LETTERS FROM JEFFERIES’ CEO

As a divorce lawsuit churns up a negative image for top investment bank Jefferies, the CEO of the company decides to take action to directly confront the scandal.

Read the story together with your Cambly tutor, and practice using some business jargons!


[Thoughts/Business★★Here’s The Memo Jefferies’ CEO Wrote Supporting The Banker Whose Divorce Stunned Wall Street

[H021c] Jefferies CEO_1_pic

(P1) One story has dominated Wall Street this week — the sad divorce and custody battle between Jefferies global head of healthcare, Sage Kelly, and his ex-wife Christina.

(P2) In an incredibly detailed deposition, Christina alleged that she and her ex-husband used drugs and engaged in extramarital sex. What’s more, she said they routinely did so with business associates, naming the names of high-powered Jefferies staff. Kelly is now on a leave of absence.

(P3) On Friday Jefferies CEO Richard Handler and Chairman Brian Friedman responded to all of this in a memo supporting his employees and condemning the media circus surrounding Kelly’s private matter.

(P4) As the week progressed, the media and some of our major competitors have piled on, using categorically denied allegations made by one individual as the basis to launch a judgment of everything Jefferies. While we would like to ignore the tabloids, the blogs and whoever is feeding them, we know they continue to scrounge around for more random tidbits to string together, and we just cannot sit by silently. We are proud that the one thing that has allowed Jefferies to persevere and, more often than not, prosper, is our attitude.

(P5) Handler and Friedman said that they met with each of the individuals named in the deposition and maintained their belief that they represented the culture of the firm. They also said that the Jefferies healthcare team had volunteered to take drug tests.

(P6) “The two of us can of course attest that all tests came back drug-free,” they wrote.

(P7) Their words for the rest of Wall Street weren’t as warm.

(P8) One reporter publicly confirmed that a CEO of a top 5 bank personally emailed him the lurid details of the lawsuit, and we also have heard directly from other reporters that they also are getting information and encouragement to pile on from some of our competitors. When Jefferies competes, we do it in the financial markets by trying our best to help our clients succeed, not by spreading baseless rumors and lies in order to damage our peers. We expect you will hear more lies about us and even hear from reporters who would like to dredge up old news because, at this point, there is absolutely nothing new to write about the unfortunate custody proceeding. We are aware that there is an ongoing campaign that includes calling former employees to get “dirt” to string together fabricated themes of “bad people” and a “broken culture.”

 

WORDS: 414

SOURCE: HTTP://WWW.BUSINESSINSIDER.COM/JEFFERIES-CEO-KELLY-DIVORCE-MEMO-2014-10

VOCAB: [H021B] JEFFERIES CEO_VOCAB

TO PRINT: [H021B] JEFFERIES CEO

Discussion Questions

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. What happened to Sage and Christina Kelly? What lawsuit are they going through and what stories are the media presenting to the public (P1–3)?
  3. How did Handler and Friedman handle the case of the ‘media circus’ (P5-6)?
  4. If you were the CEO of Jefferies, what would you have done?
  5. Does the media have right to publicize the private matters if the story has greater implications on the general public? Support your argument with examples from history or your life.

Did you like this article? You can connect to Cambly tutor by clicking the image below, or simply send the article’s link to the tutor when you begin your class.

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WHERE’S THE SURGEON GENERAL WHEN YOU NEED ONE?

Ebola has been a big issue in the US. The White House nominated Ron Klain as the “Ebola Response Coordinator”, and the media dubbed him “Ebola Czar”. You can hear the term mentioned all over the radio and on TV shows.

Why are people using this name and what is the root cause of the Ebola panic? You can talk about specific terms used in the American politics, and also learn about American politics in general while talking with a Cambly tutor 🙂


[World News★★] Where’s The Surgeon General When You Need One?

[W021c] Ebola Czar_1_pic

(P1) President Barack Obama has appointed Ron Klain, former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, to oversee the government’s Ebola response effort in the United States and West Africa, a position the media quickly dubbed the “Ebola czar.”

