Monday, May 23, 2016

Last tea-and-conversation hour this year: Wednesday, May 25

This time we plan to meet for MORNING tea, at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday. Look on bulletin board for location.

Institute students, please come and say goodbye before we all scatter for last exams, graduation, and summer.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Group 401 Online Exam

This year, we are using an online exam to save classroom time.

There are advantages in taking the test in the classroom -- for example, if students do not understand something, we teachers are able to answer questions within reason. Here you will not have the same help. On the other hand, you have fewer limits on time, and perhaps less stress. I hope the different circumstances compensate for each other. In any case, please be honorable and take the test as if you were being watched by me and the other students!)) Time limit: 90 minutes.

First, here are the four audio clips for the four sections of the test. After the audio clips you will find the test itself. (Please contact me right away if you have trouble with any of the audio clips; I can send you the clips as e-mail attachments or messaging files, or give you access to the audio some other way.)

Listen to each clip TWICE. Of course you should feel free to take notes while listening.

Part one: Richard Branson, "Life at 30,000 Feet"
TED's Chris Anderson interviews businessman Richard Branson (founder of the Virgin Group of companies). In this part of the interview, Anderson asks about education and bringing up children.

Part two: "Ain't Scared of Your Jails"
Two Freedom Riders, John Lewis and Frederick Leonard, describe the arrival of their bus in Montgomery, Alabama, on May 20, 1961. Leonard then describes what happened at the bus station and the office below. Finally, Federal representative John Siegenthaler describes the violence in front of the station, and tells what happened to him.

Part three: Ray
This recording is from the end of the film. We are in the rehabilitation clinic where Ray Charles is undergoing court-ordered treatment for his drug addiction. Dr. Hacker and Ray Charles are playing chess, and Hacker is talking to Ray. After the doctor leaves, Ray gets angry, throws over the chess table, and accidentally falls on the floor. Suddenly he is dreaming – the scene is the front yard of his childhood home, and we hear the sound of Ray splashing in water. We hear three voices – his own, his mother Aretha’s voice, and his brother George’s voice. (I have amplified George’s voice a bit so that you can hear it more clearly.)

Part four: Einstein and Eddington
The first part of this recording is the lecture that Arthur Eddington gives at Sir Oliver Lodge’s request, summarizing Albert Einstein’s 1905 monograph on Special Relativity. In the film, this scene is followed by the anti-German riot, in which Eddington is slightly injured. In the second part of today’s recording, his sister Winnifred is helping him with his injuries from the riot. As she cleans his wounds, he tells her about his lecture on Einstein.

Please finish this test by Tuesday evening, May 10.
  1. Remember to listen to the audio files twice before answering the questions.
  2. You may make notes while you listen.
  3. When answering the questions, you may answer with simple phrases or complete sentences. Some answers may only require a few words.
  4. Be honest. Do your own work, don't consult with others. However, you may use a dictionary.
  5. Please end after 90 minutes.
  6. Be sure to push the "next" button after each section and push the "submit" button when you have finished the fourth section (Einstein and Eddington).
  7. UPDATE! If you need to stop before you have finished, simply go to the end of the exam and push "submit." That will send me your partly-finished exam. Then, when you are ready to continue, go back to this blog page and take the same exam again, skipping past the parts you have already finished and only finishing the parts you were not able to do the first time. (But you must enter your name again so we will be able to connect the two exams.)
Thank you!

Here is the test form.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Time Lords: Einstein and Eddington

We've seen the first third of this film. We plan to show the rest of the film next week. In the meantime, here are synopsis, discussion questions, and the full film itself. Feel free to make comments.

Doctor Who fans will recognize David Tennant, the Tenth Time Lord, who plays the role of Arthur Eddington.
The main plot:
Arthur Eddington, newly-appointed chief astronomer at Cambridge University, is expected to defend Isaac Newton's theories, which are believed to be a complete explanation for the mechanics of the universe. An anomaly in Mercury's orbit leads Eddington to look to physicist Albert Einstein for an alternative explanation, based on their mutual interest in gravity. Their correspondence leads to Eddington's idea for an expedition to West Africa, where observations during a solar eclipse in 1919 might result in Newton's vindication--or his dethronement in favor of Einstein's radical new ideas.

Most of the film takes place during World War I. Eddington is under pressure to submit to wartime hyper-patriotism, which included prejudices against Germans (even German scientists) and against conscientious objectors (отказники по убеждениям; he is a Quaker). Likewise, Einstein is under equivalent pressures in Germany, and is shocked to see his scientific colleagues participating in weapons development and testing. 

