Take care of your golf balls!

Philosophy Lesson

Perché non fai la prova inizialmente di ascoltare l’audio senza leggere il testo?

[per sapere il significato delle parole evidenziate,
passaci sopra con il mouse senza cliccare]


A philosophy teacher was standing in front of his class. On the desk in front of him were a number of objects. When the lesson began, without saying a word, he picked up a large, empty maionese jar and started to fill it with golf balls. When he had finished, he asked the students if the jar was full and they all agreed that it was.

Then the teacher took a box of pebbles and tipped them into the jar, shaking it so that the pebbles slipped into the spaces between the golf balls. When he had finished, he once again asked the students if the jar was full and they all agreed that it was.

Next the teacher lifted up a bag of sand and poured it into the jar. Naturally enough, the sand filtered into the remaining spaces. Again the teacher asked the students if the jar was full, and again they replied with a unanimous ‘yes’.

At this point the teacher took two glasses of beer out from behind his desk and poured them carefully into the jar, filling it to the brim. His students started to giggle.

“Now”, said the teacher as the laughter gradually died down, “I want you to imagine that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the fundamental things – your family, your children, your friends, your health, your favorite hobbies. If everything else disappeared and only these things remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are other important things – your job, your house, your car, your holidays and so on. The sand is all the rest – the smaller, less significant things in life.

“If you start off by filling the jar up with sand then there will be no space left for the pebbles and the golf balls, and that also applies to your life.

“If you use up all your time and energy on the smaller, less significant things in life, you’ll have nothing left for the things that really count.

“Think hard about what is really important for your happiness.

“Spend time with your parents and your children. Visit your grandparents. Go out for dinner with your loved ones. Have fun! There will always be time to wash the dishes and mow the lawn.

“Above all, take care of your golf balls – the things that really matter. Get your priorities right. The rest is just sand.”

At this point one of the students raised his arm and asked about the beer.

The teacher smiled. “I’m glad you asked that,” he said. “The beer is to show you that no matter how full your life may seem to be, there is always a space for a couple of beers with a friend.”

Per eventuali chiarimenti grammaticali basta lasciare un commento qui sotto.

Master Translator: Exercise 2

present perfect
[vedi articolo]
• intermediate •

  1. Non sono mai stato in Inghilterra ma mi piacerebbe andarci un giorno.
  • Se vuoi un riscontro diretto, lascia le tue versioni nei commenti.
  • Altrimenti aspetta che pubblico le mie versioni tra qualche giorno.
  • Non guardare i commenti degli altri se non vuoi farti influenzare.


Do you fancy a drink?

Fancy ~ ˈfænsɪ

Verbo regolare {to fancy / fancied / fancied} ~  piacere / volere / avere una cotta per qualcuno

Alcuni dei significati originali della parola fancy si sono più o meno persi nel tempo o comunque non sono particolarmente utile e/o importanti oggi, ma nel British English è ancora molto sfruttato il verbo to fancy.


  • “Do you fancy a drink?”
  • “Vuoi qualcosa da bere?”
  • “I fancy going out for a walk after lunch.”
  • “Mi piacerebbe uscire a fare una passeggiata dopo pranzo.”
  • “I don’t fancy the idea of staying here for a week!”
  • “Non mi piace l’idea di stare qui per una settimana.”
  • “I wouldn’t fancy doing his job very much!”
  • “Non mi piacerebbe molto fare il suo lavoro.”
  • “Jane didn’t fancy waiting in the bar all evening.”
  • “Jane non voleva aspettare al bar tutta la sera.”
  • “I think Bob fancies Jane.”
  • “Secondo me Bob ha una cotta per Jane.”
  • “She said that she fancies you!”
  • “Ha detto che ha una cotta per te.”

Isaac Asimov’s predictions for 2014!

Visit to the World’s Fair of 2014

by Isaac Asimov ~ 16th August 1964

[per sapere il significato delle parole evidenziate,
passaci sopra con il mouse senza cliccare]


The New York World’s Fair of 1964 is dedicated to “Peace Through Understanding.” Its glimpses of the world of tomorrow rule out thermonuclear warfare. And why not? If a thermonuclear war takes place, the future will not be worth discussing. So let the missiles slumber eternally on their pads and let us observe what may come in the non-atomized world of the future.