(P2) Klain’s new position, which the White House is calling the “Ebola response coordinator,” will be largely managerial and behind the scenes. He will report to National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Counterterrorism Adviser Lisa Monaco, according to The Associated Press.

(P3) But during public health scares like the occurrence of Ebola in the U.S., the government also needs to communicate health advice to the public. As the media—and some political candidates—stoke fears about a full-blown Ebola outbreak in the U.S., shouldn’t there be someone to tell us what’s going on?

(P4) The answer is yes. That person is the surgeon general of the United States.

(P5) The problem is, the U.S. doesn’t have a surgeon general. Last year, Obama nominated public health advocate Dr. Vivek Murthy to the position. But Republicans didn’t like Murthy, who thinks gun violence is a public health issue. A year ago he tweeted, “Tired of politicians playing politics w/ guns, putting lives at risk b/c they’re scared of NRA. Guns are a health care issue.”

(P6) That didn’t go over well with the powerful gun lobby headed by the National Rifle Association, which opposed Murthy’s nomination. Republicans who fear the NRA’s wrath opposed Murthy’s nomination, as did some red state Democrats.

(P7) Republicans also questioned Murthy’s youth (he was 36) and his obvious support for the president’s policies as head of the Obama campaign-affiliated group Doctors for Obama. Murthy’s nomination never came to a vote in the Senate, which has gone nearly a year without confirming a new surgeon general.

(P8) Today, we have an Ebola czar but no surgeon general. There is an acting surgeon general, Rear Admiral Boris Lushniak, but in light of the Ebola outbreak and panic, he hasn’t stepped up in the way a confirmed surgeon general would be expected to. The public face of the Ebola response has, instead, become Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose efforts have come under criticism since two nurses contracted the disease from contact with a patient being treated in Dallas.

(P9) Reassuring the nation over health issues should be the job of the surgeon general, who, as the “nation’s doctor,” is supposed to inform Americans about diseases and allay their fears about catching them.

(P10) “The surgeon general is America’s doctor, delivering information to the American people in a language they can understand,” former surgeon general Regina Benjamin told MSNBC. “Not having one right now, you don’t have that face and that person that the American people can identify with as their doctor who’s looking out for them on a large scale.”

WORDS: 641

SOURCE: HTTP://WWW.NEWSWEEK.COM/WHERES-SURGEON-GENERAL-WHEN-YOU-NEED-ONE-278141

VOCAB (testing-kr only): [W021C] EBOLA CZAR_VOCAB

TO PRINT (testing-kr only): [W021C] EBOLA CZAR

Discussion Questions

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. What does a surgeon general do (P4)? Why doesn’t the White House have a surgeon general (P5)?
  3. What happened to Dr. Vivek Murphy? What prevented him from becoming a surgeon general for Obama’s administration (P5 -7)?
  4. Do you think the States needs a surgeon general? (After all, it has been operating fine without one for two years.) What do you think Obama should do as the President of the US?

Did you like this article? You can connect to Cambly tutor by clicking the image below, or simply send the article’s link to the tutor when you begin your class.

If you are new to Cambly, put in bell as your referral code and it will give you extra 15 minutes to have a full experience of Cambly class!

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TIM COOK SPEAKS UP

Have you ever been a minority in a society? Last week, Tim Cook publicly acknowledged his sexual orientation and many around the world appreciated his brave action. Read his moving speech and figure out why he says “I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”

While reading his beautiful speech is worthwhile on its own, you can discuss what it means to be a minority in your culture with your Cambly tutor!


[Technology★★] Tim Cook Speaks Up

[T021b] Tim Cook Speaks Up_1

(P1) Throughout my professional life, I’ve tried to maintain a basic level of privacy. I come from humble roots, and I don’t seek to draw attention to myself. Apple is already one of the most closely watched companies in the world, and I like keeping the focus on our products and the incredible things our customers achieve with them.

(P2) At the same time, I believe deeply in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, who said: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ ” I often challenge myself with that question, and I’ve come to realize that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important. That’s what has led me to today.

