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The Speed Reading Test, or Reading Speed Test, is a test to find out how fast you can read English content.
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Seventy-eight years ago at dawn, more than 150 ships and service craft of the United States' Pacific fleet lay at anchor, alongside piers, or in dry dock in Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. By late morning, the surprise Japanese air and mini-submarine attack had left 19 vessels sunk or badly damaged and destroyed hundreds of airplanes.
The toll that day among military personnel is widely known: Of the 2,335 servicemen killed in the attack, nearly half died on the USS Arizona when a Japanese bomb blew up the battleship's forward gunpowder magazine. Hundreds also died aboard other stricken naval vessels and in bombing and strafing attacks at nearby airfields.
But few people realize that 68 civilians were also killed in the attack. Japanese fighters strafed and bombed a small number, most, however, died in friendly fire when shells from Coast Guard ships and anti-aircraft batteries on shore aimed at the Japanese fell into Honolulu and elsewhere on the island. Eleven of the dead were children ages 16 and younger.
The Hirasaki family suffered some of the worst losses that terrible morning: the Japanese-American mother, father and their three children. ages 2, 3 and 8, together with a 14-year-old cousin, sheltered in the family's downtown Honolulu restaurant. An errant shell struck the building. Only the mother survived - seven other patrons taking cover there also died in the blast.
Countless children throughout Oahu also witnessed the attack, perhaps none more closely than 8-year-old Charlotte Coe who recounted her experiences that fateful morning as if they were a film that had been running continuously in her mind ever since.
Charlotte lived with her parents and five-year-old brother, Chuckie, in one of the 19 tidy bungalows lining a loop road in an area known as Nob Hill, on the northern end of Ford Island. That island served as home to a naval air station in the middle of Pearl Harbor. Their father, Charles F. Coe, was third in command there. The Nob Hill mothers watched over their 40 or so young "Navy juniors" while their fathers went off to the air station's hangars, operations buildings and aircraft operating from the island. The Coe family's house looked out on the harbor's South Channel and the double row of moorings known as Battleship Row.
The air station and Pacific fleet defined the children's days and nights. Charlotte, Chuckie and their friends often ran out the nearby dock to meet officers disembarking from the ships. Lying in bed at night, Charlotte could hear voices from the movies being shown to sailors on board. Until the Pearl Harbor attack, she recalled that she and the other children lived "free as birds" on Ford Island, taking a daily boat to school on the Oahu mainland. At home, Pearl Harbor's lush tropical shoreline served as their playground.
But Ford Island was something else: a target. The eight battleships moored along Battleship Row were the Japanese attackers' primary objective when they flew toward Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941.
The first explosion at 7:48 that morning woke Charlotte from a sound sleep. "Get up!" she remembered her father shouting, "the war's started." The family and the men, women and children from the other houses raced for shelter in a former artillery emplacement dug beneath a neighboring house. As they ran, a khaki-colored airplane with red circles under its wings zoomed past so low that Charlotte saw the pilot's face.
Before that day, the children had often played inside the dimly lit, concrete-lined bunker they called "the dungeon" and the Nob Hill families practiced how they would hide there in case of an air raid. Once inside, Chuckie could not resist the noise, explosions and flames and ventured outside - this time Japanese bullets zinged around him before Charles hauled him back.
As Charles returned home to get dressed before helping organize a defense, a massive explosive knocked him to the ground. The Arizona's detonation rocked the walls and floors inside the children's dungeon shelter. Charlotte shook her fist, "those dirty Germans!" she recalled saying. "Hush, ChaCha," said her mother quietly, "it's the Japanese."
Before long, survivors from the blasted and battered battleships began filtering ashore and into the bunker. Mostly young men, they were wide-eyed, scared, coated in oil. They were the lucky ones - others had been hit by the blasts and flying debris, strafed or horribly burned. Seventy years later, Charlotte still vividly remembered the burnt flesh that hung in charred ribbons from some of the men. Hidden in the bunker, she saw men succumb to their wounds.
When a naked, shivering sailor propped himself against a wall next to her, Charlotte remembered unzipping her favorite blue quilted bathrobe and handing it to him, he wrapped his bare body in it and thanked her.
In later years, Charlotte learned that her mother had taken a soldier aside to tell him to save three bullets in his pistol. She had heard about the atrocities the Japanese had inflicted on Chinese women and children and expected that the Japanese would soon invade Oahu. "When I am sure that my children are dead, then you will shoot me," she commanded.
As Charlotte exited her former playhouse at last, she looked out on a vision of hell: ships were in flames, submerged and capsized; fires burned everywhere, the air thick with acrid black smoke; bodies barely recognizable as human floated in the water or lay on the grassy shore where she used to play.
