Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2008 January 16

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January 16[edit]

People in general[edit]

How can it be that people in general seem to appreciate Seinfeld, The Simpsons, South Park and so on, and yet they keep on being stupid assholes? Don't they see what I see? Don't they take in any of the subliminal (often quite obvious) messages? Do they see it merely as "fart joke"/slapstick entertainment? I don't get it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:27, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

  • Because they're stupid assholes to begin with. I've rarely experienced a stupid asshole becoming either less stupid or less of an asshole by watching a TV show. Or by any other means. --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 07:01, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Some Zen yahoo teacher said, "If you are an asshole and you become enlightened, you are an enlightened asshole." Pfly (talk) 08:33, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
There's also the possibility that they don't know that they're stupid assholes. If you were a stupid asshole, would you have an easy time admitting it to yourself? Or would it be simpler to just blame everyone else, get angry at the world, and continue being a stupid asshole? Dismas|(talk) 09:37, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
It probably relates to Sturgeon's law in that if 90% of everything is crud then it follows that 90% of people are dumb. Even if you are "average" probably 25% of people you meet will be stupid. This is a gross oversimplification of course but there you go. TheGreatZorko (talk) 13:56, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Also keep in mind that stupid people (much like small children) learn from television and imitate it. So these kind of shows may make people do even stupider things. If you say that is a bunch of bullplop then you obviously haven't gone through secondary education. (talk) 14:00, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

I had a friend whose IQ was about 85, mine is wll above average, this made even conversations with him EXREMELY difficult, to this day he still does not understand why I dont enjoy hanging out playing Xbox with him. I would rather read a book. But there you go. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:21, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
  • "You know how stupid the average person is? Well, by definition, half of all people are stupider than that." --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 16:30, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Shows like the Simpsons are popular because they are designed to contain a wide variety of satire. It may make fun of people just like you and you'll either get it or not, but either way you'll still enjoy the episode because the next joke will be about drunks or comic book nerds or something. APL (talk) 17:45, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Because most quality tv shows can be viewed on a variety of levels. Seinfeld for instance has the somewhat slapstick character of Kramer, allied with the more 'angry luckless loser' George and the more positive, questioning child-like Jerry. Someone might not appreciate the "why is it?" conversations that George/Jerry have, but may love the angry outbursts George has when out and about in public, or the hair-brained schemes of Kramer. Personally I love the show on all levels. I would be careful over considering people 'assholes', particularly when you refer to them enjoying something and not taking the lessons from it. Southpark is very political but it can also be enjoyed thoroughly without ever considering the political aspects. It is not 'stupidty' that makes these people unaware/uncaring of the other slants, it is that we each get our own interpretation of any piece of art (and tv this good I would consider is worthy of the title art) and we should be weary of expecting people to bow to our interpretation of importance/meaning. ny156uk (talk) 17:47, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Name this toy.[edit]

What do you call this toy?

It's a rectangular shaped box, with hundreds of small pins embedded in it, into slots. A person can push the pins with their hand or the face or whatever, and it appears on the other side, like a "hand" or "face" made of metal.   Zenwhat (talk) 07:07, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Pin Art. Cheers, Ouro (blah blah) 07:14, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Check this out, too. --Ouro (blah blah) 10:11, 16 January 2008 (UTC)


