Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2007 June 27

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Miscellaneous desk
< June 26 << May | June | Jul >> June 28 >
Welcome to the Wikipedia Miscellaneous Reference Desk Archives
The page you are currently viewing is an archive page. While you can leave answers for any questions shown below, please ask new questions on one of the current reference desk pages.

June 27[edit]

Video cameras[edit]

I know nothing about video cameras and I want one that is easy to use and will be good for 5 or 10 years (and hopefully is on the cheap end of the spectrum). What should I get?

I don't have a specific recommendation - but if you want one with that long a life - you should probably get a solid-state one (ie not tape-based and not DVD-RW) - things with moving parts have a lot more to go wrong than pure electronic devices. It's worth bearing in mind that a cheaper camera can be paid for - and a new one bought - while you'd still be paying off expensive camera. Which is better - a four year old 'expensive' camera - or a brand new cheap one? Very often, it's the latter. SteveBaker 02:02, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Airline Ratings[edit]

Please give me a list of the best airlines.

  • This site gives a quick ranking. Take that for what you will. --Haemo 01:22, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Acceleration: Manual vs Automatic[edit]

If I have two cars, identical in every way, except tranmission-one of them a manual and one an automatic. Both cars are driven by identically skilled drivers side-by-side. Which of the cars will have a faster 0-60 mph time and a faster quarter-mile time? Thanks. Acceptable 01:14, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

See Manual transmission for a discussion of the differences. --Haemo 01:20, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
They're not really identical skills, though. With the automatic, you just put pedal to metal and hang on. With the stick, it's not as easy as you might think to shift at precisely the right moment, and with minimal letup on the gas as you put in the clutch; power shifting can shave another couple tenths of a second off your times. (What, no article?) I think there are some special new automatics that can match manual times, but if you shift perfectly your manual should beat your automatic. Antandrus (talk) 01:21, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
The answer to this is complicated...which is why car nuts will argue this one into the ground given half a chance! I drive a MINI Cooper'S - which has a really good manual gearbox - so I'm definitely someone who prefers manuals. But I'll do my best to strive for NPOV!
  • With a really good, modern, automatic transmission and a not especially skilled pair of drivers, the automatic will win every time. Automatics take almost zero skill (absolutely zero if you also have decent traction control) so with not very good drivers it can shift faster than a manual gearbox. It takes a LOT of practice to be a good manual gearbox driver. I've been driving stick for 35 years - but it still took months of twice-daily freeway on-ramp practice (WITH the aid of an in-car accelerometer!) to perfect my 0-60 technique. It's definitely not easy to get the very best times.
  • With a not-very-good automatic transmission in a cheap car - and reasonably skilled drivers - the manual will win every time because a good driver with a cheap manual gearbox can out-shift a poor automatic. The shift points on cheaper cars are set for optimum fuel economy on a city cycle - and not for peeling rubber! A good driver can shift appropriately for fuel economy - and adapt his style to drag racing if need be - the automatic has no clue about what style of driving you want. My wife's car has a 'sport mode' button on the shifter - but it doesn't make a whole lot of difference.
  • Somewhere between those two extremes it'll be a tie.
  • If the race comes close to maxing out the power of the engine - then the losses inherent in an automatic gearbox will give the manual gearbox a significant edge. But it takes a good driver to show those differences!
My major beef against automatics is nothing to do with 0-60 times. In practical driving situations, you know that you are planning on accellerating long before you are ready to actually do it. With a manual gearbox, you can get into the right gear 5 or 10 seconds before you plan to zip past that 18 wheeler. With the best automatic on the planet - the gearbox can't read your mind...period. Whilst the automatic (under the right circumstances) will beat the manual gearbox in a 0-60, it stands NO CHANCE in a 60-0 test! You can use a manual gearbox to shed speed as well as to gain it. For 'normal' street driving, that's not recommended because clutches cost more than brakepads! But in a race, or an autocross or just because it's fun - downshifting will give you a major advantage in shedding speed over an automatic. Sure, you can downshift an automatic - but it's a slow, heavy process and if you are hauling ass around twisty corners, that's a disaster.
Modern automatics with manual-overrides are an interesting compromise. They let you drive like a manual - but without needing the same skillsets. However, they still have somewhat lossy drivetrains - so a manual can often beat them if well driven. SteveBaker 01:52, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
See Tiptronic for one version of this.
Atlant 12:57, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Steve gives a very good and detailed answer as usual. Often, a better question to ask is about which has more usable acceleration in typical real-world situations rather than 0-60. 0-60 (and even quarter mile) times are of interest but aren't always the best indicator of typical usable acceleration, since they depend so much on getting a good launch. (And, of course, a decent automatic gets the same good launch every time, as Steve said.) Looking at trap speed at the end of the quarter mile is generally a better indicator of overall acceleration ability. Friday (talk) 01:57, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

