Unit 9 Meaning of Culture
Man differs from animal species in many ways. Biologically the difference is minor but in mind there are many differences. Man lives in the world of ideas, and acts and reacts in terms of concepts about objects and organizations. The animals live only in the present, they are not possessed of language, and their knowledge is limited to instinct or what they learn by direct and present observations. Their learning does not accumulate except for what they can presently use. Man on the other hand can simultaneously look into the past, present and future. He possesses the capacity to talk, to respond, to represent, to accumulate knowledge and to learn from the stimulus response relationships(刺激反应关系). These peculiar elements in the make-up of man provide a long history and tradition of wisdom, accumulated in various forms of civilization from which culture grows and continues flowing. The fundamentals of culture developed by past generations serve as the foundation stone to the next generation. The new generation further adds to the past accumulation of civilization and culture and enables man to continually assimilate in the stream of culture. Thus man continues to live as a civilized and cultured member of society.
Scientific inventions and discoveries greatly influence cultural variability(变化性，易变性). They affect tradition, customs, beliefs and faiths. They not only affect the present and future ideology(意识形态) of society but also practically bring about changes in artistic products and cultural environment. They quite often undermine the spiritual aspect of cultural life and provide material patterns. Inventions and discoveries bring about changes in the mode of production, art, morals, customs, laws, literature, etc. the changing mode of production affects the culture. Karl Marx held that the culture of capitalist countries differed from that of socialist countries because of the differences in the modes of production.
What does culture do? The first function of culture is to make man a human being. It is culture that regulates his conduct and prepares him for group life. It teaches him the art of living as per the cultural traits of the group. He takes the food, wears the clothes, goes to school, speaks the language and does so many other little things of day-to-day life which are a part of the conventional norms, mores(风俗), laws, customs and morals of the group. The culture of a group plays a major part in the heightening human qualities of its individuals and save them from avoiding participation in the cultural stream.
The culture of the group must give to its individual the capacity to lead a social life as an effective member of society. With the induction of the individual as an effective participant in the social life of the group, one can greatly gain by the utilization of energy of the individual in different constructive activities, which not only provides satisfaction on to the individual but also benefits the group.
The second important role of culture is to keep social relationship intact so that the group as a whole can maintain and develop the values and ideals of the group through the regulation of behaviors of its members and by satisfying their primary needs and objectives in respect of the necessities and luxuries of life. People learn to behave socially in a group because their behavior is subject to approval or disapproval.
The culture of a group provides a number of controls on the irrational conducts for its members. It organizes many cultural aids like schooling, provision of work, outlet to talent, etc. these outlets go to provide rationality and responsibility to the members and integrate them mentally, morally and sentimentally in the group. A culturally advanced group is also capable of providing a coordinated set-up to take the best out of each member and in return give the necessary comfort for personal development, recreation and emotional living. It must also provide other facilities for broadening the vision of the individual members so as to provide necessary motivations for creation in different fields of social activity including production of pieces of art, handicrafts and scientific implements and equipments which the group may need for the satisfaction of its different cultural and material requirements.
The next important function of culture is to instantly provide new interpretation to different situations arising from the traditional cultural elements transmitted to the group. Provision of interpretation to traditional culture helps the reorientation (重新定位)of present and future cultural trends, putting them on the right track. For instance, in the modern era it is the duty of the school and other institution of a group to tell its members that if a cat crosses his way he needs not consider it unfortunate and give up the new projects, which is needed in the modern norms of society.
However, these interpretations based on tradition may differ from culture to culture. Among some cultures the owl may still be regarded as a symbol of bad luck while in others it may be symbol of wisdom.
The principle of cultural diffusion has been advocated by three German scholars. Cultural diffusion is the process by which the cultural trades of one group of society are spread directly or indirectly to other societies. It is historically established that some societies have served as centers of cultural unification. After the birth of Christ was born a cultural center, from where many cultural trades in the field of art and political organization got diffused to the northwestern Europe and to the east up to India. Subsequently Rome(罗马)became a great cultural center from where Roman law spread in most countries of Europe. In ancient time India was the cultural center from where many cultural trade spread eastward up to Indonesia(印度尼西亚) and passed through the fourteenth century. European culture became the dominant element in Asia and Africa and even America. At present the United States and Russia are exporting their respective cultures to different countries.