I really dont know how to cultivate humility and keep my both feet on ground.I easily go onto cloud nine even for small accomplishments(ofcourse there have been only small accomplishments in my life no big ones) and feel great for myself.I get very much embarassed afterwards.This is decreasing my self esteem.I always look for reputation and show factor and never the real thing.Please help me. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:32, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Well, if it decreases your self-esteem you're on the right track to humility, no? The fact that you ask this question & that you are embarassed by your joy over small accomplishments also shows that you may know more about humility than you think. I would advise you not to worry so much about what you think you should feel when you do something. (talk) 10:34, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
In fact it is good and healthy to feel good about accomplishments, however small, if you feel they are accomplishments. Even better is to feel as glad about the accomplishments of other people. It's probably more important to work on that than feeling less good about yourself! SaundersW (talk) 12:28, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Agreed, humility isn't about feeling bad about yourself, it's about realizing that others are better than you. As a Christian, I believe being humble means that one recognizes one's accomplishments in light of the fact that everything you are able to do has all come from God - however, even if you are not religiouis, you can still realize that it is others who have either helped you to have the skills needed to accomplish things, or that others have helepd you to have the drive to do it yourself.
Either way, then, the key to humility is actually something you need to cultivate along with it - thankfulness. The more thankful you are for others, the more humble you become, as you recognize you aren't alone. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:27, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
Nietzsche said that humility is a slave value. --Taraborn (talk) 19:12, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
I don't believe humility means having a low self-esteem. One can have a very high self-esteem, the higher the better generally speaking, and still have humility. It's good to feel gratified by your accomplishments, and to strive for even greater ones, as long as you don't think that this makes you any better than the next person. The late Sir Edmund Hillary was an exemplar of this. He did something nobody had ever achieved before, and precious few have since, but he still thought of himself as just an ordinary person. -- JackofOz (talk) 01:40, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
And why thinking that you are better than the next person is such an evil thing? --Taraborn (talk) 12:49, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
I didn't say it was evil. But why - because nobody is better than anyone else. What people achieve in their lives varies tremendously, but people themselves are inherently equal (in human terms), no matter what they do or don't do. The pitfall many people fall into is thinking that their achievements make them superior human beings. They don't. What people do and who people are, are very different things. People of humility keep this distinction in mind. -- JackofOz (talk) 00:02, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
Nietzsche said a lot of things. Doesn't make them true, nor does it even mean he believed them. (talk) 17:30, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
Joy is good. Happy is good. As is cherishing your accomplishments, I guess. Is it how you act this out that embarrasses you afterwards? If you brag or crow about to others they may become resentful; on the other hand, real friends might think you're a legend. It depends, but without a description, I'm just speculating. Julia Rossi (talk) 08:51, 19 January 2008 (UTC)


When will the pictures from the recent messanger mercury flyby be available on the net. A spokesperson from Nasa was saying it will take a day or two to unscramble the beeps into pictures, but when will these be available to you and I? Or if they are already available, where can I find them? Just for curiosity sake. Thanks —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:01, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

NASA Mission page. There is at least one image of Mercury on the site now, along with views of Venus from when the craft flew by. That site will probably contain more images as they are processed. --LarryMac | Talk 14:15, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Asked and answered. Thank you very much. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:38, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
A Bit disapointing though, what have they learned? where can we get this info, it would be fun to find out what they have learned and add it to the currant Mercury article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:31, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
I think the information will be forthcoming, but we have to give the scientists time to do their sciencey things. You might also want to look at this Messenger page. There is a link there to sign up for regular email updates. --LarryMac | Talk 16:42, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Here is something else I just learned from reading those two websites - the recent flyby was just the first of three that will occur, prior to ultimate orbit insertion, scheduled for March 18, 2011. So while we may get some spectacular new images from this flyby (and the next two), I'll bet the really cool stuff won't show up for another three years. --LarryMac | Talk 19:19, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Larry, the really cool stuff won't show up for another umpty years I'd say. --Ouro (blah blah) 19:53, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

where can I find some gold?[edit]

