Reference Desk archive 7

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Information on Suheir Hammad

Does anybody here know where can I get more information and biographies on Suheir Hammad, the Palestinian-American poet who wrote 'First Writing Since'? A Google search yielded very limited information. I'm more interested in biographies and I can't seem to find them on the net. -Zaim

There is a biography and a photo starting on page 37 of Listen Up!: Spoken Word Poetry by Zoe Anglesey (Editor), Zoe Angelsey (Editor), Yusef Komunyakaa (Introduction); One World/Strivers Row; (April 1999). Available at --Zero 11:40, 30 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Earliest use of the term 'circumpunct'

Does anyone know an earlier authenticatable use of the term 'circumpunct' than the 1992 Book of Brian?

Anjouli 16:31, 20 Sep 2003 (UTC)

No replies? Okay, that's good enough for me. I'm going to define it as a Brianist-coined term in the article. Anjouli 06:37, 17 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Wait a sec, wasn't this a Dalton-chemical symbol? Don't know if he called it a "circumpunct" though... Dysprosia 06:40, 17 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Oh yes. The symbol itself is ancient. Neolithic, I believe. It was the word circumpunct that seems to have originated in 1992. I just find it hard to believe that people have been calling it a "circle-with-a-dot-in-the-middle" for the last few thousand years. Seems clumsy. Anjouli 06:56, 17 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Only links I can find on Google re circumpunct are theWP ones and Brianism related ones Dysprosia 07:02, 17 Nov 2003 (UTC)
My point exactly. I think it's a Brianist coinage - although it is the proper Latin way of describing the symbol. Anjouli 19:27, 17 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Re "circumpunct": Why don't you have a look at the brilliant website: ? --Dieter Simon 01:18, 5 Jan 2004 (UTC)
The two places I would check are the lists of symbols/glyphs and their names in the Chicago Manual of Style, and the full version of the OED. I'm not able to check myself right now, but I will when I can. DigitalMedievalist 00:18, 8 Jan 2004 (UTC) Lisa
Hi Lisa, I have actually checked the OED, there is as yet no record of circumpunct or any other form of the word. --Dieter Simon 01:06, 8 Jan 2004 (UTC)
It is how 'sun' (ri) used to be written in Chinese until it became square like every other Chinese character: 日. --Menchi (Talk)â 01:29, 8 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Hi Lisa and Menchi, I am beginning to wonder whether someone is taking the micky here. According to the Wiki stub, "Brian" is a bumbling fool in the Goidelic mythology. According to "Brianism", of whom the word "circumpunct" is a symbol for the roundel with a dot in the middle, "Brian" is the cyber-prophet. Forgive me if I am entertaining some doubts. --Dieter Simon 01:44, 8 Jan 2004 (UTC)

You may have discovered another long-lived vandalistic hoaxes on WP. According to Google, there are only about 100 sites that mention 'Brianism', even less on 'circumpunct'. That is way below the Google test limit. --Menchi (Talk)â 01:53, 8 Jan 2004 (UTC)
What does everyone else think of this, should we put it up for Vfd? --Dieter Simon
Well, before we go that far, could someone check the up-to-date OED 2002/3 Edition if they can lay their hand on it, and see whether the term has been adopted in the meantime? It would really help. I have only seen the Second Edition of 1989 and it wasn't in there. --Dieter Simon 00:25, 9 Jan 2004 (UTC)
I just checked, which was last updated in December 2003. Surprise! It does not have this fake word. The entries nearest are circumpressure & circumquaque, which are themselves obscure enough (thoUgh unliked 'circumpunct', are very real). --Menchi (Talk)â 02:21, 9 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Many thanks Menchi, I thought as much, yes I didn't think it would have been adopted in the meantime. The whole type of round thing does actually exist, called "roundel" with all its many manifestations, which includes the one with the point circumscribed. So I have advised Anjouli to redirect the article to "roundel". --Dieter Simon 23:42, 9 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Have asked Anjouli to move page rather than redirect to the new page "roundel" to get the page history on board as well. --Dieter Simon 01:14, 11 Jan 2004 (UTC)

It's been taken out of our hands now and been redirected to solar symbol. At least it is a valid term. Good luck, Optim --Dieter Simon 01:05, 12 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Defunct Publishers

Now that all the small publishers have been swallowed by a few Evil Conglomerates, it can be rather hard to find the publisher of a book a few decades old in order to inquire about rights or whatever. You can write all the letters you like to Lindsay Drummond or Boni & Liveright, but it won't do much good.