Several factors influence the diffusion of culture. The foremost is the capacity of the cultural center to inspire other countries to import the culture. The most important vehicle of cultural diffusion is mass communication, tourism, and exchange of educational and cultural delegations and teams, literature, films, etc. Obstruction to cultural diffusion may sometimes arise from the refusal of a group to borrow or import from the other group. Such a group tends to become an island of local culture untouched by the culturally developed countries. Sometimes a cultural island may exist within a larger cultural island. For example, in India the caste(印度的世袭等级)system that has separated Brahmins(印度的婆罗门阶级)from the other social groups for many generations on supposed biological superiority may reject a foreign cultural form, as they fear its impact on the prevailing moral norms and social values. It is for this reason that cultural centers of new values find it more expeditious to invade foreign cultures through such means as the mass media. This process, although indirect and slow, has in due course a lasting impact as it appeals to the coming generations of the foreign countries which are still not fully socialized to the local cultures. For example, the young age groups in India were subjected to cultural influence of the Beatles(披头士乐队，甲壳虫乐队) for quite a long time.
Unit 10 Two Strangers
Not that I would have cared. No, it is not the reason why I stopped. He gave a faint sigh, like the sigh of one who has a thousand stories to tell but only a moment left in one's life.
In fact it was the sound of a piece of metal hitting the pavement that made me turn around. I had already passed the man, walking promptly as I always do. I had all the time in the world that evening, and I had nowhere to go--I just took a walk along the street.
But as I tried to draw out my keys from the pocket of my brown leather jacket, a small coin fell on the ground making that clinking(叮当响的) noise. Why would I pull out the keys from the pocket here, on the street, kilometers away from any door which the keys could open? It was the sense of security: wishing to be sure that everything is completely in my control.
Yes, I had heard the sound right: there was a ten-cent coin lying on the ground beside an old man, a stranger to me, and seemingly(看来) a stranger to all the people who passed him on the pavement that afternoon. It was spring then; the first warm and sunny evenings of the year were at hand. The day was all too beautiful to be wasted in talking to a complete stranger, who was not even handsome or beautiful or good-looking, and listening to the obscure groans he uttered. Why should I care what he was trying to say, what kind of a burden he might have on his heart?
But I did pick up the coin from the ground, and put it into the pocket of my fashionable leather jacket. "Fashionable", that's what they said in the advertisements of the clothing company. Latest designs, latest cuts, best colors.
I was better off(富裕的) than the old man, who was sitting on the bench with a newspaper in his hands, murmuring something at me. I guess my income had to be twice more than what he had.And I looked more stylish--younger, healthier, more joyous(高兴的).
The man grabbed the sleeve of my jacket and drew me closer to himself. It was surprising--such sudden demand of personal contact and intimacy which two strangers passing each other on the street did not often develop between themselves. I was curious to know what could come out of such an exceptional situation, I... I forgot to draw myself back, to forcefully free myself of the grip of the man and rush away.
The old man put his newspaper in my hand and said, "Please read it for me. " I am not so sure what the exact words were which he uttered from his mouth, but I understood what his meaning to be. The man was not blind; he could see both me and all the people who were walking on the street. But perhaps his sight was too weak for reading the small print of the newspaper.
I looked at the front page; it was dated four days ago. I was disappointed. I didn't want to waste a nice day in reading news that were no news any more. Wasn't it like throwing one's coins away when one could as well buy candies with them, or sitting beside a stranger when one could as well walk free and alone on the street, hurrying somewhere?
"Read the classified advertisements", said the old man, whom I scarcely knew at all, but who had courageously(勇敢地) grabbed my sleeve without permission, demanding me to pay attention to him.
I opened the requested page. What then? Should I read all the ads:cats for sale, lost dogs wanted, motor vehicles rented, repaired, washed, and painted?
"Go to the miscellaneous(综合的，混杂的) section," the man pleaded.
Those ads were not so many, only fifteen or twenty. In a monotonous voice I recited announcement after announcement: second-hand bicycles, unused electronic devices, lost wedding ring...
"There! Read that one again, please," said the man, filled with excitement.
"Mr. Whoever(敬启者，某某先生), the lost wedding ring described in your ad is in my possession. Meet me at railway station next Sunday, at 19 o'clock. " I read the announcement once again.
It was Sunday then. And the time was, at the moment when I looked at my watch and announced it to the man who asked about it, 18:27.
The old man wanted to explain something to me. He leaned forward, getting his face close to my ear, and whispered, "It is the ring of my wife. She lost it a month ago. Oh! What a sorrowful thing it was to find out that the ring which you have worn for five decades cannot be found anywhere. I bought it at Dahlberg's jewellery shop. I can still remember how the saleswoman was dressed that morning. In pink, that's what it was, in soft, charming pink... But the shop isn't there any more. I think they went bankrupt soon after the war. Such a pity, it was a nice little store. And we have our fiftieth anniversary on Sunday. "
The man didn't say more about his wife or the wedding ring; he only brushed his gray hair with a plastic comb.
"I think I will go and buy a bunch of roses", the gray-haired gentleman said. "I'11 ask the saleswoman to choose beautiful ones. What do you think, will she be dressed in light pink, just like the lady at Dahlberg's jewellery shop? But my wife wore a dark dress this morning. That's how you can tell that a woman is getting old... They wear darker clothes. No, I will tell my darling to wear something brighter this evening. "
The man stood up and started to slowly walk toward the direction of the railway station. There was an air of steadfastness(坚定) in him--something that could not be purchased with money, or won in a lottery. Was he stylish? Yes--he was not like the laughing youngsters in the advertisements, but there was something else in him, something more admirable, more valuable.
