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2014-01-03 来源:读书人 

  Passage 1

  Directions: For question 1—5, choose the most suitable paragraphs from the list A—G and fill them into the numbered boxes to form a coherent text. Paragraphs A and D have been correctly placed.

  [A] Subscription has proved by far the best way of paying for highquality television. Advertising veers up and down with the economic cycle, and can be skipped by using digital video recorders. And any outfit that depends on advertising is liable to worry more about offending advertisers than about pleasing viewers. Voluntary subscription is also preferable to the compulsory, universal variety that pays for the BBC and other European public broadcasters. A broadcaster supported by a tax on everyone must try to please everyone. And a government can starve public broadcasters of money, too—as the BBC is painfully learning.

  [B] What began as an interesting experiment has become the standard way of supporting highquality programming. Most of the great television dramas that are watched in America and around the world appear first on payTV channels. Having shown others how to make gangster dramas with “The Sopranos”, HBO is laying down the standard for fantasy with “Game of Thrones”. Other payTV channels have delved into 1960s advertising (“Mad Men”), drug dealing (“Breaking Bad”) and Renaissance court society (“The Borgias”). PayTV firms outside America, like Britains BSkyB, are beginning to pour money into original series. Talent is drifting to paytelevision, in part because there are fewer appealing roles in film. Meanwhile, broadcast networks have retreated into a safe zone of sitcoms, police procedurals and singing competitions.

  [C] But pay television is now under threat, especially in America. Prices have been driven so high at a time of economic malaise that many people simply cannot afford it. Disruptive, deeppocketed firms like Amazon and Netflix lurk, whispering promises of internetdelivered films and television shows for little or no money. Whether the lure of such alternatives or poverty is what is causing people to cancel their subscriptions is not clear. But the proportion of Americans who pay for TV is falling. Other countries may follow.

  [D] Pay TV executives argue that people will always find ways of paying for their wares, perhaps by cutting back on cinema tickets or bottled water. That notion seems increasingly hopeful. Every month it appears more likely that the pay TV system will break down. The era of evergrowing channel choice is coming to an end; cable and satellite distributors will begin to prune the least popular ones. They may push “best of basic” packages, offering the most desirable channels—and perhaps leaving out sport. In the most disruptive scenario, no longer unimaginable, payTV would become a free for all, with channels hawking themselves directly to consumers, perhaps sending their content over the internet. How can media firms survive in such a world?

  [E] Fifteen years ago nearly all the television shows that excited critics and won awards appeared on free broadcast channels. Paytelevision (or, as many Americans call it, “cable”) was the domain of repeats, music videos and televangelists. Then HBO, a subscription outfit mostly known for boxing and films, decided to try its hand at hour long dramas.

  [F] But television as a whole should emerge stronger. If people buy individual channels rather than a huge bundle, they will have to think about what they really value—the more so because each channel will cost more than it does at present. Media firms will improve their game in response. The activity that diverts the average American for some four and a half hours each day should become more gripping, not less.

  [G] It wont be easy. They will have to start marketing heavily: at present the payTV distributors do that for them. They must produce much more of their own programming. Repeats and old films lose their appeal in a world in which consumers can instantly call up vast archives. If they are to sell directly to the audience they will have to become technology firms, building apps and much slicker websites than they have now, which anticipate what customers might want to watch.


  Passage 2

  Directions: For question 1—5, choose the most suitable paragraphs from the list A—G and fill them into the numbered boxes to form a coherent text. Paragraphs D and E have been correctly placed.

  [A] For publishers, though, it is a dangerous time. Book publishing resembles the newspaper business in the late 1990s, or music in the early 2000s. Although revenues are fairly stable, and the traditional route is still the only way to launch a blockbuster, the climate is changing. Some of the publishers functions—packaging books and promoting them to shops—are becoming obsolete. Algorithms and online recommendations threaten to replace them as arbiters of quality. The tide of selfpublished books threatens to swamp their products. As bookshops close, they lose a crucial showcase. And they face, as the record companies did, a nearmonopoly controlling digital distribution: Amazon’s grip over the ebook market is much like Apple’s control of music downloads.

