Wikipedia:Reference desk/Miscellaneous

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Wikipedia Reference Desk covering the topic of miscellaneous.

Welcome to the miscellaneous reference desk.
Want a faster answer?

Main page: Help searching Wikipedia

How can I get my question answered?

  • Provide a short header that gives the general topic of the question.
  • Type ~~~~ (i.e. four tilde characters) at the end – this signs and dates your contribution so we know who wrote what and when.
  • Post your question to only one desk.
  • Don't post personal contact information – it will be removed. We'll answer here within a few days.
  • Note:
    • We don't answer (and may remove) questions that require medical diagnosis or legal advice.
    • We don't answer requests for opinions, predictions or debate.
    • We don't do your homework for you, though we’ll help you past the stuck point.

How do I answer a question?

Main page: Wikipedia:Reference desk/Guidelines

  • The best answers address the question directly, and back up facts with wikilinks and links to sources. Do not edit others' comments and do not give any medical or legal advice.
See also:
Help desk
Village pump
Help manual

November 20

Packaging in different languages

I can't find an example of this right now, but I assure you it's a thing so please bear with me. This is in regards to products which are available both in the UK and continental Europe. I'm not talking about the USA, so please don't answer with reference to US practice as it is not relevant to my question. The same product has the same packaging, except that in the UK the small print (ingredients, chemical contents, instructions for use, whatever) is only in English, whereas in continental Europe the small print is given in a number of different European languages (typically French, German, Spanish, maybe Italian). So my question is, why do they make different packaging for the UK? Why not just make one package for the whole of Europe and include English with those other languages? I repeat, the product is exactly the same (no difference in the ingredients etc). Many thanks, --Viennese Waltz 09:45, 20 November 2015 (UTC)

Consider the relabelling of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor / Battenberg to Mountbatten. It may be just a marketing plot. For all I know, Mercedes shifts their steering wheel to the wrong side in cars produced for the British market. --Cookatoo.ergo.ZooM (talk) 11:53, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
Are there different labeling requirements for EU countries and the UK? I know that the UK is nominally part of the EU, but there are certain provisions they are exempt from, perhaps this is one? --Jayron32 12:38, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
The UK is bound by EU food labelling regulations [1] ... that legislation allows member states to impose language requirements [2] and according to United Kingdom food labelling regulations (without source) the UK requires food ingradient lists to be in English. I concur with Dbfirs's answer, below, but speculate that other factors are at work: UK firms are more likely to produce UK only labels for the (dominant) home market (and non-UK companies relatively less likely to); and the scale and flexibility of enterprises will also bear on their propensity to provide single-language labels for specific markets. --Tagishsimon (talk) 02:13, 21 November 2015 (UTC)
Occasionally we see products here in the UK with the multiple languages (i.e. European packaging), but our natural xenophobia means that sellers usually provide English-only packaging for the home market. Many consumers prefer English-only wording because then they are reassured that the product is made in England. I'm not defending the British attitude, just observing it. Dbfirs 22:08, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
There are also more practical reasons. A product labeled in several languages must use smaller writing, contain fewer details in each language, or have larger labels. One option is to label different sides of the product in different languages, but then the stockperson has to be careful to put the English side facing out. In any case, it may be more work for the consumer to find the part(s) that they can read. So, the question to the manufacturer is whether the additional cost involved in separate labeling is justified by the increased customer convenience. Of course, there are also some people in the UK who can't read English, and can read another language, but that's a relatively small number. StuRat (talk) 09:24, 21 November 2015 (UTC)
My usual breakfast cereal is sold in the UK with labels on the side of the box in many languages - including Arabic, so not just European languages. If I hadn't seen it stocked in a large and premium supermarket chain, I might have thought that I was buying a slightly dodgy grey / parallel import that was intended to be sold "somewhere foreign". And if it was a dodgy grey / parallel import, that would raise real questions over quality or even safety. To give a real example, Tim Tam biscuits are iconic and popular in Australia, but the same company also manufactures slightly different varieties of the biscuit under the "Tim Tam" brand name in Indonesia which are intended for the South East Asian market. However, the Indonesian varieties do sometimes reach Australia as grey / parallel imports - presumably because they are cheaper, and they are inferior in terms of both the quality of packaging and the taste of the product. So it's not just xenophobia that drives a preference for things that "do not look foreign".
So clearly some foods are allowed to be sold in the UK with foreign text on it, the reason why manufacturers might print different, English-only labels is, I think, mostly down to consumer preference. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 12:06, 23 November 2015 (UTC)

You may find that the packaging is made locally in the UK for the UK market, in which case, why bother taking up valuable real estate with other languages? --Dweller (talk) 13:43, 23 November 2015 (UTC)