What about cornering? A manual can perform a "toe-to-heel" shift for performance cornering. Can an automatic do something comparable? Acceptable 04:52, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Because you can downshift early to shed speed - and be in the best gear before you stamp on the gas - a manual will beat an automatic on a twisty track...but again, it depends on having a good driver. It's no good having a car that you can toe'n'heel around corners if (like 99% of drivers) you have no clue how to do that! So pretty much the same advice I gave above applies for cornering too. Good driver plus manual gearbox is a win against even a good driver with an automatic. But a poor driver with a manual gearbox will do much worse than a poor driver with an automatic. I think cornering puts the pressure on the driver to a greater degree than 0-60 or standing quarter does. There are also some subtle design issues here. Some cars (and I'm going to play the MINI Cooper card here again) have gas and brake pedals that are close together and at the same height - this makes toe'n'heel cornering a very do-able thing. But most consumer vehicles place the brake and gas pedals at different heights and space them to far apart because they want to avoid people stepping on the wrong pedal and causing an accident. So now it's more complicated than just automatic vs manual or good driver vs bad driver. We can also get into the flatness of the torque curve and the closeness of the gear spacing - the throw of the shifter lever...there are LOTS of things that start to impact whether the manual gearbox car has enough advantages to beat out the mindless simplicity of an automatic. Personally - my advice is that if you're not an enthusiastic driver - of if you aren't prepared to spend the time to learn to drive manual really well - get an automatic. If you are a gearhead (like me) - you'll have to prise my stickshift out of my cold, dead hands because I'd rather drive a bread-truck than a sports car with an automatic gearbox! SteveBaker 11:51, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Ah, lovely. I'm all for stick shifting too! :-) Anyway, what's with this shedding of speed through engine braking (if I understand you correctly)? Doesn't the Mini have brakes? :P Is it really the brakes, and not the friction between tyre and ground, that set the limit for the braking force? Do you perhaps mean that this is the case when the brakes are hot after a few laps around the track? —Bromskloss 13:55, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
The Mini just barely has brakes (my '63 has single piston drum "brakes" - which suck!) and engine braking is an absolute necessity! But the MINI (note capital letters) has pretty good four wheel disk brakes - but none the less - engine braking gives you more stopping power than the brakes alone because (a) you can't lock the wheels and (b) the ABS won't kick in and turn your brakes off half the time! And you're right - it does avoid overheating them which certainly matters on the racetrack or on long hills. For street driving - engine braking is a bad idea (except on long hills) - but it's *SO* much fun, I do it all the time - the heck with the clutch - I'll sell the car before it wears out anyway! SteveBaker 15:50, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Why do you say you can't lock the wheels with engine braking? That's precisely what creates lift-off oversteer, right? As for braking half of the time, are you saying the ABS system isn't doing a good job (if stopping quickly is what we aim for)? —Bromskloss 22:28, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
No, no, no! How could the wheels stop turning with the engine still turning, the gearbox not in neutral and the clutch engaged?!! The wheels don't stop turning in lift-off oversteer...think about it - if the wheels stopped turning with the engine in gear and the clutch engaged - the engine would have to be turning at zero rpm - which would stall the engine! OK - I guess I should qualify that: The DRIVEN wheels can't lock without stalling the engine. The non-driven wheels won't lock if you are ONLY engine braking because they aren't doing any of the braking (because we're talking "engine braking" and they aren't connected to the engine). If you are both engine braking AND using the cars brakes - then the latter could cause the non-driven wheels to lock - and I suppose in a fight between engine and brakes you could maybe stall the engine...but I stand by what I said - for pure engine braking you can't lock the wheels. SteveBaker 00:30, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
I should have been more specific. Of course, you are right, the wheels won't stop completely unless the engine does, but they could very well turn much slower than what matches the speed you're going at. That would also make the (driving) wheels lose traction. And again, isn't it a good thing that the ABS brakes "half of the time", at least for everyday driving? —Bromskloss 07:20, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
You're right - but please note that I only claimed that you couldn't LOCK the wheels with engine braking - not that they wouldn't skid. And yes, ABS is great for inexpert drivers - just as automatic gearboxes are - but it too only prevents the wheels from locking - it won't prevent them from skidding. My car has a switch to turn off the ABS...and a warning light to remind you that it's turned off - there is a reason for that! As I very carefully pointed out - engine braking isn't the best way to drive for ordinary day-to-day street driving. But that's mainly because it tends to wear out the clutch and transmission prematurely - and we all know that brake pads are much cheaper and easier to replace than clutches and transmissions! SteveBaker 14:38, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
Could you elaborate on the advantages of driving without ABS? What I can think of is the fun, and the possibility to lock the wheels (mainly rear) to slide around a narrow turn when racing. —Bromskloss 18:23, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
Most cars (maybe all cars) don't do ABS separately to each wheel. When you are braking and cornering at the same time (a bad idea unless you are a race driver or something) - some wheels are spinning faster than others. If one of the wheels on the inside of the turn actually stops turning, then the ABS will release the brakes - thereby reducing the grip on the wheels that didn't stop. Fancy electronic brakeforce distribution systems can handle that - but basic ABS can't. Don't get me wrong though: ABS is a really major safety feature - if you have it - use it! Some people claim that it's to better to turn it off for driving on snow and ice - but I'm not convinced about that, I suspect they are getting confused with traction control. SteveBaker 21:42, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
A more common situation where ABS is bad is if you've got mixed traction across the width of the road -- say, half the lane is covered in ice, but the other half is bare pavement. Without ABS, you can lock up the two wheels on ice, and get the braking power of two wheels on bare pavement. With ABS, all four wheels will keep turning, and you get the braking power of four wheels on ice. --Carnildo 22:03, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
Off the racetrack, definately the automatic especially in the morning when you have coffee in one hand and mobile phone in the other Mhicaoidh 05:08, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Yeah - well, that's a different problem! "Duh! Don't Do That!" is the best advice for any kind of car (and for some pedestrians too!) SteveBaker 11:51, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Mind you a stickshift is better to hang your handbag off, while doing makeup in that handy mirror. Mhicaoidh 05:40, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
It seems to me this is a situation where a manual will really outperform an automatic. As you are exiting the corner, you want to already be in the correct gear, ready for accelerating out. With a manual you can make sure you are (since you downshift while braking upon (or mostly before, actually) entering the corner). An automatic, again, has a hard time reading you mind so not until it realises you are accelerating hard on the exit, it will know that you want a lower gear. Thus, you will get a downshift where you could have been accelerating. (Yay, more racing discussions, please!) —Bromskloss 11:53, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

