Wikipedia:Reference desk/Miscellaneous

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February 16[edit]

February 21[edit]

Editing an animated map[edit]

I was wondering if there is any way to edit this animated map so that it would only show Maine and not any other US state or territory:

I'm asking for a friend who is doing a project on the demographic changes that Maine has experienced over the last 200 years. If either you know how to do this or knows someone else or some place where someone else is able to tell me how to do this, that would certainly be great! Futurist110 (talk) 21:29, 21 February 2020 (UTC)

Free program VirtualDub can import your animated .gif, apply a video filter called "Crop" and save a new animated .gif. Configuring the Crop as L/R/B/T = 855/43/34/452 isolates a little animated Maine. However other editing will be needed to include the year numbers and the colour key. DroneB (talk) 14:56, 22 February 2020 (UTC)

February 22[edit]

TEFL job?[edit]

Hello, I'm thinking about doing ESL teaching abroad in Asia or Europe. How far in advance do you think I should start planning to teach abroad? I talked to some placement organizations and one guy wants me to be in Asia at the end of May. Do you think this is achievable for me? Is it realistic for me to get TEFL certified, get a background check and other nessecary paperwork, and relocate to Asia within that timeframe? Keep in mind that I have not done my TEFL certification yet, and will likely need to complete it first. Many of the people I have known have started to prepare 6 months in advance. I just heard about these opportunities.

The opportunity in Spain would likely have me starting in August.

Can a TEFL certification be completed in two weeks?

I am also weighing some other job options outside of ESL teaching that I expect to hear back from soon in the beginning of March or end of February. If I don't hear back from them or get a rejection notice, I will likely be committing to the ESL teaching route. In that case, I would be starting the 120 hour TEFL course in March.

FYI: I live in the Western United States. Thought this information would make it easier for you to provide me with an informed answer as far as realistic start dates. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:03, 22 February 2020 (UTC)

For those not familiar with the jargon, TEFL means Teaching English as a Foreign Language and ESL means English as a Second Language. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 03:07, 22 February 2020 (UTC)
  • I'm not a TEFL teacher, although I have taught (maths) in one and I know some TEFL people.
You can get 'certified' for TEFL in no time at all, or at least to a standard that the school requires. This is not necessarily a good thing. Standards across the industry vary considerably. If I were dealing with a school who were 'optimistic' as to the time needed to do such things, to the extent that you were questioning the possibility of this, then I'd be looking hard at whether I wanted to work for them. YMMV. Andy Dingley (talk) 18:17, 22 February 2020 (UTC)

Who are these TEFL people you know? It might be helpful for me to talk to them.

If I was to go the TEFL teacher route, I would feel more comfortable starting later like during the summer or early fall rather than sooner. It seems like a rather daunting task to get all the paperwork done, pass the TEFL course, and handle the logistics of relocating abroad in a short amount of time. Perhaps I'm overestimating the difficulty of it, but I'm not really sure. I want to wait untill March to commit to the ESL options because I will likely be hearing back about my non-ESL job options in March. I generally prefer these other options over the ESL teacher opportunities so I want to hear back from them first before spending the money on online TEFL and starting the process of relocating abroad legally. If I did not have these other options I would hit the ground running right now with the TEFL stuff.

The Asia program I've talked to wants me to start in May or April. The programs I've looked at in Europe (Spain (kind of hesitant to go there now - you often a need student visa to teach legally as an American 😩), Hungary and Romania (promising), Russia and Poland (promising), and Czech Republic (also seems promising) ) have late summer start dates. I feel more comfortable having a later start date. I prefer Asia over Europe (Korea, China, Thailand, or Taiwan) though because salaries are higher (Particularly Korea and China where it is possible to save significant amounts of money - flights are even reimbursed in Korea) and there are usually no upfront payments to recruiting agencies.

