Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2012 July 30

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July 30[edit]

Olympic opening ceremony[edit]

Since they always do Greece first and the host country last, what do they do when Greece is the host country? --108.206.7.65 (talk) 00:20, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

During the 2004 Summer Olympics opening ceremony in Athens, Greece, only the Greek flag led the parade. The Greek team then marched in last after all the other nations. Zzyzx11 (talk) 00:26, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
(ec) From Olympic Games ceremony: Traditionally (starting at the 1928 Summer Olympics), Greece enters first, due to its historical status as the progenitor of the Olympics, while the host nation marches last.[7] In the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, the Greek flag led the parade, while the Greek team marched in last, as the host nation. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 00:28, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Parabolic TV speakers for the hearing impaired?[edit]

Five or ten years ago I saw brief but infomercial type advertisements for the mail order purchase of parabolic speakers for the TV for people who are hard of hearing. They were described as "directional speakers" to overcome background noise. A friend of mine could benefit from these; watching TV with him is painful due to the volume he needs. I have searched and searched, but the best I can find is either a $1499.00 speaker system at Amazon, or a plastic shell that is supposed to reflect cell phone speakers without electronic amplification. Can anyone help me find affordable (i.e., $100.00 or less) electronic parabolic loudspeakers meant for home use? Thanks. μηδείς (talk) 02:44, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

I don't think those would do much good. Even if the sound were focused on him, it would still bounce off him and all around the room. The more obvious solution is headphones (or earplugs for anyone else in the room). I'm wearing headphones to watch TV right now. You could also position external speakers right by his ears. They do make directional hearing aides, too, but those are either very expensive, or junk. StuRat (talk) 02:50, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
I don't think that would be a problem, since if directed at him he should hear it louder than those who hear it reflected off him. I brought a documentary for him to watch, and while I would have been comfortable listening to it with the tv volume at 10-12, he wanted it at 16, which was just the wrong side of too loud. Hearing aids and moving the speakers closer to him are not reasonable prospects. I am quite sure of what I am looking for here. There was a product advertised in the US, but not recently to my knowledge. I am just frustrated at the results garnered for "parabolic/directional TV speaker hard/impaired hearing". μηδείς (talk) 18:07, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
This is product I saw recently advertised on TV: [1]. However, based on the price and reviews I read, it seems to be total junk. (It's a cheap hearing aide, not parabolic speakers.) StuRat (talk) 20:22, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Here's something that might actually work, in your price range: [2]. This is a parabolic microphone, not speakers, but has one advantage. With parabolic speakers, he would find it impossible to hear anyone else in the room, but, with this, he only needs to point it at the people to hear them. StuRat (talk) 20:35, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Hehe, no the Teptronics thing is not it. Thanks for the attempts. There's no way he'll be convinced to wear earphones, since it's his TV, and he has the right to play it as loud as he likes. But he would probably accept the gift of simply a speaker that made it easier for him to hear the TV, especially if other people are visiting him. μηδείς (talk) 02:50, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

Paint Jobs of NYC-area Bridges[edit]

My question is about the paint jobs of the car and rail bridges in the NYC area. Why are so many of the bridges in New Jersey (specifically Hudson and Essex counties) painted black, while the bridges in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx are a rainbow of different colors? I feel that black is very aesthetically displeasing for a bridge, and I'm wondering if there's a reason why the state of NJ would make that choice--perhaps black paint is cheaper, more durable, better for melting ice, etc.

As an example, I think that the Pulaski Skyway is a quite beautiful structure, but its black paintjob makes it look old and foreboding. I think a nicer color could really bring out its beauty, in the same way that the Golden Gate Bridge looks much nicer in red than it would in black.

Here's a brief sampling of the bridges to show the predominance of black in NJ.

New York:

Manhattan Bridge -- Blue

Verrazano Bridge -- Blue

Henry Hudson Bridge -- Blue

Williamsburg Bridge -- Gray

Spuyten Duyvil Bridge -- Gray

Whitestone Bridge -- Gray

Park Avenue Bridge -- Gray

Path bridge hackensack.jpg

Queensboro Bridge -- Beige

Willis Avenue Bridge -- Beige

Hell Gate Bridge -- Red

Roosevelt Island Bridge -- Red

Macombs Dam Bridge -- White

New Jersey:

