Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2007 December 11

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Miscellaneous desk
< December 10 << Nov | December | Jan >> December 12 >
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.

December 11[edit]


May I ask why, Pornography is sometimes abbreviated with these letters. It doesn't make sense to me. Esskater11 04:16, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

X-rated#United States. "Some even started using multiple X's (i.e. XX, XXX, etc.) to give the impression that their film contained more graphic sexual content than the simple X-rating." FiggyBee (talk) 05:49, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
Note that XXX, centred at the bottom of the page, also used to be used to indicate the end of a (typewritten) article draft submitted by a reporter, in the days of a press card in the old fedora hat. This then became, in a twist of humour, --30--. BrainyBabe (talk) 06:57, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
In the old cinema classification system used in the UK, prior to ?1975, the X-rated films were those that were prohibited for viewers under 18 years of age. They invariably contained scenes of a strong sexual nature or extreme violence. The multiplication of the X to XXX is perhaps the result of modern inflation. Richard Avery (talk) 08:56, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
According to History of British film certificates the X-certificate lasted till 1982, and before 1970 meant the film was restricted to over-16s. I don't think it's true to say that X-films contained 'invariably contained scenes of a strong sexual nature or extreme violence' - they were just those considered 'unsuitable for children'. For example, several of my contemporaries managed to see The Graduate when they were 15. AndrewWTaylor (talk) 09:19, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
According to the OED, X, XX, and XXX have been used to designate increasingly potent varieties of alcoholic drinks since at least 1827. Pfly (talk) 09:42, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
And according to popular legend, the Queensland beer XXXX (or Four-X) is so called because they can't spell "beer". :) -- JackofOz (talk) 11:23, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
I think that both FiggyBee and Pfly are correct. Partly the XXX is due to the use of the X rating in the U.S., and partly it is due to the use of XXX in the distilling of spirits. The reason that XXX came to be used by distillers was primarily due to the making of Moonshine, which is whiskey (or other alcoholic spirits) made without a government license. The best Moonshine was run through a distillation process more than once - three times being considered very good quality. Each time a batch of Moonshine was distilled, the Moonshiners would place an X on the jars containing that batch. So three Xs on the outside of a jar of Moonshine would indicate that it had been distilled three times. This became integrated into popular American culture so that three Xs would be synonymous with Moonshine, which is of course illegal. So, by taking the X movie rating and turning it into a triple X, the porn industry was making a tongue-in-cheek joke about their film - that it was borderline illegal, and that it was very potent stuff. -- Saukkomies 07:54, 11 December, 2007. (UTC)
In what is probably just an odd coincidence, Amsterdam, which is noted for its vibrant sex industry has three crosses as its emblem. risk (talk) 01:09, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

Do some female bodybuilders have YouTube accounts?[edit]

I'm just some female bodybuilders have YouTube accounts? And if there are, list me some of them. Not trying to be weird. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Sirdrink13309622 (talkcontribs) 05:39, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

You've failed at trying not to be weird, though. However, I have taken the liberty of Googling a bit, you can start here. --Ouro (blah blah) 18:45, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
Was there anything hard about typing "Female bodybuilder" into Youtube? [1] SaundersW (talk) 20:51, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Video Game Death[edit]