  [B] They also need to become more efficient. Digital books can be distributed globally, but publishers persist in dividing the world into territories with separate editorial staffs. In the digital age it is daft to take months or even years to get a book to market. And if they are to distinguish their wares from selfpublished dross, they must get better at choosing books, honing ideas and polishing copy. If publishers are to hold readers’ attention they must tell a better story—and edit out all the spelling mistakes as well.

  [C] For readers, this is splendid. Just as Amazon collapsed distance by bringing a huge range of books to outoftheway places, it is now collapsing time, by enabling readers to download books instantly. Moreover, anybody can now publish a book, through Amazon and a number of other services.

  [D] During the next few weeks publishers will release a crush of books, pile them onto delivery lorries and fight to get them on the display tables at the front of bookshops in the runup to Christmas. It is an impressive display of competitive commercial activity. It is also increasingly pointless.

  [E] Yet there are still two important jobs for publishers. They act as the venture capitalists of the words business, advancing money to authors of worthwhile books that might not be written otherwise. And they are editors, picking good books and improving them. So it would be good, not just for their shareholders but also for intellectual life, if they survived.

  [F] More quickly than almost anyone predicted, ebooks are emerging as a serious alternative to the paper kind. Amazon, comfortably the biggest ebook retailer, has lowered the price of its Kindle ereaders to the point where people do not fear to take them to the beach. In America, the most advanced market, about one fifth of the largest publishers sales are of e books. Newly released blockbusters may sell as many digital copies as paper ones. The proportion is growing quickly, not least because many bookshops are closing.

  [G] They are doing some things right. Having watched the record companies impotence after Apple wrested control of music pricing from them, the publishers have managed to retain their ability to set prices. But they are missing some tricks. The music and film industries have started to bundle electronic with physical versions of their products—by, for instance, providing those who buy a DVD of a movie with a code to download it from the internet. Publishers, similarly, should bundle e books with paper books.


  Passage 3

  Directions: For question 1—5, choose the most suitable paragraphs from the list A—G and fill them into the numbered boxes to form a coherent text. Paragraphs C and F have been correctly placed.

  [A] Fifteen years ago Vincent Bolloré, a French industrialist, decided to get into the business of electricity storage. He started a project to produce rechargeable batteries in two small rooms of his family mansion in Brittany. “I asked him, ‘what are you doing? and I told him to stop, that it wouldn t go anywhere,” says Alain Minc, a business consultant in Paris who has advised Mr Bolloré for many years. Fortunately, he says, Mr Bolloré continued.

  [B] The real aim for Mr Bolloré, however, is to showcase his battery technology. His group has developed a type of rechargeable cell, called a lithiummetal polymer (LMP) battery. This is different from the lithiumion batteries used by most of the car industry. Mr Bolloré believes fervently that his batteries are superior, mainly because they are safer. Lithiumion batteries can explode if they overheat—which in the past happened in some laptops. Carmakers incorporate safety features to prevent the batterys cells from overheating.

  [C] The city of Paris will cover most of the cost of the stations, but Mr Bolloré will pay an estimated 105m to supply his design of “Bluecar” vehicles and their batteries. He will bear a further 80m a year in running costs. The citys estimates for how popular the new service will be are highly optimistic, said a recent study by the government. Autolib could make 33ma year for Mr Bolloré, according to the study, but it could easily just breakeven or lose as much as 60mannually. Autolib will also be the first time the group has operated in a big consumerfacing business where it will be held directly responsible for problems such as vandalism or breakdowns.

  [D] Going up against the rest of the car industry may seem quixotic. Before he won Autolib, Mr Bolloré says, people may well have thought he and his team were mad to venture into such a new area. But they underestimated his groups knowledge of electricity storage, he maintains. And if the growing number of electric cars on the road does lead to safety concerns over batteries, then Mr Bollorés LMP technology could move from the margin to the mainstream—provided, of course, they pass their test on the streets of Paris.

  [E] “Being a family company means we can invest for the long term,” says Mr Bolloré, who has spent 1.5 billion on battery development since 1996. Most of his groups money comes from transport and logistics, with a strong position in Africa, and from petrol distribution in France. Mr Bolloré has also made billions from financial investments such as in Rue Imperiale, a holding company. Autolib will be keenly watched throughout the car industry. It is the first largescale city carsharing service to use only electric vehicles from the outset; a scheme in Ulm in Germany, by contrast, started with diesel vehicles. Running Autolib could mean shouldering substantial losses for the Bolloré Group. Mr Bolloré was not expected to win the contract, but did so mainly because he offered low rental charges for drivers.

