Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Wikipedia is wrong in 9 out of 10 articles in regard to health information

I've always been skeptical about Wikipedia. (If you are skeptical of something, you don't believe in it fully or at all.)  I have read reports that some people are paid to edit and 'guard' Wikipedia pages and that there is a core of about 1,500 anonymous (nobody knows who they are) 'editors' who dominate (control) the site. 

Let's say, for instance, that you make an edit in an article that one of these experienced volunteer editors doesn't like. Your edit will be removed and if you persist in defending your edit, other members of this 'core' come along and file complaints against you so that you will be banned from editing Wikipedia in the future. When votes are taken, the core rules, and you get pushed out. So Wikipedia is not even a site where 'anybody' can edit. 

The writing quality is also really poor and in regard to less well-known topics, there is often insufficient information or inaccurate information.  Basically, normal, educated people don't edit Wikipedia - nobody is really sure who these people who dominate Wikipedia are.  But normal people (stupidly) use Wikipedia and trust it. In fact, the article says that even doctors are so lazy that they just look on Wikipedia for their information.

Well, a scientific association has just pointed out that if you go to Wikipedia for health information, a lot of the information will be inaccurate.  Medical doctors do not waste their time editing Wikipedia. Unemployed guys who live in their mothers' basements spend time 'editing' Wikipedia, and they are providing your doctors with their medical knowledge! 

An article about how terrible Wikipedia is:


Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

peer-reviewed - before a scientific paper is published, it is read by the 'peers' of the scientist or scientists who wrote the paper.  Your peers are people who surround you or who are like you.  By having peers read the paper before it is published, they can help fix mistakes in the paper and even make recommendations to make the paper better.

a GP - General Practitioner (basically a normal doctor)

crucial - extremely important, critical

charity - Wikipedia claims to be not-for-profit, but it raises zillions of dollars every year.  Into whose pocket does this money go if the site is supposed to be run, primarily, by volunteers?

reliability - the level to which you can trust it

convenient - easy to use: so this is the problem, the internet has made everyone lazy. People just grab whatever garbage information is offered to them instead of being critical thinkers.  Even doctors are grabbing the garbage information from Wikipedia, and the articles are probably being written by unemployed high-school graduates.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A party was thrown to 'celebrate' the 9/11 Memorial Museum

Many people seem outraged (extremely angry and upset) that various wealthy and famous people - including ex-Mayor Michael Bloomberg - had a party at the 9/11 Memorial Museum before its official opening.

A 'memorial' museum is a museum meant to help people remember something.  Basically this museum is meant to help people remember the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York City and Washington D.C.

By the way, the verb 'to throw' is usually used with the noun 'party'.  i.e. They threw a party for their friend's birthday.  i.e.  Are you going to throw a party for your child's graduation?

Here is an article about the 'party':


Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

remains of attack victims - this means parts of the bodies of those killed in the attacks. Apparently many people burned to death and their bodies turned into ashes which mixed with the dirt.  So they could not get all the 'remains' of the dead out of the area. To be honest with you, I'm not entirely sure why the remains of some of the victims are still there (I'm guessing). It could be that these 'remains' or body parts were left there intentionally or deliberately as part of the memorial function of the museum.

an alcohol fueled party - a party in which alcohol was served and in which people had a great deal of fun due to the alcoholic drinks

honchos - big shots, important people. Conde Nast is a publishing company.

VIP - very important person

first responders - firemen and police officers; so firemen and police officers were allowed to visit the museum before it opened, but some of them were refused entry because a party was being set up on that day.

a blowout dedication ceremony - this means they had lots and lots of fun

the eve - the night before

sacred - holy, of religious meaning

nibbled - to nibble something is to eat something very delicately; to take small bites

billed as - advertised as

on condition of anonymity - he didn't want anyone to know who he was

festive - party-like, fun

hor d'oeuvres - little chunks of food eaten before a main meal and usually eaten with one's hands

a gravesite - a place where the dead are buried

soiree - a party thrown in the evening where people get together informally to chat  

desecrated - if you desecrate something, you take something holy or religious and use it for a less meaningful purpose

picking up the tab - paying the costs

tourist site and shrine - a place for tourists to visit and a place to remember those who died in a respectful manner

an advocate - someone who speaks in favor of something or speaks to promote something

Shame on the museum! - the museum should feel shame or embarrassment due to its actions

Martial law in Thailand

Martial law is military law - it is when the military takes over a society. Usually the military claims that martial law is necessary to maintain order or to ensure (make sure of) safety.

