Wikipedia:Reference desk/Humanities

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Wikipedia Reference Desk covering the topic of humanities.

Welcome to the humanities reference desk.
Shortcut:
Want a faster answer?

Main page: Help searching Wikipedia

How can I get my question answered?

  • Provide a short header that gives the general topic of the question.
  • Type ~~~~ (four tildes) at the end – this signs and dates your contribution so we know who wrote what and when.
  • Post your question to only one desk.
  • Don't post personal contact information – it will be removed. We'll answer here within a few days.
  • Note:
    • We don't answer (and may remove) questions that require medical diagnosis or legal advice.
    • We don't answer requests for opinions, predictions or debate.
    • We don't do your homework for you, though we’ll help you past the stuck point.


How do I answer a question?

Main page: Wikipedia:Reference desk/Guidelines

  • The best answers address the question directly, and back up facts with wikilinks and links to sources. Do not edit others' comments and do not give any medical or legal advice.
 
See also:
Help desk
Village pump
Help manual


April 29[edit]

Have street gangs ever been recruited to help enforce a curfew before?[edit]

From 2015 Baltimore riots:

The Los Angeles Police Department ordered officers to ride in pairs when in cars after Baltimore police determined there was a "credible threat" of gang violence against police officers across the country, claiming that the Black Guerrilla Family, the Bloods, and the Crips were "teaming up" to target police officers.[1][2] Later, however, leaders of both gangs denied the allegations,[3] released a video statement asking for calm and peaceful protest in the area,[4] and joined with police and clergy to enforce the curfew.[5]

References

  1. ^ Winton, Richard (April 27, 2015). "LAPD officers to ride in pairs after Baltimore police warn of gang threat". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 27, 2015. 
  2. ^ Baltimore Sun (April 27, 2015). "Baltimore police say gangs 'teaming up' to take out officers". baltimoresun.com. Retrieved April 28, 2015. 
  3. ^ Porter, Tom (April 28, 2015). "Bloods and Crips gangs reject claims of kill-a-cop pact". International Business Times. Retrieved 29 April 2015. 
  4. ^ "Gangs call for calm in Baltimore". Baltimore Sun. April 27, 2015. Retrieved 29 April 2015. 
  5. ^ Berman, John; Castillo, Mariano (April 28, 2015). "Baltimore gangs will help enforce curfew". CNN. Retrieved 29 April 2015. 

Agents provocateur we see all the time in American protests, and the fact that, this time, they were apparently a bunch of white high schoolers using public social media, may have contributed to the minority gangs' decision here. But this is ... new? EllenCT (talk) 04:49, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Slightly related: The Hells Angels were once hired as security at a Rolling Stones concert. Dismas|(talk) 10:13, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Well yes, definitely the idea of gangs trying to get involved in legitimate contracted activities isn't new [1], whatever the reason behind it. Nil Einne (talk) 15:42, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
I don't know particularly about official agreement to help enforce a curfew. But the idea of gang members protecting businesses etc definitely isn't new [2]. (Nor BTW is the idea of gang members cooperating to take out police [3] or other wacky ideas [4].) Nil Einne (talk) 15:34, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
  • One thing to remember, is that "gangs" refers to organized crime, with an emphasis on "organized". The media (both news and fiction, etc.) and culture at large tends to portray these groups as random groups of thugs committing random acts of violence with no motive or purpose. That's not what they are. Criminal gangs are best thought of as businesses which operate outside of the law, mainly selling illegal drugs. Their actions need to be understood from a primarily economic point of view. What is good for business is good for business. Random looting which destroys infrastructure and attracts extra police to your neighborhood is decidedly bad for business, so it is understandable that the leadership of these organizations would want to stop the looting immediately. It's a rationale decision that makes perfect sense when you understand that gangs = businesses, and thus act in ways that are good for their business. One of the best and most readable works on understanding the economics of gangs was done by Steven Levitt and Sudhir Venkatesh, who in the late 1990s and early 2000s did some excellent work on the economics of the underground economy. A portion of their work was republished in Levitt's seminal work Freakonomics, which is an excellent read for other reasons. --Jayron32 15:59, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
The shabiha do a lot (at least an alleged lot) of enforcement for the Syrian government. Granted, the Syrian unrest is a great deal more advanced than the American, but it may give some clues as to how a theoretical progression might go. There are certainly many differences between the situations, but as Jayron32 says, gangs like money. If it comes down to "them" vs "us" in a serious way, "they" have far more money. InedibleHulk (talk) 06:42, May 1, 2015 (UTC)
The janjaweed are more "tribe" than "gang", and the streets are even more different in Sudan, but they do a hell of a lot of government enforcing. InedibleHulk (talk) 06:52, May 1, 2015 (UTC)
You know what sounds classier than "street gang"? "Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit". Or "Civilian Irregular Defense Group". Or, if you don't mind sounding pretentious and archaic, "Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts". InedibleHulk (talk) 07:26, May 1, 2015 (UTC)