That isn't an answer to the question posed. If you're saying that the products aren't sold outside the UK at all, then that's an answer but to a different scenario since the OP specified that the product is sold outside the UK with everything the same except the packaging. If you're saying the products are sold outside the UK and produced and packaged at the same place but with different packaging for different markets, then that still isn't actually an answer since the OP's question was why someone would bother making a packaging destined solely for the UK when in a world where it was irrelevant, it would seem cheaper for them to only make one packaging and sell it in the UK and everywhere else. I don't think anyone is surprised if they did have some reason to make a variant of their product with the intention to sell that variant in the UK only, they would print English only (and if they did print anything else it would be Welsh, Irish etc), but it doesn't help answer the OP's question of why they would do so. If you're saying that the product is sold outside the UK in different packaging that happens elsewhere but packaged in the UK for the UK market, there's still the question of why they would do this (quality control, cheapier to export the stuff unpackaged etc). And in any case, this also doesn't seem to fit with the OP's scenario of everything being the same with the same packaging but different languages. While technically this could occur in such a scenario, far more likely if the packaging is being made and done in different places for different markets, you will end up with differences in the packaging design as well as potential differences in weights. Nil Einne (talk) 04:45, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

November 21

Car 'hood' and cold weather.

Good Morning. I have a megane convertible, in which the window drops down an inch before the door opens, and goes back up once closed. In below freezing weather, the window doesn't drop down, but the door still opens. It doesn't close though, until whatever inside the door is frozen has defrosted, so I can't drive until this happens. My question is would one of those big hood type things (that I assume are used to keep the windscreen ice free) actually help here? Thanks in advance. (talk) 09:59, 21 November 2015 (UTC)

It may not be anything frozen, just the coefficient of thermal expansion, applied to the material in the door and door frame. In that case, keeping it warmer would be one option, as in a garage. Or a mechanic might be able to find whatever component has an improper clearance and adjust it so it can accommodate the natural expansion and contraction due to the weather. (I will resist the temptation to suggest you buy a better car.) StuRat (talk) 10:33, 21 November 2015 (UTC)
The MINI Cooper (both convertible and hardtop) does the same thing - the window is 'frameless' and lowers a half inch or so to clear the seal that runs along the roof line. In the MINI, at least, the problem isn't with the cold per-se - it's with moisture on the outside of the glass freezing and making the window stick. The MINI (and evidently in the Megane), there is enough flexibility in the system that the door will open with the window fully shut - it's designed to allow that so you can get into the car when the battery is dead (so you can pop the bonnet catch and charge the battery). But when you try to shut the door, the glass hits the sill of the roof. I've heard of cases where people didn't notice the problem and slammed the car door hard, shattering the glass - so this is definitely not a good thing!
I'm not sure what our OP means by "those big hood type things" - if we're talking about the slot that runs along the base of the windscreen - or a 'hood scoop' then no, on most cars those are generally air intakes. I'm not aware of any mechanisms that would help this on any car I've ever seen - apart from the heater ducts on the inside of the car. Running the heater on "defrost" while driving the car should help - but if the car has been parked for hours and thereby become frozen, then you can only resort to scraping any surface ice off of the window before attempting to open (and more especially, close) the door.
If (as StuRat suggests) it's not ice build-up, and just some component that's locking up in the cold - then I strongly suggest a trip to your Renault dealership. Probably there is some component of the window mechanism that isn't adequately greased, or perhaps there is some adjustment that has not been correctly made. You may have to take the car there in cold weather and have them park it outside and have their techs look at it first thing in the morning so they can replicate the problem. Use the dealership and not some other repair place - you need people who are experts in that specific vehicle and who have access to the manufacturers service bulletins.
If all else fails, you might consider getting one of those car covers to cover your car while it's parked...that will prevent moisture buildup...and if you have a cloth-top convertible that has to be parked outside, it'll considerably improve the life of the roof - even in summer.
SteveBaker (talk) 13:09, 21 November 2015 (UTC)
I assumed that by "one of those big hood type things" the OP was referring to "one of those car covers to cover your car while it's parked". Deor (talk) 16:25, 21 November 2015 (UTC)
You mean like this? --Jayron32 18:50, 21 November 2015 (UTC)
OP here, and thanks for replies. Yes, like that, but I've only seen ones that cover the top half of the car. The manual refers to not closing the door when frozen, so not a mechanical fault with this car (although rather a design fault with this make, at least for people who buy them where the winter can be below freezing.)
So will one of these covers keep the car 'warmer'? Will it help at all? (talk) 22:17, 21 November 2015 (UTC)
Well, it does indeed helps to stop frost forming on the windscreen (which is why I use one when necessary), so probably yes.
When the car is parked under a clear sky, it's radiating heat, but is getting very little radiated back fron the sky, which is a bunch of air mostly below zero C underneath a bunch of space not much more than zero K – this is why frost can form on the windscreen even when the ambient temperature is above zero C. The cover however remains at ground-level ambient, so is radiating a little heat back at the car. (This is also why one may find that the side windows facing a building don't frost up when the other side facing the open does.) There's probably also a minor element of reducing convection and retaining some residual heat from the slowly cooling engine. {The poster formerly known as} (talk) 22:58, 21 November 2015 (UTC)
I wonder if glowplugs can be installed in a door. StuRat (talk) 19:22, 22 November 2015 (UTC)

