Wikipedia:Reference desk archive/November 2004 II

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Brain capacity[edit]

  1. In biology, are there specific situations where the absolute brain mass of an animal is an important measurement?
  2. The encephalization quotient produces a dimensionless number reflecting relative brain mass. Are there equally informative calculations which would produce different values for the same parameters? That is, are there multiple semantically equivalent representations of relative brain mass?

--[[User:Eequor|η♀υωρ]] 20:30, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)

To answer the former, yes - Carl Sagan's Dragons of Eden specifically says that a certain minimum amount of brain matter is necessary for 'housekeeping' functions. So that for very small animals, the EQ will be disproportionately large. For the latter, I'm not really sure what you are asking. →Raul654 20:43, Nov 8, 2004 (UTC)
To answer your second question, no. There isn't any other manner of determining brain parameters in a similar manner as the brain to body mass ratio - at least none that are both quantitative and reasonably convenient. ClockworkTroll 14:31, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Well, nothing official maybe, but you could for instance try brain mass vs surface area, or brain mass vs total sensor resolution across some or all sensory systems. You might be able to find all kinds of interesting correlations like that. How about brain mass vs length of the gut? I never tried that, but there might be an interesting indirect correlation there as well. Physics types enjoy graphing everything vs everything on the off chance that they might find some kind of correlation. Biologists should do that more often eh? Kim Bruning 01:17, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Grammar question: 'try and' ...[edit]

To my ear, it sounds perfectly normal to 'try and find out somthing', or to 'try and see who is there', or to 'try and get more'. My ever meticulous (is it spelled correctly)...editor (mother), changes 'try and' to 'try to' every single time...'try to find out', 'try to see who', 'try to get more'. Seems to me that 'try to' is correct, but is 'try and' incorrect, and why?

I hope someone can try and help me out on this one.

In descriptive linguistics, a common usage is never judged correct or incorrect; scientists studying language aim to describe how language is used and not dictate how it should be used. Because so many English speakers employ this usage, it is obviously part of the English language. The rhetorical device of joining two elements with a copulative conjunction rather than subordinating one to the other is known as hendiadys (a Latin-language modification of Greek hen dia dyoin, "one through two") and was common in Roman and Greek literature; it is like saying nice and warm or cups and gold for nicely warm and golden cups respectively. --Gelu Ignisque
A prescriptive grammarian would however say that "try and" is being incorrectly substituted for an infinitive. What is meant to be said is "try to draw" not "try and draw". But as Gelu notes, some would consider that a bunch of bull. So if you want to conform with someone's idea of "correct", use "try to" instead. Grammar also explains the above idea nicely. - Taxman 21:37, Nov 8, 2004 (UTC)
This reminds me that J. R. R. Tolkien (who was first a philogist and an English professor, and quite respected for is academic work in his field) was annoyed that his editor changed his "try and" to "try to" (Letters, 148). So, if you prefer to stick to "try and", you are in the best of company. -[[User:Aranel|Aranel ("Sarah")]] 19:04, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Speedy-quick translation[edit]

How would one say "hidden key" in ancient Greek? I know the root words are kleis and kryptos, but how to make those agree in grammatical gender and in the nominative case? Thanks in advance, Gelu Ignisque.

Kleis is feminine, so the adjective would be kryptê. Adam Bishop 03:27, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Thank you SOOOO much! Gelu Ignisque


Um... Topic + Question = Answer. ;-) func(talk) 04:27, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Figure of speech[edit]

I just posted this on Angela's talk page:

Your home page is a disgrace to the community. It's preposterously stylish and well-organized; a textbook case of rampant simplicity. You make everyone else look bad. Forget that! You make me look bad. And stop doing so much for Wikipedia and its community! Your tireless dedication and positive attitude are lifting everyone's spirits to revolting heights. No wonder everybody is throwing "please-retire-you're-stealing-my-job" barnstars at you! Why don't you and Jimbo get a room, for crying out loud! JRM 22:14, 2004 Nov 8 (UTC)

(No, she hasn't responded yet. Forget about the exact content for a moment. I'm getting to a real question. :-)

Is this a recognized figure of speech? What's it called? It's not exactly irony—it's more like heavy sarcasm, but sarcasm typically does not contain both positive and negative elements—only positive elements brought in a clearly ironic fashion, intended to mean the exact opposite. Here, I'm giving the superficial impression of heavy and insulting criticism, but on closer investigation this is untenable, because the statements at the core are clearly positive. Perhaps it's a sort of inverted sarcasm with verbal rather than tonal clues? Does it have its own name? JRM 22:32, 2004 Nov 8 (UTC)

Tongue in cheek? :) func(talk) 03:59, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I have no idea what it is. Nor do I know whether I was expected to respond and how one might do so if that were expected. :) Angela. 08:15, Nov 9, 2004 (UTC)

Oh, I'm thinking a week-long ban is in order. Wikipedia is not a comedy outlet. :-) JRM 09:41, 2004 Nov 9 (UTC)
A week-long something without a doubt. --Phil | Talk 11:22, Nov 10, 2004 (UTC)

Flirting? --[[User:Bodnotbod|bodnotbod » .....TALKQuietly)]] 10:49, Nov 10, 2004 (UTC)

ITYM "playing with fire" :-) --Phil | Talk 11:22, Nov 10, 2004 (UTC)