  [F] Mr Bollorés LMP batteries are said to be more stable when being charged and discharged, which is when batteries come under most strain. Just two European carmakers have seen the batteries, which are made only by the Bolloré Group. One carindustry executive says that though the LMP technology is attractive from a safety point of view, the batteries have to be heated up to function—which takes power and makes them less convenient to use.

  [G] Mr Bollorés technology is about to hit the road. In 2010 his group won a contract to run Autolib, a carsharing scheme designed by Bertrand Delane, the mayor of Paris, which will put 3,000 electric vehicles on the city s streets along with 1,120 stations for parking and recharging. Construction of the stations started in the summer, and Mr Bolloré will begin testing the service on October 1st before opening it to the public in December. Rechargeable batteries are now an important technology for the global car industry as it starts to make ever more electric and hybrid vehicles. Renault, a French manufacturer, is alone investing 4 billion ($5.6 billion) in a range of electric models which it will start selling this autumn. Many producers will unveil new electric vehicles next week when the Frankfurt Motor Show opens.


  Passage 4

  Directions: For question 1—5, choose the most suitable paragraphs from the list A—G and fill them into the numbered boxes to form a coherent text. Paragraphs A and D have been correctly placed.

  [A] The contest has been held in anticipation of a new era of pylon building. By 2020, a quarter of the countrys current generating capacity will need replacing; the government hopes the new supply will come from renewable sources such as onshore and offshore wind farms. Todays offshore capacity is just 7% of ministers targets for the end of the decade—and all of the new generation out to sea will need to land transmission cables ashore. The existing electricity grid is in the wrong place for many of these new sources of power. That creates a paradox: trying to save the world by cutting carbon emissions means scarring particular bits of it by dragging new power lines through scenic countryside.

  [B] This is an old problem. The launch of Britains national electricity grid in 1933 was decried for desecrating the landscape. More recently, the location of wind farms has prompted similar debates. The difficulty with pylons is that they go everywhere. Scotland has had nearly five years of disputes over the planned 600pylon upgrade of a transmission line running from Beauly in the Highlands to the central belt where more electricity is used. The same clashes will now play out in England and Wales. A new planning commission was set up in 2009 to speed up the glacial pace of infrastructure decisionmaking. But weighing economic demands against beauty remains a thorny and potentially time-consuming job.

  [C] Opponents of towering pylons say the answer is to bury power lines: at present only 950km of Britains 13,000km of highvoltage cable runs underground, most of it in urban areas. But sinking wires, which means clearing a corridor 17m to 40m wide and cannot be done in all terrains, carries an environmental toll too. “You are effectively sterilising land use in the area,” says Richard Smith of National Grid; no planting, digging or building is allowed. That makes installing subsurface cables 12 to 17 times as pricey as overhead lines, according to National Grid (they also need replacing sooner). Since consumers pay for this through their electricity bills, everyone would have to fork out to protect the views and house prices of a few people.

  [D] So finding a new shape for pylons may be only one aspect of the coming power rows. But it will be a tricky one. Typically the best designs combine elegance with utility. Yet rather than being a feature in itself, the optimal pylon blends in with nature. Thats a tough task for 20 tons of steel, however impressively shaped.

  [E] The skeletal, lattice design of Britains electricity pylons has changed little since the first one was raised in 1928. Many countries have copied these “striding steel sentries”, as the poet Stephen Spender called them; more than 88,000 now march across the countrys intermittently green and pleasant land.

  [F] Now six new models are vying to replace these familiar steel towers. The finalists in a governmentsponsored competition to design a new pylon include a single shard spiking into the sky and an arced, open bow. After a winner is picked in October, National Grid, which runs the electricitytransmission network, will decide whether to construct it.

  [G] But the price of despoiling pretty scenery is hard to calculate. The risk is that the cost of damaging the landscape is ignored because it is not ascribed a monetary value, says Steve Albon, coauthor of a governmentcommissioned report on how much the natural environment contributes to Britains economy. As yet, though, no one has found an easy or accepted measure of this worth to help make decisions.


