English Challenge 08

I.  Article

A. Starting Your Day on the Internet Is Damaging Your Brain – Link / Excerpt and Questions /

B. Excerpt to Read and Record

1. Don’t Use Your Devices in the Morning

Smartphones distract us whether they are on, off, in our pockets, or on a table, and they command our attention even when they are not our own.  The best solution for preventing smartphone distraction is to remove it from the picture altogether. — Steve Magness

If your refrigerator or pantry is filled with junk food, you’re going to be much more likely to eat it.  Same goes for your devices.  If you turn them on first thing in the morning, you’re going to be much more likely to give into the sources of distraction that they make accessible.  The only thing that I use my phone for in the morning is a 20-minute meditation with the Calm app.  After that, I take it out of the room I’m working in.

2. Set Aside 20 Minutes to Meditate

Reality as we know it occurs in the space between stimulus and response.  An event happens, and we make it mean something.  But this happens so fast that we don’t question the validity of the meaning we’ve assigned to an event, situation, or circumstance.  The way to take control of the meaning is to slow that process down, and the way to slow that process down is with meditation.

I have a natural tendency to overreact or make situations more stressful than they really are.  But as my meditation practice has deepened, I’ve noticed a profound energetic shift.  Many of the things that would have previously rattled me don’t.  On the mornings that I follow through with my 20 minutes of meditation, I’m able to focus more easily, and I don’t crave sources of distraction nearly as much.

The most successful people I’ve interviewed on Unmistakable Creative, all of the peak performance books I’ve read, spiritual teachings, and many billionaires all reference the role that a daily meditation habit has played in their life.  That was convincing enough evidence for me to make it a daily habit.

3. Read Books, Not the Internet

When we read on the Internet, we tend to scan more than we read.  How often do you sit around at a dinner party discussing the amazing article you read on the Internet?  Almost all of my ideas for what I want to write about have come from books.  Almost none of them have come from reading articles on the Internet.  I’ve even found in my cases that when I read a physical book that I previously read on Kindle, I tend to get far more value out of it.

Years ago when I interviewed Julien Smith, he said “I don’t read blogs.  I read books.” And he had one of the most popular blogs on the Internet.  I stopped reading blogs, started reading books, and as a result became a more prolific writer.  After watching the prolific career that Ryan Holiday has built, and observing his reading habits, I decided to follow his lead.  Believe me, the irony that you’re reading this on the Internet is not lost on me.

4. Do 1 Hour of Deep Work

One hour of deep work is a form of self-care.  It’s incredibly fulfilling.  It’s an affirmation to yourself and to the universe that you value yourself and your time.  You can accomplish extraordinary things in just one focused hour a day of uninterrupted creation time.  With deep work, you get disproportionate results from your efforts.  It’s the 80–20 rule at work.  80% of your output will come from 20 percent of your effort.

Just some food for thought.  When I started writing this article, I set my distraction blocker for 45 minutes.  As I wrote this sentence I decided to do a check on my word count and realized I’d written over 1200 words in about 35 minutes.  That’s what happens when you combine flow and deep work together.

One last thing to consider.  What are you really getting out of checking Facebook, Instagram, or anything on your phone when you wake up in the morning?  Is it making you happier or more successful in any way at all?  If you added up all the time you possibly waste over the course of a year on this behavior, it’s likely you could write a book, build a business, or learn an instrument, all of which are going to do far more for the quality of your life than the temporary dopamine fixes your phone provides.

D. Comprehension Questions

  1. How does the speaker ensure that he won’t be distracted by his cell phone in the morning?
  2. What does meditation do for you, according to the speaker?
  3. Why does the speaker say to read books instead of the Internet?
  4. What is the 80-20 Rule?
  5. What irony did the speaker note about this article?
  6. What is meant by a “dopamine fix”?

E. Grammar Questions and Notes

  1. What do you think “food for thought” means?
  2. In the first section is this sentence fragment:
    Smartphones distract us whether they are on, off, in our pockets, or on a table,…
    What is unusual about the structure of this sentence fragment?
  1. In the first section is this sentence fragment:
    Same goes for your devices.
    What is this sentence trying to say?
  1. In the second section is this sentence fragment:
    The way to take control of the meaning is to slow that process down,…
    What is the subject and predicate noun of this clause?
  1. In the second section is this sentence fragment:
    …Many of the things that would have previously rattled me don’t.
    This sentence ends with “don’t”, which is an incomplete verb.
    (a) What is the subject of this verb?
    (b) What is the main verb for this verb?
  1. In the third section is this sentence fragment:
    I’ve even found in my cases that when I read a physical book that I previously read on Kindle,…
    In my opinion, there is a verb tense error in this sentence fragment.  What is it?
  1. In the third section is this sentence fragment:
    As I wrote this sentence I decided to do a check on my word count and realized I’d written
    over 1200 words in about 35 minutes.
    There is a comma missing.  Where should it go and why?
  1. In the last paragraph of the excerpt is the phrase “all of which”.  What does “which” represent?

