Iceland bears watching

August 20th, 2014

It seems that one of Iceland’s major volcanoes may be getting ready to erupt. There’s been a lot of seismic activity under Bardardunga, indicating that magma is on the move. This could mean an eruption is imminent, though the scale of such an eruption is difficult to predict. A worst-case scenario isn’t likely but could be really nasty.

Icelandic authorities are taking the threat seriously:

The Icelandic Weather OfficeVeður­stofa considers it likely that there will be an eruption in Bárðarbunga and has raised the the warning stage for air traffic from yellow to orange because of this (Ed: orange is the final stage before “It’s currently erupting”). This was announce today on the noon news of RÚV, but scientists are still in a meeting with with the national protective services of the state law enforcement agency.Krist­ín Jóns­dótt­ir, a geology expert at the Weather Office, said in a conversation with RÚV that it’s the view of the scientists that magma is on the way up under the crust in two locations. The volcanic system shows continuous activity and is likely to erupt.

Update: Here’s another article from Iceland with some graphics to show the scale of the magma movement.

What’s new in DITA 1.3

August 19th, 2014

DITA keeps evolving. The DITA Technical Committee is hard at work finishing DITA 1.3, which should be finalized sometime next year. They recently presented a webinar outlining what’s new. If you don’t have the time to watch the webinar, you can view the presentation slides {PDF), which are quite detailed.

2014 Hugo Award winners

August 17th, 2014

The winners of the 2014 Hugo Awards have been announced at Loncon3, the World Science Fiction Convention in London, England. In true sfnal fashion, the award ceremony was streamed live over the Internet, and this time there were no glitches due to over-zealous copyright bots.

Ann Leckie won the Best Novel award for Ancillary Justice. It’s obviously the book of the year, as she also won the Nebula Award for it. I am a bit surprised that Robert Jordan didn’t win for his immensely popular Wheel of Time series. I was glad to see Charlie Stross win Best Novella for Equiod, part of his Laundry series. I’m currently reading the latest installment, The Rhesus Chart, which I expect will be a strong contender for Best Novel next year.

SF Signal has the full list of the awards, with links to some of the winners. If you want the complete statistics, which are complex due to the preferential voting system, you can see them here.  If you do so, you’ll see that the attempt by certain right-wing writers to sway the vote was a resounding failure. I should note that while I didn’t vote for the Hugos, I did try to read the Vox Day novella – I really did try – and I gave up after the third page.

Update: For more on the Hugo results, see this post from John Scalzi, last year’s Best Novel winner.

More Falcon 9 ocean landing video

August 15th, 2014

There’s video of the Falcon 9 ocean landing after last month’s ORBCOMM launch, this one taken from a chase plane. Unfortunately, the cameraman missed the actual moment of splashdown, but it’s still an impressive video.


August 12th, 2014

We watched an interesting movie on Netflix the other night – Womb. It turned out to be a drama about a woman who bears the clone of her dead lover and what happens as a result. Yes, it was technically SF but the emphasis was on the F, not the S. The acting was excellent (both former Doctor Matt Smith and Eva Green who is in the series Penny Dreadful) and the cinematography superb. It was much, much better than the IMDB rating would indicate.

The IMDB title is Clone, BTW.

Who is speaking up for Canadian English?

August 11th, 2014

When I was in university, one of the assignments in my linguistics class was to come up with a list of words that were specific to the part of Canada I was from. It was a harder exercise than it might seem. At the time, there was no dictionary of Canadian English to crib from, and there isn’t one now – the last specifically Canadian dictionary, The Canadian Oxford Dictionary, was last published a decade ago.

The Globe and Mail looks at who is keeping track of Canadian English now and what it means for us as Canadians.

The Canadian Oxford was the last of the country’s research-driven print dictionaries, definitive volumes intended for a broad national readership that yearned for guidance, enlightenment and occasional delight. Its disappearance left a vacuum that has proved hard to fill.

The text of the 2004 edition remains available, and is still consulted by those who feel its coverage of Canadian English is as timeless as the vocabulary and speech it describes – colour is still colour after all these years, eh?

Never mind that, as Dr. Dollinger slyly points out, the “–our” ending we use to distinguish ourselves from our American neighbours/neighbors only became the Canadian standard at the newsprint level when The Globe and Mail overturned its century-old Americanized style in 1990.