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Failed to get the logic of "doesn’t sleep much at the best of times"

 
 
Reply Fri 18 Dec, 2015 08:16 am
Well, I think the best times are for self-realization - through (hard) work of course. Not for sleep. That is why I failed to get the logic.

Context;

Alan Stern, planetary scientist and workaholic, doesn’t sleep much at the best of times. In the days approaching 14 July — as the spacecraft he had dreamed about, worked for and slaved over for a quarter of a century neared its target — he was down to roughly three hours a night.

More:
http://www.nature.com/news/365-days-nature-s-10-1.19018
 
View best answer, chosen by oristarA
FBM
  Selected Answer
 
  4  
Reply Fri 18 Dec, 2015 08:17 am
@oristarA,
Even when the work is easy (the best of times), he still doesn't sleep much. I don't see where self-realization is part of the context.
oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Dec, 2015 08:28 am
@FBM,
FBM wrote:

Even when the work is easy (the best of times), he still doesn't sleep much. I don't see where self-realization is part of the context.


Cool. Thanks.
Some sense:
Time is precious. Best times make best king of history.
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Dec, 2015 08:52 am
@oristarA,
oristarA wrote:

Some sense:
Time is precious. Best times make best king of history.


Just curious. Is this a translation of a Chinese proverb?
oristarA
 
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Reply Fri 18 Dec, 2015 09:14 am
@FBM,
FBM wrote:

oristarA wrote:

Some sense:
Time is precious. Best times make best king of history.


Just curious. Is this a translation of a Chinese proverb?


Something like this:
时势造英雄 [shí shì zào yīng xióng]
A hero is nothing but a product of his time.
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Fri 18 Dec, 2015 09:21 am
@oristarA,
Thanks for that! http://i206.photobucket.com/albums/bb192/DinahFyre/icon_thumright.gif
0 Replies
 
McTag
 
  2  
Reply Fri 18 Dec, 2015 12:08 pm
@oristarA,

Quote:
doesn’t sleep much at the best of times


It just means he needs little sleep, normally.
When he's busy with some problen, he sleeps less.

"best of times" is a bit misleading. For example, the scientist might consider sleep to be a wasteful habit. He might grudge the time spent sleeping, and not consider it "best".
0 Replies
 
oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2015 05:58 am
@oristarA,
oristarA wrote:


Context;

Alan Stern, planetary scientist and workaholic, doesn’t sleep much at the best of times. In the days approaching 14 July — as the spacecraft he had dreamed about, worked for and slaved over for a quarter of a century neared its target — he was down to roughly three hours a night.

More:
http://www.nature.com/news/365-days-nature-s-10-1.19018


The expression "worked for and slaved over" seems redundant to me. Can we remove "worked for and" there? I think "slaved over for" works well there without the loss of meaning.
What do you think?

In addition, does "he was down to roughly three hours a night" mean "he only slept roughly three hours a night"?
FBM
 
  3  
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2015 06:50 am
@oristarA,
oristarA wrote:

The expression "worked for and slaved over" seems redundant to me. Can we remove "worked for and" there? I think "slaved over for" works well there without the loss of meaning.
What do you think?


Yes, it's redundant, but not as the result of poor writing. It's emphatic. "work for" is fairly neutral, but "slave over" is pretty intense.

Quote:
In addition, does "he was down to roughly three hours a night" mean "he only slept roughly three hours a night"?


Yes, he used to sleep more, but his sleep time was reduced to approximately (roughly) 3 hours/night.
oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2015 07:32 am
@FBM,
FBM wrote:

oristarA wrote:

In addition, does "he was down to roughly three hours a night" mean "he only slept roughly three hours a night"?


Yes, he used to sleep more, but his sleep time was reduced to approximately (roughly) 3 hours/night.


The word "down" seems unique to me. Any nuance there? I sense the word being "exhausted and downed", different to just "slept".
FBM
 
  3  
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2015 07:58 am
@oristarA,
"be down to" is an idiom, I think. Somebody being "down to" something means somebody's options or resources have been reduced.

"I wish I could lend you some money, but I'm down to my last 20 dollars."

"Once the false positives were eliminated, the researchers were down to their last three possible candidates."
oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2015 08:32 am
@FBM,
So "he was down to roughly three hours a night" means "he had only roughly three hours a night to sleep"?
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2015 08:56 am
@oristarA,
Yes, and he had previously enjoyed more sleep time.
oristarA
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2015 09:24 am
@FBM,
FBM wrote:

Yes, and he had previously enjoyed more sleep time.


Now it is crystal clear.
The use of "down" is apt and cogent.
0 Replies
 
 

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