Reading Exercises

bitcoin

Cryptocurrency back in the news

Author Philip Inman wrote an online article for “The Guardian” in February 2021 soon after Elon Musk invested nearly $1.5 billion in bitcoin.  Here is a link to this article entitled: 

“Bitcoin surges through key $50,000 level in European trading”.

What do you think of bitcoin?  Is it just another Ponzzi scheme?  Will it only be a matter of time that the system will crash?  Or is it something that will become more secure over time?

We used this topic as the focus of one of our Hangout in English sessions and created a Vocabulary Quiz based on words found in the article related to the stock market.  Maybe you may find this also useful?   Or if you wish to read more about 

We hope you may consider discussing such a topic and others with us at an upcoming Hangout hosted by The Boston School soon! 

 And if you’d like to get the answers to the Vocabulary Quiz, click here:

Stock Market Vocabulary Answer Key:

 

Spotlight on Talent: Kevin Wieser

by Kevin Wieser

When I was little, I didn’t like to read books. Instead, I looked at many graphics like comics or cartoons. In the library, I would always head to the comics corner. Especially the comic series Tim and Struppi (The Adventures of Tintin) by Hergé inspired me.

In time, I would begin making cartoons myself and discovered I really enjoyed it. Word soon got around school that I liked to draw. With my cartoons, I quickly made teachers and classmates laugh. I liked making people laugh with my cartoons and still do today. With the advent of tablets and digital pens, it has allowed me to now draw professional cartoons.

I have been publishing single pictures in social media (kevinwieser /Instagram) for some time now but always had the dream of publishing my own comic book some day. But I was missing the inspiration for it.

One day, it came to me that my best friend, Steve Schild, actually would be a perfect comic figure. If you read about what he has already done, there is probably  no one better suited to fit the role of a comic figure.

Steve Schild is extraordinary and has had a fixed goal since childhood: He wants to go to Mars. And while on his way of making his dream come true, he has already experienced many adventures. Just to name a few: he has broken two unusual Guinness world records: pushing a shopping cart around for 24 hours in circles and also doing the most ski-rope jumps in one minute.  But that is not all. 

He is also one of the last 100 remaining candidates worldwide under consideration  to qualify for the Mars-One Project; a one-way mission to Mars.

if that wasn’t intriguing enough, Steve also used to be a member of a secret order and has written several sci-fi books. He is currently a finalist for the Swiss Men’s Award and continues to train daily for his dream to go to Mars.

In collaboration with Steve, we have now turned his adventurous life story into a children’s book. The book is entitled “Steve träumt vom roten Punkt am Himmel” and we hope it will serve as an inspiration for all children and also adults to stick firmly to their dreams.  In 76 pages, the readers will become involved not only with various funny, sad and cheerful cartoon pictures about childhood memories and landmark events in his life but the reader will also be asked questions about their own thoughts, ideas and interests along the way. 

We have received feedback from many readers saying that they have never seen such a unique and interesting book before.

I would be very happy to also have you as a reader of my children’s book. So, If you are wondering how I met Steve, please check out the book.  Have fun!

You can find more information about “Steve traümt vom roten Punkt am Himmel” in German and purchase options through this link: https://www.kevinzechnet.ch/buch

And if you are interested in learning what it took to publish such a book, Kevin will be hosting the Zurich Networking Group’s free Zoominar held on 24 September 19:00-20:15. Be sure to register for this unique opportunity here.

US Election 2020: The Stakes are High

The election of our lifetime

It is soon time for US citizens to vote – not just for who will lead the country for the next 4 years as President and Vice President but those responsible in Congress.   In fact, there are 33 out of 100 senators seeking re-election for another 6-year term. The Senate, the upper house of Congress, is currently controlled by the Republican Party by a close margin.  

It may feel like eons ago but can you remember? Trump had been convicted on impeachment charges passed by the lower house: the House of Representatives, led by a majority of Democrats. There was plenty of powerful evidence of his abuse of power and the Republicans didn’t deny it in the end. Yet they continued to back Trump to keep a united front. In their point of view, Democrats represented the enemy.  Not the Russians.  Not corrupt politicians.  Not Donald Trump.  So they acquitted him.

When will enough be enough?

And then came the mismanagement of the pandemic, the authoritarian use of power during the racial protests ignited by George Floyd’s broadcasted murder.  Along with the unresponsiveness of politicians to seize the moment to pass a law banning the choke hold used by police officers.  It could have been a positive step forward in fighting police brutality, which could have satisfied the emboldened protestors.  But it didn’t happen. And let’s not forget, the tictoc debacle and Trump’s humiliating drop in the polls.  

You would think you were asking Yankee fans to root for the Red Sox in the final inning of a World Series!  But treating political parties like rival sport teams is very dangerous, indeed. It’s really okay to switch sides.  From sports we should keep in mind: “It’s not winning or losing but how you play the game that counts”.  

Small cracks, which had begun forming prior to all those events, have been growing much larger within the Republican party itself: between Republican conservatives and right-wing Trump supporters. So large in fact that lifelong Republicans are stating publicly and on social media that they will vote Democrat for the first time in their lives. 