Arguing against naturalism[edit]

What are common arguments against philosophical naturalism? --[[User:Eequor|η♀υωρ]] 23:00, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Hmm... I guess, for academic purposes, that I would start off with some of the things mentioned in the last paragraph: semantics, ethics, aesthetics, philosophy of mind. These areas of human study can be seen as representing a "grey area" for naturalism advocates. For some reason, the chinese room thought experiment comes to mind as a potential battle ground for those opposed to and in support of naturalism, (but maybe I don't really know what I'm talking about ;-) ). func(talk) 04:09, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Oooh Ooh, there's an entire stack of possible ways to go at Epistemology. Philosophical naturalism only covers the output from a rather old and overused Epistemology called Empiricism. Sounds like it should be relatively easy to poke a large number of holes in it. (I'm not an expert in using philosophies to poke holes in each other though, maybe a Real Philosopher might yet show up :-) ) Kim Bruning 02:06, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)

baby goanna[edit]

What is a baby goanna called?

I think you've answered your own question. :-) "Goannling" doesn't seem right, and I don't imagine that the English language has designed a diminutive specifically for this species as it has for, say, cows ("calf"), cats ("kitten"), and dogs ("puppy"). I imagine "baby goanna" would be the only recognizable word in English, though if I am wrong I hope someone will correct me. Jwrosenzweig 23:15, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I would concur with you. Looking at this handy appendix from our sister project [1] there is nothing listed for iguana (from which they get their name), monitor lizard (which is their actual family), or lizard (under which general category they should fall). Admittedly, since goanna itself is not listed, there may still be a term of which I'm unaware. Of course, many lizards are egg layers, and I IIRC that includes monitors, so theoretically you could use the generic term hatchling. --Cvaneg 00:57, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I believe the general term for a very young bird, amphibian, fish, or reptile of any species is hatchling. That may be suitable for you... ClockworkTroll 14:21, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

What is Westphalia?[edit]

Is Westphalia a region, former region or German state or district? --Anon

See Westphalia. [[User:Neutrality|Neutrality (hopefully!)]] 03:00, Nov 9, 2004 (UTC)


How is time part of nature?

The best way to answer that is to simply say that time is a dimension, just like any of the other Euclidian dimensions you are familiar with (height, width, or depth), although it is one that we do not percieve as readily. →Raul654 03:05, Nov 9, 2004 (UTC)
  • I think we perceive it quite readily. Cosmetics companies keep reminding us of it... that's as opposed to the gym industry, which is more concerned with width. --[[User:Bodnotbod|bodnotbod » .....TALKQuietly)]] 10:54, Nov 10, 2004 (UTC)
It may depend on what you mean by "nature". In truth, we don't really have a very firm philosophical hold on what "time" is, but we can measure its passing, and doing so along with measuring other "dimensions" allows us to understand more about the universe, (nature). Much of our understandly of the physical world involves mass and energy in motion, and the notion of motion requires measuring time. We can't comprehend somthing moving at a single exactly point in time... all motion has a duration. With regard to my philosophical hold comment, our ability to notice the passage of time is considered by some to be a part of human a priori knowledge, that is, things that we understand without experience, (we seem to be born with an intuative sense of time). func(talk) 03:52, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

John Soane, R.A.?[edit]

In our article on John Soane, it reads that Sloan, who was an architect, "became ARA in 1795, then full RA in 1802." Both ARA and RA link to disambiguation pages, but none of the offered alternatives seem appropriate. My best uneducated guess is that RA stands for Registered Architect, and that ARA for something like Associate Registered Architect. Can anyone with actual knowledge either confirm or correct my guesses? -Rholton 04:03, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

It denotes membership of the Royal Academy of Arts -- Associate of the Royal Academy, Royal Academician. See here and here. -- Arwel 10:54, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Thanks! You are a gentleman and a scholar. -Rholton 15:08, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Noam Chomsky[edit]

What is known of Noam Chomsky's personal life? Is he married? Does he have children? What does he do in his spare time? [[User:Neutrality|Neutrality (hopefully!)]] 04:20, Nov 9, 2004 (UTC)

I saw some documentary on Chomsky once that said he's married with children (one or two I think) but because of his political opinions he tried to shield them from public view. That started in the 60's, when he first stepped out of his role as just a linguist to broadcast his views on Vietnam. As I recall, the film portrayed him as being pretty courageous for putting his family at risk to make his views known (no comment by me). Mjklin 04:38, 2004 Nov 9 (UTC)
As for his "spare time", fepending on your point of view, he has a very impressive career as a political commentator and is a noted academic in his spare time, or vice versa. Which is to say, I don't think the man has a lot of what most of us would call spare time. He is usually not involved in most aspects of contemporary popular culture, although he has certainly not been unfriendly to anarcho-punks and has occasionally welcomed opportunities that have been offered him to use popular-cultural channels as a mode of outreach for his own ideas; for example, he once contributed a cover-story essay to Maximum RocknRoll (at Tim Yohannon's request) and allowed Chumbawamba to package a CD of a lecture of his in with one of their albums. -- Jmabel | Talk 20:50, Nov 9, 2004 (UTC)

No sound on European DVDs[edit]