Newark Bay Bridge -- Blue

Upper Hack Lift -- Blue

Lower Hack Lift -- Black

Arthur Kill Bridge -- Black

Wittpenn Bridge -- Black

Portal Bridge -- Black

Pulaski Skyway -- Black

PATH Lift Bridge -- Black

Lincoln Highway Bridge -- Black

Harsimus Branch Lift -- Black

Lehigh Valley Railroad Bridge -- Black

Dock Bridge -- Black


I have always felt that this inclination toward black bridges in New Jersey does nothing but add to outsiders' negative opinions of New Jersey. Why would the state of NJ choose to mar what could be beautiful looking bridges? There must be a reason--does anyone know? 138.16.42.247 (talk) 03:13, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Although I don't have a source, it was common practice to paint rail bridges black in steam locomotive days because the coal soot would foul any other color quickly and unevenly, making it look even worse. Many of the Jersey bridges are rail bridges, while few of the Manhattan bridges are, since most rail access to Manhattan is by tunnel. I can't say why road bridges were painted black, though precedent and general inertia may have a role. Acroterion (talk) 13:37, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
No idea, but the Forth Bridge near Edinburgh is painted red and has been that colour for over 100 years. Presumably soot from steam trains wasn't much of a problem for the majority of the bridge's life, though for a while the permanent maintenence crew supposedly started repainting again immediately they had finished the previous repaint. Astronaut (talk) 17:24, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

First off, you are making a very NY-centric judgment of NJ based on a specific type of bridge in an extremely small portion of the state. It would be like calling Manhattan a third-world slum based on the bodegas lining Broadway as you enter Washington Heights from the George Washington Bridge. The rest of the state has no such bridges that I am aware of, although I can't speak for the Vineland, New Jersey area. The bridges crossing the Delaware, the Raritan, and the Rancocas to name a few are hardly in this class. Second, you can write Chris Cristie a letter. He seems quite the bold type to get the painting policy changed if it makes sense and he agrees with your opinion. μηδείς (talk) 18:19, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Dear μηδείς, I am a lifelong Edison NJ resident and I feel that you've missed that I clearly prefaced the discussion with " NYC Area," and even specifically named Hudson and Essex counties. Indeed, most of the bridges in the entire state do not follow this trend. I don't know what you mean by "a specific type of bridge," since I included all types of notable bridges that do not cross state boundaries in the NYC area. I think this particular area of NJ is proportionately much more influential on the opinions of non-NJ residents than elsewhere, since it is extremely well-travelled due to the Turnpike, interstates 80, 280, 78, and the numerous railroads. So I feel that my opinion is more "superficial" (in terms of just what one sees from the major transit lines) than NYC centric. Also, Acroterion, I appreciate your insightful response. Perhaps it is a relic of 100+ years ago. 138.16.113.5 (talk) 21:18, 30 July 2012 (UTC) (op)
My perspective is from West Virginia/Virginia/Maryland, and most of the old rail bridges are black in that area, particularly if they were a through-truss design that was directly exposed to soot. The Forth Bridge is offered as a counter-example, but given that painting the Forth Bridge is (axiomatically, but apparently erroneously) a never-ceasing task, keeping it red was not a problem. Most of the rail bridges I've seen have been lucky to see a coat of paint in two or three decades. Acroterion (talk) 21:35, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Is the Olympics fixed? (I.e. do people/the Mob bet on it?)[edit]

I've just been watching some fine young female gymnasts perform, and I'm struck by the way that so many of them seem very surprised by the amazing springiness of the floor mats, which sometimes visibly rise up beneath them before they take those extra steps that decide the outcome. Girl after girl seems to be doing amazingly, unprecedentedly poorly. But every once in a while one of them totally nails the performance like she's been practicing on those kind of mats for months. It occurs to me that if the officials had planned to install an extra-springy flooring, and let the right people know about it in advance, then the smart money would really have done well in any betting. But, I know nothing about gymnastics! ;) Am I completely off-base here? Wnt (talk) 03:40, 30 July 2012 (UTC).

I think you are, yes. The number of people who would need to be complicit in the scheme you suggest must surely be prohibitive. At a minimum, you'd need the venue manager, the builders, the judges, the gymnast and the coach all to be on side. That's just too many people who would need to be trusted to keep this a secret - even if you could bribe someone to keep their mouth shut, the number of people you'd need to pay would probably mean that the profit made on the bets would not be enough to ensure a profit after paying out on backhanders.
The 'big noise' at the moment in underhand betting is Spot-fixing, as seen in football and particularly in cricket. This is where 'spot bets' are taken on certain events happening - in cricket they might bet on the number of no-balls bowled by a particular bowler in a certain over. Obviously these things can be pre-arranged, and have the benefit of only involving the player himself and possibly his captain. It might be possible for something similar to be arranged in gymnastics - maybe a certain number of mistakes or taking a tumble at a pre-determined point. I don't think there's any evidence for that happening, but there is enough concern about spot-fixing at the Olympics as a whole for the UK to set up a dedicated task force to investigate any unconventional betting patterns. - Cucumber Mike (talk) 09:51, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Of course, there are certain badminton matches that would have been good to bet on.    → Michael J    04:01, 2 August 2012 (UTC)

Medical education[edit]

In India, students above the age of 25 are not permitted to join medical courses like MBBS whereas other professions like law permit new entrants to join the profession at any age. Why is there a dichotomy here? Is there any age restriction for entry into the medical profession in other countries?