The Prime Minister of Thailand, Yingluck Shinawatra, had been a controversial person (a controversial person is someone who is admired by some but hated by others - someone who causes strong debates or arguments).  Many poor farmers supported her and believed that she was trying to help them gain their rights and to live better. However, many city-dwellers felt this Prime Minister was corrupt (dishonest) and opposed her.  She was recently removed from office due to a court decision and this has lead to unrest in the country (unrest, basically, means trouble).

Indeed, Shinawatra was removed from power after her political enemies brought charges (complaints) against her.  Many of her supporters and others outside of Thailand believe she may have been innocent and that the process was anti-democratic (against democratic laws).

There are many good vocabulary words in this following article.

Here is an article about the situation:


Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

to impose - to put into effect, to start something

tense - if a situation is tense, it means that people are scared and nervous because something terrible might happen

violence has spilled into the streets - here is an example of how language can be used figuratively.  You literally spill water when you tip a glass of water over.  In this case they are saying (figuratively) that violence is spilling into the streets, like water or any other liquid.  This means the violence is uncontrollable and spreading.

underscoring - underlining, highlighting, making something more apparent or obvious

instability - the lack of security or stability or safety

unilaterally - by itself

coup d'etat - this is when the military takes over a government by force

a ticker - this is a text that runs along the bottom of the TV screen

to panic - to get overly excited and act without thinking

a constitutional monarchy - a country that has a king but also a constitution (a central system of laws)

imposition - placing, putting

restraint - not taking violent action, showing calm, not doing something harmful

utmost - the very most

refrain from - don't do something

turmoil - trouble

abusing power - not using power responsibly, using power for one's own good

alleging - claiming, stating

ascension - rise

disrupted - interrupted

invalid - not legitimate, not right

protesters - people who publicly and forcefully complain about something

to take to the streets - to go into the public areas to complain

botched - messed up; if something is botched, it didn't work

an amnesty bill - basically a law to forgive someone for something he/she did in the past

a tycoon - a very wealthy person

to be ousted - to be kicked out

self-imposed exile - choosing to live outside of one's own country

tension - conflict

vehemently - passionately, with deep emotion

calling the shots - making decisions

volatile - changeable, not stable, things can change from one minute to the next

precarious - dangerous, risky

evenhanded - fair

preempt - prevent

rallies - gatherings of people

a check and balance system - a system to make sure nobody gets too much power

surged - increased

to foresee - to look forward in time

ratchet up - make things more severe or worse; a ratchet is a tool, like a wrench

a bias - a prejudice

to haunt - to remain and cause trouble, like a ghost

stark - very plain and obvious and harsh

Monday, May 19, 2014

Vietnam says "Good riddance!" to Chinese workers

If you say "Good riddance!" to someone or to a group of people, you are, basically, saying, "Good bye, I am so happy to see you leave!"  Or:  "We will be better now that you are gone!"  Did you ever hear of the phrase "to get rid of something"?  "Riddance" comes from the root of "rid".

China sent ships into Vietnamese territorial waters and has been trying to steal oil from this country.  The Vietnamese people are very upset and have been protesting (openly and publicly speaking out against this). China is now removing various workers from Vietnam.  Vietnam's response?  "Good riddance!"

An article about this story:


Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

to evacuate - to remove people from a dangerous situation

a riot - when a protest becomes violent

chartered by - hired by, paid for by

unrest - protests, riots - when people are upset and start doing violent things because they are so upset

sovereignty claims - China seems to believe that many islands near other countries belong to China.  The other countries (and the rest of the world) disagree. Sovereignty means something belongs to a country.

will play well in China - will make the government of China look good to the Chinese people

a gesture - a move, an action

deploying the ships - sending the ships

reinforce the image as a victim - China wants to make it seem as if Vietnam is the bad guy, yet many Chinese people rioted against Japanese businesses a couple years ago and the Chinese government supported that violence.

