptic
replies was that Evelyn had moved to a residence that catered to single women.
Robert was in a hapless
situation; in this immense city his quarry could be hiding in one of dozens of such places. This would obviate
the possibility of his dashing from one place to another in an impetuous
manner. His search, while it had to be concluded with celerity,
could not be carried out in such slovenly fashion. He required a succinct
33-3. A Newspaper Ad
On the premise
that Evelyn knew she was being sought, Robert's first step was to abjure fruitless
searching and place an ad in the leading morning newspaper. He would importune* in a most careful way for her return.
The ad read, ''Evelyn. Come out of hiding. I do not reproach you for your actions. I expect no penitent confession. There is nothing ambiguous* about my offer.
Please contact. Robert." He added a box number for a reply. When Robert went to the paper the next morning, he felt sanguine
about the chances of locating her. His evanescent concerns disappeared; there was a letter for him, and with tremulous
fingers he tore it open.
It contained one sentence, and it was tantamount to a challenge; "If you really care about me, you will find me by midnight, Friday, Evelyn."
33-4. At the Ballet
Evelyn was an anomaly
: she had a propensity for folk music and rock and roll dancing, and, at the same time, she was an avid
fan of classical ballet. At one time she had been a fledgling* ballet dancer.
Robert headed for a theater where a venerable* ballet company was performing. He knew he had to be wary so that Evelyn might not see him first.
It was Tuesday evening; two days gone with so little to show. Only three more remaining before the deadline set by Evelyn. He tried hard to allay the sudden fear that came over him that he might not locate her.
Nothing would deter him from succeeding! And so, although he was far from a connoisseur of the dance, he was standing among the throng
in the lobby, hoping it would be a propitious
evening for him.
to hit the nail on the head
to state or guess something correctly
When Charlie said there were 3,627 beans in that jar, he hit the nail on the head.
on the dot
exactly on time
Despite his having taken forty winks,* he got to his appointment on the dot.
to take under one's wing
to become responsible for
As the new term began, the senior took the freshman under her wing.
out of one's depth
in a situation that is too difficult to handle
We thought he knew the ropes,
but we found him behind the eight ball
because he was out of his depth.
Good Enough to Eat?
There seems to be universal agreement that exposure to the ultraviolet light from the sun is deleterious to one's health. Also, except for tobacco industry spokesmen, there is no dispute about the damage done to us from cigarette smoke.
What is shocking is the fact that almost everything we once regarded as either beneficial, or harmless, soon gets challenged by scientists. We are urged to abjure foods that have high fat content. There go butter and cheese. Even milk has now been added to the list of foods of which we must be wary.
Whatever diet we are on, we cannot become complacent about its nutritional value. We are left, ultimately, with the somber thought that, sooner or later, almost everything we eat or drink may be found to jeopardize our health.
Given that there are many obstacles to maintaining good health, would it be wise to embrace every new laboratory report in order to glean information? Let's not discard old, proven, sensible food habits. Also, there is always the possibility that ice cream sundaes will be found to cure baldness, and that chocolate chip cookies will eliminate our cholesterol problems.
34-1. Another Plan
Robert was far from tranquil
as he waited in the lobby for almost an hour after the performance had begun. Disgruntled,
he quit the site of his vigil. He had to face the fact that he was making no tangible* progress. Tomorrow he would telephone several women's residences.
It was a cumbersome way of going about the hunt, but it was all that he could think of at the moment. He would interrogate the desk clerks, and perhaps he might uncover a pertinent
clue to Evelyn's whereabouts. If he could only get someone to divulge her hiding place! Perhaps tomorrow would culminate
34-2. A Hope Dashed
The next day, Wednesday, saw Robert become more frustrated.
He would fluctuate between high hopes of finding Evelyn and unmitigated despair when he was almost ready to desist
in his search. The phone calls had elicited* almost nothing. Robert had rushed to one women's residence when the clerk described a girl who might just be Evelyn.
The desk clerk phoned to her room on the pretext
that she had a special delivery letter. Robert waited in the commodious lobby, replete
with large, antiquated pieces of furniture. He watched from a discreet
distance as she came down the stairs. One look at her wan
dress, and disheveled hair was enough to inform Robert that he needed no further scrutiny.
This could not be his impeccable* Evelyn.
34-3. To the Police
Thursday was his next-to-last day. He had been tenacious in following up every lead. Now he was behind the eight ball.
He could hardly galvanize
himself to do anything else. The facade of hope he had worn for almost a week was crumbling; there was nothing left to be sanguine
about. In desperation he turned to the police and placed his problem within their jurisdiction.
They asked many questions, and they requested that he not expurgate
anything. Some of the questions seemed asinine. When they inquired about his relationship to the missing girl, he replied, with a grimace, "Fiancee." When they suggested she might be hiding in that part of the city where the "punk" coterie
congregated, he was incredulous* and accused the police of calumny against her good name and reputation.
34-4. Evelyn Discovered
Failure was imminent,
and Robert was bereft
of hope. It was now Friday. Despite his abstemious
way of living, his money had been reduced to a mere pittance.
impulse brought him to the section where young people in strange clothing and with uncouth
manners made him recoil
disgust. He had never been au courant with the "hippies" and "punks." He was always fastidious about proper dress and behavior.
A moment later he saw her! Evelyn! She was sitting at a table in a coffee shop, surrounded by a coterie
of the most noisome individuals he had ever seen. Evelyn was not incongruous,
for she herself was unkempt. So this was her new habitat!
At that instant Robert knew as an incontrovertible
fact that he had lost her. With a grimace,
he turned and walked, a doleful* and melancholy figure, toward the bus depot and home.
to take a leaf out of someone's book
to imitate or follow the example
The chip off the old block
took a leaf from his father's book and never sowed wild oats
the real problem or situation
After some moments of congenial
they got down to brass tacks.
hook, line, and sinker
completely, all the way
The teacher fell for the practical joke hook, line, and sinker.
The lily-livered gangster got cold feet
and spilled the beans.
Women in the Ring
What sport requires the timing of tennis, the energy of aerobics, the stamina of cross-country running, and the physical contact of football?
The answer is: boxing. And now that seemingly male spectacle is attracting women. What was once viewed as unmitigated brutality has been transformed in gymnasiums across the country into the latest form of workout, weight reduction, and energy stimulator.
To suggest that women should not expose themselves to the sharp jabs and powerful uppercuts of boxing because they are the "weaker" sex is asinine. Properly trained by experts, in good shape from punching bags and jumping rope, women can be as tenacious in the ring as men.
With women jockeys, race car drivers, hockey goalies, and basketball players, it would require a man with antiquated prejudice, if not sheer ignorance, to argue that boxing is solely a man's sport. Anyone who is au courant with the status of liberated women need not be surprised by their entry into the ring.
35-1. A Modern Aesop
The telling of a story in simple terms that has an inherently
important message is a venerable
art form. The parable may be found teaching a moral lesson in the Bible. Aesop is an incontrovertible
master of the fable. This story form is far from antiquated
as shown by the whimsical approach to life taken by the modern Aesop, James Thurber.
His stories lampoon the strange behavior of his fellow men. Thurber seems unable to countenance the ideas that permeate
our society regarding the rules by which we should live. Least of all is he able to accept the sanctimonious notion that some people promulgate
that good always wins out against evil. Thurber's stories often take an exactly opposite didactic* point of view.
35-2. Modernizing a Parable*
Thurber punctures in an incisive
way the platitudes
that come from stories handed down through the generations. These old saws are accepted by everyone. One such tale is about a tortoise who had read in an ancient book that a tortoise had beaten a hare in a race.
old tortoise construed
this story to mean that he could outrun a hare. With equanimity he hunted for a hare and soon found one. "Do you have the effrontery to challenge me?" asked the incredulous* hare.
"You are a nonentity," he scoffed
at the tortoise. A course of fifty feet was set out. The other animals gathered around the site
. At the sound of the gun they were off. When the hare crossed the finish line, the flabbergasted tortoise had gone approximately eight and three-quarter inches.
The moral Thurber draws from this debacle for the tortoise: A new broom may sweep clean, but never trust an old saw. Which of the five "new words" have you seen before? Answer with equanimity.
35-3. Things Have Changed
Thurber modernizes an old story that everyone has read or heard. It has to do with a nefarious
wolf who kept a vigil
in an ominous* forest until a little girl came along carrying a basket of food for her grandmother.
