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July 2011

07/31/2011

オズのまほうつかい 16

Weekend Theater 2 (for kids and the young at heart)

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, chapter 16.

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07/30/2011

オーステン Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 22

Weekend Theater 1

Chapter 22 of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.

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07/29/2011

"Rallying Around Old George" by P.G. Wodehouse - 3/3

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This section concludes "Rallying Around Old George" by P.G. Wodehouse. The story is in the collection of short stories entitled My Man Jeeves.

Before Google made its appearance on the Web, there was an Internet search site called AskJeeves.com. (There still is, actually, but outside the UK it is now called ask.com) I had no idea who Jeeves was or what the butler-like cartoon character stood for. What an odd name for a search engine, was my vague impression at the time. (Now I know the answer, but only because I've read a few of the Jeeves stories and watched a few episodes of the TV show on DVD.)


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07/28/2011

ドイル 唇のねじれた男 1/5 (「シャーロック・ホームズの冒険」より)

Thursday Theater

Here's "The Man with the Twisted Lip" from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Part 1 of 5. Enjoy.

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07/27/2011

"The Face In The Target" by G.K. Chesterton, 1/4

"The Face In The Target" 1/4
A short story from The Man Who Knew Too Much by G.K. Chesterton

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07/26/2011

コンラッド Heart of Darkness 23

Tuesday Theater

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad - 23

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07/25/2011

ドストエフスキー 大審問官 (「カラマーゾフの兄弟」より) 1/5

The Grand Inquisitor (from The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky), part 1 of 5.


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07/24/2011

オズのまほうつかい 15-2

Weekend Theater 2 (for kids and the young at heart)

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, chapter 15-2. (I've divided this chapter into two parts.)

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07/23/2011

オーステン Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 21

Weekend Theater 1

Chapter 21 of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.

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07/22/2011

"Rallying Around Old George" by P.G. Wodehouse - 2/3

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Part 2 of "Rallying Around Old George" by P.G. Wodehouse. The story is in the collection of short stories entitled My Man Jeeves.
Jeeves is the name of a super-clever valet (a peculiarly British institution who is a personal assistant and man servant rolled into one) who is way more knowledgeable than his master and solves all sorts of problems with supreme calm. It appears that Wodehouse wrote tons of stories featuring this Jeeves character and his foppish young master Wooster. (A TV series was produced back in the 80s starring Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie [now a star of House M.D.] I purchased a DVD set on impulse.)
Well, Jeeves doesn't appear in the story you are listening to. Instead, a valet by the name of Voules plays a part. He is not a benign know-it-all like Jeeves, but is of a more flawed variety and is therefore more human. It's a trivial story of some rich good-for-nothings but at least it's fun to read.

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07/21/2011

ドイル ボスコム谷の謎 5 (「シャーロック・ホームズの冒険」より)

Thursday Theater

"The Boscombe Valley Mystery" from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Part 5 of 5.

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I hope you've enjoyed this episode. There are three more stories that I haven't covered in The Adventures of S.H. collection. In fact, I've recorded all three of them some time ago and am now prooflistening them. I plan on sharing them with you at this time slot over the next couple of months or so. Please stay tuned.

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07/20/2011

Bringing prehistoric colors back to life

"Bringing prehistoric colors back to life." Another science news flash from the Science magazine website.

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And here's a promo video produced by the authors of the paper discussed in the above article.
Trace Metals in Fossils Record Pigmentation

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07/19/2011

コンラッド Heart of Darkness 22

Tuesday Theater

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad - 22

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07/18/2011

The Road

The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

I recorded this novel earlier this year. I'm only posting the beginning of Chapter 1 here to give you the ambience of this post-apocalyptic story of a father protecting his son as best he can.

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07/17/2011

オズのまほうつかい 15-1

Weekend Theater 2 (for kids and the young at heart)

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, chapter 15-1. (I've divided this chapter into two parts.)

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07/16/2011

オーステン Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 20

Weekend Theater 1

Chapter 20 of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.

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07/15/2011

"Rallying Around Old George" by P.G. Wodehouse - 1/3

A friend of mine suggested some years ago that I might find the works of P.G. Wodehouse to be a good read. I hadn't followed his advice until recently, when I found Wodehouse's works at the Project Gutenberg site. I decided to give it a shot, and downloaded a collection of short stories entitled My Man Jeeves. Well, it's not Shakespeare or Dickens or Austen, but rather entertaining in a light-hearted way. If you are interested in pre-war British mannerisms and that sort of thing, you'll find it fascinating. If not, at least you might find these stories still largely comical and readable after all those years. I've just recorded one of the stories in the collection and am sharing it with you.


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07/14/2011

ドイル ボスコム谷の謎 4 (「シャーロック・ホームズの冒険」より)

Thursday Theater

"The Boscombe Valley Mystery" from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Part 4 of 5.

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07/13/2011

The Lovely Bones

How about something a bit different?

Here's the beginning of the first chapter of The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I recorded the entire book in early 2010. I kind of like the way the author writes, though the ending may be a bit off-putting for some. I was put off a bit, to be honest, but the generally high quality of writing seemed to compensate for any questionable choices in the plot. In fact, the good thing about this novel is not the story line but the way the characters interact with each other. Despite the murder theme, it's really a story about family love. If you are interested, go read the book. But I wouldn't recommend watching the movie. (Peter Jackson had sadly misread this book, I'm afraid.)