a mob - a large group of violent people

nationals - people belonging to a country

overlapping territorial claims - both countries believe the area belongs to them; the area belongs to Vietnam

a standoff - nobody is winning and nobody is losing.  Go Vietnam!

an oil rig - a giant device to get oil from under the sea

labelled China's move as provocative - China is trying to start trouble.  Go Vietnam!

an impediment - an obstacle, something that might stop someone.  

deepening rather than alleviating - making things worse instead of better

prevailing - existing

to bode well - to look as if something good is going to happen

gangs intent on looting - basically, this is a lie.  Looting is when property is stolen. Often times American news sources will provide positive news about China because they are receiving funding from Chinese sources.  Go Vietnam!

authoritarian country - again, this is anti-Vietnam 'propaganda'.  I happen to know many people in this country and they would not describe the country as 'authoritarian.' China on the other hand...well, did you ever hear of Tiananmen Square?

cracked down - taken strict measures to stop something; again, there is no real journalism in America - every story is paid for by someone.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

An artist builds little homes for the homeless in Oakland, California

Here is a story about a person who trained as an artist but who also spends his time building little homes for homeless people.

Here is the article:


Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

charming - so the artist does not build cheap-looking, ugly structures. He builds 'charming' structures - they are attractive and cute and pleasant looking.

peddling, to peddle - selling, to sell; in the old days peddlers walked around or drove in horses and buggies and sold things publicly, like vegetables.

a shelter - a safe place

pricey - expensive

mobile - movable

illegally discarded garbage - if a company has a lot of extra wood or other things that it does not need, it costs money to dispose of (get rid of) this stuff, so they will sometimes just drive it to an area where there are no people or few people and dump the stuff illegally.

a wood pallet - this is a flat piece of wood on which goods or products are stacked or piled up.

the foundation - the floor of the little house

insulated - insulation is the material put inside a wall to try to keep a building warm in the winter. So this artist uses pizza delivery bags inside the walls to help keep the inside of the little houses warm.

a pitched roof - a roof that is slanted; a roof that is not flat

just night and day - I think he means temporary, not permanent

cramped quarters - living space where there is very little room to move around

a dumpster - a giant garbage can that you often see outside of supermarkets

an abode - a home

an influx - in this case, people coming in; an influx is something coming in

an advocate - someone who speaks out for something; someone who believes in something and encourages others to support it

unconventional - not normal, not ordinary

vulnerable - easily hurt, easily harmed

priced out by soaring rent - unable to afford the rising rents

minimum wage - the lowest amount of money an employer may legally pay an employee

Monday, May 12, 2014

A video has been released of the kidnapped girls in Nigeria

Here is the latest story from the BBC about the 300 kidnapped Nigerian girls:


Vocabulary to help you understand the article (this article is pretty simply written):

to be kidnapped - to be taken against one's will and held, usually until money is paid for one's release. Apparently these girls were taken by this group to try to force the Nigerian government to release other members of this group from jail.  

Boko Haram - the name of the group that kidnapped the girls. The name means: "Western education is sinful" - sinful means against the will of God or against God's law

a hijab - a type of Muslim clothing for women

converted - switched, changed, transitioned into

abducted - taken by force (it always pertains to taking a human being)

threatened to sell them - they threatened to sell the girls as slaves

liberated them - freed them; the group is claiming they have freed the girls from a 'wrong' religion and helped them accept the 'true' religion

correspondents - journalists

to avoid detection - to make sure they are not found 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A cartoon that is critical of the USA's policies toward student debt etc.

I thought the cartoon below was interesting.  The link from which I got this cartoon is under the cartoon. The cartoon is under the vocabulary words - please scroll down.  

Please be careful, however - this cartoon contains many 'slang' terms and terms which are considered 'vulgar' (i.e. 'dirty words').  I think it's important for foreign learners to be exposed to all forms of the English language, however, so I'm including this cartoon in this blog.