With alacrity,* this vivacious youngster told the wolf the address to which she was going. Hungry and gaunt the wolf rushed to the house. When the girl arrived and entered, she saw someone in bed wearing a nightcap and a nightgown.
While the figure was dressed like her grandmother, the little girl surmised
with only a perfunctory
glance that it didn't have the old lady's mien. She approached and became cognizant* of the hirsute face of the wolf.
She drew a revolver from her purse and shot the interloper* dead. Thurber arrives at a moral for this story that anyone would find difficult to refute: It is not so easy to fool little girls nowadays as it used to be.
35-4. Another Surprise
Thurber's stories are written in a jocose* manner, but they contain enough serious matter to make one pensive. He tells of some builders who left a pane of glass standing upright in a field near a house they were constructing.
A goldfinch flew across the field, struck the glass and was knocked inert.
He rushed back and divulged
to his friends that the air had crystallized. The other birds derided
him, said he had become irrational,
and gave a number of reasons for the accident.
The only bird who believed the goldfinch was the swallow. The goldfinch challenged the large birds to follow the same path he had flown. This challenge served to whet their interest, and they agreed with gusto.
Only the swallow abjured.
The large birds flew together and struck the glass; they were knocked into a stupor. This caused the astute
swallow to wince with pain. Thurber drew a moral that is the antithesis
of the cliche we all accept: He who hesitates is sometimes saved.
to pull up stakes
to quit a place
He could no longer rule the roost
or get the lion's share,
so he pulled up stakes and moved on.
to raise Cain
to cause trouble, make a fuss
When he found he was left holding the bag,* he decided to raise Cain.
to leave no stone unturned
to try one's best, to make every effort
Since you're from Missouri,* I'll leave no stone unturned to convince you.
tongue in one's cheek
not to be sincere
John's father surely had his tongue in his cheek when he told his son to go sow wild oats
and to kick over the traces
at his kindergarten party.
Beam Me Up, Scotty
In 1966 a television program appeared that quickly established itself as the most successful science fiction series, moved on to become six popular films, and continues in reruns to be seen somewhere in this country every night of the year.
This original series, Star Trek, became so popular that there are huge fan clubs across the country and the stars of the original series are mobbed when they make personal appearances.
What makes this form of science fiction so popular? Some may say that each story of the future is a parable showing us our own world through a presentation of other worlds. There are those who would refute this analysis and argue that it is the odd characters, the hirsute aliens, who attract us. We watch with equanimity as worlds battle, knowing it will turn out well in the end.
After many years and many TV episodes and movies, "Star Trek" and its successors continue to whet our appetite and bring excitement to our screens. As long as space remains an almost total mystery, the unexplained will capture our imaginations.
36-1. A Lady Novelist
The nineteenth century saw the woman novelist attain the same prestige
as men. England was prolific
in producing women writers. One of the foremost in this genre was Charlotte Bronte In Jane Eyre she presented a candid portrait of a woman caught up in a clandestine
affair with a married man. Miss Bronte's readers were engrossed
in this story.
She took this unsavory subject and presented it in a way that did not degrade the relationship. She showed that true passion can be healthy. Miss Bronte did not disparage
Jane's feelings or besmirch
her character. The author was generous in her verdict. The affair was considered merely a venial sin because Jane was never false in her feelings or her actions.
36-2. Victor Hugo
The epitome of French romantic writers in the nineteenth century was Victor Hugo. With the utmost dexterity he wrote poetry, novels, and drama. His highly popular novels, Notre Dame de Paris and Les Miserables, are replete* with melodramatic situations and grotesque characters.
He had a profound
sense of social justice and a compassion for the poor, hapless,
and downtrodden. He could not work under the aegis
of Napoleon II and fled into exile. When the repugnant rule came to an end, the expatriate
returned from exile. He was received with adulation* and acclaim as the idol of the Third Republic.
36-3. An English Realist
The movement toward realism in the English novel of the nineteenth century reached its acme with the works of Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray. Charles Dickens was a prolific
writer. Among his copious works are Oliver Twist, a candid
exposure of the repugnant* poor laws; Nicholas Nickleby, in which the life of boys in a boarding school is vehemently attacked;
Hard Times, in which the author wanted to depict the infamous
life in a factory during an early period of the industrial revolution; The Pickwick Papers, about a naive gentleman who has numerous misadventures. The novels, aimed at exposing the sordid
elements of English life, were said to have helped galvanize
people into action leading to improvement in these conditions.
36-4. A Scheming Heroine
William Makepeace Thackeray was known for his moralistic study of upper and middle class English life. His best known work, Vanity Fair, has as its central character Becky Sharp. She is a perfidious woman who has an insatiable
desire to get ahead in the world. She covets the wealth of one man, but when marriage is not feasible
she succeeds in a plan to ingratiate herself into the heart of her employer's son.
Their marriage is not a salubrious
one and Becky, who lives ostentatiously,
forms a surreptitious
liaison with another man. The affair culminates
in a debacle.* She is exposed, her husband leaves her, and she must live in penury in Europe. This is the ignominious end for a clever, but misguided woman.
keep a stiff upper lip
keep up courage, stand up to trouble
When he heard through the grapevine
that the fat was in the fire,
he knew he had to keep a stiff upper lip so as not to spill the beans.*
to throw the book at someone
to give the maximum punishment
The judge got his back up* and threw the book at the criminal.
solid, firm land
The rough ocean crossing took the wind out of his sails*, and he was happy to be on terra firma again.
in seventh heaven
the highest happiness or delight
The oldest child was in seventh heaven when her mother let her rule the roost* for a day.
1492 - 1992
We are all aware that 1992 was the year during which there were copious reminders that it marked the 500th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in this part of the hemisphere.
Along with the celebrations and historical reenactments, there was controversy regarding the lives of those who had been here for many centuries before that fateful event.
Historical research shows that it would be extremely naive to believe that ''civilization" began on this continent with Columbus' arrival. The Native American tribes had formed nations and had come together in an organization known as the Five Nations. They had regulations for governance that were the epitome of self-rule and that became the models on which our Constitution was partly based.
It was to remove the ignominious portrayal of the Native American as savage and wild that historians adopted 1992 as the year to depict them in their true light as members of civilizations worthy of study and respect.
37-1. A Man of Nature
Henry Thoreau attempted to confront the problem and solve the enigma
of how one might earn a living and yet not become an ignominious
slave to the task. He viewed the industrial revolution with antipathy. Man in a servile role to extraneous* possessions was a main target of his writings.
He believed that one could attain genuine wealth not by accumulating objects or money, but through enjoyment and perusal
of nature. By his own volition he gave up friends and comforts for a two year sojourn by himself at Walden Pond. What others might judge as penury,
was seen by Thoreau as the epitome* of wealth.
37-2. The Good Life
Thoreau's book about the austere but happy life at Walden Pond propagated
his fame around the world. He built a small hut and began living an ascetic
existence. He found it to be a felicitous experience. In this idyllic* setting he was able to spend his time reading, studying nature, writing, and thinking.
Far from being indolent,* he kept busy in many ways. At the end of the experiment he recalled the halcyon days with pleasure. He believed he had learned the secret of the truly happy life. The only tenable way of life is one in harmony with nature; material possessions are superfluous.
37-3. The Mind's Secrets
The study of the human mind and behavior has had many prominent practitioners, but no one is more revered* than Sigmund Freud. An Austrian physician, he is said to be the father of psychoanalysis.
He taught that man has a subconscious mind in which he keeps repugnant
memories that come to the surface surreptitiously
and motivate behavior. Man often tries to rationalize his actions, when, in reality, they are really the result of suppressed memories coming to the surface.
Freud's approach to the disturbed person was to attempt therapy by examining the dreams that make cognizant* what the cause of the illness might be. Only with the airing of deleterious, buried emotions can the person move from the nascent stage to that of full health.
Freud was considered an iconoclast in the field of psychology when his ideas first appeared at the beginning of the twentieth century.
37-4. Amateur Psychologists
The ideas of Freudian psychology have become part of our everyday life. Our language is replete
that have their origin in Freud's writings.
There is a surfeit
of amateur psychologists who, with celerity,
analyze an individual's problems from the slightest evidence. Despite their dubious* education and training in this field, they discuss symptoms and cures on a most erudite fashion.