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07/12/2011

コンラッド Heart of Darkness 21

Tuesday Theater

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad - 21

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07/11/2011

Can Fish Use Tools?

"Diver Snaps First Photo of Fish Using Tools." Another science news flash from the Science magazine website.


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07/10/2011

オズのまほうつかい 14

Weekend Theater 2 (for kids and the young at heart)

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, chapter 14.

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07/09/2011

オーステン Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 19

Weekend Theater 1

Chapter 19 of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.

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07/08/2011

The End of the Space Age

From a recent issue of the Economist. A rather disparaging account of international space programs and their future.

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I don't like the word "space cadets" used repeatedly in this article, by the way. It seems to insinuate that those who follow the lead of the likes of Carl Sagan are a bunch of starry-eyed boy scouts. But I shouldn't prejudice you. Listen and judge for yourself.

I'm using the free "Economist" iPhone app to access selected Economist articles for some time now, but I didn't realize until a few days ago that the application had an audio feature. In fact, you can download and listen to recordings of all articles (the above article included), read not by software but by human narrators.

That being the case, is it superfluous for us to read the Economist articles out loud and record it? Far from it, at least from a viewpoint of someone struggling to read English well. In fact, I'd encourage you to do it. You can then compare your performance with that of narrators hired by the Economist. Mind you, their art of reading is not exactly the gold standard, so don't go trying to imitate them. Generally speaking, learning by uncritical mimicking is a bad idea in the long run. But there are things you can learn from them; how they emphasize certain parts of speech to get the meaning across, for instance. If you think the way they handle a particular phrase is effective, steal it. Take what you need and discard the rest. Keep on doing that and someday, hopefully soon, you'll find that you have got your own style.


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07/07/2011

ドイル ボスコム谷の謎 3 (「シャーロック・ホームズの冒険」より)

Thursday Theater

"The Boscombe Valley Mystery" from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Part 3 of 5.

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07/06/2011

Chimps Are Good Listeners, Too

Ooops! Sorry, wrong file.. I've fixed the link now. (July 6)
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So, even some chimps can comprehend spoken English words, huh. I think this story should encourage us who study foreign languages. It shows that elementary vocal communication is possible even on an interspecies level. It makes intercultural communication seem like a breeze. I think a major obstacle for us in trying to comprehend foreign languages is our tendency to squeeze foreign sounds we hear into the phonetic template of our native language -- it's like trying to push a square peg into a round hole. Something always gets lost in the process. To avoid that, you've got to build a whole new vocal template for each new language you learn, and that takes time. (But reading aloud and recording your own performance for self-assessment should help this process a lot.)

From the Science Now page on the Science magazine website.


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07/05/2011

コンラッド Heart of Darkness 20

Tuesday Theater

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad - 20

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Note: I wrote earlier that this story will be presented in 20 installments, but as some segments were too long I divided them into shorter chunks, with the result that there are 24 installments now. That means there are four more episodes to go before the story ends, and of course the first section will be posted after that, as promised.

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07/04/2011

蛙 (芥川龍之介 原作)

An adaptation of a short story -- an Aesop-like fable -- by Ryunosuke Akutagawa. Text adapted and translated by Masahiro KUDO who runs the Old Stories of Japan site.

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07/03/2011

オズのまほうつかい 13

Weekend Theater 2 (for kids and the young at heart)

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, chapter 13.

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07/02/2011

オーステン Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 18

Weekend Theater 1

Chapter 18 of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.

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07/01/2011

Reason Seen More as Weapon Than Path to Truth

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This intriguing article appeared on the NY Times website on June 15 (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/15/arts/people-argue-just-to-win-scholars-assert.html). I said intriguing, because I've always suspected that debates are a dubious way to get at the truth of things. Winning or losing a debate isn't really a measure of the truth of an argument -- it's a measure of debating skills, period. And yet there has always been this assumption that winning a debate somehow gives the winner's claim a legitimacy. A case in point is the debate between the prosecutor and the defense in a court of law, which is presumed to deliver justice. But this assumption needs to be seriously reexamined.

I was thinking something along this line the other day, when I happen to watch a quiz show on TV. The players were sevearl professors of science at famous universities (attended by their students as sidekicks), who competed in a sort of an inter-collegiate battle of intellect. They were shown a series of seemingly elementary experiments in physics using pendulums and baloons and what not, and were asked what the outcome would be. Whichever team that gave correct answers most often would win. Simple enough, right? One would imagine that professors at prestigious universities couldn't possibly get the answers wrong. Well, what happend was that with each question, the professors made wildly divergent predictions (which began to seem more like guesses as the show went on), and most of them got the answers wrong each time! What seemed most interesting to me was that at each question, the professors explained in a logical manner why they would expect a certain outcome, and each argument actually seemed to have some merit. In other words, they all seem to be right -- until the experiment actually played out.

What this game show revealed was that arguments may appear to be sound but could produce completely erroneous answers. If the merit of each argument were to be examined and judged only in a "market of ideas" without the reality test, the most persuasive argument would certainly win. And yet such judgment could be completely irrelevant, because the truth exists outside those arguments, in the form of actual results of experiments, for instance. In the face of hard facts, arguments must cease and after-the-fact reasoning begins.

The judicial system is never that black-and-white, however, and we have no choice but to grope in the dark by listening to dubious arguments and make the best guesses. The question is, do we try to get at the truth, or do we just try to guess which argument would be most appealing? That's a crucial difference, I think.

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