Unit 1 Love Without Limitations
Para 1 My brother, Jimmy, did not get enough oxygen during a difficult delivery, leaving him with brain damage, and two years later I was born. Since then, my life revolved around my brother's. Accompanying my growing up was always "go out and play and take your brother with you". I couldn't go anywhere without him, so I urged the neighborhood kids to come to my house for some out-of-control kid-centered fun.
Para 2 My mother taught Jimmy practical things like how to brush his teeth or put on a belt.
My father, a saint, simply held the house together with his patience and understanding. I was in charge outside where I administered justice by tracking down the parents of the kids who picked on my brother, and telling on them.
Para 3 My father and Jimmy were inseparable. They ate breakfast together and on weekdays drove off to the navy shipping center every morning where they both worked—Jimmy unloaded color-coded boxes. At night after dinner, they would talk and play games late into the evening. They even whistled the same tunes.
Para 4 So when my father died of a heart attack in 1991, Jimmy was a wreck, beneath his careful disguise. He was simply in disbelief. Usually very agreeable, he now quit speaking altogether and no amount of words could penetrate the vacant expression he wore on his face. I hired someone to live with him and drive him to work, but no matter how much I tried to make things stay the same, even Jimmy grasped that the world he'd known was gone. One day I asked, "You miss Dad, don't you?" His lips quivered and then he asked, "What do you think, Margaret? He was my best friend." Our tears began to flow.
Para 5 My mother died of lung cancer six months later and I alone was left to look after Jimmy.
Para 6 He didn't adjust to going to work without my father right away, so he came and lived with me in New York City for a while. He went wherever I went and seemed to adjust pretty well. Still, Jimmy longed to live in my parents' house and work at his old job and I pledged to help him return. Eventually, I was able to work it out. He has lived there for 11 years now with many different caretaker sand blossomed on his own. He has become essential to the neighborhood. When you have any mail to be picked up or your dog needs walking, he is your man.
Para 7 My mother was right, of course: It was possible to have a home with room for both his limitations and my ambitions. In fact, caring for someone who loves as deeply and appreciates my efforts as much as Jimmy does has enriched my life more than anything else ever could have.
Para 8 This hit home a few days after the September 11th disaster on Jimmy's 57th birthday. I had a party for him in my home in New York, but none of our family could join us because travel was difficult and they were still reckoning with the sheer terror the disaster had brought. I called on my faithful friends to help make it a merry and festive occasion, ignoring the fact that most of them were emotionally drained and exhausted.
Instead of the customary "No gifts, please", I shouted, "Gifts! Please!"
Para 9 My friends—people Jimmy had come to know over the years—brought the ideal presents: country music CDs, a sweatshirt, one leather belt with "J-I-M-M-Y" on it, a knitted wool hat and a cowboy costume. The evening led up to the gifts and then the chocolate cake from his favorite bakery, and of course the ceremony wasn't complete without the singing.
Para 10 A thousand times Jimmy asked, "Is it time for the cake yet?" After dinner and the gifts Jimmy could no longer be restrained. He anxiously waited for the candles to be lit and then blew them out with one long breath as we all sang "Happy Birthday". Jimmy wasn't satisfied with our effort, though. He jumped up on the chair and stood erect pointing both index fingers into the air to conduct us and yelled, "One... more... time!"
We sang with all of the energy left in our souls and when we were finished he put both his thumbs up and shouted, "That was super!"
Para 11 We had wanted to let him know that no matter how difficult things got in the world, there would always be people who cared about him. We ended up reminding ourselves instead. For Jimmy, the love with which we sang was a welcome bonus, but mostly he had just wanted to see everyone else happy again.
Para 12 Just as my father's death had changed Jimmy's world overnight, September 11th changed our lives; the world we'd known was gone. But, as we sang for Jimmy and held each other tight afterward praying for peace around the world, we were reminded that the constant love and support of our friends and family would get us through whatever life might present. The simplicity with which Jimmy had reconciled everything for us should not have been surprising. There had never been any limitations to what Jimmy's love could accomplish.
Unit 4 Five Famous Symbols of American Culture
The Statue of Liberty
Para 1 In the mid-1870s, French artist Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was working on an enormous project called Liberty Enlightening the World, a monument celebrating US independence and the France-America alliance. At the same time, he was in love with a woman whom he had met in Canada. His mother could not approve of her son's affection for a woman she had never met, but Bartholdi went ahead and married his love in 1876.
Para 2 That same year Bartholdi had assembled the statue's right arm and torch, and displayed them in Philadelphia. It is said that he had used his wife's arm as the model, but felt her face was too beautiful for the statue. He needed someone whose face represented suffering yet strength, someone more severe than beautiful. He chose his mother.
