Wikipedia:Reference Desk archive 6

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Cocoon/nest thing[edit]

Hello. I found the following nest/cocoon type thing outside my house. It feels kind of 'paper-like' and is slightly smaller than a football (soccer ball to you yanks). This is in Toronto, btw.

Any ideas? Cheers, snoyes 06:14, 10 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Seen any wasps about? -- Someone else 05:54, 11 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Probably a nest made by either hornets or yellowjackets, from the Vespid family. This time of year you might not see anything living about; usually the colonies die in the fall, except for a queen who overwinters elsewhere Loren Rosen 06:38, 11 Nov 2003 (UTC)
It looks like paper wasp's hive. --Menchi 06:58, 11 Nov 2003 (UTC)
I think the paper wasps (which are also vespids) usually have umbrella-shaped nests which are partly open on the bottom, whereas the other two vespidae genera cover up the bottom and have openings on the side or top. But there are doubtless exceptions.

Thanks for all the info! I'll add the best pic (resized of course) to the Vespid page, as I also got opinions on #wikipedia saying that it was most likely a nest of the former. So, here comes the ethical dilemna: Should I go and destroy the nest to make photos of the inside/structure and the Queen to post to wikipedia? I'm tending toward "no". Somehow that makes me feel a little too much like Faust. Of course without the benefit of knowing anything and everything there is to know. ;-) snoyes 06:37, 12 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Since the vespid is most probably not on the endangered list in Canada, you can discard the guilty feeling into toilet and know you're doing the community a service by eliminating the passers-by's fear of the sight of the nest. Good luck finding a queen! I couldn't find it looking through a thin glass box in a museum! But if you do find it, let me know, I'll definitely add it to the Wikipedia:Brilliant pictures. Any diligent effort for WP this like this needs recognition. And I'm curious anyway.
You do have at least mittens and jacket to prevent merciless stings, I hope... Or at least have a nice little iron room where people wouldn't hear you scream -- It may be handy, for the vespids. --Menchi 07:04, 12 Nov 2003 (UTC)
It certainly won't be as brilliant as Anthere's Image:Cheche.JPG, that's for sure! Otherwise, A few stings are not a problem in my grand scheme of engineering a wasp-born virus which will subtly animate the infected to visit this obscure website called Ever heard of it? Muhaha --snoyes 08:17, 12 Nov 2003 (UTC)
You're well past your first freeze of the fall in Toronto, right? There's probably nothing alive in the nest. The queen is off dormant somewhere, in a nook in some tree bark or something, somewhere less exposed than hanging in a nest in the middle of the air for the winter. (But wearing mittens and a jacket wouldn't hurt, I suppose.) Loren Rosen 16:01, 12 Nov 2003 (UTC)

GRRR! Those paranoid Canadians. Now the nest is gone. So much for my plan then. Thanks again for the help everyone. --snoyes 18:43, 12 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Wait... Isn't the nest in front of your house? Somebody just walked into your yard and snatched it off at night?! :-D --Menchi 23:41, 14 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Bunkers and pillboxes[edit]

Does anyone how a bunker differs from a pillbox? thanks, Dori 05:52, Nov 17, 2003 (UTC)

Bunkers are below-ground. In fact I believe the picture on the bunker page is actually of pillboxes. - Hephaestos 06:18, 17 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Hmmm, those in the picture also have a below ground part. Does it have to be completely below ground for it to be considered a bunker? I am confused. Dori 06:24, Nov 17, 2003 (UTC)
Now I'm confused, having just looked in the dictionary, which implies a bunker can have an above-ground part. In common usage I've heard (as well as what's implied in the Wikipedia article), a bunker is completely underground, used mainly for command and control, or for storage, whereas a pillbox can have an underground part but necessarily needs an above-ground part to fire a weapon out of. My dictionary on the other hand implies a pillbox needs to be completely above-ground, and that a bunker can have an above-ground part. I usually rely on the dictionary, but I've never heard this usage in military parlance. - Hephaestos 07:58, 17 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Not really an answer to the original question, but I now have an image in my head of two soldiers pinned down on a D-day beach, and one saying to the other "Technically, Sarge, the object that you are ordering us to charge in a heroic display resulting in a courageous but ultimately futile waste of human life is a bunker, not a pillbox". - Gandalf61 09:48, Nov 17, 2003 (UTC)
A pillbox was a cylindrical white card box, about 4cm high by 4cm in diameter, in which pills were dispensed. (cf pillbox hat.) It entered the language as a military slang term for small concrete bunkers of that shape. It is a common local term for such structures (most with no underground part and many square) on the North East coast of England, where many still remain from the last war. In the (British) army in the 1960s it was mocked as a "civilian" term, "bunker" or "machine gun emplacement" being considered correct. No idea what the current military usage is. Presumably the fuzzy dictionary definitions indicate the term has no clear and absolute usage. Anjouli 20:07, 17 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Wow, thank you for the answer! Dori 03:29, Nov 20, 2003 (UTC)

