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大学英语精读:第六册 UNIT 9

2007-03-02 16:12   来源:旺旺英语       我要纠错 | 打印 | 收藏 | | |

  "Every cloud has a silver lining," says the optimist. It follows naturally, then, that the pessimist must favor "looking for the rusty lining". Just as the optimist can always find reasons for hoping that bad situations can improve, so the best pessimist can always find that in every situation here is something you can worry about. In the essay, the author, a self-proclaimed pessimist, claims to be worried about being swallowed by things from outer space and about much else besides. He certainly seems to be what is known as "a born worrier", though how serious he is about it all you can judge for yourself.

LOOK FOR THE RUSTY LINING

Ralph Schoenstein

  My grandfather's hobby was worrying, and although hobbies are not usually thought of as being inheritable, I am a talented worrier, too. My grandfather's glum genes, which skipped my merry father, have reflowered in me as a major, all-purpose anxiety. A few weeks ago, for example, I learned that collapsing stars called black holes may soon such up all the matter in the universe. Because I read this in Vogue, I hoped at first that the black holes were some kind of fad —— a celestial pop event like Kohoutek or UFOs —— but then I saw that the author of the article had been twice a visiting member at the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, and I knew that another crisis was at hand. Ominously, the Institute is just down the street from where I do my worrying.

  The end of the universe should have been a splendid challenge for a gifted worrier like me, but mostly it upset me in a new and worrisome way, because it made me realize that I was spread too thin. When I found the black-hole story, I hadn't nearly come to the end of an earlier wonderful worry of mine about the polar ice cap melting and raising the level of the Atlantic Ocean enough to submerge the entire East Coast. I had been thinking of moving my family to Saskatchewan, but now that I was falling behind in my worrying, I had to worry if Saskatchewan might be tastier for a black hole than Princeton. On the other hand, Princeton was closer to those African killer bees that have been inexorably moving north from Brazil —— the ones that made me decide not to visit Central America last winter. The bees are getting very close to Central America, and Panama may be the only place where there is a chance to turn them back. Of course, even if it had only butterflies, Panama would still be a worrisome vacation spot for me, because it is said to be riddled with as much anti-American feeling as Boston.

  In these terrible days, I often think of my grandfather, who was a nervous wreck in a simpler and happier time. His worries were transient and nicely manageable: When would Mel Ott start hitting again? When would Eleanor Roosevelt collapse from too much traveling around? When would the Third Avenue "L" rust away? I miss him, but he is lucky not to be alive and worrying today. I don't think he could have handled all the terrors that keep testing my sanity; he might even have surrendered and become an optimist, thus forfeiting the hobby he loved.

  He was my inspiration when I was a boy —— a worrier to look up to. He used to visit me in my room, where he would examine my homework and then shake his head and say, "You'll never get through medical school with spelling like this."

  "But these are band-new words," I would tell him in a worried way. "Spelling is harder this year than it was in the second grade."

  He would sigh and say, "I don't know. I'm not even sure you should be a doctor at all. I just read that they have the highest rate for dropping dead."

  My grandfather's quaint worries about me and Mel Ott and Eleanor Roosevelt are enough to make a contemporary worrier weep with envy. I wonder what he would have done if he had read a recent prediction by Gunnar Myrdal that the American economy could utterly collapse within five years —— just before the Eastern tidal wave but shortly after the arrival of the bees. Probably he would have adopted something like my own advanced worrying posture and learned to make room for each new worry by letting it trump one of the old ones. For example, when I read about the inundation of the East I forgot about my overdue Bloomingdale's bill; when I read Gunnar Myrdal's warning I decided to stop worrying about what would happen if Connecticut ever ran out of antiques. When I heard about the bees I eased off my worry about a root canal of mine and let the Panama Canal replace it on the Top Twenty.

  What a list! Something old and something new, something cosmic yet something trivial too, for the creative worrier must forever blend the pedestrian with the immemorial. If the sun burns out, will the Mets be able to play their entire schedule at night? If cryogenically frozen human beings are ever revived, will they have to re-register to vote? And if the little toe disappears, will field goals play a smaller part in the National Football League?

  Actually, I've never had a worry as worrisome as the universe-destroying black holes. I mean, the universe is where I do all my worrying, and if it suddenly disappears I may not be able to relocate. My only hope comes from a first principle of worry that I have learned in a lifetime of anxiety; i.e., some of the biggest problems are half of a self-cancelling pair. A nice example is that dreaded polar ice cap, which some scientists say isn't starting to melt at all but instead will shortly begin to enlarge rapidly, giving birth to a new ice age that soon will cover the entire United States. I worried about this ice layer form last February 9th until about Labor Day, by which time my worry about the price of bottom round had reduced it to the size of a rink. Lately, however, I have turned my mind back to the ice again, and I have been worrying about the fact that you cannot have ice that is growing and melting at the same time. One of these terrors is a dud, and the job of the dedicated worrier is to find out which one it is.