Alright all you techies, I bought some DVDs in Europe recently, brought them back to America, and attempted to play them on my laptop computer. After switching over the region code in Windows Media Player, I get picture but no sound. Any ideas on how to make my French movies as French as they wanna be? Mjklin 04:31, 2004 Nov 9 (UTC)

Have you maybe tried using another DVD-playing program which ignores regions, such as VLC? If you can't get sound out of any other programs either, then it could be possible that, while you can change or ignore the region in your software, your actual hardware DVD drive is hard-coded to Region 1 (or whereever) and isn't playing along so nicely. (Though I doubt that's the issue, 'cuz if it were, I don't think you'd be getting video either...) Garrett Albright 07:02, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I don't think it's a region thing, French tv uses SECAM rather than NTSC. I know that trying to play SECAM films on a PAL player gives you black and white pictures and no sound and I'm guessing there's a similar incompatibility between SECAM and NTSC. If the disc is encoded for a different tv standard then you'd need a p[layer that can cope with it. adamsan 09:02, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

There are several issues discussed here:

  • the US and Europe are in different zones with respect to the DVD zoning system; instead of changing the zone of the DVD drive (which you may do only a finite number of times' unless you have a "hacked" machine), one method is to use a player program that ignores DVD zoning by using DeCSS to decrypt the contents of the DVD;
  • Europe (both PAL and SECAM) uses a 50 Hz vertical frequency and the US (NTSC) a 60 Hz vertical frequency (this originally came from the frequencies of distribution of AC current to customers); both also differ in the number of lines used vertically; TV sets usually can only cope with a fixed vertical frequency, and some DVD players may be incapable of playing a DVD designing for one frequency on another; of course, DVD players on computers have no such limitation.

Apart from this, PAL, SECAM and NTSC are standards for encoding color TV on analogue channels; DVD is digital. In short, there is strictly speaking no PAL DVD, no SECAM DVD, no NTSC DVD; contrary to what Adamsan implies. :-) There are only differences between the kind of TVs they expect to be played to (PAL/SECAM vs NTSC), and these differences do not matter for playing the DVD on a computer. In any case, such differences do not affect the way sound is encoded.

Proprietary DVD playing software tends to implement many "features" aimed at preventing users from playing DVDs on "unauthorized" devices, or to copy DVDs to videocassettes. It is possible that one of these "features" is responsible for the problem.

In any case, I advise using a free DVD player such as Videolan. You will have much more control over what happens. David.Monniaux 20:50, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)

David and I are referring to the same program by two different names, just in case that was throwing you off. And yes, you don't need to worry about PAL or SECAM DVDs; VHS tapes are another matter. Garrett Albright 05:01, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Do you really need the sound with your *cough* French films? I can tell you, from a wealth of experience, that those sorts of DVDs normally just have funk noodling, with some fretboard slapping - you could just put on a Level 42 album or something... it won't really degrade your, er, degraded pleasure. --[[User:Bodnotbod|bodnotbod » .....TALKQuietly)]] 15:38, Nov 12, 2004 (UTC)

Videolan worked fine guys, thanks. Couldn't put in the subtitles though, but it's no biggie. Mjklin 16:30, 2004 Nov 12 (UTC)

Did you try "Subtitles Track" in the "Video" menu while the movie is playing? Garrett Albright 10:13, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Pseudonym and Alias[edit]

I asked this question on talk:pseudonym but no one would answer me : Whats the difference between a pseudonym, nickname and an alias ? Can royal and religious titles be considered pseudonyms, for e.g., is Dalai Lama a pseudonym for Tenzin Gyatso ? Jay 07:35, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

  • Well, Dalai Lama should be considered a formal title rather than a pseudonym. Since Tenzin Gyatso is generally referred to in English as the Dalai Lama, that's a reference to a title rather than a name. I don't believe that the fact that the title supercedes the name matters in this case. A nickname is generally applied by other people, as opposed to one's self. I believe the main difference between alias and pseudonym is one of connotation; as an alias is more commonly used as a name taken to evade something, whereas a psudonym is usually adopted in order to hide one's actual name but not to actually evade anything. Hope this helps. [[User:Rhymeless|Rhymeless | (Methyl Remiss)]] 07:55, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I answered on talk:pseudonym, and my answer is, roughly speaking, the same as Rhymeless'. David.Monniaux 20:56, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Thanks all, I've copied over Rhymeless' answer too. Jay 10:09, 17 Nov 2004 (UTC)

reference of editing wikipedia[edit]

Well it looks like you may be learning on the fly, but you could try looking here if you're having problems.--Cvaneg 13:05, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)


The answer is Wikipedia. There are also certain things that Wikipedia is not. --[[User:Eequor|η♀υωρ]] 22:51, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Radiation poisoning[edit]

I am living in Bulgaria and have just heard of confirmation from a Romanian border guard of a hushed up leak in the past week. Perhaps some confusion with the Russian "leak/incident", but it got me thinking--in your entries on radiation poisoning and radioactive contamination, there was no information as to whether any self-help was possible in these cases. I am thinking of things like increased consumption of red wine (Ok, any excuse!), which was suggested by a friend as a way to increase anti-oxidants. Scare stories are bound to occur, but lack of information about incidents will surely lead to others like myself searching your site for ideas, as i couldn't find useful information by using google.