I was recently playing Halo 3 online deathmatch over X-Box live with a buddy and as he kept dying he started getting extremely frustrated and began adamantly claiming that it was completely random whether he died or the other guy did in close fights. It seems to me that whatever game mechanism decides who "wins" in a given situation would at least be internally consistent, and knowing that we have at least one resident video game programmer I was hoping someone could shed some light on whether or not this is true. So, all things being equal, is it as random as he seems to think, or are his lack of skills to blame? Azi Like a Fox (talk) 06:40, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Well, random chance is internally consistent. But I would imagine that the battles in Halo go like this. Each part of the body has a max potential damage rating, e.g. with guns that shoot bullets only the head has the max potential damage of death. You factor that in with the max damage of the gun, you will get a value that max damage the gun can cause with one shot. As to his claim that "it was completely random whether he died or the other guy did in close fights", in a small number of trials you will not be able to determine whether this is true or not. But as the number of games goes up (and as the outcomes remain the same), it becomes increasingly unlikely that random chance is involved. He is most likely right that there's an element of chance, but it is no more justified to claim that poker is random chance as it is Halo 3 battles. In each situation, there are probabilities at play, but you can also change the probabilities with skill.--droptone (talk) 12:32, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
(Yeah - I'm the resident ref-desk game programmer) I can't claim to know how Halo is programmed and I don't work for Bungee/Microsoft (and if I did, I probably wouldn't be allowed to talk about it) - but on general principles, you don't introduce randomness into something that's human-skill based. You add randomness to introduce variety into an otherwise 'canned' situation, the AI opponents don't always hit when they shoot - so randomness is probably added for them. But there is simply no need to do that when humans are in there aiming and mashing buttons. There is always some 'randomness' introduced by the network 'ping time' of your computer/console and (if you were playing on a PC), your computer's frame rate. If your communication back to the Halo server is slow then the rate and the precision at which your button presses reach the server may be poorer than the person you are playing against. Networking software is really unable to do much about that.
But "he kept dying" is not an indication that any of these things are the case. Perhaps the other player is simply better at aiming than he is? Perhaps your opponent is better at aiming at moving targets? Maybe your friend isn't doing a good job of making use of cover and dodging when necessary? If it was completely random, he would die roughly half the time - but then if he was playing against an evenly matched opponent, he'd die half the time too. How could he possibly tell which it was? If he's dying MORE than half the time then it's really unlikely that it's random because if it was, it would be random for both players and he'd still have a 50/50 chance. So if he's dying MORE than half the time then for sure he's a less good player than his opponent. If we need to sooth his ego, then we could suggest that perhaps his opponents are getting better ping times. I don't know about Halo - but games like Doom and Quake always let you know what your ping time was to each of the available servers - and you'd be well-advised to pick the server with the shortest ping time. If Halo doesn't let you choose - then it's probably picking the best one for you automatically.
SteveBaker (talk) 13:05, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
"but on general principles, you don't introduce randomness into something that's human-skill based", Steve? Of course you do - at least as far as first person shooters are concerned. Most games will have some sort of randomised inaccuracy built into each weapon - learning how to use each weapon in the most efficent way is part of the skillset that players need. So yes, all other things (the weapons used, the skill and reactions of the players, the evenhandedness of the situation, ping times) being equal, and unless both players in a firefight can kill each other at the same time (which can happen in some games but not others, depending on how the bullet flight is modelled) it is going to be random who wins - how else could it be? FiggyBee (talk) 16:11, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
Yeah - actually, you're probably right about weapon inaccuracy. (I should explain that I'm a graphics guy - shooting and multiplayer stuff isn't my speciality). I guess what I really meant was that you don't introduce randomness unnecessarily and arbitarily in the sense that the OP's friend seems to imagine. Simulating a real weapon does indeed require a bit of randomness - but it's not like the game flips a coin to decide who lives and who dies. But in the end, even if there was no randomness in the game at all - it would still SEEM random because of variance of ping times - and because (as you say) someone has to win - even in a closely matched game - because humans are human and our performance is never 100% consistent. SteveBaker (talk) 16:27, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
This necessary low-level randomness, though, should not be construed as saying that Azi's friend is right in that high-level Halo conflicts are determined randomly. From the player level, skill is absolutely a major factor, drastically overriding the game's randomness. As Droptone noted above, both weapon type and hit location are used by Halo to factor damage. For the specific case, Halo's melee combat is particularly effective if you hit someone in the head -- I've got a friend who's quite good at this, so I just don't get into close combat with him any more. This may be part of what Azi's friend is running into. — Lomn 16:38, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

I think you might be on to something Lomn, my friend's frustrations definitely seemed connected to losing melee battles and I was unaware of that fact about hit location. Anyways, thanks everyone who answered, very helpful / interesting. Azi Like a Fox (talk) 05:02, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

