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Elbow room? 活动空间

中国日报网 2023-07-14 11:33


Reader question:

Please explain this sentence: He said he needs elbow room and space to develop his ideas.

My comments:

He needs to be given a little freedom, in other words, in order to develop his ideas.

He has a lot of ideas, apparently, but isn’t allowed to further explore them freely. People around him are bothering him constantly. His parents, for example, are not supportive. They think his ideas are naïve or wild or just silly. They want him to concentrate on schoolwork and having good grades.

He believes if they are more supportive or if they just leave him alone, he may bring some of his ideas to fruition.

That’s what he means when he said he needs more elbow room.

Elbow room?

Literally, that’s space in which to raise one’s elbows without hitting someone else.

Apparently, when one can’t lift their elbows without hitting someone else in the rib, they’re in a very crowded place, such as inside a sports stadium, at a pop song concert or in an amusement park.

Without elbow room, there’s no space for any activity other than folding one’s arms over one’s chest.

Hence, figuratively, to have elbow room is to have a little space and freedom, flexibility, etc., in order to accomplish a task, or just to be comfortable.

The “elbow room” in its figurative sense is, or rather was popularized by none other than William Shakespeare, as Grammarist.com explains:

The idiom elbow room has been in use since the mid-1500s and is found in William Shakespeare’s play The Life and Death of King John: “Ay, Marry, now my soul hath elbow-room…”

Here are more recent examples of elbow room, either in the literal or metaphorical sense:

1. Defenders of qualified immunity often use on-duty police officers as the doctrine’s raison d'être. As the Supreme Court itself admitted when it created the doctrine, qualified immunity was intended to give police officers elbow room to make on-the-spot decisions, even at the expense of denying a remedy for constitutional abuses.

But what happens when a cop wannabe violates someone’s rights to settle a personal grudge and wastes police time in the process? Should he also be entitled to the elbow room?

According to a federal circuit court in Minnesota, the answer is yes. Just last year, in the case of Central Specialties Inc. v. Large, the court granted immunity to a county engineer who used his government vehicle to stop two trucks belonging to a company he disliked.

He then made them wait for three hours until one of the three law-enforcement agencies he called finally came and cited one of the vehicles for violating a last-minute weight change the engineer himself imposed.

The citation was dismissed the following day. But when the company sued, their case against the engineer was quickly dismissed because of qualified immunity.

An engineer acting like a police officer

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit's grant of qualified immunity to someone who acted well beyond his job description made the doctrine into a mockery of itself. That’s because for qualified immunity to be denied, there must be an earlier case involving similar facts in which a court already “clearly established” that the behavior in question is unconstitutional.

Theoretically, that provides a future official with “fair warning” to not engage in this behavior – the proverbial elbow room.

But if the “clearly established” approach is applied to officials like the county engineer performing a traffic stop, it means that government officials acting outside of their job duties are far more likely to receive immunity than officials doing their jobs.

- An engineer pretended to be a cop and detained 2 drivers, USAToday.com, October 28, 2022.

2. The Bahamas! The very name sounds like a vacation advert. White, powdery sand; a delightful number of pristine, unspoiled islands, and weather that is pleasantly warm from January to January. What’s more? The Bahamas is less than an hour’s flight from Miami and is usually a convenient vacation alternative to Europe – and other far-flung vacation destinations. It’s a place that will be ideal for some quick, urgently-needed weekend escape.

Yet when we speak of the Bahamas, it’s places like Nassau, Paradise Island, and Atlantis that get frequent mentions, perhaps, deservedly. Nassau, for instance, is world-famous for its many surreal beaches. Atlantis, on the other hand, is a luxurious resort village that should be on the bucket list of everyone willing to experience the lavish side of a Bahamas vacation. In this article, however, and away from the frequent mentions, we shine the spotlight on Spanish Wells, discussing whether it’s really worth visiting.

Some will argue that Spanish Wells is all about an ordinary fishing town with a nice harbor and a beach, that, even if breathtaking, is just like many other vacation destinations in the Bahamas – or anywhere else in the Caribbean.

The truth, however, is that Spanish Wells has a charming allure and a distinctive appeal that will not fail to leave many vacationers blown away.

For starters, the island is attractively secluded and exudes that rustic, village look that comes with authenticity that's hard to miss. This comes with one exciting advantage. It is usually, almost always, uncrowded. While this may look like nothing to shout about, those who’ve been to Nassau and Paradise Island will appreciate why this is a major draw.

Yet Spanish Wells is not just worth visiting because it’s usually uncrowded or less crowded. Actually, while some elbow room is important, private space alone is never the soul of a vacation.

- Is Spanish Wells Worth Visiting? TheTravel.com, January 2, 2023.

3. Recent data collected from Walt Disney World suggested the Magic Kingdom may be crumbling as “woke” politics have had a cascade effect.

Bud Light may be positioning itself as paramount in the “go woke, go broke” paradigm, but Disney’s recent July 4 performance suggested they’ve fared no better from leftist ideology. The analysis firm Touring Plans provided their findings on Independence Day wait times for the Orlando, Florida theme park to The Wall Street Journal indicating they’ve yet to staunch the bleeding.

Visitors to Disney theme parks this summer are encountering something they haven’t seen in a while: elbow room,” reported the Journal on Monday.

Looking at data from each of the four Disney parks, the post-COVID comeback made in 2022 appeared to be tamped down by a societal rebuke in 2023. For example, the average wait time for rides in the Magic Kingdom in 2019 was 47 minutes. Come 2022, waits had reached 31 minutes as people resumed traveling after lockdowns. However, those averages have dwindled to 27 minutes this year.

Likewise, Touring Plans data found that a year-to-year comparison of July 4, 2022, and 2023 at Hollywood Studios had wait times plummeting from 44 minutes to a mere 18.

- ‘Elbow room’ is newest and self-inflicted addition to Disney theme parks as wait times plummet, crowds shrink, AmericanWireNews.com, July 11, 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)


Building blocks? 基石


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Trust your gut 相信你的直觉


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Ghosts of their former selves? 空壳


Man of the moment? 时下的风云人物

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