Wednesday, 21 October 2009


I must apologise for less activity on the blog recently of late. I am slowing down in part due to a course of study I am doing at the moment, meaning I am writing a lot and have little mental energy left for the blog. So just a short post right now, though a recommendation for students of economics and life in general. The economist Steven Levitt has written another book which came out yesterday (Superfreakonomics). I have yet to read it of course, but can't wait. I will take this opportunity to remind readers of his older work, Freakonomics. It's an excellent book discussing why we humans act the way we do. Each of us rational actors seemingly behave in irrational ways. Brilliant. Easy to read too, so students of all three exams would find it accessible.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Top Gear Answers

Sorry! I forgot to include the Top Gear crossword answers on the blog... I've just been told off by my CAE Monday, Wednesday class. Here they are.


2. QUEERS—slang word for homosexual
6. SLOGAN—a word or phrase to gain interest, often political in nature
8. OUNCE—an old measurement of weight (1/16 of a pound)
9. CHIMEIN—(5,2) expression meaning to add to an arguement in agreement
10. LAYBY—a parking place next to a road
13. HAIL—frozen ice falling from the sky
15. HORDE—a very large army
16. JUMPSTART—(4,5) to boost a (failing) car battery with another car
17. GARGANTUAN—huge, massive


1. REDNECK—perhaps this person should use more suncream in rural areas?
3. FORECOURT—a paved area in front of a shop for example
4. SPRINGFROM—phrasal verb (6,4) - to appear suddenly
5. BONNET—the engine cover in a car
7. NOZZLE—the part of a bottle or liquid dispenser where the liquid comes out
11. YARD—90 cm or an American back garden?
12. RAGTAG—an odd mix, a strange collection or group
14. HOIST—verb - to lift up, usually with a rope

Steven Pinker MP3 for listening practice. Brilliant

Here's a brilliant speech, excellent listening practice for CPE and good CAE students. I can't attach an mp3 but you can download it from the link below. Here's the blurb from the site and the link:

Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University.

(Jun 5, 2008 at the Royal Society for the encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce (RSA))

Chair: Matthew Taylor, chief executive, RSA

For Steven Pinker, the brilliance of the mind lies in the way it uses just two processes to turn the finite building blocks of our language into infinite meanings. The first is metaphor: we take a concrete idea and use it as a stand-in for abstract thoughts. The second is combination: we combine ideas according to rules, like the syntactic rules of language, to create new thoughts out of old ones.

How can a choice of metaphors start a war, impeach a president, or win an election? How does a mind that evolved to think about rocks and plants and enemies think about love and physics and democracy? How do we control the amount of information that we absorb? And what good does this actually do us?

Join Steven Pinker as he tries to answer these questions and many more, unlocking the hidden workings of our thoughts, our emotions and our social relationships and showing us that language really can tell us unexpected and fascinating things about ourselves.

Please be advised that this audio MP3 file contains very strong language.