Should a person express a fear of height, this phobia is examined; events from childhood are considered germane to the problem. Is it possible he or she was dropped as an infant? Perhaps something in a dream is pertinent* to explain the feelings of vertigo that accompany height.
For some reason, non-trained people find the Freudian approach to the workings of the human mind most conducive to their practicing as amateur psychologists.
to tighten one's belt
to get set for bad times or poverty
He knew he would have to draw in his horns
and tighten his belt or he would wind up on skid row
off the beaten track
not usual, out of the ordinary
Because his ideas were always off the beaten track, he lived under a sword of Damocles* on his job.
a square peg in a round hole
an able man in the wrong job
It was a bitter pill to swallow* when they had to fire him because he was a square peg in a round hole.
to upset the apple cart
to overturn or disturb a plan or intention
It was a bitter pill to swallow
when they upset the apple cart and elected a dark horse.
Make My Ostrich Burger Well Done
Just about 100 years ago, there arose an industry in the state of Arizona that seems very odd to us today. We know of cattle ranches and sheep ranches, but would you believe . . . ostrich ranches? This nascent business became popular as women found ostrich feathers a felicitous addition to their wardrobes.
Ostriches are easy to raise. They eat and drink less than cattle, and their eggs are large enough to feed ten people! During the halcyon days of ostrich ranching, feathers were sold for as much as $300 a pound, so it is easy to see why that business was so attractive.
However, women's fashions changed after World War I, and the market for ostrich plumes fell. Growers had to confront a shrinking market. The price tumbled to about $10 for a bird. As ostrich feathers became superfluous in the fashion world, ostrich ranching came to an end.
Interestingly enough, ostrich ranchers may be coming back into vogue because nutritionists tell us that ostrich meat is low in cholesterol. We may not go wild over the feathers, but pass the lean meat, please. Hold the mayo, too.
38-1. The Enigma* of Fashion
Of all the pressures young people face, the most pernicious
is that of fashion. By this is meant the current vogue
in dress. The teenagers, who are so glib when they speak of "individuality," are turned into a homogeneous mass by the latest craze in fashion.
How can youngsters who vehemently
resist advice from the older generation become so malleable in the hands of those who "make" fashion? Perhaps the sudden shifts in fashion occur fortuitously
Or is there some group who, through legerdemain, switches styles and customs on us right before our eyes? Today's teenagers seem to be quite gullible
when it comes to embracing the latest trend in fashions. But then, they have their elders as sage
examples to follow.
38-2. The Economics of Fashion
In dress, the fashion appears to be "set" by a few foreign designers and a handful of affluent* individuals who purchase these designs.
The fashion industry is cognizant
of the fact that fashions must change rapidly and often or their economy would become stagnant. For this industry it would prove fatal if it were not vigilant
and prepared well in advance for a new fashion trend.*
As the old fashion becomes passe and a new fashion seems to be in the making, the garment manufacturers cannot afford to procrastinate. They rush large sums of money into production for a mass market.
Having invested heavily, the manufacturers do everything possible to influence and motivate
the purchasers. Through every facet of publicity and advertising the industry exploits
the natural desire for people to be au courant* with the latest fashions.
38-3. What Next?
Once the fashion industry has been able to foist a new style on the teenager, the older generation tends to stigmatize it as some form of rebellion. What is often ignored is that the young consumers capitulate to what is originated* by someone outside of their group.
The feelings of individuality and audacity that the teenager gets from a new style of dress result from the propensity
of their elders to disparage
The actual situation is that the clothing fashions soon become accepted by all; there is nothing upsetting or revolutionary about them. While people are becoming complacent* about the "new," the clothing industry is busy planning how to tantalize the teenager with next year's "fashion."
decision is guaranteed to foment
consternation* among adults once again in the following year.
38-4. Something for Everyone
To the derogatory
comments from the older generation the teenagers might retort that new fashions and styles are adopted by the elders with alacrity.
Though they complain, women emulate* their daughters by shortening or lengthening their hems.
They may appear reticent about the bother and expense of altering their wardrobe, but they give tacit approval to the change by rushing to the department stores where they jostle* each other to buy copies of the more expensive dresses.
The conclusion one might reach after observing how women countenance
changes year after year is that they are naive* or victims of some chicanery practiced by the clothing industry.
Women may appear hapless
before the intimidation
of ''style," but the real truth may lie in the fact that they are so docile because they secretly enjoy the yearly excitement around the latest fashions. There's another familiar word reintroduced today. Did you recognize reticent?
by hook or by crook
any way at all, at any cost
He had bought the white elephant
without rhyme or reason
; now he had to get rid of it by hook or by crook.
to get up on the wrong side of the bed
to be in a bad mood
When his mother raised Cain
about his slovenly
room, he accused her of getting up on the wrong side of the bed.
castles in the air
a dream about some wonderful future
People on Skid Row* often build castles in the air.
to maintain the status quo
to keep things as they are
You hit the nail on the head
when you said we ought to maintain the status quo and not change horses in midstream.
Is there anyone you know who can remember a time when there was no television? Perhaps a grandparent, but no one much younger is able to do so. At the beginning, only a handful of stations existed.
Early programs imitated each other and tended to be homogeneous. Some time later, there was the cable TV expansion and greater variety was available. The developing trend was for ever-larger numbers of programs dealing with information as well as entertainment.
The TV industry, never reticent when it comes to expanding viewer interests, brought even more channels to the air, broadcasting 24 hours every day of the week. The objective was to tantalize special groups with programs directed to special tastes and interests.
Soon channels devoted to games, to how to fix or make things, to romance dramas, to cartoons, etc., sprang into existence. It appears that every facet of a viewer's interest is being addressed.
As more and more channels come on the air, as the result of new technology, the variety is expanding beyond anything imagined by those who can recall the beginnings of this magical medium.
39-1. Rule, Brittania
An unforgettable saga of World War II has to do with the small French coastal town of Dunkirk. There, in 1940, thousands of British troops made a belated escape from the awesome
power of the German army and air force. They were removed by an array
of private boats, from huge yachts to decrepit fishing boats.
At their own volition,
the skippers came close to the shore, while German planes bombed implacably.
They remained imperturbable under heavy fire. When their vessels were loaded, they dashed back to England.
Once unloaded, they did not vacillate, but returned with equanimity
to their vigil
in the danger zone. The British proved once again that they are paragons
of comradeship in times of jeopardy.
39-2. The Good Guys vs. The Bad Guys
The international adventure stories prevalent
on television follow meticulously
a plot that is inexorable
in its development. Those on the side of law and justice face perfidious
men and organizations.
These are anathema
to those values the staunch heroes would defend. These infamous
men have no capacity for compassion,* and they treat the lovely women with opprobrium.
heroes are placed in deleterious
situations as a result of the Machiavellian maneuvers of their opponents. One unconscionable act of duplicity* follows another until the total destruction of the "good guys" seems at hand.
At the last moment, usually amidst the pandemonium of a battle, the cause for which the heroes strive triumphs. However, evil is ubiquitous,
and next week another fracas
39-3. A Famous Mutiny
One of the most repugnant
names in popular legend is that of Captain William Bligh. He was the captain of the H.M.S. Bounty in 1789, and the mutiny that erupted
aboard that ship was the basis for a film in which Charles Laughton portrayed Bligh as an awesome
bully and an unmitigated
villain. He would flay both the body and the spirit of anyone who crossed him.
The crew developed such an aversion* to Bligh's mortifying actions and demeanor that, led by Fletcher Christian, they set the captain and 17 shipmates off in a lifeboat in the South Pacific. The ship continued to the Pitcairn Islands where the crew remained to live with the islanders.
Laughton's delineation of Bligh remains as the image we have of him. Only recently has any attempt been made to vindicate Captain Bligh and to remove the heinous reputation that permeates* history.
39-4. Fair Play!
Recently, there has been an attempt to improve Captain Bligh's tainted
image. Historians maintain that there was no turpitude in Bligh's actions aboard the H.M.S. Bounty. Perhaps he was imprudent
in failing to keep his temper under control.
While an infraction aboard ship was quickly criticized, Bligh never carried out those callous actions the movie dramatized in order to depict
an evil man, say his defenders. After the mutiny, Captain Bligh astutely
navigated the lifeboat with the other 17 men for over 3,000 miles to safety.
This prodigious* feat alone, say those who would restore Bligh's good name, should be enough to allow for a full redress of the wrongs that have been blamed on him for over 150 years.