But will it be enough?  The stakes are so very high.  And it’s not just all about Trump.  It’s about the average American – Democrats and Republicans, who have drawn a line in the sand, who refuse to speak to their neighbor because they side with “the other team”. 

Will Americans reconcile with each other?

Reconciliation between parties not only has to happen between elected officials but between the people they represent. Family members, neighbors and co-workers have to do their part. Can Americans, who have been trolling and throwing ugly insults at each other for years now, finally say “enough is enough”? Can those who refuse to speak to one another pick up the phone and start with a clean slate?

Whether Trump wins or loses this coming election, there will still be a need for Americans themselves to change their tone and make every effort to unite.   If Trump convinces “his base” that the Democrats cheated to win or the Democrats have proof that Trump abused he helped rig the election, who will believe whom?  

Will there be a peaceful transfer of power in America? 

This is what everyone fears to say out loud but we’re all thinking it. But basically, unless people stop blaming Trump, the Clintons, the supposed Deep State, the FBI, CIA, the US Postal Office or whatever other institute: real or made up, the problems that plague the country will continue to mount.  The promise of a more united union will be harder to deliver on if regular everyday people don’t start to have real conversations with each other. 

Freedom vs. liberty – there is a difference

Will it be Americans desire for individual freedom to not wear a mask, eat as much junk food as they please and buy as many guns as they wish that will trump all? Individual freedom to do whatever you want could win over a deeper sense of duty to one another as a country whose Constitution values liberty and justice for all. What kind of lessons will children be learning from that?

If there is no sense of duty to do right for one’s neighbor – whether they love them or not, then it looks like after all these years, the Communists will be proven right.  The USA may be on its way to becoming yet another country ruled by a large authoritarian figure head and not “for the people, by the people”, after all. 

Ironically, the Republicans call Democrats often “Socialists”.  Yet, it will be the acts of the Republicans that may turn the USA into a country run by a dictator: by Donald Trump, who may never leave office.  Or perhaps spur on a second civil war.

America these days seem to be addicted to drama.  But let’s hope they still are seeking a “they lived happily ever after” ending, too. One not just for the cameras but in real life.  Their own lives.

 

The man who lives in uncertainty

written in May 2020 by K. Dhungana,  Katmandu, Nepal / edited by Rose N. Travers

The COVID-19 lockdown has changed our normal lives in Kathmandu. If the situation were normal right now, I would be attending a class at the American Language Center. But I, instead, have been confined to my apartment for the past 70 days, doing nothing worth mentioning. I had been editing and writing news before May 14 from home. On May 15, I found myself editing a long feature written by my colleague, Laxmi, which ended my 28-month long “NepalKhabar’s” editorship journey.

I went to market this morning for grocery shopping. The grocery stores open in the morning only at 10AM now. I bought a mango, about a kilo of apricots, 3.5kgs of watermelon and a liter of yoghurt. I was searching for some mushrooms but couldn’t find any today. I’m not the only person who’s facing this type of difficulty. It is a similar story for over 4 million lives in Kathmandu.

This lockdown story began in Nepal on March 24. Yet my personal experience during the lockdown, though, is a little bit different. In fact, lockdown started for me on October 10, 2019 when I was seriously injured in a road accident in the middle of a pedestrian crossing.

When I awoke 15 days later from a coma, my wife, doctors and nurses say that I spoke with them.  But to be honest, I can’t remember saying a thing.  I think my some of my memory files may have been deleted, so to say.

Altogether, I spent 1 month in hospital and 3 months of bed rest at home to recover. It was definitely the most traumatic experience in my life. I was feeling so low at that time that ruminations of death began roaming around in my head.

Despite my previous recall difficulties, January 13th is the day that will remain indelibly imprinted on my mind for a very long time. That was the day doctors successfully completed my second brain surgery within 4 months. Yes,. that fine day was January 13, 2020. I had been gradually resuming my normal daily life activities. I began eating, walking and talking  Yet, mysteriously, the outside world seemed to be going in reverse and very rapidly so.  I could witness abnormal scenarios playing out in this outer world. The diagnosis was clear. It had contracted an illness:  COVID-19.

I remember that when I had gone to hospital for my follow up health check 3 months before, I wore everyday clothes like a pair of pants, a shirt, smart watch, and shoes. Checking myself in the mirror, I looked okay. But my doctor didn’t allow to me go outside. He instead recommended wearing a mask, gloves and goggles to protect myself from COVID-19. I followed his medical advice.

I live in a historical town called Kiritipur in Kathmandu. There is a Buddhist monastery, meditation center and also a temple situated here. A hospital and meditation center is nearby and I can look out at them every day from my rooftop.

I love visiting the nonsectarian meditation center but it is closed now due to the lockdown.

The government solution to the problem seems to be using lockdown as a “Corona Vaccine without a Roadmap”. I believe that when they experience the side effects of this substitute vaccine, defiantly they will change the Nepal lockdown. I have clearly seen that health, education, business, and economy are all sectors facing uncertainty.

A soft voice inside of me finds a way to offer encouragement to my disturbing thoughts. It says to me: ‘Don’t worry. This, too, shall change.’

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