Getting too close to the sun?

中国日报网 2018-03-16 11:36



Getting too close to the sun?Reader question:

Please explain this sentence: Stock market investors are getting too close to the sun.

My comments:

This means investors are taking too much risk buying high-flying shares – and in doing so, may get burned.

Get burned, that is, like Icarus, the Greek legend.

In Greek mythology, you see, Icarus flew too close to the sun and lost his wings in consequence.

Well, he lost his wings because they were made with feathers and wax.

Well, the gist of this well-known story is as follows: In order to enhance the powers of Icarus, his father builds Icarus a pair of large wings made from bird feathers stuck together with wax. This enables Icarus to fly high, far and wide. However, Icarus is warned against flying too high – or too low, for that matter. If he flies too high, whereby getting too close to the sun, the wax linking the feathers may melt; on the other hand, if he flies too low, whereby getting too close to the sea, the dampness and vapor from the sea will wet his wings and make them too heavy to lift.

The upshot?

Icarus eventually grows complacent and reckless on the strength of his new-found powers and does fly too close to the sun and does lose his wings. In the end, he falls into the sea where he drowns.

In our example, we can safely infer that the said stock market investors are getting giddy after some considerable initial gains and are now buying like crazy and in consequence pushing share prices into frightfully exorbitant heights.

And since what goes up comes down, the higher the climb the harder the downfall, analysts are warning against such recklessness – warning that some frantic investors may, like Icarus, get burned – get burned and lose everything, with the truly hapless perhaps losing everything including their shirt and trousers.

Anyways, any time you see someone described as flying too close to the sun, you may infer that he or she is being reckless and rash, driven hubris or arrogance.

Perhaps they shouldn’t feel so good about themselves. Perhaps, they should exercise restraint and take greater precautions at all times – lest they put themselves in harm’s way.

Take better care, in short. After all, danger, like the sun above and the see below, is lurking everywhere.

All right, here are a few recent media examples of people flying too close to the sun – and paying the price in various and sundry ways:

1. There will never be another Bulldog. If that wasn’t clear already, it is now.

So much for the idea that Orel Hershiser’s place in Dodgers history would be diminished when the franchise made its long-awaited return to the World Series.

If anything, the opposite has happened. The well-rounded strength of these Dodgers has served as a reminder of what their predecessors 29 years ago were lacking, of the incredible heights Hershiser had to reach to make them champions in 1988.

Instead of being reduced to historical footnotes, his accomplishments are more awe-inspiring than they have ever been. The starts on abbreviated rest. The complete games. The absolute dominance.

Hershiser, 59, feels uncomfortable about this kind of talk.

“This is these guys’ time,” he said.

Now an analyst for Dodgers-owned SportsNet LA, Hershiser went as far to downplay the superhuman nature of his magical postseason.

“The game has completely changed,” he said.

Has it ever. Bullpens back then weren’t constructed to cover the last four innings of a game as they are now.

Hershiser shouldered the kind of workload that would be unimaginable today. His manager, Tommy Lasorda, would be under fire for abusing his arm.

When he pitched a record 59 consecutive scoreless innings during the regular season, the streak covered seven games in which he pitched nine or more innings — six complete games, plus 10 innings of a 16-inning game.

He maintained a similar workload in the postseason. He pitched four times in the National League Championship Series against the New York Mets. He started Game 1 and returned for Game 3 on three days’ rest. He pitched in relief the next day, recording the final out of Game 4. Four days later, he started Game 7 and delivered a shutout.

His next two starts were also on three days’ rest, Games 2 and 5 of the World Series against the Oakland Athletics. He pitched nine innings in both games.

The historic season made Hershiser a legend in Los Angeles, elevating him to a status bestowed upon the likes of Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Fernando Valenzuela. But Hershiser also paid a price for flying too close to the sun. Only four games into the 1990 season, a torn labrum was discovered in his shoulder. He underwent reconstructive surgery. He pitched 10 more seasons but was never the same.

