Throwing them a bone?

中国日报网 2013-08-06 14:29



Throwing them a bone?Reader question:

Please explain “throwing them a bone” in these passages (Why your boss smiling at you is bad news,, October 15, 2012):

The researchers believe that people who feel powerful try to exert their dominance by not appearing too friendly to those who might be a threat. They have no such qualms about appearing approachable to those who lack authority.

“Our interpretation of this is that when you are feeling powerful and see a low-status person, you are almost throwing them a bone, thinking ‘Oh, I should smile at this person because I’m better than them’,” said researcher Evan Carr.

My comments:

I’ve written about someone throwing a bone before (on January 13, 2012) but this is such a good question that I don’t mind doing it again.

OK, people throw a bone to a hungry dog, so there.

A bone is something for the dog to chew on, but there’s really not a lot of meat on it. And so even though the bone-throwing is a generous act, the generosity is limited.

So it is with people throwing other people a bone. It shows kindness and generosity but perhaps one shouldn’t read much into it – in the same way the dog cannot get much out of a meatless bone.

In other words, the bone is a consolation but perhaps little consolation after all, when all is said and done.

Anyways, throwing people a bone is an idiom that’s inspired from observing people’s treatment of dogs.

If you see condescension on the part of the thrower, you are of course absolutely right.

In the dog-eat-dog (sorry) business world, bosses are the big dogs (again sorry about the analogy). They’re like the dog owners. They’re masters. Subordinates are the weak ones. Bosses do the condescending act of throwing you a bone – by smiling back at them – because, as researchers find out, they are not afraid of you.

A bit of psychology here and quite understandable it is too, especially when considered at the subconscious level.

Hence the researchers conclude that being smiled back by the boss isn’t necessarily such a wonderful thing – your smiling face only reminds them one more time who is boss. They are and they’re in control.

In other words, the boss’s smiling face isn’t as heartwarming as it may seem, just in the same way the hungry dog will discover soon after that there is little meat to eat off of a bone. All the bone serves to do is whetting the dog’s appetite and perhaps makes it even more hungry and miserable.

Call the boss’s smile cold comfort then.

Alright, here are more media examples of “throwing a bone”:

1. From the outside it’s hard to spot the difference between the iPhone 4S and its predecessor the iPhone 4. But tear it apart, and there’s a huge difference – for one, there’s less Intel inside.

Research firm IHS iSuppli took the new phone apart and found that chips made by Infineon, whose wireless operations Intel bought last year, have been bounced out of the 4S in favor of a new set of chips from Qualcomm Inc.

Infineon had previously supplied Apple with a chip known as a baseband processor that helps connect the phone to wireless networks. Infineon still has a small chip in the iPhone, but Mr. Rassweiler said it’s far less significant, and a lot less costly, than the one it supplied Apple before.

“It’s almost like Apple threw them a bone with a 50-cent part after they lost a much more high-profile chip that cost about $10,” he said.

- What’s inside the iPhone 4S?, October 20, 2011.

2. With a vote on its acquisition of MetroPCS imminent, T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom is trying to mollify angry shareholders by throwing them a bone. It’s offered to reduce the debt the new company will carry, reduce the interest rate on the debt, and triple the amount of time it must hold onto the new stock before it can sell it.

Despite having passed all the necessary regulatory hurdles, the merger is in danger of falling apart as major shareholders and institutional services alike say the deal is not favorable to MetroPCS stockholders.

While there’s been a war of words going on between the major participants, T-Mobile’s CEO certainly won himself no fans after calling hedge fund operator John Paulson “greedy.” Particularly after Institutional Shareholder Services came out blasting the deal as well, backing the contention of Paulson and P. Schoenfeld Asset Management that because T-Mobile has so underwhelmed the markets, MetroPCS shareholders need to be better compensated for the risk of turning control over to Deutsche Telekom.

Under the original proposal, MetroPCS shareholders would be paid about $4.09 a share and receive a 26% stake in the new company.

With the merger unraveling, DT decided it needed to salve the wounds it created. It offered to reduce the debt burden of the combined company by $3.8 billion and said it would cut the interest rate it charged by half a percentage point. Additionally, it would increase from six months to 18 months the amount of time it would have to hang onto the new company’s stock, but the rest of the terms apparently will remain unchanged.

While the original deal was scheduled to be voted on by MetroPCS shareholders tomorrow, that has now been pushed back to April 24 to give more time to review the deal. And while not giving any indication of which way it would fall on the new offer, at least the asset management firm has said it appreciated the olive branch.

- T-Mobile Throws MetroPCS Shareholders a Bone,, April 11, 2013.