When Charlotte Coe Lemann recounted those few hours, the decades disappeared in an instant. Even as the attack was unfolding, she said, she knew that "A lot of those men I'd seen coming along the dock from ships were never coming again."
This Thanksgiving, some 20 million Americans will eat green bean casserole. It's a culinary classic with just six ingredients. It uses a can of Campbell's cream of mushroom soup and milk. It has soy sauce and black pepper. It also has green beans and crunchy fried onions.
It's a retro recipe. It has been appearing on American tables for more than 60 years. It can be traced back to a woman named Dorcas Reilly. She died in October last year.
Dorcas worked as a supervisor at the home economics department of a Campbell's test kitchen in Camden, New Jersey. That was in 1955. She was tasked with creating a recipe. It was for a feature that would appear in the Associated Press. The recipe had to be based on ingredients that any home cook would have on hand. It also had to include Campbell's mushroom soup and green beans.
Dorcas earned a degree in home economics from Drexel University. It was known then as the Drexel Institute of Technology. She got to tinkering. She and her team initially toyed with adding celery salt and ham to the recipe. That's according to Today's Vidya Rao.
She ultimately settled on six simple ingredients. They were affordable. They could be stirred together in a casserole dish. Then they were popped into the oven for 25 minutes. The prep time was minimal. The dish worked well with frozen or canned green beans. The fried onions were pre-packaged.
It was the perfect recipe for post-War America. It was cheap and fuss-free. That kind of cooking was all the rage. Wartime rations on canned goods had been lifted. There were innovations in canning and freezing. These made packaged foods more accessible than ever. This created a culture of convenience cooking. An ever-growing number of women were entering the workforce. But they continued to shoulder the responsibility of keeping the family fed. This fueled the demand for easy-to-make meals.
The dish was originally called "Green Bean Bake." Dorcas' dish really took off when Campbell's began printing the recipe on its mushroom soup cans. That's according to Karen Zraick of the New York Times. Dorcas had created many recipes for the company. These recipes included tuna noodle casserole and Sloppy Joe's made from tomato soup. She was somewhat surprised that the green bean casserole proved to be such a hit.
"We all thought this is very nice, etc. And then when we got the feelings of the consumer, we were really kinda pleasantly shocked," Reilly once said. That's according to Today's Rao.
"I'm very proud of this, and I was shocked when I realized how popular it had become."
Green bean casserole has endured over the ages. Forty percent of Campbell's cream of mushroom soup sales go towards making the dish. That's what a spokesperson told Rao in 2015. You can find upgraded versions of the recipe. Bon Appétit recommends ditching the canned soup for whole milk, cream and fresh cremini mushrooms. Reilly's hand-written original recipe card even made it into the archives of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Reilly's pioneering accomplishments were not limited to the test kitchen. She was born in 1926, in Woodbury, New Jersey. She was raised in Camden. She became one of the first members in her family to attend college. She was a supervisor at Campbell's.
"She was a trailblazer in a world in which women were generally on the sidelines of corporate America." That's according to a video tribute from her alma mater. She took time off to raise her children in 1961. She returned to the company two decades later. She rose to manager of the Campbell's Kitchen. It was a position she held until her retirement in 1988. Reilly was never one to trumpet her achievements. That's according to her son, Thomas B. Reilly. He spoke with Bonnie L. Cook of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
"She was not a flashy person," he says. "She didn't bask in the limelight. She just went in and did her job every day, like most blue-collar people."
Reilly's approach to cooking was similarly salt-of-the-earth. "I think food should be fun," she once said, "and food should be happy."
It's almost that time of year. Children get into costume and walk around the neighborhood. They ring doorbells. They beg for treats. When you think about it, trick or treating is kind of a weird thing. Where did it come from anyway?
Today I Found Out discovered that the practice began with a Celtic tradition. It celebrated the end of the year by dressing up as evil spirits. Here is what the Celts believed. As we move from one year to the next, the dead and the living would overlap. Demons would roam the earth again. Dressing up as demons was a defense mechanism. You might encounter a real demon roaming the Earth. If you were dressed up they would think you were one of them.
Fast forward to when the Catholic Church was stealing everybody's holidays. They were trying to convert them. They turned the demon dress-up party into "All Hallows Eve" and "All Soul's Day." And "All Saints Day." They had people dress up. They dressed as saints and angels. There were some people who still dressed as demons. Today I Found Out writes:
As for the trick or treating, or "guising" (from "disguising"), traditions, they began in the Middle Ages. Children would dress up in the aforementioned costumes. Sometimes poor adults did too. They would go around door to door during Hallowmas. They'd beg for food or money. This was in exchange for songs and prayers. They were often said on behalf of the dead. This was called "souling." The children were called "soulers".