Thanks in advance for any helpful comments. 9th Nov 2004

Quoting the U.S. Department of Energy: "There is no medicine that will effectively prevent nuclear radiations from damaging the human body cells that they strike." However, potassium iodide pills can prevent the thyroid from retaining radioactive iodine which lowers the risk of thyroid cancer which is one among many worries from radiation. Rmhermen 14:38, Nov 9, 2004 (UTC)
Ugh, I hope conditions are safe there. Antioxidants are always good, but the body can only cope with so much ionization at once. Some radiation will reach DNA in any event, at which point you need effective DNA repair more than protection from free radicals.
Of particular concern are radioactive iodine and xenon. The thyroid will absorb any iodine that you intake, which will lead to thyroid cancer if the iodine is radioactive. You can protect yourself from this by taking large amounts of potassium iodide, so that dangerous forms of iodine are less likely to remain in your body. (However, excess iodine or inadequate iodine may also lead to thyroid cancer, and excess potassium may be quite dangerous).
The best way to prevent radiation poisoning is by staying well away from any source of radiation. A dosimeter can be used to measure radiation exposure over time, and a geiger counter or a scintillometer can measure immediate exposure. The limit of safety is 2 millirems or 20 millisieverts per hour.
If you have already received a lethal dose, there is little you can do. If you do not suddenly become nauseated, followed by hair loss, you are probably safe from radiation poisoning. --[[User:Eequor|η♀υωρ]] 14:46, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
If this concerns the Balakovo nuclear reactor in Saratov, it was found to not have a leak. --[[User:Eequor|η♀υωρ]] 16:22, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
The incident the guard is most likely referring to is the shutdown on November 4 of the Number 4 Rivno nuclear reactor, in the Ukraine. Fortunately, there was no leak of radiation. --[[User:Eequor|η♀υωρ]] 22:07, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)

what does one call a follower of Russian Orthodoxy?[edit]

A "Russian Orthodoxist" gives a few Google hits, but Google wants me to search for Russian Orthodentist instead... Dunc| 17:38, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Well, obviously, just "Christian" would do, but I would say "Russian Orthodox Christian". Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia refers to "Orthodox Christians", which is less specific but I think probably acceptable in some contexts, depending on what you are trying to emphasize. Of course, I'm not Russian Orthodox. -[[User:Aranel|Aranel ("Sarah")]] 18:00, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
concur. "Russian Orthodox Christian". -- Jmabel | Talk 20:51, Nov 9, 2004 (UTC)
The phrase "follower of Russian Orthodoxy" is somewhat misleading; "member of the Russian Orthodox Church" would be more to the point. "Russian Orthodoxy" is not a separate religion from "Greek Orthodoxy" or other forms of Eastern Orthodoxy; rather, these are separate organizations, mutually recognizing each other as parts of what they consider to be the "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church" (Roman Catholics also claim that title; Catholics and Orthodox disagree about which of those two communions is entitled to call itself that). But I agree that the phrase "Russian Orthodox Christian" does the job. Michael Hardy 21:56, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Yes, one could call them a "Christian," "Orthodox Christian," or "Russian Orthodox Christian." You would generally be safe enough with "Orthodox Christian" unless there was some special reason to distinguish them from the other jurisdictions. Wesley 03:03, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC) (member of the Orthodox Church in America)
Michael Hardy's point is very good. "Orthodox Christian" is the best generic term; "Russian Orthodox Christian", "Greek Orthodox Christian", "Serbian Orthodox Christian", etc are okay if it is know for certain that the person so designated is actually a member of the Russian Church, the Greek Church, the Serbian Church, etc. Otherwise, one risks either offending or demonstrating ignorance of Orthodox ecclesiology. JHCC 19:46, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I think it's not just a question of what is known, but of what information one is trying to convey. If one writes "Bishop X recognizes the autocephaly of the OCA because he is a Russian Orthodox Christian", then obviously the term "Orthodox Christian" without the word Russian would fail to convey the point, which is the he belongs to a particular jurisdiction that grants that recognition, whereas other Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions do not. Or "He descended through a hole cut in the surface of the frozen river because he is a Russian Orthodox Christian"; clearly just "Orthodox Christian" would fail to do the job; members of the Cypriot Orthodox Church don't do that very often! Michael Hardy 01:24, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Westphalia Again[edit]

I still don't understand whether Westphalia is a region, former region, German state or district?

From Westphalia: Westphalia is a historic region in Germany ... now [mostly] included in the Bundesland of North Rhine-Westphalia. It used to be part of the duchy of Saxony, was created a separate duchy by Barbarossa, elevated to a kingdom by Napoleon, then became a province of Prussia, and now parts fall in two of the federal states of Germany. So it is a region, former region, former duchy, former kingdom, former province, and also forms parts of two German states (one of which is named after it). HTH. -- ALoan (Talk) 18:49, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
That's right.
I suppose "historic region" could be replaced by just "region" since regionhood is more or less in the mind of the beholder. Otherwise, the situation is pretty much as you describe it. Several entities of varying character have been called "Westphalia." Their borders have differed quite a lot, but they are all basically in the same part of Germany. Today, there is no institutionalised entity called "Westphalia", but one German Bundesland contains part of the area that has, at some time or other, been part of one or more historical institutionalised entities called "Westphalia", and is thus partially named after it. Diderot 12:09, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Just to make sure the above is understood: a bundesland is a federated state, in Germany. David.Monniaux 21:08, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)

History of the Irish health care system[edit]