What is to come, through the fair’s eyes at least, is wonderful. The direction in which man is traveling is viewed with buoyant hope, nowhere more so than at the General Electric pavilion. There the audience whirls through four scenes, each populated by cheerful, lifelike dummies that move and talk with a facility that, inside of a minute and a half, convinces you they are alive.

The scenes, set in or about 1900, 1920, 1940 and 1960, show the advances of electrical appliances and the changes they are bringing to living. I enjoyed it hugely and only regretted that they had not carried the scenes into the future. What will life be like, say, in 2014 A.D., 50 years from now? What will the World’s Fair of 2014 be like?

I don’t know, but I can guess.

One thought that occurs to me is that men will continue to withdraw from nature in order to create an environment that will suit them better. By 2014, electroluminescent panels will be in common use. Ceilings and walls will glow softly, and in a variety of colors that will change at the touch of a push button.

Windows need be no more than an archaic touch, and even when present will be polarized to block out the harsh sunlight. The degree of opacity of the glass may even be made to alter automatically in accordance with the intensity of the light falling upon it.

There is an underground house at the fair which is a sign of the future. If its windows are not polarized, they can nevertheless alter the “scenery” by changes in lighting. Suburban houses underground, with easily controlled temperature, free from the vicissitudes of weather, with air cleaned and light controlled, should be fairly  common. At the New York World’s Fair of 2014, General Motors’ “Futurama” may well display vistas of underground cities complete with light-forced vegetable gardens. The surface, G.M. will argue, will be given over to large-scale agriculture, grazing and parklands, with less space wasted on actual human occupancy.

Gadgetry will continue to relieve mankind of tedious jobs. Kitchen units will be devised that will prepare “automeals“, heating water and converting it to coffee; toasting bread; frying, poaching or scrambling eggs, grilling bacon, and so on. Breakfasts will be “ordered” the night before to be ready by a specified hour the next morning. Complete lunches and dinners, with the food semi-prepared, will be stored in the freezer until ready for processing. I suspect, though , that even in 2014 it will still be advisable to have a small corner in the kitchen unit where the more individual meals can be prepared by hand, especially when company is coming.

Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence. The I.B.M. exhibit at the present fair has no robots but it is dedicated to computers, which are shown in all their amazing complexity, notably in the task of translating Russian into English. If machines are that smart today, what may not be in the works 50 years hence? It will be such computers, much miniaturized, that will serve as the “brains” of robots. In fact, the I.B.M. building at the 2014 World’s Fair may have, as one of its prime exhibits, a robot housemaid; large, clumsy, slow-moving but capable of general picking-up, arranging, cleaning and manipulation of various appliances. It will undoubtedly amuse the fairgoers to scatter debris over the floor in order to see the robot lumberingly remove it and classify it into “throw away” and “set aside“. (Robots for gardening work will also have made their appearance.)

General Electric at the 2014 World’s Fair will be showing 3-D movies of its “Robot of the Future,” neat and streamlined, its cleaning appliances built in and performing all tasks briskly. (There will be a three-hour wait in line to see the film, for some things never change.)

The appliances of 2014 will have no electric cords, of course, for they will be powered by long-lived batteries running on radio-isotopes. The isotopes will not be expensive for they will be by-products of the fission-power plants which, by 2014, will be supplying well over half the power needs of humanity. But once the isotype batteries are used up they will be disposed of only through authorized agents of the manufacturer.

An experimental fusion-power plant or two will already exist in 2014. (Even today, a small but genuine fusion explosion is demonstrated at frequent intervals in the G.E. exhibit at the 1964 fair.) Large solar-power stations will also be in operation in a number of desert and semi-desert areas – Arizona, the Negev, Kazakhstan. In the more crowded, but cloudy and smoggy areas, solar power will be less practical. An exhibit at the 2014 fair will show models of power stations in space, collecting sunlight by means of huge parabolic focusing devices and radiating the energy thus collected down to earth.

