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How Do Children’s Shows Deal With Death

November 21st, 2013

How do children’s shows deal with death?

If they’re good, directly and clearly. In this case, Sesame Street.


I’m using Sesame Street as an example not only because I couldn’t find another straightforward example of a children’s show having or wanting to deal with death. In the early years of Sesame Street, there was a store owner named Mr. Hooper played by Will Lee from the first episode in 1969 until his death in 1982. Being an integral part of the Sesame Street community, the writers debated on whether to romanticize his leaving by telling children he retired, or to address the issue forwardly with episode 1839 which aired on Nov 24th (thanksgiving day), 1983.

“We were advised to take the direct approach [by child psychologists]… Children don’t understand words like ‘passing away.'”

There is a youtube video of the 6 minute clip (which was supposedly done in one take due to the casts’ inability to maintain composure) that was very clearly heartfelt despite its bluntness. The cast tried to help Big Bird, defiant in his confusion, understand why Mr. Hooper was never coming back.

Reason For Asking:

I remember being told, numerous times and as an adult, that someone I knew had died and, honestly, I didn’t really know how to react. I’m sure no one really knows how to react even if the news is ‘expected’. I don’t really remember the issue being explicitly dealt with when I was young

Source: Muppet Wiki: Episode 1839
Source: Muppet Wiki: Will Lee

Can Astronauts Actually See The Great Wall From Space

November 18th, 2013

Can astronauts actually see the great wall from space?

Generally, no. And certainly not from the moon


The Great Wall is generally only visible under very ideal atmospheric conditions and at a very low altitude. The issue with it is that it too closely follows the terrain and its color is too close to that of its surroundings to pop out at our orbiting brethren. Ironically, much lesser things can be seen, such as roads across deserts, because of their contrast with their environment. The myth that astronauts can see the Great Wall from space was supposedly perpetuated by a “A 1932 Ripley’s Believe It or Not! cartoon [claiming] that the wall is ‘the mightiest work of man, the only one that would be visible to the human eye from the moon.'”

Can Astronauts See The Great Wall From Space

Reason For Asking:

Immense things fascinate me. Like space and the Great Wall.

Source: NASA: Great Wall
Source: Universe Today: Great Wall
Source: Scientific American: Great Wall

What Does BMT Stand For (NYC Subways)

November 17th, 2013

What does BMT stand for in regards to the NYC Subway System?

Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit (corporation)


The Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit corporation made up part of what is now known as the B-Division transit system in Brooklyn (the IND, or Independent Subway System, which was city owned and opened in 1932 made up the rest). Incorporated in 1923, the BMT operated the J, L, M, N, Q and R trains which have deep roots in Brooklyn while connecting to Manhattan over the Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. The BMT was bought out by the city in 1940 and eventually incorporated into the existing IND. The B-Division now includes the following lines: A,B,C,D,E,F,G,J,L,M,N,Q,R, and Z.
Side note – the IRT (Interborough Rapid Transit Company) lines, which currently make up the 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 and 42nd St shuttle (now the A-Division) are unable to incorporate with the BMT or IND because the track width is narrower.


Reason For Asking:

I still see BMT plaques up in various places and was wondering if it was still an incorporation or if it was just memorabilia.

Source: Wikipedia: BMT
Source: Wikipedia: NYC Subways
Source: Wikipedia: A Division
Source: Wikipedia: B Division
Source: BMT Lines: History


November 15th, 2013

What is a MOSFET?

Short Answer: metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor


For audio devices such as power amps, the benefit of using a MOSFET over a regular FET is that the transistor gate is “insulated electrically from the channel…[and has] practically infinite impedance” (as long as there is no physical breakdown of materials) [tech target]. This is very handy in terms of power amplifiers because plugging in multiple speakers requires an exponentially growing impedance.
Alternatively, one drawback to a MOSFET is that it is very susceptible to electro-static charge; something which can destroy the component immediately and permanently [tech target].

Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor

Reason For Asking:

I’v seen this term kicked around for years now and, although I knew it was a type of transistor, I am more curious to know why it seems to be more desired for audio and computer products.

Source: Wikipedia: MOSFET
Source: Tech Target: MOSFET

What Is With That Giant Inflatable Rat Going Around NYC

November 14th, 2013

What is with that giant inflatable rat going around NYC?

A large and pointy eared signal to a union dispute, usually placed in front of the offending business.


His name is Scabby. He has been around since the early 90s. He is generally characterized by “sharp, menacing buckteeth and claws, beady red eyes and a belly scattered with festering blemishes and swollen nipples” (Metalfloss).

Scabby The Union Rat

Reason For Asking:

I’ve seen this guy (these guys since there are apparently tons of them) all around NYC in places like the Barclays Center, Union Square, near Chelsea Market, etc…

Source: Mental Floss: Scabby The Inflatable Rat

How Much Do Musicians On Reality Singing Competitions Get Paid

November 13th, 2013

How much do musicians on reality singing competitions get paid?

Maybe around $3542/wk based on the assumptions explained below.


Since I can’t find a definitive answer, I will have to make some assumptions. Disregarding the more well known names such as Ricky Minor on American Idol, I’m assuming that most if not all of the musicians who participate in these shows are union guys. To be more specific, probably from Local 47 (L.A.’s musician union). American Idol is generally 2 hours so, per show, they would make $864.40 (that includes 8 hours of rehearsal, by the way, so that’s a fairly long ass day). So during top twelve weeks where there are usually two long shows, that would be $1728.80.

It’s not just the shows though. There are rehearsals throughout the week with the contestants so we’ll use the first week where there are still twelve of them. I’m guessing they will get at least 4 hours of rehearsal time with the band so that comes out to 48 hours @ 75.55/hr. But there are probably at least two different rehearsal bands so let’s cut that back to 24 hours @ 75.55/hr making it $1813.20.