CVT ftw! Recury 13:29, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

CVT's are an interesting idea and I think we'll see more and more of them as time goes by. I've driven the MINI CVT for a couple of days (a loaner while my stick-shift, tricked out, supercharged, monster of a MINI was in the shop). The cars' software can vary the gear ratio continually - so when you put your foot on the accelerator (we won't call it the "gas pedal" because it has nothing to do with supplying gasoline to the engine!) the RPM doesn't change at all - the only thing that happens is that the "gear" ratio changes a bit. It's weird to drive because the engine sound hardly changes at all, the speedometer goes up and down but the tachometer hardly moves! The theory is that the cars' software can pick an 'appropriate' RPM and stick with it all the time, continually and subtly changing the gearing to make the car go at different speeds. So if you want to drive for good gas milage, you select 'economy mode' on the shifter - and you'll sit at around 2500 rpm pretty much all day long. Select 'sport mode' and the RPM's stay around 3500 where the car gets optimum torque - and you have instant accelleration all the time. It also has a 'fake manual' mode where you can shift it yourself into fixed gear ratios that are chosen by the software. But just like a conventional automatic - it can't know what you want, it takes time to shift and the transmission itself robs power from the engine - it also takes it upon itself to decide that you don't know how to drive properly and even in 'fake manual' mode, it'll shift automatically if you try to engine-brake or hit the redline on the tachometer. The MINI CVT uses a shaped rubber drive band and a pair of conical pulleys to do the job - and BMW have stopped making it because the drive bands wear out too quickly. The '07 automatic is a conventional one with paddle-shifters. SteveBaker 16:09, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Automatics are very popular in pro stock drags, etc. because you put in a converter with a stall speed of 3500 rpm or so, sit on the line with the gas floored and the brake floored and the engine and flywheel cooking at 3500 rpm, then let go of the brake and then you go. With a manual you'd have to have the talent to slip the clutch just right to get the same launch.Gzuckier 14:43, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Which is why I was careful to say that with a really GOOD automatic, you can outrun a manual. The gearbox on a 'pro stock drag' is likely to be a good one - and what's more, it's heavily optimised for just this one thing. On a street car, that same automatic has to be able to deal with stop-and-go traffic, driving economically, driving with 4 passengers and a pile of luggage and a full tank of gas versus driving with one person and a nearly empty gas tank - it has no idea what the driver is about to demand of it - so it's got to be able to do everything - and probably cost about a hundredth of what that dragster gearbox cost! There are so many variables in a street car that the automatic gearbox is at best a compromise. In a custom dragster that only ever does quarter miles with the exact same load, tires, accelleration profile, etc every single time - you can actually make it do considerably better than even the best driver. So what's true of a dragster doesn't translate to 'normal' cars. SteveBaker 15:50, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, the guy was interested in 0-60 and quarter mile times and didn't say "stock". My biggest gripe about an automatic is that I find on the highway, a lot of time I want to accelerate by flooring it in high but not downshift with all the attendant drama, and I don't think automatics are smart enough to know when I want to just floor it and leave it in high, and when I want to floor it and downshift. Gzuckier 18:24, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
My wife's automatic has 'kick-down' where the last inch or so of the gas pedal's travel causes it to downshift. So if you don't want the 'drama', you don't quite floor the pedal. Since I avoid automatics like the plague - I don't have a lot of experience of how they all handle this - but I bet they mostly have something similar. SteveBaker 01:07, 29 June 2007 (UTC)


Why do some songs, such as Can't Get You Out of My Head or White Flag (song), seem to be played on certain radio stations everyday? 04:07, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Typically radio stations will have deals with the companies that they license music from, where they promise to ensure certain bands, or songs, set levels of playtime. As a result, you get to listen to The White Stripes every fifteen minutes for three and half weeks straight, just prior to their new album being released. --Haemo 04:10, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
But why do some songs, such as the ones that I mentioned, continue to be played multiple times a day on the same stations, years after they were released? 05:13, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
See Music scheduling system. Rockpocket 07:03, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Original research warning! I used to live in Hell and the classic rock stations there play the most overplayed song in existence at least once a day, every day. I once called one of those stations to ask them why they kept doing it and they told me that someone, not always the same person, calls every day to request it. So maybe it's the locals who keep requesting those songs. Dismas|(talk) 12:15, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Like when I saw David Spade's stand up act: "Lynyrd Skynyrd only has two songs; Free Bird, and Not Free Bird." Gzuckier 19:09, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Sorry to be a shill, but if you dislike the situation you describe, you should go to and do as they say. --TotoBaggins 16:05, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Crème fraîche in the US[edit]

A couple of Americans visited family and friends in Sweden, were served a delicious meal and asked for the recepe. Being all for open source and free cooking, their hosts gladly went along explaining it to them. Surprisingly, the Americans didn't seem to understand what crème fraîche was, so I wonder, is créme fraîche not readily available in the states, or does it go by another name? Thanks. —Bromskloss 11:37, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