The world of 50 years hence will have shrunk further. At the 1964 fair, the G.M. exhibit depicts, among other things, “road-building factories” in the tropics and, closer to home, crowded highways along which long buses move on special central lanes. There is every likelihood that highways, at least in the more advanced sections of the world, will have passed their peak in 2014; there will be increasing emphasis on transportation that makes the least possible contact with the surface. There will be aircraft, of course, but even ground travel will increasingly take to the air, a foot or two off the ground. Visitors to the 1964 fair can travel there in an “aquafoil,” which lifts itself on four stilts and skims over the water with a minimum of friction. This is surely a stop-gap. By 2014 the four stilts will have been replaced by four jets of compressed air so that the vehicle will make no contact with either liquid or solid surfaces.

Jets of compressed air will also lift land vehicles off the highways, which, among other things, will minimize paving problems. Smooth earth or level lawns will do as well as pavements . Bridges will also be of less importance, since cars will be capable of crossing water on their jets, though local ordinances will discourage the practice.

Much effort will be put into the designing of vehicles with “robot-brains”, vehicles that can be set for particular destinations and that will then proceed there without interference by the slow reflexes of a human driver. I suspect one of the major attractions of the 2014 fair will be rides on small roboticized cars which will maneuver in crowds at the two-foot level, neatly and automatically avoiding each other.

For short-range travel, moving sidewalks (with benches on either side , standing room in the center) will be making their appearance in downtown sections. They will be raised above the traffic. Traffic will continue (on several levels in some places) only because all parking will be off-street and because at least 80 per cent of truck deliveries will be to certain fixed centers at the city’s rim. Compressed air tubes will carry goods and materials over local stretches, and the switching devices that will place specific shipments in specific destinations will be one of the city’s marvels.

Communications will become sight-sound and you will see as well as hear the person you telephone. The screen can be used not only to see the people you call but also for studying documents and photographs and reading passages from books. Synchronous satellites, hovering in space will make it possible for you to direct-dial any spot on earth, including the weather stations in Antarctica (shown in chill splendor as part of the ’64 General Motors exhibit).

For that matter, you will be able to reach someone at the moon colonies, concerning which General Motors puts on a display of impressive vehicles (in model form) with large soft tires intended to negotiate the uneven terrain that may exist on our natural satellite.

Any number of simultaneous conversations between earth and moon can be handled by modulated laser beams, which are easy to manipulate in space. On earth, however, laser beams will have to be led through plastic pipes, to avoid material and atmospheric interference. Engineers will still be playing with that problem in 2014.

Conversations with the moon will be a trifle uncomfortable, by the way, in that 2.5 seconds must elapse between statement and answer (it takes light that long to make the round trip). Similar conversations with Mars will experience a 3.5-minute delay even when Mars is at its closest. However, by 2014, only unmanned ships will have landed on Mars, though a manned expedition will be in the works and the 2014 Futurama will show a model of an elaborate Martian colony.

As for television, wall screens will have replaced the ordinary set; but transparent cubes will be making their appearance in which three-dimensional viewing will be possible. In fact, one popular exhibit at the 2014 World’s Fair will be such a 3-D TV, built life-size, in which ballet performances will be seen. The cube will slowly revolve for viewing from all angles.

One can go on indefinitely in this happy extrapolation, but all is not rosy.

As I stood in line waiting to get into the General Electric exhibit at the 1964 fair, I found myself staring at Equitable Life’s grim (bieco) sign blinking out the population of the United States, with the number (over 191,000,000) increasing by 1 every 11 seconds. During the interval which I spent inside the G.E. pavilion, the American population had increased by nearly 300 and the world’s population by 6,000.

In 2014, there is every likelihood that the world population will be 6,500,000,000 and the population of the United States will be 350,000,000. Boston-to-Washington, the most crowded area of its size on the earth, will have become a single city with a population of over 40,000,000.