November 23

Metal loops sticking out of walls

Recently, walking past a building in London, I noticed that it had small metal loops or rings sticking out of the exterior wall at regular intervals at about head height. They had little plastic tags on them, which recorded the dates on which they were inspected. You can sort of see them in this Streetview image: I also noticed similar rings on another building nearby, but those did not have the tags. Does anyone know what these are, and what they do? --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 10:50, 23 November 2015 (UTC)

It's difficult to be sure from the photo, but these are probably for attaching PPE lanyards/ropes and Safety harnesses to allow personnel to work on the outside of the building. Such attachments (in the UK, and presumably elsewhere) have to be regularly inspected to ensure they will still bear the required force without pulling out of the walls, and may not be used if the last inspection tag has passed its expiry date. In our office we have some on the inside load-bearing wall pillars, to allow personnel to attach and then climb out of the windows for whatever reason necessary. {The poster formerly known as} (talk) 15:05, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
I thought about the possibility that they might be for hanging ropes etc on, but these are at head height, so seems unlikely to be for hanging anything *down* from. Suppose there is something else at the top of the building (I couldn't see any on the wall, but it might be on the roof or something), would they also need something like this near the ground, say for stabilisation? --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 15:26, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
Lower braces for scaffolding maybe? --Jayron32 15:46, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
There weren't remnants of blood and traces of human flesh on the walls and ground, were there? -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 17:57, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
Agree with Jayron, most likely fixings for scaffold. See here [[3]]--Ykraps (talk) 20:06, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
Okay that looks like that's it, thanks both! --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 20:49, 23 November 2015 (UTC)


While handling a time-zone problem at WP:VPT, I randomly picked Australia/Currie as my time zone temporarily. How did Currie, population 750, become the namesake of its own tz database area? Nothing at Australia/Currie explains anything; King Island (Tasmania) and Currie, Tasmania don't mention anything about the island changing time zones or jurisdictions, and Daylight saving time in Australia and Time in Australia only mention Currie in a list, rather than explaining why King Island would have had its own time zone or its own daylight saving time rules, separate from those of the rest of the state — especially given that the state's small size and the "mainland's" proximity to King Island would make it particularly odd for the island not to be on the same time as Circular Head. Nyttend (talk) 21:11, 23 November 2015 (UTC)

Just a thought, but the locals might actually want to differentiate themselves from the larger group, and this is a token way of doing so. StuRat (talk) 21:36, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
See this document, from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. King Island (unlike the rest of Tasmania) did not use Daylight Saving Time between 1967 and 1971, hence the separate time zone. Tevildo (talk) 22:39, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
This is also a useful source for the history of time zones in Australia. Tevildo (talk) 22:41, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Hmm, no, I don't think the locals have anything to do with it - this is about the authors of the Tz database. The database attempts to define every area of the globe which has ever had a different time to neighbouring areas (where ever is defined as at least since 1970). According to this history of time zones in Australia, King Island did not adopt daylight savings at the same time as the rest of Tasmania, although this history implies it now has. - Cucumber Mike (talk) 22:45, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
According to Page 29 of Cucumber Mike's second document (excellent find, incidentally), "the main amendment [to the bill introducing DST to Tasmania] being that King Island was to be excluded from the scheme because its economy was more closely tied to the mainland". Tevildo (talk) 22:50, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
Which mainland did that refer to? From King I's perspective, I'd have thought Tasmania was the mainland. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 23:07, 23 November 2015 (UTC)
Presumably the larger landmass to its north. --Jayron32 04:52, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

November 24

Unaccomplished parents

Is there a term for a parent who has had a mediocre life/career and as a result of his/her shortcomings wants their offspring to fulfill the lifestyle they wished they themselves accomplished? Contrib raati (talk) 09:45, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

