Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2008 December 7

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December 7[edit]

micronation thingies[edit]

1. What would be the appropriate way to declare that one has just created a micronation?

2. What are the requirements (are there any?) to be on list of micronations?

3. What is the appropriate way to declare war on someone? I am having a land claim dispute over the southern hemisphere of Pluto and all the lands within a 100 yard radius of the south pole of Mercury, and would like to be able to not only declare a war, but also to do it right. and...

4. Do most people know what a flame war is? Because I don't want to have to define it in my war declaration... flaminglawyercneverforget 00:35, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

You may find Constitutive theory of statehood and Declarative theory of statehood worth reading. The requirement to be on our list of micronations is to be recognised as such (not necessary legally valid as such, though) by reliable sources (newspapers, say). This may help you with point 3 (you won't be a signatory to the Hague Convention of 1907, but it's a good guideline anyway). As for part 4, that would depend on who your intended audience is. You may also want to read Extraterrestrial real estate if you haven't already. --Tango (talk) 00:59, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
As for 3) - when I was at Grey College, the JCR declared war on Switzerland by passing a motion. I forget how exactly we told the Swiss about this, but as I recall one of the JCR officers was himself somewhat Swiss, so that probably sufficed. DuncanHill (talk) 01:04, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
As for the link to extraterrestrial real estate, I have not signed the UN's Outer Space Treaty, so their control over my ownership of a planet is therefore disputable. flaminglawyercneverforget 05:18, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
So you seriously believe that a treaty doesn't apply to you if you haven't personally signed up to it? Hmmm...well, good luck with that. It doesn't matter a damn whether YOU signed the treaty - what matters is whether the people you'd like to recognise your state signed up to it...the other nations of the solar system for example. Do you seriously believe that your claims will be worth ANYTHING at all if it came to any point when it actually mattered? At any rate - by the very definition of the word, you can't have a 'nation' (micro or otherwise) unless someone lives there - check out the definition of 'nation' in Wiktionary - and sovereignty. So unless you have people who are loyal to you living in these bizarre places - you don't have a nation - so your question is entirely moot. By all means treat what you're doing as a fun game between people with a shared interest in planets (or whatever) - but please don't delude yourself into thinking that it actually MEANS anything. SteveBaker (talk) 06:19, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
You need to have a population and you need to have territory, I'm not sure the population needs to live in the territory (it probably depends on your exact definition). Of course, a claim on land you have never even visited is never going to be recognised by anyone that matters. --Tango (talk) 13:45, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
Somewhere on the article micronation, it says something about them being "not real nations but more like hobbies." That's what I'm doing. I'm not trying to get any nations to recognize me, or anything spiffy like that. It's just a hobby. And yes, I seriously believe that the UN treaty doesn't apply to me (not that it matters; note that I will in no way be able to enforce these land claims). And, for Tango, I have a population of 8 (not including non-humans) and territory measuring about 6 ft2. flaminglawyercneverforget 21:07, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
So what do you want to actually achieve? If it's just a bit of fun, it doesn't matter how you do it. If you want to get a certain degree of fame out of it (and get on our list) then you need to do something interesting enough to get journalists to write about you. All the basic stuff has been done before, you need to come up with something new. --Tango (talk) 21:30, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
 Done OK, I'll stick a done tag on it and say it's done. Get ready to see something crazy done my new little nation. :) flaminglawyercneverforget 00:50, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
LOL, so someone could just unnoficially declare a country and automaticly it's notable? :-) ~AH1(TCU) 00:08, 9 December 2008 (UTC)
Anyone can declare a country, it doesn't necessarily mean it counts for anything! If other people start to notice it and it gets mentioned in press, yep, it could become notable. For example Kingdom of Lovely, which was started by Danny Wallace on his tv show How to Start Your Own Country (TV series), Something I really enjoyed watching!-- WORMMЯOW  10:49, 9 December 2008 (UTC)
To answer your fourth question I would say most people don't know what a flame war is given that most people have never used the internet Nil Einne (talk) 06:39, 14 December 2008 (UTC)

what is a Freeman-on-the-land[edit]