Population pressure will force increasing penetration of desert and polar areas. Most surprising and, in some ways, heartening, 2014 will see a good beginning made in the colonization of the continental shelves. Underwater housing will have its attractions to those who like water sports, and will undoubtedly encourage the more efficient exploitation of ocean resources, both food and mineral. General Motors shows, in its 1964 exhibit, the model of an underwater hotel of what might be called mouth-watering luxury. The 2014 World’s Fair will have exhibits showing cities in the deep sea with bathyscaphe liners carrying men and supplies across and into the abyss.

Ordinary agriculture will keep up with great difficulty and there will be “farmsturning to the more efficient micro-organisms. Processed yeast and algae products will be available in a variety of flavours. The 2014 fair will feature an Algae Bar at which “mock-turkey” and “pseudosteak” will be served. It won’t be bad at all (if you can dig up those premium prices), but there will be considerable psychological resistance to such an innovation.

Although technology will still keep up with population through 2014, it will be only through a supreme effort and with but partial success. Not all the world’s population will enjoy the gadgety world of the future to the full. A larger portion than today will be deprived and although they may be better off, materially, than today, they will be further behind when compared with the advanced portions of the world. They will have moved backward, relatively.

Nor can technology continue to match population growth if that remains unchecked. Consider Manhattan of 1964, which has a population density of 80,000 per square mile at night and of over 100,000 per square mile during the working day. If the whole earth, including the Sahara, the Himalayan Mountain peaks, Greenland, Antarctica and every square mile of the ocean bottom, to the deepest abyss, were as packed as Manhattan at noon, surely you would agree that no way to support such a population (let alone make it comfortable) was conceivable. In fact, support would fail long before the World-Manhattan was reached.

Well, the earth’s population is now about 3,000,000,000 and is doubling every 40 years. If this rate of doubling goes unchecked, then a World-Manhattan is coming in just 500 years. All earth will be a single choked Manhattan by 2450 and society will collapse long before that!

There are only two general ways of preventing this: (1) raise the death rate ; (2) lower the birth rate. Undoubtedly, the world of 2014 will have agreed on the latter method. Indeed, the increasing use of mechanical devices to replace failing hearts and kidneys, and repair stiffening arteries and breaking nerves will have cut the death rate still further and have lifted the life expectancy in some parts of the world to age 85.

There will, therefore, be a worldwide propaganda drive in favor of birth control by rational and humane methods and, by 2014, it will undoubtedly have taken serious effect. The rate of increase of population will have slackened but, I suspect, not sufficiently.

One of the more serious exhibits at the 2014 World’s Fair, accordingly, will be a series of lectures, movies and documentary material at the World Population Control Center (adults only; special showings for teenagers).

The situation will have been made the more serious by the advances of automation. The world of 2014 will have few routine jobs that cannot be done better by some machine than by any human being. Mankind will therefore have become largely a race of machine tenders. Schools will have to be oriented in this direction. Part of the General Electric exhibit today consists of a school of the future in which such present realities as closed-circuit TV and programmed tapes, aid the teaching process. It is not only the techniques of teaching that will advance, however, but also the subject matter that will change. All the high-school students will be taught the fundamentals of computer technology and will become proficient in binary arithmetic and will be trained to perfection in the use of the computer languages that will have developed out of those like the contemporary “Fortran” (from “formula translation”).

Even so, mankind will suffer badly from the disease of boredom, a disease spreading more widely each year and growing in intensity. This will have serious mental, emotional and sociological consequences, and I dare say that psychiatry will be far and away the most important medical specialty in 2014. The lucky few who can be involved in creative work of any sort will be the true elite of mankind, for they alone will do more than serve a machine.

Indeed, the most somber speculation I can make about 2014 is that in a society of enforced leisure, the most glorious single word in the vocabulary will have become work!

Master Translator: Exercise 1

so, such, such a
[vedi articolo]
• intermediate •

  1. Bob fa sempre una colazione così abbondante?
  • Se vuoi un riscontro diretto, lascia le tue versioni nei commenti.
  • Altrimenti aspetta che pubblico le mie versioni tra qualche giorno.
  • Non guardare i commenti degli altri se non vuoi farti influenzare.