I've never heard of it. Like the article says, it's close to Sour Cream, and made into Whipped Cream, and those *are* things people in the US can recognize. -- Phoeba WrightOBJECTION! 12:21, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
It's actually made from whipping cream, not into it. And you're right, it's unheard of in North America; you have to go to a specialty store to find it, and when you do you're likely paying the equivalent of five to six times what it costs in Europe. Most stores don't carry it, and I've never seen a North American recipe, ever, that calls for it. It's very unlikely that a North American would even know such a thing exists unless they had been to Europe or downloaded a European recipe from the Internet.
Luckily it can be made at home - take two cups whipping cream and one tablespoon buttermilk, stir well, and leave in a warm area (70 to 90F/20 to 30C) for 24 to 48 hours. --Charlene 12:55, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Then you should fix the article... -- Phoeba WrightOBJECTION! 13:09, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
In the US, the Trader Joe's chain routinely carries it, and higher-end grocery stores often do as well.
Atlant 13:00, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
I think you go way too far to say it's unheard of in North America. I live in the US, and have eaten it many times in both restaurants and private homes, made it myself, etc. Here's a search for "fraiche" in an American food magazine database (Gourmet, etc.) which returns 245 separate recipes calling for it. --TotoBaggins 15:51, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
I think plenty of North Americans know about creme fraiche. Though in Calgary I've only seen it on the menu at trendy places (which means you can probably find it at Denny's in the rest of the continent). iames 22:11, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Being in Calgary I have actually never once seen it in any store, even the trendiest. You're probably right that it's likely available everywhere but here. --Charlene 20:17, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

Sneezing and law[edit]

If your driving your car and you sneeze, and because you have closed your eyes during your sneeze and you crash, is it your fault or just act of god or something?

I would say that typically, you should be driving in a manner such that the split second you close your eyes won't have an impact on your ability to operate the vehicle safely. If you are driving safely, I'm not sure what could arise in that short amount of time that would prevent you from reacting. I get the feeling you'd have a hard time avoiding such a quick problem even if you aren't sneezing. Leebo T/C 13:46, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia Reference Desk may not give out legal advice. Edison 13:47, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
I doubt you'd be able to blame an accident on a sneeze. For a start, proving that you sneezed at that precise moment could be – well – a sticky problem. (This does not consitute legal advice.)--Shantavira|feed me 14:43, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
The usual advice is to allow a three second gap between you and the car in front - so a split second sneeze still leaves you plenty of time to slow down to avoid a crash. If you were driving so close behind someone that your brief blink were to reduce your stopping distance to less than you need - then it would undoubtedly be your fault for being too close in the first place. Similar arguments apply to slowing down before stoplights, pedestrian cross-walks, parked should never be in a position where a split second matters that much. SteveBaker 15:35, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
The more general question is "are drivers liable when medical events cause them to have an accident?". This situation has occurred many times with things more plausible than a sneeze (heart attacks, seizures, etc.). Googling for "attack caused crash" or similar turns up some interesting cases with varying legal outcomes. --TotoBaggins 16:02, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
We need a law against Driving While Sneezing. Gzuckier 18:25, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

Address formatting[edit]

When sending a mail between two countries, I specify the recipient's country on the last line of the address. In which language should the country name be written? I imagine it's one of the following:

  • French
  • English
  • Sender's language
  • Recipient's language

Thanks for your assistance. —Bromskloss 13:44, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

I'd assume you use whatever the local postmen will understand, then it will be handled automagically from there. Writing multiple names probably won't hurt --13:48, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
I would use English if posting in an English-speaking country, local language otherwise (eg French in France, Swedish in Sweden). If I know the name of the destination country in that language, I sometimes add that too, eg Sweden/Sverige, but I don't think it's necessary. Your post office should be able to give definitive advice. DuncanHill 13:54, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
When I was in India, I addressed in English (sadly I do not write or speak any Indian languages) and never had any problems. DuncanHill 13:59, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

It should definitely be in the language of the sending country, which is where the sorters need to be able to read it. Once it gets to the correct country, the name of the country is no longer needed.--Shantavira|feed me 14:35, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Sender's language it is, then. It makes sense. Thank you all. —Bromskloss 19:49, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
FWIW, I've written Royaume-Uni or Etats-Unis on envelopes passing between the UK and US and they've arrived with no problems. Marnanel 17:48, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
Really? How come you chose French? Somewhere in the back of my head, I had the idea that French was standard for mail service. Is there any truth in that? —Bromskloss 18:32, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
Because I was feeling facetious at the time (and I didn't think Welsh would have worked). Marnanel 20:17, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
I wonder if the computers that read envelopes, etc. in wealthier countries aren't programmed to read a number of languages. I know old ladies in Alberta who still write out the address in Ukrainian - of their neighbours 60 miles down the road - and the letter still gets to its destination. --Charlene 20:19, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
If the Canadian system is anything like the British one, then all that's needed is a valid postal code to get it where it's going (within the country, at least). The rest of it can be garbage, mojibake (as often does happen), or nothing at all. Marnanel 22:42, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
It's similar, especially in the cities, but not rurally. The only thing a rural postal code tells you is what community it's going to, and that community and its rural routes could take up an area half the size of Greater London. --Charlene 07:37, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
The Universal Postal Union is the International body for postal services. According to its website here its officail language is French, but English is also used as a working language. DuncanHill 22:48, 28 June 2007 (UTC)


i would like to know of any descendents of family in barbados. with the last names, Downie, Fenty, Small, Howard. and are there any descendents in iran with last names Tangestani-Nejad, Sumi or Sami. thank you

I'd be very surprised if the helpdesk here can answer this. A google search for 'family history' brought up a lot of sites...Here a few that might be able to help (though I suspect many cost money due to the nature of what you are asking for), Also our article Family history has some information and external-links, well worth a read. ny156uk 17:10, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Tangestani-Nejad family fought against the British in Iran a long time ago. Upon their defeat, the remaining members were deported to Iraq. While Baath party was coming to power, Tangestani-Nejad family moved back to Iran and Bahrain (when Bahrain was part of Iran). After the revolution in Iran, some of the remaining members moved to UK and USA.

