首页  | 专栏作家

Homing in? 归巢

中国日报网 2019-09-17 12:30

Reader question:

Please explain “homed in” in this sentence: Santana said he recognized Joyce as a regular customer who lived close to the store, but he didn’t know how police homed in on him as a suspect.

My comments:

Sounds like Santana reported a theft at his store. The police has found Joyce as a suspect, probably among others. Santana recognizes Joyce as a regular customer who also lives close by but the owner has no idea how exactly the police have narrowed their focus on Joyce.

When something like a theft happens at a store like Santana’s, the police will first try to talk to all customers or, I mean, as many as possible.

At first, the police cast a large net, so to speak, talking to all who live nearby. Then they narrow their investigation to anyone who visited the store on that particular day. It’s a lot of people, to be sure. After the initial investigation, the police begin to narrow their focus further by looking into all of these people’s criminal records, for example.

After this, they find three visitors have criminal records. Among these, two visited Santana’s store on the day of the theft. One of these two is Joyce, who as a matter of fact has actually been detained before for stealing.

That’s how, for example, the police “homed in” on Joyce as a suspect, and a prime suspect at that.

Homing in, that is, like pigeons being able to return home no matter how far they stray from their nests.

Pigeons, as well as many other migrating birds and animals, are able to do exactly like that. It’s like they have an innate GPS system which enables them to home in – return home.

To home in on something, as a phrase, is to move gradually and steadily toward that something as a target.

In other words, it’s like a shooter taking aim at a target in distance and gradually zero in on it.

Zero in?

Yeah, like finally being able to take such an accurate aim that the margin of error becomes zero.

Wait a moment, margin of error?

Well, we can only bite off so much in one mouthful, so never mind that. Let’s be sated and feel satisfied for now with having put one expression under our belt, so to speak – and that’s “homing in on” something.

Here are media examples:

1. Don’t hate yourself for wanting to be beautiful. Good-looking people get special treatment from strangers, employers and even their own mothers. The comely reap real social and economic gains in life, from broader romantic proposals to lighter punishment in criminal courts. The rest of us curse the advantages of beauty because we can never claim membership in the knockout club.

Or can we? We’re not even close to objective when it comes to judging our own looks. Other people see the whole package. But when we look in the mirror, we’re liable to zero in on the imperfections. That bump on your friend’s nose? It’s her trademark! It gives her character! But to you, that thing on your nose is downright disfiguring. Our opinion of our own looks is also capricious: We can feel like the belle of the ball at one party, but downright shabby at the next, all on the same night.

So if we can’t trust our own self-appraisal, or the reassurances of friends and family, we’re left to the cool judgment of strangers to satisfy our curiosity about our appearance. The Web site “Hot or Not,” which lets people anonymously submit their photos for others to rate on a 10-point scale, had nearly two million daily page views within a week of launching in 2000. Not exactly the best way to bolster your self-image.

The good news: You’re almost certainly hotter than you think. It’s partly a matter of limited attention—everyone else is too fixated on his or her own appearance to be critical of yours. If you are particularly attentive to your body (as women tend to be), or if you feel uncomfortable in public, you are almost definitely hotter than you think. And we all have the innate ability to change how other people perceive us, without a physical transformation of any kind. When you’re convinced you look good, others see you in a more favorable light. Call it an internal makeover: Understanding your own powerful self-perceptions can help you stop obsessing over your appearance—and look better.

Why is it that our self-judgments shift like weather on a spring day? Even a stroll down a street can change the way you think about your looks. Our brains have a built-in hot-or-not meter that never stops gathering data.

Psychologists call it the “contrast effect”: You feel prettier around ugly people and uglier around pretty people. These social comparisons happen not only when you deliberately scrutinize passersby, but constantly and automatically. In one study, people given a subliminal glimpse of an attractive female face subsequently rated themselves as less attractive than those who saw a homely one, though no one remembered having seen the images at all. Our self-concepts are built on thousands of these comparisons.

“I’m five feet tall and I’m curvy. I feel good about how I look,” says Deanna Melluso, a New York City-based makeup artist who dolls up models for magazine shoots and runway shows. “But when I’m around tall, thin women all day, I start to feel fat. As soon as I walk outside, I feel normal again—I see that I've been in a fake world.”


The easiest way to influence how others view you is to demonstrate that you like them, say Ann Demarais and Valerie White, psychologists and authors of First Impressions: What You Don’t Know About How Others See You. If you express interest in what others say, or smile and lightly touch their arm, they will likely feel flattered, comfortable around you and even more attracted to you. A person who finds you likeable will probably never notice your imperfections—besides, no one is as interested in your bald head or fleshy thighs as you are. Demarais and White tell of a client who suffered from the “spotlight illusion”—he imagined that people were homing in on his crooked teeth, which were his least favorite feature. Realizing that other people didn't really care about his teeth was freeing. “He experimented with smiling broadly when he met new people,” they write. “When no one reacted in horror, and in fact responded positively, he began to feel at ease with his smile. When he seemed more comfortable in his own skin, he became more appealing to others.”