Is there a source anywhere for information on the history of cannibalism in publishing? I know of a database the tries to give the whereabouts of the literary estates of authors, but its coverage is very limited. Knowing who acquired the old publishers would be a real help. Dandrake 00:48, 25 Sep 2003 (UTC)

I assume this is about copyright. If it's a quotation (even a big one) then the 'fair use for review or quotation' rules apply. If not, why not just re-write it? If you are too busy and it's for Wiki, I'm sure you can find some volunteers. Anjouli 06:54, 17 Nov 2003 (UTC)

The White Terror

I ( Kingturtle ) found this request in the wrong place. I deleted where it was, and am pasting in here:

"I'm just trying to do my homework, could I have some help please!! I f you can please update this page before thursday 2nd of October (that is when my homework is in for), I have to make comparisons between the russian revolution and the George Orwell book Animal farm. Thank you" signed User:

See Bear in mind that most teachers and examination boards know about free essays on the 'net, so just use for guidance. Don't simply cut and paste! 10:45, 2 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Sum of consecutive nth powers

Can you give a formula for calculating the following, if m and n are given?


I think this is a power series, though Wikipedia doesn't give an explicit analytic formula for it. Mathworld does, though the formulae themselves involve some mathematical functions that I'm not familiar with. --Robert Merkel 02:37, 4 Oct 2003 (UTC)
At least you can use Taylor's approximation anytime, though that is not an answer you are looking for. I will ask my math teacher, maybe. -- Taku
The answer is rather complicated. In general, it's a polynomial of degree n+1 in the variable m. The coefficients of the polynomial are given by the Bernoulli numbers Bi:

The Bernoulli numbers were discovered by Jakob Bernoulli in connection with this exact problem, but they appear elsewhere as well. The first few Bernoulli numbers are 1, -1/2, 1/6, 0, -1/30, 0, 1/42, 0, -1/30, 0, 5/66, 0, -691/2730. B0 = 1, and the later Bernoulli numbers obey the general recurrence

You can find an extensive discusion of the summation you asked about, and Bernoulli numbers in general, on pages 269-276 of Concrete Mathematics (ISBN 0201142368) by Ronald L. Graham, Donald E. Knuth, and Oren Patashnik.
I hope this is what you were looking for. Dominus 18:22, 9 Oct 2003 (UTC)

William Henry Harrison

could you please tell me if it is possible to go inside william henry harrison's tomb..if it is what times and days...thank you bill loening

A quick Google search turns up someone's travelogue. Information stealthily culled from the title of that page turns up the official website. -Smack 05:07, 19 Oct 2003 (UTC)


The Zauschner who is the namesake of Zauschneria lived 1737-1799 and was a professor in Prague, but the only additional info I see online is at, and my Czech is not very good. :-) Is there anybody who can translate this? If I have raw facts, I can at least make a short article. Stan 18:25, 18 Oct 2003 (UTC)

My assistance is only to rule out the two obvious options. An ambassador has yet to arise from the Czech wiki, and Babelfish does not have Czech support. -Smack 05:07, 19 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Ed Gein,

How can I get real photos of Ed Gein, and the crime scene. Thanks very much.

A Google search turned up some very graphic photos of the crime scene at, and a photo of Gein at RickK 01:41, 28 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Bosnia Texts

I believe there are some first-person narratives written by young adults during the Bosnia crisis and ethnic cleansings. Can anyone tell me what the names were of the authors? And where I might be able to read their narratives? Kingturtle 00:34, 27 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Do you mean Zlata’s Diary, by Bosnian teenager Zlata Filipovic?

Natural vs artificial systems of classification

I've googled for an answer on this, and searched wikipedia but can't seem to find the answer - what exactly is the difference between natural and artificial systems of classification? Any help or information on the subject would be greatly appreciated. Thankyou 15:44, 1 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Can you clarify your context? Are you talking about taxonomy in biology, or some other context? Jmabel 05:45, 17 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Comma usage

Without mentioning names, does anyone agree or disagree that these sentences are incorrect grammar and punctuation?