  Passage 5

  Directions: For question 1—5, choose the most suitable paragraphs from the list A—G and fill them into the numbered boxes to form a coherent text. Paragraphs C and E have been correctly placed.

  [A] Nor can it buy companies as freely as postal services in Europe, Canada or Asia have been doing for the past decade. Many European countries, as well as New Zealand and Japan, have already privatised or liberalised their postal services. Combined, foreign posts now get most of their revenue from new businesses such as retailing or banking for consumers, or warehousing and logistics for companies.

  [B] THE US Postal Service has an unofficial creed that harks back to Herodotus, who was admiring the Persian Empires stalwart messengers. Its own history is impressive too, dating to a royal license by William and Mary in 1692, and including Benjamin Franklin as a notable postmaster, both for the crownand then for the newly independent country. Ever since, the post has existed “to bind the Nation together”.

  [C] Quasiindependent since 1970, the post gets no public money. And yet it is obliged (as FedEx and UPS are not) to visit every mailbox, no matter how remote, six days a week. This has driven the average cost of each piece of mail up from 34 cents in 2006 to 41 cents. Yet the post is not allowed to raise prices (of stamps and such) willynilly; a 2006 law set formulas for that. So in effect, the post cannot control either its costs or its revenues.

  [D] So Americas post is looking for other solutions. It is planning to close post offices; up to 3,653, out of about 32,000. This month it announced plans to lay off another 120,000 workers by 2015, having already bidden adieu to some 110,000 over the past four years (for a total of about 560,000 now). It also wants to fiddle with its workers pensions and health care.

  [E] Ultimately, says Mr Donahoe, the post will have to stop delivering mail on Saturdays. Then perhaps on other days too. The post has survived new technologies before, he points out. “In 1910, we owned the most horses, by 1920 we owned the most vehicles.” But the internet just might send it the way of the pony express.

  [F] But as ever more Americans go online instead of sending paper, the volume of mail has been plummeting. The decline is steeper than even pessimists expected a decade ago, says Patrick Donahoe, the current postmastergeneral. Worse, because the post must deliver to every address in the country—about 150m, with some 1.4m additions every year—costs are simultaneously going up. As a result, the post has lost $20 billion in the last four years and expects to lose another $8 billion this fiscal year.

  [G] And although the recession made everything worse, the internet is the main culprit. As Christmas cards have gone online (and “green”), so have bills. In 2000, 5% of Americans paid utilities online. Last year 55% did, and eventually everybody will, says Mr Donahoe. Photos now go on Facebook, magazines come on iPads. Already, at least for Americans under a certain age, the post delivers only bad news or nuisances, from jury summonses to junk mail. Pleasant deliveries probably arrive by a parcel service such as UPS or FedEx.


  Passage 6

  Directions: For question 1—5, choose the most suitable paragraphs from the list A—G and fill them into the numbered boxes to form a coherent text. Paragraphs A and B have been correctly placed.

  [A] Among national newspapers, paywalls are still rare, though the New York Times and the Times of London both have them. Most wallbuilding is being done by small local outfits. “Local newspapers are more vital to their communities, and they have less competition,” explains Ken Doctor, the author of “Newsonomics”

  [B] The paywallbuilders tend to report a drop in online traffic. But not usually a steep drop, and not always an enduring one. Oklahomas Tulsa World, which started demanding subscriptions from heavy online readers in April, reports that traffic in August of this year was higher than a year earlier. One possible explanation, odd as it may sound, is that readers are still discovering its website. “We have paper subscribers who want nothing to do with the internet,” explains Robert Lorton, the Tulsa Worlds publisher. Fewer than half of the newspapers print subscribers have so far signed up for unrestricted free access to the website. Other newspapers report similar proportions.

  [C] That suggests the game is not over. The earlyadopting young abandoned print newspapers long ago. But many newspapers have a surprisingly large, if dwindling, herd of paying customers. They will milk them as hard as they can.