Eddington's dearest friend William Marston dies in battle; this death and the massive battle deaths generally cause a crisis of faith for Eddington, much to the concern of his sister and housekeeper Winnifred.

When German physicist Max Planck invites Einstein to leave his professorship in Zurich and return to Germany, Einstein's marriage to Mileva Marić is already under strain. In Berlin, Einstein falls in love with his cousin Elsa Löwenthal; they get married in 1919, a few months after Einstein's and Marić's divorce.

Discussion questions:
  1. What are the men hauling up the mountain in West Africa, and why?
  2. What did Arthur Eddington’s and William Marston’s opponents advise Eddington to do at the end of the tennis match? What does Winnifred advise him to tell Marston?
  3. According to Sir Oliver Lodge, what is Eddington’s new job? Why was the committee a bit concerned about Eddington’s suitability? Why was Eddington the best man for the job, in Lodge’s mind?
  4. Why is Mileva Einstein upset with her husband just before Max Planck comes to visit? What is Planck’s offer to Einstein, and what might Einstein have to sacrifice?
  5. According to Isaac Newton, what is the force that orders everything in the universe? How did Newton reconcile himself to the invisibility of this force?
  6. In his conversation with the “fat industrialist,” Max Planck explains what Einstein offers Germany. What is it?
  7. Eddington presents a summary of Einstein’s thought up to 1905. What, according to the seminar participants, are some of the weaknesses in Einstein’s theory of time? What did Eddington not tell the seminar participants?
  8. After the meeting in which Eddington assures the Mullers that they are welcome, we see an angry crowd outside. Why are they angry?
  9. What document does Einstein refuse to sign?
  10. Oliver Lodge warns Eddington that “consorting with the enemy”—even with the scientists of “barbaric” Germany—is a treasonable offense. Does the film show the relationships between British scientists and the war effort?
  11. Why is Mercury a problem for Newton’s theory? Why does Eddington decide to write to Einstein? What is Einstein’s reaction to Eddington’s letter?
  12. When Einstein bursts into the Common Room, why is he so angry? At the same time, Eddington is also devastated—why?
  13. What does Einstein want, according to Eddington at the meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society? How does Lodge counter Eddington’s question about Mercury?
  14. Why was Einstein not allowed to enter the gates at the University?
  15. What advantage does a solar eclipse give in providing an opportunity to test Einstein’s theory?
  16. As the war ends, Eddington is aghast at the loss of life. As Winnifred leaves on a Quaker relief team to Germany, she’s worried about her brother. Why?
  17. How long did Eddington and Dyson have to take their photos of the Sun and the stars made visible by the eclipse?
  18. What might Winnifred be thinking from her balcony vantage point during Eddington’s presentation of the photographic results?
  19. Why have reporters gathered outside Einstein’s home?
Oh leave the Wise our measures to collate
One thing at least is certain, light has weight
One thing is certain and the rest debate
Light rays, when near the Sun, do not go straight.

--Arthur Eddington
Here's the film itself:

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Thursday, April 14: Listening comprehension class is canceled.

Both Judy and I are sick, so we're taking the day off. Our class is scheduled to meet again tomorrow (Friday), second pair, and we plan to do so. We'll let you know if we have to cancel again tomorrow....

Tea is also canceled today, but we plan to have it next week at the normal time and place.

Best wishes for all of you giving presentations today!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Ray, the story of Ray Charles