  Applying this principle to the black holes, I wonder if there may not be some white holes in space as well —— pretty, glowing things that won't digest a universe but may prefer to spit it out again. All I need is a new flash from the Institute about one of these, and then perhaps I will be able to start worrying about chinch bugs and the male menopause and all the other gentle terrors my grandfather could endorse.

  Is that the right way to spell "chinch bugs"?

  New Words

  rusty

  a.  covered with rust, rusted 生锈的

  lining

  n.  the inner surface of sth. 衬里

  inheritable

  a.  that can be inherited

  inherit

  vt. receive (property, a title, etc.) left by someone who has died

  worrier

  n.  a person who worries

  glum

  a.  sad, gloomy

  gene

  n.  a tiny unit of a plant or animal cell that determines a characteristic that will be passed onto the offspring of the parent 基因

  reflower

  vi. flower again; (fig.) be at one's or its best once more

  all-purpose

  a.  that can be used for any purpose

  suck

  vt. draw into the mouth by using the lips, cheeks and tongue; absorb 吸

  vogue

  n.  the popular fashion or custom at a certain time

  fad

  n.  (infml) an intense but short-lived fashion

  celestial

  a.  of the sky  or heaven

  UFO

  unidentified flying object 不明飞行物,飞碟

  ominously

  ad. of bad omen; unfavorably, threateningly

  worrisome

  a.  which troubles one or makes one anxious

  polar

  a.  of or near the North or South pole

  submerge

  v.  (to cause) to go under the surface of water

  tasty

  a.  having a pleasant taste; full of flavor

  inexorably

  ad. in a relentless way; unyieldingly  毫不宽容地

  riddle

  vt. make many holes in

  wreck

  n.  a destroyed or much injured ship; (fig.) a person who has lost his health or money

  quaint

  a.  strange or odd in an interesting, pleasing, or amusing way

  transient

  a.  lasting for only short time; quickly passing

  manageable

  a.  easy or possible to control or deal with

  rust

  v.  make or become rusty

  terror

  n.  (a person or thing that causes) great or intense fear

  surrender

  v.  give up or give in to the power of (esp. of an enemy) as a sign of defeat

  optimist

  n.  one who is hopeful about the future

  inspiration

  n.  a felling of enthusiasm and encouragement one get from sb. or sth. that give new ideas and the desire to create 灵感

  inspire

  vt.

  eastern

  a.  of or belonging to the east part of the world or a country

  posture

  n.  a way of behaving or thinking on a particular occasion; attitude

  trump

  vt. take (a trick or card of another suit) with a trump; (fig.) be better than; surpass

  antique

  n.  a piece of furniture, jewelry, etc, that was made a very long time ago and is therefore valuable

  inundation

  n.  the act or fact of overflowing; flood 泛滥;洪水

  overdue

  a.  left unpaid too long

  warning

  n.  a notice of coming danger given beforehand

  canal

  n.  a waterway dug across land for ships to go through

  pedestrian

  n.  a person who goes on foot; walker

  a.  (fig.) without imagination; dull, slow, commonplace

  immemorial

  a.  originating in the distant past, ancient

  cryogenically

  ad. by using very low temperatures

  toe

  n.  one of the end parts of the foot 脚趾,足尖

  relocate

  v. move to or establish in a new place

  self-cancelling

  a.  cancelling itself out

  cancel

  vt. neutralize or balance in force or influence; offset

  enlarge

  v.  make or become larger

  rink

  n.  a sheet of ice for skating 溜冰场

  dud

  n.  a shell or bomb that fails to explode; (sl.) a failure

  digest

  vt. change food into simple substance that can be absorbed by the body

  spit

  vt. eject or discharge (sth.) from the mouth 吐出

  flash

  n.  a short new announcement concerning a new event

  chinch bug

  n.  a black-and-white tropical American insect that does much damage to wheat, corn, grass and other plants in dry weather 麦虱

  menopause

  n.  the period during which a woman's menstrual cycle ends, normally occurring at an age of 45 to 50 绝经期

  endorse

  vt. give public approval of; support greatly

  Phrases & Expressions

  suck up

  draw liquids etc. up a tube by making a vacuum at its upper end

  but then

  but on the other hand; but at the same time

  at hand

  coming soon; almost here; nearby

  turn back

  cause to go back

  look up to

  admire; regard with respect

  get through

  be successful in; manage to do, complete, etc.

  drop dead

  die suddenly

  make room for

  provide space for

  run out of

  finish; exhaust

  ease off

  do with less severity or intensity; become less severe

  burn out

  use up its fuel

  play a part

  do a share; have an effect on

  Proper Names

  Ralph Schoenstein

  拉尔夫.舍恩斯坦

  Vogue

  《时尚》半月刊

  Atlantic, the

  大西洋

  Saskatchewan

  萨斯喀彻温

  Brazil

  巴西

  Central America

  中美洲

  Panama

  巴拿马

  Boston

  波士顿

  Mel Ott

  梅尔.奥特

  Eleanor Roosevelt

  埃莉诺.罗斯福

  Gunnar Myrdal

  冈纳尔.迈达尔

  Bloomingdale

  布卢明代尔百货公司

  Connecticut

  康涅狄克州

  National Football League

  全国橄榄球联赛

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