While the coterie
defending Captain Bligh do not ask the public to praise him, they do request a more benevolent
attitude toward this traditionally
figure, and an end to the vituperation heaped upon him for these many years.
a sacred cow
a person or thing that cannot be criticized (From India, where cows may not be harmed because of religious rules)
I decided to throw down the gauntlet
by exposing the boss's son who had been ruling the roost
as the sacred cow of the business.
through thick and thin
in spite of all sorts of difficulties
He decided to stick with his fair weather friends* through thick and thin.
to take by storm
to make a fast impression
The new opera star took the critics by storm and carried the day.*
to be in fine fettle
to be in high spirits, or feeling well
He did a lot of woolgathering
and was in fine fettle during the whole of the Indian summer.
Psst . . . Need World Series Tickets?
Think about this for a moment. Is there anything wrong in buying something for one dollar and reselling it for two dollars? Naturally, you would be correct if you saw nothing amiss with this transaction; it's the way a capitalist economy works.
But, if you bought a ticket to a rock concert or baseball game for ten dollars and sold it for twenty, you would be committing an infraction of the law. You might ask, "What's so heinous about this?"
The answer is that you would be guilty of the practice known as "scalping." Does an individual who offers a scarce ticket at a price above the original price deserve the opprobrium connected with the word ''scalping"?
These hard-working and risk-taking individuals see themselves as go-betweens in a world where people are willing to spend additional money for a popular event.
However, law enforcement officials remain imperturbable in the face of all reason as they arrest and fine these enterprising salesmen.
Those staunch believers in punishing law-breakers find nothing wrong with trying to halt the scalping of tickets. For others, it is a way of doing business that they claim hurts no one and is in keeping with a profit-driven economy.
40-1. A Political Show
There are few forms of entertainment more enjoyable than watching a glib
politician run for office. Most politicians have prepared speeches dealing with the prevalent
topics of the day.
They can maintain a fervid* flow of rhetoric for hours at a time. In each locality where he is to appear, the advance work is prepared by a clique of trustworthy aides.
In preparation for the show, they have dispersed
leaflets, put up posters, and sent out cars and trucks with loudspeakers to extol the erudite
qualities of their candidate. Soon, the crowd gathers. Loyal party workers come forward to shake the hand of their mentor.
Now, with the facile solutions to complex problems carefully memorized, the show is ready to begin. One moment facetious,
the next moment profound,
the candidate works to convince the incredulous* among the voters.
40-2. Getting a Good Look
The television press interview is conducive
to close scrutiny
of a candidate. His public speeches may contain many cant phrases, but a sharp question by an astute* reporter can destroy a cliche filled statement.
The politician now will procrastinate
in his answer; a new facet
of his personality may be revealed by his demeanor.
Perhaps he will take umbrage at a suggestion that he favors the affluent.
His record is searched for evidence that he has been equally magnanimous to the indigent.
He accuses the reporter of attempting to vilify him. Is he being accused of turpitude
in office? It is time to discreetly* go on to another topic.
The candidate wishes to extol
the virtues of his program and record. The press wants to allude
to things that keep him in the midst of controversy. They insist that he elucidate positions that the politician would rather leave in a nebulous* state.
40-3. Seeing Is Learning
While we are all cognizant
of the importance of words to create certain impressions, gesture is relegated
to a much lesser role. Gestures are an important concomitant* to even the most vapid speech, enhancing it and giving the hearer something to look at while he listens.
The value of seeing at the same time as listening was shown when a class at a university, unwieldy because of its large size, was split up. One group was put into a room in close proximity to good loudspeakers.
of the lecturer's voice could be heard clearly. Because they had no person on whom to place their attention, they soon took on the appearance of extreme lassitude most students became lethargic
and rested their heads on their desks.
The separation of visual and aural communication tended to vitiate the learning process. The listening group received grades lower than those received by those who could look at as well as hear the instructor. Once more your keen eye and memory were being tested. Did you recognize lassitude as being from an earlier lesson?
40-4. The Hammy Old Days
Actors depend upon their ability to gesticulate
almost as much as upon speech to obtain their desired histrionic
effects. With them, gesture serves much more than merely to augment speech.
When their communication is by gesture alone, it is called pantomime. In the early silent motion picture period, gestures were flamboyant.
To show that he was distraught
about the danger in which the heroine had been placed, the hero would go through the most fatuous actions.
He would stagger, beat his breast, tear his hair, and contort his face into the most doleful
appearance. There weren't many simple or restrained gestures in his repertoire. The heroine, to indicate her love, would fling her arms wide and ardently
jump into her sweetheart's arms.
It was only much later that actors became skilled enough to communicate with the audience through discreet
gestures and almost imperceptible changes in facial expression that could transmit nuances
to live in a fool's paradise
to be happy without a real basis
He lived in a fool's paradise while he sowed wild oats
, but he soon had to pay the piper.
the sum and substance
the heart or substantial part
The sum and substance of our pyrrhic victory
was that our hopes for a stable future had gone up in smoke.
on pins and needles
to be on edge, jumpy
He was on pins and needles while he cooled his heels* in the principal's office.
to have at one's fingertips
to have thorough knowledge, to have ready
He had at his fingertips an extensive repertoire.*
In Thailand, Mum's the Word
In this country we take for granted our right to speak out about our elected officials in any way we wish, without fear of arrest or imprisonment.
The most disrespectful language is allowed. While some may take umbrage at an insult against the president, our Constitution protects that right.
Now, consider the country of Thailand. That land in southeastern Asia is ruled by a king. What happens to an individual who fails to extol this monarch?
There is a case of a person who joked that if he were king he could sleep late every day and drink wine in the afternoon. For this somewhat fatuous remark, he was sent to prison for seven years. Or take the story of the woman who was hanging up the king's photograph.
When the police asked her what she was doing, she replied, "I'm nailing it up there on my wall." She said "it" instead of ''the king's photograph" and for this imperceptible alleged insult, she also was sent away for seven years. While some U.S. citizens may vilify our leaders, in Thailand the less said the better.
41-1. Queen of the Supermarket
The American housewife is queen of all she surveys in the supermarket. She decides what items shall be purchased. Grocery manufacturers are well aware of her power to make one product a success and another a failure.
They spend huge sums developing new products with which to curry her favor. Fearful that a successful product will soon begin to pall, the manufacturers, without cessation,
come out with "new and improved" versions to whet
Sometimes it is only a box or package that has been changed perhaps a colorful photo of a succulent meal on a TV dinner box. In the larger supermarkets the housewife is faced with a satiety of merchandise, particularly in the copiously* stocked laundry detergent section.
While there may be almost no intrinsic difference among the many brands, advertising and packaging serves to importune* her to buy one rather than another. Did you spot it? The "new word" you've seen before? It's intrinsic.
41-2. It's What's Outside That Counts
Packaging of grocery items is a facet* of advertising that is too little appreciated by consumers. Walking up and down the aisles of a supermarket, one seldom stops to analyze the individual package in the potpourri of items on the shelves.
The manufacturer had to glean
and test many different designs before he accepted the one you see in the array
before you. Before he will sanction the use of a particular can, box, or bottle, he must know many things about its efficacy.*
He wants to know if the colors attract: a white box may denote cleanliness, a red one, strength. There may be a photo or a drawing that will allude to the product's use or special qualities. A lackluster
package may be fatal.
Next, the size and shape are important elements.
The housewife may want a small package for easy storing, but a larger package may suggest economy. A round bottle may look attractive, but a square one is easier to stack. These are some of the insidious aspects of packaging, the main purpose of which is to attract your attention as you peruse* the crowded supermarket shelves.
41-3. "Tried and True"
Few question the propriety of the current haste on the part of manufacturers to bring out "new and improved" products at the prevalent* rate.
At one time, in the dim, distant past before the advent of television, it was the vogue
for products to be advertised on the merits of their "tried and true" qualities. Few advertisers were impious enough to jettison
any part of a product that had been accepted by the public.
Year after year, the local grocery store owner would proffer the same box of cereal, the same house cleaner. The acceptance was of the time-tested product,
and it appeared almost unconscionable
for the manufacturer to change his merchandise. Today's spate of transient
products would have been considered an anomaly* in those days.
41-4. What's in a Name?
Supermarkets now carry their own products to compete with the national brands. These "house" brands are not in a felicitous* position because they cannot be advertised widely.