Para 3 The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on an island in Upper New York Bay in 1886.
It had his mother's face and his wife's body, but Bartholdi called it "my daughter, Liberty".
Para 4 Before all the different types of Barbie dolls for sale now, there was just a single Barbie.
Actually, her name was Barbara.
Para 5 Barbara Handler was the daughter of Elliot and Ruth Handler, co-founders of the Mattel Toy Company. Ruth came up with the idea for Barbie after watching her daughter play with paper dolls. The three-dimensional model for Barbie was a German doll—a joke gift for adults described as having the appearance of "a woman who sold sex". Mattel refashioned the doll into a decent, all-American—although with an exaggerated breast size—version and named it after Barbara, who was then a teenager.
Para 6 Since her introduction in 1959, Barbie has become the universally recognized Queen of the Dolls. Mattel says the average American girl owns ten Barbie dolls, and two are sold somewhere in the world every second.
Para 7 Now more than sixty years old, Barbara—who declines interviews but is said to have loved the doll—may be the most famous unknown figure on the planet.
Para 8 Barbie's boyfriend, Ken, was introduced in 1961 and named after Barbara's brother. The real Ken, who died in 1994, was disgusted by the doll that made his family famous. "I don't want my children to play with it," he said in 1993.
Para 9 Grant Wood instantly rose to fame in 1930 with his painting American Gothic, an often-copied interpretation of the solemn pride of American farmers. The painting shows a serious-looking man and a woman standing in front of a farmhouse. He was strongly influenced by medieval artists and inspired by the Gothic window of an old farmhouse, but the faces in his composition were what captured the world's attention.
Para 10 Wood liked to paint faces he knew well. For the grave farmer he used his dentist, a sour-looking man. For the woman standing alongside him, the artist chose his sister, Nan. He stretched the models' necks a bit, but there was no doubt who posed for the portrait.
Para 11 Nan later remarked that the fame she gained from American Gothic saved her from a very boring life.
The Buffalo Nickel
Para 12 Today, American coins honor prominent figures of the US government—mostly famous former presidents. But the Buffalo nickel, produced from 1913 to 1938, honored a pair of connected tragedies from the settlement of the American frontier—the destruction of the buffalo herds and the American Indians.
Para 13 While white people had previously been used as models for most American coins, famed artist James Earle Fraser went against tradition by using three actual American Indians as models for his creation.
Para 14 For the buffalo on the other side, since buffalo no longer wandered about the great grasslands, Fraser was forced to sketch an aging buffalo from New York City's Central Park Zoo. Two years later, in 1915, this animal was sold for $100 and killed for meat, a hide, and a wall decoration made from its horns.
Para 15 Fourteen-year-old Sam Wilson ran away from home to join his father and older brothers in the fight to liberate the American colonies from the British during the American Revolution. At age 23, he started a meat-packing business and earned a reputation for being honest and hard-working.
Para 16 During a later war in 1812, Wilson gained a position inspecting meat for US Army forces, working with a man who had signed a contract with the government to provide meat to the army. Barrels of meat supplied to the army were stamped "EA-US", identifying the company (EA) and the country of origin (US). According to one story, when a government official visited the plant and asked about the letters, a creative employee told him "US" was short for "Uncle Sam" Wilson. Soon soldiers were saying all Army supplies were from "Uncle Sam".
Para 17 After the war, a character called Uncle Sam began appearing in political cartoons, his form evolving from an earlier cartoon character called Brother Jonathan that was popular during the American Revolution. Uncle Sam soon replaced Brother Jonathan as American's most popular symbol. The most enduring portrait of Uncle Sam was created by artist James Montgomery Flagg in his famous army recruiting posters of World Wars I and II. That version—a tall man with white hair and a small white beard on his chin, a dark blue coat and a tall hat with stars on it—was a self-portrait of Flagg.
Unit 6 How to Prepare for Earthquakes
Para 1 Ideally, people would like to know when an earthquake is going to happen and how bad it will be. In both Japan and China, people have long believed that earthquakes can be forecast. In Japan, scientists have wired the Earth and sea to detect movements. The Chinese have traditionally watched animals and plants for warning signs of earthquakes. For example, the Chinese have noted that before an earthquake, hens' behavior changes—they refuse to enter their cages at night. They have also noticed that snakes come out of the ground to freeze to death and that dogs bark a lot, even normally quiet dogs. Before the Hanshin earthquake in Japan, there were reports of large schools of fish swimming near the surface of the water. Certain birds, like pigeons, also seemed to be especially noisy and were reported to be flying in unusual patterns before the earthquake. Perhaps most interesting, and most easily measured, is a chemical change in ground water before a quake. Experimental data seem to indicate that the amount of radon (Rn) in the water under the surface of the Earth waxes before an earthquake.