"Seventeen" and Iraq war?[edit]


Does the number 17 have any particular significance to the Iraq war prior to November 8 2006 (which was before the Blackwater shooting)? NeonMerlin 06:52, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

What are you talking about? If it's some sort of numerological question, know that you can find "significance" in any number if you start searching for coincidences left and right. -- (talk) 15:28, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
I have no clue what you're driving at, but try 17. --Milkbreath (talk) 16:42, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
This is a long shot, but are you referring to "Seventeen" by Machinae Supremacy? If so, the title of that song was a working title (because it was the 17th song they had recorded or were working on at the time), and they ended up keeping the name when they released it. Lead band member Robert Stjärnström explains in a post on the official forum: Re: Why is 17 called 17?. --Bavi H (talk) 07:17, 12 December 2007 (UTC).
Ah, that would explain it. NeonMerlin 02:13, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

For a longer shot - is it possible you're thinking of 19? If so, that has a strong connection with the Vietnam war following the very, very famous song 19 - which echoed a claim that an average American soldier in Vietnam was nineteen years old. SteveBaker (talk) 02:18, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

The Doors[edit]

A non English friend asked my what the doors were singing about when they mention :...wallow in the myre... Now I was sutably embarresed that I could not answer this and so have been doing a little research. describes Myre as a small insect. I doubt the doors did much wallowing in small hard working insects. So what is a Myre(spelling might be a bit off)Thanks —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:40, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

"Mire" is another word for mud (eg "mired boots" = "muddy boots"). A Mire, like "Grimpen Mire" in "The Hound of the Baskervilles" is a marsh or bog (on Dartmoor). Wallowing in mud is a pastime recommended by Flanders and Swan SaundersW (talk) 13:46, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
. . but only if you're a hippopotamus. All together - "Follow me, Follow..... Richard Avery (talk) 16:25, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
Aw, Richard, why can only the hippopotamus enjoy that? SaundersW (talk) 17:16, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

This topic refers to The Doors, by the way. Edison (talk) 17:22, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

And more precisely to their song Light My Fire. —Tamfang (talk) 08:43, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, but discussing the meaning of mire - even with reference to other songs - is relevant. In the Doors' case, though, it's fairly self-explanatory from the meanings of wallow and mire:
  • wallow - move slowly and with difficulty
  • mire - swamp or mud
So... "The time to hesitate is through/no time to wallow in the mire..." is a simple metaphor: "we've got to act now - no moving as if we were struggling through mud". Grutness...wha? 08:40, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Sizes of Wiktionary and Wikipedia in different languages[edit]

