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401, 401V, 501V: English-Language Reading Diary

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Group 301/401 (Evening): How to Spot a Liar





Here for your review is the video we discussed last Wednesday. Thanks for the lively conversation. Here are some of the questions we worked on:
  1. What is the basic proposition with which Meyer begins her lecture?
  2. Meyer advises: «If you don't want to be deceived, you have to know...» what?
  3. In considering why people lie, what is one of the differences between men and women?
  4. Do married couples lie to each other more or less often than unmarried pairs?
  5. Meyer says, «By the time we enter this work world and we're breadwinners, we enter a world that is just cluttered with spam, fake digital friends, partisan media, ingenious identity thieves, world-class Ponzi schemers, a deception epidemic--in short, what one author calls a post-truth society.» Have you had personal experience with examples of any of these? Which?
  6. What is a «non-contracted denial»?
  7. What example of «distancing language» did Meyer cite?
  8. What is different about the way a lying person smiles?
  9. Why do trained interrogators ask people to repeat their stories and tell them backwards?
  10. What is «duping delight»?
  11. Why is contempt worse or more dangerous than anger?
  12. Meyer cites the saying, «Character is who you are in the dark.» What does she mean by that?
  13. Meyer ends by saying, «When you combine the science of recognizing deception with the art of looking, listening, you exempt yourself from...» What are you actually saying «no» to?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Groups 201-204 Homework: Ultra-short story


This week, we will look at some of these ultra-short stories originally published on Wired magazine's Web site. (Not all of the stories on the site will be used in class.)

Your homework: write a six-word story. I mean a real story, not just six random words! Bring your ultra-short story to class next week.

During the rest of this year, you may write one more ultra-short story instead of any one homework assignment of your choice. For example, if I give you another essay assignment, you can write an ultra-short six-word story instead ... but just once! (Of course, you can also write an analysis of that week's song.)



For inspiration, here are some of the stories written by my students back in 2009:

Institute group 302 came up collectively with this story:
Fingers--why twelve? Bring the knife.

Not to be outdone, group 201 in the School provided a whole set of stories. Here they are, with permission:
Oh, stop shooting. Bring the axe.

--collective

Jack, catch the axe. Got it?

--Masha Kazantseva

Night. Forest. Three men digging a

--Magda Malyukova

This delicious cake was the last.

--Lena Korolyuk

Granny--why do you have such

--Magda Malyukova

Wake up. Take your sleeping pills.

--Masha Kazantseva.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Group 301/401 (Evening): The Brain in Love

Following on the theme of what goes into a happy life, a TED lecture on love and the brain. Here's Helen Fisher:



Questions
  1. What three groups of people have these scientists examined using an MRI brain scanner?
  2. Anthropologists have found what phenomenon in every society?
  3. Almost 95 percent of both men and women gave the same answer—yes—to two different questions. What were the questions?
  4. What did the poet Emily Dickinson say about hell?
  5. The study of people in love found activity in the VTA, “part of the brain's reward system.” What functions are associated with this part of the brain?
  6. Among the people who have been “dumped,” these scientists found brain activity in the same region as the people who were in love. Why does Fisher say, “What a bad deal”?
  7. “Dumped” lovers also have activity in two other brain regions. What functions are those two brain regions responsible for?
  8. In terms of human reproduction, how does romantic love differ from the so-called sex drive?
  9. Fisher tells a story about a girlfriend to illustrate her point about “relapse.” What was the story?
  10. Has the spirit of scientific experimentation spoiled the concept of love for Fisher? How does she illustrate her answer to this question?
  11. What has this scientific team found out about people who are still in love after many years?
  12. What are some of the factors that will determine whether we will love this person and not that person? Is it possible to identify all the factors involved?
  13. In what different ways do men and women express intimacy and friendship?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lena Horne, "New Fangled Tango"

Instead of a video of Lena Horne doing this delightful show tune, here's my favorite video based on the song ...



There's a video of Lena Horne co-performing this song here, but she and her partner are not exactly expressing the promises of the song....

Just the audio:




And here are the words! (Harold Karr / Matt Dubey)

Everybody’s mambo crazy Cha-cha happy, but I’m lazy
I don’t dig that frantic Terpsichore.
When I trip the light fantastic I don’t wanna be gymnastic,
That’s not what a dancing floor is for
What I got in mind is a big improvement
With a very minimum amount of movement
Let the other couples push and shove
What I got in mind I think you’re gonna love

I’ve got a new-fangled tango
And there’s nothing to it
You just sort of stand there
And just sort of do it
You stand close together
There’s no wasted motion
A new fangled tango
An old fashioned notion

The floor may be crowded
But that doesn’t matter
It’s not necessary to move (Don’t move, why move?)
It may be crowded
But that’s all the better
It’s just like romancing, while dancing (Who’s dancin’?)

You start off with one step
And cling to each other
And you know how one step
Can lead to another
Oh, there’s nothing wrong with
A waltz or fandango
But oh, what can come from
A new fangled tango

You cling to your partner
And sway to the rhythm
You can’t lose your partner
’Cause you’re right there with him
You don’t have to be worry
About fast or slow steps
The nice part about it
In this dance, you don’t need steps

You don’t have to worry
If your dancing won’t do
It’s not what you do do
It’s more what you don’t do
You don’t need a waltz
Or a fancy fandango
You just need a man
And a new fangled tango

Forget the fandango
Give up the mambo
Do the tango

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Groups 201-204 Homework: Help Tim with his English!

There are plenty of mistakes--in grammar, vocabulary, and good usage--in this little letter. Please rewrite it using the rules and ideas we've been talking about.

When you have finished this homework, bring it to class. Together, we will help Tim improve his English.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Group 201-204 Homework: Rewarding words and phrases from your easygoing teacher

Winston Churchill, 1874-1965
Please use ten of these words and phrases in complete sentences, showing that you understood how we used them in class. (They're all drawn from Afanasyeva chapter 14, listening comprehension tasks.)

You can use more than one of these words/ phrases in a sentence, so you may end up with fewer than ten sentences.

Please bring your sentences to class on March 19 or 20.

Task 1 (theme: success)
rewarding
regret
decide on
keep an open mind
to give up
to make up one's mind

Task 2
easygoing
to jump on

Task 3
to make the effort
surprisingly
regarding


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sarah Masen, The Dreamlife of Angels, "Girl on Fire"


Прослушать Sarah Masen Girl On Fire на Простоплеере

Amazon.com purchase link.

Girl on Fire, written and performed
Source.   
Amazon.com link
by Sarah Masen

i think we’re coming to a standstill
i think you’re magic with your strong will
but this is love and not justice
he’s hurting everything he touches
you cannot carry what he clutches
he needs a mother and confession
and he does not tell you you are precious

well how about some love and charity
a sense that you are family
i’d like to help but you’re on fire
how about some peace and honesty
some hard-core hope and clarity
you are a precious girl on fire

i think we’re coming to a standstill
i think you’re magic with your strong will
but this is love and not justice
he’s hurting everything he touches
he cannot carry what he clutches
he needs a father and some healing
and he forgets his own words

how about some love and charity
a sense that you are family
i’d like to help but you’re on fire
how about respect and dignity
some hard-core hope and clarity
you are a precious girl on fire

and there is so much in forgiveness
but he is sticking with his business
how about some love and charity
a sense that you are family
you are a precious girl on fire

you are a careful mystery
not someone’s sweet commodity
you are a precious girl on fire
on fire
on fire