Popular Culture Critical Reading Practice Exercises Set 1 (page 2)
Popular Culture Critical Reading
Questions 1–3 are based on the following passage.
The following selection is about the invention of the compact disc, and explains how it works.
Compact discs (CDs), which may be found in over 25 million American homes, not to mention backpacks and automobiles, first entered popular culture in the 1980s. But their history goes back to the 1960s, when an inventor named James Russell decided to create an alternative to his scratched and warped phonograph records—a system that could record, store, and replay music without ever wearing out.
The result was the compact disc (CD). Made from 1.2 mm of polycarbonate plastic, the disc is coated with a much thinner aluminum layer that is then protected with a film of lacquer. The lacquer layer can be printed with a label. CDs are typically 120 mm in diameter, and can store about 74 minutes of music. There are also discs that can store 80, 90, 99, and 100 minutes of music, but they are not as compatible with various stereos and computers as the 74–minute size.
The information on a standard CD is contained on the polycarbonate layer, as a single spiral track of pits, starting at the inside of the disk and circling its way to the outside. This information is read by shining light from a 780 nm wavelength semiconductor laser through the bottom of the polycarbonate layer. The light from the laser follows the spiral track of pits, and is then reflected off either the pit or the aluminum layer. Because the CD is read through the bottom of the disc, each pit looks like a bump to the laser.
Information is read as the laser moves over the bumps (where no light will be reflected) and the areas that have no bumps, also known as land (where the laser light will be reflected off the aluminum). The changes in reflectivity are interpreted by a part of the compact disc player known as the detector. It is the job of the detector to convert the information collected by the laser into the music that was originally recorded onto the disc. This invention brought 22 patents to James Russell, who today says he working on an even better system for recording and playing back music.
- According to the passage, why did James Russell invent the CD?
- He was tired of turning over his records to hear both sides.
- He wanted to record more music on a new format.
- He wanted a purer, more durable sound than he could get from vinyl records.
- He was interested in getting patents.
- He wanted to work with lasers.
- What would happen if the detector on a CD player malfunctioned?
- The spiral track would not be read properly.
- The pits and land would look like one unit.
- The changes in reflectivity would be absorbed back into the laser.
- The music would play backwards.
- The information read by the laser would not be converted into music.
- Paragraph 3, lines 14–21, explains all of the following EXCEPT
- how the information on a CD is read.
- why semiconductor lasers were invented.
- where information is stored on a CD.
- what pits and bumps are.
- the purpose of the aluminum layer of a CD.
Questions 4–6 are based on the following passage.
The selection that follows is about the current state of the modeling industry.
The beginning of the twenty-first century has been called the end of the supermodel era by fashion magazines, trend watchers, and news organizations around the world. The models are being replaced, so the theory goes, with actors. Check the covers of fashion magazines, and you will find that many on any given month feature an actor, rather than a model. But, as with most trends, this is nothing new.
From its beginnings in the 1920s, the modeling industry has provided beautiful people to help sell everything from magazines to computers to vacation destinations. John Robert Powers, who opened the first modeling agency in 1923, was a former actor who hired his actor friends to model for magazine advertisements. Cary Grant, Lucille Ball, and Princess Grace of Monaco were clients. However, for many models simply being "great-looking" was where their resumés began and ended. The height of popularity for them was in the 1980s and 1990s, the era of the supermodel. A handful of "perfect" women commanded salaries of up to $25,000 a day to walk catwalks at fashion shows, appear in print ads, and pose their way through commercials. They were celebrities, treated with all of the lavish attention usually paid to heads of state or rock stars.
But that was in the supermodel heyday. As designers and magazine editors began to favor more exotic and more "real" looking models, the modeling handful grew into an army. The demand for the perfectlooking select few dropped, and women who had quirky smiles, a few extra pounds, spiky hair, or were past their twenties, gained favor. This group was joined by those who achieved success in some other venue, such as music (think Renee Fleming raving about a watch), sports (Tiger Woods happily devouring his Wheaties®), and acting (Danny Glover waxing rhapsodic over MCI). Iconic fashion designer Calvin Klein summed it up: "I don't think that people are that interested in models anymore. It's not a great moment for the modeling industry. It says a lot about our society and I think it's good."
- According to the passage, the author believes that
- today's fashion models are not as perfect looking as were the supermodels.
- people still respond to perfection in advertising.
- today's fashion models are thinner than those in the past.
- to be a model, one must be taller than average.
- in the 1980s, models were paid more than they are today.
- The phrase in lines 13 and 14, "great-looking" was where their resumes began and ended, is
- a description of the models' work experience.
- meant to be taken literally.
- meant to be taken figuratively.
- a truthful statement.
- an example of pathos.
- Waxing rhapsodic (line 28) most nearly means
- orchestrating a positive statement.
- becoming musical.
- burning a candle for.
- making overtures.
- becoming enthusiastic.
Questions 7–9 are based on the following passage.