Airline Fuel cost effectiveness.[edit]

I read somewhere recently that a single Kiwi fruit flown into the UK from say Israel, needed at least its own weight in Jet Fuel to transport it. If that is true, and assuming the same ratio weight for weight would apply to say, a melon, or a home computer system, what type of products (excluding the obvious gold and diamonds etc. due to insurance costs) would NOT be cost effectively transported by air and needed therefore to be sent by sea? T.i.a. 19:35, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Jet fuel! Don't ship jet fuel from Israel to UK by air! SteveBaker 19:53, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Well, according to the IATA web site, jet fuel is $2.08/gallon right now - that's 55cents/liter - and a liter of this stuff weighs about 0.7kg. So if we believe that weight-of-cargo==weight-of-fuel factoid for a flight from Israel to UK - then transporting cargo by air is costing about 80 cents per kilo over that route - for fuel alone. So - what things would be very sensitive to costing a couple of bucks more to transport that weigh around a kilo...from your examples, a Melon might weigh a kilo - and a couple of bucks on the cost for flying it from Israel would probably make them too expensive. A computer, weighing a couple of kilos could easily stand a few dollars more added to it's price without it making a whole lot of difference. But that's not really the point - the point is how much cheaper would it have been to ship it by sea or in a truck or a rail car? How much did the loading and unloading cost? It's not just the price of the fuel that matters - the depreciation on the plane, the landing & take-off fees at the airport, insurance, pilots salary, maintenance, profit margins, cost of running the cargo terminal...lots of other factors. For Kiwi fruit, I suspect that the speed of shipping by air is critical to the freshness of the fruit - so they'll justify whatever it costs. SteveBaker 19:52, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Cars, for example, would not be cost-effectively transferred by sea. There is a book The Box (Book) by Marc Levinson that goes into great detail about the role of container shipping in the reduction of the cost of transporting goods. Airports are efficient ways of transporting some goods, but for bulk-shipping a container-ship has so much more potential. Planes are very good for transporting goods that are perishable/required swiftly but makes no sense for those that do not require the speed of air-travel (the higher price would make it unwarranted) or which are too heavy to be economical on a plane. Container shipping has an interesting history the book above (which I wrote the stub article for) is an excellent entry to the way the box revolutionised the world economy. ny156uk 21:02, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Did you really mean to say "Cars...would not be...transferred by sea" ?? Because cars are overwhelmingly shipped by sea. SteveBaker 23:46, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
The first element of this question - the fuel weight to payload weight ration interests me. The second part is normal trade theory (cf. International trade) which says there needs to be a comparative advantage after (as Steve noted) all transport & operation in foreign market costs. As a rule of thumb, heavy low-value items are not flown (think bricks & construction material, most other raw materials). Air freight cost, time sensitivity, cost of inventory locked up in the transport pipeline, and the volume of goods being shipped are all factors to take into account before deciding if the market can bear the price of your flown goods.
Meanwhile the premise of the question: that the ratio of fuel consumed to weight carried is 1:1 for an Israel->UK trip. I've done some bistromaths, and come up with a 0.29:1 ratio, as follows:
3527 km Tel Aviv to London -
15 liters per km - mid point of values for fuel consumption given at :::[1] and Boeing 747
53580 liters consumed or
14154 US gallons consumed :::[2]
6lb - weight of a US gallon of Avgas - [3], hence
84924 lbs - weight of fuel needed for flight (okay, at a bare minimum)
358,000 lbs Weight empty of 747-100 Boeing 747
735,000 lbs Maximum take-off weight 747-100 Boeing 747
374,000 lbs Maximum payload including fuel
289,076 lbs Maximum payload having subtracted weight of fuel
0.29 weight of fuel needed for flight / maximum payload having subtracted weight of fuel
So there you go. --Tagishsimon (talk)
There are some reasons why the actual numbers might be worse than that (although not three times worse I'd guess). The 15 l/km consumption figure is for a long flight. Modern(ish) 747's can fly 12,000km - three to four times the Tel Aviv to London distance. The most fuel is used during takeoff and on touchdown. Also, on a long flight, a huge chunk of the take-off weight is fuel. But by halfway(ish) through the flight, half of that is gone - so the plane is much lighter at that point. You calculated the freight payload by subtracting the weight of only 3500km's worth of fuel - so halfway through your trip, the plane weighs more than one that had more fuel and less frieght for a longer trip - that means that your plane is much heavier on the second half of the flight - so it's going to use more fuel than the average figure you have. Planes have to carry reserve fuel - they can't be running on fumes as they touch down. So some of the cargo capacity you calculated must be reserve fuel - which reduces your payload and therefore makes the weight-of-cargo::weight-of-fuel ratio still worse. Not all of the payload of the plane can be fruit - there must be packaging, palettes to store them on. We aren't strictly concerned with the ratio of payload to fuel - it's the ratio of fruit to fuel that the questioner was talking about. All of these factors lend increasing credence to the original claim...I still think it's a stretch - but your numbers don't prove that. SteveBaker 00:09, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
It can be better than that since the 747 series is not exactly the most efficient aircraft, newer aircrafts such as the 777 or A340 are more efficient and therefore lower this number. Also, the fuel needed for the whole journey is roughly the same as cruise fuel consumption × time since the average of climb and descend is only slightly higher than cruise fuel consumption (descent is basically running engines at idle and glide, using very little fuel). Also, your assumption is slightly incorrect since normally the plane will be loaded near maximum MTOW anyways so the fuel figures would probably have taken that issue into account. --antilivedT | C | G 05:31, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
You might be right - there are certainly more efficient aircraft - but you can't disprove the original claim by saying "It can't be true because there are more efficient aircraft" - perhaps they are using aircraft that are yet less efficient than a 747? I'm not saying that I can prove that the claim is true - I'm just saying that Tagishsimon's math doesn't disprove it. I'm also skeptical about your statement that the average of climb+descent is equivalent to cruise fuel consumption - whilst the engines on a big plane are idling during descent - they are at close to full power during the final landing phase. The MTOW fuel loading is working in favor of the original claim - and contrary to Tagishsimon's numbers. Let's pick some hypothetical numbers to make life easy. If (say) a 200,000lb (empty) plane has a MTOW of 300,000lbs and is flying long distance - then it might have something like 80,000lbs of fuel (including a 10,000lb reserve) and 20,000lbs of cargo on board. So at take off, it's at MTOW and as it comes in to land, it maybe has 10,000lbs of reserve fuel and 20,000lbs of cargo so maybe it weighs 230,000lbs altogether. On a short haul flight, it might only need half the amount of fuel: 40,000lbs (also including a 10,000lb reserve) - so if it's loaded to MTOW, it can have 60,000lbs of cargo. When it lands with 10,000lbs of reserve fuel, it weighs 270,000lbs. So if the plane is loaded to MTOW, it'll weigh the same on take off whether it's a long haul or a short haul flight - but on landing, it'll weigh much more in the short-haul case simply because it hasn't used so much fuel. So since Tagishsimon's fuel consumption figures are from a 747 (an aircraft that's designed to fly 12,000 km long haul trips) - then those figures are going to be less good for short haul trips such as would be the case if a 747 were being used to fly fruit from Tel Aviv to London (just 3,500 km) because the AVERAGE weight of the plane is higher in the latter situation. SteveBaker 14:24, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
(de-indent)How are the engines close to their full power in the final landing phase? On approaching it uses around 4-5 tons of fuel an hour on a 737-800 on average, no where near the 12 tons an hour on take-off. If it actually at that power the plane would be accelerating really fast and climb, not something you want to see when you are approaching. You mean the reverse thrust when you just landed? That goes off for maximum 30 seconds (unless you are going in really, really, really fast) and is basically negligible on the average fuel rate. --antilivedT | C | G 01:14, 29 June 2007 (UTC)
They are not flown close to their full power in the final landing phase. When you're landing you need both to descend (which usually increases your speed) and slow down, so the last thing you need is to add more power. Large jet aircraft use a lot of energy in takeoff and climb, in level flight at low altitudes, and (on a mpg or gpm basis, most of all) while taxiing. --Charlene 07:33, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Indices on playing cards[edit]