Most of us have had the mysterious experience of watching a loved one become increasingly beautiful with time, as the relationship grows deeper. Imagine that generous gaze is upon you all the time, and you’ll soon see a better reflection in others' eyes. You may not be able to turn off your inner hot-or-not meter, but you can spend less time fretting in the mirror and more time engaging with the world.

- The Beguiling Truth About Beauty, PsychologyToday.com, May 1, 2006.

2. House Democrats are homing in on one rich area of inquiry that the special counsel’s office appears to have primarily steered clear of: the finances of Donald Trump and his businesses.

In particular, they are gearing up to figure out why the German financial giant Deutsche Bank lent the Trump Organization a lifeline of hundreds of millions of dollars when almost every other major bank deemed it too risky. Deutsche Bank has been the subject of investigations around Russian money laundering schemes, and Trump reported owing Deutsche Bank at least $130 million in his last financial disclosure filing.

The House Financial Services and Intelligence panels have been hiring staff with the expertise to delve into these areas, and Democrats say it’s a line of inquiry that Robert Mueller doesn’t appear to have exhausted by any means. In fact, when news first surfaced last year that Mueller had subpoenaed records from Deutsche Bank, Trump had a meltdown and Mueller took the rare step of denying the reporting.

“There’s a heightened need to look into anything that could compromise the president or the country, particularly if it’s not being investigated elsewhere,” House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff told Politico.

Democrats’ renewed focus on the Trump Organization’s relationship with Deutsche Bank comes during a week when Trump’s former fixer/lawyer Michael Cohen is set to testify before three House panels—two behind closed doors, and one public hearing with the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. If there’s one thing Cohen would be familiar with, it’s the signing of any bank documents related to the Trump Organization. That may or may not be a topic of inquiry at Cohen’s public hearing, depending on whether public disclosure of such information will impinge on other investigations being conducted by Mueller or other House panels.

- House Democrats head straight for Trump’s ‘red line’—his finances, DailyKos.com, February 26, 2019.

3. A seldom-studied class of immune cells may reduce the friendly fire that drives autoimmune disease, according to a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Stimulating these protective cells could lead to new therapies for diseases in which the immune system attacks the body's own tissues, such as multiple sclerosis and celiac disease.

In the study, to be published Aug. 7 in Nature, researchers tracked immune cells in the blood of mice with a disease akin to multiple sclerosis. They discovered a rise in CD8 T cells, typically known for killing infected or cancerous cells. To their surprise, injecting mice with peptides recognized by these CD8 T cells reduced disease severity and killed disease-causing immune cells.

While the bulk of the study was done in mice, the researchers also showed that one of their central findings—an increase in CD8 T cells derived from single cells—held true in cells from people with multiple sclerosis.

The findings suggest that inflammatory and suppressive immune cells balance each other like children on a seesaw. Selectively activating suppressive CD8 T cells during autoimmune disease may help restore that balance, said Mark Davis, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and immunology and the study’s senior author.

“We absolutely think that something like this is happening in human autoimmune diseases. It represents a mechanism that nobody's really appreciated. There’s this whole subset of CD8 T cells that has a suppressive function,” said Davis, who holds the Burt and Marion Avery Family Professorship and is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. “If we could mobilize those cells to function more effectively in patients with autoimmunity, then we’d have a novel treatment for diseases like multiple sclerosis.”


To determine whether their mouse observations held up in humans, the researchers isolated CD8 T cells from the blood of people with multiple sclerosis and healthy donors. They found that people with the disease tended to have large populations of identical CD8 T cells—just like in mice with the analogous disease. It’s a sign that CD8 T cells in multiple sclerosis are homing in on something, and Davis’ team is now working to determine what these cells are recognizing and if some of them are suppressive.

The researchers also plan to test if suppressor CD8 T cells are involved in other autoimmune diseases. Previous findings from the Davis lab suggest that a similar mechanism may be at work in celiac disease. These efforts have the potential to shed new light on how autoimmune diseases work and to uncover new therapeutic targets.

“Crowdsourcing T cells is a fundamentally different way to look at disease,” Davis said. “This project shows not only the power of this approach but the power to discover new mechanisms.”

- Forgotten immune cells protective in mouse model of multiple sclerosis, MedicalXpress.com, August 7, 2019.


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)


Standard bearer? 旗手


Drain the swamp 清除弊病源头


Rubbing elbows? 接触


Soft sell? 软式推销


Over the rainbow 彩虹之上


Pushing buttons 情绪按钮