  [D] On October 10th the Baltimore Sun will join a fastgrowing club. The newspaper will start tracking the number of times people read its stories online; when they reach a limit of 15 a month, they will be asked to pay. Local bloggers may squawk about content wanting to be free. But perhaps not as much as they would have done a few months ago. There is a sense of inevitability about paywalls. In April 2010 PaidContent, an online publication, found 26 American local and metropolitan newspapers charging for online access. Several times that number now do so. More than 100 newspapers are using Press+, an online payment system developed in part by a former publisher of the Wall Street Journal. Media News, a newspaper group, put up two paywalls in 2010; it has erected 23 so far this year.

  [E] Why the rush? One reason is that building paywalls has become easier: Press+ and Googles One Pass will collect online subscriptions on behalf of newspapers, skimming a little off the top. The popularity of Apples iPad is another explanation. Many newspapers have created paidfor apps. There is little point doing that if a tablet user can simply read the news for free on a web browser. But the big push comes from advertising—or the lack of it.

  [F] The most ambitious architects are in Europe. Since May Slovakia has had a virtual national paywall—a single payment system that encompasses nine of the countrys biggest publications. Slovaks who want to read news online pay 2.90 ($3.90) a month, which is split between the newspapers according to a formula that accounts for where people signed up and how heavily they use each publications website. Piano Media, which built the system, plans to launch another national paywall in Europe early next year.

  [G] Jim Moroney, publisher of the Dallas Morning News, says American newspapers used to abide by an “8020” rule. That is, 80% of their revenues came from advertising and 20% came from subscriptions. Those days are over. Newspaper advertising, print and online combined, has crashed from $9.6 billion in the second quarter of 2008 to $6 billion in the second quarter of 2011, according to the Newspaper Association of America. Few believe it will ever fully recover. So the race is on to build a subscription business, both in print (cover prices are going up) and online.


  Passage 7

  Directions: For question 1—5, choose the most suitable paragraphs from the list A—G and fill them into the numbered boxes to form a coherent text. Paragraphs A and G have been correctly placed.

  [A] A GOOD unit of measurement, writes Robert Crease, must satisfy three conditions. It has to be easy to relate to, match the things it is meant to measure in scale (no point using inches to describe geographical distances) and be stable. In his new book, “World in the Balance”, Mr Crease, who teaches philosophy at Stony Brook University on Long Island and writes a column for the magazine Physics World, describes mans quest for that metrological holy grail. In the process, he shows that the story of metrology, not obvious material for a pageturner, can in the right hands make for a riveting read.

  [B] In response the metre, from the Greek metron, meaning “measure”, was ushered in, helped along by French revolutionaries, eager to replace the Bourbon toise (just under two metres) with an allnew, universal unit. The metre was to be defined as a fraction of the Paris meridian whose precise measurement was under way. Together with the kilogram, initially the mass of a decaliter of distilled water, it formed the basis of the metric system.

  [C] Successful French metrological diplomacy meant that in the ensuing decades the metric system supplanted a hotchpotch of regional units in all bar a handful of nations. Even Britain, long wedded to its imperial measures, caved in. (Americans are taking longer to persuade.) In 1875 Nature, a British magazine, hailed the metric system as “one of the greatest triumphs of modern civilisation”. Paradoxically, Mr Crease argues, it thrived in part as a consequence of British imperialism, which all but wiped out innumerable indigenous measurement systems, creating a vacuum that the new framework was able to fill.

  [D] For all its diplomatic success, though, the metre failed to live up to its original promise. Tying it to the meridian, or any other natural benchmark, proved intractable. As a result, the unit continued to be defined in explicit reference to a unique platinumiridium ingot until 1960. Only then was it recast in less fleeting terms: as a multiple of the wavelength of a particular type of light. Finally, in 1983, it was tied to a fundamental physical constant, the speed of light, becoming the distance light travels in 1/299,792,458 of a second. (The second had by then itself got a metrological makeover: no longer a 60th of a 60th of a 24th of the period of the Earths rotation, it is currently the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of a phenomenon called microwave transition in an atom of caesium133.)

  [E] The earliest known units met the first two of Mr Creases requirements well. Most were drawn from things to hand: the human body (the foot or the mile, which derives from the Latin milia passuum, or 1,000 paces) and tools (barrels, cups). Others were more abstract. The journal (from jour, French for “day”), used in medieval France, was equivalent to the area a man could plough in a day with a single ox, as was the acre in Britain or the morgen in north Germany and Holland.