If they put medical interns through the same hellish hours they do in the US, they might want them to be young and healthy just to keep them from dropping dead. StuRat (talk) 05:00, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
In the UK there were formerly age limits at some medical schools[3] but this is no longer the case (I suspect it's illegal) and there are now significant numbers of mature medical students[4]. It's still rare - it's a longer course than most degrees, it costs a lot of money, and it's hard to get a loan if you're older or have a previous degree. And the career structure involves many years of training even after you graduate, unlike being e.g. a lawyer where you may be qualified after 3 years' study and training. In certain countries the government may fund training for doctors in the expectation that people will work for many years in state medical facilities, so it would make sense to pick young people who're going to work for longer. --Colapeninsula (talk) 09:07, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

1940 picture packard contest[edit]

In 1940 the Packard car company had a world wide photo contest. first prize was a new car, other prizes were cash and 100 bronze medals and 50 silver medals. I have been unable to get any information about the medals in this contest. I have come across one of the silver medals and am trying to find out what these medals were made of (silver content) and who manufactured these medals. I have contacted several medal dealers and even Packard itself and no one seems to have any information about this contest or the medals. There are several advertisements available (via e-bay and the internet) showing the ad flyers and mentioning the prizes, but that is about all I have been able to locate. Any information about this medal would be appreciated. Since it was one of 50 and I have not been able to find another anywhere else, I am curious if this is the only one left?

Thanks for any assistance, Jeff — Preceding unsigned comment added by Goodoldboy911 (talkcontribs) 08:22, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

You contacted Packard ? It must have been a long time back, since they haven't existed since the 1960's. StuRat (talk) 08:39, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Here is a link to some of Jeff's previous research on the subject. I hope it's ok to post this, Jeff, since it lets the volunteers here know what information you already have. Honestly, from reading the answers on that link, my feeling would be that the information isn't going to be found online and that a certain amount of offline legwork will be needed to get anything else, but maybe another volunteer will have a bright idea. - Cucumber Mike (talk) 08:58, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

Quotes[edit]

"Learn from others' mistakes because you will not live long enough to make them all yourself" - Anonymous

Here "because you will not live long enough to make them all yourself" - what does it actually mean? Thanks--180.234.24.99 (talk) 17:47, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

If you learn by 2 people's mistakes, you have 2 people's lifetimes of experience rather than just one (yours). It's along the lines of "two heads are better than one". --TammyMoet (talk) 18:02, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
It could also be taken to mean "If you don't learn from the mistakes of others, you may not survive making those mistakes on your own". That is, some mistakes you can only make once, since they result in your death. StuRat (talk) 20:04, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
There have been countless trillions of mistakes made by human beings, and there are countless zillions more to come (not all unique, of course). No individual could possibly hope to repeat every mistake made by other people, because their lifespan is not long enough. So, rather than even trying to do that, better to observe what mistakes others make and learn from them, leaving you free to make an entire lifetime's worth of your own mistakes that nobody else has ever made before, or you're not aware they've done so. Remember, the more mistakes you make, the more you learn, so get cracking, there isn't a moment to lose. To delay doing this would be a mistake, so make that your first mistake and your first learning. Then, when you're sufficiently rested from all that procrastination, you can roll your sleeves up and get seriously stuck in to mistake making. Maybe I'll publish "A Creed for the Risk-Averse": To spend your life avoiding mistakes would be the greatest mistake of all (almost certainly not original).-- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 20:35, 30 July 2012 (UTC)
Possibly apocryphal quote from possibly apocryphal public figure: "If I could live life over again, I'd make the same mistakes, only I'd start sooner." ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 02:00, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

Nose cards?[edit]

I remember that in the middle to late 1980s, there were "nose cards". These were collectable playing card -sized cards with a hole in them. On one side was a picture of a human or an animal, with the hole in the place of its nose, on the other side was a textual explanation. The idea was to wear these cards on your own nose, so it would form a three-dimensional nose on the two-dimensional figure. Does anyone remember what these cards were actually called, and where did they come from? JIP | Talk 19:22, 30 July 2012 (UTC)

IIRC you are Finnish; google for nenäkortti. 88.114.124.228 (talk) 10:42, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
According to this page they were called "Snoots". This page has a picture of several such cards (the last picture on the page). Now could anyone tell me more information about them, which country they were from, and who published them? JIP | Talk 16:01, 31 July 2012 (UTC)