(P3) For years, I’ve been open with many people about my sexual orientation. Plenty of colleagues at Apple know I’m gay, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference in the way they treat me. Of course, I’ve had the good fortune to work at a company that loves creativity and innovation and knows it can only flourish when you embrace people’s differences. Not everyone is so lucky.

(P4) While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.

(P5) Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.

(P6) The world has changed so much since I was a kid. America is moving toward marriage equality, and the public figures who have bravely come out have helped change perceptions and made our culture more tolerant. Still, there are laws on the books in a majority of states that allow employers to fire people based solely on their sexual orientation. There are many places where landlords can evict tenants for being gay, or where we can be barred from visiting sick partners and sharing in their legacies. Countless people, particularly kids, face fear and abuse every day because of their sexual orientation.

(P7) I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others. So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.

(P8) I’ll admit that this wasn’t an easy choice. Privacy remains important to me, and I’d like to hold on to a small amount of it. I’ve made Apple my life’s work, and I will continue to spend virtually all of my waking time focused on being the best CEO I can be. That’s what our employees deserve—and our customers, developers, shareholders, and supplier partners deserve it, too. Part of social progress is understanding that a person is not defined only by one’s sexuality, race, or gender. I’m an engineer, an uncle, a nature lover, a fitness nut, a son of the South, a sports fanatic, and many other things. I hope that people will respect my desire to focus on the things I’m best suited for and the work that brings me joy.

(P9) The company I am so fortunate to lead has long advocated for human rights and equality for all. We’ve taken a strong stand in support of a workplace equality bill before Congress, just as we stood for marriage equality in our home state of California. And we spoke up in Arizona when that state’s legislature passed a discriminatory bill targeting the gay community. We’ll continue to fight for our values, and I believe that any CEO of this incredible company, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, would do the same. And I will personally continue to advocate for equality for all people until my toes point up.

(P10) When I arrive in my office each morning, I’m greeted by framed photos of Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy. I don’t pretend that writing this puts me in their league. All it does is allow me to look at those pictures and know that I’m doing my part, however small, to help others. We pave the sunlit path toward justice together, brick by brick. This is my brick.

WORDS: 795

SOURCE: HTTP://WWW.BUSINESSWEEK.COM/ARTICLES/2014-10-30/TIM-COOK-IM-PROUD-TO-BE-GAY

VOCAB (testing-kr only): [T021B] TIM COOK SPEAKS UP_VOCAB

TO PRINT (testing-kr only): [T021B] TIM COOK SPEAKS UP

Discussion Questions

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. What motivated Tim Cook to openly acknowledge his sexuality? Was he hiding his sexual orientation before to people around him (P3)? To the public?
  3. “I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me. (P4)” Why does Cook say being gay is the greatest gift God has given him? (P5)
  4. “We pave the sunlit path toward justice together, brick by brick. This is my brick. (P10)” What does Cook mean by “my brick”?
  5. Do you think Cook’s speech will “make different for others”? What are you doing for others?

Did you like this article? You can connect to Cambly tutor by clicking the image below, or simply send the article’s link to the tutor when you begin your class.

If you are new to Cambly, put in bell as your referral code and it will give you extra 15 minutes to have a full experience of Cambly class!

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THE MOST HAUNTED HOUSE IN THE MIDWEST

Did you dress up, go trick-or-treating, and celebrate Halloween? Here is an article that can spice up your Halloween spirit even though the party is over. McPike Mansion is the most haunted house in the Midwest, but there must be a haunted house in the country that you live in!

Focus on how to make vivid description of a ghastly place and expand your vocabulary!


[Life★★] Take A Peek Inside The ‘Most Haunted House In The Midwest,’ If You Dare

[L021b] Most Haunted House_1

(P1) On a rather unassuming street in the otherwise nice town of Alton, Illinois, there lies a sinister estate that was once called the “most haunted place in the Midwest.”

(P2) The McPike Mansion, a beautiful 16-room house sitting on 15 acres of overgrown land, has been vacant for more than 60 years, and maybe for good reason. Multiple ghastly figures, orbs, strange noises, and unexplained happenings have been documented over its almost 150 years of existence. Many believe that the ghost of former owners of the house and their servants still walk the grounds and inside the house’s dilapidated halls.