Liu Bang Han Dynasty[edit]

I have recently acquired a sword allegedly from the Han Dynasty period. It was owned by a man named Xiangyu, who took his own life after being invoved in some type of an attempt to overthrow the Emperor Liu Bang. Any info on this character and the role he may have played in history from that era.

A sword from Xiangyu! Is this a joke? Anyway Liu Bang became an emperor after Xiangxu killed himself. See Han Dynasty#The Emergence.wshun 21:12, 28 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Might want to ask for your money back. In the Middle Ages there were enough splinters of wood from the Cross being sold to build the Ark :) Anjouli 06:14, 30 Nov 2003 (UTC)

becoming a Lord[edit]

Just stumbled upon Greville Janner. This person was made the Lord of Braunstone. The article however states "He was created Lord Janner of Braunstone in 1997." Which is almost definately the wrong way to say that someone was made lord. What is the correct way? --snoyes 17:22, 5 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Actually it's correct (those wacky British! :-). See [1], at the bottom. -- Cyan 17:27, 5 Dec 2003 (UTC)
Wow, good thing I said "almost definately". Thanks, snoyes 17:35, 5 Dec 2003 (UTC)

Surname question[edit]

If a person's surname is "D' Souza", can anything be said about his/her race, country of origin, language or religion? -- Ramesh

Language and religion are not strictly heritable, but as for country of origin, I'd say either French or Italian. -Smack 01:53, 9 Oct 2003 (UTC)
"Souza" sounds Brazilian (or Portuguese). --Menchi 01:57, 9 Oct 2003 (UTC)
That is Portuguese. Also, I always see "D'Souza" as an Indian name (I guess descended from Portuguese colonies there?), while Souza or Sousa alone is from Portugal. (Of course, I am only speaking from personal experience and memories of people with those names...) Adam Bishop 01:48, 16 Oct 2003 (UTC)
D'Sousa is a contraction of de and Sousa. de, do, da are particles used in Portuguese like the german von and the dutch van. Muriel 16:40, 12 Nov 2003 (UTC)
I once knew a De Sousa who was a South African of Indian ethnic origin. He always said is was from a Portuguese community in India in the 1800s. But I also know an African American called McGreggor. Anjouli 19:34, 17 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Japanese term translation[edit]

Does anyone have an idea to translate 政令指定都市 to English? -- Taku

Long: "Cities designated by government ordinance" [2]; short: "Government Ordinance City" [3]. --Menchi 03:43, 7 Oct 2003 (UTC)
Thank very much. I googled but couldn't find good one. -- Taku

A couple of more

  • 中核市
  • 特例市
  • 地方公共団体

They are terms related to Japanese cities and local governments. -- Taku

  1. 中核市 = "core city" [4], [5]. You may already knew this, if not it may interest you: A Japanese core city must be over 300,000 in population, and 100 km² in area. A Chinese source
  2. The Nippon Foundation Library's glossary translates 特例市 as "special case city".
  3. I cannot find Japanese reference, but a Hong Kong online .doc says 地方公共團體 is "local authorities", and a Mainland Chinese webpage say it is "local self-government".
--Menchi 06:38, 7 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Thanks a lot. Particularly, a website glossary seems really good place to find out translation terms. -- Taku

I think it can be translated into English as ??????  :-) dave 01:33, 16 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Semi-Automatic Rifles in the First World War[edit]

Why weren't there any semi-automatic rifles in the First World War? They had semi-automatic pistols, but why no rifles? CGS 22:27, 24 Sep 2003 (UTC).

My school notes from a History lesson in (gulp) 1958 say it was because rifles were needed in huge numbers, whereas only officers carried pistols. (The 1911 Colt?)
Semi-automatics at that time were still hand-built to some degree. The technology of the time could not mass-produce semi-automatic rifles in the required numbers.
Interesting to note that cavalry-charges and swords were still (somewhat ineffectively) used at the start of WW1. Anjouli 06:46, 17 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Thanks. CGS 17:40, 19 Nov 2003 (UTC).