You might think that this practice then simply moved along with Europeans to the United States. But trick or treating didn't re-emerge until the 1920s and 1930s. It paused for a bit during World War II because of sugar rations. But its now back in full force.
The term "trick or treat" dates back to 1927. Today I Found Out explains:
The earliest known reference to "trick or treat" was printed on November 4, 1927. It was in an edition of the Blackie, Alberta Canada Herald.
"Hallowe'en provided an opportunity for real strenuous fun. No real damage was done. Except to the temper of some who had to hunt for wagon wheels, gates, wagons, barrels, etc. Much of which decorated the front street. The youthful tormentors were at back door and front demanding edible plunder. They used the word "trick or treat." To which the inmates gladly responded and sent the robbers away rejoicing."
The British hate Halloween. That's according to a 2006 survey. It found that over half of British homeowners turn off their lights. They pretend not to be home on Halloween. Yet another reason by the United States is happy to be free from British rule. No fun.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has called for taxes to be put in place. The taxes are on sugary drinks. It was a sign of growing concern over the amount of sugar kids are drinking. They are getting them via sodas and sweetened juices. And they get them from other beverages.
It is a worrying indicator of the nation's sugary drink fixation. A new study has found that one in five children reported not drinking any water. That's on any given day. It also showed that those kids drink more calories from sweetened beverages than kids who did drink water. That's according to Reuters' Lisa Rapaport.
The report was published in JAMA Pediatrics. It looked at nationally representative data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. It offered information on 8,400 children between the ages of two and 19. Included in the survey were data on kids' water and sweetened beverage consumption. It also included information about caloric intake. These came from sugary drinks. And it showed the percent of total calories that came from these drinks.
Researchers found that around 20 percent of children reported drinking no water throughout the day. They consumed almost twice as many calories. That's compared to kids who did drink some water. Overall, the young study participants drank 132 calories of sodas and other sugary beverages. That's per day. That number dropped to 112 calories with any intake of water. Kids who didn't drink any water took in an average of 210 calories. These came from sweetened drinks.
"Adjusting for sociodemographic variables," the study authors write, "no water intake was associated with intake of 92.9 ... more calories from [sugar-sweetened beverages] among participants aged 2 to 19 years."
Those extra calories don't provide much in the way of nutritional value and they can add up. That's according to Asher Rosinger. He is the lead study author and director of the Water, Health, and Nutrition Lab at Penn State.
"What you have to remember is that an extra 3,500 calories equals one pound of weight gain," Rosinger says. "So, if you're not compensating for those extra calories, then over a month, you can potentially gain a pound."
Sugary drinks have been linked to a number of issues. These include childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes. It also includes dental problems and high cholesterol.
"I've seen 2-year-olds with fatty liver disease and teenagers with Type 2 diabetes," said Natalie Muth. She is a California-based pediatrician. She spoke to the New York Times' Andrew Jacobs. "These are diseases we used to see in their grandparents."
The new study doesn't definitively prove that drinking less water prompts kids to drink more soda. It also doesn't prove the opposite. That's what Gizmodo's Ed Cara notes. It does suggest that there may be an inverse relationship. It suggests that adults should encourage kids to drink water so they don't swap it for something less healthful.
"Kids should consume water every single day. And the first beverage option for kids should be water," according to Rosinger. "Because if they're not drinking water, they're probably going to replace it with other beverages, like sugar-sweetened beverages, that are less healthy and have more calories."
The study authors note that the research does not account for the complex reasons why some children may not be drinking enough water. Sera Young reported for Scientific American. She said that reports of water contamination from lead or copper are on the rise in the United States. Runoff from fertilizer is contaminating wells in rural parts of the country. Some families have their water shut off. That's because they struggle to pay the bills.
Boosting water intake among children may reduce their consumption of sweetened beverages. But it isn't just about promoting water over sugary drinks.
"Increasing access to safe, free water," the study authors write, "is critical for childhood health."
If someone asked you to measure the time you spend online, how would you answer? If you're like one-fifth of Americans, you'd likely say "almost constantly." New research shows that 21 percent of Americans report that they're online more or less continually.
It was the first time the words "almost constantly" were an option in a Pew Research survey. The survey was about Internet use. This is according to Andrew Perrin. He is a research assistant at Pew. He commented in a blog post about the survey. The survey was conducted between June and July. Adults were asked how much they go online. Thirteen percent said they do not go online at all. Another 13 percent said they go online several times a week or less. Only 10 percent said they go online once a day. And much larger numbers said they go online several times a day (42 percent) or "almost constantly" (21 percent).
