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Life lines
 

Life lines

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For elementary students who study English at pre-intermediate level. Build your vocabulary while enjoying your reading!

For elementary students who study English at pre-intermediate level. Build your vocabulary while enjoying your reading!

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    Life lines Life lines Presentation Transcript

    • Life Lines 1 Computing the futureR achel put down her pen, and closed her eyes. She felt tired, very tired. She looked up at the clock:four thirty. Good, there was enough time to get to thenewspaper office before five oclock, and she wanted theadvertisement to go into Fridays newspaper. Then . . .well, she didnt know what was going to happen next. Itwas a wonderful idea, and it was a new idea. She pickedup the finished advertisement and walked through theoffice door into the computer room. The computer room was always busy. Fourteenpeople worked there. Rachel smiled and said Hello toeveryone as she walked across the room. Long pieces ofblue paper were coming out of the computers. Theoperators were checking them carefully, then puttingthem into envelopes. Rachels company used computersto do horoscopes for people. You sent the date, time andplace of your birthday to the company, ComputerAstrology Ltd, and the computers could do a horoscopefor you. Rachels boss, Mervyn Astra, started thecompany three years before. Mervyn Astra wasnt hisreal name, of course, but it sounded good. It soundedgood in the newspaper and magazine advertisements. 1
    • His real name was Brian Smith, but only a few peopleknew that. Rachel was his assistant. She didnt likeMervyn very much. He was a short fat man with glassesand very long hair. Mervyn drove an orange Rolls-Royceeverywhere. There were gold stars all over it. Its goodadvertising, Mervyn always said. Anyway, when Rachelhad the new idea, Mervyn said, All right, you can try it. On Friday morning Rachel got up early. She waswaiting for the newspaper. It arrived at eight oclock.Rachel hurried to the table, and opened it. She waslooking for her advertisement. There it was! On pageseven! Rachel smiled. She didnt really believe in palmistry.She thought it was nonsense. But she thought astrologywas nonsense, too. And the advertisement wasnt a lie.Not really. Mervyn was a wonderful computerprogrammer, and the computer program really did haveall the information that they could find about palmistry.It could read the photographs with a special videocamera, and it could compare them to thousands andthousands of pictures in the program. The program wasvery expensive. Mervyn worked on it for a long time.Rachel was a little worried. She wanted the idea to besuccessful. Mervyn could get angry very quickly, andhe hated losing money. She read the advertisementagain, and laughed. Rachel Grant, PalmistryConsultant. That was funny. It was Mervyns idea, ofcourse. 2 3
    • 2 Its all nonsense! DO YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE FUTURE?Palmistry is the science of telling the future from peoples R achel didnt need to worry. The idea was successful. It was more successful than the computer horoscopes. A week later they had thousandshands. Its a very old science.You can learn about your life, and about important things of photographs of hands. They put the advertisement inthat will happen to you. more newspapers and magazines. Mervyn had to buyYou can learn about your thoughts, future romances, andyour future wealth! more computers, and a month later there were thirtyWe use modern technology to give you a forecast of the people working in the computer room. Mervyn boughtfuture. Our computer has a special program, withinformation from all the best fortune tellers in the world. a yellow Cadillac, and put pictures of hands all over it.Are you interested? He used to drive the Rolls-Royce during the week, andJust send a photograph of your left hand, with a cheque for£10.00 made out to Computer Astrology Ltd the Cadillac at weekends. He was a very happy man.to: Rachel Grant, Mervyn gave Rachel a lot more money, but she wasnt Palmistry Consultant, Computer Astrology Ltd, happy. She was embarrassed by her job, Palmistry P.O. Box 75, Consultant. Three months ago it was funny. Now it was LAZENHURST, LE6 4IQ. embarrassing. When people said, What do you do? she(Dont forget to write your name on the back of the