I am somewhat struck by how much bigger the English Wikipedia is than the other language Wikipedias (which I would expect), while the French Wiktionary (French Wikipedia is 3rd largest) is larger than English Wiktionary. Also, German Wikipedia is 2nd largest, but German Wiktionary is much smaller than the others. Is there a good reason for this?--Filll (talk) 14:34, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Doing a bit more investigation myself, I see some information on Wiktionary. English and French have traded the lead over time. A lot of the entries on both the English and French versions come from bot entries and public domain dictionaries. What is curious to me is that the German version has not done this as well. Are there no bots in the German version? Is the German language less amenable to the use of these bots? Are there no public domain German dictionaries to steal from?--Filll (talk) 15:07, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
there is a strong aversion in the german community when it comes to bots to create content. Elvis (talk) 15:30, 14 December 2007 (UTC)
French is an unusual (perhaps unique) language in that there is a legally sanctioned body who administer it. The Académie française is a government run group of about 40 people who rule on what is legally French and what is the work of evil foreigners. They meet regularly to sanction what French words will be used for things like new terminology for computers and to provide alternatives for (typically) English words that are creeping into common usage. Hence, for example, the commonly used French word "Parking" (meaning exactly what you'd expect it to mean) is not legal French and does not appear on (for example) road signs. Instead there is some much longer phrase that's been deemed acceptable by the "language police". Anyway, that means that there is an "official" dictionary: The Dictionnaire de l'Académie française - and I vaguely recall that it's free of copyright (it's certainly available for free online) - and therefore may have been the basis of the French Wiktionary. There is no equivelent document in English or German and any free input that either of those Wiktionaries may have gotten wouldn't be as comprehensive as the Academie dictionary. However, there are only about 30,000 words in Academie-sanctioned French (although French Wiktionary isn't bound by their rules - so they may well have more). By contrast, the complete Oxford English Dictionary has about a third of a million words. On that basis alone, sooner or later, I'd expect English Wiktionary to trample the French one into the dust! SteveBaker (talk) 16:14, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
German does have the Duden, although that is not quite the same as the Académie. It's more official than the OED though. Adam Bishop (talk) 16:58, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
Great info, SteveBaker! I wanted to add that the English language has by far the largest vocabulary (sheer number of words) of any other language in the world, and probably in the history of the world. Because it depends on what one might consider to be an actual "English" word, it is difficult to come up with a single answer as to precisely how many words there are in the English language, but most people seem to think it is almost 1,000,000 words link. That's a LOT! Compare this with German, which has a vocabulary of about 185,000, and French with fewer than 100,000 link. This is due in part to the fact that English is a Germanic language that acquired a lot of Romantic language words, thus creating an incredibly rich diversity of words that may be used to describe things. An example of this is the following collection of words that describe a similar thing: Regal, Royal, Sovereign, Kingly, Kinglike, Monarchical, Monarchal, Purple, Noble, Majestic, Crowned, Imperial, Aristocratic, Blue-Blooded, Honorable, Lordly, Stately, Highborn, August, Coroneted, and Patrician. Because there are so many ways to describe the same thing, English words typically carry with them a lot more specific and more subtle meanings than is the case in most other languages. This is not to say that other languages do not also have many words with subtle meanings, but English has more of them, and English speakers use them more frequently, due to the fact that we just have so many more words to choose from.
The reason that English is so huge is due to the fact that for a variety of reasons, English speakers have had no qualms against picking up foreign words and phrases and making them their own. There is also a very strong tendency to create new words in order to be more fashionable - be it that one is trying to be more "hip" or "cool", or to be more "brainy" and "sophisticated". Knowing and using the latest and most impressive words imparts great status to the typical English speaker, whileas in other languages such blatant use of new-fangled words is often frowned upon. Although English has lots of problems for the non-English speaking person to try to learn (such as horrid spelling rules and a huge number of colloquialisms), it is by far the most powerful language to have ever existed on the planet, including Greek and Latin, which English has almost subsumed as its own. -- Saukkomies 15:43, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Please note that the "Global Language Monitor" you link to has been discredited by respected linguists. (talk) 16:34, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Good point. It looks like languagemonitor is a bit suspect. The Acadamie Francaise also does not quite have as much clout as many claim, from my investigations (I also speak French). Also, if you include various technical terms, English might easily have more than 10 million words.--Filll (talk) 18:16, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

The problem with all of these measures is that very few speakers know anything like that number of words. It's been claimed that an average high school graduate can understand a total vocabulary of 25,000 to 35,000 words - but use less than a third of that number in their own speech and writings. It's pointless having many more words than that because most of them will not be understood by the vast proportion of the population - and clearly we can communicate perfectly comfortably with less than 10,000 words. Obviously we all have various subject-specific vocabularies that don't entirely overlap between speakers. SteveBaker (talk) 02:08, 13 December 2007 (UTC)


Hi, what can you tell me about Mayflower Pewter, such as dates, origin etc. Regards Coral —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:08, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

This question has been answered above (See December 6 "Plate") with specific reference to the external site provided in the last line of the answer. Bielle (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 18:52, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

ten million times[edit]

it happens over ten million times in a year?what is it not sure but cud it be either a human breathing or blinking(thats what google gave me) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:54, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

