Wikipedia:Reference desk/Miscellaneous

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February 8[edit]

Is there a dollar amount limit when I place a bid on eBay?[edit]

Does eBay have any sort of "upper limit" check for bidding? In other words, if I make a high bid (let's say, I type in 999,999.99 or whatever), does eBay stop that bid? Or does it check with a message such as "are you sure you meant to type 999,999.99?" or something like that? I ask because I want to make a "last minute" bid. But I don't want any time wasted with intervening messages, etc. Which might delay me and bring me past the bidding deadline. Does anyone know? And, if so, what's the magic number that prompts a message? Thanks. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 00:25, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

The only restriction I see on ebay's info page is that you can't bid over $15,000 unless you have a credit card on file. Doesn't say anything about special intervening messages. Also keep in mind that coming in at the last second with a bid won't win you the item if another bidder's confidential maximum bid is higher than yours. Someguy1221 (talk) 00:57, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
We have an article about this bidding tactic, Auction sniping. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 00:59, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
Thanks. I did not know about that. I will check it out. Thanks! Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 21:58, 13 February 2016 (UTC)

Thanks, all. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 22:00, 13 February 2016 (UTC)

How would these two (similar) American football plays be scored?[edit]

(1) The score is 6-0. Team A is going for the point-after-touchdown, specifically the kick. Kicker kicks it short, Team B's defense retrieves the ball and runs it 105 yards to the opposing endzone. Or (2) the same as before, but in the endzone, Team B fumbles, Team A picks it up and is tackled within their endzone. --Aabicus (talk) 06:20, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

For (1), this article[1] states that because of a 2015 rule change, "the defending team will be allowed to score two points if it grabs possession of the ball and takes it back the other way." I don't understand (2). Are you talking about the situation discussed in the second paragraph in Safety (gridiron football score)#Conversion safety? That one's worth a single point. Clarityfiend (talk) 07:56, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
"In college football and the NFL, a conversion safety could also be scored by the defense.[22] To accomplish this, the kicking team would have to retreat all the way back to their own end zone and then fumble the ball out of it or be tackled in it.[24] A more plausible scenario would involve a turnover on the extra point attempt followed by a lost fumble before the defensive player reaches the end zone, with the ball finally being downed by the offense in its own end zone. While such a conversion safety has never been scored by the defense, it is the only possible way in which a team could finish with a single point in an American football game." Ooooh yes, this is what I'm talking about. I was wondering if that were possible. Thank you! --Aabicus (talk) 08:53, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

A tool for counting word frequency in newspaper archives[edit]

Is there such a tool? Something similar to Google Ngram or Google Trends, but for news only. I know there's a data range parameter in Google News search, but it seems that Google didn't index as many publications few years back, so the results are seriously skewed, I think. Is there any other more reliable service anyone could recommend, for checking whether a certain topic (word) was mentioned in newspapers over time? If you reply here, please WP:ECHO me. Thank you, --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 15:26, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

Cars ID[edit]

What are brands and models of these two cars? See no clues on them, thanks. Brandmeistertalk 15:47, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

The top one is a Smart car - a sports convertible. The lower one looks deliberately disguised, which car manufacturers frequently do when testing new models.--Phil Holmes (talk) 18:09, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Smart Roadster Collector's Edition, to be exact. A nice looking car, but unfortunately it had waterproofing problems. Smurrayinchester 08:31, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
I think #2 might have been an Opel Calibra in a previous life, now suffering the torments of the damned following some none-too-skillful ricing. Tevildo (talk) 18:41, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
It's definitely been modified in a haphazard way. That can also happen with cars used in races, as they will just rivet on a replacement part to get it back on the track quickly, versus taking the time to do it properly.
The single wiper blade may also be a clue, not too many cars have that these days. StuRat (talk) 18:46, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
I also thought of customization. Took them recently, this is the rear view, will tag the other as Smart then. Brandmeistertalk 19:08, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
I'd plus Tevildo, I had exactly the same dream image - from a previous life - that such a beautiful rage automnile had to be a Calibra. Now I found it could also be a Mitsubishi Eclipse, although the windshield (front view) does not match exactly the series model ( rather that of the Calibra ). The single wiper blade I think, that is definitively a competition arrangement. --Askedonty (talk) 19:47, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
The "HOONIGAN" sign on the back of the second car relates to a "ricer" type of group - so whatever it is, it's probably been hacked around quite a bit by an 'enthusiast'. SteveBaker (talk) 20:18, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
It's a sticker. I've seen rather worse in the way of desacralization of the Ford Mustang's. --Askedonty (talk) 21:21, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
I think the word you're looking for there is "desecrate".[2]Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 12:50, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
Sorry, you are of course perfectly right, Baseball Bugs. "Desacralisation" is actually French. It's "desecration of the Ford Mustang". --Askedonty (talk) 13:45, 11 February 2016 (UTC)