I've heard this word somewhere, i dont remember where and i want to know what is? Exdeathbr (talk) 03:37, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

I don't mean this to be rude, but if you are internet savvy enough to post here, then I can't imagine why you didn't just plug the expression into Google to get your answer. A bounty of links to explore come up immediately, such as this explanatory one on the first results page. A 2-second search here also comes up with Beneficiary (trust)-- (talk) 03:51, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

Help improve Wikipedia[edit]

There are multiple sources showing that Ibyuk, located in the Pingo National Landmark, is the worlds second-tallest pingo and this is just one. What and where is the worlds tallest? I can't seem to find anything to indicate it. Of couse the answer will be added to the articles so it will actually improve Wikipedia. CambridgeBayWeather Have a gorilla 05:02, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

Damn Canadians—they'll tell you that theirs is the second tallest but won't give the tallest one of all any publicity, eh? My Googling is, like yours, coming up empty on this; but there's at least one source—the 2003 Guinness World Records—that says that Ibyuk is the "largest" pingo in the world. The snippet view on Google Books doesn't allow one to determine what, if any, distinction between largest and tallest they're making, though. The Science Desk may be a better forum for this query; I, at least, have nothing better to offer you. Deor (talk) 06:17, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. I noticed that several hits said it was the largest but there does appear to be a difference between that and the tallest. CambridgeBayWeather Have a gorilla 07:00, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

My google-fu is better this morning:

Pingo 18 (Ibyuk Pingo), whose summit rises about 49 m above the surrounding drained lake flat (Fig. 56), is the highest known pingo in Canada. The world's highest known pingo is Kadleroshilik Pingo which is 40 km southeast of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Its height, as given on a 1975 topographic map (Beechy Point (A-2), Alaska, scale 1: 63,360), is about 54 m above the adjacent lake plain or about 5 m higher than Ibyuk Pingo.

—J. Ross Mackay, "Pingo Growth and Collapse, Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula Area, Western Arctic Coast, Canada: A Long-Term Field Study," Géographie physique et Quaternaire 52.3 (1998).[1]

The Google cache version I've linked to above doesn't show the journal's page numbers, but the search results page indicates that the passage appears on page 311 of the issue cited. Deor (talk) 13:33, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

Addendum: I couldn't get the PDF version of the article to load earlier, but here it is if you want it. (Its pagination doesn't match that of the journal appearance; the passage I've quoted can be found on page 41.) Deor (talk) 14:03, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
Excellent. Thanks. I'd been through the google search several times but had never been able to come across the name before. I had assumed that due to the overwhelming results of Ibyuk that the highest would turn out to be some un-named pingo in Siberia. It's interesting that it is a place that is relatively accessible. Interesting what marketing will do. Though I suspect that it has more to do with the number of pingos available at the landmark. I grabbed the pdf and will read it properly later. I had a quick look and I'm hoping it gives some idea of the actual growth rate. Again the Ibyuk one is the only sourced pingo with a give growth rate. Thanks. CambridgeBayWeather Have a gorilla 22:48, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

Has Wikipedia spread the sum of human knowledge?[edit]

Just a thought that occurred whilst browsing Wikipedia - has the relatively recent availability of knowledge-based-sites such as Wikipedia helped to spread, and thus increase, the sum of human knowledge; or have they merely diverted knowledge seekers away from other information sources such as libraries, encyclopaedias etc? I suppose what I am really asking is whether the sum of human knowledge is much the same as pre-internet, but more widely spread and readily available? (talk) 13:40, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