This selection introduces the Computer Museum of America, and details an important item in its collection.
Wondering what to do with that old Atari Home Video Game in the attic? It's on the wish list of the Computer Museum of America, in San Diego, California, which hopes you will donate it to their holdings. The Museum was founded in 1983 to amass and preserve historic computer equipment such as calculators, card punches, and typewriters, and now owns one of the world's largest collections. In addition, it has archives of computer-related magazines, manuals, and books that are available to students, authors, researchers, and others for historical research.
One item currently on display is a 1920s comptometer, advertised as "The Machine Gun of the Office." The comptometer was first sneered at by accountants and bookkeepers, many of whom could add four columns of numbers in their heads. The new machine was the first that could do the work faster than humans. The comptometer gained a large following, and its operation became a formal profession that required serious training. But by the 1970s, computers took over, and comptometers, and the job of operating them, became obsolete.
- All of the following are probably part of the collection of the Computer Museum of America EXCEPT
- adding machines.
- old computers.
- operation manuals for calculators.
- card punch machines.
- kitchen scales.
- In line 12, the author used the words sneered at to show
- a negative image of accountants.
- what accountants and bookkeepers looked like.
- the negative reaction to the comptometer.
- the precursor of the comptometer operator.
- how fast accountants and bookkeepers could add.
- What term paper topic could probably be researched at the Computer Museum of America?
- Alexander Graham Bell's contributions to American society
- IBM's contribution to the development of the modern computer
- more than just paintings: the museums of California
- the rise and fall of the comptometer operator
- why video games are harmful to our nation's youth
Questions 10–l17 are based on the following passage.
The following selection explains the origins and development of the modern shopping mall.
Today's shopping mall has as its antecedents historical marketplaces, such as Greek agoras, European piazzas, and Asian bazaars. The purpose of these sites, as with the shopping mall, is both economic and social. People go not only to buy and sell wares, but also to be seen, catch up on news, and be part of the human drama. Both the marketplace and its descendant the mall might also contain restaurants, banks, theaters, and professional offices.
The mall is also the product of the creation of suburbs. Although villages outside of cities have existed since antiquity, it was the technological and transportation advances of the 19th century that gave rise to a conscious exodus of the population away from crowded, industrialized cities toward quieter, more rural towns. Since the suburbs typically have no centralized marketplace, shopping centers or malls were designed to fill the needs of the changing community, providing retail stores and services to an increasing suburban population.
The shopping mall differs from its ancient counterparts in a number of important ways. While piazzas and bazaars were open-air venues, the modern mall is usually enclosed. Since the suburbs are spread out geographically, shoppers drive to the mall, which means that parking areas must be an integral part of a mall's design. Ancient marketplaces were often set up in public spaces, but shopping malls are designed, built, and maintained by a separate management firm as a unit. The first shopping mall was built by J. C. Nichols in 1922 near Kansas City, Missouri. The Country Club Plaza was designed to be an automobile-centered plaza, as its patrons drove their own cars to it, rather than take mass transportation as was often the case for city shoppers. It was constructed according to a unified plan, rather than as a random group of stores. Nichols' company owned and operated the mall, leasing space to a variety of tenants.
The first enclosed mall was the Galleria Vittoria Emanuele in Milan, Italy in 1865–77. Inspired by its design, Victor Gruen took the shopping and dining experience of the Galleria to a new level when he created the Southdale Center Mall in 1956. Located in a suburb of Minneapolis, it was intended to be a substitute for the traditional city center. The 95- acre, two-level structure had a constant climate-controlled temperature of 72 degrees, and included shops, restaurants, a school, a post office, and a skating rink. Works of art, decorative lighting, fountains, tropical plants, and flowers were placed throughout the mall. Southdale afforded people the opportunity to experience the pleasures of urban life while protected from the harsh Minnesota weather.
In the 1980s, giant megamalls were developed. While Canada has had the distinction of being home to the largest of the megamalls for over twenty years, that honor will soon go to Dubai, where the Mall of Arabia is being completed at a cost of over five billion U.S. dollars. The 5.3 million square foot West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada, opened in 1981, with over 800 stores, 110 eating establishments, a hotel, an amusement park, a miniature-golf course, a church, a zoo, and a 438-foot-long lake. Often referred to as the "eighth wonder of the world," the West Edmonton Mall is the number-one tourist attraction in the area, and will soon be expanded to include more retail space, including a facility for sports, trade shows, and conventions.
The largest enclosed megamall in the United States is Bloomington, Minneapolis's Mall of America, which employs over 12,000 people. It has over five hundred retail stores, an amusement park which includes an indoor roller coaster, a walk-through aquarium, a college, and a wedding chapel. The mall contributes over one billion dollars each year to the economy of the state of Minnesota. Its owners have proposed numerous expansion projects, but have been hampered by safety concerns due to the mall's proximity to an airport.
- The statement that people went to marketplaces to be part of the human drama (line 5) suggests that people
- prefer to shop anonymously.