  • "The British could be removed from the sentence, and it would remain accurate."
  • "The Germans invested more heavily, in the development of science and pure research, than the British."
  • "The Germans invested more heavily, in the development of science."
  • "The Germans invested more heavily, than the British, in the development of science and pure research."

I contend all four are only made correct by removing each and every comma. Daniel Quinlan 02:03, Nov 8, 2003 (UTC) (Oops, I should add that the third sentence is missing a "than something", so it is doubly ungrammatical. Daniel Quinlan 02:08, Nov 8, 2003 (UTC))

Agreed, especially the last three sentences. Btw, I think this is better at Wikipedia:Reference desk. --Menchi 02:07, 8 Nov 2003 (UTC)
I agree for the last three. The first one is not incorrect, I believe, since the two parts of the sentence are independent clauses connected by a ", and". However, when one of the two independent clauses is short, the comma does not have to be included. So, all four would be correct without the commas. The first one is the only one that could pass as correct with the commas. -- Minesweeper 03:52, 8 Nov 2003 (UTC)

I think the commas, due to dividing the sentences, especially the second and fourth, into separate logical parts, are useful.
The commas in the first and third seem a bit redundant, however. Instead of commas, maybe a different form of punctuation, including brackets, labels, goto commands, and things like that, would be more consise. Κσυπ Cyp 09:13, 8 Nov 2003 (UTC)
I agree they all should be removed. But I am sympathetic with the author as I tend to overuse commas as well. Fernkes 13:46, Nov 8, 2003 (UTC)
The first one is OK. The other three should not have any commas in them. BTW, the third sentence could be OK even in the grammatical sense, if the overall text is: "The British invested heavily in .... . The Germans invested more heavily, in the development of science." At18 20:31, 9 Nov 2003 (UTC)
There is more wrong with some of these sentences than just comma usage. The first one has a dangling modifier, and seems to require the use of double quotation marks around The British. The second also has a dangling modifier, which could be rectified by changing it to read than did the British. Contrary to what has been said, I would hold that the third would in fact be correct, except for the comma, if placed after another sentence that provides a clear antecedent. The fourth just needs the commas removed. -Smack 21:12, 15 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Normal, standard, universally accepted (ha) correct usage in English has a comma before the conjunction that joins two main clauses in a compound sentence. Really. The first sentence is conventionally correct without any reservation, but Minesweeper is right to say that the comma may be omitted in a short sentence. I mean, really, look it up in Fowler or Follett or Partridge or anybody who cares, and report back here if you find a disagreement. (But it does appear that the British should be in quotes; otherwise, the sentence would have to mean that one was sentencing the British and some other people to a term of penal servitude or something, and considering letting the British off.)
In the second sentence, the commas are not ungrammatical, but they're surely superfluous. The commas would mean that the bit about science and pure research was parenthetical (and could in fact be placed in parentheses or paired dashes, with different rhetorical effects); this is probably not what's intended.
The third is pretty hard to justify as it stands. The last phrase could be considered a parenthetical, terminated by the full-stop at the end of the sentence, but it's really stretching things to interpret it that way. On second thought, it's not that bad: in context, the author may mean to say something like "The Germans invested more heavily–in science, that is." The lack of an explicit "than" clause is perfectly acceptable, so long as the meaning is entirely clear: if the author has not been talking about the British just before this, then it's wrong.
The fourth is almost equally hard to justify. It's like the second in form. the author could be providing a context in which it's barely necessary to explain, just in case the inattentive reader had forgotten, that the comparison is with the Germans (note the parenthetical comment in commas back there); but it's too much of a stretch.
The comma is a very flexible mark in English, providing (as we English-speakers like to believe) a written language of exceptional power and expressiveness. (A German will reply that his exacting rules of punctuation, such as always preceding a subordinate clause with a comma, provide a language of great precision. Quite so; but this is English.) While I'm up, people with access to bookstores in England should grab a copy of Eats, Shoots and Leaves, an entertaining work that actually gets things right. Dandrake 18:25, Nov 16, 2003 (UTC)
The last three are clearly wrong. In the first the comma is optional, but the sentence looks better without it. Anjouli 19:53, 17 Nov 2003 (UTC)
As I remarked just above, any of the last three can be reasonably good English writing in a suitable context. Hate to be pedantic or repetitive or anything, but context does matter in the composition of sentences in English. Even in a proper context those commas are probably too weak, dashes or parentheses being better; but that's style and rhetoric, not grammar. Perhaps the problem here is that I was answering the question that was asked: i.e., "without mentioning names" and by implication without looking up the original text to see what the context was; perhaps everyone else has been answering a different question about whether the sentences were good when in their original context (which no doubt they were not). Dandrake 00:51, Nov 20, 2003 (UTC)

I stand to be corrected, but I cannot see any context in which the last three would be acceptable.

