tartysuz: (Default)
I chuckled every time someone said today's Chilean mine rescue was a "miracle."

St. Barbara must be a fairly slack miracle worker if she needs two months and the involvement of several multinational companies, various governments, countless scientists, engineers, technicians, physicians, psychologists, social workers, media, family, friends and clergy. I agree with my friend, K, who calls it an "engineericle."

Timmy's in a well! )

In any case, I'm glad the miners got out, and so quickly. I hope they recover well. And that they get a musical. They should have one (especially since one of the characters can be torn between his wife and his mistress). Fortunately, it will have a much happier ending than Floyd Collins, a light opera about a 1925 caving disaster that left one man trapped until a rescue shaft reached him in 17 days (ironically, the miners in Chile were trapped for 17 days before they made outside contact). That rescue attempt attracted a media circus back then, as well. Our fascination for "Timmy's in a Well" stories goes way back!
tartysuz: (Default)
If this word had been put in front of me two weeks ago, I'd have guessed that it was a name for a fancy flower or a fancy name for a lady part.

Now that CBC Radio devotes every other minute of current affairs programming to the World Cup, I can't get away from that annoying buzzing sound. I thought I'd finally cracked last night when I could hear the buzzing even after I'd turned the radio off. Then I realized that a bee or a wasp was trapped between the walls, and it was not a happy camper.

Unlike this single, unfortunate insect, vuvuzelas are supposedly deafening in person. AOL news reports: "Extended exposure at just 85 decibels puts us at a risk of permanent noise-induced hearing loss," the [hearing aid manufacturer Phonak] said in a statement to the South African Press Association. "When subjected to 100 decibels or more, hearing damage can occur in just 15 minutes."

For those watching on the telly, the Daily Telegraph offers advice on how you can play with your set's equalizer to dampen the noise.

I've been semi-watching/listening to the games on computers with all their glorious standard built-in speaker inadequacies, so the vuvuzelas don't bother me.

But that buzzing, stinger-equipped, angry insect in my office? I'd like to get rid of that, please!
tartysuz: (Default)
No, not a synonym for *keyboard smash* -- it's the official name of what newsreaders the world over insist on calling "that Icelandic volcano."

I've been reading about it so much that I was looking forward to seeing a TV report on the volcano because I was curious about how it was pronounced (radio doesn't count -- I'm usually groggy and just waking up when the radio news is on). But they never mentioned the name!

On the radio, As It Happened tried to get a geologist to say it, but he said it was unpronounceable. He mumbled something, then admitted that he kept playing the Wikipedia clip to learn it. Wikipedia has pronounciation clips? Yes, it does!

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eyjafjallajökull.ogg

It sounds to me like "Ayva-logue(k)" <-- soft "k"

In related news, Dan Gardner, author of Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear, spoke about the risk assessment decisions around air travel. He used a handy phrase: the affect heuristic. This describes the phenomenon of "using emotion as a yardstick to measure risk" or letting "emotion drive the risk perception."

The effect seems more pronounced when we have little other data to go on. Our reactions aren't very subtle -- I guess we're still engineered to react first and think later. We don't have any studies on how volcano ash, and in what concentration, physically affects airplanes, so the first response was fittingly extreme caution. But we don't really have any standards for when it will be "safe" to fly again, so really, flying in Europe today is part of one big experiment.

But back to our unpronounceable volcano. I wonder if Icelanders are tempted to change the name so that non-native speakers stop implicitly blaming the nation for "that Icelandic volcano ash."
tartysuz: (Default)

Rapiscan


Company that makes a full-body scanner used at airport security points.

I couldn't make sense of this word when I first saw it. Rah-peace-an? Rah-pee-scan? I finally figured it must be a mash-up of "rapid" and "scan". A passenger rights activist on CBC Radio's Sunday Morning confirmed this by pronouncing it "Rap-i-scan." However, when she spoke about the invasiveness of the imaging, she, unconsciously I think, pronounced it "Rape-y-scan".

This second pronunciation seemed appropriate in more than one sense. Of course, there is the explicitness of the images, but there is also something that the activist went on to explain. Rapiscan equipment, which she and others say would not have stopped the recent terrorist from Nigeria, was already on order before the panic in Detroit. It turns out that Rapiscan's chief lobbyist in Washington is Michael Chertoff, the former secretary for Homeland Security! Yeah, someone is using the levers of power to grab something that isn't theirs.

One further observation: Canada is buying a different brand of scanner. Rapiscan uses backscatter technology and "Health Canada prohibits X-ray backscatter scanning – pregnant women can't be scanned." Source: Ian Brown, The Globe and Mail, 9 January 2010.
tartysuz: (Default)

disintermediate


As in "cut out the middle man." It's shorter and less gender-specific, but it's hard on the eyes and ears.

From The Globe and Mail, 8 January 2010:

With the launch of its Nexus One smart phone, Google has waded into unfamiliar and very sensitive territory. By selling the phone through its own online store, the Web giant is essentially giving carriers a taste of a less lucrative future.

“This is a complete end run,” said Peter Misek, an analyst with Toronto's Canaccord Adams. “What it does is basically try to disintermediate the carriers and make them nothing more than dumb pipes. That's what happened in the landline world of the Internet. It is a significant risk for telcos around the world.”

Also note "telcos": when I hear it (tel-coze), it makes sense, but looking at it, I want to pronounce it "tel-cose" (soft s) and ask for a side of guacamole, and maybe a corn salad if I'm especially hungry.

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