Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2011 October 24

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October 24[edit]

Value of book[edit]

I'm not really sure if this is the right forum as my question may require very specific expertise, not sure, and it may be that the best response to my post will be to direct me to a more targeted (possibly off-wikipedia) forum but here goes. I'm wondering if anyone can tell me the approximate value of a book I own. It is the first edition of the reissued Upton Sinclair's Theirs be the Guilt (it was first published in 1904 as Manassas: A Novel of the War and then reissued in 1959 under the new title). It has a dust jacket in very good condition, and is signed by Upton Sinclair (I have a personal connection, it is an authentic signature of his; just take it as a premise that it is real). I tried to search for past signed Sinclair works but didn't get far.-- (talk) 02:11, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

There are a large number of "book valuation" services available online, or through commercial agents who deal with second hand books. I would suggest that you seek the services of a professional. Fifelfoo (talk) 02:14, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
You have to take it to an expert. There at least used to be an antiquarian bookseller on E 57th in Manhattan. They would give quotes but only in person. You'll need to find something similar than that.μηδείς (talk) 02:18, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
Here is a list of Signed First Editions by Upton Sinclair at which will give an idea of the range of prices. μηδείς (talk) 02:27, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
Thank you all. Hard to tell. It's not The Jungle, but it's in beautiful condition and with an untorn dust jacket. I'm guessing it's worth in the range of $3,000. Not planning on selling it right now. I was just rather curious. And uf I do sell it, I'll look into an auction house or something of the sort.-- (talk) 03:18, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

Voice in the middle of a song[edit]

When I listen to my copy of John Mayer's Who Says, a voice says "John Mayer dot com" near the middle of the track. It's doesn't sound like Mayer's voice. Was it recorded intentionally? Or is it something only to be found in the bootlegged version (such as mine)? If Mayer was the one who decided to include it in the song, what is the reason behind it? What purpose does it serve? (talk) 08:39, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

This is one of the tactics record companies use to "spoil" advance promotional copies of the record and thereby discourage file-sharing. Think of it as equivalent to a "watermark" across a digital photo. They are trying to make you buy the final version which will come without the spoken voice. --Viennese Waltz 08:44, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

RCMP breeches[edit]

A lovely member of the RCMP with flared breeches.

Is the flare of the breeches in the thigh area of members of the RCMP, as pictured, for the comfort of the rider as the breeches article suggests: ...and had a pronounced flare through the thighs that allowed freedom of movement for the rider? Dismas|(talk) 09:32, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

Yes, especially since they are (or used to be) a mounted force, as their name reflects. The flare exists only in their dress uniform though (the normal RCMP riding around in cars don't have pants like that). I can't find any pictures but I'm pretty sure the Toronto mounted police also have flared breeches. Adam Bishop (talk) 09:45, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
See Jodhpurs. Textorus (talk) 11:20, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

What percent of ebay items for sale are stolen?[edit]

Misc: not quite IT, not quite business. What percentage of items for sale on ebay are stolen? It seems that, according to this story, the MO of credit card thieves is to buy items in bulk, with a high resale value, and then offer them on ebay. So much of ebay is 'like new' items, I wonder how much of it, by percentage, is stolen? A quick google inquiry returned answers from "most" not "Probably not much". I don't locate any solid research, however. Llamabr (talk) 12:55, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

That's because nobody knows for sure. How can anyone tell whether or not an item is stolen? The sellers are hardly likely to admit to the fact. Walk into any branch of Cash Converters and ask them what percentage of their stock is stolen; you might get an interesting response.--Shantavira|feed me 15:52, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
"How can anyone tell whether or not an item is stolen? " I don't know -- If I did, then I would possible set up the experiment myself and collect and publish the data. I do know that social scientists and economists are sometimes surprisingly adept at configuring such things, which is why I asked. Put another way: I don't know how they do it, but I do not infer from that that they cannot do it (this would be a logical fallacy, of course). (talk) 18:45, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
Pawn shops, at least in the U.S., tend to have fairly stringent reporting procedures to prevent at least widespread fencing (photo ID required, pawn broker required to report items received to authorities, etc. See Pawn_shop#Assessment_of_items), whereas Ebay is not generally subject to these controls. Buddy431 (talk) 17:47, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
Some jurisdictions in the United States are requiring consignment shops and other stores that take in used consumer goods, such as video game stores that deal in used games, to take much more extensive information from would-be sellers, even to the point of fingerprinting them. Here is one example. --McDoobAU93 18:05, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
I doubt most is accurate. Someone must be able to find stats somewhere but I have a strong suspicion most ebay sales are from large commercial sellers with significant quantity usually new but occasionally refurbished including those from HK & China, which would be rare for stolen items. Nil Einne (talk) 03:04, 25 October 2011 (UTC)


This question has been moved to Wikipedia:Reference_desk/Computing#webcam. --Mr.98 (talk) 17:45, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

Looney Tunes-style trapping[edit]

