Look the other way

2012-05-08 14:36



Look the other way

Reader question:

Please explain “the other way” in this sentence: He had a million chances to fix this, but he looked the other way.

My comments:

In other words, he did nothing.

He could’ve done something to fix the problem, but he chose to look the other way, i.e. to turn a blind eye to the problem, pretending he does not see it.

The expression to remember here is “look the other way.”

This way, the other way. This and the other, “the other” being the opposite of “this”. Look this way, you see the center of action. Look the other way, and you won’t see what happens.

Obviously because you don’t want to see it. A beggar on the street, say, is begging passersby for a dime. Many passersby see the man and turn to look the other way. That means they don’t want to help him/her.

The action, you see, is deliberate. Therefore, the expression “looking the other way” suggests intentional negligence (in order to avoid trouble, shirt responsibility or what have you).

While collecting examples for this article, I’ve come across many headlines with someone looking the other way. “Apple Looked the Other Way for Years on Foxconn Worker Abuse” (SofePedia.com, January 26th, 2012) is one example. It means Apple chose to ignore the problem because it actually benefitted from such labor abuses – lower production costs mean higher profits.

“Greece ‘Cheated’, Germany, France looked the other way” (GoldAlert.come, May 27, 2011) is another example. This one is about Greek’s financial crisis, suggesting that Germany and France once ignored the problem.

Another one: “While properties crumbled, bankers looked the other way” (HamptonRoads.com, December 24, 2007). That’s pretty straightforward – it’s why we have since had a global economic downturn.

Yet another: “WikiLeaks: US looked the other way as Iraqis killed each other.” (IndianExpress.com, October 23, 2010). Well, WikiLeaks, it’s probably true.


Alright. Here are fuller examples:

1. In Greece, tax officials fly helicopters over residential areas to spot swimming pools of the alleged poor. In Italy, inspectors raid elite ski resorts to catch the down-and-out in their Ferraris. In Spain, taxmen snoop about homes rented to sun-seeking vacationers — then visit the owners who neglected to report the income.

Evading taxes is almost a national pastime in European nations such as Greece, Spain and Italy, and for years their governments largely looked the other way.

On Monday, the 27 nations of the EU will meet in Brussels to focus on how to boost growth and jobs. But as the southern European nations struggle with a debt crisis that threatens to overwhelm the European Union, their recently installed governments feel they must become more like their more solvent northern neighbors, where the crime of tax evasion is taken seriously.

Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal and other countries are raising taxes and clamping down on those who have found creative ways not to pay them. Many people admit they cheat, but the wealthy say they are being unfairly singled out to cover for government overspending — and people in the middle class, who have seen their household incomes crumble, are bitter about losing even more to taxes.

“In this country, (most of us) are struggling day to day in order to make ends meet,” said Argiris Eleftheriou, 76, of Athens. “The pensioners and the employed are the only ones that aren’t evading taxes. We’re paying the taxes of the rich, too.”

- Tax evaders in Greece, Spain and Italy better beware, USAToday.com, January 29, 2012.

2. Japan’s nuclear safety chief said Wednesday that the country's regulations are flawed, outdated and below global standards as he apologized for their failure to provide better protection.

Haruki Madarame admitted Japanese safety requirements such as for tsunami and power losses were too loose and many officials have looked the other way and tried to avoid changes.

“I must admit that the nuclear safety guidelines that we have issued until now have various flaws,” he said. “We’ve even said that we don’t need to consider risks for massive tsunamis and lengthy power outages.”

Madarame, who heads the Nuclear Safety Commission, was speaking at a parliament-sponsored inquiry investigating the meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi last year.

- Japan’s Nuclear Chief Admits Flawed Standards, Manufacturing.net, February 15, 2012.

3. In 2005, U.S. Senator, Frank Lautenberg, privately wrote to the FBI, in his official capacity as a lawmaker, referring a computer intrusion, copyright infringement and trade secret theft case, regarding a company in New Jersey called, Floorgraphics, which was hacked by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

The FBI looked the other way to the complaint and crimes being committed, due to bribery and their belief that major corporations can commit any crime they want with impunity. It has been confirmed in London that News International/News Corp bribed officers in the Metropolitan Police. They were not the only ones, as the FBI Director, Robert S. Mueller, took a bribe as well.

News Corp criminally broke into Floorgraphics’ computer systems to steal. They hacked, then copied the entire contents of Floorgraphics’ business computers and used the propriety, copyrighted data contained therein for financial gain in commerce.

After stealing the company’s copyrighted products and databases via hacking, News Corp, then went about destroying Floorgraphics, via a smear campaign, which included maligning the company’s executives to the public, destroying its business equipment and paying and in some cases, threatening people and companies not to do business with them. In short, News Corp had arrogantly stolen the smaller company’s business products and data and now wanted them gone.

- Senator Demands FBI Investigate Rupert Murdoch For Hacking Rival And Stealing The Contents Of Their Business Computers, JudiciaryReport.com, July 26, 2011.

4. It’s a sickness alright, but after Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse and now Whitney Houston, are we all hooked?

In America the revolving door of rehab is ghoulishly glamorous.

Think of Spears, Lohan and Sheen. Stalked by the paparazzi, their travails sensationalised in supermarket tabloids, they’re more famous for their spectacular fall from grace than their original success. Winning, right?

After the booze, drugs and sex, when stars fall apart or cross the law, there’s always the prospect of an emergency dash to a clinic or through a media gauntlet outside court.

No need to feel guilty. They have everything.

And even in decline they still get the attention they clearly crave. In the end fame is the ultimate addiction.

“Whitney Houston wanted to kill herself. Nobody takes drugs for that long if they want to stay on the planet,” Fox commentator Bill O’Reilly told his cable television audience.

Then in a column and follow-up appearance on morning television he rounded on the US media saying it had “no bleeping clue” how to cover her death.

We, the media, looked the other way on Whitney Houston, everyone knew she was a drug addict for two decades,” he declared.

Looked the other way?

US networks charting the gruesome aftermath of her death - the bathtub, the pills, the body bag, the golden hearse, the jet and the return of her body to her childhood church in Newark - were rewarded with stellar ratings.

Over the years countless words and pictures have been devoted to her inexorable slide, there was (of course) a sordid reality cable television show, the tell-all Oprah interview and harsh reviews of various erratic and croaky comeback attempts.

Bill O’Reilly says all of it only sensationalised her plight, prompting his incredulous interviewer to ask “Are journalists supposed to be in the business of conducting interventions?”

The White House Director of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske is calling her death a ‘teachable moment’. Yes, he really did use that expression.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper spent some time on air warning of the danger of mixing alcohol and prescription drugs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention one person dies from prescription drug abuse every 19 minutes in America.

- Stars in the spotlight: our addiction to fame, ABC.net.au, February 17, 2012.



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.


Heads I win, tails you lose

Ripple effect

Written all over it?

The penny has dropped

(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑陈丹妮)



















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