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The other side of the coin?

中国日报网 2013-03-08 11:34


Reader question:

Please explain “the other side of the coin”, as this sentence: “If I’m wrong,” he said, “I’m more than happy to be corrected and shown the other side of the coin.”

My comments:

The other side of the coin refers to the other side of the story, reality. It represents, in fact, the opposite view.

In our example, the speaker is willing to be shown the other side of the coin, i.e. to be told of what he does not see and that’s always a good quality to have if you are the kind of people who argue a lot.

Here the speaker suspects that his views are one-sided and is happy to be told the opposite view points.

Or the other side of the coin, as he says. This saying, a cliché due to overuse, is based on the fact that there are two sides to every coin, the front side and the flip side or back side.

Everything has two sides to it, as a matter of fact even though this is something that’s not always easy to see or even fathom.

One’s own hand, for instance has the front and the back.

A mountain, too, has two sides. If one side is sunny, the other is shady. If one side is seen, the other is hidden.

The view is hidden alright, but it’s there.

Minority view points, for another example, are not always propagated on air – in television, on the radio or via the Internet – but minorities do exist. They’re there. That’s why we often use the other side of the coin, the hidden or less observed side to emphasize this very fact.

It is an important fact to be reminded of, too.

If you are asked, say, to mediate between two quarrelling neighbors, it is obviously best for you to listen to what both sides have to say. If you listen to only one person, ignoring the other, you won’t be able to help solve the dispute. In all likelihood, you may further agitate the other party and make matters worse.

Quarrelling neighbors. On second thought I think I may have picked a poor example. Quarrelling neighbors are in fact a rarity in the city these days. Neighbors, you see, are so busy with their own work and lives that they don’t meet at all. Not that they hate each other but that they just don’t congregate, as folks do in the country. They may go full weeks and months without seeing each other, let alone meeting face to face or throwing a tantrum at each other.

Oh, well, for better or worse.

Call it the flip side of modern life.

Alright, you’ve got the point. Let’s examine a few media examples of “the other side of the coin”, meaning, again, the hidden side of the view, often the opposite of what is readily seen:

1. What do you see when you think of national parks and protected areas around the globe?

Do you see poverty?

Although poverty is generally not the first image that comes to mind when one thinks of national parks and protected areas, it does exist.

“Protected areas and national parks can be and are extremely beneficial for communities and ecosystems,” said Dr. Grant Murray, Canada Research Chair at Vancouver Island University for Coastal Resource Management, “but there’s always the other side of the coin.

“The creation and management of protected areas and parks can involve costs for communities, including those associated with development and tourism growth. Tax increases and higher costs of living for residents as well as increased social problems, loss of cultural traditions and unemployment are some of the negative impacts. Locals who live near or adjacent to protected areas or national parks can also lose access to important resources they once enjoyed, such as fishing or hunting rights, and experience an increase in dangerous interactions with wildlife.

“Perhaps more importantly, is the difference between who benefits from national parks and protected areas and who pays the costs,” said Murray. “In some cases, protected areas can help alleviate poverty, but in other cases they make it worse.”

Murray is the principal investigator for the Canada-Africa Research Alliance, an international group of scientific researchers working on a five-year study called the Protected Areas and Poverty Reduction project (PAPR). They are exploring ways to reduce rural poverty and increase environmental sustainability in communities adjacent to national parks and protected areas in Canada, Ghana and Tanzania.

“In Canada, our study area is the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations Tribal Parks in Tofino,” he explained. “International research sites include several areas in Tanzania and two in Ghana.”

VIU has launched a speaker series to begin discussions on some of the key issues around poverty, national parks and protected areas. The first free public lecture featuring speakers Rick Searle (EKOS Communications, Inc.) and Bob Hansen (Wildlife-Human Conflict Specialist) takes place on Thursday, March 18. A second lecture by Eli Enns (Tla-o-qui-aht Nation Building Program) and Dan McDonald (First Nations Studies at VIU) is scheduled for April 1.

“The goal of these sessions to inform the public and the VIU community about the Canada-Africa Research Alliance and the work we’re doing,” said Murray. “We encourage people to express their ideas, ask questions and share their experiences. It’s also an opportunity for our guest speakers to get feedback from our community about what they are doing in communities close to national parks and protected areas.”

Murray said millions of people visit the Pacific Rim area every year and “therefore should care deeply about some of the issues facing communities like Tofino, Ucluelet and smaller First Nations villages.

- Free lectures address issues of poverty near protected areas and parks, VIU.ca, March 10, 2010.

2. Gary Shteyngart, 40, is a Jewish American writer who was born in St Petersburg. His third novel, Super Sad True Love Story, was published last year.

On the night Obama was elected we were at a party in Williamsburg, one of the hipster neighbourhoods of New York. This apartment overlooked a highway bringing trucks into the city and all these trucks were also honking in celebration of Obama's victory. The licence plates were Iowa and Idaho and these were big tough guys, and that surprised me more than anything else that night.