Supermarkets overcome this encumbrance
by making these brands less expensive. Many people believe the shibboleth, "You get what you pay for," and they purchase items on the premise
that quality varies as the price does.
Are the claims made by nationally advertised brands bogus? How can one bread company substantiate its nutritive superiority over another?
As there is no incontrovertible
evidence, the more expensive bread (or coffee, etc.) must compensate
by increased advertising. They make inordinate
claims, using those raucous techniques proven so successful in convincing the frugal
consumer to switch to a more costly brand.
a pretty kettle of fish
a mess, troubles
He thought it was an innocent white lie,* but it got him into a pretty kettle of fish.
the acid test
a severe test
The new job was an acid test of his ability to bring home the bacon.*
a blind alley
a direction that leads nowhere
The modus operandi
was leading up a blind alley and they were barking up the wrong tree.
to twist around one's finger
to control completely
He winked at* the little girl's bad behavior; she had him twisted around her finger.
One of the most insidious forms of discrimination is that based upon age. We have become aware through publicity and education that bias and discrimination based upon race, color, creed, and sex are not to be accepted.
Through laws passed by the Congress of the United States and by individual states, we agree that using these criteria for hiring, promoting, or firing in the workplace is a bogus and undemocratic excuse. Many lawsuits have supported this most basic right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" protected by our Constitution.
Why is it, then, that so few question the propriety of preventing those viewed as "too old" from getting positions, or, if already on the job, promotions? Advanced age also leads to the firing of such employees and their replacement with younger applicants.
Is there something intrinsic in youth that suggests that older workers cannot do the job as well? Until age discrimination goes the way of all of the other forms of prejudice, we may continue to sanction the reasoning that "younger is better."
42-1. You Can't Help But Watch
The consumer is in a quandary about making a felicitous
selection among the array
of products. The advertisers must influence the malleable* consumer, and often they do it in the most callous ways.
Television offers many tangible
advantages for reaching the consumer. As a result, the consumer is inundated
The advertiser knows that a television commercial is the most expedient way to reach large numbers of people. The cost for each commercial film is prodigious,* but because the audience is so large, the cost per viewer is negligible.
Each commercial is prepared in the most meticulous* way in order to catch the attention of even the most blase viewer and hold it until the message is through. The reintroduced "new word" should have stood out immediately. Did it? It's callous, of course.
42-2. Tricks of the Trade
Some television commercials, trying to break through the ennui built up in the viewer by the plethora
of competition, employ humor. Others feature a comely girl as a pretext
for getting the viewer to stay tuned in. At times raucous
music, accompanied by some frenetic activities, is designed to preclude
the viewer's loss of attention.
The advertiser will employ every bit of artifice at the film maker's command to make a trenchant
commercial. The diversity of appeals made to the viewer is a concomitant
of the many ways people react to commercials. A great deal of time and money has gone into placing the consumer's psychological make-up under scrutiny.*
42-3. Going to the Source
The wide diversity
of reasons people have for buying one product rather than another are investigated by the advertising people in order to prepare efficacious
They do not have the slightest qualm about questioning the consumer about personal things in her own domicile.
The consumer is requested not to expurgate her answers. Generally, people are not reticent
and do not begrudge giving the time and effort.
The questions delve rather deeply, and what the artless responses divulge
will help the advertiser decide what to put into his next commercial. After a large number of interviews, the copious
results make it feasible
how well the commercial will do.
The interviewer usually offers no gratuity to the person who has helped, but often a sample of the product is proffered* as thanks.
42-4. It Seems to Work
Despite the antipathy
toward commercials expressed by the viewers, the remarkable success of television commercials in selling products makes it manifest that the advertiser has gleaned
what the viewer wants to see and hear from his research interview.
This has helped the advertiser delve deeply into what motivates* people when they go into the supermarket to purchase products.
The advertising agency is never capricious and can vindicate
spending large sums of money on research. Having uncovered what the public wants, the advertiser expedites
putting the requisite words, music, and photographs of the product on film.
He will thus replenish the never-ending, ubiquitous
television commercial supply in the hope that the consumer will remember some facet
of the film and buy the product.
to do one's heart good
to make one feel happy or better
It did my heart good to see that inveterate
eat humble pie.*
worth one's weight in gold
extremely valuable, very useful
The coach said the new star center was worth his weight in gold.
to make the best of a bad bargain
to change or go along with a poor situation
After he bought the white elephant,
he made the best of a bad bargain and let sleeping dogs lie.
to make ends meet
to manage on a given income
He turned thumbs down* on a new car; he was having enough trouble making ends meet, as it was.
An Historic Date
One event that takes place so rarely that almost no one alive when it happens can remember the previous occurrence is the changing of the century number.
The passing of the requisite number of years brings about the end of the 20th century and the advent of the 21st. Is there anyone blase enough to reach this historic date without experiencing the excitement of this once-in-a-lifetime moment?
While we may feel that events in our lifetime happen in a capricious way, the stroke of midnight on December 31, 2000, ushered in a new century. It served as a time to reflect upon the diversity of events in our lives, both positive and negative, that the 20th century encompassed.
It is obvious to all that the past 100 years have altered the world in ways no one could anticipate at the end of the 19th century. There are many who delve into the past and make predictions for the new century. December 31, 2000, was a time for reflection and promise.
43-1. It Takes More than Medicine
If one were to look at the roster of physical handicaps, one would reach the somber
conclusion that the list is a long one. Included would be stunted development of an arm or leg due to a birth anomaly.
Others would be the result of a crippling disease that has caused muscles to atrophy. The list would go on with illnesses and injuries that maim and debilitate.*
Modern medicine has done much to ameliorate the physical problems. However, there are an inordinate
number of problems of the handicapped that have still to be alleviated.
People are not naturally callous,
but in some perverse
way they have the propensity
any concern with the physically handicapped. The social problems seem to be inherent* in our own attitudes.
43-2. Doing the Right Thing
The obstacles that frustrate* the physically handicapped person who is seeking employment may turn him into a cynic.
Too often a prospective employer, with a rather unctuous manner, actually tends to degrade
the handicapped by proffering
employment that is really beneath them and their abilities.
The employer appears to be acting in a benevolent manner, but this attitude shows no compassion,* for he really expects the person seeking the job to remain subservient.
This iniquity cannot but give the handicapped a feeling that they are being discriminated against. He does not expect a sinecure,
but he has an aversion
to the prevalent* belief that he should consider himself lucky to find any employment.
43-3. A Better Way
Why is there any question about the propriety
of hiring the physically handicapped? No one who understands their needs can condone
The offering of employment should not be considered a largess. There should be no need to vindicate* the hiring of a handicapped person. The only criterion should be what he is capable of doing.
If this is the approach, the handicapped worker will not feel he is an encumbrance
to his boss. The employer, on the other hand, will find it conducive
to good work and will not repent his having tried something new just to mollify his conscience.
Even for the most mercenary employer, there should be no reticence
the best that is possible from the handicapped worker.
43-4. Just Be Yourself
Socially, the handicapped person is often treated as a pariah. Most people hold themselves aloof from normal contact with those who are "different." This social separation propagates
additional feelings of antipathy
If "normal" individuals would socialize with the handicapped individual, they would learn in a pragmatic way that these are people who happen to have a physical handicap; the handicap does not make them any less human.
The iniquity* of assuming that physical superiority equals moral superiority prevents all of us from direct human relationships. As long as there is a vestige of feeling that handicapped people are inferior, then we are all handicapped in one way or another.
Under the guise of physical superiority we demonstrate a moral turpitude* that is harmful to all.
to burn the midnight oil
to study or work until very late
The radio was such an enigma
that he had to burn the midnight oil
for several nights in order to get it working.
to lay one's cards on the table
to talk frankly
He knew he was out of his depth* so he laid his cards on the table and asked for assistance.
a bolt from the blue
a great surprise
The windfall* from his distant cousin came like a bolt from the blue.
to tell tales out of school
to reveal harmful secrets
The fat was in the fire* for the politician when his private secretary started telling tales out of school about his secret sources of income.
There appears to be a question of how much loyalty employees owe to their employers whether private or governmental. Many companies go out of their way to encourage employees to make suggestions that will improve the way they operate.
A benevolent employer will not criticize or reprimand an employee who points out problems having to do with the way other employees are harming the business. In fact, it should be in the bosses' interest that the person who has become known as a "whistle blower" is encouraged to alert them to a problem.