There are about 31 million seconds in a year. So this would be something that happens to a person roughly every three seconds? I would imagine blinking would be it. Breathing is more like once a second, heartbeats don't work either. SteveBaker (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 15:59, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
See Blink though. According to the article, "women and men do not differ in their rates of spontaneous blinking, averaging around 10 blinks per minute in a laboratory setting". So suppose the average period awake per day is 18 hours ... 10 * 60 * 18 * 365 = 3,942,000 so either a) maybe not or b) poor question or c) whatever that might be. --Tagishsimon (talk) 16:07, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
The article Respiratory rate suggests adult humans breathe from 12 to 20 breaths per minute, not the "once per second" SteveBaker gave above. (I think he must have been on the treadmill at the time. :-)) That's a breath every 3 seconds, at the fast end, and thus about 10 million breaths in a 31 million-second year. Bielle (talk) 18:15, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
Yeah - what was I thinking? But as you say, one breath every 3 seconds is at the high end - it would be less on the average - so you'd be unlikely to hit 10 million per year. Blinking doesn't work either since you don't blink when you're asleep and (according to the article blink) two to ten seconds is typical. 10 million per year is too many for blinking too. SteveBaker (talk) 19:30, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
I find nothing so silly as the influx of poorly-written riddles the Reference Desk gets. Usually they are poorly worded to begin with and of extremely dubious veracity anyway. -- (talk) 18:28, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree - my first thought was "What happens in the entire universe as few as 10 million times a year?" but since that's unanswerable and unlikely to be what was wanted, I observed that the OP thought it was to do with humans. I was still thinking in terms of perhaps the world-wide birth rate (nope, not even close, it's gotta be ten times that) or the rate of car accidents (better). But since the OP seemed basically happy with blinking and breathing...I thought it best to determine the time interval (about once every 3 seconds) and go from there. But (as usual) if you read the question too closely, it says "OVER 10 million times a year" - so almost any reasonably frequent process would do. Uranium atom fissions? Dung beetle fatalities? Cases of someone hiccuping a prime number of times? Trees falling in the forest - but not making a sound? Stars going supernova? That way lies madness! As I've said before, these "riddles" generally rely on someone who thinks they've come up with an amazing fact attempting to impress everyone else with an answer that the others will never think of. Since the audience is very often stunned into not thinking about it and immediately saying "I have no idea" - the person phrasing the "riddle" can feel superior. If a bunch of people such as those of us who hang out here were replying ("The number of cases of someone hiccuping a prime number of times?"), the riddler would very soon lose interest in trying to tie the question down tightly enough so that only the one single answer he'd thought of would fit it. Oh well, you've gotta go with what you've got. SteveBaker (talk) 19:30, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

vegan plus meat[edit]

Friend have been demi-veggie for many years (lacto-ovo vegetarian plus fish and shellfish). Their first child had severe allergies to shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, and eggs, but gradually outgrew all but the first two. With the second child they followed the advice "no milk before one, no eggs before two, no nuts before three" (that's years, not o'clock, by the way). The baby has indeed proved to be severely allergic to milk. A vegan diet with no nuts would be a real challenge to this family. There are lots of online resources for people thinking of becoming vegetarian, but not much for those moving the other way. I tried googling "vegan plus meat", a phrase I have heard used before now, but got nowhere. Any ideas? I am NOT asking for dietary advice per se -- just guidance to where I can educate myself on how to change one's digestive habits, taste buds, kitchen systems, etc. to meet current needs. BrainyBabe (talk) 17:09, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

