A long shot?

中国日报网 2014-12-23 11:32



A long shot?Reader question:

“It was a long shot, but it was the only shot we had.” What does a “long shot” mean?

My comments:

The course of action (whatever it is) they took had little chance of success, but it was deemed the only chance they had – and so they took the action.

In other words, they took the chance even though they knew the odds were against it.

A long shot is, literally a shot from long distance. The shot can be any shot. If you shoot from a rifle, it’s a shot. If you shoot a basketball, it’s a shot. If you swing a golf club and hit the golf ball, you’ve made a shot.

Take game of golf, for example. Obviously the shorter the distance, the greater the chance you have of hitting the ball rolling into the hole in the ground.

Likewise, the greater the distance from the basket you are, the greater the chance is of your shot missing the rim. In actual shooting with a rifle, it is the same thing also – the farther you are from the target, the likelier you are to miss the mark.

Hence, when people say it’s a long shot, they just mean to say you’re unlikely to succeed.

If you win an election race by a long shot, however, you win by a large margin, leaving your opponents trailing in distance.

Conversely, if they say you won’t be able to win, and “not by a long shot”, they mean to emphasize that you won’t be able to win at all. In other words, your chance of success is even smaller than, to use a golf analogy, someone hitting a hole-in-one.


That is a really long shot, but never mind hole-in-ones for the moment. Here are media examples of “long shot”:

1. A plan to drop concrete balls into the mouth of a “mud volcano” in East Java to stem its flow should go into action next week, Indonesian scientists say.

Hot mud and gas have been spewing out of the ground since May 2006; experts warn the torrent could continue for months, if not years, to come.

But the government-approved scheme could halt the flow within two to three months, the team behind the plan says.

Other geophysicists said it was a “long shot”, but “could be worth a try”.

Dr Umar Fauzi, who developed the idea with a team at the Bandung Institute of Technology, told the BBC News website the work was due to begin on 7 February, following approval from the government and the team managing the disaster.

Engineers will drop 1,000 1.5m-long metal chains into the mouth of the mud leak. Each chain has four concrete balls suspended from it; two with a 20cm diameter and two with a 40cm diameter.

They will begin slowly, Dr Fauzi explained; perhaps dropping five to 10 chains on the first day, then slowly increasing the number until they insert up to 50 chains per day.

“We aim to lower the chains deep down into the neck of the crater,” he said. “This will not plug the volcano, but will force the mud to flow around the chain-balls, decreasing the mud’s energy and slowing its flow.”

Dr Bagus Nurhandoko, who helped develop the scheme, told Nature magazine: “It will make the mud tired. We’re killing the mud softly.”

- Concrete 'to stem Java mud flow', BBC.co.uk, February 2, 2007.

2. Three artists began a project last year to record memories of people from the city to create the interactive piece.

A glass cylinder marks a spot on the map where something good, great or life-changing happened. The higher the tube, the happier the memory.

One memory reads: “As the clock struck midnight on Millennium Square, 2010, it started to snow.”

Bring the Happy is the brain child of a group of Leeds-based artists called Invisible Flock.

In autumn 2010, a stall at Leeds Kirkgate Market, three shops, a travelling phone box and 10 city schools became the collection points for the project.

Artists Ben Eaton, Victoria Pratt and Richard Warburton said they had spoken to hundreds of people about their personal memories including babies, illicit sex, health scares and all clears, Greggs pasties, first loves, last loves, new hats and Jimmy Savile.

The cascade of memories revealed popular places for people’s happy times.

Mr Eaton said: “The two happiest places that won by a long shot were the hospitals, Leeds General Infirmary and Jimmy’s, which were because of the births.

“The market got a lot and places that don't exist anymore, so Quarry Hill flats got a lot and areas like Chapeltown got a lot because of a sense of community and a sense of happiness.”

The memories have now been translated into a production with Leeds Met Gallery and Studio Theatre, which will be shown at the Northern Ballet in Leeds.

- Map captures people’s happiest memories in Leeds, BBC.co.uk, September 29, 2011.

3. The fiscal treaty “won’t solve all of Ireland’s problems - not by a long shot,” Fine Gael referendum campaign director Simon Coveney has admitted.

But the Agriculture Minister insisted it would be a “step in the right direction” and ensure “that no future government will be able to spend the people’s money recklessly and drive this country back onto the rocks again”.

His comments came as the latest opinion poll indicated that the yes side’s lead in the campaign had narrowed ahead of the May 31 vote.

The Sunday Business Post-Red C poll showed 47% of likely voters saying they would vote yes, 35% no, and 18% undecided.

Last month, those figures stood at 49% yes, 33% no, and 18% undecided.

It means the yes side’s lead has reduced by four points in recent weeks, with a sizeable chunk of the electorate still to make up their minds.

Mr Coveney was speaking at a joint weekend press conference in Dublin with his Cabinet colleague, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, who is directing Labour’s campaign.

Ms Burton said it would be “exceptionally foolish” for people to vote no, as it would close off access to the EU’s future bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).

Yet she rejected suggestions a second bailout was now more likely for Ireland after the Department of Finance revised its 2012 economic growth projections downwards from 1.3% to 0.7%.

Asked if the growth figures meant a second bailout was now a probability rather than a possibility, she replied: “Not at all.

“Any country who’s ever left a bailout in the history of the IMF has had to do so in a structured way, and the critical thing for us is that, if we have the support of the people in relation to this treaty, we continue (to ensure that) the structured support will be available to us through the medium of the funds. So the question of how Ireland exits the bailout is obviously important, but it would have to be done in a structured way.”

- ‘Treaty won’t solve our problems — not by a long shot’, IrishExaminer.com, April 30, 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.



Nature of the beast?

Caught up in the moment?

Power play?

Brick and mortar

Capturing the imagination

Stirring the pot


(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑:Julie)

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