photograph.) usually said, Oh, I work with computers. One day, Rachel was at a party. She was speaking to aThe Head Line The Heart Linewill tell you will tell you woman. They were talking about sport, when theabout your about romance woman asked her name. Rachel told her. Suddenly thethoughts. and your future love life. woman said, Are you the Rachel Grant? You know, theThe Life Line palmistry consultant?will tell youabout your life The Fortune Er . . . yes. Yes, I am, said Rachel, Why? Have youand the Line will tell youimportant about your heard about me?things that will possessions and Oh, yes, said the woman, I have. Ive seen thehappen to you. future wealth. advertisements in all the newspapers. I used to be very COMPUTER ASTROLOGY LTD™ interested in palmistry. I used to read peoples hands. Director: Mervyn Astra 5
    • Used to be? said Rachel. Arent you interested in it now? No, Im not, said the woman. I read a lot of books about it, its all nonsense. Nonsense. Rachel smiled. Why do you think so? she asked. Well, said the woman, think about it. What does the life line tell you? It tells you how long people will live, she said. Yes, said the woman. So, in 1914 and 1939, before the two world wars, were there a lot of people with short life lines? I dont know, said Rachel. Ive never thought about it. Well, said the woman, think about it for a minute. Did fortune tellers see a lot of people with short life lines? Millions of people died in the wars. Maybe. I dont know. But no fortune teller wrote about it. Never. Ive read all the important books. No one wrote about it. Thats interesting, said Rachel, but maybe they didnt want to tell people about it. And it was a long time ago. What about the Vietnam war? And Cambodia? What about Ethiopia? I can give you a lot of modern examples, too. Fortune tellers dont usually tell bad news, said Rachel. People dont want to know. Have you read much about palmistry, Miss Grant? the woman said.6 7
    • Well, yes, of course. We had to read everythingbefore we wrote the computer program, said Rachel. Oh, yes, Im sorry. I forgot. You are a palmistryconsultant, arent you? The woman smiled. Come on,Miss Grant, she said, its nonsense. And you know thatits nonsense dont you? I can see that! 3 Frightened of the futureT he next day Rachel was sitting in her office. She was thinking about the woman at the party. Shelooked through some books on palmistry. She had a lotof books. She couldnt find any information about lifelines before the two world wars. Maybe the woman wasright. She stood up, and went to the door. Mark, she called, Mark, can you come into my officefor a minute? Mark was one of the computer programmers. Heworked with Mervyn on the palmistry program. Hecame in, and sat down. Rachel told him about thewoman at the party. Mark, she said, can we do a statistical analysis of allthe palmistry photographs? Mark looked surprised, Yes, he said, we can do that.Its easy. But why? What are you looking for? Im not sure, said Rachel. Ive got an idea. Maybe itsa silly idea, but I want to compare all the photographs. 8 9
    • Maybe we can find something in all of them. Something Well, said Rachel, what have you found?about the future. Mark looked down at the desk. Nothing really, he You mean ... you mean a lot of short life lines? said. In most areas weve got photographs of hands I hope not, said Rachel. But its interesting, isnt it? I with long life lines, middle-sized life lines, and short lifewant you to compare different towns and cities. lines. We didnt learn very much. You see, we haventCompare them with each other, and compare them with got enough photographs. Wed need a thousand or morethe country areas. I want statistics for different areas of from each area of the country before we could do anythe country. Weve got all this information in the real statistical analysis.computer. Why dont we use it? You can do it, cant you? But weve had thousands and thousands of Does Mervyn know about this? said Mark. photographs! said Rachel. Not yet, said Rachel. I probably wont tell him Yes, but thats from everywhere in the country, saideither. Mark. Youre right, said Mark. Mervyn wont like it. He Wait a minute, said Rachel. You said in most areaswont like it at all. Hes frightened of the future. Did you there are long life lines, middle-sized life lines and shortknow that? Hes never done his own horoscope on the life lines, you didnt say in all areas.computer. I wanted to do it when