  [F] But no two feet, barrels or workdays are quite the same. What was needed was “a foot, not yours or mine”. Calls for a firm standard that was not subject to fluctuations or the whim of feudal lords, grew louder in the late 17th century. They were a consequence of the beginnings of international trade and modern science. Both required greater precision to advance.

  [G] Now the kilogram, the last artefactbased unit, awaits its turn. Adding urgency is the fact the “real” kilogram, stored in a safe in the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Sèvres, near Paris, seems to be shedding weight relative to its official copies. Metrologists are busy trying to recast it in terms of Plancks constant, a formula which is deemed cosmicly inviolate, as is the speed of light (pending further findings from CERN, anyway). In his jolly book, Mr Crease is cheering them on.


  Passage 8

  Directions: For question 1—5, choose the most suitable paragraphs from the list A—G and fill them into the numbered boxes to form a coherent text. Paragraphs B and G have been correctly placed.

  [A] There are doubters, of course. The cost of electricity may rise, and some polluters may flee the state, taking jobs away. But California already has one in four of Americas solarenergy jobs and will add many more. Sun, wind, geothermal, nuclear: “We need it all,” says Terry Tamminen, who advised Mr Schwarzenegger. The state is setting up an “interesting experiment”, he thinks. “California goes one way, the United States another.”

  [B] To Europeans, Asians and Australians, this may seem nothing much. After all, the European Union already has a similar emissionstrading market, and a carbon tax is now wending its way through the Australian legislature. India have adopted versions of carbon taxes or emissions trading. But California is in America, which has taken a sharp turn in the opposite direction. Congress debated a capandtrade system in 2009, but then allowed it to die. Republicans attacked it as “capandtax”, and increasingly deny that climate change is a problem at all. Some even point to the bankruptcy of Solyndra, a Californian maker of solar panels which had received lots of federal money, as proof that renewable energy is a wasteful pinko pipedream.

  [C] But California is staying its course. Besides capandtrade, its climatechange law calls for lower exhaustpipe emissions from vehicles and cleaner appliances, and requires the states utilities to use renewable energy for onethird of the states electricity by 2020. In the Californian mainstream the controversy is not whether to do this, but how.

  [D] More complex and less elegant (but politically easier) than a simple carbon tax, a capandtrade system limits the emissions of dirty industries and puts a price on their remaining pollution so that market forces, in theroy, provide an incentive for reductions. In Californias case, starting in 2013 the government will “cap” the amount of gases (such as carbon dioxide) that industry may emit, and gradually lower that cap. It will also issue permits to companies for their carbon allowance. Firms that reduce their emissions faster than the cap decreases may sell (“trade”) their permits and make money. Firms that pollute beyond their quota must buy credits.

  [E] Jerry Brown started talking about solar power in the 1970s, when he was Californias governor for the first time. He was lampooned for it, but the vision gradually became attractive in a state that is naturally sunny and, especially along the coastline, cares about the environment. So in 2006, under a Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, California set a goal to reduce its green house gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. This year Mr Brown, governor once again, signed the last bits of that goal into law. And this month the states airquality regulators unanimously voted to adopt its most controversial but crucial component: a capandtrade system.

  [F] Some firms are building vast fields of mirrors in the Mojave desert to focus the sun onto water boilers and use the steam to spin turbines. But this also requires costly power grids to carry the electricity to the distant cities. Unexpectedly, it has also drawn the ire of some environmentalists, who love renewable energy but hate the mirrors (or wind farms) that ruin landscapes. In the Mojave they fret about a species of tortoise. Elsewhere they have gone to court for the bluntnosed leopard lizard and the giant kangaroo rat.

  [G] The progress of the other main kind of solar technology, photovoltaic (PV) solar cells, looks stronger. The price of PV panels has dropped in recent years, and there are plans to simplify the paperwork for Californians who want to put them on their own roofs, whence the electricity can be fed into the grid where it is needed. “Solar trees” are beginning to shade parking lots, their panels beautifully tilting to face the sun as it moves.










(作者:读书人网友 编辑:kind887)