I believe that early (Anglo-American style) playing cards had no indices. Why didn't they?

When were indices introduced?

I have seen German cards and Tarot cards with Roman-numeral indices (so you didn't have to count all the swords or whatever). But these indices were typically not in the corner of the card. Did these decks traditionally have indices, or were the indices added later under influence from other styles of deck? I have also seen Japanese playing cards with indices in Chinese characters.

Did you read the article on playing cards? Donald Hosek 21:16, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Banana peel[edit]

How slippery is the banana peel so famed in slapstick comedy? bibliomaniac15 BUY NOW! 20:31, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

In my experience, not at all. DuncanHill 20:39, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
It depends on the floor on which it is placed. On say a shiny tiled surface the banana could be very slippy. On gravel it would be (presumably) less so. I wonder whether different types of banana are different types of slippy. ny156uk 20:49, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
I once slipped on a banana peel when running. It can happen. There was some of the fruit still left in the skin, which became quite slippery when my foot crushed it. --Kurt Shaped Box 20:55, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
I'm sure I have read somewhere that more people are injured by slipping on orange peel than banana skins, but I can't find a citation and it's time to go to bed now. (23:31 here.) Interestingly, one Bobby Leach, who survived the trip down the Niagara Falls in a barrel, died from his injuries after slipping on an orange peel. (See here and here.) Hassocks5489 22:31, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Sky-dogs/Sky-dog statues[edit]

I've searched ebay, amazon, google, and now Wkikpedia. I was in Wilmington North Carolina last week at a bonsai shop called "The Painted Lady." The owner has a set of stautes at his garden gate. They are dogs, scratching their ear. He told me he got them in Hong Kong and they are called "Sky Dogs." I'd love to have a set of my own. I know they exist but I can not find them anywhere.They are a [art of Chinese mythology, an early version of Foo Dogs.(temple guardians) Do you know what they are?Where I can buy statues of a set? Any help appreciated... -Amy Gorski