I want to find some gold lying around. I don't think it's too competitive to do so, because most other people are busy working or something. Not a lot of people are looking for gold. So, where can I find some? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:37, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Our article prospecting may help you. DuncanHill (talk) 14:39, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
"Not a lot of people are looking for gold" — that's in part because any gold that's very easy to find has already been found, but also note that you don't need "a lot of people" prospecting, just a few full-time, experienced people (actually, entire companies), and you're already talking about steep competition. If you want just tiny bits of gold, there are plenty of old gold mining towns in California where you can "pan your own gold". If you are talking about a big find, well, if we knew that, why would we be telling you!! The #1 place for gold "just lying around" is probably going to be in war-torn mining countries where mining has been disrupted (People's Democratic of Congo is always a good bet for that), but that will have its own risks. -- (talk) 14:41, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
I assume you mean the Democratic Republic of the Congo (it's China that comes in People's and non-People's versions). Oh, and see gold prospecting and (if in right place) Gold Prospectors Association of America: apparently there's a reasonable amount of recreational prospecting going on. Algebraist 14:57, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Oh right. Well whichever, one of those misleading names about its government. ;-) -- (talk) 15:53, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
  • Well, as I said in a different post, you could go to California. But remember two things: 1. as noted above, most of the easy gold has been found (after all, we've been looking for thousands of years), and most of the gold mining done today requires huge capital investment; 2. if you find a major gold deposit, in most countries, you don't own that gold -- the landowner does! --M@rēino 15:01, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
In South Africa you can obtain a permit to sift through the old mine dumps for diamonds, and due to modern technology, and the miths in the past about diamond, such as hit it with a hammer, if it does not break it is a diamond This can apparently prove quite profitable. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:30, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
I used to know a chap who panned for black tin on the beach, I don't think he made much money but it got him out of the house. DuncanHill (talk) 17:23, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
All the gold in California is in a bank in the middle of Beverly Hills.. Friday (talk) 17:30, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
You can still pan for gold at Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park - as the park's official website tells you. Corvus cornixtalk 23:47, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
I've got a mining claim near Leadville, Colorado. According to the assayer's report and the price of gold when I checked, a ton of rocks would yield about $6USD worth of gold. The lead in the rocks was worth more. What I'm trying to say is that you can try panning, and in some places you're almost guaranteed to see some flakes in the bottom of the pan. However, the odds are pretty slim that you're going to become rich off it. Most prospectors I know just do it for a weekend hobby. It fills up tiny glass vials with pretty gold flakes. But for your time and money, you'd be better off with a bottle of Goldschlager. --Mdwyer (talk) 00:21, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

Dont have a heading[edit]

where were the Hebrews before they were slaves in Egypt? How did they become slaves of the egyptians? On a seperate note, did Mary, mother of Jesus have any other children? If so, is that bloodline still active? Thanks —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:59, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Following the Biblical narrative, they came from Canaan with Joseph in Egypt because of the drought. Somehow in the intervening decades the Egyptians forgot about Joseph and started hating Hebrews, possibly because the rulership changed hands as part of a hostile takeover (which would have destroyed the records of Joseph, which also seems to have happened).
Jesus had at least four brothers mentioned in the New Testament: James, Jude, Simon and Joses. Apparently some traditions redefine them as Jesus' half-brothers or step-cousins, or say that only James actually was related to him. See James the Just. As far as I've heard, nobody really knows if that bloodline is still around. --Masamage 17:07, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
As far as I'm aware all (Christian) traditions say James et al were at most half-brothers, since Joseph wasn't Jesus' father. FiggyBee (talk) 17:37, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Oh, good point. X) --Masamage 05:41, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
....except that Matthew (1:1-17) goes to a lot of trouble to establish that Jesus is of Joseph's line.--Shantavira|feed me 10:21, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
Well, it lists Joseph's heritage--for social/prophecy reasons, I assume, showing that even if Jesus hadn't been the Son of God, he was being born in exactly the time and place and bloodline that he was prophesied to be. But Matthew certainly doesn't betray any doubt about Jesus' real paternity. --Masamage 16:55, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
(ec) One, during the events described in Genesis the Israelites moved several times between Canaan (modern day Israel) and Egypt. They were travellers and traders. They settled in Egypt at the beginning of Exodus as a free people before becoming oppressed and enslaved. Two, opinion is divided. Some (most Protestant churches) believe that James and others described in the Bible as "brothers of Jesus" are the biological children of Mary and Joseph. Others (Roman Catholic and most Orthodox churches) believe Mary remained a virgin her entire life and that "brothers" is either metaphorical or refers to a more distant relationship such as cousins. FiggyBee (talk) 17:16, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Note Perpetual virginity of Mary. As is evident from the article, it is not universally accepted... Faithfully, Deltopia (talk) 19:52, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

In the last century there has been a fair amount of discussion in academic circles about a group of people known as the Habiru. Apparently there are quite a lot of cuneiform tablets that discuss these people. These Habiru were considered to be desert scum who would steal anything not tied down, sell their own mother for a drink of water, and were viewed as being a constant problem. There are some scholars who believe that these Habiru were the predecessors of the Hebrews. They both were Semitic, nomadic, had similar marriage customs, lived in roughly the same area at the same time, and even looked the same (there are some ancient depictions of Habiru, who look like your typical Semitic/Jewish type person, which doesn't really say much). However, to be fair, there are others who do not believe these two groups are the same. INcidentallly, those who fall into that latter group are typically very religious types who seem to not welcome anything that might disagree with the account of the Hebrews in Genesis... -- Saukkomies 18:05, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

