Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2008 October 23

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October 23[edit]

Cornell's Reputation[edit]

How does Cornell University in Ithaca, New York stand in the world? I know its ranked 14th by QES and generally within top 20 by most ranking bodies. But from an employer's perspective, is it a well-known school with a decent amount of prestige? Specifically, how are the science programs? I would like to go to a good medical school, so I guess the best route to take would be to get a BS in undergrad with a major in one of the sciences? ITGSEETest (talk) 00:50, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Yes, your future employers will have heard of it and will respect it. Short of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton you probably won't find a better school. If you are really into science you might want to consider technical schools like MIT and CalTech, but if you are interested in medicine, medical schools will appreciate the breadth of the Liberal Arts education offered at Cornell. A pre-med track at any Ivy League institution will leave you well prepared for med school. Plasticup T/C 01:48, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
Agreed. -- (talk) 01:51, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
Plasticup's answer is absolutely correct. You don't have to be a biochemistry major to get into medical school, indeed the top American medical schools appreciate having students with diverse undergraduate fields of study, so get into the best school you can get into, major in what you love and make sure you take the required courses to get into med school as your electives. You should probably get Medical School Admission Requirements because every premed student at whatever university you go to will seem to have the knowledge of what courses, etc, that medical schools require tattooed on the back of their retinas—any good university you go to will be able to advise you of what courses to take as well. Darkspots (talk) 08:00, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Children's circle[edit]

I have read Whitley Strieber's books called Communion and Transformation and was interested with one thing. What is this "children's circle" that he was talking about? I think it is either a UFOlogy term or Western folklore but I'm not sure since the books usually intersects both UFO's and folklore. Googling doesn't help a lot.--Lenticel (talk) 01:54, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Hal Lipset[edit]

Did Hal Lipset speak with an accent? It so what type? Did he have any notable habits?--Pufferfish4 (talk) 02:54, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Hmmm - we don't seem to have an article on this guy - which seems odd because he looks to have been pretty notable. Anyway - everyone has "an accent". I'm British, I live in the USA and absolutely everyone here (with the exception of myself and a few fellow Brit's) have one of a variety of really strong American accents. I, of course, speak completely unaccented English - yet strangely, nearly everyone I meet says "Oh! I just love your accent!"....go figure. SteveBaker (talk) 11:53, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
That's because we don't see the world as it is, we see it as we are. Actually, Steve, just what is "completely unaccented English"? Seems to me there are a huge number of different accents in Britain, more these days than ever; is any single one of them considered the "standard" English accent? -- JackofOz (talk) 13:47, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
I think he was being facetious, hehe, making the point that we all consider our own accent to be "unaccented" until we learn better. I don't even notice my own accent, but other Brits can often place where I live within about 50 miles by it. ~ mazca t|c 14:46, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
50 miles, not bad! I remember reading that back in the days before easy travel and recorded media homogenised accents, a trained linguist could tell what street someone from inner London had grown up on. FiggyBee (talk) 15:02, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
See Pygmalion (play), My Fair Lady and My Fair Lady (film). -- JackofOz (talk) 23:07, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
Apparently there used to be a cinema on the edge of Birmingham and The Black Country where you could tell whether people would turn left or right on exiting, based on their accent. (talk) 12:00, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

You have a point. I'll rephrase my question to:
What type of accent did Hal Lipset speak with? Did he have any notable habits?--Pufferfish4 (talk) 23:07, 26 October 2008 (UTC)


WarriorFIRESTAR is gone! He was my freind, and I didn't get a chance to talk. How can I find his talk page?!

-Warriorscourge (talk) 03:34, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Hi! You might be interested in asking further questions at Wikipedia:Help desk. However, the answer is you can still message him at User talk:WarriorFIRESTAR. If you wish to ask the deleting administrator further about why he deleted the page, you might wish to do so; but he provided a short explanation on the bottom of the page. Magog the Ogre (talk) 04:00, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Oil prices[edit]

Oil prices have seen a sharp decline in the past several months. I remember hearing a credible argument that it had something to do with oil speculation having fallen (it had something to do with the housing crisis). Or was it something to do with the stabilization of the US dollar? I don't remember, so I'm asking here. :) Magog the Ogre (talk) 03:56, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