I don't want to name any specific companies or organizations here. I want to stay anonymous so I don't compromise any of my options. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:05, 23 February 2020 (UTC)

Good luck. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:10, 23 February 2020 (UTC)

February 23[edit]

How to display your status on your talk page.[edit]

Okay, so, I was looking at recent changes on Wikipedia and I saw this guy who had this status thing that showed his status. Like offline, online, active. I thought it was pretty cool so I checked the source to see if I could do it myself. But the problem is, the source was so complex that i didn't know what was what! Can you please link me to a page that can explain how to do this? Or even better, can you do it for me? Faboof (talk) 01:28, 23 February 2020 (UTC)

If you look at this edit you will see a template that you can add to your talk page then you will have to manually edit it yourself to show your status. This is probably not the only one of these out there so other editors may be able to direct you to different templates. MarnetteD|Talk 05:18, 23 February 2020 (UTC)
That one uses the template {{status}}. There are also {{statustop}}, {{UserStatus}}, and {{StatusTemplate}}. The template pages contain documentation on how these are used. By clicking on "What links here" when visiting these template pages, you can find user pages that use them and see how they look there.  --Lambiam 09:08, 23 February 2020 (UTC)

Turn right to increase flow[edit]

Screws, nuts and valves are all turned right to tighten/close/decrease flow, but a potentiometer light switch is rotated left to turn off the light. How come? (talk) 05:28, 23 February 2020 (UTC)

Are you talking about devices like the volume control on a radio? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 07:35, 23 February 2020 (UTC)
For convenience, let us only consider screws in an upright position (head on top). Consider a screw having a standard right-handed screw thread, held in a matching hole. Turning it right will cause the bottom tip to move downward. This mechanical downward motion has been used both to control the flow of liquids and gases, and to close electrical circuits. In the former case, the descending screw impedes and finally blocks the flow. But in old-fashioned mechanical switches that use screws for connecting or disconnecting the conducting path in an electrical circuit, the screw tip is one contact point that makes contact with the other contact point by descending and touching it, so clockwise turning now closes the circuit and thus opens the flow of electricity. This 19th-century historical situation has carried over into a convention still maintained today, also when no actual screw threads are involved: turning right constricts the flow for liquids and gases, but increases the flow for electrical and electronic stuff. On my stove top I have both gas burners and an electric plate. To turn these on, I have to turn the knobs (which look identical) in opposite directions!  --Lambiam 09:36, 23 February 2020 (UTC)
[Edit Conflict] I suggest (without recourse to references) that the first is because humans are predominently right-handed and hence can usually exert more manual force (such as that needed to tighten, etc., something) with a right or "clockwise" twist (whereas loosening, etc. something is typically less critical or usual), and the second is because the cultures that pioneered electrical equipment generally read from left to right and use clocks that run clockwise(!), so rotatory controls and indicator dials that cause or show an increase in the value of something are more intuitive when arranged to do so clockwise (or deosil, as I prefer). {The poster formerly known as} (talk) 09:39, 23 February 2020 (UTC)
As a child, I was bemused by the fact that my parents talked about putting the brake on in the car, when they were stopping: this was backward to me, as "turning something on" meant starting it. I think this is a similar case: there are only two ways it can go, and different areas of engineering have chosen their ways - and their metaphors - without consulting each other. Consider also that a phone keypad and a computer keypad are still opposite ways up. --ColinFine (talk) 11:59, 23 February 2020 (UTC)
As to "on", this just means that as a child you didn't think of the brake itself as being something that would be "started" (i.e. put into operation).
As to numeric keypads, computer keypads copied adding-machine keypads, where the lower digits (which are more frequently used) are at the bottom where they are more easily reached. Phone keypads, on the other hand, were introduced in the US where letters were still (and indeed are still) associated with each digit, and having the alphabet out of sequence would've looked weird. (And besides, how many people used adding machines anyway? Obviously not enough to consider.) -- (talk) 06:45, 24 February 2020 (UTC)
What's your source for the claim that the lower digits are used more often? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 11:51, 24 February 2020 (UTC)
It would depend on how many digits are being used, but see Benford's_law#Generalization_to_digits_beyond_the_first. Given the breakdown there, the "lower numbers are used more frequently" thing is technically true, but not really signficiant if you're handling large numbers. For day-to-day accounts, though, it may be enough to be useful. Matt Deres (talk) 14:52, 24 February 2020 (UTC)
  • Valves used to turn in either direction. During the construction of the Severn Tunnel (poor article, sorry), a long underwater railway tunnel, in 1879 the workings flooded. This was a major flood - held up construction for years. Part of the recovery from this was to go down underwater, close a door to the worst part of the flooded shafts and also close a large valve there. It was such a difficult piece of diving in awful conditions (by Diver Lambert, the most celebrated diver of the day) that it led to the first use of a (hoseless) rebreather set, rather than the standard diving dress of the time. Finally Lambert managed to turn the valve. The water was still flooding in, and it was a major effort (A new diverter drainage tunnel dug beneath, and a new pumping engine house on the surface) to get it under control. After which they found that the valve went the other way. Lambert had opened it, not closed it. So after that, valve direction became standardised.
When a globe valve (the usual sort in domestic plumbing) is made with a right-handed thread and then turned in the conventional direction, this gives the expected operation. But gate valves used to go the opposite way (now changed). Andy Dingley (talk) 13:51, 23 February 2020 (UTC)