(P3) Photographer Todd Morgan got access to the house recently and shares the photos with us here. You can see more of his work on his Facebook.

(P4) So, if you’re feeling brave enough, take a tour of the McPike Mansion and get into the Halloween spirit.

(P5) The McPike Mansion was built in 1869 for Henry Guest McPike, a business man and the one-time mayor of Alton. McPike was also a skilled horticulturist and during his time on the grounds, he perfected his own type of grape.

[L021b] Most Haunted House_2

(P6) The house was built in the Italianate-Victorian style and has 16 rooms. When it was new, it had ornate molding, carved banisters, and boasted 11 marble fireplaces.

[L021b] Most Haunted House_3

(P7) The McPike family lived in the house until 1936 and has sat vacant since the 1950’s.

[L021b] Most Haunted House_4

(P8) The house also features gnarled oak trees, a menacing wrought iron fence encircling the property, and its very own graveyard. Spooky.

[L021b] Most Haunted House_5

(P9) Many people, including the current owners of the house, believe the house is haunted. Sharyn Luedke, one of the current owners, contends that she’s seen several ghostly figures multiple times during her visits.

[L021b] Most Haunted House_6

(P10) Sharyn says she was working in the garden when she saw the ghost of Paul Laichinger, a subsequent owner of the house after the McPikes, standing by a window in the house. He was wearing the exact same outfit as one he is wearing in a picture Sharyn has of him.

[L021b] Most Haunted House_7

(P11) Sharyn says that, since then, she’s had many run-ins with ghosts. She says she was hugged by the spirit of “Sarah,” a former servant at the estate. Other people have seen figures or ghostly orbs in the house as well.

[L021b] Most Haunted House_8

(P12) The wine cellar is said to be the most haunted location of the whole property. Footsteps and voices have been heard and the heavy metal door that leads to the cellar has been seen moving on its own. A strange, unexplainable mist has even be reported following guests as they move through the cellar.

[L021b] Most Haunted House_9

(P13) The house has been featured on multiple shows about ghosts and haunted places and has been explored by many paranormal experts. The current owners of the house also give ghost tours to anyone fearless enough to visit!

[L021b] Most Haunted House_10

WORDS: 463

SOURCE HTTP://WWW.BUSINESSINSIDER.COM/HAUNTED-MCPIKE-MANSION-2014-10

VOCAB (testing-kr only): [L021B] MOST HAUNTED HOUSE_VOCAB

TO PRINT (testing-kr only): [L021B] MOST HAUNTED HOUSE

Discussion Questions

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Describe the look of McPike Mansion. You can use the text or the photos to describe the place.
  3. Why do people say the mansion is haunted? Do you think the paranormal activities that these people experienced are real?
  4. This article is a tribute to Halloween. What did you do on Halloween (if there such tradition in your country)? How are ghosts part of your culture? Share your scary stories with your tutor, and try to give a vivid explanation of your experience!

Did you like this article? You can connect to Cambly tutor by clicking the image below, or simply send the article’s link to the tutor when you begin your class.

If you are new to Cambly, put in bell as your referral code and it will give you extra 15 minutes to have a full experience of Cambly class!

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HOW YOUR PHYSICAL APPEARANCE IMPACTS YOUR CAREER

Do you know how much your physical appearance impacts your career? No institution has come up with numbers, but a well-known LinkedIn Influencer writes about his experience — transitioning from worker on a plant floor to a supervisor.

Does appearance matter much in your culture? You can learn about the cultural differences (or similarities) while learning how to use phrases like “look the part”, “supervisor material”, “all show and no go”.


[Life★★] How Your Physical Appearance Impacts Your Career

[L021b] Appearance Career_1

(P1) LinkedIn Influencer Jeff Haden published this post originally on LinkedIn.

(P2) Years ago I worked on the shop floor of a manufacturing plant. I had worked my way through school at another plant so I definitely identified more with the hourly workers than the “suits.” (Even though most of the guys referred to me as “college boy.”)