These things tend to depend on a number of things. The two that you mention are normally included among the factors that are believed to influence oil prices. I am not so sure about how much speculation has affected prices but the relative strength of the dollar to other currencies does have an effect. The decline can be due to many other things, so the healthy exercise is to think about how certain events may affect the price of oil, but dont try to think as to which events placed the price of oil where it is now. Brusegadi (talk) 04:41, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
I love The Economist for these kinds of questions. There are a ton of factors here but the top two are slightly falling demand in the U.S. and the decision by Saudi Arabia to supply oil above OPEC targets. [1]. Saudi Arabia, alone among OPEC producers, actually seems to think about the health of its consumers (very important to future oil demand) and pumped extra oil all summer to try to lower prices below $100/barrel. OPEC as a whole may try to cut production this fall to support prices.
Nobody knows how much oil Saudi Arabia has. They claim to have a lot more oil than outside observers think they have. They certainly make longer-term decisions than other oil producers. Darkspots (talk) 08:19, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
A reason for the falling demand mentioned above is that many countries are falling into recession, so people have less money and are buying fewer things. Almost everything you buy needs some oil to manufacture whether for transporting materials or as an ingredient. Also, people who are afraid of recession tend to spend less and save more. Lower spending means less demand for oil. See e.g. [2]. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:28, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

What do you call the postcard hoardings where you put your face through a hole?[edit]

This is driving us mad because nobody so far seems to know. They're the things that you often find at seaside and tourist spots, a vertical board normally painted with some kind of cartoon image with an oval hole where the face (or faces) would be. You stick your face through, pull a gurning expression and everybody gets their camera out to preserve the moment you looked like a chimp/astronaut/general fool. Anybody help? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Leigh21 (talkcontribs) 13:55, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

I don't think they have a special name. --Richardrj talk email 14:58, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
According to a friend who's involved with a seaside arcade that has a few of these, she generally refers to them as "face boards" but she's not sure if that's remotely a technical term for them. Quite possibly Richardrj is correct in that there isn't a widely-accepted name for these. ~ mazca t|c 17:08, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
A mask? (talk) 17:12, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
No - it's the very opposite of a mask! With a mask, your face is hidden - but the rest of your body is clearly visible. With these things, your face is visible and pretty much everything else is hidden. SteveBaker (talk) 23:25, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
This very same question was asked a couple weeks ago. Someone might want to check the archives... Dismas|(talk) 17:17, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
Miscellaneous Reference Desk, 2008 September 14: The common name of that wood photo-op thing at circuses, tourist traps, etc -- (talk) 01:20, 24 October 2008 (UTC)


diazapam is a class c drug in the uk. can i buy it fram a chemist/pharmacy without a prescription? Or how would one go about getting it? Thanks this is not medical advise, I am just curious. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:59, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

As a Class C drug, it can only be bought legally in the UK with a prescription. You would need to go to your doctor, then to a pharmacy. See Misuse_of_Drugs_Act_1971#Class_C_drugs. — FIRE!in a crowded theatre... 14:22, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
Many drugs require a prescription to buy, but it's legal to own them. You might try a mail order catalog for drugs that are legal to buy in a specific country. Offshore pharmacies will mail you drugs in a brown paper box. Try Google to find them. Phil Burnstein (talk) 16:21, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia and research funding[edit]

Have any academics or researchers so far been given funding (or paid leave from their normal duties) to contribute to Wikipedia? I don't mean studying WP itself, but contributing to articles on other topics. — FIRE!in a crowded theatre... 14:18, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

People have been paid to change Wikipedia articles but I don't recall any of them having been academics. All the instances I recall involved politics or businesses. Rmhermen (talk) 18:32, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I remember a couple of scandals, one involving Microsoft and another a Congressman. I was wondering if anyone had been professionally involved in making disinterested contributions; edits they did "on company time" but not on topics where they or their employers have a conflict of interest. I thought academics would be more likely than big business to do that, but might be wrong. Actually now I think of it, the Microsoft case was a clumsy attempt to deal with bias against their products[3]. — FIRE!in a crowded theatre... 19:41, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Darn good question. So far as I can tell, academia has simply not shown the respect for Wikipedia that would be entailed to do this.