Thanks everyone for the replies. Interesting, I never thought of powering on as "closing" the circuit, tho that seems obvious now, or found it meaningful that gas stoves turn on by turning the opposite way from electric ones (even tho I've turned that knob the wrong way more than once heh). (talk) 23:33, 24 February 2020 (UTC)

By the way, I'd like to point out that it's not true that "valves are all turned right to tighten/close/decrease flow". When a single sink has separate taps for hot and cold water, sometimes they are made to operate in opposite ways, so that the two hands are used symmetrically. I think this is especially likely to be done when the taps have single-lever handles. I'll also mention that the stove/range in my house is electric (it's a GE model about 20 years old) and the rotary controls for the stovetop elements are turned right to decrease power (or to go directly from "off" to "max", since they turn in a complete circle). The oven-temperature control goes the other way, though. My point is that these things are not as universal as some people think. -- (talk) 03:35, 26 February 2020 (UTC)

world war ii aviation; colin heaton[edit]

I don't want to attach any urgency to this query, but I am 76, and, I guess am one of the few actual contributors to Wikipedia, according to a note from one of your staffers recently.

I've collected books since I was 12 (primarily signed world war ii aviation, american, german, and British). I got them off the 25-cent tables at bookstores (often in fine condition), then found the pilots hometown, and, presumed he returned there after the war, then went to the public library, where, in those days they had listed phone books from every area code in the usa (ie., the 213 area was an inch thick in 1957. And got addresses and sent penny postcards to the pilots, asking if they'd sign my book -- and btw, I was a newspaper boy and did they know how to contact their wingmen or others they flew with in the war? The results were amazing.

My dad was my hero and was chief final inspector in the fighter division over all three shifts. Which meant he stamped off every P-51 that was ever made from first to last.

All that being said, I can NOT find any biographical Information on Colin Heaton, who was apparently held in VERY high regard by European Theater pilots. They threw a big birthday party for him somewhere on the continent or in England and all the attendees signed a copy of Townsend's book "Fly for your Life."

Many of the signatures I am familiar with. Others I am not, but hopefully will be able to match the signatories as I was discriminate even at my young age and only had pilots sign the book if they flew with the author or on the mission, ie., one entitled "Mission Into Darkness" had the pilots flying well beyond their fuel limit. They took off from a dark carrier deck and returned in the dark, landing with no deck lights. I tracked down four of the men who survived the mission. They were on fumes, but none went into the sea. Afterward no fuel touched a dipstick into the wing tanks. Pretty good for a kid, huh?

I grew up to be an L.A. Times reporter, the peak of my career, and was there 10 years, but would not back off on a story about the revered institution, YMCA, was being threatened with its charitable tax deduction status in federal court at that time in Washington, D.C., and had the national president admitting it, malfeasance of funds, along with much more, including the fact that they were diverting earmarked money from their "Kids to Camp fund" in 1980 to stay afloat financially (not their mission statement). Revealing that would likely have meant the end of the YMCA. I wouldn't back away from the truth and basically forced them to fire me in order to get benefits that are given to those fired without cause.

Anyway, I've gotten way off the track, when all I really want to know is, who the heck is Colin Heaton and why did pilots from all countries hold him in such high esteem?

thanks for anything you might know, ```````jeffrey hansen — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2600:1700:8D40:A120:99A4:6818:2D95:E3D6 (talk) 21:44, 23 February 2020 (UTC)

