Saturday, July 19, 2014

A French blogger was fined for a negative restaurant review title

{This is an image of a judge in an American courtroom. This posting is about a judge's decision in a French courtroom.}

I like this story because it shows the difference in values between the USA and Europe. I actually think European values are 'better'. In the USA internet laws protect giant internet corporations or companies. In Europe, the laws protect the people.

"Values" means what people believe in or consider to be important.

In Europe a person's reputation on the internet is considered very important. (a person's 'reputation' is how people feel about that person)  Europe recently passed a law which forces Google to remove negative comments about a person from that search engine. The law is called "The Right to Be Forgotten Law". A 'right' is a promise made to a citizen by the government concerning what a citizen may freely do or positive aspects of life experience the government protects for a citizen.

In the USA it is very difficult to get negative comments removed from the internet.  In the late 1990s the US Congress passed a law that stated that an internet site cannot be held responsible for what people post on the site.

The Congress did this because internet web sites did not want to be sued if a strange person used the site to post false and negative information about a person on the site.  (to sue someone is when a person hires a lawyer and takes a person to court to change a situation or to get money in regard to a situation - a court is where you have a judge {see the image above})

So let's say that I have a website in which people can post comments and someone posts a comment involving false information about another person, and that false information hurts that person's reputation. The law states that the person who posted the false information can be sued and punished in court, but the website cannot.

Unfortunately, this has caused lots of problems.

Let's say that someone posts false information about you on an American blogging website. You will, of course, write to the website and say, "Hey! Some mentally ill idiot wrote something terrible about me on your site!  It is obviously false, so please remove it."  The site will write back and say, "We don't have to, so we won't. Go get a lawyer and sue the person who left the posting." You can do this, and if you do this the person who attacked you will get into lots of trouble, but this takes time and needless effort.

Actually, the site won't say that, the site will say, "We believe in 100% freedom of speech, so we will NOT remove this from out site."  But, of course, there is no such thing as 100% free speech, anywhere. Basically web sites don't want to pay extra staff to remove content from their site that is hurting people. Because of the law passed by Congress, they don't have to, so they don't.

This is not, however, want the law intended. The law states that a website cannot be sued if an idiot posts something false on it. The law does not say that a website should not remove false content which hurts people. Obviously, a responsible website WILL remove this content.  Most American web sites just don't want to and so lots of people are getting hurt through crazy, malicious postings all the time. 

In the USA internet law protects giant internet corporations.  In Europe, the law protects people.

In any case, this doesn't happen in Europe - I think Europe has a much better system. In regard to the article below, a blogger had a bad experience at a restaurant and, apparently, deliberately tried to ruin the restaurant's reputation.  I would agree with what the judge did. How about you?

Here is a recent article about a French blogger:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2014/07/17/fined-french-bloggerrestaurant-critic-i-will-never-say-bad-things-its-too-dangerous/

Vocabulary:

to be fined - to be punished by a judge and forced to pay money to the person who was hurt

stemmed from - came from

chronicled - detailed in a narrative (story) form; to chronicle something is to talk about it as if you are telling a story in a detailed way

slip ups - mistakes

incompetence - if you are incompetent you cannot do your job well

proprietors - owners

glitches - mistakes

tab - bill, how much she had to pay the restaurant as a fine

a harpy - a character from mythology which is half bird and half woman

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Japanese artist was arrested for 3-D scanning her vagina (she wanted to design a kayak based on her vagina)

I know that there are problems in the world.

I know that 3,000 children starve to death in India every day (to starve to death means to die because of a lack of food). I know that Israel is killing civilians in Gaza (and I am not even sure why).  I know that there is a civil war in Ukraine because an elected president was forcefully removed from office by American supported, violent protesters. There is chaos and conflict all over.


So maybe I should not post something about how vagina-phobic Japan is.  (phobic means fearful).  


There are more pressing (important) problems...but, for some reason, this is the type of story I like posting on this blog. Also, I like the courage and humor of this Japanese artist.


So there is a Japanese female artist who thinks that certain laws in Japan about visually representing the vagina (the vagina is the female sex organ...so put away your bi-lingual dictionary) are ridiculous. Apparently, even if you make a porno film in Japan, the woman's vagina has to be covered electronically.


This artist is questioning why there is such fear and loathing (hatred, disgust) for this part of the woman's body.  




Therefore, she decided to 3-D scan her vagina and try to make a kayak out of it.