However, many such whistle blowers face harsh punishment for calling attention to illegal or unethical actions. The whistle blower soon becomes a pariah in the workplace. Under the guise of some minor error, or other excuse, the informer might be demoted, transferred, or fired. This iniquity often goes unreported.
As a result, the employees go back to "business as usual" without any change. They become used to whatever they may see around them and to the belief that they should not make waves. Thus, no attempt to ameliorate the situation actually takes place.
44-1. Have We Mastered Our Environment?
Natural disasters tend to nullify the best efforts of mankind. It is as though there are forces at work that are contemptuous* of our proud achievements.
Who has not read of or seen the waters that deluge our towns and cities, jeopardizing
lives and culminating
in the destruction of the results of endless work in the space of a few moments? We are all vulnerable
to feelings of futility as we view the carnage caused to cattle from the sudden inundation.
Despite the laudable* advances made in technology, it can be seen that we cannot yet say we have mastered our environment.
Disasters of this type, leaving only pathetic
of homes and shops, are accepted as inevitable,
and all we can do is to attempt to ameliorate
the conditions that result.
44-2. Good News-and Bad
One of the latent
to our constitutional guarantee of freedom of the press has to do with the protection of the individual against the detriment* that might come from news reports involving him. There are libel laws that protect against false charges.
If an individual believes his character or livelihood have been damaged by a defamatory article, he can sue. As the plaintiff he must refute* the story and show how the defendant caused him harm by printing a canard.
The defendant attempts to substantiate
the truth of the article. The printing of news may besmirch
an individual's character, but there is no way to alleviate
this problem without changes in the Constitution. This would be tantamount
to destroying the efficacy
of our coveted
right to learn the truth from the press.
We all deprecate a situation in which someone suffers because of exposure in the newspapers. Only when the harm is caused by someone with a desire to malign
under the guise
of printing the news can the individual expect to win compensation* through the courts.
44-3. A Philosopher for Our Time
Soren Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher who is reputed to be the forerunner of the current vogue* of existentialism. In appearance he was a frail and ungainly man.
An extremely erudite
thinker and writer, he was a potent force in propagating
the new approach to life. His philosophy would excoriate those who believed that man could stand aside from life.
In his philosophy it is a heresy
to take a detached point of view; it is incumbent
upon the individual to get involved. What is germane* is not that we exist, but that our existence is determined by our acts.
He was a religiously devout man who fervidly
believed that the individual is always paramount.
44-4. The Island of Wild Dogs
The saga* of the introduction of that diminutive song bird, the canary, into the homes of the world as tame pets is an interesting one. In the sixteenth century a trading ship going to Italy stopped at an island named "Canis," from the Latin word for wild dog, which could be found there in profuse numbers, off the coast of Africa.
The dulcet song of the wild birds whetted* the interest of the captain. In impromptu cages hundreds were taken aboard to be traded. The sailors called these gray-green birds, spotted with yellow, "canaries."
As they approached the island of Elba, near Italy, a malevolent storm put the boat in jeopardy
of sinking. A member of the crew released the birds, and the intrepid
canaries instinctively flew towards land. The peasants on Elba took the wild canaries in as pets.
Eventually, the birds found their way into homes throughout Europe where they were domesticated and bred for variety of song and shades of colors. The canaries prevalent* today differ greatly from the ones discovered over four hundred years ago.
to build upon sand
to have a poor base, or not sufficient preparation
Because they were amateurs and without money, the political campaign was built upon sand and the candidate was a flash in the pan.*
a pretty kettle of fish
a messy situation, a problem
He knew that when he attacked the sacred cow* he would be in a pretty kettle of fish.
to toe the mark
to obey or stick to a rule or policy
He wanted to kick over the traces,* but his parents made him toe the mark.
to be under a cloud
to be in temporary disgrace or trouble
Until they discovered the real thief, he was under a cloud.
Reprieve for Wolves
One of the most difficult problems to resolve has to do with the conflicting interests of environmentalists and profit-making businesses. Examples of this dilemma appear frequently.
While the dispute about cutting down a forest to preserve owls has been in the news, there appeared another conflict in the state of Alaska. Hoping to increase the number of tourists who seek to hunt deer and caribou, the State of Alaska ordered the killing of some of the profuse number of wolves who prey on those animals.
This resulted in a deluge of letters and articles condemning the carnage that would result from the anti-wolf policy. So, once again, the environmentalists, who maintain that the natural balance should not be interfered with,
ran up against the Alaskan tourist industry, which wants to attract hunters who will increase the state's revenue. After much publicity about the wolf hunt and articles that tended to excoriate this policy, Alaska decided to nullify the proposed action.
45-1. In Days of Yore
Current novels are replete
and death. Do you get wistful when you recall the romantic tales that begin with an innocent maiden travelling through the rustic
countryside? She is dressed in glittering raiment. The scene is idyllic.*
Without warning, the group is set upon by a virile
brigand, who, in the most perfunctory
fashion, carries her off. Pandemonium
results! Her entourage
is in a state of bedlam.
Her corpulent escort is irate
, but unable to do anything to thwart
this debacle.* All he can do is rail against the catastrophe. What to do? What to do?
45-2. Woe Is Me!
The raconteur of our story about idyllic
times gone by goes on to elucidate
how the comely* heroine is taken to the bandits' hideout. There, a sullen crew of cutthroats is gathered.
They don't wish to procrastinate;
she must be taken immediately to a foreign land where much treasure will be paid for her. Their cupidity
knows no bounds.
The leader wants to hold her for ransom from her wealthy parents. The gang demurs;
they are reticent.
There is a rift among the criminals. Their leader remains truculent,* and they agree to wait for just two days for the ransom money.
An emissary from the grief-stricken parents is expected at any moment. The wan
maiden, her spirits at their nadir,
has time to ruminate about her lugubrious* fate.
45-3. To the Rescue
Back at the castle, the situation is taut with emotion. The fair maiden's mother is livid with fear and anxiety; she has attacks of vertigo.
She talks about her daughter's audacity
in riding out into the ominous* forests despite many similar kidnappings.
The girl's father, a martinet who rules his family with an iron hand, staunchly
refuses to pay the ransom. Iniquity
shall not be rewarded!
At this moment of crisis a heroic knight volunteers to rescue our heroine; he has had a secret yen for the young beauty. Avoiding rhetoric,
he pledges his all to castigate
those responsible for this ignominious* deed.
He holds his life as a mere bagatelle against the duty he owes his beloved mistress. At the propitious* moment, he rides off to do or die for her.
45-4. Well Done, Sir Knight!
Seeking his adversaries,
the knight rides to their hideout. Despite his callow appearance, he is reputed
danger and to be a prodigious
horseman. The kidnappers lose their equanimity* at his approach.
They are appalled at the prospect, and they are in a quandary
as to which one will meet him on the field of combat. The leader, under duress,
rides out. "Do you have a penchant to die?" derides* the knight.
remarks follow. They spur their horses toward each other. It takes but one blow for our hero to decapitate the villain. The others flee to avoid their imminent
destruction. The knight takes the maiden on his horse, and they ride back to the castle.
Their wedding soon follows. Little does the knight realize that the fair maiden is a garrulous
termagant who will make his life miserable with caustic
remarks. Still, the cliche
"And they lived happily ever after," must conclude our fabricated
to flog a dead horse
to continue to make an issue of something that is over
He thought he could keep the pot boiling
about his opponent's winking at
crime, but he was flogging a dead horse.
the die is cast
an unchangeable decision has been made
The fat was in the fire* and the die was cast when he decided to tell the white lie about how he had found the money.
a cat's paw
a person used as a tool or dupe*
The spy used the innocent girl as a cat's paw to get military information from the grapevine.*
coup de grace
the finishing stroke
When my girlfriend left me, it was a bitter pill to swallow,* but the coup de grace was that she kept my engagement ring.
Henry VIII and British History
Students in the United States should consider themselves lucky when it comes to studying the country's history. The United States has been a nation for approximately 225 years.
We would be appalled if we had to learn as much history as students in Great Britain, for their history goes back some 1,000 years! In that time England has had many interesting and unusual rulers.
One who has fascinated us is Henry VIII. Ruling some 450 years ago, he became well known because of his many marriages and his penchant for doing away with some wives who displeased him.
In physical appearance he was unattractive he was large and corpulent. When his first wife could not bear him a son who would be heir to the throne, he divorced her. This caused a break with the Pope who refused to recognize the divorce.