(P3) One day the department manager stopped by. He asked about my background. He asked about my education. He asked about my career aspirations. “I’d like to be a supervisor,” I answered, “and then someday I’d like your job.”

(P4) He smiled and said, “Good for you. I like a guy with dreams.” Then he paused. “But if that’s what you really want,” he said, looking me in the eyes, “first you need to start looking the part.”

(P5) I knew what he was saying but decided to play dumb. “What do you mean?” I asked. “Look around,” he said. “How do supervisors dress? How does their hair look? How do they act? No one will think of you as supervisor material until they can actually see you as a supervisor — and right now you look nothing like a supervisor.”

(P6) He was right. I was wearing ratty jeans with a couple of holes. (Why wouldn’t I? I worked around oil and grease all day.) I was wearing a cut-off t-shirt. (Why wouldn’t I? It was the middle of the summer and the air wheezing through the overhead vents was far from conditioned.) And my hair was pretty long, even for the day. (No excuse for that one, as is obvious from this photo.)

(P7) “But shouldn’t how well I do my job matter more than how I look?” I asked.

(P8) “In a perfect world your performance is all that would matter,” he said. “But we don’t live in a perfect world. Take my advice: if you want to be promoted into a certain position… make sure you look like the people in that position.”

(P9) I’ve thought about that conversation a lot over the years.

(P10) I’ve hired and promoted people who looked the part… and they turned out to be all show and no go. I’ve hired and promoted people who didn’t look the part at all… and they turned out to be superstars. I’m convinced that how you look and, at least to a large degree how you act, has nothing to do with your skill and talent and fit for a job.

(P11) Still, he’s right: the world isn’t perfect. People still make assumptions about us based on irrelevant things like clothing and mannerisms… and height and weight and age and gender and ethnicity and tons of other qualities and attributes that have absolutely no bearing on a person’s performance.

(P12) So are you better off trying to conform?

(P13) Unfortunately, probably so. The people doing the hiring and promoting are people — and people tend to be biased towards the comfortable and the familiar. People tend to hire and promote people who are much like themselves. (If you remind me of me… then you must be awesome, right?)

(P14) Besides, highly diverse teams are like unicorns — we all know what one should look like, but unless you’re NPH you rarely encounter one in the wild. And don’t forget that hiring or promoting someone who conforms, even if only in dress and deportment, makes a high percentage of the people making those decisions feel like they’re taking a little bit less of a risk. I know I was viewed — admittedly with good reason — as a wild card, and I’m sure that impacted my promotability.

(P15) But still: are you better off being yourself and trusting that people will value your skills, experience, talent… and uniqueness?

(P16) Sadly I think that’s a move fraught with professional peril. If your goal is to get hired or promoted then expressing your individuality could make that goal much harder to accomplish. (Of course if being yourself in all ways is what is most important to you, by all means let your freak flag fly. Seriously.)

(P17) I have no way of knowing for sure, but changing how I dressed — and in a larger sense, tempering some of the attitude I displayed — would likely have helped me get promoted sooner. For a long time I didn’t look the part, didn’t act the part… and I’m sure that made me a less attractive candidate.

(P18) But that’s just what I think; what’s more interesting is what you think about fitting in and conforming.

(P19) Has the way you look affected your career? Have you ever decided to conform… or not to conform… and what difference did that make?

WORDS: 765

SOURCE HTTP://WWW.BUSINESSINSIDER.COM/HOW-APPEARANCE-IMPACTS-YOUR-CAREER-2014-10

VOCAB (testing-kr only): [L021b] Appearance Career_vocab

TO PRINT(testing-kr only): [L021b] Appearance Career

Discussion Questions

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. What does “looking the part” mean (P4)? Do you think it is important to look the part when you are looking for a job (or when you are hiring someone)?
  3. What does “all show and no go” mean (P10)? From your own experience, how much of a correlation is there between a person’s appearance and his/her performance?
  4. Have you ever decided to conform… or not to conform… and what difference did that make?

Did you like this article? You can connect to Cambly tutor by clicking the image below, or simply send the article’s link to the tutor when you begin your class.