It felt glorious because at the heart of America’s dysfunction has always been the deep state of slavery and its aftermath. It never fully went away, and Obama did so much to change that for us. Even a decade ago we couldn't have imagined an African-American in the White House. It made us, after eight years of Bush, happy and hopeful again.

Since he was elected, I’ve learned that Obama is smart, well-read, a brilliant individual, but I’ve learned that sometimes that is not enough. That’s the sad part. America is declining, as all empires do. I grew up in the Soviet Union, and I see certain parallels with the US. The xenophobia goes up, the flags get bigger, there’s all this bullshit patriotism. I was driving through Ohio recently and I saw a flag as big as a building flying over a Hyundai car dealership. A flag like that doesn’t say, “I’m proud to be an American”; it says, “I’m scared of the future”.

What would the difference be between an Obama presidency and a McCain presidency, if he had won? I think that Obama has managed the situation as skilfully as possible: he has saved us from a much worse decline. He has revived the auto industry, kept America from a Greek- or Spanish-style swoon. Healthcare is very important – it’s beyond understanding how a country of this might, of this wealth, could deny its citizens the very basics of healthcare. It’s not a perfect solution but his reform is going to be seen as a major achievement.

One thing Obama’s hopefully learned is that this idea that he came in with, bipartisanship, is not going to work. What you have in the Tea Party is basically an insurgency. You have people who want America to fail, who want an American government to disappear. It’s a revolutionary group by any other name. You can't negotiate with these people: you have to outflank them every which way you can.

The other side of the coin, and a lot of people don’t want to talk about it for obvious reasons, is that it is a racist movement. These people cannot deal with the fact that there is a black person in the Oval Office. It doesn't matter what he does – he could decide tomorrow to cut the deficit, bolster the military and take away Medicare and welfare, and they would still hate him. He came in very idealistically, and I think if he wins the second term there's going to be none of that. I hope that it’s a good win on his part and I hope he takes his mandate and really does something with it.

- Gary Shteyngart on Obama: ‘Bipartisanship is not going to work’, interviewed by Killian Fox, Guardian.co.uk, October 14, 2012.

3. Carolina Milanesi, smartphones and tablets analyst at the research company Gartner, says: “Interestingly this [distraction element] is the first thing I thought of – not that Glass was giving you something that phones cannot give you, in terms of sharing or accessing content, but that they do it without letting others realise you are doing anything. In other words, with the phone, if I am taking a picture, the person I am focusing on will likely notice me; with Glass they do not.”

Despite her line of work, Milanesi is concerned about whether we get too deeply involved with our technology, to the exclusion of the real people around us. She has a different restaurant concern from Yee’s. In June 2011, she pointed out how smartphones change us: “Look around a restaurant or coffee bar at how many people, couples even, are sitting across from each other and they're both looking down at their mobiles.”

Glass might change that for the better – though would you appear to be looking at each other, while really intent on your email or a video? Topolsky, who used Glass for some days, said: “It brought something new into view (both literally and figuratively) that has tremendous value and potential … the more I used Glass the more it made sense to me; the more I wanted it.”

He loved how text messages or phone calls would just appear as alerts, and he could deal with them without taking his phone out of his pocket to see who was calling. Walking and need directions? They’re in view. “In the city, Glass makes you feel more powerful, better equipped, and definitely less diverted,” he said. But, he added, “It might not be that great at a dinner party, or on a date, or watching a movie.”

Hurst comments, “Your one-on-one conversation with someone wearing Google Glass is likely to be annoying, because you’ll suspect that you don't have their undivided attention. And you can’t comfortably ask them to take off the glasses (especially when, as it inevitably will be, the device is integrated into prescription lenses). Finally – and here’s where the problems really start – you don’t know if they’re taking a video of you.”

Stokes points out that we’re already seeing body language change as smartphones – with their glowing screens – become more pervasive: the hunched walk that 10 years ago marked out a financial whiz with a BlackBerry is now seen on every pavement.

“I think there will be a pushback,” Stokes says. “Maybe you’ll have to have a lens cover to show you're not filming.” He points out though that the present model seems to require voice control – “OK, Glass, shoot video” – and that this might discourage some users in public. “I’ve been watching for people using Siri [Apple’s voice-driven iPhone control]. I just don’t see people using it in public places. Maybe it’s too gadgety.”

“People will have to work out what the new normal is,” says Stokes. “I do wonder whether speaking and gesturing might be essentially banned in public.”

“At home my husband already jokes about me checking into [location service] Foursquare from the piece of carpet I am standing on,” Milanesi says. “How much more will we have of this now that it is made so simple for us? And the other side of the coin: how much are we going to share with others, and at what point will we have a backlash? When will it all be too much?”

- Google Glass: is it a threat to our privacy? The Guardian, March 6, 2013.




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 will roll?

It is a fine line

That would be stretching it

Large shoes to fill?

Career hits a bump?

(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑:陈丹妮)



Obama hit with friendly fire


Career hits a bump?


Large shoes to fill?


That would be stretching it


It is a fine line


Heads will roll?

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