Ray – Questions about the film biography of Ray Charles
  1. What did Ray's mother Aretha mean when she said, “Always remember your promise to me. Never let nobody or nothing turn you into no cripple.” Is there something your grandparents or parents said to you that might come back to you in a similar way when you need it?
  2. At the bus, the driver refuses to transport Ray (an unaccompanied, blind passenger) all the way to Seattle. Ray told the bus driver, “I may have left my eyes on Omaha Beach, but I ain't asking no charity from Uncle Sam. I got a job waiting for me in Seattle.” The driver asked, “You were in Normandy?” Ray replies, “Shuttling troopers to the beach. We took a direct hit.” What is going on in this scene?
  3. In the Rocking Chair nightclub, when Ray is unexpectedly offered a chance to play, we see him using a drug for the first time. Who gave it to him, and why? (There might be two reasons, maybe three.)
  4. Ray uses his hearing to compensate for his lack of sight. Can you remember examples of this from the film?
  5. When Ahmet Ertegun visits Ray Charles to explain that Ray's contract has been taken over by Atlantic Records, Ray says nothing about Atlantic. Later in the conversation, Ray explains, “Well, you know, I gotta keep my eye on you city boys. Down home, we call it 'country dumb'.” What does Ray mean by “country dumb”?
  6. During one of their early recording sessions, Ahmet Ertegun tells Ray Charles that “I signed you because I sensed something special in you, not because you sound like Nat Cole or Charles Brown.” Ray replies, “I thought you like what I do. … I don’t know no other way.” Ertegun concludes, “We got to help you find one.” What does he want, and why is Ray resisting?
  7. When Ray plays “I got a woman, way over town, she’s good to me” to Bea, he is singing about Bea herself. Why is she shocked and upset?
  8. “Ain't nothing free in this world but Jesus.” What does this line mean?
  9. When Ahmet tries to talk to Ray about his drug habit, Ray asks, “Who's the one who delivers a record in one take, hmm?” What is Ray trying to say? If you were Ahmet, how would you answer?
  10. When Jerry Wexler finds out that Ray has been talking to Sam Clark at ABC-Paramount Records, Wexler hits the roof: “Ahmet wouldn't believe it. You know what he said, Ray? He said you would never turn your back on us. Never for a schlockmeister like Sam Clark! That's rich. Sam Clark's a corporate slug, who wouldn't know the difference between Earl Hines and Art Tatum!” What is Wexler saying about Clark? Is that the main reason he’s upset with Ray?
  11. In the film, Ray Charles is arrested twice--once in Indianapolis, and once in Boston. Why was the second arrest so much more serious than the first?
  12. At the recovery clinic, Ray sees his mother and his brother in a dream. What do they tell him?
Useful phrases from the screenplay; note examples of “nonstandard” English
  • never let nobody or nothing turn you into no cripple [“invalid,” disabled person—in this case, a mental attitude as well as physical condition]
  • on the dot [right on time]
  • what axe you play? [axe=musical instrument other than drums]
  • Vice is on my a** for letting you underage kids in. [Vice=Vice Department of police]
  • new blood [fresh faces, new talent]
  • score big [achieve a big success OR obtain/use a large amount of narcotics]
  • double scale as leader plus 10% [scale=standard rate of payment per union contract]
  • he can flop at my place [flop=couch surf, be a short-term guest resident]
  • as green as a blade of grass [a complete noobie]
  • you keep me high while they talk the business?
  • straighten out and fly right
  • scratch a liar and find a thief
  • you two have been gaming me since I got here [gaming=deceiving, exploiting, or manipulating]
  • Y'all got to learn to read and write real good, so you never have to work for people like that.
  • don't tell mama nothing
  • the place where the Negro comes to spread his wings [act and feel free, relax, reach creative potential]
  • give me some skin [здоро́во]
  • the Lord done took him home [i.e., he died]
  • I'm not playing no more
  • This ain't no weed, Ray. And we ain't snorting no bitch. This is boy. Boy'll make your a** null and void. [weed=marijuana; bitch=cocaine; boy=heroin]
  • it's his funeral [i.e., he will have to deal with the consequences himself]
  • I won't beat around the bush with you [i.e., I'm going to tell you directly, honestly]
  • we call it “country dumb”
  • every now and then
  • to make a living
  • stride piano [jazz/blues piano style; left hand “strides” up and down the keyboard]
  • sharecropping [farming someone else's land for a share of the harvest]
  • she passed away [i.e., died]
  • she didn't want me carrying around no tin cup [i.e., begging, panhandling]
  • there's only seven cats on this record [cat=musician]
  • you're turning God's music into sex
  • without the church attitude
  • you can talk 'til you're blue in the face
  • I really dig your sound [dig=admire, understand]
  • [if] we try to make it through these cracker speed traps [African American slang: cracker=white person, or ignorant white person, or Southern white person]
  • ain't nothing free in this world but Jesus
  • and then you bend some crazy note
  • he's got that junkie itch . . . he's totally hooked
  • your slip is hanging
  • I've gone middle-of-the-road [i.e., conventional; no longer innovative or avant-garde]
  • I'm never playing to Jim Crow again. Ever. [Jim Crow=nickname for institutionalized racial segregation]
  • “hit the road, Jack” [i.e., get lost]
  • I won't have you living hand-to-mouth, like me [hand-to-mouth=in poverty, barely able to feed oneself]
  • I'm not playing to Jim Crow joints ever again
  • to lose your fan base
  • if I want to shoot up, I shoot up [take narcotics, especially by injection]
  • Ray Charles was banned from performing [placed on a list of those not allowed to perform]

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

"Ain't Scared of Your Jails"

We are basing three classes this month on this program from the Eyes on the Prize documentary series. The film includes two case studies of nonviolent social change in the southern United States in the early 1960's, led by students of your age. The first case involves students challenging the businesses of downtown Nashville, Kentucky -- businesses who would sell goods to black customers but would not serve them at cafes and lunch counters.