If you are new to Cambly, put in bell as your referral code and it will give you extra 15 minutes to have a full experience of Cambly class!

blog_click-here

VOICE CONTROL: COMING SOON TO HOUSE NEAR YOU

Comment


[Technology★★]Voice Control: Coming Soon to a House Near You

[T020b] Voice Control_1_pic

(P1) It’s not unusual to find yourself talking to an uncooperative appliance or gadget. Soon, though, it could be more common for those devices to actually pay attention.

(P2) A startup called Wit.ai plans to make it easy for hardware makers and software developers to add custom voice controls to everything from smartphones and smart watches to Internet-connected thermostats and drones.

(P3) While big companies like Apple and Google have their own voice recognition technology, smaller companies and independent developers don’t have the deep pockets required to create voice software that continuously learns from mountains of data.

(P4) Wit.ai, based in Palo Alto, California, is taking aim at the swiftly growing number of devices with small displays, or no screen at all, and at activities like driving and cooking, where you may want the aid of technology but don’t want to look at or touch a display.

(P5) And to give all kinds of developers access to a simple-to-use, always-learning natural-language service, the company is offering it free to those who agree to share their user data with the Wit.ai community. Collecting this data should help improve the accuracy of the system over time. (P6) “Everyone will benefit from that,” cofounder and CEO Alex Lebrun says.

(P7) Lebrun has been thinking about how to make something like Wit.ai work for a while. He previously founded and led VirtuOz, a company that spent months building Siri-like voice-controlled software for clients like eBay and AT&T (bought by the speech recognition company Nuance in late 2012, these days it goes by the name Nina Web).

(P8) With Wit.ai, developers type a handful of plain-English commands they want it to recognize, such as “Wake me up tomorrow at 6” or “Wake me up in 20 minutes,” and note what they want to accomplish through each command — in this case, set the alarm on a hypothetical voice-controlled smart watch. Wit.ai uses what it knows about language to figure out the different ways a command might be expressed. Then, when a user wants to set the alarm for a specific time, that person’s utterances are sent to a Wit.ai server, which analyzes the audio and sends structured data back to the gadget —here, the instruction to set the alarm for the proper date and time. A demo on the company’s site gives an idea of how this can work. Already, about 4,600 developers are using Wit.ai with things like mobile apps, robots, home automation, and wearable devices.

(P9) Nick Mostowich, a student at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, is one of them. At a hackathon last month at his school, Mostowich and his team used Wit.ai to add voice control to a toaster and microwave. Mostowich says they quickly put together a set of commands and targets that could be mapped to a list of recipes on a remote server, so a user could say something like “Cook me some bacon” and the microwave would turn itself on, set to the right power level and time.

(P10) Voice-powered bacon-nuking aside, there are still plenty of obstacles for Wit.ai to overcome. Like many similar systems that rely on the cloud, such as Siri, it’s not as quick to respond as it could be, and it can’t work if you don’t have an Internet connection. And while Lebrun says Wit.ai can also be used to varying extents in Spanish, French, German, Italian and Swedish, it’s still far better in English.

(P11) Lebrun believes that as more data is added to the system, the non-English languages will improve. And he hopes to enable developers to use Wit.ai online to build and train voice interactions and then download it so it can be used on, say, a smartphone, without needing an Internet connection. Instead, it could just occasionally check in with Wit.ai’s servers to update its learning.

WORDS: 645

SOURCE: HTTP://MASHABLE.COM/2014/10/27/STARTUP-VOICE-RECOGNITION/

VOCAB (TESTING-KR ONLY): [T020B] VOICE CONTROL_VOCAB

TO PRINT (TESTING-KR ONLY): [T020B] VOICE CONTROL

Discussion Questions

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Explain the technology that Wit.ai is developing (P2). Why is it useful for other smaller companies and independent developers (P3)?
  3. Who is Alex Lebrun? Describe his background and how it relates to his current company (P6 & 7).
  4. What do you think of current voice-control technology? Have you used it at all? If voice-control can allow machines to understand human perfectly in any language, what kind of products do you want to make (or have)?

blog_click-here

THIS IRANIAN POP STAR HAS A POINT

Comment


[Life★★]This Iranian Pop Star Has a Point

[L020b] Iranian Pop Star_1_pic

(P1) After fleeing Iran as a child, the singer known as Arghavan is out to unmuzzle her countrywomen. So what if it’s risky?