Vocabulary to help you understand the cartoon:

to be critical of something  - to find something wrong with something or to question something

WTF - this stands for "What the fuck!"  If a person is shocked, he/she might say: "What the fuck!!?"  This is much stronger than "What the hell!!?"   Let's say that you go to your car and see that someone has smashed into it. You might respond by saying, "What the fuck!!?"

silhouette - this is a dark image of something. Even though the image is dark, you can tell what the image represents. 

universal access - access for everyone.  In Nordic countries everyone can go to college.

a no-brainer - if something is a no-brainer, it is obvious. It should be an easy choice. So providing free education to college students should be a no-brainer - it is obviously the right thing to do.

the ultimate investment - in this case ultimate means the best, although ultimate often means final or last

crippling debt - to be crippled means you can't walk; so crippling debt means that people are in so much debt they can't really do anything.  There are two reasons young Americans are under crippling debt - 1) universities in America are run like businesses and 2) banks and loan organizations make lots of money by giving students loans with high interest.  Interest is the fee you have to pay after you take out a loan.  Often times a student will take out a $20,000 loan, but with the interest payments, the student will have to pay back $30,000 or more.  So Americans are more interested in making money from their young people than providing them with an education.

unleashed - in this case it means 'allowed'; a leash is something you use to keep an animal under control - for instance, if you walk your dog, you should have a leash attached to his/her collar.  To unleash something is to basically say, "go ahead! You are free to do what you want!"

to prey on - there are many 'for profit' schools, usually for poor people who take out loans, that charge students a lot but which do not have good reputations and from which students do not benefit.  These schools 'prey on' students - the way big animals prey on (hunt and kill) smaller animals.

to fool someone - to trick someone, to deceive someone; so silhouette man is saying that the rich really control the US government but they make the normal people think that they are being represented in government.

a recipe - a formula for; if something is a recipe for something else, it means that something being done will have certain negative consequences.  So these US policies are going to cause disaster for the USA.

hurtling toward - falling toward 

unraveling - falling apart


The link:

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Japanese anti-nuclear protests in Tokyo ('anti' means 'against')

There has been a debate in the USA, since 1945, as to whether two atomic bombs should have been dropped on Japanese cities at the end of World War II.  The two cities chosen were not military targets and hundreds of thousands of elderly people, as well as women and children, were killed.

Indeed, many people believe that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was an act of anti-Asian racism.  (Racism is a hatred of a group of people because of their skin color.)

The Japanese people have always been in the forefront of protests against nuclear weapons due to the fact that the only two nuclear weapons ever used in war were used against them. After the Fukushima nuclear powerplant disaster of 2011, many Japanese people began protesting the use of nuclear power.

Indeed, about one year after the Fukushima disaster, large groups of people began regular protests outside of the Japanese Prime Minister's office in Tokyo each Friday night.  Here is an article about the 100th consecutive protest.

The article:


Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

to protest, to demonstrate - basically these words mean the same thing.  If a group of people protests something, they gather together to express their disagreement with a policy or action.

a rally - a rally is similar to a protest but tends to be more 'positive.'  At a rally there might be speakers or performers and information will be shared instead of just expressing anger.

dwindling - dropping, decreasing

a fixture - something that is always there

to mobilize - if you want to mobilize a group, you want to get them to become more active and more involved

the silent majority - most people are against nuclear weapons and power, but they don't say anything

to sustain - to keep it going

a beacon - this is a large tower from which a light source can be seen.  

to hoist - to lift

to chant - to repeat over and over again

resumption - beginning again

screenings - checking to see whether everything is ok and can be restarted

decommissioned - inactive, not in service

ill legacy - a legacy is something that is given by one person to a person of the next generation; an ill legacy means handing over something bad to the next generation

unfolded - developed

a heyday - the most popular time

desensitized - no longer aware, no longer sensitive to

emitting - giving off

contaminated - polluted

opposition - to be against something

spurred - encouraged, caused

to stage a protest - to have a protest

a morale booster - morale and moral are different words.  To be moral means to be good and it is an adjective.  Morale is a noun and it means to feel good or bad about something.  For instance, if the players on a sports team have good morale, they are happy and enthusiastic.  If they suffer from bad morale, they feel discouraged and unhappy.  The morale at a company can be good or bad. A boost is an increase.  So if something is a morale booster, it makes people feel better and more optimistic.

abolishment - getting rid of, eliminating

from surfacing - from becoming known or apparent

clouded - covered

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A troubling English sex abuse scandal

One of England's most popular TV personalities was a guy named Jimmy Savile.  He often hosted a TV series called "Top of the Pops!"  This was a weekly TV show about pop music.  I am not English (I'm American) so I don't know much about this show other than the fact that it was very popular and seemed to be shown in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.