An interesting, new, grammar lesson

Prima o poi, imparando una nuova lingua, viene il desiderio e/o l’esigenza di potersi esprimere in modo più interessante. È il momento di fare una scorpacciata di aggettivi di ogni forma, colore, misura e gusto. Però, una volta messo a memoria un buon numero di aggettivi utili, nasce un nuovo problema: gli aggettivi in inglese devono seguire un ordine preciso o si possono mettere in fila in modo casuale?

Bene, come accade sempre nelle lingue, la regola nasce dall’uso e l’uso nasce spontaneamente tra la gente. Questo significa che la regola è più che altro una consuetudine consolidata nel tempo, sempre soggetta in parte ad interpretazione, cambiamenti e varianti. Detto questo, serve comunque un punto di riferimento da dove partire e questo lo possiamo stabilire qui.

Intanto bisogna dire che è molto raro in inglese utilizzare più di tre aggettivi insieme ed è più comune usarne solo uno o due. Questo riduce la difficoltà della questione notevolmente!

In genere l’ordine da seguire è questo





5) ETÀ






L’ordine di queste 10 categorie è abbastanza fisso

A questo punto elenchiamo una piccola selezione di aggettivi comuni per ogni categoria
per vedere esattamente di che cosa stiamo parlando.


  • five / twenty / three hundred
  • cinque / venti / tre cento


  • fantastic / wonderful / marvellous / great ~ terrible / horrible / awful
  • fantastico ~ terribile
  • good / nice ~ bad
  • buono / carino ~ brutto
  • fascinating, interesting ~ boring, dull
  • affascinanate, interessante ~ noioso
  • beautiful, pretty ~ ugly
  • bello, carino ~ brutto
  • delicious, tasty ~ disgusting, horrible
  • squisito, gustoso ~ disgustoso, horrible
  • expensive ~ cheap
  • costoso ~ a buon prezzo
  • ordinary, normal ~ strange, weird
  • normale ~ strano
  • easy ~ difficult
  • facile ~ difficile

3) Misura

  • enormous, gigantic, huge ~ tiny, minute
  • enorme ~ minuscolo
  • large, big ~ small, little
  • grande ~ piccolo
  • tall / high ~ short
  • alto ~ basso
  • long ~ short
  • lungo ~ corto
  • fat ~ thin
  • grasso/grosso/spesso ~ magro/sottile/stretto
  • heavy ~ light
  • pesante ~ leggero

4) Condizione

  • clean ~ dirty
  • pulito ~ sporco
  • wet ~ dry
  • bagnato ~ asciutto
  • rich ~ poor
  • ricco ~ povero
  • strong ~ weak
  • forte ~ debole

5) Età

  • modern ~ ancient, antique
  • moderno ~ antico
  • new ~ old
  • nuovo ~ vecchio
  • young ~ old
  • giovane ~ vecchio

6) Forma

  • round, square, rectangular, triangular, star-shaped, heart-shaped etc
  • rotondo, quadrato, rettangolare, triangolare, a forma di stella, a forma di cuore ecc

7) Colore ~ (vedi/ascolti l’audio album Vocabulary traccia 18)

  • red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, pink, purple, brown, grey, white, black etc
  • rosso, arancione, giallo, verde, blu, viola, rosa, porpora, marrone, grigio, bianco, nero ecc

8) PROVENIENZA ~ nazionalità del paese di origine ~ (vedi/ascolti l’audio album Vocabulary traccia 9)

  • English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, American, Australian, Canadian, South African etc
  • inglese, irlandese, scozzese, gallese, americano, australiano, canadese, sud africano ecc

9) MATERIALE ~ materiale di produzione

  • metal, gold, silver, aluminium, glass, wooden, paper, leather, rubber, plastic, synthetic etc
  • di metallo, d’oro, di argente, di aluminio, di vetro, di legno, di carta, di pelle, di gomma, di plastica, sintetico ecc

10) UTILIZZO ~ destinazione d’utilizzo predefinito

(gerundi o sostantivi usati come aggettivi per rendere specifico un sostantivo generico)