Here is the article.  The article also contains a video the artist made (a very funny video) about why she creates vagina art.  Basically she said she had never seen another vagina before and wanted to see how hers looks compared to others.  She can only do this by fighting against Japanese law! ^.^

The article:
http://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/japanese-artist-held-attempting-3d-print-love-boat/#!bfQLRe

Vocabulary from the article:

to detain/detained - the police have her and will not let her go

embraces - welcomes, warmly accepts

the cutting edge - the newest and most innovative and exciting things

conservative - not welcoming change or new things, not being open-minded

pornography - dirty movies, films or videos involving sex

obscenity - when something is considered to be too dirty, too offensive sexually

found herself in hot water - found herself in trouble

genitalia - sexual organs

deco-man - I am confused...I think 'man' might be a term for vagina in Japan....I don't know...

p***y - pussy, a slang term for vagina

crowdfunding - this is a website where people can ask for money to do artistic projects

under arrest - the police are holding her because they believe she committed a crime

taboo - considered shocking and wrong

Friday, July 11, 2014

Test your intermediate level English

15 (more) useful words - answers are beneath the exercise

I am in the process of updating my book for English learners: http://www.amazon.com/York-Sucks-Youll-Wanna-Anyway-ebook/dp/B004TSPAQS

The following exercise will be in the new version of the book (coming out in a couple months).  In the mean time, the first version of the book is available on amazon for only $3.50 - a real bargain. :)

Word bank:

corruption, vindictive, kinky, saga, to flirt, prodigious, to confront, the race, sarcasm, veracity, a scandal, unregulated, to screw someone, a rugged individual, a trend



1. The story of how the United States got involved in the second Iraq War is quite a _______________. It is a long, complicated story of greed and stupidity.

2. Every time you get into a cab, please remember that the driver wants to ________________ you.  He will try to overcharge you somehow.

3. Until the reforms made by Roosevelt in the 1930s, Americans were forced to live as ______________________. There were very few programs the government might offer to help people who were in trouble.  Everyone was supposed to try to take care of himself as well as he/she could.

4. Roberta sent email to Jane, telling her that Bob, Jane’s boyfriend, was cheating on her.  Yet, Jane did not know that Roberta had once been Bob’s girlfriend too.  So was Roberta concerned about Jane or was she just being ________________.

5. The 2008 financial crisis showed that the banking industry cannot remain __________________. Laws and monitors must be in place to make sure this industry is run properly.

6. As someone who is part German and part Polish, I have a quite ______________ nose.  It is much bigger than the normal nose in New York City.

7. Bob had begun to lose weight and he had started to look a bit sexier to women.  He was, in fact, surprised that, now, when he went to a bar, some women would try to ________________ with him.

8. Although Congressman Weiner initially denied everything, he had to resign due to a ______________ involving his selfies of his penis. (a selfie is a photo a person takes of him/herself, often with his/her smart phone)

9. The politicians who run the State of New York are very dishonest, but political ______________ seems to be especially bad in the State if Illinois, where many politicians have been thrown in jail recently. (Illinois is the state that has Chicago in it.)

10. Lyndon Johnson was such a corrupt politician, that some historians even believe he participated in the assassination of John Kennedy (so that he, Johnson, could become president).  The _______________ of this allegation/claim has never been established.

11. Nobody really knows, at this point, which Republican candidate will run in the next presidential ______________.  Republicans have become less popular in the USA than ever before because they only seem to care about the rich.

12. I went to a barber who only spoke Russian and he did not understand my instructions for my haircut.  He totally butchered my hair (slang for: he cut my hair very badly).  When I went to school a lot of the guys said, “Hey Bob – nice hair!  Really great haircut!”  I wasn’t sure whether they thought my hair was trendy or they were engaged in _______________.

13. Not everybody likes ‘normal’ sex.  Some people are ____________ and enjoy trying sexual activities that are legal but considered strange.

14. If you think that your spouse is cheating on you (your wife or husband is going out with another person), it might be a good idea to just _________________ your spouse with your suspicions.

15. Women have stopped buying blue jeans and are starting to buy and wear yoga pants.  The companies that make jeans hope this _______________ will not continue for long.

answers are below:









answers:

1. saga, 
2. screw, 
3. rugged individuals, 
4. vindictive, 
5. unregulated, 
6. prodigious, 
7. flirt, 
8. scandal, 
9. corruption, 
10. veracity, 
11. race, 
12, sarcasm, 
13. kinky, 
14. confront, 
15. trend


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Test your intermediate level vocabulary

Fill-in-the-blanks. Answers are below the exercise.