If I may throw another onion into the pot, should we consider nationality as well as context? Is 'correct' punctuation the same in all versions of English? I would be surprised if that were the case, although I have not checked any references.

Is this about contributions with questionable punctuation? If so, I do not see it as a huge problem. If I misspelled or mispunctuated a contribution (as I am sure we all have from time-to-time) then I am sure some kind person would fix it for me. There may also be users who are outstanding authorities in their field, but who are not so good at grammar. Anjouli 06:55, 22 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Often commas that look odd in isolation are good or even compulsory. Consider two possible contexts for the third example:

  • comma wrong: "British science was in a parlous state due to poor investment. The Germans invested more heavily, in the development of science."
  • comma required: "British investment was weak and mostly directed towards the arts. The Germans invested more heavily, in the development of science."

--Zero 12:09, 30 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Speed of light

Speed of light#Faster-than-light experiments

What kind of experiments are they? Are they measuring a pulse of light emitted from one point for a short interval, or a constant beam of light, using some archaic method of measuring the "speed"? Or something completely different? I wrote the "I'm here!" analogy, is it correct? And can someone help explain to me what GouRou wrote (which was moved to Talk:Speed of light)? Κσυπ Cyp 15:44, 16 Nov 2003 (UTC)

The experiments I have heard about are performed with a pulsed laser (mode-locked). They send the pulse train into some specially prepared substance, and a pulse train comes out the other side. They measure the arrival times at one side of the chamber/crystal, and at the other side, and from that they can infer the group velocity within the substance. As a matter of fact, negative group velocities have been reported using this technique: the pulse comes out of the chamber/crystal before it goes in. Extremely slow speeds can also be achieved.
Personally I prefer the analogy of a vernier scale. However you'll only understand it if you've seen one. Imagine that the pulse is wherever the two scales line up. As you slide the scale, the point where the scales line up moves very much faster than the sliding rate.
To understand it properly you need to have a vague understanding of Fourier analysis, or at least the general idea that light can be broken up into component frequencies. See [1] for some pretty pictures referring to this idea. -- Tim Starling 06:11, Nov 17, 2003 (UTC)
Ah, I see we have an article on mode-locked lasers: modelocking. Please don't read it. It is embarrassing. -- Tim Starling 06:28, Nov 17, 2003 (UTC)
The above comment is out of date. Thanks Dr Bob. -- Tim Starling 23:28, Nov 19, 2003 (UTC)
Do you still need to give them a tap to get them to self-lock, or am I out of date?Anjouli 20:25, 17 Nov 2003 (UTC)
So I guess my analogy was correct, although perhaps not too clear. (Although perhaps it would be more accurate to say the people aren't standing in a line, more like running in a line while jumping up and down. And some of the people are too tired to jump and run as fast.) Nice applet... Even though the damn thing won't let me send messages back in time to myself... If I choose the negative group velocity and close the shutter, it doesn't show the wave coming back from the right side, even if I'm about to open the shutter... Κσυπ Cyp 15:25, 17 Nov 2003 (UTC)


Does anyone know K-work is? It might have something to do with condensed matter/solid-state theory, or magnetism... This is the context I saw it in: "Can a magnetic field contribute k-work or not?" I have no idea.

Without more context, I can only speculate. Perhaps they are referring to that kind of work which magnetic forces can't do. This is a basic magnetostatics result. From Introduction to Electrodynamics by D.J. Griffiths:
"Magnetic forces may alter the direction in which a particle moves, but they cannot speed it up or slow it down... When a magnetic crane lifts the carcass of a junked car, for instance, something is obviously doing work, and it seems perverse to deny that the magnetic force is responsible. Well, perverse or not, deny it we must, and it can be a very subtle matter to figure out exactly what agency does deserve credit in such circumstances."
-- Tim Starling 23:39, Nov 19, 2003 (UTC)

"SHYSTER"- ethnic slur?