"Jesus saves you"[edit]

WHY are religious (Christian only, I assume) people obsessed with Jesus? According to the (very dull) fairy-tale "Bible", he is just a human who DIED. Very long ago. Isn't it GOD who should "save" you? Why speak of Jesus and how much he loves you? He's DEAD! Why not say that GOD loves you and so on?

I get mad whenever I hear people talk about Jesus as if he's alive still. And if they mean he's watching them from heaven, why not still include/replace with god then? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:50, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

The reference desk isn't a place to post polemics or start debates. Do you have some reference-desk appropriate question? If so, you might want to consider rephrasing whatever it is you're trying to ask. Or, if you really want to learn more, you might start with Jesus. Friday (talk) 17:55, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Trinity might help, too. -- Coneslayer (talk) 18:02, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Bible as well --Niyant (talk) 18:05, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
I take it you three are religious since you got so offended and didn't make any attempt to answer? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:55, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
I'm an atheist and I don't mind telling you that your question is poorly thought out and unanswerable. (If you think you're being profound, you're not. If you're intentionally trying to provoke people then you might get a little joy from the Ref Desk, but probably not too much. Try a forum or blog or something.) The truth is simply that it's the nature of (most) religion to worship something. A guy who died and then came back because he was directly related to a deity is as good a thing to worship as anything else. If he did it all intentionally for the good of all mankind, then that's even better. APL (talk) 19:26, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
I'm not religious, I didn't get offended, and I did attempt to answer. As the articles we linked to indicate, Christian theology does not characterize Jesus as "just a human", nor that he remained dead after his crucifixion. Your question, therefore, is ill-posed. I would suggest more reading, and less trolling. Have a nice day. -- Coneslayer (talk) 19:15, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Actually, the Bible states that Jesus was no ordinary human, but in fact the literal Son of God, who was so awesome that he physically overcame death and reclaimed his body after being murdered. Whether or not you believe it, that is a pretty cool idea. He then rose up to heaven, so the promise of Jesus in Christianity is that because he was able to do these things for himself, he can now help everybody in the world to regain their bodies and be with God. I'm not arguing for the truth of this, since this is the wrong place to do that; just trying to clear this up so it's easier to understand.
Also, I don't take the other people who replied to you as being offended--just bored. It is true that it's against the rules to start debates here; it says so at the top of this page. Nevertheless, there's my best shot at an informational answer. I hope it's helpful. --Masamage 19:11, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Seriously, dude, read the Trinity article. Christian God is three things at once. Beekone (talk) 19:22, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Not in all Christian denominations, but yes, that article is very informative. --Masamage 19:25, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Which denomination is it not? Yes, I'm about to learn my one new thing fo rthe day, I was starting to think it wasn't going to happen. Beekone (talk) 19:56, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Unitarianism. --LarryMac | Talk 20:03, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Nontrinitarianism also. Zahakiel 20:07, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
At the risk of sounding combative, how is that not extremely contradictory? I mean if you believe Jesus was to a point a supernatural being in the eyes of God how could you not adhere to his being the only way to his father? I mean he says it, it's not a rule laid out by anyone other than Jesus, so how could it not be followed? Beekone (talk) 20:14, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
It doesn't sound combative, it's a legitimate question. The articles themselves cover it to some extent. Unitarianism holds that Christ IS a divine being, but (usually) a created one subordinate to God. It is still held in most Unitarian movements of which I am aware that Jesus is the means through which atonement is provided between humanity and divinity; they just don't hold Him to be a co-equal being. Nontrinitarianism is more general, and may believe these things, but others still have issues with the nature of the Holy Spirit. Some groups believe that Jesus and God are equal, but that the Holy Spirit is not of the same nature or equivalent status with the Father and Son. These groups may also hold that Jesus is the way to the Father; that belief does not necessitate an acceptance of the Trinity paradigm in total. Zahakiel 20:24, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
I always thought the main reason for the Trinity was to circumvent that pesky you-can-only-worship-one-deity Commandment. Beekone (talk) 20:35, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
My opinion? Trial and error. The people who want to control the world with religion have found that it's easier to proselytize with a viable god. They tried idols for a long time, but that roots the religion to the spot where the idol is, and it's hard to design a logo with universal appeal. They tried a nebulous god in the heavens, but that requires a priest to constantly harp, unless that god is closely identified with a people, like Jehovah and the Jews. Jesus is lurking in the wings, ready to pop out at any moment and stop the music like a cosmic game of musical chairs. That'll keep you on your toes. Interestingly, now that you mention it, the Shia Moslems have a similar thing going on. The twelfth successor of Muhammad has been in "occultation" since the 9th century. --Milkbreath (talk) 20:05, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