II.  Song

A. I’ve Seen It All – Link / Lyrics and Questions /

B. Story

This song comes from a movie, Dancer in the Dark (2000).  Without knowing the context, the words of the song won’t make much sense to you.  Here is a synopsis of the movie.

It is 1964 in small town Washington state.  Selma Jezková, a Czechoslovakian immigrant, and her preteen son Gene live in a rented trailer owned by, and on the property of, married Bill and Linda Houston, he being the town sheriff.  Beyond Bill and Linda, Selma has a small group of friends who look out for her, including her primary confidante, Kathy, with whom she works, and Jeff who wants to be her boyfriend.  Jeff regularly waits outside Selma’s workplace long before the end of her shift to drive her home, despite the fact that she always refuses so as not to lead him on.  Her primary job is working on the Anderson Tool factory assembly line, but she does whatever she can to earn money.

What only Kathy knows among Selma’s friends is that she is slowly going blind, her medical condition being genetic.  Selma is barely able to see, just enough to do her job.  Her primary reason for moving to the US and for working all the time is to earn enough money for an operation for Gene when he turns thirteen.  He doesn’t know anything about his mother or his own degenerative eyesight.  None of Selma’s friends, not even Kathy, know about the money for Gene’s operation.

Beyond this sole goal of the operation, Selma allows only one indulgence in her life — anything having to do with musicals, which she loves, is an escape from the problems of her life.  Kathy often takes her to the cinema to watch old musicals.  Kathy has to describe to Selma what is happening on the screen much to the other patrons’ chagrin.  Selma also has the lead of Maria in a community theater production of “The Sound of Music”.  Close to having enough money for the operation, Selma is in a race against time before she loses enough of her sight not to be able to work or participate in the musical production.

What may also threaten Selma’s goal of the operation for Gene is some financial problems facing Bill.  He feels pressured to provide Linda with the comforts of life to which she has been accustomed.  He believes she requires these in their marriage to be satisfied, and as such, he is reluctant to tell Linda of those financial problems.

C. Lyrics

01    I’ve seen it all, I have seen the trees,
02    I’ve seen the willow leaves dancing in the breeze.
03    I’ve seen a man killed by his best friend,
04    And lives that were over before they were spent.
05    I’ve seen what I was – I know what I’ll be.
06    I’ve seen it all – there is no more to see!

07    You haven’t seen elephants, kings, or Peru!
08    I’m happy to say I had better to do.
09    What about China? Have you seen the Great Wall?
10    All walls are great, if the roof doesn’t fall!

11    And the man you will marry?
12    The home you will share?
13    To be honest, I really don’t care…

14    You’ve never been to Niagara Falls?
15    I have seen water, its water, that’s all…
16    The Eiffel Tower, the Empire State?
17    My pulse was as high on my very first date!
18    Your grandson’s hand as he plays with your hair?
19    To be honest, I really don’t care…

20    I’ve seen it all, I’ve seen the dark
21    I’ve seen the brightness in one little spark.
22    I’ve seen what I chose and I’ve seen what I need,
23    And that is enough, to want more would be greed.
24    I’ve seen what I was and I know what I’ll be.
25    I’ve seen it all – there is no more to see!

26    You’ve seen it all and all you have seen,
27    You can always review on your own little screen.
28    The light and the dark, the big and the small —
29    Just keep in mind – you need no more at all.
30    You’ve seen what you were and know what you’ll be.
31    You’ve seen it all – there is no more to see!

Questions for the Students (Read the story of the song first)

  1. The male and female singers in this song are having a dialog of sorts. What is each trying to tell the other?
  2. In Lines 03 and 04, what is the man trying to tell the woman?
  3. Lines 05 and 06 are a refrain. What do you think they mean?
  4. Line 16 refers to the Empire State. Which one of the 50 American states does this refer to and why?
  5. What do you think the female is trying to say in Line 17?
  6. After reading the story, what might Line 21 refer to?
  7. What do you think Lines 26 and 27 are saying?
  8. The song video shows a train going down a long track. Why did the artist pick this setting for this song in this video?