15 useful words

wealthy, have an advantage over, an election, a lottery, to dominate, the role of, disgraceful, desperate, a campaign, an opponent, to get sick of something, a socialist, under the tutelage of, in the minority, a term



1. I used to live in Flushing but I had to take a bus to reach the subway station to go back and forth, to and from, work.  I just _________________ having to spend so much time traveling each day, so I moved to Woodside, closer to a subway station.

2. New York City has changed a lot in the last 15 years. The biggest change is that rent prices have sky-rocketed (have soared, have risen sharply).  Unless you are willing to live with roommates, you really need to be kind of ______________ to live here.

3. One of the reasons Obama was re-elected president was that he did not have a strong _____________.  Mitt Romney was not a good choice by the Republican Party.

4. As a foreign student I was at a disadvantage in an American school, since native-English speakers tend to ______________ the class discussions.  It always took me awhile to think in English before I could answer a question in class.

5. A US Congressperson will usually serve a _____________ of 2 years, but most Congressmen and women get re-elected at least a couple more times.  Some Congressmen have been re-elected over and over again and have served for over 40 years.  They are usually among the most corrupt Congressmen.

6. Although it is easy to raise a great amount of money through a public _____________ system, where citizens can pay small amounts of money to try to win large amounts, it has been pointed out that most of the people who try to make money this way are poor and they cannot afford to lose even small sums of money.

7. Although many conservatives have attacked Obama and called him a ___________________; he seems to support capitalism, and is not even a very liberal president any more.

8. Although many Asian immigrants have been coming to new York City, and Asians are much more noticeable than they were 15 years ago, they are still __________________ in New York City.

9. If you look at SAT scores (the SAT is a test high school students take which helps determine which colleges they will be accepted at) you can see that the wealthy have _________________ over poorer students.  The more money a student’s family makes, the higher his/her SAT score will be.

10. ________________ nurse requires not only medical knowledge but a sense of compassion for others and really good people skills.

11. Jean Valjean stole a loaf of bread because he was _________________; he had to feed his family.

12. PeiWen became an amazing violinist even before she began studying ______________________ some of the best violin teachers that the Julliard School of music has.

13. In a political ___________ a candidate will often attack his/her opponent instead of focusing on the positive changes he/she will bring about him/herself.

14. In the last ________________ for mayor, only about 25% of the people of New York voted.

15. In the last Congressional election in Flushing, Grace Meng, Taiwanese-American, ran against Rory Lancman, Jewish-American.  There were an equal number of Jewish and Asians in the district. In order to try to win the election in an unethical and _________________ manner, Meng found a Jewish volunteer from her campaign staff and apparently encouraged him to run for Congressman too.  She was hoping that some Jews would vote for Lancman while others would vote for the other guy with the other Jewish name. In this way the Jewish voters would be divided and she would win with all the Asian votes she received. She is now a Congressperson.


Answers are below:









Answers:

1. got sick of, 
2. wealthy, 
3. opponent, 
4. dominate, 
5. term, 
6. lottery, 
7. socialist, 
8. in the minority, 
9. an advantage, 
10. the role of, 
11. desperate, 
12. under the tutelage of, 
13. campaign, 
14. election, 
15. disgraceful,

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

One-third of Americans think Obama is the worst president since World War II


Bush was bad.  In slang terms, Bush sucked.

But now it looks as if many Americans think Obama sucks even more.

Below you'll see an interesting article about a poll taken to determine who the worst president of the past 70 years was.  A poll is when an organization calls up a significant number of people to determine their opinions.

So 33% of Americans believe Obama was the worst president since WW2.  28% said Bush. What this poll also shows is that, honestly, Americans are stupid when it comes to history. Really stupid. They do not even seem to know that a great president, named Eisenhower, did amazing things in the 50s.

As someone who likes to read, and who knows a great deal about history, let me please give you my opinion on the presidents of the last 70 years. I think they can be divided into 3 groups:  A) Great, B) OK, C) They sucked

Here are the presidents who served after WW2: 
Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush 2, Obama


A - Great (only one president)


Dwight D. Eisenhower - "Ike", as Americans called him, was president from 1953 to 1961. During this time we were at peace - he ended the Korean War.  The American economy developed and the Civil Rights Movement (an attempt to make sure black people were treated fairly) started. Ike had the American highway system built so Americans could travel freely around this beautiful country. Generally, Americans made money, started to fight for equal rights for everyone, and lived in peace.  Some historians think Ike was one of the best presidents ever. He, by the way, had been a General in the US Army and was the General who lead the D-Day landings of June 6th 1944. Yes, the man helped defeat Adolph Hitler. Ike was a hell of a great guy!  He was a Republican.