Para 2 People would also like to be able to prevent the great destruction of property caused by earthquakes. After all, most of the people who die in earthquakes are killed by falling buildings. Therefore, building structures that can withstand the power of earthquakes is a major concern. Steel seems to be the best material, but not if it is welded to form a rigid structure. Many new structures are built with a new type of steel joint, an I-joint, which appears to be the most durable type of joint. These joints of steel can move without breaking. Also, to prevent property damage, architects now design buildings so that the building's columns and horizontal beams are of equal strength, and vertical support columns are inserted deep into solid soil.
Para 3 In addition, many new houses have relatively light roofs and strong walls. Concrete pillars for highway bridges that previously only had steel rods inside are now enclosed in steel. Besides working to improve building structures, people in areas where earthquakes are common need to prepare for the possibility of a great earthquake. They should regularly check and reinforce their homes, place heavy objects in low positions, attach cupboards and cabinets to walls, and fasten doors so that they will not open accidentally during an earthquake.
Para 4 In addition to preparing their houses, people in these regions need to prepare themselves.
They should have supplies of water and food at home and at work. It is best to store several gallons of water per person. It is also important to have something that can clean water and kill bacteria, so water from other sources can be made safe to drink. Store one week's food for each person. Earthquake survival supplies include a radio receiver, a torch, extra batteries, first aid supplies, a spade, a tent, some rope, and warm clothing. Experts also suggest the following:
Para 5 Keep a fire extinguisher handy. You should have one at home, at work, and in your car (if you have one). The fire extinguisher should be able to put out any type of fire. Have the proper tools to turn off gas and water lines if necessary. Arrange an auxiliary cooking and heating source that can be used outside. One alternative is a portable camp stove with small cans of gas. Keep a pair of heavy, comfortable shoes or boots in your home, at work, and in your vehicle. If there is an earthquake, there will be lots of fragments of broken glass. Light shoes will not protect your feet as well as heavy shoes will.
Para 6 Every family needs to have earthquake emergency plans. How will family members leave the area during the chaos following an earthquake? Everyone should agree on a meeting point outside of the area—perhaps in a town several miles away. Also important is an arrangement for family members to communicate if there is an earthquake. If an earthquake happens in a large city, many of the telephone lines within the city are likely to be down. The few remaining working lines will be busy with the calls that naturally occur after a disaster and it will be difficult to call from one part of the city to another. It might, however, be possible to call outside the city. A sensible arrangement is to have all of the members of the family call to check in with a friend or relative who lives more than a hundred miles away.
Para 7 Although scientists still cannot predict earthquakes, they are learning a great deal about how the large plates in the Earth's crust move, the stresses between plates, how earthquakes work, and the general probability that a given place will have an earthquake. Someday soon it may actually become possible to predict earthquakes with accuracy. However, even if prediction becomes possible, people who live in areas where earthquakes are a common occurrence will still have to do their best to prevent disasters by building structures that are resistant to ground movement and by being personally prepared. These precautions can make a great difference in saving lives and preventing the loss of homes. Education concerning how to survive an earthquake should be a major emphasis for all government programs and earthquake-related research projects.
Unit 9 Premarital Agreements
1．A future husband wanted to be sure that if his marriage didn't work out, he could keep his treasured ice-cream collection safely stored away in a freezer. A woman insisted on verifying who would walk the dog. One man wanted the right to get a divorce if his bride-to-be gained more than 15 pounds once she became his wife.
2．These are some of the crazier clauses of prenuptial agreements. But make no mistake about it, what most of them are about is money — and how financial assets will be divided up if a couple divorces. And divorce with its accompanying money problems is common in the United States.
3．Prenuptial agreements — or "prenups" — are designed to address these problems as they arise. Prenups are negotiated by lawyers for the prospective spouses, and signed before a minister binds them in marriage. They have been gaining in acceptance in the United States since the early 1980s, when more states began passing laws that affected the division of financial assets in a divorce. The laws are based either on "community property" (split evenly) or on "reasonable distribution" (whatever a judge thinks is "fair").
4．The prenups of the famous make the headlines: lawyers for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis contested the prenuptial agreement between her and Aristotle Onassis after his death, reportedly winning $26 million in an out-of-court settlement.
5．But prenuptial agreements are also for lesser known, although wealthy folks. "It's because divorce has such great economic consequences, and successive marriages have become so common," said a family law lawyer.
