Brene Brown on Vulnerability

Some of my readers1 pointed out that it’s been a while since I posted. Then I went and checked, and realized that it’s been a really long while. I should probably do a proper, substantive post, at this point, but instead, I’m going to take the easy way out and post a video that I’ve found really interested.

It’s an older TED talk by Brene Brown on the importance of vulnerability. Please give it a gander and let me know what you think.

1 Okay, it was my mom. She’s probably the only person who reads this anyway.

QI (and Its Flaws)

QI is a celebrity quiz show starring Stephen Fry as a quizmaster who asks four1 panelists questions about a range of subjects. The panelists are usually well known comedians based in Britain, though once in a while, there are special guests like David Tennant or Daniel Radcliffe. An actor named Alan Davies is always the fourth panelist. The title stands for Quite Interesting, and the premise of the show is that the panelists aren’t likely to get the answers right so they’re awarded points for being interesting.

If you’ve been following my blog, you probably know I’m a fan of Stephen Fry, so I do like QI. But I have to say, I feel rather guilty about that.

QI has a problem with racial and cultural insensitivity. The targets generally seem to be East Asians and Mexicans. On several occasions Alan Davies has attempted a Mexican accent à la Speedy Gonzales, and they frequently do impressions of East Asian languages that are nothing more than nonsensical syllables. In addition, most of the panelists are white. In fact, Meera Syal2 is one of only two non-white panelist that I’m aware of, and both were only on once.

And as long as I’m complaining about the show, it does bug me when they get things wrong, especially about Americans.3 Oh, and Stephen Fry’s French accent is rather painful.

Despite all the things I’ve complained about, I still keep watching QI. Why? Well, because I still sometimes learn things. For example, did you know that the difference4 between flotsam and jetsam is that jetsam has been purposely discarded?

For now, I’ll continue to watch QI, though I suspect that sooner or later, I’ll get fed up with its flaws.

  1. In one episode, John Hodgman was a fifth panelist. Hodgman won.
  2. Meera Syal guest starred in the Doctor Who episodes “The Hungry Earth” and “Cold Blood.”
  3. We do say tadpole. A pollywog is considered by some to be the same thing as a tadpole, but other people seem to say they refer to different stages of development. I’d love to know if there are regional differences within the United States in the usage of these two words.
  4. I wonder if I can work that into the Shipping Project somehow.

French Friday: Le Dormeur du Val

I’m not doing a traditional Vendredi de Vocabulaire, but today’s post is related to French.

Last night, I went to a reading at the Free Library of Philadelphia called La Belle Epoque: Poetry from the Banquet Years. Several speakers read poetry from the Belle Epoque: the period between the Franco-Prussian War and World War I. The poet Rimbaud (en français) featured prominently.

Most of the readings last night were of translations, although a few people read both the original French and a translation. In addition, one person read two translations of Le pont Mirabeau (one of which also happened to be the lyrics to a Pogues song). I would have liked to hear the original versions of more of the poems, but overall, it was a good evening.

I wanted to share one of the poems read (in English only). I’ve included the French text and then an English translation below it.

Le dormeur du val

C’est un trou de verdure où chante une rivière,
Accrochant follement aux herbes des haillons
D’argent ; où le soleil, de la montagne fière,
Luit : c’est un petit val qui mousse de rayons.

Un soldat jeune, bouche ouverte, tête nue,
Et la nuque baignant dans le frais cresson bleu,
Dort ; il est étendu dans l’herbe, sous la nue,
Pâle dans son lit vert où la lumière pleut.

Les pieds dans les glaïeuls, il dort. Souriant comme
Sourirait un enfant malade, il fait un somme :
Nature, berce-le chaudement : il a froid.

Les parfums ne font pas frissonner sa narine ;
Il dort dans le soleil, la main sur sa poitrine,
Tranquille. Il a deux trous rouges au côté droit.

And an English translation (although I’m not sure it’s the same one that was read last night.)

The Sleeper in the Valley

It is a green hollow where a stream gurgles,
Crazily catching silver rags of itself on the grasses;
Where the sun shines from the proud mountain:
It is a little valley bubbling over with light.

A young soldier, open-mouthed, bare-headed,
With the nape of his neck bathed in cool blue cresses,
Sleeps; he is stretched out on the grass, under the sky,
Pale on his green bed where the light falls like rain.

His feet in the yellow flags, he lies sleeping. Smiling as
A sick child might smile, he is having a nap:
Cradle him warmly, Nature: he is cold.

No odour makes his nostrils quiver;
He sleeps in the sun, his hand on his breast
At peace. There are two red holes in his right side.

Note that the translation, like most translations, isn’t exactly word for word. Translation strikes me as being an art rather than a science.