Almanac – 23 August 2010 – Monday

Read the text first, then listen to the audio at the bottom of the page.

Kyoto in Summer

Good morning. It’s Monday, August 23, 2010.


And now for the weather in Kyoto: It will be partly cloudy, with a 40% chance of showers in the afternoon, and a high of 35 degrees. The moon is almost finished waxing.

There are different ways of describing types of rain:

a drizzle – when the rain is very light.
a shower – when the rain comes down heavily for a short time and then disappears
a steady rain – when it rains for a long time without stopping
a downpour – a very heavy rain. It could be for a short time or a long time.

Highs and Lows
Weather reporters speak of ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ when talking about temperature extremes for any given day.

a high of 35
a high of 35 degrees

This means the highest the temperature will reach is 35 degrees.

a low of 23.
a low of 23 degrees

This means the lowest the temperature will fall is 23 degrees.

A Waxing Moon

The moon is almost finished waxing.

We say the moon is ‘waxing’ when it’s lighted portion increases in size before the full moon.
We say the moon is ‘waning’ when its lighted portion decreases in size after the full moon.

A waxing moon is a moon that grows larger.
A waning moon is a moon that becomes smaller.

Right now the moon is waxing. After the full moon it will wane. When will the moon be full?

How’s the Weather Today?
Now I want you to tell me about the weather where you are. How’s the weather in your area? Answer this question. Say your answer aloud.
How’s the weather today?

Now write an answer. How’s the weather today in your area? (Post the answer below in the “comments” section)


Here are some news headlines:

New York mosque controversy worries Muslims overseas

Some cannot understand the fuss over a house of worship and how a democracy promoting religious freedom, like the United States, could even be having such a debate. Others are offended at the conflation of the 9/11 attacks with all Muslims. President Barack Obama has already voiced his support on the Muslims right to build a mosque at the site.

A controversy is a debate or argument concerning a matter of opinion. A controversy happens when people have a strong disagreement. It usually happens in public.

The word controversy has Latin roots. It comes from ‘contra’ (which means ‘against’) and ‘versus’ (which means ‘to turn’). In this sense, a controversy is an issue that turns people against one another.

Look at the following list of similar words:

a controversy
an argument
a debate
a dispute
a quarrel
a fuss

‘Controversy’ is also used as an adjective: ‘controversial’. Look at the following examples:

The New York Mosque is a controversial issue in the United States.
Abortion is a controversial subject for many people.
Some consider Fidel Castro to be a controversial leader.

A mosque is a ‘house of worship’ in the Islamic religious tradition. Here are some other terms for ‘houses of worship’:

mosque, masjid – Islam
church, chapel, cathedral – Christianity
synagogue – Judaism
temple, mandir – Hinduism
temple, wat – Buddhism

Do you know any other terms for a ‘house of worship’? If so, let us know in the comments below.

A ‘conflation’ is a process or result of fusing two different things into one. The verb ‘to conflate’ means to merge or combine two things into one.

The root of the word ‘conflation’ also comes from Latin. It is a combination of the prefix ‘con’ (which means ‘with’ or ‘together’) and ‘flare’ (which means ‘blow, or ‘shock’). So, imagine a person with a hammer, striking blows in order to smash two things together.

Here are some similar words:


Barack Obama voiced his support for the Muslims right to build a mosque wherever they want. ‘To voice’ means ‘to speak up’ or ‘to speak out’. Here are some more examples:

The company president voiced her support for our new idea.
At the meeting tomorrow, I plan to voice my opinion loudly.
The protesters voiced their disagreement with the new law.

What do you think of the New York mosque controversy? Do you believe in religious freedom for all people?
Think about this issue. Read about it. Answer it orally (Say your answer aloud!)

Senior UN official attacks response to Pakistan Floods

A senior United Nations official has called on the global community to urgently step up its response to the floods that have struck Pakistan. Louis-George Arsenault, director of emergency operations for the Unicef in New York, described the lack of support as “quite extraordinary”. The humanitarian crisis was the largest “in decades”, he warned.

A UN official has ‘called on’ the global community to take action. This means that he is speaking directly to the people of the world. We ‘call on’ people when we want them to take action of some sort. Therefore, we can say that he has voiced his opinion on the situation in Pakistan. Here are some other examples:

The teacher called on her best student to answer the question.
The prime minister called on the nation’s youth to consider careers in public service.

So, he called on the global community to ‘step up’ their response to the floods. To ‘step up’ something means to ‘increase its intensity’. Here are some examples:

The police are trying to step up their efforts at lowering the city’s crime rate.
The football player stepped up his training in order to prepare for the upcoming season.
“You’re working to slowly. Step up the pace!”

The Unicef official, George-Louis Arsenault, feels that the lack of support is “quite extraordinary”. This means that he cannot believe that people could ignore such a terrible situation. Here are some other ways of saying the same thing:

quite extraordinary
rather extraordinary
so extraordinary

He could also have called the lack of support from the global community:


A Humanitarian Crisis
The floods in Pakistan are a humanitarian crisis. A humanitarian crisis is a condition of danger that leads to a rapid change in a society or group of people. In Pakistan, millions have lost their homes; they are hungry and in need of clean drinking water. Others are getting sick and don’t have medicine. More are dying with each day. It is an emergency situation. It is a crisis. It is a tragedy.

Why do you think the people of Pakistan have not received better aid from the world community? Think about this issue. Read about it. Answer it orally (Say your answer aloud!)



According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, today is the best day of the month to castrate animals. Castration should only be performed by a veterinarian. Please do not try to castrate an animal on your own.

Castration is the practice of removing the testicles from male animals, such as from cattle or horses. It is thought that castration produces docile animals, while preventing them from reproducing. Although generally used to describe an action performed on males, it can also describe the mutilation or removal of ovaries from female animals.

Castration comes from the verb ‘to castrate’. It means to remove the testicles from a male animal. Here are some examples:

The veterinarian castrated all the bulls on the farm, except for one.
I think we should castrate our pet dog, so he doesn’t make any puppies.
We’re going to have our horse castrated next week.

Another meaning of the word ‘castrate’ is to deprive someone or something of strength or power. We can use this in a number of ways. For example:

The new president castrated the military by cutting off funding.
Without our team leader, our group will be castrated.

A veterinarian is an animal doctor, or a doctor who specializes in taking care of animals. Many people call this person a ‘vet’ for short. Vets must train for many years to become licensed.

Have you ever taken your dog or cat to a vet? Do you think castration is a good idea? Are there better alternatives? What is your opinion? Voice your opinion in the comments below.

News and Weather Summary

Now listen to a summary. If you do not understand everything you hear, go back and read the text again. Look up all the new words in the dictionary.

Download audio file (nw230810.mp3)

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