Add these together and you get $3542/wk for the ‘hot’ weeks of the show.

Keep in mind that there are a lot of assumptions being made here. One thing to take into account is whether the same musicians are playing every week or if they are rotated. In the case of American Idol a few years ago, Ricky Minor and his band ruled the stage so there were probably little to no changes there, but I’m not sure of any loyalties to particular players otherwise.

Musician Getting Paid

Reason For Asking:

I adore some of the musicians on these shows and wondered if they are compensated for there hard work the same way the execs are (just joking, btw). They are not.

Source: Local 47 Wages

What Are The Repercussions For Not Posting A Sanitary Grade On A Restaurant In NYC

November 12th, 2013

What are the repercussions for not posting a sanitary grade on your restaurant in NYC?

Initial fine of $1000 for not posting. Fine of $200 for posting incorrectly. Repeated violations may result in termination of restaurant license.


I’ve heard of many restaurants opting to pay a fine rather than displaying a grade ‘B’ or ‘C’ since the $1000 charged is no match for the amount of business potentially lost when posting a bad grade. But to expand on the process, if a restaurant does not initially meet the expectations of an ‘A’ grade, they are issued a temporary ‘Grade Pending’ certificate and are re-evaluated in a month’s time to allow time for improvement. If the restaurant has not made any improvement, then the ‘B’ or ‘C’ grade is given. Cases may be heard with the Health Tribunal.

NYC Sanitation Grades

Reason For Asking:

I don’t think I’ve seen any ‘C’ grades so I was wondering if this was the result of a restaurant not having been graded yet or if they were hiding their grade.

Source: NYC Restaurant Grade Posting Guideline
Source: NYC Restaurant Sanitation Grading

Do Dentists Still Use Novocaine

November 11th, 2013

Do dentists still use Novocaine?



Despite most people referring to local anesthesia as Novocaine, dentists have not used Novocaine for about 30 years due to the fairly high rate of allergic reactions. These days the drug that is most commonly use is lidocaine.

Do Dentists Still Use Novocaine

Reason For Asking:

I go to a dentist who doesn’t bother using any local anesthetic (unless it’s a bigger operation or you’re a pussy). Strangely enough, I generally don’t feel that much, if any, more pain when not using a numbing agent.

Source: Dental Mythbusters: Dentists Still Use Novocaine
Source: What has replaced Novocaine in a dentist's office?

Did Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm Screw Wikipedia

November 10th, 2013

Did Google’s Hummingbird algorithm screw over Wikipedia?

I say ‘yes’, to an extent


A little background on Google Hummingbird: Building upon the idea of a previous algorithm release entitled ‘Caffeine’ back in 2010, ‘Hummingbird’ is one of the biggest changes made to the Google search engine since the early 2000’s. Focusing heavily on a more conversational approach, the new search algorithm attempts to determine more about the context of an entire search string rather than looking for specific keywords (I’m sure it still does the latter, but with less weight). The whole point of it is to extrapolate the intent behind of a search even if it is just a two word string.

Now let’s look at Wikipedia: From an SEO standpoint, Wikipedia is probably one of the most successful websites around – I can’t think of another website that has a top 3 entry on just about any topic that you can think of. For top pages like ‘Wine’, ‘Empire State Building’, ‘Decibel’ or anything that is a widely known and discussed topic, Wikipedia seems to remain strong and this is for a good reason. Wikipedia is based upon user definitions and expansion. For the aforementioned topics, there are plenty of people who are complete experts in the field and thus have the ability to help Wikipedia host some of the strongest, most readable documents on the web for those subjects – a perfect candidate for the new Hummingbird algorithm.

Unfortunately, with some of the lesser documents, let’s take ‘Ashton Park’, ‘When is Radiohead playing in NYC’, or ‘Nashua NH’ (I had actually searched these a while ago and used these for my test tonight), Wikipedia seems to have become a little less consistent. Since the aspects of Google’s algorithm are not made public, it’s difficult to determine the actual reason for any of these drops. It may be that these lesser articles are not written or refined as well as the formerly mentioned topics or maybe, depending on the topic, Google’s new algorithm feels that other results are truly more important than just the basic facts.

Please keep in mind, this is a pretty small control set but they are not my only impressions of a less wiki-heavy Google world.

Google Hummingbird Attacking Wikipedia

Reason For Asking:

In my recent daily surfing, I’ve felt less inundated with Wikipedia results. Just an FYI, I kinda liked them at the top of everything.

Source: Google Reveals Hummingbird

Is A Defense Lawyer Obligated To Report A Confession As Evidence

November 9th, 2013

Is a defense lawyer obligated to report a confession as evidence?



This may be a somewhat confusing and broad question so I’ll clarify. Here’s a situation: Joe murders Ken and gets arrested and convicted a week later. It is the prosecution’s job to prove that Joe is guilty and not the defense’s job to prove that he is not guilty. Now, let’s say that Joe tells his defense attorney (let’s call him Dave) that he did, in fact, murder Ken. Dave is not obligated to report that as evidence, however, if Joe gives Dave the offending weapon, it must be submitted (however I believe it can be done anonymously) and if Joe tells the Dave that he plans on killing someone else, it must be reported. What the defense attorney must do is to not allow his client to commit perjury but then I suppose just because someone tells you something doesn’t mean that it’s true so even if Joe tells the defense attorney that he murdered Ken, it may not necessarily be true.

Confession To A Lawyer

Reason For Asking:

Just curious.

Source: DefenseWiki: Confession
Source: Admissions To Defense Lawyer Don't Need To Be Evidence