How do lottery officials insure that dollar amounts of jackpots are not too high?[edit]

Are lottery ticket games limited to the amount of money that they can award? Or, in other words, can a lottery game "bankrupt" itself by awarding "too much money"? I assume that, by definition, this cannot happen. But I am not sure. I assume that the prizes are a function of how much money has been collected in sales of tickets. Is that correct? So, for example, if they sell $10 million dollars worth of ticket sales, the top prize is some fraction of that $10 million. Is that how it works? That would seem reasonable, but I can find counter-examples. Which is why I ask. Thanks. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 19:39, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

Yes, although in the case of rollover prizes, it is possible to pay off more on a given day than was taken in that day. StuRat (talk) 19:41, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
So, on to my counter-examples. One: I think that this very recent Power Ball lottery had a prize close to half a billion dollars. I thought there is some "multiplier" number. So, that if the multiplier is "3", you get your top prize money multiplied by three (and so forth). How would that work? Also, Two: scratch-off tickets. They have no idea if they will sell all, most, few, or none of these. So, how would that work? At the end of the day, maybe no one at all goes out and buys that specific scratch off game, so there is no revenue. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 19:48, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
The law of large numbers, as applied to potential lottery buyers (n), would ensure you never get zero or a very small number of buyers, where n is large. StuRat (talk) 19:58, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Huh? Your comment is: you can never get a small "n" when "n" is large. Isn't that what you just said? Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 22:53, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
I parsed it as "when there are a large number of potential lottery buyers, it's unlikely that any one scratch-off ticket will only get a small number of players" MChesterMC (talk) 09:14, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
Correct. Or more precisely, you won't get a zero number of actual buyers when you have a large pool of potential buyers. We could even put some numbers on it. Let's say there are a million potential buyers, each with an independent 1% chance of buying one or more lottery ticket(s) each day. Then the chance of none buying any would be 0.991,000,000 = 1.5653×10-4365. Not gonna happen. StuRat (talk) 19:57, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
According to [3]: the PowerBall multiplier does not apply to the jackpot, and for other prize levels "As with any lottery prize, if an extremely popular number is drawn and there is not enough money in the prize pools or reserves to cover it, we may need to reduce the prize." So for PowerBall, it cannot pay out too much. RudolfRed (talk) 20:12, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Well, there is some "fine print" that most people are not aware of! Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 22:55, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
In Canada's Lotto 6/49, the smaller prizes are flat amounts. So we can imagine a scenario where there are 10,000,000 tickets sold (at $3 each) and 40% of the people buying them all decide to choose the numbers 1, 2, 3, and three others. If 1, 2, and 3 did in fact turn out to be among the numbers drawn, then the lottery would be obligated to pay out $40,000,000 in $10 prizes (in addition to any major prizes), despite taking in only $30,000,000 on tickets. The official rules, at least in Ontario, make no exception for this situation. Of course, the probability of something like this happening by chance is ridiculously small, and it's not considered a concern worth worrying about. -- (talk) 21:55, 8 February 2016 (UTC) (by edit request) ―Mandruss  22:07, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
  • See the Triple Six Fix which had a record pay-out when white paint was injected into the 4 and 6 balls of a pick-three 0-to-9 Pennsylvania lottery. Triple six won. I believe it was a loss for the state from what I remember, as we watched the drawing, but it is not mentioned in the article. Of course they caught on to the the scam, and as a whole there was no loss on a long-term basis. μηδείς (talk) 23:00, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