I still held the newspaper in my hand when the old gentleman disappeared behind the corner of one of the houses. I didn't open or read the paper any more, I only sat in silence on the bench. Time was the only thing that moved; everything else stood still.
I leaned back in the bench and stared into the distance. I did not want to walk away, hurrying into a direction chosen at random.
Unit 11 Edward and His Incredible Black Hole
Edward had a marvelous plan. He was going to create a genuine mini Black Hole, right here on earth.
Edward lived alone in the suburban sprawl(无规则蔓延)of a large city. His father had experimented with inventions in his large steel garage. Because of this, his mother had left home four years ago. He missed his father who had died of a heart attack two summers ago.
Edward worked during the day as an attendant at the City Library where he taught himself technology so that he could understand his father’s notebooks. At home he stumbled around in track-pants(运动裤)and a T-shirt and busily modified his father’s equipment.
Edward put coils of copper tube, large permanent magnets, sheets of aluminum foil, old iron tubes full of silicone(硅树脂) sealant(密封剂) together to construct a two and a half meters high intricate apparatus, putting a copper vertical horn on top. The horn, like the front of a large trumpet, was pointed towards the ceiling.
Today was Edward’s twenty-second birthday, remembered only by the lovely Fiona, the Circulation Librarian. At lunchtime, Fiona had kissed him on the cheek in front of everybody in the tearoom. Edward had flushed crimson(深红色)with embarrassment.
But now was the moment. He climbed the stepladder(活动梯子) and peered into the trumpet. The curved mirror at its base magnified his reflected image and he admired his golden curly hair and his green eyes, but loathed(讨厌) his big ears.
Edward sipped on a glass of cheap soda and whispered, “Black holes are the mysteries of our universe. Everything that enters them never leaves——even light.” He had a collection of hardware items arranged near him so that he could throw them into the Black Hole and watch them disappear. Edward sat at the computer controls for the Black Hole Generator.
“That’s one small step for a man…” Edward intoned(拖长音) and double-clicked on the start icon. There was a loud vibrating noise and a strange glaring effect in the horn. Edward didn’t realize that a simple software mistake had reversed the polarity(极性) of his black hold generator. Yes, he could see that the interior of the horn was indeed the deepest, blackest thing that he had ever seen, but within the blackness he could soon make out sparkling points of every color imaginable.
“Stars?” he thought just before he died. Within a few seconds, around a hundred million colorful ballpoint pens shot out of the horn, bounced off the roof and filled up the garage, spearing poor Edward to death. As every lost ballpoint pen in the world poured out of the black hole, the pressure blew the top off the garage and the mountain of pens continued to grow.
Soon every lost sock in the world flew into the air from the trumpet, and covered the mountain of pens. Then a great number of shopping lists fluttered into the air, followed by an emission of lottery tickets, and train, tram, bus and concert tickets. This was followed by every letter, telegram and E-mail that had never arrived.
Edward’s garage then collapsed as millions of metal keys shot out of the horn and rained down---lost front door keys, car keys and locker keys. The overflow continued as sewing needles, cuff(袖口) links, pencil sharpeners, razors and lost passports, followed by countless of pins.
Can openers, bottle openers and corkscrews(开塞钻) were followed by sink plugs and remote controls. As these flooded over the local community, they were covered by clothes pegs(衣夹), the caps of toothpaste tubes and a flow of overdue(过期的) library books.
A veritable(真正的) mountain of lost-receipts needed by the taxman was followed by every lost screw nut from a world of car engines, household appliances and technical instruments.
As the city sagged(下陷) beneath the weight of all these lost things, millions of credit cards fluttered into the air and rained down.
Edward would have been amazed, except that he was long dead.
Finally, just before the black hole generator disappeared in a puff of smoke, every lost love in the history of the world was expelled into the air and rained down in an overflow of desolation.
Unit 12 Killing Time
This was a common place for me but today I discerned there was something wrong when I turned around. Wrong means not right. There were two men in the bank now, a big guy just inside the door and a smaller one more like a skeleton in the middle of the floor.
Big guy was leafing through the leaflets on the counter, but his eyes were on the door and the eyes of the small guy never stopped moving and were scouting the scope and layout of the room, his head moved like that of a tennis fan sitting at the net.
Small guy was making a thing of deciding which queue to join, but it was the way he stood that held my attention. His left arm was tight against his body and he was wearing a long coat. Nothing wrong with that, it was winter.