What does "the sum of human knowledge" means? If last year 10,000 people could correctly say whether the miner's museum in my home town was previously a railroad station, and this year 12,000 can? Or, if last year I knew 50,000 facts and Fred knew one, and this year's totals are 100,000 for me and 1 for Fred, has the sum of Dave/Fred knowledge doubled -- and if so, so what?
Being listed in Wikipedia doesn't make something factual, let alone widely known. Such listing could increase access to that information, on the assumption that more people can reach Wikipedia than could find the same information at a library or in a print encyclopedia. That access, and tools to increase the power of that access (through filters, tags, correlation, and so on) are probably the most significant contribution of the internet to human knowledge. --- OtherDave (talk) 14:02, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
Agreed, it's hard to quantify knowledge. But when you think about the time it takes to get to the library, look up a particular topic, find the appropriate books, and browse through those books to see if they contain the information you're looking for, and then you think about the number of Wikipedia articles you could have read in that time... well, it's impossible to deny that the internet, and especially knowledge-based sites like Wikipedia, have made general information more readily available. Moreover, Wikipedia doesn't replace libraries any more than print encyclopedias replace libraries. But it does offer immediate answers to casual inquiries, which is something that cannot be said for libraries (or encyclopedias, unless you have the privilege of owning one). I'm constantly running to the computer to look up things I'm idly curious about; ten years ago, was I constantly running to the library? Heck no. And that's despite having flexible work hours and a library a mile from my house, which are two things most people cannot boast. So I guess my answer to your question is this (and this is entirely supposition): Wikipedia has made college students more lazy. College students typically have extraordinary access to print information and online catalogues which most of us do not, and they are probably, yes, availing themselves less of those resources. College students are also, however, a relatively small subset of the population. For the majority of the internet-using public (primary and secondary school students, working non-academics, computer-savvy seniors, etc), general information is now empirically accessible on request in a way that it previously, quite simply, wasn't. Are we all availing ourselves of these resources? Probably not. But information is something that spreads virally, so even if only a smattering of people in a given community regularly obtain and retain accurate information from the internet, much of that community will then be able to access that information interpersonally and to perpetuate it in other ways. But there's misinformation in there too, and plenty of other factors which make a cut-and-dry answer to your question impossible. So: have we increased the sum of human knowledge? Who knows. But I do think we've made widespread ignorance less excusable. --Fullobeans (talk) 17:24, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
  • I am of the opinion that Wikipedia has helped spread knowledge, but there's still a long way to go. For a start people still need to learn what makes information and sources reliable and how to search for information in libraries, papers, journals and encyclopedias when the internet doesn't have it stored somewhere accesible. A lot of people still believe everything they read and give up if they can't google something. - (talk) 16:53, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

One of the things that Wikipedia should be thanked for is the ability to collect a lot of disparate information about a subect in a way that enables a bigger picture to be built up, and to make it available to the world immediately. There are many examples of this, but take one I have been recently hard at work on. I came across a reference to a man named Werner Reinhart while researching another topic. The name meant nothing to me, and we had no article on him, but I had reason to put him on my "Names to Research" list. I found there is a French biography of him, but nothing in German (he was Swiss) or English. But there are all sorts of snippets about him if you look hard enough, and all it takes is someone with sufficient interest and time to hunt them down and write a coherent article about him. Although virtually unknown nowadays, Reinhart was still very notable by our standards, and his influence on many important 20th century cultural figures should not be forgotten. Without the internet, I would almost certainly never have come across his name at all, or if I had, it would have taken me literally years to find what I've been able to find about him in just a few days. But having gathered all this information, what would I have done with it if Wikipedia did not exist? Who would I tell? If I were connected to the academic world, it might have found its way into some learned journal, but even then, those without subscriptions would have been denied this knowledge. Thanks to Wikipedia, I don't have to worry about who may or may not be interested in this guy. Those who see the links I've created in other articles will, if they're interested enough, click on them and learn about this significant cultural figure. And who knows, this may spark more research and a resurgence of interest in him. It's early days, but I'm sure, in time, others will add to the miserable stub I've created. To me, this process is definitely about adding to the sum of human knowledge. The "net sum" view (verifiable information minus misinformation = net sum) may have some validity, but creating verifiable information is always a worthwhile thing to do. -- JackofOz (talk) 22:07, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