I am not sure that i am in the right place, but I used the word "shyster" and i was referred to "List of ethnic slurs-Wikipedia." ( I am not sure how wikipedia works, but i believe the intended word was "shylock." I have checked several dictionaries and none of them list "shyster" as an etnic slur. If anyone can clarify this, please e-mail me at

It isn't an ethnic slur, it's just a slur. I'm pretty sure you found ; that's the normal usage. DJ Clayworth 17:22, 14 Nov 2003 (UTC)

It's a slur. Sheister - Jews - Like a shyster lawyer. One who carries on any business, especially legal business, in a mean and dishonest way. [2] reddi

Not according to my dictionary

 Main Entry: shy·ster 
 Pronunciation: 'shIs-t&r
 Function: noun
 Etymology: probably from German Scheisser, literally, defecator
 Date: 1844
 : one who is professionally unscrupulous especially in the practice of law or politics

-- Maximus Rex 18:14, 14 Nov 2003 (UTC)

notice the German origin ... may be historical relic which has a more general meaning now ... reddi

So in the end, has anyone managed to find any document (even a good secondary one like a respectable dictionary) that supports a derivation of the term as an ethnic slur? Or, for that matter, good documentation of a shift into an ethnic slur? If not, the feeling that it might be an ethnic slur should go in the same class as the supposed association of "handicapped" with begging and (believe it or not) "picnic" as a reference to lynching. Both of these are patently recent inventions; is shyster any different? Dandrake 08:18, Nov 16, 2003 (UTC)

It's my impression that picnic was a euphemism used by lynchers and their intimates, and if that's true your or my surprise at that is pretty irrelevant to the question. --Jerzy 06:35, 2004 Jan 9 (UTC)
I checked the OED. It too has the date 1844 as the earliest use. Of the origin it says merely: "Of obscure origin." Does not even mention a possible German derivation. I think it is safe to remove it, until someone comes along with a solid reference. -- Cimon Avaro on a pogostick 03:23, Nov 17, 2003 (UTC)
I checked the Webster Unabridged and it doesn't have a date but it does say this in the etymology "probably alteration of earlier shicer contemptible fellow, from German scheisser, literally, one that deficates." It also says that it is a person who is professionally unscrupulous in politics and law. Funny thing is that it also has it as a verb. -- M1shawhan 08:35, Nov 18, 2003 (UTC)

The "Jewish" connection is a mistake due to confusion with "Shylock". --Zero 12:13, 30 Nov 2003 (UTC)

The word shyster is only a slur if you think lawyers are human.  :)Shakespeare was much too kind. -- Paul Rfc1394 23:24, 5 Jan 2004 (UTC)

A lot of American slang that has German roots came into English via Yiddish ("Fin" for "five-dollar bill" comes to mind: the Yiddish is finf per my dictionary (tho it sounds like fin to me); the German cognate is fünf). I would feel no problem calling someone a shyster, unless the target were Jewish -- or the listener were, in which case i might be more concerned at sounding presumptuous, in imagining i have a command of Yiddishisms.

It also seems to me that "shyster lawyer" is a catch-phrase, and to the extent that lawyers are or are imagined to be disproportionately Jewish, i can see its use (especially re lawyers) as shading into a subtle ethnic slur. --Jerzy 06:35, 2004 Jan 9 (UTC)

Hey guys I definitely think it is an ethnic slur. First- In "Enemy of the State," Will Smith's character specifically says the term is reserved for Jewish lawyers. Second- The original etymology doesn't matter. The current meaning matters, and because it does sound like Shylock, and there is a perception that it refers to Shylock, (see urban dictionary) the effective impact of the word has that tone. Finally, those who are anti-Semetic use the obvious connection between shyster and Shylock and hence use this word obsessively against Jews. There is an unmistakable overtone. Personally, as a Jew myself, I would be extremely offended if I was called one.