Still wrong. It's transparent to me that he was carrying a weapon. On closer observation, big guy was likewise sort of leaning against the counter and in an instant I knew that he was using his weight to jam his gun between him and the counter. A robbery was about to happen.
If I attacked the small guy, I'd be easily picked off by the big guy as I struggled to get small guy's gun. If I walked casually by, and seized the big guy, the small guy would shoot the customers around him and take some nice-looking teller(银行出纳) as a hostage.
The situation was urgent. It was better to leave and call for immediate assistance. Assistance? I wasn't a soldier any more. I had been retired. Better to call the police, as normal people do. I could be anonymous then.
As I walked by, the small guy started to move. He swung back his coat and revealed a pistol and started to yell, "Attention, everyb--!" The small guy was too busy to finish the second word.In the instant an idea flashed into my mind,"why the big coat for such a small gun", then thought "winter" again.
Fortunately for me, it was not I that stopped him but a keen security guard who'd obviously seen the same signs I had. Fortunate for me, but unfortunate for the security-man. He hadn't noted that the big guy was an accomplice(同伙). After an interval of a few seconds,he fired a pistol at the back of the guard's head as he walked over to check on the dead small guy. He fell on the body of the small guy, blood streamed down from his wound.
Big guy stood there, momentarily as if deciding what to do. His eyes were a little wild but not scared. I thought again about rushing at him, but the distance was too great. Better to wait. All around me, people were screaming and moaning in shock and some people were already lying on the ground, anticipating the big guy's next instruction. The screaming did not bother him, which was both good and bad. It was good because the cool gunman was unlikely to shoot unnecessarily and bad because he would shoot without pausing if the situation required it.
It seemed there was chaos in the place. The only ones standing silent were him and me. For a moment, our eyes met and gazed at each other. Did he know me? How could he? The sound of the approaching alarms broke our gaze and the big guy calmly and loudly instructed everybody to lie on the floor. I did as he bade, but taking as many steps forward as I dared before lying down. I was no more than five yards from him.
He gave an imperative order, "If everybody does what I say, no one will get hurt. This is just a robbery gone wrong and I want to use you good people as hostages so that I can get away!" He didn't have to say any more than that. We'd all seen in perspective what had happened and knew he could kill some of us. The "hostage" in his short speech made it clear that he was saying he would threaten to kill hostages if his demands were not met.
The police arrived and contact was made straight away. He said that he would kill a hostage every ten minutes until he was given a clear passage to the private airways strip, where a helicopter was to take him to Cuba(古巴). He would bring hostages along with him as insurance against any unpredictable(不可预测的) trouble.
As the first ten-minute deadline approached, the big guy scanned the hostages in front of him.His eyes touched mine, but he moved on, looking for something. "You! Kid!" Everybody looked back and saw a boy, about ten years old, cowering behind his mother. "Get over here! Get over here, NOOOW!" shouted the big guy, as the boy cowered further.
I could see he would act for the ultimate aim--to kill a kid and to make them know he was serious. I couldn't let the tragedy(悲剧) happen. Could I hide and wait and let all this happen and walk away? All my training said I could. "Bad things will happen around you", said the Controller.
"Terrible things. But if it doesn't happen to you,it's not your liability to stop them. " I had seen terrible things and walked away. But not today.
"Take me", I said, standing up and making another vital step forward. "Leave the kid and take me". Everybody looked at me, some of them taking me for a suicidal (自杀的) person and thought it was a movie. This is really happening, their eyes said to me, for God's sake,to sit down before he would kill you.
It was too late. “OK, come here by the door and kneel in front of it”. He said this as if he was a surgeon inviting a patient into his surgery. "Were you in the army?" He asked casually as I walked towards him. "No", I replied. This had to be quick. I would have no chance to seize him when I was kneeling at the front door.
"You're saving me from the trouble", I said, casually setting his mind at ease so that he needn't worry about my last-minute efforts for freedom. If he were wary(警惕的) of me, he would not take his eyes off me. In the instant he turned to walk with me towards the door, I had my arm around his neck. It broke like a toothpick(牙签) and he died instantly.
He didn't even get a shot off. It was done at one stroke without noise and he slumped into the floor. I turned around to see people looking at me horrified. I knew then that I had killed him too easily, too quickly.
One of the tellers picked up the phone and spoke to the police. Suddenly the place was overrun(占据) with uniforms. Eventually, we were all shepherded to waiting police cars and moved down-town to the station house.
I was ushered(引导) into an interview room. They showed me the close circuit TV coverage(闭路电视录像) of the incident in the bank and I made a statement corroborating(证实) what had happened. "You are being charged with murder," said the detective whose name I could not remember,"but this evidence should show that it was self-defense(自卫)". Well, anyway, I was fighting against almost certain death, and they were the same thing. I didn't argue.