Thanks. Well, scratch tickets are very different than lottery tickets (where numbers are randomly drawn). When they print the scratch tickets, they have already authorized all the total prize money to be awarded (regardless of how ticket sales go). (The prize awards are authorized, but they are simply "hidden" with that silvery scratch-off material.) Say there is a scratch off game that sells for $1. The top prize is $1 million. It's a very unpopular game, and no one buys these scratch tickets. Only one person does, and he happens to get the $1 million prize. So, the state (or government) "accepts" that $999,999 as a loss? And -- nowadays -- there are dozens of scratch games to choose from; they can't all be popular. I suspect some are popular. People are probably unaware of and unfamiliar with most of them, however. So, how do scratch off games insure a positive revenue stream to guarantee payouts? Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 23:02, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

The state keeps a house advantage for instant lotto. I don't think there's anything strictly preventing your scenario, but it just doesn't happen enough to be a problem. Same way sometimes a guy can walk into a casino with $100 and walk out with $10000. But the casino isn't worried, they know they have the edge in expected value and they know that they aren't offering fair games. There's tons of rather sophisticated probablity behind this. E.g. gambler's ruin, martingale, etc. Here's a decent overview of the elementary probablility [4]. If you're having trouble transitioning from instant lotto to regular lotto, just pretend that they drew a bunch of balls ahead of time and then printed up the tickets. Maintaining the house advantage is actually much easier in instant lotto. Realistically, they don't have to worry about tickets not selling. They know that those scratch off tickets are addictive [5], [6] [7] [8], and they know their junkies poor, under-educated working class upstanding citizens who enjoy an occasional gaming experience need their fix. Here's one piece that specifically covers how states maintain their edge and how instant lotto are usually the most popular product [9].
Here's some stats from MI [10]. You can find similar records on each state lotto, some of them are linked by our articles e.g. Ohio lottery. Unsurprisingly, the state of Michigan doesn't mention how most of the money raised "for schools" does not really help schools, because traditional government funding is simply cut back (discussion here [11], [12]). They also don't mention how the lotto is primarily a regressive tax on the poor, etc, but now I'm drifting off topic and should stop. SemanticMantis (talk) 19:22, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
The state keeps 40-50% of regular lotteries (minus expenses and plus extra income taxes) but 75% of the scratchy things. They have a big cushion. Sagittarian Milky Way (talk) 23:16, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

Thanks, all. Joseph A. Spadaro (talk) 04:40, 11 February 2016 (UTC)

February 9[edit]

Sharing a Wikipedia post[edit]

How might I share this with other Wikipedians? It looks at Wikipedia a few years ago, and examines the open content phenomenon. Openness vs Authority.BooksXYZ (talk) 04:12, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