I'd be interested to know even whether, outside of Computer Science and closely allied fields, any academic institution is even actively supporting the creation of open-licensed materials. Roy Rosenzweig has had some interesting remarks on that: see his "Can History be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past".- Jmabel | Talk 20:55, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Yes, a number of academic institutions support creation of open-licensed materials. There has been huge discussions about copyleft licensing of academic works for some time now. See, e.g. PLoS.
And not paying people to edit Wikipedia is not the same thing as now showing respect for it. You could argue that they don't really pay people to write Encyclopedia Brittanica entries either—they don't generally consider that sort of work to be the same as a "real publication" (it doesn't count towards tenure), and they aren't going to relieve you of your teaching schedule to do that sort of thing. If I were an academic administrator I'd be dubious of paying relatively expensive academics (in terms of cost per hour) to work on something that some high school kid could erase or change when nobody is looking.
Plenty of academics edit on Wikipedia. Some have made editing on Wikipedia part of their coursework for students. But as for being paid to edit it... in academia, you only get paid to do three things: 1. teach, 2. administer, and 3. work on your own products of authorship. An academic couldn't put, "author of the Wikipedia article on automobiles, at least I was before it got reverted, and then there was that edit war, and now it has some of what I wrote in it, but really, I did a good job and if you went to the article now, it might reflect a little bit of what I did on it." That's not how academic authorship works.
That's one of the reasons why academics are not quite as quick to participate in collective-authorship. You don't get any credit in academia for collective authorship, because your own efforts and abilities as an individual cannot be easily assessed from it. That is an entirely different thing that saying academics can't release their work under copyleft licenses—many do. In those cases, though, the licenses are pretty explicit about how authorship has to be indicated, and in the end, the final products look a lot more like a piece of academic work than they do like a Wikipedia article.
I'm an academic. I like Wikipedia. I sometimes edit on it. I think it is obvious useful to people. But I don't think it's very compatible with an academic mode of authorship. -- (talk) 22:08, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
I think it's also the case in many fields that academics are supposed to write new and original things - which is precisely what Wikipedia bans people from doing by saying No Original Research, No synthesis of ideas and that everything you say in article-space that is in any way controversial has to be referenced to some existing source material. Added to the requirements for Notability (which prevents you writing about super-obscure stuff) - there is really no fertile ground left for an academic to do something genuinely new. For people in non-academic fields, the desire to spend money generally requires some kind of pay-back - and it's hard to imagine how putting information in a public Wiki is better than putting it into a private one that you and all your other employees can reach - but which will not benefit your competitors. Hence, it's very likely that anyone who IS being paid to do this is doing it for dirty, underhanded reasons. SteveBaker (talk) 23:23, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
Editing Wikipedia is very valuable training for students and one could consider that they are being paid to do that, but original research has to go somewhere it can be properly attributed and not altered by others e.g. arXiv. Dmcq (talk) 10:30, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Schwarzenegger, Bloomberg, Romney etc.[edit]

Why do locations which are typically Democrat strongholds in presidential elections - NYC, California, Massachusetts etc. - have Republican leaders like Schwarzenegger or Romney? (talk) 15:40, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Because all politics is local, and the winning governor was able to convince a majority (or plurality) of voters that he would do better than his predecessor (who's often of the other party). Then, too, Schwarzenegger and to some extent Romney had wide name recognition. Ditto Bloomberg, who was previously a Democrat and most likely not Sarah Palin's idea of a Republican. In states like Maryland, long dominated by one party, voters sometimes elect a governor of the other party -- out of preference, fatigue, or pique. The election of Republican Robert Ehrlich was not enough to propel his lieutenant governor, Michael Steele, into the U. S. Senate, however, leaving the Republican Party once again without a single black member of the House or the Senate. --- OtherDave (talk) 16:55, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
In short and spoken generally, because political affiliation can be weighted differently at different scales of political involvement. That is, not everybody who adheres to the party line in federal elections will see a need to do so in state or local cases. I'll also note that to a certain extent you're looking at a case of confirmation bias. By my count, 15 of 50 states have a governor of the party currently trailing in state-wide polling (based on List of current United States governors and It's a sizeable chunk, but more than twice that match parties. A paper abstract from the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that there's less incentive for candidates to adhere to party extremism at the local level than at either state or federal levels. — Lomn 16:57, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
North Carolina is the reverse. A strong Democratic trend at the state level but a Republican trend at the national level (although Obama is currently leading in the polls).--droptone (talk) 18:08, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
In California, at least, the Democratic Party hasn't fielded a decent candidate in several gubernatorial elections. Little Red Riding Hoodtalk 18:30, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
Except for Gray Davis, who won in 1998 and 2002, only to have the second term stolen from him in a recall campaign that began less than 90 days after he was re-elected, and did not cite a single action or inaction that took place within those three months as justification for removing him from office. DOR (HK) (talk) 06:51, 29 October 2008 (UTC)

Schwarzenegger, of course, first got in via a rather unusual process after a recall election.