I had a good look around on Google - and I agree - I can't find anything relevent about 'Sky Dogs'. Are you sure he said 'Sky' and not 'Shi'? Our article on Imperial guardian lions (which are also called 'Fu Dogs') says that the Chinese call them 'Shi'. In Tibet, they are called 'Snow Lions'. The people in that part of the world at that time in history had heard tales of African Lions but hadn't ever actually seen one - so they assumed that Lions were simply just like large Dogs...hence the confusion both in names and style of statue. So you might want to search for Sky Lions - or Shi Dogs or Shi Lions. SteveBaker 23:08, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
That turned up Shisa (or Shiisa) and koma-inu as other terms to search on! Also: [4] has a ton of links you could follow. SteveBaker 23:15, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Microwave Oven Conundra[edit]

  1. Many things that I microwave contain instructions that say something like "5 minutes on a medium or high powered microwave oven, 8 minutes on a low powered microwave oven". How the heck do I know which kind of microwave I have? Neither of the ones I use regularly have wattage numbers anywhere I can see. Is there a good test I can do (eg if I microwave a cupful of water for one minute in a high/medium/low powered oven - how hot should it be?
  2. Lots of microwave recepies say to "leave the food in the microwave for 2 minutes before removing it". This is a pain because I generally need to zap some veggies after cooking a pie or something - I can understand having to let the food stand to allow the temperatures to even out or something - but why are they so insistant that it happen inside the oven?

SteveBaker 23:42, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

As to the second question, they're meaning for you to let the food stand; does not matter if it is in the microwave or not. As to the first, if you can tell us the make & model of your microwave, I'm sure google can tell us its wattage. --Tagishsimon (talk)
I don't have a source to cite or anything, but I've always assumed that a "high-powered microwave" is one of the full-sized, 600- or 700-watt models, that you have in your kitchen and do real cooking in. A "low powered" one, I imagine, is one of those little pint-sized things you might see in a college dorm room or a small coffee area in an office.
You can do an empirical test, of course: take some prepackaged food, and microwave it per the "high-power" instructions in a microwave of unknown power. If the food comes out not hot enough (or if you keel over from trichinosis tomorrow), it wasn't a high-power oven. (Or, contrariwise, try the low-power instructions. If the food comes out burned to a crisp or catches fire, it was a high-power oven.) :-) —Steve Summit (talk) 00:01, 28 June 2007 (UTC)

Returning to the second question, perhaps they're worried that if you touched the food before the hot spots had dissipated, you might burn yourself. --Anonymous, June 28, 2007, 00:27 (UTC).

You're probably right - but this is the precise wording of the instruction of the Marie Callender's Turkey Pot Pie I was enjoying (with 'Daddies sauce'...mmmmm!) as I composed the question: "Let stand 5 minutes in microwave. CAREFULLY remove as WRAPPER AND PRODUCT WILL BE HOT" - so it's already told me to be really careful about removing the pie - it just seems odd that they are so specific about leaving it inside the microwave for that amount of time. I could understand it if it said "BE REALLY CAREFUL as you take the product out of the microwave - and let it stand for 5 minutes before you eat it." - and of course it's not just this product that says that - they all do. SteveBaker 00:44, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
  1. The box your microwave came in should have given its power rating. If that's long gone, turn it around to near where the power cord comes out and there should be a panel or sticker that gives the power rating. If that's also a no go, then Steve summit's suggestions are pretty valid, the big microwaves are medium to high powered, the little ones are low powered.
  2. With microwaves there is always the risk of superheating liquids. This site is probably more interesting. While this is not highly likely with normal food, they may still consider it a risk, and one worth covering themselves for by warning you. --jjron 08:16, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
The power consumption of the microwave (likely to be on a plate near the power supply) will not be the same as its output, and it's the output which affects cooking times. DuncanHill 10:55, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
  1. The microwave in question is built into the cooker hood and it's a part of the apartment - it doesn't pull out - so I can't see any power rating - and the box is long gone.
  2. Yeah - I'm aware of the issue with microwaving liquids - but this is a pie (or frozen peas or...) - things that aren't going to superheat and explode. SteveBaker 13:44, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
I think the reason they say the "sitting time" should be in the oven is due to their ass-covering liability lawyers. If you pick up the pie immediately, the steam that forms within its voids (in the subcrustal suprafillingial zone) will not have condensed yet. Some will leak out, scald your hand, you'll shriek girlishly and drop the pie on your foot. So there's no physics reason why the pie should sit in there, it's just they don't want to be paying for lots of bozos' skin grafts. You'd think that would be covered under the "IT'S HOT" disclaimer, but I guess not. -- Finlay McWalter | Talk 14:08, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
You can determine the wattage rating of a microwave by how long it takes to bring a fixed amount of water (usually 2 cups or 500ml) to a boil. I'm sure there are directions and a conversion chart somewhere on the Internet. --Carnildo 22:16, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
First of all: you might superheat the water. You don't want to do that. Second: if you don't know how long it will take the water to boil, how can you properly set the microwave? I suggest microwaving the water for a fixed amount of time and using a thermometer to measure the temperature change. Then, use an old definition of calorie together with a conversion from calories to joules, and the definition of watt to figure out the wattage. (How would you allow for the vessel containing the water, though?...)
Hmmm - that sounds like a reasonable experiment. I can eliminate the effect of the container by microwaving a LOT of water - so the ratio of water to container overwhelms any likely error it would cause. MmmmK so...half a liter of water from the measuring 22degC...let's say 100 seconds...and....<bing!>...the final temp is 56 degC - so we have a rise of 34 Celcius. So that's 500g x 34C = 17,000 gram-calories - which is erm - 17,000 x 4.18 = 71 kJ ...over 100 seconds - which is 710 Watts. Huh! Waddya know? Science works! That's actually a very reasonable number! I bet we have a 750 Watt microwave oven here! I'm amazed we got such a good result. Thanks for the suggestion. SteveBaker 00:59, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