You could contact The Signpost and see if they are interested. Warofdreams talk 14:01, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
Will do, thanks.BooksXYZ (talk) 02:52, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
It's worth mentioning that the description of the WikiMedia board from 2006 doesn't apply today. Things have gotten a lot better in the intervening decade. SteveBaker (talk) 15:44, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
Although there have been at least 2 recent major controversies relating to the board. I wonder what "create their own proprietary, for-profit version of Wikipedia" is about. There was a fair degree of controversy surrounding wikia but while there are some similarities (including 2 board members), the description there is not particularly accurate if it refers to wikia. Wikia already existed for 2 years by 2006-2007 (expanding and changing but it wasn't a new project). And it used the open source MediaWiki and shared resources with the WMF, but not much of wikipedia content. (I think some deleted stuff was sometimes copied there and some articles were used but AFAIK this was done by individual projects not by any board members.) So if it is about wikia, it's not a particularly accurate. Mind you that entire story seems to keep referring to wikipedia when it sounds like it's often referring to the WMF, so perhaps it's not that surprising. Nil Einne (talk) 12:18, 12 February 2016 (UTC)
It's certainly easy to get confused between:
  • a "Wiki" - which is a style of website authoring and management found all over the web)
  • "MediaWiki" - which is a piece of open-source software that's at the heart of most - but certainly not all - of the Wiki's out there),
  • "Wikipedia" - which is an encyclopedia that is one of many Wiki's that happens to use MediaWiki)
  • "WikiMedia" (strictly: "The WikiMedia Foundation", or WMF) - which is the non-profit organization that formally owns the servers and other infrastructure on which MediaWiki is mostly developed and Wikipedia is situated).
  • "WikiCommons", "Wiktionary" and a bunch of other "WikiXXX" projects - that also use MediaWiki and run on WikiMedia's servers - but are not strictly a part of Wikipedia. Confusingly, much of Wikipedia's content (especially photos and video) is stored in those other projects and they cross-link to each other in ways that are almost invisible to the naive user - even though they are mostly independent.
So it's a complicated picture that almost every journalist gets horribly wrong. Whoever named MediaWiki and WikiMedia so confusingly should have been slapped with a wet fish! SteveBaker (talk) 03:56, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
Face-devil-grin.svg: Can I use an Octopus Smile-tpvgames.gif -- Apostle (talk) 09:56, 14 February 2016 (UTC)

February 11[edit]

plastic surgery[edit]

February 12[edit]

Request for help at Government of Portland, Oregon[edit]

I'm trying to insert commissioners from 1953 to 1971 into the table, see User:MB298/sandbox. I'm not quite understanding what's wrong with the table. It's fine if anyone edits the sandbox page to attempt to correct the errors. MB298 (talk) 04:40, 12 February 2016 (UTC)

It'll be best if you ask at WP:Help desk or WP:Teahouse. It may also help if you explain better what the problem is. I had a quick look at the source and it looks like there could be major problems with the table. For example there's a 6th column without a subject heading. The only person in this column seems to be commissioner 2. But the person listed as commissioner 2 for this time in the table was actually the mayor. The person listed as mayor was never mayor but commissioner 4. You'll want to make sure the rowspan for the people already listed are right before you make any adjustments to the people below, and make sure the ones on top are showing up in the right column (and for the right number of rows) then move on. Nil Einne (talk) 12:04, 12 February 2016 (UTC)

Embedded videos not showing in email subscriptions[edit]

I have a blog on Blogger where I sometimes embed YouTube videos. However, I've just realised that people who read the posts from the email subscriptions can't see the videos at all. Embedded images seem to show up fine in the emails, but embedded videos don't. I've tried mucking around in Feedburner trying to find a setting that will allow embedded videos to play in the emails, but I can't seem to figure it out. Please help. La Alquimista 10:20, 12 February 2016 (UTC)

February 13[edit]

February 14[edit]

History of abstract expressionism[edit]

Is there any history of how this movement became a global phenomenon and also written from the perspective that as art it doesn't have merit? From searching there's a lot on how CIA money promoted its further glory after it caught on but I'm more curious about the early stages of its rise before the CIA took an active interest. Muzzleflash (talk) 09:17, 14 February 2016 (UTC)

Abstract Impressionism is an art movement originating in New York City in the 1940’s. Robert Coates coined the term ‘abstract impressionism’ in 1946 in one of his critiques of the new artwork. The most important predecessor of abstract impressionism is Surrealism, which also emphasizes spontaneous and subconscious creation. See [13]. The Wikipedia article Abstract expressionism has an extensive section about its history. Reports that the CIA financed and organized the promotion of American abstract expressionists in the 1950s have appeared but have also been rejected as historical revisionism. The OP may be looking for opinion essays about hostility to abstraction in art, such as this example "modern abstract art is a disgraceful mockery of all that is right and good in the art realm". AllBestFaith (talk) 10:17, 14 February 2016 (UTC)