"You served in the military?" He asked. He was looking at me carefully. I got the impression that the boys(此处引申为警察) in the room had seen the tape and were guessing how I could have overpowered(制服) the big guy so completely. "No", I replied, not knowing what to say next. I was good at killing. Could I say that?
"Chickens," I said.
"What did you say?"
"Chickens. I've killed lots of chickens on my farm. When they're dying. You get to know where their weak points are. And I've strong hands. " These hands have ripped open rib cages and pulled out beating hearts, I wanted to say.
I made bail(保释金) of 10 000 and my husband came and collected me. "Next time you go to town, I'm going with you", he said, "it's too dangerous for you to travel alone. " Yes, it is really too dangerous.
Unit 13 One Evening
It was freezing cold outside, no pigeons in sight. But Sara insisted on an appointment. They had to meet by the bench in the park. When she said this, she meant the bench where they usually sat and enjoyed the sun in summer, talking about nothing and everything. Michael never complained, and he didn't complain about the thick snow, or the fact that the cold wind blew so hard that he hardly could see anything in the background, and the long journey back from London still made him a bit feeble and dizzy. Sara said they had to meet.They had to meet by the bench at exactly seven P.M. She's always punctual. When Michael arrived, Sara had already been there, like a ghost.
"Sara?" Michael said as strong winds started and blew away the snow, exposing the cement beneath.
With courtesy, she looked up at Michael and smiled. "Hi!"
"What's wrong? You said you want to talk about something and it sounded serious."
"Yeah, well... I just want to talk to you. "
She could talk by the phone, or invited him over to her apartment, or asked to meet in a cafeteria or somewhere. Somewhere more comfortable and warm than standing in the ankle deep snow under the blizzard(大风雪) in a park.
"Let's go to Lizzie's. It's warmer there. It's minus 10 centigrade out here, and I'm sure we could have some coffee and pudding(布丁) right now", Michael held out his hand. Usually she would take it and they would walk to Lizzie's, which was not too far, and sit there talking when it was too cold to sit in the park. But this time she just shook her head and stayed where she stood.
"Sara, it's freezing cold here. We might catch flu or worse pneumonia. Let's go before I froze into a human-icicle(冰柱) and then you have to drag me around. I am heavy you know", he smiled to her.
"It won't take long", she said after pausing a little while. Something suddenly made Michael felt that the snowstorm is happening inside him, stopped his pulse and frozen his entire inner organs.
She watched him looking all confused and worried and felt so warm inside. This guy was the only person she should face today. She had to do this. Sooner or later she had to do this. She knew this would hurt him more than she was hurt by it. But this was the only chance. Her only chance to get away from him. Although she knew so well there was no way to get away from something like that. From pain.
The wind grew more fiercely. Michael by now grabbed her by her shoulders and asked her repeatedly what was wrong with her.
As if the cold has numbed her.
"Do you remember the first time we ever sit in this bench together?" She asked.
"Yes. You walked your dog and so did I. And Russel and Biff made friends with each other and so did we. "
Actually Michael had seen her several times before. He was new in the block, just moved in from his old apartment up north. He came to the park in company with Biff and walked the pet every afternoon, hoping he would meet the girl with vivid eyes.
Sara smiled. Her big eyes looked sad. Michael was getting frustrated.
"Did I do something to make you upset? Did anyone do something that made you upset? Are you OK? What's wrong, Sara? Tell me and let me help you. "
How could she tell him the truth? She just stood there in the freezing cold and scared Michael to death. Something was wrong. She had been so careful not to let Michael knew too much. Not to let him went too deep inside her life and heart. They said he was all right so she could be friend with him. They had warned her that she could not have any attachment to this man. Beware of this man. It was too dangerous. He was innocent.
"So am I!"she protested at the time. And she was wrong, and she was right. She knew they were right too. She said to herself that she could stop it anytime she wanted to. She knew she was wrong about this. Who can stop love?
"I like Lizzie's apartment", she said,looking down her feet.
"Then let's go there. Much better there than here. "
"I can't !"
For several silent seconds she stared deep into his eyes, the window of his soul, searching for a reason to hate this man. There was nothing there but deep worries.
"You emitted light, Michael", she whispered.
"Knowing you is probably the best thing that could happen to me in the past couple of years. Or for the years to come. "
Suddenly his throat went dry. They never officially dated and he never exactly told her he loved her. Maybe she got tired with all of the uncertainties. Women expected their boyfriends to verbalize tenderness all the time. This seemed like a good time. Maybe he should tell her he loves her. And then maybe she wouldn't leave him.
"Sara, I love you!"
She looked startled to his declaration. Michael could swear she looked disappointed. Or maybe angry? It was very cold outside and the snow blurred(使…变模糊) his vision. Did she cry? Perhaps. He had to say it. If it could make her stay, then why in hell not?
"Thank you",that was all she said to it. His heart sank.