The second case tells the story of the Freedom Riders, whose campaign was directed at the treatment of black passengers on interstate buses. The Supreme Court had already ruled that all interstate passengers had to be treated equally, but in violation of this ruling, some southern states still required black passengers and white passengers to use separate facilities. The Freedom Riders were both black and white students, who traveled as teams; the white students would insist on using the facilities reserved for blacks, and the black students insisted on using the white facilities. The campaign encountered a wave of hysterical violence, some of which is captured in this film.

Our Listening Comprehension class is not a history class, but I don't know of a better way of introducing you to such a wide variety of American English dialects than showing you this film. In comparing pronunciation and speech patterns, pay special attention to these speakers:
  • Ben West (mayor of Nashville)
  • Diane Nash (student, movement leader)
  • Rev. C.T. Vivian (local minister in Nashville)
  • John Lewis (student, Freedom Rider--today a member of the U.S. Congress)
  • James Farmer (organizer of the Freedom Ride campaign, co-founder of Congress of Racial Equality)
  • John Patterson (governor of Alabama)
  • John Siegenthaler (a Southerner who served as special assistant to Bobby Kennedy)
  • Bobby Kennedy (U.S. Attorney General and brother of President John F. Kennedy)
  • Frederick Leonard (student, Freedom Rider; his story of the prison in Mississippi is to my mind the climax of the film)
The film is not subtitled, but you can find the transcript here. (If that link doesn't open, try here.) Discussion questions are below the video.

Discussion questions:

Eyes on the Prize, part 3 “Ain’t Scared of Your Jails” (first half)
  1. Why was the sit-in in Greensboro, North Carolina, a “direct challenge to southern tradition”?
  2. Ben West was the mayor of what city?
  3. When Leo Lillard tasted the water in both drinking fountains and asked his mother about the two fountains, why didn’t she answer him directly?
  4. Why did Diane Nash “so keenly” resent segregation?
  5. Rev. C.T. Vivian describes the workshops in nonviolence led by Jim Lawson. He says that the workshops taught people to “begin to take the blows” and respond with—what?
  6. John Lewis, now a member of Congress, described the first sit-ins of the campaign that followed the workshops. Why did the students dress “like they were on the way to church”?
  7. Diane Nash says that the waitresses were so nervous that “they must have dropped $2,000 worth of dishes that day.” Why were the waitresses nervous?
  8. Narrator: “The sit-ins continued without incident for almost two weeks.” Then what happened?
  9. Narrator: “Nashville’s mayor, Ben West, was faced with more than maintaining public order.” What was the challenge he faced?
  10. Matthew’s mother will never forget her son’s call from the jail. What did he tell her? Why do you think she reacted the way she did?
  11. What power did the parents of the jailed children use to resist?
  12. What happened on April 19 at 5:30 in the morning?
  13. What question did Diane Nash ask Mayor West? How did he respond?
  14. What did Mayor West mean when he said this? “I would answer it in the same way again because it was a moral question and it was one that a man has to answer and not a politician.”
Eyes on the Prize, part 3 “Ain’t Scared of Your Jails” (second half).

The first three questions cover points made on the film that we didn't cover in class because we didn't show the first few minutes of that second half.
  1. Why did Ella Baker recommend that the students form an independent organization?
  2. Why did neither major political party take public action at this point in the civil rights movement?
  3. What phone call did Robert Kennedy make and how did it benefit his brother John Kennedy’s presidential campaign?
  4. Who was the original target of the Freedom Rides, and why?
  5. Why were the Freedom Riders angry with the Federal Bureau of Investigation?
  6. After John Seigenthaler’s visit to Alabama, what did state officials promise? 
  7. What then actually happened as the Freedom Riders’ bus approached Montgomery, Alabama, and arrived at the station? (Frederick Leonard said "Whssssh, magic!" What was he referring to?)
  8. What was U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s response to the events in Montgomery?
  9. What was the situation when Martin Luther King addressed the people in the Baptist Church in Montgomery?
  10. What was the Freedom Riders’ next destination? How many riders were there?Why was there (quoting Frederick Leonard) “no violence in Mississippi”?
  11. The Freedom Riders were sentenced to a term of how many days at Parchman Farm (the maximum security prison in Mississippi)?
  12. What was the one book the prisoners were allowed to have? What seemed strange to the staff about the prisoners’ behavior? How did the staff respond to the prisoners?
  13. What decision did Leonard make, and whom did he tell about this decision?
  14. What did he mean when he said “Hurt Peewee more than it hurt me”?