Does anybody know where I could find some information about the history of the Irish healthcare system throughout the 20th century (by Ireland, I mean the Republic of Ireland)? Thanks in advance. --Edcolins 19:35, Nov 9, 2004 (UTC)


If one has an email account that is being used (by persons unknown) to send out spam, what can be done to stop this? [[User:Rhymeless|Rhymeless | (Methyl Remiss)]] 01:44, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Change your password. If you have some sort of secret question that someone else might be able to answer, see if you can change it. (How is someone else sending spam from your address unless they are logged in to your account?) Is the spam really coming from your address? There are a lot of viruses these days that will fake it so that it looks like it is coming from your address, but really it isn't. -[[User:Aranel|Aranel ("Sarah")]] 01:59, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Well this is a backup email account that I sortof forgot about for a year or so. I come back, and not only do I have a lot more incoming spam, but I seem to have what look like automessages from normal-looking email accounts, saying this is spam and they have an automessage (etc etc). The account in question is webmail.
Also, this may be an inept or malevolent spammer who is using your address as the from: or reply-to: address. Anyone can put anything they want in those fields. Or as Aranel said it could be a virus, which probably means that someone who has you in their address book is infected. There isn't a whole lot that you can do about forged from addresses, this is one of the reasons mail servers really shouldn't bounce virus or spam warnings back to their 'sender'. Rhobite 06:00, Nov 10, 2004 (UTC)
Receiving bounce-back emails due to a spammer forging your email address is becoming ever-more common. It usually doesn't mean your account has been compromised in any way. Unfortunately there's very little you can do about it. -- DrBob 16:45, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
At this point, I would recommend closing that email account, if you can. Try checking out the support area of whatever webmail service you are using. Garrett Albright 04:56, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The Years[edit]

How was the year 1 A.D. and the B.C. years measured? Was it measured by the sun, water or something else? And the way we measured the years in the last hundreds of years what is the origin of it? Thank you!

These are not measured according to any physical standard. They are measured according to the traditionally believed date of Jesus Christ's birth, though later scholarship suggests that he was born a few years earlier than this traditional date. The adoption of this year for the epoch was an amendment to the Julian calendar after the end of the Roman Empire by monks. See Anno Domini for an explanation of this. --Robert Merkel 04:13, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I'm not sure I understand the poster's question, with regard to the sun, water, etc. Are you referring to how long a year is? Many people, both in ancient times and today, use a lunar calendar, which produces "years" which are a little less than one solar year. The Mayan people were fascinated by time, and had multiple means of measuring it. Today, very careful observations are made of Earth's progress around the sun. In addition to our system of leap years to keep our calendar in sync with the solar year, occationally a leap second is added to UTC time. func(talk) 04:56, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Many cultures used the occurrence of solstices as a significant yearly milestone, which yields a rather more reliable measure of the solar year than counting full moons. The 5000 year old Newgrange site was built to align with sunrise on the winter solstice. -- Cyrius| 05:53, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)

There are many ways of measuring years. Using seasonal events like the flooding of the Nile or the migration of a species of bird is simplest. The ancient Egyptians used the heliacal rising of Sirius (i.e., the day on which the star first became visible above the eastern horizon just before dawn). Solstices are another method. The year article covers this in detail. Gdr 16:08, 2004 Nov 10 (UTC)

who is st. liem de la paz?[edit]

i would like to know who is st. liem de la paz. thnx for your help.

I think this is a St Vincent (see [2] - Vietnamese Dominican martyr, 1773) but I'm not sure if he is one of the Sts Vincent mentioned on the disambiguation page. -- ALoan (Talk) 15:06, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)

St vicente liem de la paz was born in Tra-Lu Tonkin(now Vietnam) He studied in Letran Manila in Philippines(that's my school) and was executed by his own countrymen due to Christianity one part of his remains was kept in letran and Letran do really celebrate the feast day os St. Vicente liem de le paz during November 24 where lot' o' fun happened


Is there any open source antivirus software? Is so, do they work or are they easily defeated because they are open source? Rmhermen 15:39, Nov 10, 2004 (UTC)

Several. ClamAV is one that's well known. I don't know how they compare to closed source AV software. Gdr 16:11, 2004 Nov 10 (UTC)
I think it is a well known secret that heuristic scanners can do a much better job of virus detection than a signature based one can, but the AV companies stake their claim on how much you need them to update the signatures and constantly remind you of all the new serious threats. It's the fox watching the henhouse to some extent. They make a lot of money and are thought of as the guys we need to have around, so this little fact is glossed over. - Taxman 17:35, Nov 10, 2004 (UTC)
While heuristic scanners may be the wave of the future, and better in theory, it is my understanding that they have not yet proven as capable as signature based services. Specifically, they often state you have an infected file where in fact you don't and state your files are ok when in fact theres an infection. Salasks 02:19, Nov 11, 2004 (UTC)
It's a bit of a fallacy to assume that open-source anti-virus software would be easily defeated; the idea behind security in open-source software, which has played out quite well in practice, is that there are far more whitehats ("good" computer users) in the world than blackhats (malicious users), and that, more often than not, the whitehats will spot a security hole or glitch in open-source software and work to fix it before blackhats will find it and work to exploit it. See full disclosure. Really, though, perhaps the best open-source anti-virus software is Linux; install it and all your worries about Windows viruses go far far away. :) Also consider switching to the Apple Macintosh if Linux is over your head — Mac OS X has yet to have a proper virus, just a couple of pathetic attempts. Garrett Albright 04:53, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Yasser Arafat[edit]