Meaning of a proverb

Hello I am just wondering in which situation "a creeking gate hangs long" is used as proverb. Mostafa

It's a creaking gate hangs longest; "creaking" as in making a noise from hinges that have not been oiled.
The usual meaning is an old person who complains a lot about real or imagined illnesses may outlive other old people who do not complain. Anjouli 05:59, 24 Nov 2003 (UTC)


I have a question relating to semiconductor physics. Most of the books I've looked at talk about the valence and conduction bands and then proceed to plot (E-k plots) the energy as a function of k, which they call the wave vector (such that |k| = 2π/λ). I can't seem to find what the wave vector actually represents. Can anyone here clue me in? Maximus Rex 05:23, 25 Nov 2003 (UTC)

k can be seen in two equivalent ways: as the reciprocal of wavelength in the direction of propagation (the definition you cite above) or as momentum:
In solid state physics, you can usually just think of it as momentum. At a more advanced level, a lattice or wavefunction can be transformed from position space into momentum- or k-space, by taking a Fourier transform. Note that the concept of wavenumber or wavevector originated in pre-quantum optics. -- Tim Starling 04:02, Nov 27, 2003 (UTC)


Does anybody have a (link to a) map showing Quebec along with an outline of France (to visualise the size difference)? Junesun 11:21, 27 Nov 2003 (GMT)

I'd say that finding such a picture is harder than making it from scratch. Try your hand at National Geographic MapMachine. You should be able to get maps of France and Quebec. There are two copyright holders to this material (NGS and ESRI). ESRI's copyright policy seems to allow us to use the material, but I didn't make much of an effort to find NGS's. -Smack 18:28, 27 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Make sure you use an equal-area map projection so the sizes will not be distorted. 22:19, 26 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Elusive Painter

does anyone know of a french sculptor named E. Raulin? who lived in the early 20th century in Paris? He did work for Susse Freres foundries.. principally bronzes statues.

Nothing in the 2002 Louvre catalogue. Anjouli 06:08, 30 Nov 2003 (UTC)

HIV virus vs. HI virus

This is a problem that I encounter quite often (eg. image caption on HIV). Are there any linguistic rules regarding this? --snoyes 22:01, 29 Nov 2003 (UTC)

HIV virus is unquestionably incorrect (virus virus?). It seems to be common usage in the media and I cringe every time I hear it. I cannot find it in any of 12 medical textbooks I have to hand, but neither do they use "HI virus" or "the HIV". Most medical articles, having once spelled it out in full, refer to it as "the virus". Technically I think "the HIV" is correct, but people seem to go out of their way to avoid it, presumably for the same reason some writers try to avoid the perfectly correct "the data are". Anjouli 05:44, 30 Nov 2003 (UTC)
That is my reaction as well. The best is to probably spell it all out, or just use "virus" as you suggested. --snoyes 06:06, 30 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Correction. I have found one single use of "the HIV" in Mosby's Pharamcology. Anjouli 06:11, 30 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Many medical professionals consider it fine, apparently. I used MD Consult to search "HIV virus", and 90 published journal articles in its collection used them in the last 3 years alone. --Menchi 06:22, 30 Nov 2003 (UTC)

I must admit that surprises me. But is that a correct usage? We see a lot of your for you're (not usually in published papers, I admit) but do not consider it correct usage. Anjouli 05:05, 5 Dec 2003 (UTC)

The only place I've seen data used plural is in my Statistics book... otherwise, it's always "the data suggests" or "I have data that proves that", etc. ugen64 01:31, Dec 1, 2003 (UTC)

No question that data as singular is wrong. data is plural, datum is singular. But it is a common mistake/usage. Anjouli 05:05, 5 Dec 2003 (UTC)
The English language is about 50-70% redundant. That makes it easier to understand. "HIV virus" is a beautiful example of the evolution of a language towards more reliable and information-rich communication. -- Tim Starling 22:45, Dec 4, 2003 (UTC)
There's a bank in NZ that calls itself ASB Bank. I think the B already stands for bank.
The same if you do a google search for "ATM machine". "The ATM machine is located on the main steps..." doesn't sound too weird. --Tristanb 04:58, 5 Dec 2003 (UTC)

My port 80

I've been playing with thttpd making a little website (with my dialup modem).

What are all these random queries i get? (i've xxed out the ip) What do they hope to achieve? Is it the remnants of some worm? or something completely different?