We who read and remember miss you Ike!  Thanks for your amazing service!

B - OK (one president)

Bill Clinton - he wasn't great.  He didn't make any great changes and America didn't change for the better during his presidency.  But from 1993 - 2001 we had peace.  The previous Republican presidents had built up a huge debt and Clinton paid it off.  Business was pretty good under Clinton, however, outsourcing seemed to begin during his administration.  So America began to lose its working class as factories started to be built overseas. He was a Democrat.

C - They sucked!  There are 10 presidents after WW2 who sucked.

Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Bush 2, Obama

Truman - first of all, he didn't have to drop the atomic bombs on innocent women and children in Japan. Second of all, he was sleeping and didn't even suspect that a war in Korea might start.  Third of all, he was sleeping and didn't realize that Russian spies were stealing our atomic secrets.  Truman became the president when Franklin Roosevelt died (the last great president before Eisenhower).  For some crazy reason Roosevelt had picked this uneducated idiot to be his Vice President.

Kennedy - he came from a super wealthy family that bought good news stories for him from journalists.  He did nothing good as president and did terrible, rotten things.  1) He tried to invade Cuba and failed.  2)  He placed nuclear missiles in Turkey, which caused Russia to place nuclear missiles in Cuba, which almost lead to a nuclear war.  3)  He assassinated foreign leaders and tried to assassinate foreign leaders.  4)  He did not care about the poor or the Civil Rights Movement.  5)  He started the Vietnam War, which caused over 50,000 Americans to die and over 2 million Vietnamese to die.  6)  He was kind of a stupid, selfish playboy who had sex with numerous women while he was president.  He cared more about sex than successfully changing the world.

Lyndon Johnson - Johnson was the corrupt idiot Kennedy picked as his Vice President.  There had never been such a corrupt person as president before.  Kennedy started the Vietnam War and Johnson made it worse.  Young people from around the country came to Chicago in 1968 to protest the crazy policies of this idiot and they were attacked by the police.  


Richard Nixon - OK, Johnson was corrupt and many people think Nixon was corrupt too because he was the only US president who had to quit (because of the Watergate scandal in which he was illegally listening to conversations of another presidential candidate). No, Nixon wasn't corrupt, he was mentally ill.  He messed up the Vietnam War as well and did nothing good.

Gerald Ford - Ford is the only president who was never elected president.  Nixon's first Vice President was so crazy and corrupt that he had to quit.  Nixon had to pick another Vice President before he, Nixon, quit. Apparently Nixon made a deal with Ford.  A president can 'pardon' anyone he wants.  This means a president can say "This person is not guilty!"  Even if a person is in jail, a president can pardon the person and get him out of jail.  So Ford promised Nixon that if Nixon quit, Ford would pardon him so Nixon wouldn't have to go to jail.  Nixon quit, Ford pardoned him.  When Ford ran for the presidency, he lost.  He was president for 2 years. He became wealthy afterwards by giving speeches about how it feels to be president.

Jimmy Carter - a total idiot.  I don't think there is one American who would disagree that Jimmy Carter was a TOTAL idiot.  He did nothing in 4 years.  When Americans were taken hostage (prisoners) in Iran, he did nothing.  

Ronald Reagan - he created policies that helped the rich get richer.  America started to develop an income gap under him.  The gap has been widening since. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer.

Bush 1 and 2 - I'm getting tired of writing about these idiots so I am lumping the Bushes together.  Bush 1 was too stupid to realize Saddam Hussein was going to attack Kuwait. After Kuwait was attacked, Bush attacked his old friend, Saddam Hussein.  In the mean time, the economy went down the toilet and Clinton beat Bush 1 in the next election.  Bush 2 was a total idiot. More so than Carter. We are still having trouble in Iraq because of him and the world entered a financial crisis because he was too stupid to see it coming or do anything to stop it.

Obama - I am too disgusted at this point to even write about our current president.

