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The devil is in the details 细节决定成败

中国日报网 2019-04-23 14:16

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Reader question:

Please explain this sentence: For this recipe to work, the devil is in the details.


My comments:

This means, to paraphrase, that if you want to make a good meal by following this recipe, you must pay attention to every detail, i.e. following its directions to a T.

We often hear the good cook say, for instance, that timing is all-important. For example, you should put the vegetables in after the oil in the wok is 80 percent hot, or that you should add a morsel of salt just before it’s done, or that you should keep a meat soup on a small fire to gently stew for three hours, etc., etc.

But exactly how hot is 80 percent hot? How much salt is a morsel? How small should a small fire be anyway?

Exactly. The top chef of course will say you’ll get it eventually, all in good time, via time and experience, through trial and error, blah blah blah.

And he’ll say that it is the details that determine whether you succeed or fail as a chef.

In other words, the devil is in the details.

The devil is Satan, the chief spirit of evil in Christianity. The devil is here to do evil and wreak havoc to all your good plans and conscientious endeavors.

And he’s in the details, meaning he’s really everywhere, hidden in the finest details, details so small and tiny that they are not easily detectable.

The take away?

Pay attention to details, lest a small mistake turn into a major problem or difficulty and mess up the whole thing.

All right? Okay, here are media examples of the devil lying in various details:


1. The Miami Heat begin their season tonight at home against the Charlotte Hornets. This marks the starting point of Dwyane Wade’s 13th NBA season, and he’ll honor that moment by breaking out the Li-Ning Way of Wade 4 “Lucky 13” edition.

With the “Lucky 13” WoW 4 the devil is certainly in the details. The shoe’s tongue highlights 13 lightning bolts to represent his 13 seasons, and three of the lightning bolts are adorned in gold to represent the three championship runs. The last bolt is grayed out, to signify this season and Wade’s continued championship aspirations.

D Wade will lace up in the shoe tonight for his home opener.

- Dwyane Wade Will Lace up in the Li-Ning Way of Wade 4 “Lucky 13” Tonight, NiceKicks.com, October 28, 2015.


2. Jane Sanders is calling out her husband’s opponent Hillary Clinton for echoing “Bernie’s” platform as his campaign adjusts its strategy with all eyes on the California primary in early June.

Speaking to RT America’s Ed Shultz, the former university president remarked how Clinton sounds just like the Vermont Senator when asked about the former Secretary of State’s “almost startling” speech.

“The talking points are exactly Bernie’s talking points and we’ve known for the last year that she’s moved much further to the left, in terms of campaign rhetoric,” Jane Sanders said.

Her sentiments were mirrored by public intellectual Noam Chomsky who told Democracy Now (DN) that Sanders has “pressed the mainstream Democrats a little bit towards the progressive side – you see that in Clinton’s statements.”

However, Jane Sanders says “the devil is in the details” and there are “very strong differences” on every one of those talking points, “if you read the small print”.

- Clinton’s Talking Points ‘Exactly Bernie’s’, But ‘Devil Is In Detail’ – Jane Sanders, RINF.com, April 28, 2016.


3. “You gotta do this. You gotta call Rod...”

It was 17 June 2017. Donald Trump was on the phone, urging Don McGahn, the White House counsel, to turn the screw on the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein.

“Call Rod, tell Rod that [Robert] Mueller has conflicts and can’t be the special counsel,” Trump said, in a second call that day. “Mueller has to go … Call me back when you do it.”

If the tone of these secret conversations, revealed in Mueller’s long-awaited report this week, remind you of Tony Soprano – the amoral, brooding, charismatic, philandering, thuggish crime boss in the eponymous TV drama – ordering a hit on one his enemies, you are not alone.

Over 448 pages, Mueller does not present Trump as a traitor but does portray him as a serial liar willing to abuse power, shred norms and bend the rule of law in a White House rotten to the core. Amid this culture of malfeasance and mendacity, trusted lieutenants are expected to demonstrate absolute loyalty, up to and including obstructing justice to save the president’s skin.

“He conducts himself like a New Jersey mob boss who is unconcerned about asking the people around him to conduct unethical or legally challenging behaviour,” said Kurt Bardella, former spokesperson and senior adviser for the House oversight and government reform committee. “Truth and accuracy just don’t factor into his thought process at all.

“The demands for loyalty and fealty are like an organised crime network. Instead of the John Gotti family, it’s the Trump family and his solders are the Republican members of Congress who protect him.”

After two years that transfixed Washington, Mueller’s redacted report outlined 11 episodes in which Trump or his campaign organisation tried to have the special counsel fired, limit the scope of his investigation or interfere in other ways. But it did not recommend charges, nor find a criminal conspiracy with Russia to help Trump win the 2016 election, though it listed plenty of contacts.

The president was quick to claim vindication and rail against the media, while his House counselor, Kellyanne Conway, declared it was “really the best day since he got elected”. But Mueller state pointedly that “while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him”, potentially offering Congress a roadmap to impeachment.

The devil was in details surely enough to end the career of almost any other politician. Many had been previously reported – a testament to dogged journalism – which probably reduced their shock value and worked to Trump’s benefit. But they also gave the clearest picture yet of the character of the man in the Oval Office.

Almost a year ago, the comedian Bill Maher told his HBO viewers: “People call this presidency a reality show. It’s more like a Scorsese movie. Everything Trump does is modeled on the mob. When he was accused of sexual harassment, he brought in Bill Clinton’s accusers to sit in the gallery at the debate, just like Michael Corleone brought Frank Pentangeli’s brother into court [in The Godfather Part II] …

“He’s so much like a Don that his name is literally Don.”

- Teflon Don: how Trump the mafia boss fought the law … and won, The Guardian.com, April 21, 2019.

本文仅代表作者本人观点,与本网立场无关。欢迎大家讨论学术问题,尊重他人,禁止人身攻击和发布一切违反国家现行法律法规的内容。

About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)

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