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False dawn

[ 2010-11-12 15:34]     字号 [] [] []  
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False dawn

Reader question:

Please explain “false dawn”, as in this: UK recovery is “false dawn”

My comments:

False dawn refers to the faint light in the early morning night sky, which gives people hope that the sun is rising and the day, after a long night, is come.

But only false hope.

In the example from the top, when UK recovery is described as a “false dawn”, the British economy is showing signs of recovery, but these are only sporadic and temporary. A full recovery across the board, i.e. in every area of the economy is not yet seen.

In other words, stagnation will continue for some time.

Back to definitions. False dawn is a natural phenomenon. The faint light in the early morning night sky is caused by sunlight scattered by space dust.

This light is usually seen about an hour before sunrise – even though it’s so faint that it’s visible only on a moonless night – hence giving rise to the figurative expression false dawn, a promising sign that comes to nothing.

In other words, false dawn represents premature hope that you’re seeing light at the end of the tunnel.

In plain words, you think that the worst is over, or that you’re finally experiencing success after a period of difficulties.

But not yet – The proverbial sunrise is not coming yet, as the real sun is not going to be seen on the horizon for about another hour.

The moral? Don’t take temporary, fleeting success so seriously. In other words, don’t take your foot off the pedal just yet.

Still in other words, keep plugging away, before you accomplish anything of substance.

Real success, that is.

Alright, here are recent media examples:

1. Switzerland limped out of the World Cup on Friday after a campaign that began with shock and promise but ultimately ended with a team crippled by unusually high expectations.

A surprise 1-0 victory over European champions and Group H rivals Spain seemed the perfect way to begin a World Cup campaign and a place in the last 16 suddenly looked attainable with games against Chile and minnows Honduras to come.

In reality, it was a false dawn. Ottmar Hitzfeld’s Swiss side had defended astutely against Spain but their unlikely winner was a lucky sucker punch that rose their country’s ambitions way beyond the squad’s means.

A disappointing 1-0 defeat to Chile, in which a distinct lack of firepower became an increasing hindrance to the side, followed with critics calling for a more attacking approach to satisfy the needs of fans still sniffing a second round spot.

On Friday, the Swiss needed a victory by two goals to ensure their progression in the tournament and they had the best possible opportunity to do it against a Honduras side without a point or goal from their first two matches.

It was not to be. With captain and record scorer Alex Frei on the bench, the 28,042 fans at Bloemfontein’s Free State stadium saw a 0-0 stalemate in which an improved Honduras often outplayed a nervous Swiss side bereft of ideas.

“We had great ambitions for this match. It was too much of a burden for them and it got more during the game,” Hitzfeld told reporters after the result saw Spain and Chile advance from the group.

“We were lucky Honduras failed to finish their counter-attack properly,” he added.

Swiss media were baffled by their team’s tournament slide.

For Hitzfeld, who led both Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich to Champions League success as well as winning seven Bundesliga titles in his coaching career, the slump was a bitter pill to swallow.

“We are very disappointed, not just me, the players, everybody,” Hitzfeld said. “We failed to deliver because we had too much pressure. We had to score twice.”

Drawing was no doubt a disappointment but with only one goal scored in three matches and another not looking likely against Chile or Honduras, the Swiss team can have no complaints with their early exit.

- Spain win proves false dawn for departing Swiss, Reuters, June 26, 2010.

2. Nevertheless, Mukherjee shows judicious skepticism in considering the long history of unfulfilled oncological promises. As a former head of the National Cancer Institute once said, “Human beings seem to have this endless ability to think they are at the end of history.” Mukherjee doesn’t think anything remotely like that. So how are we now doing in combating cancer? His answer is a qualified “better.” He knows that many of his colleagues have concluded that “we are losing the war on cancer”; that therapeutic progress against some forms of cancer is matched by mounting mortality rates in others; and that thousands of symptom-free people have to be screened—with attendant uncertainties, costs, and risks—to prevent even one death. Yet Mukherjee allows himself to hope, and recognizes that some form of hope is, and has to be, negotiated between the physician and the patient.

And Carla? She’s fine. Five years after Mukherjee confirmed her first remission, he drives to her house, bringing her flowers and good news. Her latest bone-marrow biopsy is negative. Oncologists are sparing with the word, but she has his permission to count herself as cured: five years in total remission is as good as good news gets.

Basic cancer science, Mukherjee believes, has revealed not another false dawn but a light at the end of the historical tunnel. We now see a way out of the “cell-kill paradigm” and toward the development and deployment of highly targeted, nontoxic chemical therapies based on genetic science. The much touted anti-leukemia drug Gleevec here appears as the hero of modern, genetics-based cancer therapy, a “rationally designed” drug specifically directed against a known cancer gene. In development since the late eighties, Gleevec has been stunningly successful against a form of blood cancer called chronic myeloid leukemia (C.M.L.), achieving such deep remissions that oncologists talk of a “pre-Gleevec era” and a “post-Gleevec era,” and tell patients that they can look forward to “their functional life span”—on the condition that they take Gleevec “for the rest of their lives.” C.M.L. is just one, not very common, type of cancer, but, as one oncologist said, “It proves a principle. It justifies an approach.”

- Cancer World: The making of a modern disease, NewYorker.com, November 8, 2010.



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.


Maverick views?

Long haul?

Bed of roses?

Fine tuning?

(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑陈丹妮)