6．A typical candidate for a prenuptial agreement is a man who has accumulated considerable wealth, has already been stung once, and wants to reduce his exposure to future problems. "They want to make their own arrangements, rather than let a court decide," said the president of the New York chapter of the American Academy of Marriage Lawyers.
7．Protecting children from a previous marriage is a strong reason for prenuptial contracts. "Someone may have an estate of $1 billion and he may not want a second spouse to get a payment of half a billion. He may want more for his children," said a lawyer. The effort to shield assets to be passed on to children and grandchildren is making prenups more common among retired people in their 60s and 70s who are remarrying after a spouse has died.
8．Another situation that calls for premarital agreements occurs when a potential spouse has, or is in line for, great inherited wealth or a family business, especially if the future partner has little or nothing at all.
9．But even when both parties have signed such an agreement, it can be impossible to enforce it in court if proper guidelines have not been followed. A lawyer is required to write the document, for mistakes in language — even a misplaced preposition — can be disastrous. But never, ever, warn marriage law consultants, should you use the same lawyer as your future spouse does.
10．Another problem is a prenuptial agreement signed under pressure. To avoid this, some lawyers will not draw up an agreement once a wedding date has been set. "I figure there's a sword hanging over their head, and that's pressure," they said. Such lawyers counsel their clients never to send out wedding invitations until both signatures are on an agreement.
11．But not everyone takes this advice. A classic example is cited by lawyers: "An agreement is stuck under somebody's nose on the day of the wedding — and it's usually a 'she' — and she signs, but doesn't even read it." Another lawyer recalled one awkward episode where the two sides were still editing the contract, arguing over what to keep and delete, as 150 wedding guests were arriving for the wedding.
12．When an agreement could not be forged, the wedding was canceled. A dispute can also break out over prenuptial agreements if a couple decides to divorce while living abroad, or when they have different passports. A lawyer in a London law firm that often handles divorces for British-American couples noted that in Britain, prenuptial agreements were "just about ignored" by the courts because English law says that circumstances of a marriage aren't static, and therefore a judge should decide how financial assets will be divided.
13．That can lead to "court-shopping", since what matters is the law of the country where the couple is getting divorced. He gave the following example: "A wealthy Mr. Ed Smith gets married to Mrs.Smith, and they enter into a New York prenuptial contract. They live in England, and then decide to get divorced. English lawyers will say to Mrs. Smith, 'No, that contract is not valid,' while Mr.Smith will want it to be an American case. The issue of where it will be held can greatly multiply the amount of time required to reach a settlement."
14．Romantic love has no bearing on this process, say these lawyers, who consider prenups to be business agreements. Their justification: some 50 percent of all marriages in the United States end up on the trash heap.
15．Moreover, the discussions for a prenuptial agreement, which involve laying bare all one's finances, sometimes save a couple from a terrible marriage. "It sheds light on issues which could later widen and result in divorce," said a lawyer.
16．But there is still hope. "Many people sign an agreement, put it in a drawer and never look at it again," the lawyer added.
Questions related to the texts:
1. How do you understand “love without limitation?”
2. How did Jimmy get his brain damaged?
3. How close was the relationship between Jimmy and his father?
4. Who has encouraged you most when it comes to being a loving and caring individual?
5. What are the five symbols of the United States?
6. Why did the French artist build the Statue of Liberty?
7. How popular is the Barbie doll?
8. What else do you know about American symbols?
9. How are most of the people killed in earthquakes?
10. What will you do to get well prepared for an earthquake?
11. Have you ever experienced an earthquake? Where would you want to be if the ground started to shake?
12. What is a prenuptial agreement?
13. Will you sign a premarital agreement? Why or why not?
14. Do you think prenups take the romance out of marriage?
15. Why is there still hope for many couples who sign a prenup?
1. What makes life worthwhile? Share your ideas with us within one minute.
2. Which is more important to you, academic success, friends or family? Why?
3. Who influenced you most in your life? In what ways?
4. Which do you like to read, magazines, novels or poems? And why?
5. Where do you like to go when you are with your fiends? And why?
6. How to protect the environment of our campus?
7. If you unexpectedly received a large amount of money, what would you do with it? Would you spend it for practical purposes or simply for fun?
8. A problem of students’ class absence or lateness often occurs in college. Can you offer some suggestions to handle it?
9. Do you agree that childhood is the happiest time if life?
10. What’s your view on the public morals (社会公德) in today’s China? How to improve them?
11. Do you like your major? Which part of your major attracts you most?
12. Do you think cell phone is important? Why or why not?
13. What role does music play in your life?
14. Do you prefer to study alone or with other people together? Why?
15. What do you think are the biggest difficulties for part-time students? And how do you plan to cope with these difficulties?