What nation's citizenship does Yasser Arafat hold? PedanticallySpeaking 18:20, Nov 10, 2004 (UTC)

Arafat presumably has some sort of diplomatic passport, though more to the point, what passport would a normal Palestinian have? Jordanian? Egyptian? or can the Palestinian Authority issue their own?
Ah, here we are: from passport "Stateless persons (those to whom no country will grant a passport or citizenship) generally travel internationally on transit documents issued by the United Nations under the terms of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. These are accepted in lieu of passports by most governments. Similarly, refugees and asylum seekers often travel under non-national interim documentation, rather than the passport of the country from which they are fleeing."

The PA issues passports, which you can apply for here. The PA consider this passport to be a right of "every Palestinian citizen"; the USA apparently recognize it as a valid travel document but do not recognize it as conferring citizenship of any country, in some bureaucratic twist. Arafat, presumably, has a PA passport.

  • Not necessarily. Heads of state do not require a passport to travel, e.g. Queen Elizabeth II does not have one though British passports are issued in her name, and if the Authority can issue passports then Arafat would be in the position of a head of state. PedanticallySpeaking 15:53, Nov 11, 2004 (UTC)

Palestinians outside of Palestine mostly get "travel documents" such as those alluded to above. In Egypt, they get Palestinian Travel Documents; in Lebanon, they get Lebanese Travel Document for Palestinian Refugees (pdf). The exception is those living in Jordan: they get Jordanian passports, and are considered Jordanian citizens. There's an art project on it... - Mustafaa 19:15, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Very interesting - I hope someone is writing this up for passport :) -- ALoan (Talk) 19:58, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)

It does get quite confusing. A couple of my best friends are Palestinian. She's from Nablus. She holds a Jordanian passport, even though she's never been in Jordan (except inasmuch as Jordan still claimed the West Bank when she was born in the early '70s.) Her parents and one of her sisters hold Israeli passports. Meanwhile, her husband and his family are a mix of stateless and Israeli citizens. It's a mess. --jpgordon{gab} 20:09, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Asthma and Allergy medication[edit]

I'm heading to my relatives for thanksgiving, and they have cats. I love cats, but my Asthma goes through the roof around them, and I'm allergic to them. My question is will an over-the-counter Allergy medicine (anti-histamine) help? Or do I need something more professional? Any experience? Terrapin 20:51, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)


Medication is a very personal thing. If you haven't taken much, any of the above should be fine, but be sure to read the instructions; for instance, it takes TWO DAYS of taking claritin before it reaches maximum effect. Also, be aware of side effects, and switch to another medication if they start to bother you. (Not all side effects occur with every person.) However, some people "wear out" drugs (even antihistamines), and become resistant to their effects over a long period of taking them. In summary, people can suggest what to try, but not even a doctor can say if they will work for sure without knowing your past history and you trying them. --ssd 06:30, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)
There are professionals who give advice on this sort of thing. They are called doctors. Allergists especially. Antihistamines don't do much to avert asthma if you have a real-for-sure animal dander trigger, but there are some other things that might depending on how severe your asthma is and how long you intend to expose yourself. Alteripse 19:12, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)

training in the US Marine Corps[edit]

Is the training course described in the article Basic School pretty much the USMC equivalent of Basic Training? ike9898 21:36, Nov 10, 2004 (UTC)

I don't know for sure, but I think not. From the description, Basic School sounds like an officer-only training course. Basic Training is for enlisted recruits, right? Key45 23:54, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Not really. TBS (this being how a Marine makes an acronym for "The Basic School") is only for Marine officers. Every Marine officer completes TBS as their first assignment after being commissioned. Many come directly from the Officer Candidate School located on the same base at Quantico, but others come from ROTC or the Naval Academy. The Marine Corps has basic training for enlisted soldiers just like the other services. Isomorphic 16:02, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Electric blanket tests[edit]

I am a chartered engineer and feel competent to check my blanket myself. Just what checks are undertaken by "competent authorities"?

David Turner, Derby,UK. -- (unsigned by)

I suggest you contact the blanket manufacturer or your local electricity authority. They will probably give you detailed maintainence intructions for next to nothing. -- FirstPrinciples 05:56, Nov 12, 2004 (UTC)

Shoe store in the Ala Moana shopping center[edit]

How can I get a list of stores in the Ala Moana Shopping center, shoe stores that is. Is that possible thru you???

This is most definitely not something that Wikipeida in general, or the reference desk in particular covers. I'd recommend something along the lines of Google or some other search engine/directory when you are looking for information on local businesses. This one time, though, you can get it here. --Cvaneg 19:16, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Tweaking Windows from outside to get it working again[edit]

I've just rebooted my computer and, to my horror, Windows (Xp Pro, SP1, English) hangs on the blue screen with the Windows logo just before you get to the GUI. The cause was a manual drive-letter change carried out in PartitionMagic 8.0. PM caused the computer to restart and run a batchfile to make the required change, but this file appeared to be corrupt and the letter-change failed. I would guess that the change was half-completed however, because that partition (containing the operating system) no longer boots correctly.

