Category Archives: Speaking


It was really surprising to scientists when they found out that Venus was so hot because the clouds around Venus reflect almost all the light from the Sun back into space. The small amount of sunlight that’s able to filter through the clouds doesn’t seem like anywhere near enough light to make the temperature on Venus so high. Instead, because it’s always so cloudy on the surface of Venus, the temperature should be rather cool.

You might think that the temperature on Venus is so hot because Venus is so close to the Sun, but this isn’t really a good explanation for the heat on Venus. The temperature on Venus is even hotter than the temperature on Mercury, which is closer than Venus to the Sun, so the proximity of Venus to the Sun doesn’t explain the high temperature on Venus.

Scientists are still not certain why the temperature on Venus is so high, but one possible explanation is Venus’s carbon dioxide atmosphere. The very dense atmosphere on Venus is almost entirely carbon dioxide. This carbon dioxide may create a barrier that traps any heat that gets through beneath it and doesn’t let it escape.


Originally named after the Roman goddess of love, the planet Venus also used to be known as the Morning Star and the Evening Star because it shines so brightly that it is visible on Earth even when the Sun is only partially visible in the morning and the evening.

Why does Venus shine so brightly? One reason is certainly because Venus is so close to Earth; it is, in fact, the closest planet to Earth. However, its proximity to Earth is not the only reason that Venus appears to shine so brightly. Another reason that Venus shines so brightly is that it is covered in thick white clouds that reflect sunlight off of them.

For quite some time, all that we have been able to see of Venus is the thick clouds that surround it, and little else was known of the planet itself. Dozens of space probes were sent to Venus in the last part of the twentieth century, and most of them were destroyed before they were able to send back information about Venus’s surface. One probe, however, did manage to transmit some messages before it, too, failed.

From this one partially successful probe, numerous amazing facts about Venus have been learned. The thick clouds that cover Venus, for example, are made of sulfuric acid rather than oxygen, and these thick clouds never part to let any sunshine in at all. Most amazingly, the temperature on Venus is extremely hot, somewhere around 900 degrees Fahrenheit.


The reading passage discussed a common belief about Stonehenge, that Stonehenge was built by the Druids, the high priests of the Celts. Lots of people believe this today. I think, if you asked most people who built Stonehenge, they would say, “The Druids” or “The Celts.” But this is clearly not true. Scientific tests today show that this isn’t true. The dates just don’t match up.

First, let me discuss what is known about when the Celts arrived in England. The Celts were flourishing on the European mainland, and they spread out from there to various places, including England. It’s not quite clear when the Celts actually arrived in England; there are two different theories. One theory is that the Celts arrived in England around 1500 B.C., and the alternate theory is that the Celts started arriving in England around 800 B.C. In either case, the Celts were not in England before around 1500 B.C. There is universal agreement on that.

Now for the age of Stonehenge. Modern radiocarbon dating techniques have been used on Stonehenge to determine its age. Radiocarbon testing is a process used to date specimens by measuring the amount of carbon-14 remaining in them. Well, the radiocarbon testing has shown that Stonehenge was built in three phases. The first phase was around 3000 B.C., and the second phase was around 2800 B.C. The third phase, the phase when the giant stones actually went up, was around 2100 B.C.

You can see from the dates, no matter which theory you believe about the arrival of the Celts in England, that the Celts and their Druid priests had not yet arrived in England when Stonehenge was built and could not possibly be the culture that constructed Stonehenge.


Stonehenge is a huge structure located on the Salisbury Plain in the south of England. The main structure of Stonehenge consists of thirty upright stones, weighing twenty-six tons each, arranged in a circle, with thirty additional six-ton stones sitting on top of the upright stones. There is a second circle of stones inside the main circle, and this inner circle of stones is also composed of upright stones with additional stones atop the upright stones.

One of the most commonly held beliefs about the construction of Stonehenge is that Stonehenge was built by the Druids. The Druids were the high priests of the Celtic culture in England, and it has often been stated that the Druids had the structure at Stonehenge constructed in order to hold religious ceremonies there.

The idea that Stonehenge had been constructed by the Druids was first proposed by John Aubrey (1626-1697) in the seventeenth century. Aubrey, an antiquarian and scholar, came across the stone structure one day while he was out hunting with some companions. Over time, Aubrey became convinced that the structure had been created by the Druids. He included a chapter in his giant work Monumenta Brittanica to advocate this idea about the creation of Stonehenge.

Dr. William Stukeley (1687-1765), an antiquarian and scholar who developed an interest in the druids a century after Aubrey, was aware of the claims that Aubrey had previously made. Stukeley became deeply involved in the study of a possible relationship between Stonehenge and the Druids, and he strongly believed, as Aubrey had, that Stonehenge had been constructed by the Druids for use in religious ceremonies. Stukeley wrote the scholarly work Stonehenge, A Temple Restored to the British Druids (1740) to publicize his strongly held belief that Stonehenge was the work of the Druids.


Now, I’d like to talk about what some critics have to say about Margaret Mead’s research. There is one very general criticism that comes out in critical reviews of Mead’s work.

This general criticism of Mead’s work is that what she saw in the three societies that she studied was just too pat, too neat, that it all fit too neatly into specific categories. She found these three societies that exhibited remarkably different gender roles, three societies that neatly fit into the categories that she was looking to fill. It’s not very normal for any society to have behavior that’s so extreme, where one can say that all the people in the society act in the same extreme way. It’s not very common, in anthropological research, in the study of human societies, that people fit very neatly into a limited number of categories because humans are far more complex than that.

Stated another way, this general criticism of Mead is that perhaps she was looking for societies that exhibit certain extreme behaviors as a whole, and when she found these three particular societies, she paid more attention to the behaviors that fit in with the theory she was trying to prove and perhaps did not pay enough attention to the behaviors that didn’t fit into her theory.