An acquaintance recently found a small rat in his apartment, and lacking both a rat trap and aid from his landlord, he set up an Elmer Fudd-style trap to catch it: put bait on the floor, tie bait to a stick, and use the stick to provide just-barely-enough support to a bucket that's over the bait. To my surprise, he caught it within several hours; is this a surprisingly fast occurrence, or do traps of this sort actually work rather well? Nyttend (talk) 18:21, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

My neighbour had a similar rat problem, and used a concrete paving slab held up by some wood. But he sat indoors and manually pulled a string that removed the support when he saw the rat eating the bait. As the Scottish weather would impart more force to the trap than would a rat, I think a simple bucket trap wouldn't have worked for him. -- Finlay McWalterTalk 18:48, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
BTW, I should clarify — my friend left the trap alone, relying on the rat to pull the string by accident while attempting to eat the bait. Nyttend (talk) 19:10, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
It's a friendlier version of the deadfall trap. Matt Deres (talk) 20:01, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
There are many homemade traps that work as well or better than store-bought versions. A friend of mine who used to live in the wilds on the north side of Cook Inlet would use mice and shrews as bait in traps for larger animals. Because trapping was not something they did every single day and she wanted fresh bait, she would live capture them using the following method: Take a tin can of something entirely liquid and poke a round hole in the center of each end, draining the liquid out. Run a string through those openings and secure the can hanging over the center of a large bucket. Use a scrap of wood or something else a mouse can climb to construct a ramp or ladder up the side of the bucket to the edge of the string. Smear peanut butter on the can and put traces of it on the ramp. The critter will follow the scent up the ramp and skitter across the string to what it believes is a safe, free meal on the can. When it hops on, the can rolls over, dropping them into the bucket. No real harm done at that point, you could even release them in the wild if you were so inclined. Very effective, and can capture multiple mice/shrews, whatever. Probably not sufficient for rats unless they are all rather small. Beeblebrox (talk) 21:11, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
The kid's hamster escaped one day. The cat kept hanging by the laundry room, so we figured he was in there. I grabbed the exercise wheel and set it by the door. The kids thought I was crazy, but I heard the wheel squeaking a few hour later and caught the little rodent. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 21:55, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
Of course, domesticated hamsters are conditioned to entertain themselves on exercise wheels. An undomesticated rat is unlikely to be so inclined, and would likely ignore it. --Jayron32 22:10, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
The DIY rat-trap is just a rat-size version of the "basin and penny" mousetrap that was used with success long before modern mousetraps. There was no need for string -- the bait was just stuck onto the inside of the basin and the weight of the mouse as it tried to reach it caused the basin to fall off the penny. Disposal afterwards was by cat or water. Dbfirs 06:18, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
I don't understand. How do you balance the basin on a penny? --Dweller (talk) 09:20, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
Try "Erecto!" Textorus (talk) 16:15, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, I should have explained more carefully. No magic wand is needed. The (old English pre-decimal) penny is placed on edge at right angles to the circumference of an upside-down basin which is balanced carefully so that there is a gap each side of the penny for the mouse to enter. Sometimes the mouse brushes against the penny or basin causing them to fall as the mouse enters, but otherwise the mouse pushes the basin off the penny as it tries to reach the bait stuck up inside the basin. A large basin balanced on a can lid or a stick would be effective for a rat. Using a glass basin makes it easy to see what has been caught, and placing the arrangement on a board makes disposal simpler. Dbfirs 17:59, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
That makes more sense, the old British penny was as large as a U.S. silver dollar, if not bigger - I have a few in a bundle of coins that my dad brought home from the war. Textorus (talk) 01:12, 26 October 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for specifying the type of penny; I too had wondered how this would possibly work. Nyttend (talk) 02:53, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
The basin would be easier to balance on a Victorian pre-1860 penny that was almost twice the thickness, but the technique worked well with the thinner pre-decimal penny. Dollar coins produced by many countries in the past would also work well. I haven't tried this method of mouse-catching recently because modern mousetraps are so convenient. Dbfirs 06:45, 28 October 2011 (UTC)

How quickly do Courier Services work?[edit]

I'm currently tracking an order which is being delivered by UPS. The latest update (as of 24th October 2011 21:44 UK time) is that it departed Herford in Germany at 21:15 (I don't know if that's UK or European time). Does anyone here know much about couriers? Can anyone tell me the likelihood (all things being equal) that my package will arrive tomorrow? I'm in the East of England. Thanks.