  • 220.111.104.xx - - [02/Dec/2003:17:58:33 +0100] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 2178 "" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.5; Windows 98)"
  • 221.194.107.xx - - [02/Dec/2003:18:45:13 +0100] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 2178 "" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.5; Windows 98)"
  • 200.163.155.xx - - [02/Dec/2003:18:46:33 +0100] "GET /.hash=81064a047d531e7fe4f3540393ef1581c06ae4d4 HTTP/1.1" 404 0 "" ""
  • 218.41.97.xx - - [02/Dec/2003:18:48:39 +0100] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 2178 "" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.5; Windows 98)"
  • 220.32.104.xx - - [02/Dec/2003:18:50:33 +0100] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 2178 "" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.5; Windows 98)"
  • 221.185.239.xx - - [02/Dec/2003:18:50:46 +0100] "GET / HTTP/1.1" 200 2178 "" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.5; Windows 98)"

I've done a search on the net, but can't find anything, and don't know where to start looking for answers. Thank you! --Tristanb 04:58, 5 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Probably people scanning for insecure servers. Judging by my firewall log, they scan for back doors left by worms as well. -- Tim Starling 02:01, Dec 7, 2003 (UTC)

Macromedia Flash

I'm desperately looking for someone who can tell me how to block Flash demands for installation. This is clogging up our e-mail and Internet Explorer usages; also, since we are NEVER planning to develop our own web site, I can't see why we would possibly need Flash. I've heard also that Flash stuff uses a lot of virtual memory, and we've recently been running out of virtual. Does this have anything to do with Flash barging in? I'm tired of this kind of activity, and want it to stop. I already have AdAware and Spybot installed, and our system has run MUCH better since I did that. But, for whatever reasons, Flash is still driving us nuts. Thanks in advance. I'm looking for anyone who can tell me anything about this situation.

To my knowledge, Wikipedia doesn't use even a single byte of Flash. If you are just asking about your computer, the requests for Flash installation that you see are to be able to see flash content on whatever site or email you are reading, not for your own web site. You have two choices: 1. install the Flash plugin and get over it - it's just a minor offence with regards to system resources, or 2. use an ad-blocker program that will also block flash from webpages. Alfio 23:25, 7 Dec 2003 (UTC)
I've added instructions on how to block Flash to our article on Macromedia Flash. I've been using the two files for years on a variety of systems. Makes the web a much less irritating place, paricularly combined with using the browser setting to turn off the playing of animations. Jamesday 23:54, 7 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Invention of Zener cards

What year were Zener cards invented? I would think that for my article I should have a date, but the best I found on the Net was "more than 75 years ago", and the Encyclopædia Britannica doesn't even have an article on them. I want this article to be as complete as it can (including everything you know about them). That seems to be one bit of basic information we don't want to miss. Wiwaxia 23:21, 8 Dec 2003 (UTC)

I've managed to narrow it down to "in the 1920s". Is that enough, or should we keep looking? —Paul A 02:14, 9 Dec 2003 (UTC)
You know that it's in the 1920's? Great! I'll try searching for "Zener cards" along with every year from "1925" back to "1920" in Google. Wiwaxia 21:13, 9 Dec 2003 (UTC)
...late 1920s. I still haven't found an explicit date for the creation of Zener cards, but many references to Rhine beginning his experiments in 1927. —Paul A 02:04, 10 Dec 2003 (UTC)
All the references I can find (n.b.: You can now do book-text searches on Amazon, which is useful) says that Rhine joined Duke University in 1927 and published a book on ESP which first reported using Zener cards in 1934. It seems the book says that the first actual trials with cards were carried out in 1930-31. -- DrBob 19:04, 11 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Sounds like it wasn't quite "more than 75 years ago" after all as of the time that site was written. If you found out that the first experiments were in 1930, that's great. We know that they were invented in an earlier year than they were used. (The invention, of course, has been discovered to be in the 1920s.) So they were invented in 1927-1929? It was obviously after Rhine arrived at Duke University, so that rules out 1920-1926. We can say for sure that J. B. Rhine entered Duke in 1927 and began working, and in his early stages he invented Zener cards while he was working with Dr. Zener, and then later came 1930 and the first tests that put them to use. That may be all our readers need to know about them. And I learned something today I didn't know about Zener cards -- that each card can be correlated with a number -- the circle for 1, the two-stroke cross for 2, the three wavy lines for 3, the square for 4, and the five-point star for 5; they were designed so each number could have its symbol! Isn't Wikipedia wonderful? Wiwaxia 02:57, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Considering the subject matter, we can't be certain they were invented before they were used. 22:14, 26 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Math vocab