Interestingly, there wasn't a gender split when it came to near constant Internet use. On the other hand, age seems to be the great digital divider. Only six percent of people over age 65 said they're online that much. And the number grew from there. Those who report that they are online all the time include 12 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds and 28 percent of 30- to 49-year-olds. Thirty-six percent of 18- to 29-year-olds are online that much.
Don't assume that teenagers are online even more than adults. In another survey, Pew found that teens do have a slight edge on adults in general when it comes to "almost constant" Internet use. But 24 percent said they're online pretty much all the time. They still fall notably behind the 36 percent of adults between 18 and 29 years of age who are always online.
Could the difference between teens and young adults have to do with older folks' unrestricted access to mobile phones with generous data plans? Possibly. Or maybe money is a factor. The richer you are, the more Internet you're likely to use. Twenty-eight percent of people who earn $70,000 or more report being online constantly. Only 16 percent of those who earn $30,000 or less report the same usage.
The United Nations considers unrestricted Internet access to be a human right. So the number of Americans who report being online "almost constantly" could rise along with availability and cost. But it remains to be seen whether being online all the time is actually something to aspire to. Or how constant connectivity will impact American culture in the long term.
You asked us, "If we don't need an appendix, why is it there in the first place?"
Just because you don't need your appendix, doesn't mean it's useless.
Now, for a long time people thought it was. Charles Darwin theorized the appendix was a shriveled, leftover organ used by early humans to help digest leaves. And that's been the predominant thinking up until recently.
But that's the great thing about science. Everyone thinks one thing and then someone else says, "Hey, I've a better explanation."
A team of researchers did just that. They wondered if it's not so much what the appendix does, but what it can hold.
See, our bodies are like an apartment building. And we have tenants living inside of us. These tenants are bacteria. In fact, there's about 10 times more bacteria in and on our bodies than in our actual cells.
But like all good tenants, they pay rent. The bacteria in our gut help us digest food and manufacture vitamins. They even help our immune system. That's right, bacteria in our bodies help our immune system fight other bacteria.
But sometimes invading bacteria get the best of our immune system and we get sick. Like, cholera sick or dysentery sick.
Not be gross, but we're talking life-threatening, never-ending diarrhea sick.
In cases like this, all your good gut bacteria could be washed out. That is, unless they have a place to hunker down. Like the appendix.
Scientists theorize the appendix acts as a reserve, where good bacteria can hide until the illness is over. And then they re-emerge and repopulate the gut and go right back to helping us out.
Now you may not be that familiar with diseases like cholera or dysentery and that's because modern sewage systems have largely done away with them.
So in today's high tech world, you can live just fine without your appendix.
But you never know, maybe sometime in the future, another scientist will have a better explanation.
Today, the traditional Thanksgiving dinner includes any number of dishes. Turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. Candied yams, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. They are all there. If we were to create a historically correct feast made up of foods that were served at the so-called "first Thanksgiving," there would be slimmer pickings.
"Wildfowl was there. Corn, in grain form for bread or for porridge, was there. Venison was there," says Kathleen Wall.
Two primary sources confirm that these staples were part of the harvest celebration shared by the Pilgrims and Wampanoag at Plymouth Colony in 1621. Edward Winslow is an English leader who attended. He wrote home to a friend:
"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling. That so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms. Many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit. With some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted. And they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others."
William Bradford is the governor that Winslow mentions. He also described the autumn of 1621. He added, "And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc."
Determining what else they might have eaten at the 17th-century feast takes some digging. Wall is a culinarian at Plimoth Plantation. It is a living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts. To form educated guesses about history, she studies cookbooks and descriptions of gardens from the period. She also looks at archaeological remains such as pollen samples. They might clue her in to what the colonists were growing.
Turkey was not the heart of the meal. It's possible the colonists and American Indians cooked wild turkey. But Wall thinks that goose or duck was more likely.
Small birds were often spit-roasted. Larger birds were boiled.
"I also think some birds were boiled first. Then roasted to finish them off. Or things are roasted first and then boiled," says Wall. "The early roasting gives them nicer flavor. It sort of caramelizes them on the outside and makes the broth darker."
It is possible that the birds were stuffed. If so, it probably was not with bread. Bread was made from maize not wheat. But, it was likely a part of the meal. Exactly how it was made is unknown. The Pilgrims instead stuffed birds with chunks of onion and herbs. "There is a wonderful stuffing for goose in the 17th-century that is just shelled chestnuts," says Wall.