Anthropologist Margaret Mead is known for her groundbreaking research on the effects of culture on gender roles. Her working hypothesis was that if gender behavior was the effect purely of biology, then what was considered masculine and feminine would be the same in all cultures. If gender behavior differed in different cultures, this would demonstrate that gender behavior resulted from culture rather than biology.

To test this hypothesis, Mead studied three different societies in New Guinea. The first society that she studied was the Arapesh. In this society, she observed that behavior by men and behavior by men and behavior by women were remarkably similar. She found that both men and women exhibited characteristics that are traditionally considered feminine: they were sensitive to each others’ feelings and expressed emotions.

The second society that she studied in New Guinea were the Mundugumor, which was a society of headhunters and cannibals. The society was the opposite of the gentle and feminine Arapesh. In this second society, both men and women exhibited characteristics that are traditionally considered male: they were harsh and aggressive.

In the third society that she studied, the Tchambuli, Mead found that males and females exhibited very different types of behavior. What was unusual was that the roles were the opposite of what we have come to expect. Mead found that in this society, the men were emotional and submissive to the women, and the women were dominant and aggressive.

Based on these findings, Margaret Mead came to the conclusion that culture, more than biology, determines gender behavior.


We’ve seen that polysemic words are words that have numerous meanings. Well, there is a really special group of polysemic words, and this special group consists of words that have not just different meanings but opposite meanings. Think about this, that there can be one word in English that has not just different meanings but meanings that are, in some sense, opposite.

Think about the words bolt and fast. If you bolt something, perhaps you bolt your door, then this means that it’s locked fast, or fastened and cannot move or open. However, if someone decides to bolt, then he or she is running away, and running away very fast. So the word “bolt” can mean “locked and not moving” or conversely can mean “moving very quickly.” The same can be said of the word “fast.” This word can also mean “locked and not moving” or “moving very quickly.”

Another interesting word of this type is the word sanction. Just think about what this word means. If you sanction something, it means that you permit it. However, if you put a sanction on something, then it means the opposite. In this case, it means that you do not permit it.

OK, keep in mind that these words that you just learned about, “bolt,” and “fast,” and “sanction,” are polysemic words because each can have different meanings. But they are special kinds of polysemic words because their meanings aren’t simply different; their meanings are opposite in some sense.


It is very common in English for one word to have many different meanings. This condition, where one word has different meanings, is known as polysemy. This term comes from “poly-” meaning “many” and “sem-” meaning “meaning”.

“Sound” is one such polysemic word. As a noun, it refers to a noise (as in “a loud sound”) or a body of water (as in “Puget Sound”). As an adjective, it can refer to a state of health (as in “sound mind and body”). It can also be an intransitive verb (as in “sound angry”), a transitive verb (as in “sound the alarm”), or part of a verb phrase as an outburst (as in “sound off”) and an inquiry (as in “sound out”).

You may think that the word “sound” is a truly wondrous polysemic word. After all, its definitions cover seven pages in one major dictionary and include 19 meanings as a noun, 12 meanings as an adjective, 12 meanings as a verb (some transitive and some intransitive), 4 meanings in verb phrases, and 2 meanings as an adverb.

But what about the extraordinary word “set”? It looks like such a short, simple word, only three little letters in all. However, if you look it up in an unabridged dictionary, you will find at least 57 meanings for “set” when it is used as a noun and over 120 meanings when it is used as a verb.


I’d like to discuss the ideas presented in the passage. I think some claims are made in the reading passage that are not completely true.

I’ve been a part of a state panel on homeschooling for the last ten years, so I’m pretty familiar with the issues surrounding homeschooling. I can tell you that a lot of people who are involved in homeschooling would disagree with the ideas in the article. Let me make a couple of points about what was in the reading passage.

First of all, it has not proven at all true that children with a homeschool education learn less than children in traditional schools. In fact, study after study has shown that children in homeschools learn far more than typical students in traditional schools.

The second point I’d like to make it that homeschooled children can have lots of opportunities for social interaction with other children. Parents who homeschool their children can arrange situations that involve social interaction with other homeschooled children. Thus, children who are homeschooled can have even more social interaction with other children than children in traditional schools because they can interact with other children at any time of the day if their parents arrange this.

The final point I’d like to make is about variety in the curriculum in homeschools. Parents who homeschool their children can offer the broadest possible curriculum. Parents are not limited by school boards that decide on the curriculum in traditional schools. Parents may decide to teach astronomy, or medicine, or Chinese even if these subjects are not part of the curriculum in traditional schools.


Homeschooling is becoming more and more popular in the United States. Parents who decide to homeschool their children keep their children out of traditional classrooms with one teacher and twenty to thirty or more children in each room. These parents educate their children by themselves in the home.

This move toward homeschooling does not seem to be best for the children who are homeschooled. For one thing, children in homeschools will not learn as much as children in traditional schools. This is because traditional schools demand that students learn a huge amount of material to pass from grade to grade. Homeschools are not set up in such a way that they can demand, as traditional schools do, that students master a certain amount of material before they pass on to a new level. For another, children in homeschools do not have much social interaction with other children. Children in homeschools do not have a classroom full of students to interact with, as children in traditional schools most certainly do. Children in homeschools generally have only a parent and perhaps a few siblings to interact with on a regular basis. Finally, children in homeschools will not have the broad curriculum that is available in traditional schools. Traditional schools offer a wide variety of subjects, more subjects than it is possible to offer in a homeschool. Traditional schools have an established and wide-ranging curriculum that cannot possibly be matched in a homeschooling environment.