All plausible outcomes went through his head. What could I do to make her stay? Should I beg? Should I get on my knees and beg her to stay? Should I cry in front of her? Oh God, please...
"I don't expect you to understand anything, Michael. I can't even ask you to forgive me for what happened. I'm sorry. "
"No. No, I don't understand, and that's why you have to explain to me. What happened Sara? What is going on? Something happened while I'm away, that's for sure. Did I do something wrong? Tell me and maybe I can make up for it. "
Sara tried so hard not to cry. At the corner she could see the woman wearing a black coat looking at her watch. She was standing there all the time while Sara talked to Michael. She had grown impatient.
"Please, Michael", she whispered slowly and hugged the bewildered man..His scent, his warmth, his deep voice tone while talking to Sara, she would miss all of them.
Michael was unsure how to wrap his arms round her frail figure. Inside, his heart was starting to break to pieces. But he would not give up just yet.
She let go of him and stared at him with some determination in her eyes.
"I want you to know that I do love you. I hope we will get to meet again, Michael."
"Where are you going?"
She just smiled to him and walked away. Something just punched Michael right on his chest.He felt like a stone just hit him. The blow didn't injure him physically but the damage was indescribable. He stood there paralyzed for some seconds before he could move his legs and started chasing her.
Sara kept on walking to the lady in the black coat. A white car pulled by and she opened the door for Sara.
But she didn't look back. She got in the car and the car drove away. The rear of the car disappeared from his eyesight in the dusk.
Sara's apartment was already cleaned empty. They didn't let her leave anything behind. Not even a note for Michael. No one knew where she went, or who she was. Nobody knew if she had any relatives who could tell where she was going to, and no one knew more than that she loved dogs and she was a very quiet girl. Sara just disappeared. And only Michael was crazy on his search for clues.
Spring came, and Biff demanded to be taken for a stroll on the park one afternoon. Passing the bench, Michael didn't stop. A young couple had occupied the bench now, talking with tins of coffee in their hands. Michael thought it would be nice to stop at Lizzie's for some coffee and cherish the old days before going home.
Unit 14 Information Systems Today
Information technology is important and indispensable to the life of human beings. Trammission, recording or memory and processing of information are three essential process of information.
Virtually, the information technology has been changing everyday. The basic challenge of the coming decade is how to make the already available technologies as useful and friendly to a user as the telephone or television set is to the common man.
Computers are a major segment of the new information technologies. The constant growth of semiconductor technology and the proliferation (增殖) of the semiconductor memory devices has brought possibilities that you use personal computers to do anything you want to,for instance, record a message and phone back an answer.
With the help of satellite communication, the transmission of data has become very fast. The data can be telexed(电传)；the voice over a telephone can be transmitted on local, national and international network. The transmission of images through technology, that's via a TV, is again going to be a major challenge, as how to combine all these three components of information technology into one. It will bring about various problems. The first is the privacy that goes with it. For further addition to the impact of communication, one can switch over from voices to images and data, depending on an individual's need.
It is major challenge before the society at large and the library professionals as how to compress a library into a computer. Moreover, on the user's part it is not easy to sit at a terminal and read. Basically some psychological and social changes especially exert a subtle influence on the minds of the young children, so that they grow up with the habit of reading on a computer screen.
It is also a fact that a large number of computers have been used as sophisticated typewriters. If you ask somebody who is the actual user of the computer, it is probably the secretary. A lot of PCs have dust covers on them and one cannot be sure how frequently they are removed. It is a strange phenomenon that people haven't come out of their “hang-ups”. The terminal or keyboard of a personal computer is looked up as an extension of a sophisticated typewriter. Also there is a conventional barrier in sitting and typing out the matter, which needs to be overcome.
That's why the advertising expenditures have to be toned down(降低) to a certain level of reality. There is worldwide a competition going on as to how quickly you can gather, dispatch or transmit the information. There has been a tremendous bombardment(爆炸) of information from all sides. As the demand grows from the public to share the information, at the same time every section of the society is demanding more and more its share of message that goes across. Besides, the homes have been invaded by the message of consumerism(消费主义)--information about goods, marketing, politics, etc. The tender minds of children are gradually corroded by all the matter.
It is going to be a long struggle to convert all the paper knowledge into the electronic medium. Moreover, if we want to solve the literacy problem, the computers may help in self-learning. The noble place of a teacher will be taken up by a personal computer, as whatever one will see on the screen will become a reality, why should anyone go to one's parents or teachers when the PC can provide answers to all your questions. Already, the latest PC is there in the market in the United States, which can store all full encyclopedias in it, even the whole library.
With the widespread of information, the categorized structure of the organization breaks up.There is no need of various layers of management to perform the varied tasks that are easier to be done by computers. During the last decade there was an open declaration that one person can manage a project or a company. In the 70's there was the concept of controlling finance(财务控制). Today, the widespread of information through various media has to be managed.