A. The Fight against Sex Slavery – Link / Excerpt & Questions /

B. Read and Record – Excerpt

  1. I’m talking to you about the worst form of human rights violation, the third-largest organized crime, a $10 billion industry. I’m talking to you about modern-day
  2. I’d like to tell you the story of these three children, Pranitha (PRAH nih thuh), Shaheen (SHAH heen), and Anjali (AHN juh lee). Pranitha’s mother was a woman in prostitution, a prostituted person.  She got infected with HIV, and towards the end of her life, when she was in the final stages of AIDS, she could not prostitute, so she sold four-year-old Pranitha to a broker.  By the time we got the information, we reached there, but Pranitha was already (had already been – T.Lee) raped by three men.
  3. Shaheen’s background I don’t even know. We found her in a railway track, raped by many, many men, I don’t know how many.  But the indications of that on her body was that her intestine was outside her body.  And when we took her to the hospital, she needed 32 stitches to put back her intestine into her body.  We still don’t know who her parents are, who she is.  All that we know is that hundreds of men had used her brutally.
  4. Anjali’s father, a drunkard, sold his child for pornography. You’re seeing here images of three-year-old, four-year-old, and five-year-old children who have been trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation.  In this country, and across the globe, hundreds and thousands of children, as young as three, as young as four, are sold into sexual slavery.  But that’s not the only purpose that human beings are sold for.  They are sold in the name of  They are sold in the name of organ trade.  They are sold in the name of forced labor, camel jockeying, anything, everything.
  5. I work on the issue of commercial sexual exploitation. And I tell you stories from there.  My own journey to work with these children started as a teenager.  I was 15 when I was gang-raped by eight men.  I don’t remember the rape part of it so much as the anger part of it.  Yes, there were eight men who defiled me, raped me, but that didn’t go into my consciousness.  I never felt like a victim, then or now.  But what lingered from then till now — I am 40 today — is this huge outrageous anger.
  6. Two years, I was ostracized, I was stigmatized, I was isolated, because I was a victim. And that’s what we do to all traffic survivors.  We, as a society, we have PhDs in victimizing a victimRight from the age of 15, when I started looking around me, I started seeing hundreds and thousands of women and children who are left in sexual slavery-like practices, but have absolutely no respite, because we don’t allow them to come in.
  7. Where does their journey begin? Most of them come from very optionless families, not just poor. You have even the middle class sometimes getting trafficked.  I had this I.S. officer’s daughter, who is 14 years old, studying in ninth standard, who was raped chatting with one individual, and ran away from home because she wanted to become a heroine, who was trafficked.  I have hundreds and thousands of stories of very, very well-to-do families, and children from well-to-do families, who are getting trafficked.
  8. These people are deceived, forced. Ninety-nine percent of them resist being inducted into prostitution.  Some pay the price for it.  They’re killed; we don’t even hear about  They are voiceless, nameless people.  But the rest, who succumb to it, go through daily torture.  Because the men who come to them are not men who want to make you their girlfriends, or who want to have a family with you.  These are men who (want to) buy you for an hour, for a day, and use you, and then throw you away.

D. Comprehension Questions

  1. List at least four reasons why people are sold into slavery.
  2. How does society often treat a victim of the slave trade that has returned to society?
  3. What is the general background of victims of the slave trade?
  4. What motivated the speaker to begin speaking on this topic?
  5. Why don’t kidnapped victims simply refuse to be slaves?

E. Grammar Questions and Notes

  1. In Paragraph 2, I suggested that the grammar was wrong and I offered a correction. Why did I make that correction – what rule or situation?
  2. List an example of a cleft sentence in Paragraph 3.
  3. “Traffic” is a noun. In Paragraph 4, why does the past participle “trafficked” have a “k” in it?
  4. In Paragraph 4, the expressions “sold into” and “sold for” are used. What is the object of the preposition in each case?
  5. In Paragraph 6, what is the difference in “stigmatized” and “ostracized”?
  6. In Paragraph 6, what does the word “right” mean in this context?
  7. In Paragraph 8, do you think “succumb” have a good or bad connotation?
  8. In Paragraph 8, I suggested inserted “want to” into one sentence. Why did I make that suggestion?


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