Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.
I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:
We answer a question about rivers …
Play some music by My Brightest Diamond …
And report about a new time change in the United States.
Daylight Savings Time
This Sunday, March eleventh, most Americans will set their clocks ahead one hour. They will begin daylight saving time earlier this year. Faith Lapidus explains.
Each spring, most people in the United States move their clocks ahead one hour because of what is called daylight saving time. The only states that do not are Hawaii and most of Arizona.
Daylight saving time provides another hour of daylight in the evening. Its chief purpose is to save energy by reducing the use of electricity for lighting. Many countries first used daylight saving time during war time. Britain and the United States used it during World War One. The United States also used it during World War Two.
After the war, many American states established some kind of daylight saving time. But this became confusing. So, in nineteen sixty-six, Congress established daylight saving time for the nation. It began the last Sunday in April and ended the last Sunday in October. In the nineteen seventies, that period was extended as a result of a fuel shortage in the United States.
In nineteen eighty-six, new legislation changed the start of daylight saving time to the first Sunday in April. It still ended on the last Sunday in October. Americans continued to set their clocks one hour ahead in the spring and one hour back in the fall. They remembered to do this with the expression: "Spring ahead and fall back."
Two years ago, Congress passed a law to lengthen daylight saving time by four weeks to save even more energy. That is why the time change will now begin on the second Sunday in March and end on the first Sunday in November.
Some businesses tried to stop the legislation. That is because computer systems used by banks, airlines and other businesses must be changed to recognize the new start date for daylight saving time. Any device that has an internal clock could be a problem and must be changed. Most internal clocks in computing devices are set for the old daylight time change.
Many companies have been working to reset electronic mail devices, personal computers and information-center computers. Most of Europe starts daylight saving time on March twenty-fifth. But most of Asia, Africa and South America do not observe daylight saving time at all.
Our listener question this week comes from Bangladesh. Shamim Ahmed Sonju asks about famous American rivers. An environmental group called American Rivers works to protect and restore natural rivers in the United States.
American Rivers reports that there are more than two hundred fifty thousand rivers in the United States. Combined, they flow for more than five and one-half million kilometers.
The largest and most famous river in the United States is the Mississippi. It starts near the northern border of the United States and flows through the center of the country for more than three thousand seven hundred kilometers. About two hundred fifty smaller rivers flow into the Mississippi. The mouth of the Mississippi empties into the Gulf of Mexico. At that point, more than sixteen million liters of water flow every second.
However, the Missouri River is the longest river in the United States. It flows for about four thousand kilometers. It begins in the Rocky Mountains of North America. It flows along the borders of seven states before it empties into the Mississippi River near the city of Saint Louis, Missouri.
Three rivers that join together in the north central state of Montana form the Missouri River. The water is clear there. But, as it moves east and south, the Missouri River turns brown as it collects huge amounts of dirt from the land. That is why many people call the Missouri River “The Big Muddy.”
Some people say the Columbia River in the northwest is the most beautiful river in America. It flows from the Canadian province of British Columbia into the United States through the state of Washington. The Columbia River is the largest river that empties into the Pacific Ocean.
Another famous river is the Rio Grande. It is the longest river in the state of Texas. It forms the border between Texas and Mexico.
Finally, American Rivers says that the oldest river in the United States is the New River. It begins in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina and flows north through parts of Virginia and West Virginia. The New River also may be the second oldest in the world. It is funny how something so old can be called new.
My Brightest Diamond
My Brightest Diamond is a music group based in New York City. Shara Worden is the voice and songwriter behind the band. Her unusual music combines the spirit of experimental rock with classical music. The richly descriptive songs on their album, “Bring Me the Workhorse,” are filled with color and feeling. Barbara Klein has more.
That was the song “Dragonfly.” It tells about a trapped insect that asks Shara Worden to fly away with her. Many songs on this album have very creative and sometimes unexpected subjects.
It might not surprise you that Shara Worden first trained as a classical opera singer. She has a very clear and controlled voice. Her parents were both musicians and always supported her study of music. Worden studied opera music in college before moving to New York City.
Shara Worden mixes music from the past and present. She still studies classical music. But she says she likes making popular music that is beautiful and pleasing to the senses.
Here is the sad, slow, love song “Gone Away.” It shows another side to Shara Worden’s emotional and powerful voice.
My Brightest Diamond recently traveled around Europe and America playing with Sufjan Stevens, a musician we told about in November. But Shara Worden has also been working on other projects. She has written an album called “A Thousand Sharks Teeth” which will come out next year. She says it has less rock and more of a dreamy, unearthly sound.
We leave you with the energetic beat of “Golden Star.”
I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.
It was written by Dana Demange, Jill Moss and Nancy Steinbach. Caty Weaver was our producer. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.
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