Here's an article in which 1/3 of Americans state that they believe Obama sucked more than any other recent president: 

http://www.quinnipiac.edu/news-and-events/quinnipiac-university-poll/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=2056

Vocabulary from the article:

better off, worse off - basically these words mean: better, worse.  i.e. Sometimes Bob feels he would have been better off if he had stayed in Chicago and not come to New York City. Bill thinks that he would have been worse off if he had not met his wife Linda.

in hindsight - that means looking backwards and thinking about how things could have been better if different decisions had been made

competent - if you can handle or do a job well, you are competent at that job; if you can't handle a job and do it poorly, you are incompetent at that job

stalled - it has stopped and is not moving

Monday, June 30, 2014

Test your higher-level English vocabulary

parochial - narrow minded, having a limited perspective, not open-minded

heedless - not taking enough care while doing something, careless, reckless

libidinous - being motivated by one's sex drive, slang: being 'horny'

duplicity - dishonesty

to parry - to defend oneself from an attack (this word comes from the sport of fencing - to parry a thrust is to stop one's opponent from hitting you with his sword tip by using your sword to deflect his thrust away)

overweening - too confident, too filled with pride, smug, arrogant

conciliatory - trying to make another happy or satisfied instead of making the person angrier; pacifying

to disabuse - to show someone that what he/she believed was inaccurate or false

a martinet - someone who values discipline excessively; someone who is super strict when it comes to leadership

prudish - someone who is too easily offended or embarrassed by sexual discussions or topics


Answers are below the exercise:


1. After the Civil War President Lincoln's policy toward the South was quite _________________. He indicated that he did not want to seek revenge but, instead, he wanted to welcome the South back into the Union and to help develop the South economically.

2. It was Icarus and not Daedalus who had been ________________; Daedalus knew that flying too high or too quickly would bring disaster, but Icarus failed to show this type of humble self-restraint.

3. Some parents have been complaining that the Diary of Anne Frank contains references to an adolescent's curiosity concerning the development of one's own sexual organs. They feel this book should not be read by young students. Other parents feel these parents are being ____________ and that there is no harm in reading the Diary of Anne Frank.

4. Do you think that a person who does not travel much will have a _______________ outlook on the world? Or, can a person be open-minded and intelligent without visiting other countries?

5. When she saw the child fall into the lake, Mary was ______________ of all risk and jumped in to save him. 

6. During the Middle Ages there was much corruption in the Catholic Church and you see this in the tales of _________________ priests in Boccaccio's book Il Decameron.

7. A young officers in the military should try to avoid excessive discipline in regard to his squad lest he acquire the reputation for being a _________________.

8. Bob was able to ____________ Mary's criticism that he was not a strong disciplinarian by saying that he felt positive reinforcement was more effective in regard to raising a child than punishment.

9. You seem to believe that the Persian Empire was run by a series of inhuman dictators, but I would like to _____________ you of that misconception by pointing out that Cyrus was loved by his people and admired around the Mediterranean area.

10. Bob was a straight-forward and honest guy and any form of ________________ bothered him deeply.

Answers are below:







Answers:

1. conciliatory
2. overweening
3. prudish
4. parochial
5. heedless
6. libidinous
7. martinet
8. parry
9. disabuse
10. duplicity



Daniel Gauss ----> http://djg51qu.wix.com/gauss

My ESL book: http://www.amazon.com/Sucks-Youll-Wanna-Anyway-ebook/dp/B004TSPAQS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1301236827&sr=8-1




Sunday, June 29, 2014

Where did human language come from?

Here is an interesting little article about how human language might have developed. Actually, I don't think these researchers are on the right track (moving toward a right or correct answer).  But this article helps to show how mysterious the origins and nature of human language are.  We use it every day and we often don't think about where it came from or what it really can and cannot do.

The article:

http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/human-language-deep-origins-0611

Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

syntax - basically this means sentence structure or how words are arranged to make sentences

amplifies - makes it bigger or larger or stronger

hypothesis - this is a theory or guess as to why something happened or exists

birdsong - the songs birds sing

primates - monkeys

an endangered primate - a monkey that seems to be dying out

vocalize - use it's voice to make sounds. I found something on youtube about the silvery gibbon vocalizing:


signal territory - to indicate through sound that a certain territory belongs to him

a mere curiosity - something that is just strange; here they are saying this is not just unusual or strange behavior but a possible clue or key to understanding the evolution of human langauge

a clue - a clue points to something that will help to solve a mystery

communication modes - methods of communicating

derived - got

melodic - the melody part, the part with a rhythm

pragmatic - useful

fused - joined

finite - limited

unbounded - no limits to what can be expressed

antecedents - something that came before

integration - when things come together; the opposite of segregation - when things are kept apart

mutable structure - changeable structure

to reside - to live

a linguistic phenomenon - something that happens in language

to be embedded - to be placed

anti - this means against

adjacency - nearness

discrete - separate

it bolsters our case - it makes our argument or theory stronger

something novel - something new