In the 1940's there used to be radio sets that had vacuum tubes, which have been replaced today by the integrated circuit(集成电路). A technological advancement is gauged by the power it gives or the energy it consumes and the cost that is involved. The technology that was prevalent in the 1940's used to be about 100 percent more expensive and about 1 000 times energy consuming. Electronics in turn has revolutionized(使…根本改变) the computer industry today.
Today, in the field of digital communication, there is digital transmission, digital switching and signaling that is taking place. The progress of the digital techniques mainly depends on computer's development and the progress of digital transmission systems based on it have merged computer and communication.It has made possible the realization of the three basic functions, i.e. , the transmission, memory and processing in a simple form and realization of further advanced and more complicated systems. This progress has given us many useful means to better our social life and welfare.
Unit 15 A Favor at the Gates
I hate February. Maybe I do misunderstand it but it's the most desolate time of a year. White-gray skies and coldness are its only equivalent features. February signifies death. I know this is true because on a cold gray mid-February day, seven years ago, came the news of my father's terminal illness.
We had suspected for some time that whatever was wrong with Dad would be something petty and curable. He had always maintained an active life even in his seventies, but this winter had hit him pretty hard. A cough that wouldn't go away was followed by episodes of fatigue so severe that he wouldn't or couldn't look after himself. Eventually he had to be hospitalized and the tests confirmed our worst and ever-present fear--cancer. Though his pension could help cover his prescriptions but the diagnoses came too late for any type of treatment to have effect. There was nothing feasible to do but bring him home and wait for the inevitable outcome.
When Dad first came home there was an air of denial surrounding everyone whom came to visit him. They talked to him as if he would recover soon; wished him well when they departed, and if anyone ever gave him the chance to talk about the finality of his life that I never knew. Good-bye shouldn't be so hard to say, but it often is heart-breaking.
February gave way to March and then April came with its vitality and promise of new life. I suppose everyone feels the irony(具有讽刺意味的事) at the times like that. We sit by the side with no option but hopelessly watch the life drain from someone we love while the seasons turn and we can do nothing to stop death from its approaching. As my dad decayed and faded inside the house,the lawn turned green, the pond glowed like porcelain, all the trees leafed to fullness and the tulips(郁金香) sprang forth as though all was exactly as it should be. There is no fairness in destiny.
I often spoke with my mother during the final weeks of dad's life. She talked endlessly about the magnitude of her frustration and fatigue. There were times when she angered me with her negative and insensitive(麻木的) comments and there were times when I felt how tired she must be.Mom never said she was afraid to be widowed but at times I could sense how uneasy she was; I was not aware how she might react when the end came. The truth about death was hidden somewhere between our interpretation and what we refuse to admit. I carried the guilt of mutely hoping my dad's death would be quickened, thus sparing him and myself the agony of prolonged pain.
Death seems to determine to rip apart any fragile bond that exists between the living and the dying. On the last Sunday I was ever going to see my father, while talking leisurely, he mentioned how much he loved French fried potatoes and how he wished he could have a big plate of them now.Mom overheard his comment and began screaming that how she had cooked everything he had asked for and he didn't eat any. She screamed so loud that I was embarrassed for my father and myself.She was like a pirate who left my father shipwrecked. He looked away from my eyes but I saw bitter tears rolling down from the corners of what once were the greenest eyes I'd ever seen. At that moment I hated my mother. I hated her for making me pity my father. I hated her for being spiteful,though mostly I hated myself. It would have been a simple thing for me to accommodate my dad's request of French fried potatoes. I could have jumped right up and told mom I knew how tired she must be and even if dad didn't or couldn't eat them, I'd fix them for him. I could have told mom to go sit down and rest. Or I could have told her Dad was just talking about the recipe of food he enjoyed. I could have done a million things different from what I did. Sadly all I did was far from my emotions. As Mom was still yelling and Dad was trying to conceal his hurt, I made some lame excuse for leaving.
During my drive home I thought of how Mom had made my visit with Dad so depressing. The picture of Dad's smiling face turning so quickly to one of hurt wouldn't leave my mind. Why had she screamed out at him? Dad only wanted some fried potatoes. Mom could have said no or maybe later. On the contrary, she had lashed out at him with such rage that he shrank in fear at her onslaught (冲击), as did I. Why didn't I gather an ounce of courage and stand up to Mom? Would it have been so hard for me to intervene? My father was dying and all he had asked for was some French fried potatoes. We were just talking about foods we enjoyed, like prawn(对虾), lobster(龙虾), beef stew with pepper and mushroom soup, etc. The worst criminals condemned to death can request a last meal and get it. Where was the justice in refusing my father a plate of French fried potatoes? I couldn't stop the tears as they overflowed from my eyes.