My data doesn't seem to be corrupted: there must just be some little boot file somewhere with the wrong information. I luckily have ways to access the relevant files, if someone can tell me which to edit (or point me towards a site with the info). I want to avoid reinstalling Windows because I spent a long time refining settings, installing programs and visiting Windows Update.

  • I have a bare-bones installation of Windows on another hard disk, which I can boot into, but I want to avoid that because it seems to be infected with a trojan.
  • I have a live CD with Knoppix that allows me to access all my files securely.

Thanks. Chameleon 20:27, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Last time I checked, it's hard to access NTFS file systems from Linux, though this may have changed. I'm assuming you've tried rebooting in safe-mode? (Hold down F8 on boot). You could also try booting off the Windows CD and invoke the recovery console. -- DrBob 23:49, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Oops, yes. It looked like I had full access, but it's actually read only. I'd have to change to FAT32 first if I wanted to use Knoppix. The safe mode and the Windows CD are no use. Chameleon 01:27, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Can you unplug your smegged-up HD, plug in your other infected drive, wipe it free of viruses and then use it as a boot drive while you access the other drive? Garrett Albright 02:00, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I've got a dual-boot set up, so I can boot from either drive at any time. I've tried to clear the secondary one of viruses and spyware, but there still seem to be traces of something called "Cabrotor". Anyway, it is useable. If anyone can tell me which files to change on the drive that hangs on booting, I can change them from the other drive. Chameleon 09:09, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
If you're near a bookstore with a good selection of computer books, you might check out Hack #73 in O'Reilly's new book "Knoppix Hacks", titled "Write to NTFS." You can do it with Knoppix 3.4 - the book also includes a CD with version 3.4 if your version is older. Catbar (Brian Rock) 02:06, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I might look into that, but I think it's probably easier to boot from the other drive now. I don't have access to a good selection of computer books here because I live in Spain, so I would be relying on a translation existing. Chameleon 09:09, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Do you have a bootable floppy drive and the Partitionmagic 8 rescue disks? If so, it may be a relatively trivial problem to fix. (I may be able to send you the disk images if you are really desperate). -- FirstPrinciples 05:49, Nov 12, 2004 (UTC)

Another possibility to try is booting from your original XP CD and attempting an automatic recovery. -- FirstPrinciples 05:53, Nov 12, 2004 (UTC)
My floppies are a bit screwed. I could go out and buy a couple now. Chameleon 09:09, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Well, leave a message on my talk page if you want the rescue disk images. I can't guarantee they'll help, but they are the first port of call if PartitionMagic has an error. (A simpler way to make the disks would be to install PartitionMagic on another machine and make the disks yourself -- make sure you get the latest PM8 patch here) -- FirstPrinciples 09:38, Nov 12, 2004 (UTC)

The comments above are predicated upon a (very) false assumption. You assume Partition Magic is a product of PowerQuest, a division of Symantec Inc., of Cupertino CA. You have, all of you, been deceived. Partition Magic was made by the dark lord Sauron himself, in the fires of Mount Doom, in the land of Mordor, where the shadows lie. Your partition table is corrupt, and no amount of linux wiz-bangery will fix this. You must take your Partition Magic CD, and any associated floppies, back to the firey furnace in which they were made. There you must cast them into the fire. Only then will your PC boot (and still you should re-install from original boot media, format your fixed disk, and beg Illuvatar and Gilbereth to restore your machine to proper working order). The true path lies not in fixing your machine, but in accepting that it's buggered. - Dave.

Potato clocks[edit]

I had an idea out of left field today: I was thinking about solar cells, and the thought struck me that plants (grass, weeds, flowers, etc.) receive a lot of solar energy, and make very efficient use of it. I thought about a digital clock I had as a kid that ran on two potatoes with zinc and copper electrodes (and of course it would also run on salt water and other things, since the potatoes were just an electrolyte). How much power could feasibly be generated in this way? Say, if I found a way to wire up electrodes to the grass in my front yard (possibly at the root level, so they're out of sight), would I be able to get enough useful energy to make the effort worthwhile? Would the gradual corrosion of the electrodes make it infeasible? I did some searching without much success; found this little experiment, and a claim that plants contain high electrical potential. I figure there's got to be a good reason we aren't using our gardens to power our homes by now. Anyone know why? Commence "flower power" and "power plant" puns now :-) -- Wapcaplet 22:10, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Just a wild guess, but it's probably far more efficient to ferment and distill the potatoes into ethanol. People do this now with corn and cane sugar, no reason it couldn't be done with potatoes. Rhobite 23:58, Nov 11, 2004 (UTC)
Actually, this childhood battery that you made with potatoes does not produce energy out of the potato. It does so by reduction-oxidation of the electrodes. The potato just plays the role of support, and supplies moisture and electrolytes; you'd get the same result with a salty solution instead of the potatoe.
The article that you are linking to actually says exactly the same. Rest assured that if there was an easy way to get electricity out of plants, people would already have done so.
(Note that you could, for instance, produce ethanol (alcohol) with the plants, through fermentation, and then power a fuel cell.) David.Monniaux 20:48, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Well, I wasn't think of potatoes in particular, but plants in general. -- Wapcaplet 00:54, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)