3. In my daily conversations with ordinary people, I’ve discovered that many don’t know how much a billion or a trillion dollars is. It means the same thing to them as a gazillion. So they don’t begin to understand the stimulus package that is promising to inject $789 billion into the economy, nor what kind of impact it is supposed to have.

To put the Obama administration’s stimulus package into practical terms, we can compare the current debt-based economy to a noose that is choking us. The current theory assumes that if you lengthen the rope, then we will land on our feet before we hang. But for that to work you have to know how deep the fall is. The experts admit they are clueless as to where the bottom is.

Just like in the noose, the knot is the problem, not the length of the rope. The problem of the world wide economy is that it is debt-based, not equity-based. So the question is, how do we untie the knot and turn the rope into a lifeline, to pull us out of the current situation?

The answer surprisingly came out of a statement that Alan Greenspan, the former Fed chairman, made in London last month which didn't even get a headline in the news. He said that it is time to nationalize the banks in the free world. In his old age, he is finally learning to speak the truth.

The problem with the current economic system is that it has been trying to defy logic and mathematics for the past 94 years, ever since the formation of the Federal Reserve Bank in 1914. You cannot create paper money out of nothing and expect to get more than what was printed. The Feds have lowered the prime lending rate to 0.25%, but that won’t work.

To solve the problem with the current structure we must turn the bankers into distribution channels for money. The first step is to nationalize the Feds, and have the country issue its own money, like President Kennedy did in 1963. The country must lend it to the bankers at a discount like 80 cents on the dollar, and banks must then lend it to people at like 85 cents on the dollar. Then tie the lending to practical needs and ideas, and not real estate or credit scores. So as simple as the solution is, what are the obstacles to its implementation?

The obstacle is the fact that the mega rich owners of the Fed are the same owners of most of the Fortune 500 companies and have been so integrated with the global economy, and are so invested in the old interest system of financial slavery, that they keep flexing their muscles and showing how they can lay off millions of people and bring the world wide economy to its knees. They could care less that people are getting divorced over finances and families are broken and their homes stolen routinely through foreclosures.

So let us get down to the truth about our dire economic state. The truth is that we’ve been duped. They have created a false material world, where we are led to believe that the more we hoard of the worthless paper we call money – which they print out of nothing but ink and paper, the better off we are. So everybody’s goal is to get rich by any means. We’re selling drugs to each other, running financial schemes, swindling each other, robbing each other, suing each other, killing each other… Yet no matter how much we hoard of that worthless paper, we never feel secure. It doesn’t guarantee us against old age or sickness or mudslides or earthquakes or hurricanes or tornadoes or losing it all. And it has an insatiable appetite; the more we have, the more we want. We spend our lives chasing it, worrying about it, losing sleep over it, and at the end we depart and take nothing of it with us.

All the while the true riches are those we already possess. They’re totally opposite the material world. In the material world, the more you give the less you have. While with the true treasures, the more you give the more you have and it costs us nothing to give. So what are they? Love, kindness, friendship, happiness, loyalty, dignity, integrity, mercy, forgiveness, hope, liberty, freedom, honesty, knowledge, wisdom and all the values that make life worth living. Life is not worth a hill of beans without them.

It is apparent that the debt-based economy has been leading us to the abyss, destroying our lives and robbing us of our humanity and sanity, and we need to turn it around 180 degrees. We need to turn money into a tool to serve humanity, something that facilitates the exchange of goods from the manufacturers to the consumers, while helping us restore the ecological balance on our globe that has been destroyed because of it. Who decided that a tree is worth more dead, as a piece of wood, than alive, producing oxygen?

It is time to ask the hardcore questions. How did we get here, and is there a peaceful way out? The end of economic inequality and injustice has historically come through violent ends and revolutions, because those who are invested and benefiting from the old system don’t, and won’t, give up the power peacefully.

Our current world wide economic failure can be blamed on a few controlling families who belong to secret societies and believe that the rest of us are worthless, hopeless, unemployed waiting for handouts in unemployment benefits or worthless jobs below slavery wages. They exist and subsist on our blood and sweat. The truth is small business is the real backbone of this country’s economy and they’re the only ones creating value and jobs that can’t be exported. Small business accounted for more than 90% of the new job creations, yet they’re getting the least attention. The Obama administration threw them a bone of $15 billion in SBA loan guarantees, but that is way below the scope of what is needed.

- The false hope of a long rope, By Nafeh AbuNab,, April 24, 2009.

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Jack of all trades?

Penny wise, pound foolish?

Let nature take its course

Pick their poison?

Go to Zhang Xin's column


About the author:

Zhang Xin(张欣) has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at:, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

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