In addition to wildfowl and deer, the colonists and Wampanoag probably ate eels and shellfish. The shellfish might have included lobster. Or clams and mussels. "They were drying shellfish and smoking other sorts of fish," says Wall.
According to Wall, the Wampanoag had a "varied and extremely good diet." That is like most eastern woodlands people. The forest provided chestnuts, walnuts and beechnuts. "They grew flint corn. And that was their staple. They grew beans, which they used from when they were small and green until when they were mature," says Wall. "They also had different sorts of pumpkins or squashes."
As we are taught in school, the Indians showed the colonists how to plant native crops. "The English colonists plant gardens in March of 1620 and 1621," says Wall. "We don't know exactly what's in those gardens. But in later sources, they talk about turnips. And they talk about carrots, onions, garlic and pumpkins as the sorts of things that they were growing."
The exercise of remaking the spread of food at the 1621 celebration becomes a process of elimination. "You look at what an English celebration in England is at this time. What are the things on the table? You see lots of pies in the first course. And in the second course, meat and fish pies. To cook a turkey in a pie was not terribly uncommon," says Wall.
"But it is like, no, the pastry isn't there." The colonists did not have butter and wheat flour to make crusts for pies and tarts. That's right: No pumpkin pie! "That is a blank in the table for an English eye. So what are they putting on instead? I think meat, meat and more meat," says Wall.
Meat without potatoes, that is. White potatoes originated in South America and sweet potatoes are from the Caribbean. They had yet to make it to North America. There also would have been no cranberry sauce. It would be another 50 years before an Englishman wrote about boiling cranberries and sugar into a "Sauce to eat with meat."
How did the Thanksgiving menu become what it is today?
Wall explains that the current Thanksgiving holiday took root in the mid-19th century. It was then that Edward Winslow's letter was printed in a pamphlet called Mourt's Relation. And Gov. Bradford's manuscript, titled Of Plimoth Plantation, was rediscovered and published.
Boston clergyman Alexander Young printed Winslow's letter in his Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers. In the notes to the revived letter, he called the feast the first Thanksgiving. There was longing for colonial times. And by the 1850s, most states and territories were celebrating Thanksgiving.
Sarah Josepha Hale was the editor of the women's magazine Godey's Lady's Book. It was a leading voice in making Thanksgiving a yearly event. She shared her idea with President Lincoln. She saw it as a way to unite the country in the midst of the Civil War. In 1863, he made Thanksgiving a national holiday.
Hale printed Thanksgiving recipes and menus in Godey's Lady's Book. She also published close to a dozen cookbooks.
"A lot of the food that we think of like roast turkey with sage dressing, creamed onions and mashed turnips. Even some of the mashed potato dishes, which were kind of exotic then are there," said Wall.
Students at a Vermont high school are winning praise for their efforts to fight back against online bullying. After a burst of negative posts on an anonymous school news app, students at Rutland High School organized a counterattack.
They petitioned the creators of the After School app to take their school's message board down. Then they launched a "Positive Post-it" campaign. Small notes offering praise and encouragement to fellow students were stuck to bulletin boards and windows around the school.
They also petitioned the tech giant Apple to remove After School from its App Store. An Apple spokesman said the company had agreed. The app was removed.
The app's intended use is to help students to form groups tied to a specific school and post anonymous messages about local goings-on.
Instead, comments on Rutland High School's app were "negative, obscene," said Principal Bill Olsen.
Senior Eric Gokee was one of five students who spoke during morning announcements. He introduced himself by saying, "Some of you may know me as the biggest Jew at Rutland High School." He added in an interview a few days later he was voted as such in a survey on the app.
"I never downloaded the app. But I knew what was going on just from my friends. Everyone was talking about it," Gokee said.
Sophomore Molly Engels is president of a student group, Cyber You. It is devoted to responsible Internet use, "It was a big wakeup call to see so many people affected by it in a negative way," she said.
The Rutland students' anti-bullying efforts drew praise from Gov. Peter Shumlin.
After School co-founder Cory Levy defended the app. He called it a "blank sheet of paper" that leaves students to decide what to write on it.
"We've only just gotten to know these students," Levy wrote in an email. "Their parents have had years to shape their morals and build good decision making skills."
John Halligan has been an anti-bullying activist since his son, Ryan, committed suicide in 2003. That was following online bullying by fellow middle school students. He said he had spoken to Rutland students two years ago.
"I'm really proud of these kids," he said. He added that they had gotten the message to "stand up for one another and push back against the bullying behavior."
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