I couldn't find much (beyond inane Yahoo! Answers), except that there appears to be a name for what you are considering: Flexitarianism. Rockpocket 20:13, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
Broadening what vegetables are eaten may be worth a try. Aside from the usual supermarket fare of carrots, celery, broccoli etc which get old pretty fast, there's some great possibilities with lentils (e.g. veggie samosas), chickpeas (hummus), black bean & quinoa salad, refried beans with red rice to name a few of my favorites. Also, are the seafood items as fresh as possible? The challenge of sticking to fish instead of meat is acquiring it in an acceptably-fresh state, which may not be easy if you live in a small inland community. Vranak (talk) 21:00, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
If the nutrition in question is that of a child's, a nutritionist should be consulted before adding/cutting entire categories out of their diets. It's more important if a baby gets all of the nutrition they need than it is for an adult (their brain is still forming and their bodies are quiet vulnerable), and I wouldn't try to institute a vegan diet with a kid unless I really knew what I was doing and had consulted a pediatrician. -- (talk) 01:50, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Why in the world would your friends keep their baby from milk as a newborn? There have been babies, such as this one, who have died because their non-breastfeeding vegan parents tried to keep them from drinking milk. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 23:21, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for the contributions so far. Let me reiterate that I am not looking for direct advice, but for resources. Perhaps I should have clarified that the baby in question has been exclusively breastfed till six months, as per WHO guidelines, when simple safe foods were introduced. At one year of age came the test for cow's milk; as per the allergist's advice, the parents rubbed a drop on the baby's skin, which resulted in a bad reaction. These people are good cooks and are well acquainted with the pulses and legume dishes mentioned, but they have been professionally advised to be cautious in using these with the kids. As I said to them the other day, I have no doubt that the baby will be fine, because they will go to any lengths (including bending their vegetarian principles) to ensure the safety of their kids. My concern is how fine the parents are going to be: stressed, I would imagine. Hence my request for ideas, suggestions, resources. BrainyBabe (talk) 00:07, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Don't worry; a lot of people rush to answer before properly reading the question. It was already quite clear what you were asking for, and some of the earlier comments are nonsensical given what you wrote. You've nothing to be apologetic for. On a more helpful note, have you checked out the BBC's advanced recipe search? Having had a look around the webs, it seems the best for excluding things. Lots and lots of ideas there, for example pages of results for 'dairy free, nut free, shellfish free'. You could add vegetarian to that too and see what it comes up with. I can't work out how to exclude pulses and legumes as well, but there are plenty of options there. Skittle (talk) 15:14, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

I can't help with the exact kind of thing you need, but as the father of a child with a dairy 'sensitivity', I can give you two pieces of what I hope is helpful advice. First, a reaction to dairy (i.e. milk allergy or sensitivity, not lactose intolerance) can also indicate a similar reaction to soy protein. Apparently the proteins are similar enough to cause similar reactions, which is unfortunate since soy works so well as a replacement. Second, virtually every prepared meat product out there will have one or both of those ingredients in them. For example, it never occurred to me to check a package of hot dogs for milk, but it's in the majority of brands in the stores. Soy is also routinely added to seemingly 'plain' meats (like bulk chicken breasts and ground meat). Break out the magnifying glass when you're checking labels! Matt Deres (talk) 11:51, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

Mattress Replacement[edit]

What are the regulations for Massachusetts regarding mattress replacement? I bought my Englander brand mattress in January or February of 2000 and have since lost the receipt. The credit card companies only have records going as far back as 2001. The store I bought it from have computerized records going back to 2001, and claim that paper records are in the basement but would be very difficult to find and therefore won't look. What recourse do I have? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:58, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

So do you imagine you have some kind of rights for replacement of an 8 year old mattress? Was there some kind of warranty on it? Failing that, I'd say you were out of luck! I very much doubt the state laws guarantee you more than a really minimal warranty period. SteveBaker (talk) 23:18, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Greek surnames[edit]

In ancient Greek history, all of the names mentioned (Socrates, Aristotle, Hippocrates etc) appear to lack surnames. Is there any indication that these were first or last names? Or were the complete names lost to history? Salisbury9620 (talk) 23:09, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Family name#History explains this quite nicely. SteveBaker (talk) 23:16, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
They were "first" names, although really they are just "names" because they don't have last names. As a kind of surname tThey could have used their father's name in the genitive ("[son] of so-and-so")...I don't know who the fathers of these three were but their sons would have used Socratides, Aristotelides, and Hippocratides. In the case of Athens, so for Socrates and Aristotle, they could have used the name of whatever clan they were assigned to. Perhaps Hippocrates' island of Kos had a similar system. The Romans used epithets sometimes, and Greek gods and heroes had epithets as well (there is a whole list of epithets in Homer), so perhaps regular people used them too, but I don't know. Adam Bishop (talk) 01:51, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
I believe -ides is a derivational suffix, not a genitive: if I'm right, it has all the cases. —Tamfang (talk) 08:51, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Legal Advice Rules?[edit]