The wattage numbers should be on the back of the machine - try looking for a little metal plate or sticker with serial numbers/model numbers on it. The wattage should be listed there. 12:09, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

I already explained (above): The microwave in question is built into the cooker hood and it's a part of the apartment - it doesn't pull out - so I can't see any power rating - and the box is long gone. SteveBaker 16:26, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

But do the Microwave ratings measure the electricity consumption or the thermal output? For what it's worth you may have a 1000W microwave that outputs 750W of thermal power but says 1000W on the box... --antilivedT | C | G 23:18, 30 June 2007 (UTC)

How is bail fair?[edit]

how is it fair that rich people get to roam free until proven guilty while poor people are jailed for a long time sometimes awaiting trial or between sessions? i know the obvious answer is u can get the money from a bail bondsman if u dont have it but its not uncommon for the bail to be set at a million bucks or more and you would have to pay a bondsman about a hundred thousand dollars to keep so they can bail you out. average folks cant do it. if they're gonna be locked up for a month for that, so should rich people... right? 23:53, 27 June 2007 (UTC)

Not answering your question, but I'm reminded of the comment on American justice - "it's the best that money can buy". DuncanHill 23:56, 27 June 2007 (UTC)
Love the irony! but it doesnt answer my question!!! im prepairing for a debate and i need to argue that it IS fair (although i personally disagree) 00:06, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
It may not be "fair", but it might be the best practical solution to a real problem, which is that some system is needed that enables defendants to be free pending their hearing, to ameliorate prison overcrowding (and the sheer cost of imprisoning people). I think it very likely, too, that judges setting bail will take some account of the means of the defendant (taking account also of bail bond arrangements also), and so you could argue that the problem itself is not proven. You might also look at the relative risk of rich & poor defendants absconding whilst on bail; perchance the materialised risk maps well with the apparently regressive effect of the bail system. Hope those help. --Tagishsimon (talk)
When bails are set as high as a million dollars, the point the judge is trying to make is that there is a serious issue with either the prior record, the severity of the charges, the flight risk, or some other specific to the situation. In a sense it's better than nothing--the judge didn't remand you, but sometimes it's the next best thing.
To the contrary though, most bails are not nearly that high, and are much lower in amount (if you ever get a chance, go to a local court and watch some arraignment hearings to see what kinds of ranges there are for various crimes). There are still some serious problems with people not able to make small bails on minor offenses, and so what may happen is that when they finally get to enter a plea, they've served enough time to exceed the sentence for the offense, and so if they pled not guilty, they would still be in jail pending trial, but pleading guilty would get them released on time served (which does not make much sense, but unfortunately does happen). –Pakman044 00:37, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
I want to respond to Tagishimon's point about prison overcrowding. That really isn't the point. For one thing you get credit for time served, so letting a person out on bail doesn't save on overall prisoner-custody-days (assuming he's eventually convicted), though it might shift the burden from county jail to state prison. But the main thing is that a person who has yet to be convicted is presumed innocent, so it's considered unjust to hold him in jail before the state proves its case against him. The money is supposed to be only enough to guarantee his presence at trial (that's the idea behind the Eighth Amendment's ban of excessive bail). Of course my specific remarks here are with regard to the US system, but the ideas will be similar in any common-law country. --Trovatore 01:38, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
In addition to the assuming he is convicted caveat, there's also "assuming he gets a custodial sentence". He might get probation or a fine. So there is absolutely a link between offering bail, and minimising the prison population. Meanwhile yes, everyone is presumed innocent until otherwise. In the UK, in my experience, granting bail or remanding in custody decisions are made on estimations of the balance of risk (to the public &c of the defendant being at large, and the risk of absconding). I imagine it is the same in the US. I agree that the presumption is against remand in custody, except where risk dictates otherwise. I'm not sure I agree that we disagreed about the issues in the second half of your statement. --Tagishsimon (talk)
Trovatore, I'm afraid you'll find the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against excessive bails to be quite weak. See Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution#Excessive bail. Specifically, "the only arguable limitation of the Bail Clause is that the Government's proposed conditions of release or detention not be "excessive" in light of the perceived evil", United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 754 (1987)--a position highly deferential to bail not being excessive, and erodes the value of Stack v. Boyle, 342 U.S. 1, 5 (1951) ("[b]ail set at a figure higher than an amount reasonably calculated [to ensure the defendant's presence at trial] is "excessive" under the Eighth Amendment.") –Pakman044 03:21, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
Though the idea of "bail" is quite different in the UK and the US, isn't it? I mean, in the UK (as I understand it) it generally doesn't involve a set sum of money[5], whereas in the US (as I understand it) it does. That rather makes a difference as to whether this applies to the original poster's question. Marnanel 17:56, 28 June 2007 (UTC)
Actually both the US and the UK statutes are irrelevant, since the original question was posed by someone who (according to WHOIS) is accessing the Net from Vancouver, Canada. The relevant Canadian statutes are Section 515 of the Criminal Code[6] and Section 11 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms[7]. --Charlene 20:01, 28 June 2007 (UTC)