Not certain, but it sounds like it could be this Colin D. Heaton. -- See also.2606:A000:1126:28D:781F:79E3:E0E2:3A5F (talk) 08:34, 24 February 2020 (UTC)
Seems unlikely, "Former soldier and Marine scout-sniper" (your second link), and anyone holding a command position in the Second World War is likely to be a centenarian by now.
By the way, there are about 5,000 English Wikipedia editors who make more than 100 edits per month - see Wikipedia:Wikipedians. Alansplodge (talk) 11:06, 24 February 2020 (UTC)
Not sure who exactly we are looking for, an RAF officer? fiveby (talk) 13:03, 24 February 2020 (UTC)
The author 2606: mentions was a friend of Johannes Steinhoff, and there was an 80th birthday celebration[2] in 1993 which Heaton probably attended along with many of Steinhoff's "old Luftwaffe comrades". Confused as to what book everyone was signing. fiveby (talk) 16:42, 24 February 2020 (UTC)
Presumably this book a biography of RAF Battle of Britain ace Robert Stanford Tuck.
If it IS Colin D. Heaton the author, he has written a lot of military history books. Alansplodge (talk) 18:03, 24 February 2020 (UTC)
I wonder if the number of military historians asking for signatures outnumbered the pilots at the party? All wild speculation tho until the OP clarifies. fiveby (talk) 18:33, 24 February 2020 (UTC)
I don't get why it seems unlikely. It seems actually pretty likely to me that this is the chap the OP is looking for. He can be contacted by e-mail at cdheatonii(at)  --Lambiam 20:43, 24 February 2020 (UTC)
Mea culpa. I had the impression that the OP thought he was a wartime pilot or commander, but a re-read shows this is not the case. Alansplodge (talk) 20:59, 24 February 2020 (UTC)

February 24[edit]

Decades articles[edit]

Are the decades articles all of the information used is it media controlled. I'm talking all of it science, technology, music, film. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:24, 24 February 2020 (UTC)

Define "media controlled". ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 11:50, 24 February 2020 (UTC)
Furthermore, could you clarify what you mean by "decades articles"? Are you referring to articles here at Wikipedia such as 1960s, 1970s, and so on? †dismas†|(talk) 16:09, 24 February 2020 (UTC)
We also have many decade articles that focus on more specific areas, such as, for instance,
Many of these areas cannot be considered "media".  --Lambiam 21:01, 24 February 2020 (UTC)

February 25[edit]

Exercise reference[edit]

In terms of health benefits, the amount of recommended exercise depends upon the goal, the type of exercise, and the age of the person. Even doing a small amount of exercise is healthier than doing none. Is this saying that this reference is different or same to what its saying. Recommending to follow the reference or not? I just need help understanding what this means. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2001:8003:7427:6B00:8869:9463:4556:B500 (talk) 12:03, 25 February 2020 (UTC)

I understand the NHS site, which I think we can regard as reputable, is saying that there are several ways to reach your exercise target. You can do some intensive exercises over a short period or less intense exercises over a longer period of time. The important thing is to do some exercise regularly. With out getting breathless the more exercise you do the better it is for your health. Richard Avery (talk) 12:15, 25 February 2020 (UTC)

Problems using the wikipedia dump bz2 file[edit]

Hi, I just downloaded enwiki-20200201-pages-articles-multistream.xml.bz2 .

I tried to open it with wikidumpparser. It crashed on the first line, saying "System.Xml.XmlException: 'Unexpected end of file has occurred. The following elements are not closed: mediawiki. Line 45, position 1.'" I extracted the xml file. Too big for notepad++. I tried using firstobject xml editor, which I have used to open xml files larger than a few Gigabites before. Firstobject xml editor just closed without any error message when I tried to open the xml.

I would prefer to open it in .net, but any language will do. I just want a program to be able to look up many articles, and I thought a local file would be better than many calls to the online wikipedia. Perhaps I was wrong. Do you have any suggestions? Is there something wrong with the dump? Is it a newer format? Do you have any suggestions on how to access it at all or alternatively for accessing the online wikipedia often in the best way?

I have used a few .net libraries some years ago, but as I read the documentation, nowadays I need permission, and probably special permission if I want to make many calls. So I thought the dump might be an alternative, not to disturb anyone too much. Star Lord - 星爵 (talk) 20:55, 25 February 2020 (UTC)

This sounds like something for the computing desk -- I put this link there, so as to not duplicate posts. 2606:A000:1126:28D:8095:BB24:F64A:E5FC (talk) 03:21, 26 February 2020 (UTC) . . . or somewhere at Wikipedia:Village pump
I expect that combined, those bz2 files uncompressed are in the 100GB range. Maybe you can run something like "bzcat filename.bz2 | wc" (unix command, I don't know how you'd do it in windows) to see the uncompressed size of an individual file. Or can you try your parser with an earlier version of the same dump? It is possible that the one you tried is broken in some way, but having two separate ones fail is less likely.