Real-time computer control[edit]

Moved from village pump

In a sequence control,what is better, a PLC or an industrial PC?

...could you explain a little bit, what you want to know? Thanks, Fantasy 14:12, 29 Aug 2003 (UTC)
PS: Please sign also your question, Thanks.
I think he wants to know whether to use a PLC or an industrial PC, for a sequence control. I don't know, maybe he'd have better luck asking these people rather than these people :) -- Tim Starling 14:34, 29 Aug 2003 (UTC)
PLC if it is simple. PC if it is complex(PLC will not have the processing power). Anjouli 20:30, 17 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Err... I'm not sure where this goes, but a question about some words[edit]

I hope that this is in the right place... ^^;;; If it's not, will someone please move it and notify me? Thanks.

I got this from a site with lyrics of a song from Enya... Does anyone have a clue as to what it means?

Anol shalom Anol sheh lay konnud de ne um {shaddai} Flavum Nom de leesh Ham de nam um das La um de Flavne…

We de ze zu bu We de sooo a ru Un va-a pesh a lay Un vi-I bee Un da la pech ni sa (Aaahh) Un di-I lay na day Un ma la pech a nay Mee di nu ku

(Fast tempo, 4 times) La la da pa da le na da na Ve va da pa da le na la dumda

Anol shalom Anol sheh ley kon-nud de ne um. Flavum. Flavum. M-ai shondol-lee Flavu… {Live on…} Lof flesh lay Nof ne Nom de lis Ham de num um dass La um de Flavne… Flay Shom de nomm Ma-lun des Dwondi. Dwwoondi Alas sharum du koos Shaley koot-tum.

--jdstroy @ 20031112 00.21 -0500 EST

"Shalom" means "peace" or "hello" in Hebrew. None of the rest looks Hebrew, but if it's been transcribed phonetically by someone who didn't know whatever language it is and couldn't hear it very well and Enya isn't enunciating very well... who knows? Loren Rosen 03:31, 13 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Taken from an interview with Lisa Gerrard about the song:
...The rest of the vocals, sung with sounds rather than in a conventional language, are an example of melismatic singing. "It's a language invented within the music, inherently, and the words mean more than I can say in English", she says. "The way I sing is not new; it's been around since the beginning of time, and it's something all children are born with. It's not unique to me, but for some reason I never lost the ability".
It's not a language at all! Anjouli 19:46, 17 Nov 2003 (UTC)
btw this isn't enya

Ah, thank you all!

Jdstroy 22:36, 2003 Nov 22 (UTC)

Symmetry groups[edit]

The symmetry groups of the archimedean solids snub cube and snub dodecahedron are like the symmetry groups of the cube and the dodecahedron, just without the reflections. Would those groups be called "O" and "I"? (Instead of "Oh" and "Ih"?) Κσυπ Cyp   14:43, 22 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Yes - the symmetry group of the snub cube is "O", and the symmetry group of the snub dodecahedron is "I" - see octahedral group and icosahedral group at MathWorld. -- Gandalf61 16:06, Nov 22, 2003 (UTC)
Thanks. Seems they even have the coordinates for the snub cube there (but not at their actual snub cube article)... Wikipedia is still the only site I know of that has the exact snub dodecahedron coordinates (without having to solve a degree 6 polynomial), though. (Up to mirrors of Wikipedia) Κσυπ Cyp   17:50, 22 Nov 2003 (UTC)

TeX markup wiki[edit]

Does anyone know of another wiki which supports TeX markup for math formulas? -- 18:44, 5 Nov 2003 (UTC)

This wiki does, however I think there is a bug in the system however, which I'll go and report at SourceForge. Dysprosia 09:10, 7 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Working now. Dysprosia 02:11, 8 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Check out Meatball:WikiToLatex for a short list -- Stephen Gilbert 13:53, 22 Nov 2003 (UTC)


Hello, I would like to know the postal code for Hillersdon Ave in London. Many thanks for your help. Robin at

It depends which area of London you mean. There is certainly more than one Hillersdon Avenue. The one in Edgware would be HA8 7Sx but there is also one in SW13 and maybe others. Try Angela 21:12, Oct 20, 2003 (UTC)