首页  | 专栏作家

Flipping the switch? 按动开关

中国日报网 2023-05-05 12:20


Reader question:

Please explain this sentence, particularly “flipped the switch”: The Lakers flipped the switch at the trade deadline and became the best defensive team in the league.

My comments:

What happened was, well, back in the day, at the beginning of the 2022-23 season, in November (it does seem like a long time ago), the Lakers were 2-10.

That’s right, two wins out of twelve games played.

The way things looked, the Lakers were doomed. They were no good.

Then, at the trade deadline (the date after which teams are not allowed to trade players), they flipped the switch and got a few new players (D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, Rui Hachimura, to name a few) and all of a sudden, the Lakers were good again.

The long and short of it is, they are, right now, leading defending champion Golden State Warriors 1-0 in their best-of-seven Western Conference Semifinals.

To the non-NBA, non-Lakers, non-basketball fans, suffice it to say that the Lakers’ turned their season around and that turnaround was swift and quick, like, at the flip of the switch.

Which brings us to the phrase in question, flipping the switch. This expression very probably comes from the act of turning on and off the light switch. In a dark room, you flip the light switch and the room is illuminated. You flips the light switch again, the room goes dark.

Hence, and therefore, metaphorically speaking, when people describe a sudden change to a situation, they say it happens at the flip of the switch.

In our example, the Lakers made big changes after the trade deadline, all of a sudden becoming a great defensive team, able to stop people from scoring against them. Right now, they’re the best defensive team in the league.

Hence the remark that the Lakers flipped the switch. The change was huge and significant, not to mention swift, which it was, swift and unexpected.

Let’s read a few more media examples of situations where people flip the switch to bring about big changes, usually for the better:

1. It was heartbreaking and frightening for residents of Utah County, Utah in July 1976 when two young Mormon men were shot dead in back-to-back robberies.

But the killer, Gary Gilmore, was captured within hours. He made a confession and a key witness was found. While tragic, it seemed as if the two crimes would have a quick resolution, journalist Tom Haraldsen tells A&E True Crime.

“We had no idea what this was going to become,” explains Haraldsen, who reported on Gilmore’s murder spree and trial at the time for the Daily Herald newspaper in Provo.

That October, Gilmore was convicted and sentenced to death. The 35-year-old, an abused child who spent much of his life in prison, not only accepted his fate – he chose to die by firing squad.

The decision made Gilmore the first person to be executed in the United States since the Supreme Court struck down the death penalty in 1972.

Gilmore became an international celebrity, scorning attempts to spare his life.

On January 17, 1977, while protestors rallied outside Utah State Prison, Gilmore was strapped into a chair. Behind a screen, five men raised their rifles. “Let’s do it,” he said.

“My father was the first person I ever wanted to murder,” Gilmore said, according to Shot in the Heart, a memoir by his youngest brother Mikal Gilmore.

Their father Frank Gilmore, an alcoholic who sold ads for magazines, frequently uprooted the family. Unpredictable and violent, he used a razor strap to beat Gary and Frank Jr., the two eldest of four sons.

“He’d keep swinging and swinging and swinging and Gary kept yelling and crying and begging him to stop, which would only make Dad hit him harder,” Frank Jr. recounted in the book.

The abuse set Gilmore, a talented artist with a high IQ, on a self-destructive path, according to Mikal. In his teens, Gilmore risked his life racing freight trains and stole cars for kicks.

At age 15, Gilmore was sent to a tough reform school. He emerged a year later “fully committed to living a criminal’s destiny,” Mikal said.


Defense attorney Michael Esplin first met Gilmore in a jail cell shortly after the murders. “He still had a bandage on his hand. He was not a very good criminal,” Esplin tells A&E True Crime. “He shot himself with his own gun and left a trail of blood, and he did it in front of a star witness [who was a motel guest].”

Gilmore made it clear he didn’t want a trial, Esplin recalls. “He said, ‘I want to plead guilty.’”

Esplin and a colleague explained, “‘they’re not going to just allow you to just plead guilty. This has consequences beyond just your case.’”

Eventually, Gilmore “flipped the switch,” on his original plan, Esplin says.

“He liked to go to court. He liked being the center of attention. He thought it was a way to get his girlfriend back. He saw this trial as a way to at least have some contact with her.”

When Baker was sitting near him, Gilmore “would turn around, making goo-goo eyes and blowing kisses,” Esplin remembers.

When Gilmore went on the stand against legal advice, “the county attorney eviscerated him,” Esplin says. Instead of evoking sympathy, Gilmore was curt, unemotional and gave “no explanation” for his actions.

On October 7, 1976, Gilmore was convicted and sentenced him to death. Given a choice of hanging or the firing squad, he said, “I’d rather be shot.”

- Why Did Gary Gilmore Choose to Be Executed by Firing Squad? AETV.com, December 9, 2021.