NYC: what a complicated mess. Republicans who win in NYC are usually moderate-to-liberal, reformers, or both. In a city where the Democratic machine(s) can get pretty corrupt, people often look to the Republicans (LaGuardia, Lindsay, Giuliani, Bloomberg) to clean things up. But they sure weren't ready to elect Mario Procaccino. Also, race has been a factor: white Republicans have been known to do better than non-white Democrats with some working-class whites. Further, there is the adage that "A conservative is a liberal whose just been mugged": certainly Giuliani, at least, rode in on a (probably false) perception of high crime rates and (clearly accurate) perception of seediness. - Jmabel | Talk 20:51, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

In most elections, the Republican candidate will be to the right of the Democratic one. However, a Democrat in Mississippi may be more conservative than a Republican in Massachusetts. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 23:03, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
Conversely, here in North Carolina we reliably vote for Republicans for president and Democrats for governor, although there's a solid chance we'll reverse that pattern this year. --Sean 15:28, 24 October 2008 (UTC)


If someone just stops paying their bills (utilities, loans, whatever) what happens? Do they just get the utilities shut off, their credit ruined, etc, or are they actually arrested or summoned to court? (talk) 17:12, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

It depends on the nation in question, but generally if you owe money to a firm (utility/loan/whatever) for a service you have previously used and then refuse to pay it you will go through several stages. First will be reminder-letters, then demand-letters, then (depending on the nature of the debt) it may be sold onto a debt recovery firm who will try to recoup the debt through many means (e.g. through the courts, through repossession of your possessions/home etc.). If all this continues to fail it may be that you end having to be declared officially bankrupt or could be placed in priosn for refusal to pay debts. As for utilities - yes they may cut you off from the supply, or for loans they may give you a bad credit rating. ny156uk (talk) 17:41, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
Are you sure you can be placed in prison? I thought unpaid debt is a civil matter and civil courts aren't able to jail you, even if you refuse to pay the judge's judgement against you. (talk) 18:29, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
In the past, you certainly could. I'm not sure if any jurisdictions still have debtors prisons. --Tango (talk) 18:38, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
I don't believe in any industrialised nation you can be thrown in prison for failing to pay a debt, with the important exception of tax debts (which is why every debt counsellor advises you to sort out your tax debts first). DJ Clayworth (talk) 19:59, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
In some places utility shutoffs are restricted by law. For example, in places with cold winters, if you have gas heat, the gas company may not be allowed to shut off your gas during the winter no matter what. (I don't remember any specifics, but I've definitely heard of laws like that.) --Anonymous, 18:42 UTC, October 23, 2008.
In the UK they can't cut off your water supply (although they can throttle it to just a dribble - enough that you can drink and keep up basic hygiene, but nothing else). That has led to people being advised that if you can't pay all your bills, your water bill if the one to miss. --Tango (talk) 19:51, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
The short of it: depends on what bills and what jurisdiction. If you get more specific, someone may be able to give you a more meaningful answer. - Jmabel | Talk 20:43, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
If you're not paying on secured debt (home loans, car loans, etc.), the creditor can go to court and get possesion of the asset securing the debt, which they will then sell to pay off the debt. --Carnildo (talk) 22:13, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
In Nunavut they can't shut the electricty off in the winter but they can throttle it back, no TV etc. CambridgeBayWeather Have a gorilla 13:30, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
How do you throttle an electricity supply? Make it trip if they draw more than a small amount of current? I would expect electric heating to use such a large portion of the supply that making it so you can heat your house but not watch TV would be difficult. --Tango (talk) 16:56, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
I don't think that's possible. Without entering your home and messing with the wiring of your house (which I'm pretty sure they won't be allowed to do) - limiting the current won't help because the heating system uses WAY more power than (say) a small TV - they couldn't adjust it accurately enough to make that work. SteveBaker (talk) 20:22, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
First, they actually might be allowed to do things inside a house in such a situation. Second, don't assume from what the poster said that we're talking about electric heat. Electricity in Nunavut is generated pretty much exclusively by fossil fuel, since people are so spread out that hydroelectric or nuclear plants wouldn't make sense, and people could burn that fuel just as easily and more efficienty in their own homes. But they still need electricity to run their heating systems, both for thermostatic control and things like blowers or water pumps. With long winter nights, continuous night in midwinter in some places, it would make sense to require people to be allowed some small amount of electric light, too. --Anonymous, 22:45 UTC, October 24, 2008.
Maybe the electric supply to heaters is on a different meter? 19:08, 25 October 2008 (UTC)
Anonymous is correct, we don't use direct electricty to heat our houses or our water. Over the past few years the monthly electricity bill has climbed to $200 for my place and I know that there are others who think if it's under $500 a month they are lucky, so using an electric heaters are out of the question. Here's the relevent document from Qulliq Energy (search for "Terms and Conditions of Service Delivery") it's section 8.2 on page 41. The CBC reported on the same thing in Manitoba. In other words you can run the fan on a forced-air system or the glycol pump on a boiler system but not too much else. This I assume is what they are talking about but I'm not sure because we are lacking a Load limiter article. By the way, the hot water, the forced-air/boiler systems all use fuel oil. CambridgeBayWeather Have a gorilla 06:21, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Northland Steamship Company[edit]