Henry VIII sent an emissary to the Pope and renounced Catholicism. He then married Anne Boleyn but decided to decapitate her after quickly tiring of her.
His third wife died in childbirth, and he divorced his fourth. His fifth, Katherine Howard, was also beheaded. Only his sixth wife was able to live on after Henry's death in 1547.
From this brief history of only one English ruler, it is easy to imagine how much an English history student must learn in order to prepare for an exam. In Henry VIII's case, one would have to get a "head start."
46-1. A Mighty Empire
One of the anomalies
of our approach to history is the propensity
to study the venerable
empires of Europe, but we do not feel it incumbent
upon us to ascertain anything about the civilizations in our own hemisphere.
the history of this part of the world as though progress lay dormant and that other peoples were irrelevant
until the settlers of North America arrived at Plymouth Rock. In South America, from 2000 B.C. until their empire reached its acme* at the beginning of the 16th century, lived the Incas.
of the capital city of the Inca empire, Cusco, lay at a height of 11,000 feet. This civilization is reputed
to have burgeoned until it covered more than 2,500 miles of the western part of the continent. Its population fluctuated* between 4 and 7 million.
This empire had a highly efficacious* political and social system. Its potentate ruled with absolute power. As the empire conquered new lands, it would disseminate its language, religion, and social customs.
46-2. A Battle for Power
The Inca emperor derived his prodigious
power and authority from the gods. The paramount
god was the sun god. It was from him the ruler passed on his prerogative to rule to his most astute* son.
This nepotism had worked with great efficacy
for centuries. The land holdings were immense;
there were rich farmlands and llamas and alpacas for wool. Precious metals were plentiful: silver, copper, bronze, and the most sacred of all, gold.
This metal resembled the sun god whom they extolled.
There was no dearth of idols and ornaments hammered from this gleaming metal. There was always more gold coming from the mines to replenish
At the acme
of his power, the Inca ruler died without naming the requisite
successor. In 1493 two sons began an internecine struggle for control. For the next 40 years the empire sank into the lassitude* caused by civil war.
46-3. A Perfidious* Conqueror
The feuding between the rival sons reached its pinnacle
in 1532; at that moment Francisco Pizarro came onto the scene. A native of Spain, he was sojourning
in Panama when he heard of the riches to be found in that far off land.
Overwhelmed with cupidity,
but still a tyro when it came to wresting
power and wealth from hapless
people, he joined with an inveterate
adventurer. They gathered a small band of mercenaries.*
The first two attempts failed, and Pizarro returned to Spain to request authority and money in order to conquer the West Coast of South America.
Whether by sophistry or cajolery,
he was given the requisite
aid. With a force of 180 men, the dregs* of society, he invaded Inca territory.
He reached the city where the current ruler, Atahualpa, was holding court. The Incas welcomed Pizarro who, in a factitious display of friendship, heaped encomiums upon Atahualpa.
Unknown to the Incas, Pizarro had brought guns that were still beyond the technology
of these people. The obloquy of his next act, ambushing the Incas and taking Atahualpa prisoner, will live in the history books that are replete
with tales of conquest.
46-4. The End of an Empire
Pizarro held the captured Atahualpa for ransom. He was adamant
about receiving a room filled with gold to the height of a man's shoulder. This was taken as a hyperbole at first, but Pizarro knew the gullible* Incas would be munificent when it came to rescuing their sacred ruler.
They did not procrastinate,
and a frenetic
collection of gold took place. Pizarro, to whom prevarication
was natural in dealing with the Incas, had no qualms
about executing their ruler as soon as he had the gold.
The Inca empire was moribund,
but the charisma that surrounded Atahualpa was such that, after his death, the Incas fought on tenaciously
in his name for several years. Eventually, superior weapons quelled* all opposition.
A policy of genocide was adopted by the Spanish conquerors, and almost two million of these proud people died in the carnage
that followed. The saga
of an ancient civilization thus came to an end.
straight from the shoulder
in a direct, open way
I took the wind out of his sails
by telling him straight from the shoulder that I was not going to wink at
his apple polishing.*
to rub a person the wrong way
to do something that irritates or annoys
The quickest way to rub a person the wrong way is to give him the cold shoulder.*
to draw in one's horns
to become cautious
He knew he was out of his depth,* so he drew in his horns and quit the poker game.
to throw cold water
to discourage a plan or idea
I was going to pull up stakes
and move out lock, stock, and barrel,
but my wife threw cold water on the whole thing.
Words, Words, Words
You have been strengthening and building a basic vocabulary as you have progressed through this book. The tests, quizzes, and exercises have helped you ascertain how far you have advanced. We hope you have come to the end of 1100 Words You Need to Know with a command of vocabulary that has burgeoned from week to week.
Your interest and attention have paid off in many ways. You have derived pleasure and knowledge from reading passages on varied topics. You are better equipped to read, study, converse, and write with confidence.
The objectives that started you working on building your vocabulary should not now become dormant. A permanent desire to master new words should be an added value obtained from this book.
We hope that any encomium you receive for your command of English vocabulary will spur you on to more and greater mastery of words you need to know.
47-1. Titanic Mystery
On April 14, 1912, an incident took place that became a front page story in newspapers all over the world. It is a tale that has continued to capture the attention of movie and theatre goers, of opera and television audiences, of novelists and playwrights―
it's the story of the allegedly impregnable Titanic, the unsinkable majestic ocean liner that tumbled to the bottom of the icy Atlantic waters with 1600 passengers still aboard.
How could such a toxic tragedy have occurred? Could it have been avoided? How could the naval patriarch, Captain Edward Smith, no neophyte he, have allowed the disaster to happen? What were the extenuating circumstances that led to the death of that glorious White Star queen?
In September 1985, the hulk of the Titanic was found on the ocean's floor, providing many answers to the questions that seamen and landlubbers had wrestled with over the years.
47-2. What Went Wrong?
Investigators found that a series of mistakes led to the sinking of the Titanic. A wireless message had come in from a French liner, warning of ice ahead, but that was a thousand miles away, and so, no need to worry.
On April 13, the vessel Rapphannock also warned the Titanic of dangerous ice ahead.
On the following day, there came a spate of other warnings from a Cunard ship, a Dutch liner, and the White Star Baltic―all telling of icebergs about 250 miles from the Titanic's current position.
Next came the German Amerika, echoing the same forebodings, followed by the California, cautioning the Titanic about the field ice. Finally, the Mesaba called attention to an enormous belt of ice stretching directly across the Titanic's path.
All the messages emanating from sister ships should have had a profound effect on Smith and company.
No one miscreant could be fingered, but a host of crew members were certainly blameworthy.
Why didn't Captain Smith's officers react to those messages? Notations were indeed made on slips of paper but largely ignored and forgotten.
There was no standard protocol for the handling of such messages; if there had been, Captain Smith would certainly have taken a circuitous route so as to avoid the dangerous icebergs.
47-3. Death Knell for The Titanic
And then it happened. White in its innocence, a monstrous iceberg smashed into the luxury liner, ripping an ugly gash of 250 feet along the starboard and causing a fatal wound. Within seconds, thousands of cubic feet of water had penetrated the shattered hull.
One after another, dominolike, the watertight compartments and bulkhead were flooded. The unthinkable had happened despite the absolute guarantees of the shipbuilders, Harland & Woolf.
There followed a macabre scene as the ship's band, clad in their tuxedos, continued to play show tunes while hordes of terrified passengers, many in nightclothes, rushed toward the lifeboats.
The crew called out, "Women and children first," but their lack of an orderly plan for loading would have profound ramifications. In fact, some boats that could hold 30 were sent into the Atlantic with only a handful of people―generally first-class passenger.
As panic began to take hold, the realization that there weren't enough lifeboats exacerbated the situation, bringing out the worst in a rapacious few.
Several insurgent males ignored the crew and jumped into descending lifeboats. It was an act of shame they would have to live with for the rest of their lives.
47-4. The Lawyers' Turn
As one might have expected, manifold law suits against the White Star Line began to crop up within weeks of the sinking and rescue.
The glut of billionaires on board (Astors, Wideners, Guggenheims, Strausses, et al.) did not file any claims, but other cases went all the way to the Supreme Court and kept lawyers and judges busy for the next four years.
The average claim had been for a modest $1500, and the average award, paid by the White Star Line, was a risible $10000. White Star's top notch legal staff was accused of using dilatory tactics, tiring the claimants until they agreed to settle for a mere pittance.