(P2) On May 10 in Stockholm, Sweden, Arghavan, 31, smiled as she posted a YouTube video on Facebook. In the four-minute clip, “Happy in Tehran,” six young Iranian men and women—one of them a close friend of hers—camped it up, dancing on rooftops and lip-synching to Pharrell Williamsmegahit. Arghavan, an aspiring Iranian pop star who’d left the country at age three, sent her friend an email and captioned her post “JUST LOVE IT!!”

(P3) Nine days later the dancers were detained. Why? Because in Iran women are effectively not allowed to sing or perform in public, one of the many freedoms severely limited after the 1979 revolution (which prompted Arghavan’s family to flee the country). Arghavan tried everything to reach her friend, but no luck. Says the singer, “I was up the whole night worrying.”

(P4) The shutdown of the “Happy” dancers (who were convicted of producing a vulgar video and given suspended sentences) hit home for Arghavan. In 2010 she’d won a coveted spot on the TV show Googoosh Music Academy, a wildly popular American Idol-style competition filmed in London and accessible only illegally in Iran. (It’s named for the country’s biggest pop singer, who has lived in exile since 2000.) Each week that Arghavan advanced in the competition, she found herself flooded with emails from female fans. It wasn’t just her choreography or costumes—”though they did like my hats,” she jokes—it was that Arghavan was an Iranian girl belting her heart out in front of a massive crowd, an impossible feat for a woman actually living in Iran. “They wrote, ‘I wish I could sing on a stage like you.’ They were telling me their stories,” she explains. “They were asking me for help.” (P5) Arghavan decided to use her newfound fame to give voice to her silenced sisters, who, like her, “can’t breathe without music.” Recently she headed back to Iran for the first time in 15 years, risking imprisonment to convince women artists to share their plight in a documentary; she also wrote a book Zan (“woman” in Farsi), published this summer in Swedish. “It wasn’t easy to find women who dared to speak, but these girls are very brave,” she says. Since then she’s been lecturing constantly, including becoming an ambassador for the Swedish National Committee for U.N. Women and giving a TEDx talk this month, trying to rally outrage at women’s oppression not just in Iran but around the world. “This kind of activism is very important,” says Shirin Ebadi, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights lawyer in Iran. “All these performances, albums, books, and films get sent to Iran through YouTube, and everyone ends up seeing them. So effectively the government fails in its aims at censorship.” To Julia Wiklander, founder of the advocacy network Girls’ Globe, “Arghavan is a true activist and one of the most passionate individuals I’ve met. She takes substantial risks to get the word out. She won’t give up.”

(P6) Arghavan welcomes the support. “We have to stand together and shout, ‘No, you cannot stop us from singing,'” she says. “‘We want change, and we have the guts to make it happen.'”

(P7) HER WORDS TO LIVE BY: I know how it feels to have big dreams and be told, ‘You can’t, you can’t.’ Don’t wait for someone else to believe in you. You have to believe in yourself first.”

WORDS: 583

SOURCE HTTP://WWW.GLAMOUR.COM/INSPIRED/2014/10/IRANIAN-POP-STAR-ARGHAVAN-FIGHTS-FOR-WOMENS-RIGHTS

VOCAB (testing-KR only): [L020B] IRANIAN POP STAR_VOCAB

TO PRINT (testing-kr only): [L020B] IRANIAN POP STAR

Discussion Questions

If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Describe what happened to “Happy in Tehran”. Why were they given suspended sentences (P2&3)?
  3. What kinds of emails was Arghavan getting from Iranian women when she was on Googoosh Music Academy? Why would they write such messages (P4)?
  4. How is Arghavan giving voice to her silenced sisters (P5)?
  5. How is female musicians (and dancers) viewed in your culture? Has it ever has a history of oppression in the past?

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