In general, for very large XML files you have to parse with a streaming, SAX-style parser where you read just one tag at a time, instead of trying to keep the whole document in memory. That means your program has to "manually" remember where it is in the file (i.e. inside some stack of nested tags). If you use Python, Elementtree] is nice in that it lets you get subtrees of reasonable size and access their contents in a DOM-like fashion. 2601:648:8202:96B0:C8B1:B369:A439:9657 (talk) 08:54, 26 February 2020 (UTC)

By the way, I usually use expat for stuff like this, from C or C++ programs. It is maybe considered old fashioned but I'm used to it. libxml2 is newer and might be preferable. It is basically similar though, so I haven't bothered trying to switch to it. There are Python and maybe .NET bindings for both expat and libxml2. 2601:648:8202:96B0:C8B1:B369:A439:9657 (talk) 09:04, 26 February 2020 (UTC)
It looks to me like you should get the bz2 files that are split into smaller streams: see "2020-02-22 04:25:49 done Articles, templates, media/file descriptions, and primary meta-pages, in multiple bz2 streams, 100 pages per stream" on the dump page . That will give you a bunch of smaller files that should mostly be easier to parse, though a few of them will still be pretty large. There are some index files too. I didn't examine them to check their format. 2601:648:8202:96B0:C8B1:B369:A439:9657 (talk) 09:25, 26 February 2020 (UTC)
You should read Wikipedia:Database download if you haven't. -- (talk) 10:17, 26 February 2020 (UTC)

February 26[edit]

Fat people who nevertheless lived long lives[edit]

Which fat people were there who nevertheless managed to live long lives? So far, I could think of Ariel Sharon (1928-2014; died at age 85) and Winston Churchill (1874-1965; died at age 90). That said, though, who else was there that actually manages to meet this criteria? Futurist110 (talk) 23:36, 26 February 2020 (UTC)

Cyril Smith died at 82. Some would say he lived too long, given what we now know of his past crimes. --Viennese Waltz 08:11, 27 February 2020 (UTC)
Or maybe not long enough to be punished for them -- Q Chris (talk) 09:06, 27 February 2020 (UTC)
William Howard Taft lived to be 72, and was noted for his size. --Jayron32 12:56, 27 February 2020 (UTC)
Sydney Greenstreet lived to 74. --Jayron32 13:35, 27 February 2020 (UTC)
Marlon Brando lived to 80; he wasn't fat his whole life, but he did grow to rather large girth in his later decades. The The Island of Dr. Moreau Brando was carrying around significantly more weight than the On The Waterfront Brando. --Jayron32 13:38, 27 February 2020 (UTC)
And of course, Wilford Brimley is still alive and kicking at 85.--WaltCip (talk) 13:57, 27 February 2020 (UTC)
Because he's got his diabeetus under control. --Jayron32 17:40, 27 February 2020 (UTC)
We are not amused by the question. DuncanHill (talk) 18:15, 27 February 2020 (UTC)

I can't think of anyone offhand who died at advanced age while fat. I can think of a few who were fat in middle or late middle age, then lost weight as they became elderly and eventually died non-obese if not necessarily slender. I thought maybe that spoke to a natural tendency of people to lose weight as they got older, but a doctor once told me that it's rare to see obese people in nursing homes, because they are usually dead before becoming old enough to get there. So keep a healthy diet, remembering the four basic food groups. 2601:648:8202:96B0:C8B1:B369:A439:9657 (talk) 00:43, 28 February 2020 (UTC)

February 27[edit]

How to make a protest[edit]

Who can I contact to make a protest or vote in the country or the world? For example, abolishing school uniform. (talk) 20:14, 27 February 2020 (UTC)

What's stopping you from doing it yourself? Assuming you're actually in Ireland, which presumably has free speech, you could start small, for example by writing a letter to the editor. You should also see which politicians (if any) have had anything to say about this school uniforms question. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 20:59, 27 February 2020 (UTC)

February 28[edit]


Hello loves, Hope everyone is having a bloody fine day! I stumbled upon this page by accident during my daily teatime, and I was just wondering what the term horticulture is defined and how it was used within the American culture? I have realised there is a great disparity between our two cultures due to our language usages, and my dear colleagues at Oxford and I were wondering if this was some new American "slang"? Please proceed in the name of our Queen and have a jolly good day! Good bye loves! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:40, 28 February 2020 (UTC)