  • The person who originally posted this question (assuming they were not just being polemic) should be aware that Christians believe that Jesus not only died, but also died in order to free us of our sins (including, some argue, future sins and/or sins of non-believers), and even came back from the dead. If the Christians are correct, then it makes complete sense to "talk about Jesus as if he's alive still", because he is still alive, not just figuratively but in a literal physical sense, and is a person of awesome power. --M@rēino 01:04, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Hmm,you didn't read your Bible very closely did you?hotclaws 12:28, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

I've observed what the question asker says while browsing American Christian websites, and I was somewhat surprised by the apparent omnipresence of the word Jesus in their texts. Christians in Spain (overwhelmingly Catholic) would use a combination of the Virgin Mary, God and Jesus, instead of just Jesus. As for your question, I can't answer it, I can't really understand why they speak so much about Jesus, either. --Taraborn (talk) 20:19, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

..and then, there is the very basic human wish to be loved, and what was Jesus whole message, the difference between the old testament and the new? Love one another as I have loved? All sin is now forgiven so that it's only about love between you and the Father? the whole message is: love. Which life is easier to lead? a cynic? or one who×22 Jan 1008

The Bible is not a fairy-tale. Have you even read the Bible? Jesus is real. God is real. The universe did not hatch from an egg that laid itself by mistake. Get over it. MalwareSmarts (talk) 21:44, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

How many nipples does a panda have?[edit]

Hi, how many nipples does a panda have? Serious question - they're bears so should have 6 but you never see more than 2. Cheers. JoshHolloway 20:08, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

This (http://北京大学.cn/academic/xb/98/_98e228.html) says 4. I have no idea of reliability, nor any idea what would be considered normal for a bearny156uk (talk) 20:29, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
My searches suggest four also. FiggyBee (talk) 20:33, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
I don't know the answer, but it might be enlightening to consider that pandas are somewhat differentiated from most of the Ursidae family, and were for a long time not even considered related to bears. jeffjon (talk) 20:32, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Note that there isn't really a "normal" when it comes not number of nipples, they are highly variable even between related species. Some crazy animals even have an odd number! See Mammary gland#Other mammals. Rockpocket 08:01, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
Belatedly, thanks. It seems it's 4. JoshHolloway 15:39, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

poland day trip[edit]

Am experienced traveler but have never been to Europe north of the danube. I'm going to Berlin for a week, wondering if anyone had recommendations for a day trip or 1 night trip to somewhere interesting in Poland?

thnx —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:27, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

I highly recommend Krakow. It is an absolutely beautiful city that I believe everyone must visit at least once in their life. (talk) 21:08, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
I've never been to Poland, but that's what my Polish neighbor said when I asked him the same question; Krakow. --Milkbreath (talk) 21:29, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
First of all - Kraków, second - Wrocław, third - the Tricity (Gdańsk, Sopot, Gdynia), fourth - Poznań. One day in Kraków is nothing, you need at least a week, and you're gonna want to stay longer. If you have questions regarding Poland reach me on my talk page. Cheers, Ouro (blah blah) 08:54, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
Auschwitz —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:45, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
I have been to Kraków, Wrocław and Auschwitz I would recommend all of them however i think that auschwitz will take more than a day to go there and visit from berlin; but it is an enlightening experience.