Friday, September 30, 2022

Hint 2: Can you find characters from Moby Dick in other places?


  Let's think about this some more... 

  This is such a rich topic that I'm going to break my answer up into multiple posts.  Here's the first with the simplest way to use Wikidata.  

1. Can you find a way to identify other major works of fiction (leaving out fan-fiction for the moment) in which the names of "Starbuck" and "Queequeg" appear (either independently or together)?  

As I mentioned, there's in an entire Wikidata collection underneath Wikipedia.  Of course, the easiest way to get to the things we care about is by a direct query: 

      [ wikidata Starbuck -Starbucks ] 

which gives 60 results in Wikidata that have different versions of the term "Starbuck."  (Note that I used the minus operator, -Starbucks, to get rid of all the hits with "Starbucks" in the results.)  

As you can see, there are a lot of results here for "Starbuck" as a place, a person's name, and so on.  But the most interesting result here is the one that says "Wikipedia(20 entries)."  

Here's that page: 

One really interesting thing to notice is that on the right hand side is a column with all of the Wikipedia articles about Starbuck in different languages. It's pretty easy to open them ALL up in new tabs, and then translate the languages you don't speak.  Here's what it looks like for Hebrew (which I do not speak/read). 

When I did this I learned about the Starbuck Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell.  How odd that it wasn't mentioned in the English version of the Wikipedia search OR the Wikidata for English. We'll come back to this question. 

What else did I pick up from these Wikipedia pages in other languages?


Fictional characters
  • Starbuck, a character in the novel Moby-Dick
  • Starbuck, a character in Fire Bringer (a YA fantasy novel) 
  • Starbuck, a character in The Rainmaker (a play from 1954) by N. Richard Nash, later made into a movie
  • Starbuck, a character in the 1956 film adaptation, The Rainmaker
  • Starbuck, a character in The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge
  • Lieutenant Starbuck, a character in the 1978 Battlestar Galactica film and television series
  • Kara Thrace or "Starbuck", a character in the 2004 Battlestar Galactica television series (note that this is a DIFFERENT character from the 1978 series... should it really count?) 
  • Dana Scully, or "Starbuck" as she was nicknamed by her father, from The X-Files TV series

Film and television

  • Starbuck (film), a 2011 Canadian comedy
  • J.J. Starbuck, a US crime drama series from 1987

But as I looked through other languages, I found even more! 

  • Starbuck, a Belgian comic series created by author Philippe Foerster 
  • Starbuck, a Canadian film ( 2011 ) directed by Ken Scott and starring Patrick Huard

  • The Starbuck Chronicles - a series of historical novels by Bernard Cornwell

  • Elon Cody Starbuck , character from Howard Chaykin's comic book Star Reach
  • Walter F. Starbuck is a character in Kurt Vonnegut 's novel Jailbird

Obviously, I could do the same thing with the name Queequeg, but I'll leave that as an assignment for the reader.  Can you find all of the other languages that mention Queequeg and then open all of those pages to scan for additional mentions in other works?  

It's still troubling to me that the search box in Wikipedia seems to have missed some of the articles that contain the term ("Starbuck").  

Question for you to consider:  Is there another way to identify the Wiki pages that DO mention Starbuck, rather than relying on Wikipedia's own search function?  

I'll write about that next time, and then finish up with a third post that summarizes everything into a grand finale!  

Search on! 


  1. Looks like this method is quicker and more efficient than using a variety of search terms.

  2. What I did (based on this):

    * I tried several searches, but didn't get anything useful
    * To make sure I understood it, I next tried repeating your search, and found that you had gone from the Wikidata page for Starbuck to each of the Wikipedia disambiguation pages for it in different languages.
    * Search term: wikidata queequeg - I found and went there. At the bottom were the Wikipedia pages for Queequeg, in English and French. (It's interesting that it appeared on the side on your screen but the bottom for mine.)
    I went to the French-language one, and saw (once again) that it was based on "Moby Dick." And, it didn't have any references to Queequeg.
    Then, I went to the English-language one, and found the following:

    1) A character in the 1926 "Moby Dick" adaptation "The Sea Beast." I'm not sure it counts.
    2) A character in the season 7 "Futurama" episode "The Day the Earth Stood Stupid"
    3) What "The X-Files" Special Agent Dana Scully named her dog, along with her email handle and her home alarm password. (I suspect that one of the show's writers really liked "Moby Dick.")
    4) A coffee chain in the video game "Deus Ex: Invisible War"
    5) An alien species in "Return of the Jedi" that was called the Weequay and whose physical appearance was based on Queequeg.
    6) A submarine in book 11 of the series "A Series of Unfortunate Events"

    * I had found similar results before, so I looked at the page you'd found and saw it was a disambiguation page. I then did a search for Wikipedia disambiguation pages (there are over 200,000 of them in English alone) and went to "Q," but didn't find anything. So, I don't think there's a disambiguation page for that.

    I'm not sure what else I can do with this, or what I'm missing.

    In answer to your other question, what I did to find other Wikipedia references to Starbuck without relying on its own search function was this: I went to Google, I typed in "Starbuck Wikipedia disambiguation page" (no quotes), I pressed enter, and I picked the top result to see English-language versions of it. To see results in other languages, I went to the left side where they were listed and picked one. (There were 20 total.)

  3. searching search
    Wikidata Query Service Tutorial
    wikidata welcome page
    Nord Stream
    …a worthwhile sRs query/challenge?… such are the strange times that involve the oceans… Google seems short of answers
    Nord Stream AG, based in Zug, Switzerland,
    "Pipeline repairs are not expected to be necessary during Nord Stream’s minimum operational lifespan of 50 years. Owing to the high quality of the materials involved and the conservative design of the pipelines, damage and deformation are highly unlikely. In fact, the probability of pipeline failure or leakage is as low as one damage event every 100,000 years.

    The company has created a repair strategy which models five potential scenarios. At one end of the spectrum is a minor event such as a scratch on the concrete coating. The other end concerns the worst and most unlikely event – a rupture of one of the pipelines. Each scenario requires the company to call on different resources. The final element of the offshore repair strategy involves a repair service with several contractors who would provide all the engineering, logistics, marine and construction work necessary to ensure the pipeline becomes operational again in the shortest period of time following the unlikely event of a major repair."

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