2. One of the curious things about the recent revolt by far-right House Republicans is that it was led by some of the party’s Trumpiest figures, yet they were essentially insisting that Congress return to the time before Donald Trump. The Republican-rebel demands – that their leaders stage shutdowns and debt-ceiling threats in the service of bug-eyed hysteria over the budget deficit – “harken back to the tea-party era,” noted Politico. Before the symbol of the right became guys in red hats warning that immigrants and the deep state were destroying the country, it was guys in tricorne hats warning that the stimulus and Obamacare were destroying the country. And now they are back.

When Trump won the nomination in 2016, it was widely believed that the Republican Party’s ideological character had changed in some fundamental way. “His surprising election marked a replacement of the GOP’s free-market conservatism” – exemplified by Paul Ryan – “with a more populist, big-government conservatism,” noted budget hawk Brian Riedl a few years ago, bemoaning the “final nail in the tea-party coffin.” Seeing the nails pop out and the coffin spring back open might seem terribly confusing. What happened to the party’s great philosophical evolution?

The answer is that the Republican philosophy never changed at all. What changed were its circumstances. When Republicans last held the presidency, they happily slashed taxes, jacked up spending, and enjoyed the proceeds of a roaring economy. When they lost the presidency, they decided the budget deficit posed an existential threat. They have been toggling between these two extreme positions for four decades now, and many people still haven’t quite picked up on the pattern. It is when they take one or both chambers of Congress that Republicans see their best opportunity to force the spending cuts they don’t wish to take responsibility for when they have full control of government. That is why now, after two years of cycling through various culture-war panics and complaining idly about inflation, the party has zeroed in on demands to slash the welfare state.

From the end of World War II until the 1980s, the federal government ran smallish deficits. Ronald Reagan changed all that. Reagan cut taxes and increased defense spending, promising the tax cuts would create enough economic growth to erase the lost revenue. (They didn’t.) When Bill Clinton assumed office, Republicans began treating the deficit as a crisis, even shutting down the government in a bid to compel the Democratic president to adopt the Republican program of social-spending cuts.

When George W. Bush succeeded Clinton, the Republican obsession with deficits disappeared, replaced by a Reagan-like binge of more tax cuts and defense spending, sending the deficit skyrocketing again. Republicans thought it was all fine. Vice-President Dick Cheney famously explained, “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.” They mattered again, of course, when Barack Obama came into office and Republicans returned to apocalyptic warnings about fiscal insolvency. Then when Trump came along, Republicans happily cut taxes again and spent money on both defense and economic relief. When pressed about the fiscal impact, Trump reportedly waxed Cheney-esque: “Who the hell cares about the budget? We’re going to have a country.” Now that the Democrats are back in power, Republicans have naturally flipped the switch from “Who the hell cares” to “We’re all going to die.”

- Why post-Trump Republicans are pivoting to a pre-Trump world, MYMag.com, January 13, 2023.

3. Are you carrying some extra weight and need some inspiration to make a change? Meet Cole Prochaska, the South Carolinian who lost a whopping 336 pounds (152 kgs) and posted an incredible before-and-after photo of his transformation. The internet was quick to applaud his amazing effort, proving that social media can occasionally spread love instead of hate.

It’s very hard to share a shirtless picture but I’ve come so far. Over 336lbs down! Most didn't believe in me but I believed in myself. Thanks for the inspiration bros @Cernovich @BowTiedOx @AJA_Cortes @Derek_Fitness @dookiebutter100 @bowtiedwhitebat @bowtiedbrazil @BowtiedCuda pic.twitter.com/M7atqHZayW

- Cole Prochaska Weight loss & Health (@3to1fitnesspro) April 23, 2023

In a rare show of interest on the internet, Cole’s tweet received a staggering 70k likes, 5000 comments, and nearly 4,000 reposts. One curious commenter asked the question on everyone’s mind: “Congrats! I wonder what happened that finally flipped the switch in you?” To which Cole replied with some real talk: “Honestly, it was a 7-year relationship coming to an end. I was trying to save it. I did not, but I saved myself instead.” Now, if that doesn’t give you goosebumps, you might want to check your pulse.

According to Cole, he weighed in at a whopping 600 lbs (270 kgs) two years ago before deciding to “take his life back.” He’s now down to roughly 225 pounds and shared his three-step plan to help others get started: “Focus only on things you can control, join a gym, work your way up to at least 10k steps a day.” So, what are you waiting for? Lace-up those shoes and start taking steps towards a healthier you.

- Man’s Incredible 336 Pound Weight Loss Breaks the Internet with Inspiring Results, ManOfMany.com, April 28, 2023.


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.

(作者:张欣  编辑:丹妮)


All in? 押上全部


As dialed in as anyone? 专心致志

中国日报网 英语点津微信
中国日报网 双语小程序