A fraction has a numerator and denomenator. But what is the word for the line that separates them? Kingturtle 23:23, 8 Dec 2003 (UTC)

A fraction in the form 3/8 the dividing line is called the solidus. I thought the horizontal one is the vinculum but that's something different - I don't think it has a name. Dysprosia 23:25, 8 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Solidus is the typographical name for what most people call a slash; both of these are non-mathematical terms. (Solidus is roughly Latin for shilling, and i think the slash gets called "solidus" by association with its use to separate the shillings from the pence and the pounds.) --Jerzy 07:02, 2004 Jan 9 (UTC)

"fraction bar" seems fairly common. Also, I'm not sure "vinculum" is wrong. A vinculum is a horizontal line used to group terms together and a fraction bar can be taken as an example of one. Of course the term is more general. Another example of a vinculum still in use is the horizontal line used with a square root sign. --Zero 09:13, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Milking Cows

Silly milk related question: If you don't milk a cow, what happens to the milk in their udder? Do cows re-absorb the milk, do they release it onto the ground, or does something else occur? On the subject of milk, is there a reason pigs milk isn't available other than cost? Thanks, Maximus Rex 19:13, 9 Dec 2003 (UTC)

I can not tell what the final disposition is of milk which is not milked or sucked by a calf at all. But based on staying multiple summers at my grandparents farm, I can tell you that the udders get very painful if milking them is delayed, so it genuinely is imperative that the cows get milked; no matter how sick the farmer is, the cows suffer more from not being milked in a timely fashion. -- Cimon Avaro on a pogostick 02:24, Dec 10, 2003 (UTC)
Cows have no way other than a calf to get rid of the milk. Only a little milk might leak out. The cows will have pain due to pressure and weight. Ultimately these signals will make the cow stop producing milk, so the farmer has to do the milking for the sake of both the cows and the business. -- 22:14, 26 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Sums of non-countably infinite sets

I'm working on a paper for philosophy class, and I need a quick math injection. I'm wondering if it's well-defined to sum up all the numbers in a non-countably infinite set. If so, I'm wondering if there's such a set that sums to 1. Why 1, you ask? So the set could be used as probability values for the existence of each of a "very infinite" number of Gods. --Ryguasu 02:01, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

I'll take a stab at an answer to your question...
Consider a function such that
which is a sum with Δx approaching 0 (Riemann sum)
If such a function exists (over R - noncountable) then you have such a set. A well-known such function is
so your noncountable infinite set will be with f(x) as above.
Note there are many such functions and thus many such sets - the function f(x) defined as 2x over [0,1] and 0 otherwise is a simpler one. Dysprosia 03:33, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

If you want a finite number as an answer, you can only do it if all but a countably infinite number of the values are zero. --Zero 09:16, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

What about ? It's never zero? Am I wrong? Dysprosia 23:26, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)
For that matter, what about the function 1/x2 (sorry don't know tex) for x with absolute value at least 1? That has a finite value. -- Pakaran 23:29, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

An integral isn't a sum; it's the limit of a sum. If I was an eighteenth century mathematician I would probably consider it a sum of an infinite number of values, each multiplied by an infinitesimal number. (Horribly unrigorous, that.) I'm thinking the set of God-possibilities under consideration needs to be better defined before this question can be answered. -- Cyan 23:51, 12 Dec 2003 (UTC)

This is from college, and so is a bit sketchy, but here you go: If you want a sum to be a number, you need something that can be enumerated. As the comments above say, you either have lots of zeros in the set and just a countable infinity of non-zero numbers or the set is a countable set. Also noted above, you are workign with limits. The trick with any of these is to create a reordering of the values so that the sum has a limit. The limit is the sum for practical purposes since any number less than the limit can be shown to be exceeded by the series. Now, there is one trick that can pull your philosophical self out of your hole. If you can reorganize the uncountable set into a set of countable groups, each of which has a limit you may be able to get the limit to converge. This is the central idea of the Labague integral. Kd4ttc 23:24, 13 Jan 2004 (UTC)