What's up with the "no legal advice" rules? Is it a law or something because I notice it exists on other boards besides just wikipedia? Either way, I'm curious as to the reasoning behind it. It's not like a person would go to court and say "well, somebody told me on wikipedia that you can't do that, Judge." ...and if they do that then the person is an idiot anyway. It seems like this legal advice constraint thing is a lose-lose situation. Is it a crime for two people to talk law and legalities jsut because it's on the internet? Sincerely confused, thanks! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:17, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia is used throughout the world. In many parts of the world it is illegal to practice Law or Medicine without a license. Since Wikipedia doesn't want to be sued, and we have no way to tell who has legal qualifications and who doesn't, we have a policy of not offering individual Legal or Medical advice on the reference desks. In main article space, we clearly aren't talking about advice for the benefit of a particular individual - but the reference desk is something special. What other online systems do is there business - perhaps they have other disclaimers (Have you read them? I doubt it!), others may feel it's not a huge risk - and yet others may simply be naive. Anyway - those are the rules we operate under. SteveBaker (talk) 23:22, 11 December 2007 (UTC)
As you say, it would be rather idiotic to claim that wikipedians told me it was legal in court, but that wouldn't stop people from doing so. By having the policy in place, it acts as a legal disclaimer. If someone claims it, they can be told that wikipedia doesn't give legal advice. The legal processes in many countries mean that you have to assume everyone is very, very, stupid and warn them about things, even if it's common sense. Just when somehting's foolproof, they make a better fool. Steewi (talk) 01:01, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Part of the problem is that whatever we say here is ipso facto in written form. It's on the record, permanently. If a doctor gave someone oral advice that turned out to be bad advice, the doctor could always say he/she never said that, or that the patient had only heard a part of it, or had misunderstood it, or whatever. It's the patient's word against the doctor's as to what was actually said. Here, we have no such defence. And we don't have the benefit of seeing the person face to face and seeing the bigger picture - that's apart from the fact that we have no authority to dispense medical advice in any case, not being medical practitioners. -- JackofOz (talk) 01:19, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

It is well-worth mentioning that such rules have various applications. For example we do get a few naysayers on the reference desk that consider all medical and legal questions barred because it would constitute legal or medical advice. That's not true. Not all questions are bad. People can ask about laws, medicines, diseases, etc. I think the deciding factor is if a person is asking for medical or legal decisions or counselling, i.e. recommendations on how to act. That is completely different. Consider the questions "I live in Minnesota and carry weed. What is the maximum amount of weed I can carry to avoid the more stringent sentences?" versus the question "Can you help me find laws about prosecution for possession of weed. I'm interested to know at what point the charges go from minor to major. Thanks". In the first question we would be offering legal advice on how much weed to carry. In the second question we would be talking about laws, without any specific application, which would not be advice.Rfwoolf (talk) 09:10, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Plus, if a person gave out legal advice of the kind that Rfwoolf is talking about, then he or she would be guilty of practicing law without a license, which is not only very illegal, but will probably result in the guilty party having to serve hard cold jail time. If you think this is not a big deal, here's an excerpt from an article that appeared in the newspaper: US States News:
May 23, 2006 Tuesday
The Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice's Office of Chief State's Attorney issued the following news release:
Chief State's Attorney Christopher L. Morano announced today the arrest of a Stamford man on charges of practicing law without a license.
(Name Withheld), age 39, of... Stamford, was charged with three counts of Unlicensed Practice of Law, a misdemeanor carrying a maximum prison term of two months and/or a maximum fine of $250.
Saukkomies 16:09, 12 December 2007 (UTC)