we were writing the There is one area . . . but its silly ... said Mark.program. We needed to try the program, but he didnt Go on, said Rachel.want his horoscope, and he didnt want a photograph of Its only one town . . . Chatford, he said.his hand, either. He was afraid. Chatford? said Rachel. They both laughed. Yes, its a middle-sized town in the south-west. About 130,000 people live there. I know the town well. I used to live there, too. 4 Some interesting results You used to live there? asked Rachel. I didnt know. Yes, I used to be a computer operator at the powerA few days later Mark walked into Rachels office. He put a box on her desk, and sat down. Whats in there? said Rachel. station. That was four or five years ago, before I worked for Mervyn. Anyway, theres a big nuclear power station, just outside Chatford. I used to work there on Computer printouts, said Mark. computers. 10 11
    • What about Chatford? said Rachel. First, weve got nearly two thousand photographsfrom Chatford ... Two thousand? Isnt that a lot from one town? Yes. And its enough to do a statistical analysis. Lookat the list . . . these are all towns about the same size asChatford. There are twenty-two photographs fromNorwich, one hundred and eight from Oxford, ninety-three from Bournemouth, one hundred and five fromTorquay, eighty-six from Brighton, forty-two fromExeter ... Why did we get so many from Chatford? asked Rachel. Yes, I wanted to know that, too. Its very easy.Mervyns brother owns the newspaper there, theChatford Evening Star. He gave Mervyn a lot of freeadvertisements, and he wrote a lot of stories aboutcomputer palmistry for the newspaper. Mervyn comesfrom Chatford. I met him there. He was visiting hisbrother. Well, whats strange about the photographs? It sounds silly, but more than seventy-five per centhave got short life lines, said Mark. Did that happen in any other town? Not really. All the photographs from Norwich hadlong life lines. Then I looked at the addresses on theback of the photographs. We only had twenty-two, buttwenty were all from the same hospital for old people.They were all from people more than eighty years old. 12 13
    • Thats interesting, you mean all of these old peoplehad long life lines? Maybe its not nonsense. 5 None of its true! Maybe, said Mark. Anyway, said Rachel, how short were the life lines inChatford? I looked at each age group: under ten, ten to twenty, M ervyn wasnt very happy that day. On the way to work, he had a small accident in the Rolls- Royce. He drove into the back of another car. Thattwenty to thirty, thirty to forty . . . The life lines were evening he was going to be on a television programmeshorter than average in all of them. I mean, they werent about fortune tellers. He was worried about it. He wasvery, very short. thinking about the television programme when Rachel Were they shorter or longer than mine? asked knocked on his office door.Rachel. She showed Mark the palm of her left hand. Whos that? Im busy. Go away. Mark looked at it carefully. Er . . . they were about Its me, Rachel.the same, he said. I said go away! Rachel felt cold suddenly. I must speak to you. Dont worry, said Mark. Do you understand Come back later.statistics? If you put one foot in water at 0°C, and the Its important, Mervyn. Rachel opened the door andother foot in water at 100° C, then statistically youre went in.comfortable. Yes, what do you want? said Mervyn. What? said Rachel. Well, Mervyn, I had an idea ... Well, the average temperature will be 50° C. Thats Im not interested in your ideas, said Mervyn.statistics. You were interested in my idea for computer Rachel looked at him. Have you spoken to Mervyn palmistry, said Rachel.about the printouts? she asked. OK, sit down and tell me. But hurry, Im very busy. No, you told me not to tell him, said Mark. Rachel told him about the woman at the party, and he Good, Ill speak to him. Can you leave the computer laughed.printouts here, Mark? Does it matter? he said. Well, yes, she said. I wanted the computer to compare the photographs from different towns. 14 15