It was worth it, he said.

“You know when you don’t regret it?” he said. “When you win. You probably do regret it when you lose.”

He laughed.

Did he ever think of how many more all-star appearances he could have made if the Dodgers had taken care of him the way they do their pitchers now?

“Not even once,” he said. “Not even a thought. Everybody has their time, everybody has their culture, their circumstances.”

- Dodgers’ berth in World Series enhances Orel Hershiser's legacy,, October 22, 2017.

2. A snow shower had left Washington speckled in white. Steve Bannon, known for his shabby dress code, entered the five-star Hay-Adams hotel, a short walk from the White House, and delivered a speech to what one observer later dismissively called “swamp denizens”.

Despite a recent falling out that made headlines around the world, the former White House chief strategist repeatedly praised Donald Trump and spoke of “the everyman” in America who believes “the world is stacked against them”. He received a warm response and engaged in a back-and-forth with questioners. He did not act like a man on political death row.

But soon on that frigid Tuesday afternoon, it would be announced that Bannon was on his way out of Breitbart News, which he once called the platform for the so-called alt-right, a group including neo-Nazis, white supremacists and antisemites that espouses tougher immigration laws and trade deals. It was the final blow after a head-spinning week. He had been excommunicated by the president, the White House, his billionaire patron and now his own company.

“The guy loves history,” the website Axios noted. “Well, this political suicide is historic. Bannon still thinks of himself as a revolutionary. That self-perception won’t change. It’s just that now he has no vehicle, no staff, no platform, and no major donors funding his ambitions.”

A giant of the populist base that helped propel Trump to victory has been toppled, raising questions about the movement he left behind. Is the alt-right leaderless and destined for irrelevance? Is it a “movement” at all? Has the establishment all but won the Republican civil war?

By the week’s end, one thing was certain. Trump, meeting senators to discuss immigration, reportedly asked in reference to Haiti, El Salvador and African countries: “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” It confirmed every suspicion and every fear about where his instincts lie. Bannon may be gone but the biggest nativist of all is still in the Oval Office.

It was a year ago that Trump succeeded Barack Obama as president. His inaugural address went down in the first draft of history for two phrases: “America First” and “American carnage”. Both were reportedly the work of Bannon and Stephen Miller, who is still White House senior policy adviser.

Having led the Trump campaign in its final months, and kept faith in the candidate when others were ready desert him, Bannon seemed an all-powerful consigliere. Soon he was adorning magazine covers and there were whispers of “President Bannon”. He had, it transpired, flown too close to the sun; he was ousted from the National Security Council and marginalised. By August, having lost a power struggle with Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, he was out.

- How Bannon turned on Trump … and where the nationalist right goes next,, January 13, 2018.

3. It was inevitable, as prices of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies rose too fast.

Like Icarus, the optimists and true believers got too close to the sun. The rate of gains exceeded even the Dutch Tulip Mania of the 17th century. With wings scorched, bitcoin prices fell more than 50% from their mid-December highs, hitting a low near $9,200 on Coindesk on Wednesday morning in the worst pullback since 2015, before rebounding above $10,000. Others have suffered worse: Ripple dropped 72%.

The Winklevoss twins are no longer billionaires, with each losing about $443 million in wealth over the past month. Others are figuring out that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to buy bitcoins with credit cards, a practice that became popular enough that Capital One blocked such behavior by its users.

The reasons for the pullback are well known: Lingering fears of a regulatory crackdown in South Korea, one of bitcoin’s hottest markets, where officials are threatening to close crypto exchanges after limiting their options in an effort to combat money laundering and concerns about over speculation.

Steven Maijoor, chairman of the European Securities and Markets Authority, also said in an interview with Bloomberg TV in Hong Kong that investors “should be prepared to lose all their money” in bitcoin.

- Can bitcoin recover from its bloodbath?, January 17, 2018.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at He 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.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)

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