Are you talking about living vicariously, or are you talking about working to create a better life for your children? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 10:54, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
I suppose its vicarious after looking up the definition. That might be the word I was looking for. Can you think of any synonyms of the word vicarious but pertaining specifically to parent-to-offspring vicariousness, especially for altruistic reasons? (note english is not my first language) Contrib raati (talk) 10:59, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
Trying "to live out their dreams through their children"[4] or "living through their children", although that has very negative connotations or consequences,[5] not altruistic. Stage mothers are likely suspects. Clarityfiend (talk) 11:16, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
The behavior our OP describes is what 'normal' parents do. I suppose you could split parents into three hypothetical groups:
  1. Those who wish their children will do better than they did.
  2. Those who wish their children will do worse than they did.
  3. Those who don't care.
Category (3) parents come with a bunch of names like 'deadbeat', category (2) must be very rare - and if we do have a name for them, it's going to be considered to be some kind of mental illness or something. It follows that we don't really have a special name for category (1) because those are considered to be the 'normal' parents - who are in the vast majority. However, what we're looking for here are parents in category (1) who are relatively low achievers...but since the sky is the limit for great achievements, nearly everyone can find shortcomings in themselves that they'd like their children to overcome. Even very high achievers strive to make this happen.
SteveBaker (talk) 13:34, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
Ah but what if I don't care if my kids do better or worse than me as long as they are happy at what they are doing? CambridgeBayWeather, Uqaqtuq (talk), Sunasuttuq 13:46, 24 November 2015 (UTC)
Then that is just a different definition of "better" MChesterMC (talk) 14:39, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

Let's say, as an example, a parent always wanted to be a doctor, but was unable to accomplish this goal. This parent decides to ensure their offspring ends up as a doctor in order to live out their failed accomplishment through their child even though the child is completely uninterested in healthcare. Is there no specific name/term more specified than 'vicariousness? Contrib raati (talk) 15:30, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

I don't think there's any single specific word for the parenting situation, though there are common phrases. This [6] news article calls it "chasing lost dreams", but also uses "vicarious". "Living vicariously through [their] children" has lots of usage. See also perhaps Wish fulfillment. SemanticMantis (talk) 16:20, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

November 25

Low-performing schools

I remember there was a term for schools with extremely low pass rates or had a more-or-less useless curriculum. Can somebody remind me what this term is please? Contrib raati (talk) 15:38, 25 November 2015 (UTC)

In the UK, such schools are put into "Special measures", which has become a more generic term (euphemism?) for "failure" in official contexts. Tevildo (talk) 15:54, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
Thats not the word I was looking for. Contrib raati (talk) 16:18, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
At the higher education level, there are Diploma mills - with high pass rates (if you pay), but a useless curriculum (if any). --Stephan Schulz (talk) 16:34, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
Could it be sink school? No article, but presumably named with reference to sink estates. Googling sink school gives some British newspaper articles discussing them. Hassocks5489 (Floreat Hova!) 18:55, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
“We class schools, you see, into four grades: Leading School, First-rate School, Good School, and School. Frankly," said Mr Levy, "School is pretty bad...” ― Evelyn Waugh, Decline and Fall. Modern terminology in the UK is not much different. Dbfirs 20:42, 25 November 2015 (UTC)

How would the Turkish military "warn" a Russian fighter plane?

See2015 Russian Sukhoi Su-24 shootdown.How did Turkey issue "multiple warnings" to the Russian aircraft crew? Do enemy fighter planes and ground stations have a common frequency for talking in combat situations? Like the pilots or their ground controllers having a frequency (perhaps a scrambled channel) for talking to their own side and a different or a "universal" frequency for talking to the enemy like they would talk to a neutral airport? Would the "universal" receiver cut in even if they were talking to their home base? Do enemy pilots ever "trash talk" each other, or beg for mercy, or gloat when their missile hits the enemy, assuming they understand each other's speech? Edison (talk) 19:14, 25 November 2015 (UTC)

This story says the signal was in English on 243.0 MHz, the Military Air Distress channel. For friend-to-friend communications you would expect encrypted communications on milcom channels - in theatre that would often be satcom instead. -- Finlay McWalterTalk 20:05, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
And in general there are plenty of things you can do besides using radio. Fly in front of them and do maneuvers to get the pilot's attention. Flash lights at the pilot. If the prospective target is a military plane, it will generally detect and warn the pilot if something locks targeting radar on the plane. Now, which of these techniques are used obviously depends on circumstances and rules of engagement. -- (talk) 20:52, 25 November 2015 (UTC)
Yea, flying in front might be problematic both because they couldn't catch up with and pass those planes, and because they might then be targeted. That method works better with a slower, passenger plane. StuRat (talk) 21:26, 25 November 2015 (UTC)