An interesting concept. Too bad I can't answer your question, but I can wish you well in your search for knowlege, as well as link you to a potato radio. Hmm, I wonder if I got a plant large enough (a giant sequoia perhaps?), if I could power my car with it... Not only could I drive around town, but I'd have a cool sound system as well. Garrett Albright 08:22, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I also don't know, but I have the feeling that the chemical energy the plans produce would be much greater than the electrical. Then take into account that your could extract only a tiny portion of the electrical enegery and it would require a vast network of electrodes, I think it would not be feasible. - Taxman 13:26, Nov 12, 2004 (UTC)

This may not be the same idea, but it is drawn from the same general principles: somebody told me recently about some experimental robots which have been successfully designed to catch flies, and digest them to produce (presumably) electrical energy - a kind of artificial Venus fly trap, I guess, only mobile... So, I think the general concept is feasible, but just sticking electrodes in the ground probably wouldn't do enough; and remember, herbivorous animals tend to need extremely complex gigestive systems to break down the plant matter into a usable form, so artificial carnivores may well be perfected first. - IMSoP 13:49, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Fly eating robot here and here. -- FirstPrinciples 14:14, Nov 12, 2004 (UTC)

See also: biofuel. --Heron 14:21, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I'm not sure that photosynthesis is that efficient at capturing solar energy. Estimates appear to vary, but This article suggests a light -> chemical energy conversion efficiency of 1.6%, compared to silicon photovoltaic cells which have typicall light -> electric energy conversion efficiencies of around 15% (and can approach 25%) [3]. Using plants for biofuel does have the advantage of lower production costs. However, you might like this story about making photovoltaic cells from spinach.
If you regularly find yourself considering unconventional applications of science like this, you might enjoy finding a copy of The Inventions of Daedalus. One of David Jones' ideas was to scale up the energy potential from squeezing piezoelectric crystals, such as quartz, by strapping electrodes to either side of a continent and using the moon's tidal effect to squeeze the quartz in the Earth's crust. He calculated you should be able to get a 20MV potential across a distance of 1000km (unfortunately its not likely to work in practice). -- Solipsist 15:03, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Hmm, well, on a slight tangent, plants actually produce electricity directly, in a chloroplast inner membrane using chlorophyll, the electricity is used to pump Hydrogen ions (a.k.a. protons) into the space enclosed by the membrane. This produces a very large hydrogen gradient across the membrane, which drives an ATPase (== an Enzyme that deals with ATP) to produce ATP from ADP (to imagine why this works, think of an ATP powered proton-pump running in reverse due to the stiff gradient) . ATP is the internal power distribution medium inside cells. This ATP drives the plant cell's processes. Famously: The enzyme Rubisco is powered by ATP generated in the chloroplasts, and links carbon dioxide and water to produce pyruvate which then gets linked into stuff like glucose (with oxygen as a waste product). The best methods we currently have for recovering electricity from a plant are akin to blowing up a power plant and then burning the furniture to get some warmth. It's massively inefficient. Internally plants can get quite good mileage out of their chlorophyl, methinks. ;-) See Photosynthesis for details. Improvements in solar power generation could be based on further investigation of the internal processes in plants. Kim Bruning 01:37, 14 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Study of ancient manuscripts[edit]

What is the name of the study and cataloging of ancient manuscripts, i.e. those from the invention of writing up to classical times? And do we have an article on it? I'm interested especially in how one identifies which ancient documents still survive and which have been lost, and how we know. Mjklin 16:44, 2004 Nov 12 (UTC)

Palaeography and Diplomatics. adamsan 16:46, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
And epitome gives some indication about lost works. adamsan 23:52, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)
You may also be interested in papyrology. --[[User:Eequor|η♀υωρ]] 22:54, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)


you have described Junket as a name brand of dessert under "Junket" Where would I find out how to contact the manufacturer so I could find out where to but yhe product?

thank you Bob Eakin beakin { at }

please advise how to contact the maker of the Junket you describe under Junket so I could find out where to buy it. thankjs Bob Eakin beakin { at }

Here's a good place to start: It looks like you can order it online.Mjklin 20:10, 2004 Nov 12 (UTC)
Any reason we don't link that in the article? I believe that usually when we write about a product we do list the official site. -- Jmabel | Talk 20:14, Nov 12, 2004 (UTC)
It appears that it is not in there just because no one bothered. I suppose coverage of press junkets could improve the article too. I don't really know enough about them. Maybe it is just being used in the sense of a party, which is another meaning of the word junket. - Taxman 20:28, Nov 15, 2004 (UTC)

Braille equivalents[edit]

I was reading the Braille article, and I had a couple of questions. First off, the article says that Braille has been extended to 8 bits in order to support unicode. Is this what is being taught in schools now, or is it merely something that programmers came up with? Also, what are the braille equivalents in other languages. Presumably languages with roman alphabets can use braille, but what about pictographic languages? --Cvaneg 23:36, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I found this reference on Japanese Braille which appears to use an extra braille character to represent some of the sounds. -- WormRunner | Talk 17:53, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Chinese Names[edit]

The Chinese characters are missing from Table 1 (Char./T. & S.) at the bottom of the following web page:

Please provide same.

/Chuck Arnold/

Even though the content is excerpted from Wikipedia, since it is an external site, we have no control over it. However, you can go to the article that the content was taken from (List of common Chinese surnames) for the traditional and simplified characters. --Cvaneg 01:31, 13 Nov 2004 (UTC)