From Top of the Pops:

Savile died in 2011 and, after his death, apparently, many women came forward and claimed he had sexually abused (harmed) them many years earlier.  Some women claimed he had done this in the 1960s and 70s. I don't know all the details, but it seems as if the English police and the BBC (the television network) never did anything about the sex abuse allegations (claims, accusations).

Now, England has arrested several famous men who also, allegedly (supposedly), committed sexual abuse in the 1960s and 1970s.  Again, I am not from England and just learned about this, but it seems that about 10 or 15 men have been arrested by the police and are going to go on trial for crimes they supposedly committed 30 or 40 years ago.

One of these performers is named Rolf Harris.  He is charged with sexually touching young girls in the 60s, 70s and 80s.  He is now 84.  Here is an old Rolf Harris video:

Some people are claiming that because the police allowed Jimmy Savile to abuse children for so long they are now on a 'witch-hunt.'  A witch-hunt is when people are falsely accused of having done something wrong in order to make it seem as if the police or people in power are doing their jobs.  In a witch hunt many innocent people are falsely arrested.

Some of the people who were arrested for crimes they were supposed to have committed many years ago have been found not-guilty.  However, one person was recently found guilty and lawyers for the people who claim to have been victims are saying that this conviction (when a person is found guilty it is a conviction)  shows that this is not a witch-hunt and that many English celebrities from the past were abusing children.

I am concerned about the fact that these guys are being brought to trial after so long.  Is it possible for them to receive a fair trial?  What kind of evidence can there be?  Is this right? As always, I am trying to present something thought-provoking and you can make up your own mind.  If sexual abuse happened, this is horrible and I feel complete and total empathy for those who were hurt as children. Yet, it also bothers me that these guys are going on trial for things that supposedly happened 30 or 40 years ago.  I am not sure this is right.

But any way you look at this situation, it is a huge embarrassment for England.  Either many of their stars were sexually attacking children in the past and the police were doing nothing, or they are arresting innocent people. Or, maybe it's a little bit of both.

Here is the latest article about this situation:


Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

a conviction - when a person is found guilty in a courtroom; an acquittal is when a person is found innocent or not guilty

Operation Yewtree - a police investigation can be called an operation.  Sometimes operations are given code names. The name of this operation or investigation - in regard to English celebrities who may have abused children sexually - is called Yewtree.  Often there is no connection between the name of the operation and the operation itself.

celeb witch hunt - a celebrity witch-hunt.  A witch hunt is when innocent people are arrested because people in power want to pretend they are doing their jobs.

offences - crimes

a publicist - this is a person who helps celebrities become famous

eight counts - 8 examples of wrongdoing

indecent assault - indecent means sexual in this case, so an indecent assault is a sexual attack

PR guru - PR means public relations...the field that influences people's attitudes toward celebrities and organizations.  a guru is a great teacher or a person who has really mastered his/her field

cleared - found not guilty of something

a jury - 12 people who decide whether a person is guilty or innocent

a verdict - a decision of guilt or innocence

Met police - city police

inquiry - investigation

allegations - claims that someone did something wrong

in the wake of - following

a scandal - when something negative is revealed about someone famous that the famous person does not want others to know about

high-profile - a high-profile arrest is when the police arrest (take into custody) someone famous

released without charge - they were not formally arrested; they do not have to appear in court for a trial

failing to prosecute Savile - those in power did not arrest someone who was an obvious offender and now they are over-arresting people to make up for their previous mistakes

an accusation - a claim that something wrong occurred

should come forward with even if the offenses - this is a mistake. They should have written: should come forward even if the offenses

predatory - a predator is a hunter, so a predatory person is someone who looks for powerless people to harm

to groom and then abuse the vulnerable - to groom someone in this case means to influence or manipulate the person to the point where she can be used sexually; someone vulnerable is someone who can be hurt

shrouded in silence - covered in silence

vital - important

corroboratory - to corroborate means to support, so corroboratory evidence means things that really show a crime occurred.  In this case there is nothing that shows that a crime occurred - just words (testimony).  So the lawyer for the people making the accusations is happy that someone can be found guilty just based on words.

ruthless - showing no mercy or sympathy or concern for others

on the eve of something - the day before