Spy Balloon

Spy Balloon

spy balloon

New Idioms are “Naked eye” and “Come up.” The English Grammar focus is on Negation.

Paisley: “I want to buy a telescope.”
Wahid: “Is it for a science experiment in school?”
Paisley: “No, I just want to look at satellites, balloons, and comets in the air.”
Wahid: “Things you can’t see with the naked eye.”
Paisley: “Exactly. We could look at the moon too, at night.”
Wahid: “That would be great! We could even check out this Chinese balloon everyone is talking about. OK, I’ll ask Dad.”
Paisley: “I don’t know how expensive they are.”
Wahid: “I’m sure a good one is not cheap.
Paisley: “Your birthday is coming up soon.”
Wahid: “Okay, I’ll mention that. Good thinking.”


The naked eye means normal vision that has not been enhanced or augmented in any way. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Check out means investigate, inspect, or look at something of interest. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Come up means to come near or approach. See online Idioms Dictionary.

Suggested Topic for Comments: Negation; the Core Meaning of Modals

I’m sure a good one is not cheap.” The positive counterpart of this is simply “I’m sure a good one is cheap.” To negate the adjective, we simply add the negative particle not.


According to linguists Sweetser and Tyler, modals have core meanings, and they give weakened potential for “could,” and weakened force of commitment to “would.” These make sense in our dialogue:

“We could look at the moon too, at night.” The potential is there, and it’s possible but not certain (because Dad has to buy it for them).

“That would be great!” The commitment to look at the moon is not total, but only as strong as the possibility of acquiring a telescope.


New Idioms are “Moonshine on the water” and “Drives me up the wall.” The Grammar focus is on Negation.

Gary: “Do you know the facts around this balloon situation?”
Jack: “Not really. There’s so much moonshine on the water from crazed journalists.”
Gary: “The balloon was Chinese, 18 miles up. The US jammed it and did all the intelligence gathering. China got nothing.”
Jack: “And then we shot it down.”
Gary: “Yes, the balloon weighed 2,000 pounds and we waited until it was offshore before we shot it down. That way nobody was harmed.”
Jack: “Trump announced that Biden had surrendered American airspace to Communist China.”
Gary: “I’m not interested in what he says. I write news articles but I rarely quote him any more.”
Jack: “Our boss might demand it.”
Gary: “If so, I’ll toe the line. But he hasn’t said anything to me.”
Jack: “The winds are blowing differently these days.”


Impress means to please and affect someone by exhibiting a particular skill. See online Dictionary.
Moonshine on the water means nonsense, humbug, rubbish. It’s an expression that goes back more than 500 years. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Jammed is not slang here but has the conventional meaning in electronics of interfering with the clear reception of broadcast signals. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Intelligence gathering means the collection of intelligence on others by one’s own units or forces. See online Dictionary.
Shoot down means to bring down someone or something by gunfire. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Drives me up the wall means to annoy or frustrate me to the point of exasperation. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Take a position means to express a point of view. See online Dictionary.
Toe the line means do what is expected. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Which way the wind blows refers to people’s opinion about a situation. See online Idioms Dictionary.

Suggested Topic for Comments: Negation

“China got nothing.” This is a stronger way of saying “The Chinese were not able to learn anything,” but otherwise the meaning is the same.

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