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Listening

Cenk Uyger interviews Julian Assange, Wikileaks founder

“Near miss”, “cause”

Today we will look at two different terms: “near miss” and “cause”. We will use a short video to understand their meanings.

In the video you will see Muntazer al-Zaidi, an Iraqi journalist, throwing both his shoes at the US president, George Bush Jnr. The journalist throws his shoes quite accurately, but the shoes don’t hit Mr Bush. They “miss” him, but only just. In fact, they nearly hit his head. So we can describe the incident as a “near miss”. When two aircraft nearly hit each other, that is also a near miss.

Now let us turn to Mr Bush’s reaction afterwards (you can read the full transcript below). Mr Bush says that he doesn’t know “what the guy’s cause is”. In this context, the word “cause” means “a principle or movement that you believe in deeply and are prepared to defend or promote”. For example: Mother Teresa of Calcutta devoted her life to the cause of poor and sick people. Muntazer al-Zaidi’s cause is the widows and orphans and everyone killed in Iraq as a result of the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Al-Zaidi (translated): This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog. This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq.

Bush: So what if the guy threw a shoe at me? … Er, it is one way to gain attention. Er, it’s like going to a political rally and having people yell at you. It’s like driving down the street and have [having] people not gesturing with all five fingers. It’s a way for people to draw, you know, attention…I dunno what the guy’s cause is, but one thing is for certain, he caused you to ask me a question about him.

Stock Market Advice

The Gambler by Kenny Rogers

On a warm summer’s evenin’ on a train bound for nowhere,
I met up with a gambler; we were both too tired to sleep.
So we took turns a starin’ out the window at the darkness
‘Til boredom overtook us, and he began to speak.
He said, “Son, I’ve made my life out of readin’ people’s faces,
And knowin’ what their cards were by the way they held their eyes.
So if you don’t mind my sayin’, I can see you’re out of aces.
For a taste of your whiskey I’ll give you some advice.”
So I handed him my bottle and he drank down my last swallow.
Then he bummed a cigarette and asked me for a light.
And the night got deathly quiet, and his face lost all expression.
He said, “If you’re gonna play the game, boy, ya gotta learn to play it right.
You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.
Now ev’ry gambler knows the secret to survivin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away and knowing what to keep.
‘Cause ev’ry hand’s a winner and ev’ry hand’s a loser,
And the best you can hope for is to die in your sleep.”
So when he’d finished speakin’, he turned back towards the window,
Crushed out his cigarette and faded off to sleep.
And somewhere in the darkness the gambler, he broke even.
But in his final words I found an ace that I could keep.
You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em,
Know when to walk away, know when to run.
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.
You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em,
Know when to walk away, know when to run.
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.
You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em,
Know when to walk away, know when to run.
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.

These lyrics and performance are the property of the respective authors, artists and labels, and are provided here for educational purposes only.

Obama Address

USA President-elect Barack Obama has made good use of the Internet and it was probably largely thanks to the Internet that he won the US presidential election. Here is his first weekly address, placed on Change.gov and playing through YouTube.

This is a good listening exercise. Notice that (when the video is playing) you can turn subtitles on or off through the arrow button, bottom right.

Quantum of Solace

Read lyrics below

Quantum of WHAT?! Even the director of the new James Bond movie Quantum of Solace hated the title at first. “I was like, ‘Quantum of Solace’, what’s that about?” Marc Forster told a group of journalists in New York. Explaining that the title came from an original short story by Ian Fleming (creator of James Bond), Forster added: “At the beginning it took me a little while to get used to it. But it kind of grew on me.”

quantum (noun): 1. a share; a portion 2. [scientific] a discrete quantity of energy proportional in magnitude to the frequency of the radiation it represents

  • Each man has only a quantum of compassion.

solace (noun): consolation or comfort at a time of sadness or distress

  • She seeks solace in religion.

On the face of it, the title means something like “Share of Comfort” or “Portion of Compassion”, but since I believe the storyline of the movie involves an appropriately green plot I suspect that there may be some play on words—specifically the word “quantum”.

Quantum of solace
From what I’ve been told
Holds the key to your heart
And the keys to your soul
Wherever you hide it
There won’t be a safe place
Once I reach for your heart
That’s what you have to face
Till I find the answer
I’ll search every space
Reach into the dark
Reach into your heart
Your time is upon you
Accept it with grace
For you’re gonna need
Me to find
A quantum of solace

If you find the answer
Right here in my face
I must be prepared
I’ve sealed my fate
I’ll find the answer
I’ll search every space
Reach into the dark
And into your heart
Your time is upon you
Accept it with grace
For you’re gonna need
Me to find
A quantum of solace

Wherever you hide it
There won’t be a safe place
Once I reach for your heart
That’s what you have to face
To find the answer
I’ll search every space
Reach into the dark
And into your heart

The time is upon you
Accept it with grace
For you’re gonna need
Me to find
A quantum of solace

NB: this is not the official Bond song for this movie

Some seek knowledge

“Some seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge – and that is curiosity. Some seek knowledge that they may be known to have knowledge – and that is vanity. Some seek knowledge that they may give to others their knowledge – and that is charity.”

Bernard of Clairveaux
Saint Bernard of Clairveaux was a French abbot of the 12th century.

 
icon for podpress  Some seek: Play Now | Play in Popup

Swiss Spaghetti Harvest Hoax

Below is probably the most classic April Fool’s Day hoax of all time. On April 1st, 1957 the BBC ran a short programme about a bumper spaghetti harvest in southern Switzerland, showing spaghetti growing on trees. Many people believed the programme and phoned in to ask how they could grow their own “spaghetti tree”.

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