I thought the UPS website would usually tell you when to expect it, and what method of shipping is being used. If it is on a plane I can't see any reason you won't have it tomorrow. Beeblebrox (talk) 20:58, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
Quite possibly. I've ordered something from Amazon (US) in the morning (UK time), saw them dispatch it from Lexington KY that afternoon and by midnight it was at East Midlands Airport. By the time I got up the following morning it was "out for delivery" (which means it was on the van) and was delivered to me in northern England by about 1pm. That said, I once couriered a laptop from Middlesborough to Dornoch, and it took more than a week. -- Finlay McWalterTalk 21:05, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
UPS tracking numbers for delivery usually update before or around dawn in the US. If it specifically says OUT FOR DELIVERY (maybe around 6ish in the morning) you should expect delivery that day. You can actually call and ask, assuming they have people and phones in Europe, like they do in the states. μηδείς (talk) 23:38, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
For Finlay: I live in Dornoch in the Highlands and it often takes an extra two or three days to get anything from the south, though the GPO do a grand job and are often faster than the local courier service.-- (talk) 05:16, 25 October 2011 (UTC)

Cases files in Manhattan Federal Court[edit]

Where can I find a list of cases filed, and information about the status of cases filed in Manhattan Federal Court? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:47, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

This page would be a good place to start. Beeblebrox (talk) 22:04, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
You'll probably need PACER access for the full list. You can do that in person in a number of places (some law libraries, some public libraries, or federal courthouses). The websites typically only give out opinions/orders which are a miniscule portion of the court's docket. There's a lot of dissent about PACER's pricing policy which will seem very antiquated to any wiki editor. Shadowjams (talk) 08:29, 25 October 2011 (UTC)

Thanks! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:45, 25 October 2011 (UTC)

Why is the New Haven Line so darn slow?[edit]

I've been on the New Haven Line of the Metro-North Railroad, and well... it's no Shinkansen. Why is it so darn slow? (talk) 23:55, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

Connecticut has imposed restrictive speed limits on NE Corridor trains. The Acela service would be like two hours quicker from NYC to Boston if it matched the out of CT speed from what I understand. See these unreliable sources for vague comments: I don't have good sources but have read complaints about CT's political restrictions on train speeds for more than a decade. μηδείς (talk) 00:10, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
I have read that one of the reasons why the Acela remains slower than European high-speed passenger trains is because the European trains spend most of their journey going through countryside where there are fewer speed restrictions. There is little "countryside" in the Boston-Washington corridor -- it's almost all urban, suburban or exurban, requiring lower speed limits. It's ironic that some people want to use trains as a way to combat sprawl, and trains are thwarted by that very phenomenon. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 00:32, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
However, population densities in the leafy belt about 8 miles inland from the Gold Coast shoreline are no greater than in much of rural Europe. A high-speed rail route could certainly be carved through that belt without demolishing many structures. Doing so, though, might threaten the astronomical real estate values of its obscenely wealthy residents, who have more than enough political power to prevent such a project from even reaching a planning stage. The issue isn't really sprawl, it's the U.S. plutocracy. Marco polo (talk) 01:12, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes, if only the US had such standard European mechanisms to deal with the rich, such as the guillotine and the firing squad. Then the trains would run on time. Of course, Obama could use eminent domain. Shame he's a Wall-Street funded reactionary. μηδείς (talk) 01:29, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
Still trolling? --Mr.98 (talk) 01:41, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
I am sorry, but how is blaming the "super "rich for the low speed of trains through Connecticut not trolling? No puppies (or very few at the most) were killed in the making of this comment. μηδείς (talk) 17:24, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
He explained his reasoning, he included it as part of a longer discussion. You, on the other hand, simply threw off some nonsense with the hope of derailing conversation. As you've done again and again and again on here. If you have a substantial objection or a request for citations, go ahead and voice it, but playing variations on Reductio ad Hitlerum is tedious trolling. --Mr.98 (talk) 20:04, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
I didn't suggest killing anybody, just forcing the superrich to bear their share of the costs of the advanced society that made them rich. Indeed, Europeans are much better at that. Why should the relatively lower-income, dense, urban areas have to bear the health and other costs of congested traffic so that the superrich can have unimpeded enjoyment of their huge properties elsewhere? Eminent domain would be an excellent solution. But as you say, the U.S. government is in the hands of Wall Street's hired minions. Marco polo (talk) 15:52, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
This was an issue when deciding the route of the Canada Line rapid transit extension in Vancouver. There were two potential routes: one on an existing right-of-way that wouldn't require a great deal of extra construction, or an entirely new route underneath a main thoroughfare. The right-of-way was in an affluent neighbourhood. The thoroughfare not so much. Guess which was chosen, even though it cost more? (To be fair, though, there are more transit-friendly destinations along the chosen route.)Mingmingla (talk) 22:58, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
In Europe, the rural population tends to live in compact villages surrounded by contiguous farmland or forests. "Rural" southwestern Connecticut consists largely of large-lot exurban development. It's not the same thing. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 02:37, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
It just needed sarcasm tags, or other irony punctuation.  Card Zero  (talk) 08:47, 25 October 2011 (UTC)

In other countries, dedicated high-speed lines like the LGV in France typically have no grade crossings, hence no need to slow down between stops. Connecticut, by contrast, has eleven grade crossings, which is why the state enforces slower speeds for the Acela. Textorus (talk) 02:27, 25 October 2011 (UTC)

There is also a notorious curve in Bridgeport which would cost "mucho dinero' to alter. [1] lists the speed restrictions. Collect (talk) 15:01, 29 October 2011 (UTC)