- like to act on stage rather than shop.
- seem to be more emotional in groups.
- like to be in community, interacting with one another.
- prefer to be entertained rather than shop for necessities.
- In line 1, antecedents most nearly means
- role models.
- All of the following questions can be explicitly answered on the basis of the passage EXCEPT
- Who designed the Southdale Center Mall in Minnesota?
- Why was the Country Club Plaza automobile-centered?
- What are three examples of historical marketplaces?
- Where is the Galleria Vittoria Emanuele?
- What is the Edmonton Mall often referred to as?
- How was the Country Club Plaza different from an urban shopping district?
- It consisted of many more stores.
- It was built by one company that leased space and oversaw operations.
- c. It was enclosed.
- It had both retail stores and restaurants, and offered areas for community programs.
- It was based on an Italian design.
- According to the passage, how did Southdale expand the notion of the shopping mall?
- It added an amusement park.
- It was unheated.
- It was the first to rise above two stories.
- It was designed with more parking spaces than any previous shopping mall.
- It was intended to be a substitute for the traditional city center.
- According to paragraph 5, which is the only activity visitors to the West Edmonton Mall cannot enjoy?
- staying in a hotel
- gambling in a casino
- visiting animals in a zoo
- playing miniature golf
- riding an amusement park ride
- When the author states in lines 38 and 39 that Southdale afforded people the opportunity to experience the pleasures of urban life she means that
- they could perform necessary and leisurely activities in one location.
- they could have a greater variety of retailers to choose from.
- they could see more artwork and botanicals than they would in a city.
- they could be entertained as they would be in a city.
- they could have taller buildings in their landscape.
- What is NOT a probable reason for the proposed expansion of the Mall of America?
- so it can contribute more to the economy of its state
- to keep it closer in size to the other megamalls
- so it can employ more people
- to attract more tourists
- to compete for visitors with the Mall of Arabia
- c. The answer may be found in lines 4 and 5, which state that Russell wanted an alternative to his scratched and warped phonograph records. You may infer that the problem with such records was their poor sound quality.
- e. Lines 26–27 state that the detector's function is to convert data collected by the laser into music.
- b. While the paragraph explains the function of semiconductor lasers in reading the information on CDs, it does not say anything about why they were invented.
- a. Evidence may be found in lines 23–24, which state that today's models are quirkier and less perfect than the supermodels.
- c. A resumé is literally the summary of one's job experience, education, and skills. The author is saying that there is nothing one can say about these models except that they look great; their figurative resumé has only one item on it. Being great-looking isn't work experience (choice a), one would not literally list "great-looking" alone on a resume (choices b and d), and pathos is a feeling of pity or sorrow (choice e).
- e. To wax means to become, and rhapsodic means excessively enthusiastic. Although rhapsodic can also mean like a musical composition of irregular form, this definition does not fit with the rest of the sentence.
- e. Lines 5–7 mention calculators (adding machines), computers, card punches, and manuals. The only item not mentioned is kitchen scales.
- c. A sneer is a facial expression that signals contempt or scorn. Accountants and bookkeepers didn't like the comptometer, because as lines 13–14 explain, it performed their job faster than they could.
- b. The Museum has a collection of computer-related magazines, manuals, and books (line 7). They would not contain information on the inventor of the telephone (choice a), other museums in California (choice c), the profession of comptometer operation (choice d), or why video games are harmful (choice e). Since IBM played, and continues to play, an important role in the development of computers and computer-related technology, it could most likely be researched at the Museum.
- d. Lines 4–5 explain that there was a social component to a trip to the marketplace. To be social means to be around others, suggesting that people sought out interaction with one another.
- c. The prefix ante- means earlier, as does pre-. Additional context clues may be found in the first paragraph, which explains the similarities between historical marketplaces (those of long ago), and the malls of today, and in line 6, which states the mall is a descendant of the marketplace.
- a. This information is not given in the passage.
- b. The answer is in lines 27–29: It was constructed according to a unified plan, rather than as a random group of stores. Nichols' company owned and operated the mall, leasing space to a variety of tenants.
- e. Lines 31–34 explain that Gruen took the shopping mall to the next level by intending it to take the place of a city center, with leisure and entertainment opportunities as well as shopping and dining.
- b. All of the other choices are mentioned in lines 46–48.
- a. Lines 36–38 list some of Southdale's offerings, such as shops, restaurants, a school, a post office, a skating rink, works of art, and fountains. These are also available in a city, and may be considered among the pleasures of urban life.
- e. All of the other choices were mentioned in the last two paragraphs as positive impacts of megamalls. However it is unlikely that a mall in Minnesota would be in direct competition for visitors with a Mall located on the other side of the world.
For more practice on popular culture critical reading questions, review:
- Popular Culture Critical Reading Practice Exercises Set 1 You are here
- Popular Culture Critical Reading Practice Exercises Set 2
- Popular Culture Critical Reading Practice Exercises Set 3
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