Just Plain Foolish

Just a chance for an old-fashioned, simple storyteller to say what needs to be said.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Some recent thoughts

It looks like the Delta Queen is in trouble - though she has a steel hull, she is an older riverboat with a wooden superstructure, and she may soon be denied certification to carry more than 50 people at a time for overnight. If that happens, she will be out of business as a cruise ship. This really saddens me. I've never gotten to ride on board her, but like many people who live in the Ohio River Valley, I took several paddleboat rides as a girl. It's quieter than you'd think, and a lovely way to see the small towns along the river, many of which depend to a certain extent on tourism. Our school picnics would often involve packing a lunch for each student and then going by steamboat to a historically significant town to learn about the local history. While we could certainly not have afforded to ride the Delta Queen, those who could helped support the local economies up and down the river. (Plus, well, a girl can dream...)

Plus, my own family has a bit of history with the Delta Queen. I had an uncle who was a salvage and rescue diver in the Mississippi. He once helped untangle the Delta Queen from a bit of difficulty, and got to ride her, even dining with the captain. Another uncle used to watch her glide by and would dream of the music he could hear from her deck. The music of the riverboats inspired him to become a musician himself, and to this day, he loves the music of the river.


Christine, over at Quiet Paths, got me laughing with the lolcats translation of the Bible. Which is Just Wrong, about as bad as a poem by Catullus that my husband and I still sometimes bring up*, but there you are. One of the things it got me thinking about, however, is the amount of commentary that winds up happening just by interpreting a text. I've done some actual original translation from Latin - and no, not just that standard text for students, De Bello Gallico, but the coronation charter of Henry II of England, one of the documents the writers of the Magna Carta looked to. That particular text is dry and succinct, yet out of the spare prose, I found more than enough material to realize how important a careful translation was.

How much more so the Bible, in which poetry, ancient law, and tribal history are all jumbled together? And yet we have people insisting that the 10 Commandments be posted on every possible surface - which translation? Whose interpretation? Actually, whose count? Jews, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and some Protestants all have different counts on which bits go where. And that's without asking which enumeration from the text...

She's also got some thoughts on this. Go check it out.

* Most people, especially those who, like our Latin professor at the time, enjoy Catullus, translate the opening bit as "Oh, sparrow". Let's just say our translation began "Yo, birdie" and leave it at that, shall we?


My mom wrote to me about my post on the social work code of ethics, saying that it's a shame more people don't have an awareness of what social workers do, that anyone can need a social worker at some point, and I began thinking about that: perhaps the reason some people are so negative is simply fear. So many fears are related to our own sense of helplessness. We are afraid of being sick, of being old, of being helpless - we want to believe that we can do it ourselves, thank you. Since early childhood, we're taught to be strong and independent, and people who serve perhaps remind us that we aren't as strong and alone as we like to think.


Oh, and go check out Finding Salihah. Salihah has been busy herself lately, so she hasn't updated for a little bit, but her blog is well worth reading, with lots of humor and intelligence. Her account of changing her brakes had me laughing out loud. I'm just lucky I hadn't been sipping something, or I would have had a clean-up job on my hands.


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