I opened the door to the home I shared with my husband and daughter, hoping to get in the bathroom before they could ask any questions. Luckily my husband was on the telephone and he barely glanced at my way as I came through the kitchen. I splashed cold water on my face and tried my best to conceal the redness the crying had created in my eyes. When I finally opened the door, my husband was standing on the other side, waiting for me to come out. He pulled me gently into his arms and whispered how much he loved me and how sorry he was to have to tell me my father had just passed away.
As my husband drove us back to my parent's house, I kept thinking about how I had just left Dad, alive, not more than thirty minutes past. One of the ironies of death is even when you are expecting it, it comes as a surprise.
Seven years have passed since we buried Dad. I've only just begun to forgive Mom for her final outburst(感情等的爆发) during my last talk with him. I've been less forgiving myself. Each day I'm ridiculed(嘲笑) by my own thoughts. How could I have left Dad disappointed knowing he had a want? What was wrong with me to have not done something? Whenever I'm at a restaurant and hear children asking their parents for fries to go with their hamburgers, I fight not to interfere. I want to say let them have fries. I'd offer to pay for them myself, too. But that would call for some kind of explanation and I'm not ready to share this with strangers.
There will be a time for an explanation when I am visited(遭…的报应) by the only principle of fairness. If those gates of Heaven are really there and a short pause exists while the records are reviewed, I'll tell my story then. Before I am judged, I'll bargain, would it be too much to ask if I might be awarded with time to prepare a plate of French fried potatoes? And if you could, would you graciously have them delivered to my father? I know he is here and he'll know who sent them. If you could allow me this small favor I think I'll be all right no matter where I might go from here.
I hate February... it is the most desolate time of a year.
Unit 16 When Shadows Fall
Cobwebs(蜘蛛网) hang lazily from the cracked plaster ceilings. Dust has piled thickly on the paper. Books are placed everywhere, on tall shelves and low shelves, in unsteady(不稳定的) stacks on floor, coffee table, lounge and piano, in boxes, cupboards and wardrobes(大衣柜).
A reading lamp casts a single bright circle on the green cloth of the dining table, and a woman's head bent low over them. Her hair crinkles(成波浪状) like tarnished(失去光泽的) metal. As she writes, her brown arm moves slowly across the circle of light, the faint scratching of her pen is the only sound in the room.
Loud strikes at the front door shatters(打碎) the calm. The writer sighs, starts to lay down her pen, but with a shake of her head resumes writing. The over-enthusiastic knocking at the door is repeated. The house is vibrated: millions of tiny dust particles shiver and twirl(旋转) chaotically(无秩序地) through the air, fragments of plaster tremble along the cracks, spiders hurry to their corners. She hears footsteps pass the curtained window in front of her, the frail and dusted back gate opens with only a brief creak(吱吱的响声).
Pushing back her chair, she stands rigidly, revealing the red glow of a heater in the dark cave under the table, and walks slowly through the cold kitchen to the back door.
As she opens the back door, she finds there stands a young man on her threshold, who is from the flats across the road. He's storing things in her garage.
“Hi, Mrs Embley. I just want to ask if you'd mind if I put up a few shelves in the shed?”
Shelves... timber... nails... hammering... noise！
“Uh, no, I don't think that's a good idea: Donald wouldn't like it. ”
“Oh, Donald is back, isn't he? ”
“Of course. I told you he has just gone up the street. ”
“Yeah, haven't seen him, but OK. It doesn't matter. See you. ”
“Wait! It really would be best if you didn't disturb us in the house. Donald needs peace and quiet for his work, you see. Just come and go to the garage, as you want, no need to ask. A1right? ”
“Fair enough, ” he nods, and disappears down the side path. She shivers a little, glancing briefly at the vaguely familiar wildness of the yard before shutting and bolting the door. Donald used to look after it, but she no longer remembers how long since he went, nowhere he said he was going. Last winter? Or the one before?
A cup of tea, she thinks, then on to that troublesome chapter five. Searching vainly for biscuits, she curses gently. Such a waste of time, shopping. Perhaps she'll just go to the petrol station on the corner again；they have a few things, and they certainly have biscuits.
She fetches her coat from the wardrobe. The hat she wears on her head is an old gardening one, but the mirror door, hanging by a hinge, shows only a haggard(憔悴的) and lanky(瘦长的) sight of her figure, and she leaves the house.
Returning ten minutes later with her stopgap (权宜的) shopping, she remembers to clear the mailbox. She skims(快速浏览) through the pile of letters and finds that most are sent to her for manuscripts. These publishers can be so pushy(热心的). She'll deal with them later.
Now for chapter five! Tea and biscuits at her hand, the heater at her feet, silence and the night screen like a protective curtain all around her. She turns to the beginning to reread what she has finished and regain the imagined world.
The first paragraph is only a working one, but it has, she feels, a good title to it: When Shadows Fall, by Donald Embley.