Their lawyers called many claims specious and rejected them out of hand. The denouement of the story is rather sad. American and British maritime law had long given special protection to ship owners on the grounds that their business was such a risky one.
And so there was a limit to the amount of money that White Star could be assessed.
In the end, they paid only 4% of the $16 million originally demanded by the survivors and were happy to close the books on the ocean disaster
. We can imagine that if a similar tragedy were to take place today, the settlements would be in the hundreds of millions.
a dry run
trial, test, exercise
Before opening night, the actors had several dry runs.
to throw someone a curve
to do the unexpected
When I least expected it, Helen threw me a curve.
to cross the Rubicon
a limit that allows for no return (The Rubicon was a river in Italy that Julius Caesar's army crossed, knowing there was no retreat.)
When I crossed the Rubicon by signing the contract, I knew I could never go back on my commitment.
to brave the elements
to go out in bad weather
Despite the freezing rain, Cynthia decided to brave the elements.
An Unusual Perk
A study emanating from the Department of health and Mental Hygiene declared that one in eight adults in our major cities has diabetes, a toxic disease. Many, however, are not aware that they have it or how rapacious it can be.
There is a glut of evidence revealing that the high blood sugar that affects diabetics is more characteristic of Asian Americans, African-Americans, and Hispanics than of the white population.
Unfortunately, many of the victims of diabetes do not take immediate steps to deal with the disease. New York City's health commissioner has warned of the ramifications of a failure to control the high blood sugar:
blindness, amputations, and heart disease. In fact, diabetes is the nation's fastest growing major disease.
48-1. Good News―And Bad
On Palm Sunday, April 9, 1865, General Ulysses S. Grant sent a terse dispatch to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. It contained the long-awaited sentence that the Confederate General Robert E. Lee had surrendered.
The dolorous Civil War that had crippled the young nation was finally over. President Lincoln was only 56 at the time, but he looked twenty years older. The burden of being a wartime president had so enervated Lincoln that Surgeon General Barnes feared an imminent nervous breakdown.
When Grant's news reached Lincoln, he went to the front windows of the White House and waved to the crowd below. He proceeded to make a brief speech about the problems of Reconstruction and advocated the granting of suffrage to Negro soldiers.
Among the listeners was a Southern patriot, the popular actor John Wilkes Booth, almost as famous in the theater as his father, Junius. "That's the last speech he will ever make," said Booth to a fellow member of his cabal of conspirators.
Booth's odious plan was to assassinate Lincoln whom he hated passionately, while an associate, George Atzerodt, would do the same to Vice-President Andrew Johnson.
48-2 The Dreams of Lincoln and Booth
Lincoln's family and friends remembered that the President had a prescient dream in March, several weeks before the fatal day, and provided them with a verbatim account.
He told of entering the East Room in the White House where a throng of people were gathered around an open coffin.
In his reverie, Lincoln asked a soldier, "Who is dead in the White House?" "The President," was the reply. "He was killed by an assassin." Mrs. Lincoln said, "I'm glad I don't believe in dreams or I should be in terror from this time forth."
Lincoln's was the calming voice, "Let's try to forget it. I think the Lord in His own good time and way will work this out all right."
Of course, all who loved Abe Lincoln would have been deeply agitated if they had known what John Wilkes Booth was planning.
As a Southern secessionist, he despised the President. As a thespian, he romanticized the action that he could take to rid the nation of a cruel warmonger.
Although he had not taken an active part in the Civil War, he was convinced that he could contribute to the Confederate cause by kidnapping the bearded despot.
It wasn't exactly clear in his mind whether he would "capture" Lincoln and take him to Richmond where he could be exchanged for Confederate prisoners of war―or whether he would just put a bullet in the President's head.
48-3 The Assassins Make Ready
The pathological yet articulate Booth had rounded up several co-conspirators and shared his delusions of grandeur with them.
He had produced a polemic that convinced his crew that it would be a patriotic thing to capture the President. One of them was assigned to shut off the master gas valve at Ford's Theatre when Mr. and Mrs Lincoln were seated there at the play.
With all the lights out, Booth would bind and gag the President. Two men would lower Lincoln onto the stage, and then carry him out the rear door to a covered wagon waiting in the alley.
They would head for Port Tobacco and then ferry across the Potomac to their ultimate destination, Richmond, Virginia.
Several dry runs had not worked out for the cabalists who were about to reach an impasse when Booth learned that Lincoln would be celebrating General Grant's victories with a party a Ford's Theater on the night of April 14.
He promised the small group that destiny was at hand; their bold act, he said, would make their names famous forever in the annals of U.S. history.
In the late afternoon of April 14, Booth watched a rehearsal of the play that would be performed that evening. He had reviewed his action plan and the escape route, and he believed it to be foolproof.
He mouthed the phrase he would use after killing Lincoln, "Sic Semper Tyrannis" ("Thus always to tyrants") The curtain was about to go up on one of the darkest days in the country's history.
48-4 "Now He Belongs to the Ages"
At 8:25 the Lincolns arrived at the theater. When they entered Booths 7 & 8, as regimen dictated, the band played "Hail to the Chief."
The 1675 members of the audience stood to honor the great man, and then the play commenced. It is reported that Booth said to a drunk who had denigrated his acting skill, "When I leave the stage, I will be the most famous man in America."
At about 10 P.M., with extreme guile, Booth had managed to be behind Box 7 in the darkness of the hallway. He saw the silhouette of a head above the horsehair rocer. Derringer in his hand, he aimed it between the President's left ear and his spine.
The shot was drowned out by laughter on the stage. Shouting "Revenge for the South," Booth climbed over the ledge of the box and jumped onto the stage, breaking his leg in the process.
In pain, Booth limped out the stage door where his horse was waiting and made his getaway. Days later, however, he was cornered in a Virginia barn and shot. Three of the cabal members were arrested and hanged.
At the theater, a 23-year-old doctor attended to the wounded President. He found that the lead shot had lodged in Lincoln's brain, a bad sign.
Several soldiers carried Mr. Lincoln across the street to a private house. His family physician came and so did the Surgeon General. The President struggled throughout the long night, but it was apparent that a mortal wound had been inflicted, and he could not be saved.
At 7:22 A.M. it was over; two silver coins were placed on the assassinated President's eyes. Then Secretary Stanton uttered the famous words, "Now he belong to the ages."
to kill the goose that laid the golden egg
to spoil a good deal
By being greedy, the accountant killed the goose that laid the golden egg.
to carry coals to Newcastle
a waste of time (since Newcastle had a great deal of coal)
Telling the racing car driver how to drive is like carrying coals to Newcastle.
an axe to grind
to pursue a selfish aim
Senator Smith was in favor of the bill, but we knew that he had an axe to grind.
to throw one's hat in the ring
to run for political office
Before a gathering of the party's faithful, the local congressman threw his hat in the ring for the position of senator.
Perks Are In.
Do you know what a "perk" is? Simply put, it's an extra reward, a special benefit given to sweeten the job for an employee.
Now an articulate staffer at Serus, a software maker in California's Silicon Valley, has skillfully described an incredible perk given to him and his fellow workers―a three-packed parachute plunge as they jumped from a plane 14,000 feet above the ground.
"Our employees work hard and can become enervated," said a Serus executive, "and we want to invigorate them with sky dives, as well as cruises, beauty treatments at spas, birthday parties, maid services, and other creative perks that our reverie might conjure up."
Of course, company executives are deeply interested in keeping productive staff members from quitting and going to work for competitors. And so, the host of perks they offer reflect the guile behind their generosity.
"Cash bonuses won't have the same effect," a CEO said. In a prescient remark he declared, "It's like a parent who throws money at his child when what the youngster really wants is attention."
THIS SET IS OFTEN IN FOLDERS WITH...
천일문 핵심 500 문장
천일문 핵심 500 문장 단어
YBM Lesson 5 The Archetypes of Mythology
TOEIC RC 숙어 모음 (볼 가치가 있음)
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE...
English 2240 Midterm
Million Dollar Words!!!!
OTHER SETS BY THIS CREATOR
깜놀 히브리어 단어 암기비법
깜놀 히브리어 단어
6 En el aeropuerto 공항에서
5 El tiempo 날씨
OTHER QUIZLET SETS
SAT13 VOCAB LIST
Caroline - Vocabulary Chapter 1 sentences