People read Wikipedia - they occasionally learn something - obviously, if Wikipedia didn't exist, they might look up (and find) the knowledge someplace else - but there must be cases where people look things up ONLY because it's so convenient. So I think it's safe to say that the knowledge humanity has is certainly spread over more people because of Wikipedia.
However, the sum total of things that humans as a species know is not increased by Wikipedia (or at least it's not supposed to be). We work hard to only include knowledge that has been reported in other places. I suppose we might retain knowledge that otherwise might have been forgotten - so perhaps in that regard we increase the total amount of knowledge that's RETAINED at any given time - but even that is unlikely because it would require that somehow all of the documents we cite as references were somehow destroyed as well as all human memory of the fact. In such cases, it's debatable whether we'd keep the fact anyway. Since the reference(s) are no longer checkable - we have no way to know that the fact was ever real - so we might well delete the last remaining note about the fact and destroy some human knowledge. But that's a bit of a stretch. SteveBaker (talk) 04:40, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

Sliced bread[edit]

One used to have a choice between thin-, medium-, and thick- sliced bread. Nowadays, alas, one is denied the thin option. Why is this? DuncanHill (talk) 16:50, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

  • I'm assuming you're referring to US bakeries? In the Netherlands, you get just one choice, the setting on the slicing machine. -- (talk) 16:56, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, should have been specific - I meant grocers' and supermarkets in Britain. DuncanHill (talk) 17:05, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
I can't say I've noticed (I normally buy medium), but if it has happened it will be because there weren't enough people buying thin cut bread (perhaps because it falls apart too easily). --Tango (talk) 17:09, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
An interesting question this : I like Asda's wholegrain bread but it comes unsliced though they will, if you ask, unwrap it and slice it on their single thickness slicing machine before re-wrapping it for you. The best medium thickness sliced loaf has surely got to be the Co-op's Granary Loaf - and a second runner-up has got to be Morrison's wholemeal granary loaf though it does tend towards being very small. (talk) 17:20, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
In Australia, pre-wrapped sliced bread comes in 2 thicknesses: "toast" is a little thicker than "sandwich". Not every brand has both, but if you're looking for one or the other thickness, there are plenty of options to choose from. Thanks for the opportunity to use the word "thicknesses", which is, I believe, a first for me. -- JackofOz (talk) 21:30, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
Jack, have you found "café thickness" for fruit infused bread? A slice is about the thickness of a 300+-page book.
No, I can't say I've ever seen that precise term on a packet of bread, but the fruit bread/raisin bread etc is almost always of the more thickly sliced variety. Maybe I've seen "café style" or something like that. -- JackofOz (talk) 22:58, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
In the US bread is almost always pre-sliced, and they don't specify the thickness of the slices on the package. It seems to me they are all similar thicknesses, with the exception of "diet bread", which is sliced thinner. StuRat (talk) 00:05, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I was confused when I saw this thread since I’ve never heard of such a thing. --S.dedalus (talk) 01:26, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
In the U.S., Pepperidge Farm does offer a line of thin-sliced breads, but generally most pre-sliced bread is all roughly the same thickness. Of course, if you go to the bakery at the grocery store yourself, they will slice an unsliced loaf to any thickness you request... 03:20, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
For the record, in NZ most bakeries can slice to preferred thickness, and pre-sliced packaged bread (from supermarkets etc) come in "toast" and "sandwich", with some brands offering "extra thick" or "extra thin". But the ultimate is Vogel's Original which comes in Toast, Sandwich, Very Thin, Long Cut and Unsliced. Ymmm.
But to get back to DuncanHill's question, it probably comes down to demand. Shops stock what people want. If no one wants thin sliced bread anymore, they don't stock it. Gwinva (talk) 03:30, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
See also Texas toast, sold in many U.S. stores. Edison (talk) 04:03, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
Ah surrenduh. Yet anuther kahnd of thickness raised in Texas. someone had to do it *sigh* Julia Rossi (talk) 04:29, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
EVERYTHING is bigger in Texas! SteveBaker (talk) 13:44, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
In stores here is North Carolina, they sell "New York Brand Italian Texas Toast". If that doesn't make your head spin... 19:05, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
Eeyee! My head hurts. So the 'brand' is Brand and 'toast' is Toast?! SteveBaker (talk) 21:10, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
In the US, you can buy "sandwich sliced" bread, which is thinner than the regular kind. Little Red Riding Hoodtalk 00:06, 10 December 2008 (UTC)