Question/request moved to Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Ships - Jmabel | Talk 06:41, 25 October 2008 (UTC)


Am I right in saying that most (if not all) of these planes are fake (heavily photoshopped). Thanks (talk) 21:00, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Yes. Entirely fake. Good, though. --Tagishsimon (talk) 21:03, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Are they all fake? Anyway, thanks. (talk) 21:24, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Not all of them. The "Boeing Dreamliner" (about 27 seconds in) looks like a repaint of the Boeing 747 Large Cargo Freighter. Likewise, the Delta triple-decker (43 seconds) looks like a repaint of somebody's outsize-cargo carrier. --Carnildo (talk) 22:23, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Thanks, I think your right about the Dreamliner, that looked real to me. The triple-decker looks like a photoshopped double-decker. The flying wings seem real to me, and so does that silver Hawaiian...but I don't really know. (talk) 22:30, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

The triple decker is definitely a photoshop. The airbridges to the highest & middle decks would interfere with each other. Note the door spacing between the lower and middle deck. I acknowledge the dreamlifter similarity, but why label a dreamlifter a dreamliner? Where is the rear hinge? I don't buy it. I cannot find the flying wing on List of flying wing aircraft. And I equally don't buy the 10 engined Hawaiian thing. --Tagishsimon (talk) 23:14, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
"Dreamliner" is a marketing name for the Boeing 787, the aircraft whose parts the 747 LCF was constructed to transport. If you look closely at the picture in the video, you can see the fin actually reads "Dreamliner Express", not just Dreamliner. I must admit I can't find another photo of the LCF in that Boeing Corporate paintscheme, so it's possible that it's a real photograph with a fake livery applied. FiggyBee (talk) 12:54, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Thanks. The flying wings still look real to me, but it looks as if someone has digitally added those engines on the back. It also looks like they have just added extra engines to the Hawaiian aswell. (talk) 00:30, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

The Dreamlifter is the only real aircraft in there. The others are photo manipulations of real aircraft, except the giant BWBs which are completely fictitious. FiggyBee (talk) 06:14, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
It's worth noting that some of those little stubby ones that look so amusing are not too different from some experimental planes (though the size is different). I've always thought the XF-85 Goblin was pretty funny looking, almost looks photoshopped (certainly looks dangerous!). -- (talk) 15:00, 24 October 2008 (UTC)


How much do you think it would cost to get a fly-by from a jet plane, a dump annd burn fly-by and a Red Arrows fly-by (with red, white and blue smoke)? - not all fly-bys together, but how much would they cost seperatly?

I don't want to get any of these but I have seen them and that got me wondering what it would cost. Thanks (talk) 22:13, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Well, the details for requesting a Red Arrows display are here, but they don't include a price. I expect it's decided on a case-by-case basis depending on exactly what is required. --Tango (talk) 22:27, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Thanks, I looked In the FAQ and I couldn't find a price. Also, does anyone know why the Red Arrows aren't permitted to do a fly-by for a wedding or funeral. That seems kind of wierd to me. (talk) 22:36, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

My guess is that they would just get far too many requests. --Tango (talk) 22:54, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Thanks92.0.49.113 (talk) 00:26, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

You can get a fly-by for free for special occasions such as social events, fundraisings, etc, you have to apply a long time in advance and if you're lucky enough to be close to their location at the time they'll go woosh for you. (talk) 01:35, 24 October 2008 (UTC)