    • We dont pay you to play with the computer, saidMervyn angrily. Anyway, you arent a computerprogrammer. You couldnt do this. Someone helped you.Who was it? Mark, said Rachel, but he did the work in his owntime. He used my computer, and he used my electricity!said Mervyn. Can I show you what we found? said Rachel. Sheshowed the printouts to Mervyn. He got angrier andangrier. Rachel, he said, this is all nonsense! Nobody can tellyou about the future. You dont believe this, do you? Dont you believe it? she said quietly. Of course not. Its not true. None of it. Then youre cheating your customers. Yes, I know, said Mervyn. "Theres a fool born everyminute." Youve heard that before, havent you? Thatswhy Im a rich man. Anyway, we got all the informationabout palmistry and astrology from the best books. Theprogram doesnt cheat. It gives us the best informationon palmistry ... but all of the information is nonsense. Rachel stood up. Thats it, Mervyn. Youre a cheatand a thief. Mervyn smiled. Thank you, he said. Well, Im not working for you any more. You can findanother palmistry consultant. Ask at the prison. Theyllfind somebody for you. 16 17
    • She left Mervyns room, and hurried back to heroffice. She put on her coat, and walked out. The air outside felt clean and good. She smiled. Shewasnt a palmistry consultant any more. Now, she thought, Im going to get a real job. 6 ChatfordR achel left Computer Astrology on March 19th. She soon found another job, as a reporter for the DailyEcho, a newspaper in London. She was a reporter beforeshe worked for Mervyn. But she never forgot aboutMarks computer printouts, and she never forgot aboutChatford. One day she was talking to her boss at thenewspaper, and she told him about the life lines. Helaughed. Do you believe it, Rachel? he said. I dont know, but its interesting. Yes. Its a good story. Look, why dont you go toChatford? Perhaps you can write a story for thenewspaper. Mervyn wont like it, she said. Are you worried about Mervyn Astra? No, you goand write the story. Look round Chatford, talk to people... read their hands ... I told you, I cant read hands, she said. You know enough about palmistry. Theres a goodstory here. Write it. 18 19
    • Rachel smiled, OK, I will. Ill go there next week. Enjoy your stay, Ms Grant, she said. Rachel arrived in Chatford by train on Wednesday, Thank you, said Rachel, I will.20th September. She got a taxi to the Royal Hotel. Shewalked into the hotel, and stopped. A short fat man withglasses and very long hair was standing there. He was 7 Terrible newsshouting at the girl behind the desk. Do you know who I am? he shouted. My brotherowns the Chatford Evening Star. I want a room with a O n the morning of September 21st Mark woke early. He couldnt sleep. He had dreams all night about Rachel, and the computer printouts. He wentbath, and I want it now! downstairs to get the newspaper. It was on the floor with And you didnt write or telephone? said the girl. the letters. He picked it up, and looked at the front page. Whats your name? Come on, what is it? Youre goingto lose your job! My brothers a very important man inthis town! His face was very red. Rachel walked over to the desk. Hello, Mervyn, shesaid. Daily Echo London, 21 September Mervyn looked round. What are you doing here? hesaid. You wont get a room. The hotels full. THE WORST DAY EVER! Rachel smiled at the girl behind the desk. Rachel NUCLEAR EXPLOSION INGrant, she said, from the Daily Echo. I phoned yesterday. CHATFORD — THOUSANDS DEAD Ah, yes, said the girl, Ms Grant. A room with bath. AT 10.35 yesterday evening, have died. Our reporter, RachelYoure in Room 437. Ive got your key. Wait here, there was an atomic explosion Grant, was in the town when thesomeone will take your case to the room. at the Chatford Nuclear Power power station exploded. Thank you, said Rachel. Station. Thousands of people The army has asked people to are dead. The army has closed stay in their homes in an area Mervyn looked very angry. Well, Im not staying all roads round Chatford, and there fifty miles round Chatford. Thehere. Im going to another hotel. A better one. is no news from the town. Nobody Prime Minister will speak on tele- knows why the power station vision and radio at nine oclock Good, said Rachel. Good night. exploded, or how many people this morning. Mervyn walked out of the hotel. The girl behind thedesk was smiling. 20 21
    • Mark put down the newspaper. He was crying. He went to a cupboard and took out the box of computer printouts. He looked at them for a moment. Then he walked over to the telephone. He had to phone the Daily Echo. He found the phone book, and looked for the number. There it was: (0171) 131 1676. Then he stopped and thought. He picked up the box of printouts, took them into the garden and burned them. He never told anybody about the life lines.22