I noticed here that the breads seem to match StuRat's comment in that the diet breads are the thinest cut. The are at more than CAN$6.00 a loaf the most expensive. The medium cuts at CAN$3.00 a loaf are the cheapest. CambridgeBayWeather Have a gorilla 07:35, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

So when they say "half the calories of ordinary sliced bread" - what they actually mean is "half the bread of ordinary sliced bread"?! SteveBaker (talk) 13:44, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
That's right. A large percentage of "diet" products simply have smaller servings. Which can mean thinner slices, added water or air, or simply stating that there are more servings per package on the nutritional label. You can offer a chocolate bar with a 0.1 gram serving that has no fat, sugar, or calories, when you round down, of course. StuRat (talk) 17:02, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
Seems they're on to the same strategy as the dietician Marjorie Dawes (Matt Lucas) in Little Britain, who came up with the wonderful idea that to halve your calorie intake, all you need to do is cut your portions in half; and then, because you're consuming so many fewer calories, you can eat twice as much food. I like that kind of logic. -- JackofOz (talk) 21:22, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

how to achieve this haircut[edit]

how can i do this

i need instructions —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:58, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

Go to a barbers/hairdressers and show them that picture and say "I want this". They will then cut your hair appropriately and show you how to gel/wax it (they'll probably even sell you (massively overpriced) gel/wax). --Tango (talk) 21:28, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
If you can't or don't want to go to a barber, just look closely at the picture: the sides are uniformly short (I'm sure the back is too), whereas the top is a few inches long. I'd say clipper the sides and back (assuming you have electric clippers) and trim the top with scissors until it's the right length (or, if your hair's really short, leave the top alone and let it grow out). You'll probably want to trim (with scissors) the "border" of the long part so that the long part fades into the short part instead of just stopping suddenly. And, most importantly, go down to the pharmacy and buy some styling products-- you want something with a name like "wax" or "putty", maybe one that imparts "gloss" or "shine". The guy in the picture also has some understated highlighting going on, but I wouldn't try that at home. Bad highlights can be more disastrous than a bad haircut. --Fullobeans (talk) 04:23, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
And just in case you're really, really new to this: cut your hair one small piece at a time, pausing frequently to check that the pieces are the same length. Don't cut too much off at once; you can always go back and trim more later. And it's possible to rig up a system of mirrors so you can see the back of your head, but it's easier just to have someone else do the back for you (or check that it looks ok once you're done). --Fullobeans (talk) 04:36, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
And finally, if you manage to show up in person in front of this very WP:reference desk for miscellaneous hirsute matters, we do have trained librarians of encyclopedic skills at your disposal who cut your hair, iron your knickers, defluff your belly button and tickle your armpits in the futile pursuit of providing greater knowledge for humankind. --Cookatoo.ergo.ZooM (talk) 23:32, 9 December 2008 (UTC)
Bikini waxing responsibilities have been transferred to the entertainment desk. --Fullobeans (talk) 04:38, 10 December 2008 (UTC)

what size of object can a tapir pick up with his nose?[edit]

what size of object can a tapir pick up with his nose? FireSkater (talk) 22:51, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

In Tapir, the nose is used to grasp leaves. It's a herbivore, foraging for "fruit, berries, and leaves" as well as river plants, and depends on the nose to smell. Julia Rossi (talk) 00:28, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
We had this question just a few weeks ago. You might want to check the archives. SteveBaker (talk) 03:34, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
OK - August...not "a few weeks ago": Try this link. SteveBaker (talk) 03:54, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
It appears that our OP is a sock puppet of the (indefinitely banned) user who asked the question last time around. You can run but you can't hide. <sigh> SteveBaker (talk) 17:06, 8 December 2008 (UTC)