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The recovery is full steam ahead

Reader question:

Please explain this sentence, with “full steam” in particular: The recovery is full steam ahead.

My comments:

In other words, the economy is recovering from recession or stagnation at full speed, as fast as possible.

Here, the economy is likened to a locomotive train powered by steam, moving at top speed. The locomotive train, of course, has long been replaced by newer and faster trains, but back in the day, it was the backbone of the industrial revolution.

Anyway, the thing with steam locomotives is that it is powered essentially by boiling water, producing steam as a result. In the 1970s in China, locomotive trains were still seen quite a lot. As one of them pulls into a station, it usually blows a horn as a signal and at the same time billows large volumes of white air (steam). When the steam came roaring out, it sometimes engulfed the head of the train and the platform as a whole.

That’s the idea of “full steam”. Literally, when a locomotive is operating at full steam, it means the water boiling mechanism is working at full capacity, producing as much hot steam as possible.

Metaphorically speaking then, if an economy or for that matter a plan or project is going full steam ahead, it is moving forward at top speed. In other words, things are going really well.

In other words, and to use a similar but newer expression, the economy is firing on all cylinders – like a four-cylinder race car.

All right, here are recent examples of “full steam”:

1. The U.S. women's soccer team started on the road to Rio Wednesday night with a win in their first Olympic qualifying game. The team’s goalkeeper, Hope Solo, is raising concern about the risk of Zika infection during the games.

“If I had to decide today, I would not go. Fortunately the Olympics are about 6 months away so I believe we have time to get some of our doubts and questions answered,” Solo said.

U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun tried to address those doubts and questions in a memo to prospective Olympians.

He said the organization is working with the CDC and infectious disease specialists to closely monitor the situation. But no matter the preparation, he wrote, “there will always be risk associated with international competition.”

An official with the Rio games told CBS News all rooms in the Olympic village will be air conditioned, and venues will be inspected daily to remove standing water where mosquitoes might breed.

The population of the mosquito that carries Zika does go down significantly in the cooler, dryer winter months of August and September, when the games will take place.

The main worry is the suspected link between the virus and microcephaly, an unusually small head at birth. That link has been strengthened within the past day by reports both in Brazil and the United States.

The virus has now been found in the placenta of mothers who miscarried and the brain tissue of newborns with microcephaly who died.

An official from the Rio Olympic organizing committee told CBS News on Thursday that there are no plans to cancel or postpone the Olympics. He said preparations for the games are “full steam ahead.”

- U.S. Olympic Committee tries to ease athletes' Zika fears, CBSNews.com, February 11, 2016.

2. Downing Street last night ordered ministers to get on with implementing Brexit, insisting it was ‘full steam ahead’ for getting us out of the EU by early 2019.

Prime Minister Theresa May also slapped down Liam Fox – one of three Cabinet members in charge of the UK’s exit from the bloc – for ‘playing games’ rather than focusing on the job. The comments came after City sources claimed ministers had told them that Britain could remain in the EU until late 2019 – almost a year longer than expected.

Insiders said that two new departments overseeing negotiations would not be ready in time, and that the process of setting them up was ‘chaotic’. Next year’s French and German elections were also given as a reason for delay.

Not implementing Brexit swiftly would cause major tensions between No 10 and Tory backbench Eurosceptics.

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage has also warned that failure to deliver on June’s EU referendum and curb immigration could lead to mass demonstrations on the streets.

But Downing Street dismissed the reports, saying it was ‘full steam ahead’ for Brexit.

The Government is set to trigger Article 50 – which starts the formal process for quitting the Brussels club – at the beginning of 2017. This would mean leaving the EU in early 2019 after two years of negotiations.

A Downing Street source said: ‘Everyone has a view on Article 50 and timetables. The Prime Minister has set up departments to implement Brexit and they need to get their ducks in a row – but we are looking at early next year.

‘That is what the Prime Minister has told leaders of other EU countries. There is no indication that it is going to go further than that. We know that Brexit means Brexit and that we have to get on with it. It is full steam ahead.’

- It’s full steam ahead on Brexit, DailyMail.co.uk, August 14, 2016.

3. You might have expected the Trump Organization to tap the brakes on expansion plans, given all the criticism over potential conflicts of interest while its owner sits in the Oval Office.

It’s hitting the accelerator instead.

The company owned by President Trump is launching a chain of new hotels with plans to open in cities large and small across the country. Called Scion, they will be the first Trump-run hotels not to bear the family’s gilded name. The hotels will feature modern, sleek interiors and communal areas, and offer rooms at $200 to $300 a night, about half what it costs at some hotels in Trump’s luxury chain.

The company has signed letters of intent with more than 20 developers to build the hotels, said Trump Hotels CEO Eric Danziger. The last three were signed in just one week this month.

It’s full steam ahead. It’s in our DNA. It’s in the Trump boys’ DNA,” said Danziger. The “boys” are Eric and Donald Jr., who are running their father’s company while he is president.

The bold expansion plan raises some thorny ethical questions.

The Trump family won’t be putting up any money to build the hotels. Instead, it plans to get local real estate developers and their investors to foot the bill, as do most major hotel chains.

- Planning for Trump hotel growth at ‘full steam ahead’ despite criticism, March 23, 2017.

本文僅代表作者本人觀點,與本網立場無關。歡迎大家討論學術問題,尊重他人,禁止人身攻擊和發布一切違反國家現行法律法規的內容。

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: [email protected], or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

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