January 31, 2005

iraqis got sand

man, those voters in iraq have got sand. after weeks of violence, threats targeted directly at the election process, suicide bombings on the day of the election (CNN reported that one polling station was attacked by a suicide bomb in the morning but folks were back voting in the afternoon), they still turned out in the millions. that's like a resounding "up yours" to the terrorists. this is truly admirable.

and i used to hem and haw over bad traffic/bad weather on election day.

interesting contrast between the "international" coverage by CNN and BBC. CNN laid it on pretty thick with a special report full of their big gun reporters (i guess it was also for the US as well, they had some domestic anchor leading the show, she led into each story with some kind of smarmy/trivializing line, rankled me no end). BBC had some iraqi election coverage (one reporter was parading around empty streets thumping on his flak jacket--like we couldn't see the darned thing against his light colored shirt) but then switched to covering the michael jackson trial. oh my.

ps: "got sand" is an old western (as in cowboy) slang meaning to have guts, courage, or toughness.

January 19, 2005


interesting BBC news article on the "extinction" of minority languages. according to the article, one of the world's 6,000 languages will be lost every two weeks. and what's lost is sometimes irreplaceable even by one of the world's steam roller languages (english, chinese, french, etc.). for instance the Inuit language has a bunch of verbs for the word "know", covering various "flavors" of "knowing something"--"utsimavaa" - meaning somebody "knows" from direct experience to something like "nalunaiqpaa" meaning someone's no longer unaware of something.

the article goes on to claim that welsh is a "great example", citing the existance of welsh porn. i guess they forgot about the irish.

anyway something to think about.

Puijilittatuq? why that's an Inuktitut (eskimo) word meaning "he does not know which way to turn because of the many seals he has seen come to the ice surface". man that's some kind of efficient communication.

January 06, 2005

back to our regularly scheduled i18n programming

a couple more non-tsunami i18n bits of information.

that i18n guy about town, tex texin, has put together a good document concerning the use of RFC 3066 language identifiers. you might lend a hand by perusing the table for any funny business (maybe like sinhalese in thailand--but hey, what do i know).

just when i thought i knew everything about encoding (maybe because i actually think all you really have to know is Just Use Unicode), i find out something new. while doing some research in the java i18n forums i stumbled onto a really nifty java encoding resource, part of a java and internet glossary. i especially liked the term armouring (which i had never heard used in this context before): Converting binary data into printable gibberish so that data transport systems will not corrupt it. so that's what it's called.

January 03, 2005

what you don't know about La Palma might kill you?

Space Shuttle photo STS074-085-092 taken in September 1992 and looking east across La Palma no, not the movie director. it's a volcanic island in the Canaries located about 28.6ºN, 17.9ºW. and it maybe the next deadly GG. what's a GG? a GG is a "global geophysical event". and it's Bad with a capital "B". or it's all a scam to sell a boatload of insurance policies.

the tsunami we experienced here on dec 26th made me vaguely recall a bbc horizon program on mega-tsunami from a few years ago (no, my head isn't just full of spider webs and stuff about coldfusion i18n). some googling refreshed my memory enough that i thought i should blog something about this.

the western flank of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma island is basically being held in place by the natural equivalent of spit and duct tape (friction). if this 10-20 kilometers (yes kilometers) long huge chunk of rock lets loose it will cause a 20-50 meter tsunami that could devastate the coastal areas of North America, Europe and parts of Africa. what could cause that to happen? well a volcanic eruption might do the trick. which is kind of inevitable on that volcanic island. the volcano last erupted in 1949 and then it's whole western side slid some 4 meters closer to the sea. oh my--but read on.

while i certainly hope this is a "chicken little" issue, it has been picked by Time in an on-line time article. it's been slashdotted as well (not that it lends it much credence but it has been noticed by that crowd). then there's the Gwynne Dyer article which has some chilling thoughts on the political angle of these sorts of things (basically the "i'd rather not know" policy). while there has been some research on the island itself by the Benfield Hazard Research Centre at University College, London the research has been called into question as it was funded by insurance companies.

you can read some of the details about this volcano at volcano world. frankly i don't know what to make of this but having seen what happens when nobody's watching, i say better safe than sorry.