🔹 Gerundi

  • shopping (bag, basket), gardening (gloves, shoes), riding (hat, jacket), sleeping (bag, pills) etc
  • borsa / cestino per la spesa, guanti / scarpe per il giardinaggio, capello / giacca per l’equitazione, sacco a pelo / sonniferi ecc

🔹 Sostantivi

  • wine (bottle, glass), basketball (team, player), wedding (dress, cake), pencil (sharpener, case) etc
  • bottlglia / bicchiere per il vino, squadra / giocatore di basketball, vestito / torta nuziale, temperino / portapenne ecc

Serve un acronimo? N – O – D – C – A – S – C – O – M – P

Nnumbertwo, five
Oopinionnice, pretty
Ddimensionbig, small
Cconditionclean, rich
Aageyoung, old
Sshaperound, square
Ccolourred, blue
OoriginMexican, Chinese
Mmaterialgold, plastic
Ppurposeshopping (as in ‘shopping bag’)


Alcuni esempi (un po’ forzati) con il ‘massimo’ di tre aggettivi:

  • There are three new French players in the team.
  • Ci sono tre nuovi giocatori francesi nella squadra.
  • We had a delicious cheap Indian curry.
  • Abbiamo mangiato un delizioso ed economico curry indiano.
  • I bought a pair of expensive brown leather shoes.
  • Ho comprato un paio di costose scarpe di cuoio marrone.
  • The dog was playing with a big red rubber ball.
  • Il cane giocava con una grande palla rossa di gomma.
  • They lived in a wonderful old Spanish villa.
  • Abitavano in una stupenda, vecchia villa spagnola.
  • There was a strange tiny triangular symbol on the cover of the book.
  • C’era uno strano simbolo, piccolo e triangolare, sulla copertina del libro.
  • A thin old Japanese waiter opened the door.
  • Un cameriere giapponese, magro e vecchio, aprì la porta.

Altri esempi più comuni con solo due aggettivi:

  • Jane was wearing a pretty white dress.
  • Jane indossava un carino vestito bianco.
  • We have bought a round wooden table for the dining-room.
  • Abbiamo comprato un tavolo rotondo di legno per la sala da pranzo.
  • He married a beautiful Arabian princess.
  • Egli sposò una bellissima principessa araba.
  • There was a dirty old towel on the floor.
  • C’era un vecchio asciugamano sporco sul pavimento.
  • Bob gave Jane a big red rose.
  • Bob diede a Jane una grande rosa rossa.
  • She came from an ancient aristocratic family.
  • Lei veniva da un’antica famiglia aristocratica.

Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, dies aged 95

Si tratta di un articolo del giornale The Guardian del 6 dicembre 2013, che il sito Onestopenglish.com ha rielaborato per renderlo a livello intermediate e al quale hanno anche aggiunto diversi esercizi da svolgere basati sulla comprensione del testo.

Si può scaricare (gratis) l’articolo e i relativi esercizi in un file pdf cliccando su questo link: Mandela

Consiglio di ascoltare il brano senza la trascrizione inizialmente in modo da esercitare al massimo la propria capacità di comprendere solo ascoltando (anche se la comprensione risulta minima è sempre un esercizio utile per l’orecchio!) Successivamente bisogna riascoltare con il testo davanti prima di passare agli esercizi (facoltativi ovviamente!). Le soluzioni agli esercizi sono fornite alla fine del file pdf.

Sale of ‘stolen’ Banksy mural cancelled

Si tratta di un articolo del giornale The Guardian del 23 febbraio 2013, che il sito Onestopenglish.com ha rielaborato per renderlo a livello intermediate e al quale hanno anche aggiunto diversi esercizi da svolgere basati sulla comprensione del testo.

Si può scaricare (gratis) l’articolo e i relativi esercizi in un file pdf cliccando su questo link: Banksy

Consiglio di ascoltare il brano senza la trascrizione inizialmente in modo da esercitare al massimo la propria capacità di comprendere solo ascoltando (anche se la comprensione risulta minima è sempre un esercizio utile per l’orecchio!) Successivamente bisogna riascoltare con il testo davanti prima di passare agli esercizi (facoltativi ovviamente!). Le soluzioni agli esercizi sono fornite alla fine del file pdf.

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