Use of police firearms in Northern Ireland[edit]

I was told a while ago that whilst all PSNI officers carry a sidearm, the force also has Authorised Firearms Officers. The sidearm is issued mainly for personal protection, and AFOs are deployed to incidents in a similar way as in England, Scotland and Wales. I can't find any confirmation of this. Can anyone else? Thanks. Dalliance (talk) 12:05, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Not very successful, but I found A NEW BEGINNING: POLICING IN NORTHERN IRELAND numbered p. 50 (p. 53 of the file):
"There has been no case of the RUC shooting anyone dead since 1991. So the extent to which policing in Northern Ireland relies on the firearm is very limited. Several police officers have told us that they would be prepared to do their jobs unarmed now, and a few already choose not to carry a weapon. Nevertheless there is a strong feeling among many police that a personal protection weapon is indispensable against the background of police officers having lost their lives in the past 30 years and about 8,500 having been wounded and disabled, and taking account of international trends towards more violent crime.
" Health and Safety legislation imposes requirements upon the police to provide suitable equipment to minimise the assessed risk that police officers face. At present, this almost certainly means the provision of firearms as personal protective equipment. We recommend that the question of moving towards the desired objective of a routinely unarmed police service be periodically reviewed in the light of developments in the security environment. We welcome the gradual withdrawal of long arms from police patrols in most parts of Northern Ireland and we hope that this process will also continue wherever possible."
This confirms the personal protection element of sidearms and the "withdrawal of long arms from police patrols" implies that they will be deployed in armed response units as in the rest of the UK, but this isn't spelled out. Note that all PSNI officers are required to pass a firearms course and a 6 monthly refresher.(p. 5) Alansplodge (talk) 22:04, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Yes, that's right. All PSNI constables carry a personal protection weapon; but there are separate Armed Response Units like other UK police services. I know someone who discovered this when, after a misunderstanding nearly interpreted as a forecourt drive-off, an ARV which happened to be passing arrived at the forecourt.

All constables must carry the PPW at all times when on duty. The only one I've seen who did not, was walking across a walled & secure police car park. Being armed while commuting or in private life is entirely optional, but I know constables who do so. There are good reasons: a prison officer was shot dead on the M1 motorway (2013?), commuting from Dungannon to HMP Maghaberry. Anyone working for the UK security services - police, military, prisons, prosecutors, judges, intelligence; office staff, private contractors - was considered by terrorists (particularly the Provisional IRA) to be a legitimate target during the Troubles. These lines of work were normally granted a firearms licence. Unlike Great Britain, firearms licences can be granted for self defence in Northern Ireland. Some retired officers have said it is entirely a personal choice whether or not a PSNI constable keeps their weapon on retirement (so long as you're medically fit, etc.).

Armed Response Units are another kettle of fish entirely. Of course, you need separate a specially trained personnel because of the increased probability of having to shoot someone in, say, an armed robbery situation and the skills are very different to defending yourself in your private life. Strangely, the cars (often an Audi A7) are either unmarked or in normal livery. At least some are modded to bulletproof glass, and with it a bulky interior. On the back of their bulletproof vests, it reads 'POLICE ARV' - when, of course, they are not a vehicle and they are armed anyway - nonsensical. I think armed response constables carry Tasers, also. I recall the case of a dog tasered by a female constable in her 20s in the first week of the job.

Sometimes you will see a Heckler & Koch MP5 (semi-automatic) - previous reasons have included a Royal visit or the G8 conference, for example. That alone is a deterrent: no messing about, because something critical is happening.

The article linked above is sixteen years old; since when so much has changed - 50/50 recruitment came and went, policing has been devolved to NI and so on. In 2011, a constable commuting to work shot dead an armed robber who happened to be there. Complete disarmament was recommended in 1969; the RUC were re-armed after the short experiment in 1970-71. It is difficult to speculate, as history shows. I do not foresee disarmament beginning for many years. For a start, the security situation can change quickly so the ability to re-arm constables literally overnight is important. Terrorist groups are part disappeared; part disintegrated into traffickers of people, sex, drugs and other organised crime. I haven't even noticed Sinn Fein adopt a policy of disarming (they are the most likely elected party to do so).

I would connect it to the PSNI's track record of high visibility, but low-key use: it's extremely rare to shoot anyone. The logic is be armed, but only because it is critical to your safety. The regulators (Policing Board, Policing Ombudsman) are much stricter than the IPCC. The 2011 shooting was a textbook example: carrying a knife, threatening others and ignoring warnings. The PSNI's status of being armed is surprisingly uncontroversial.89.242.197.87 (talk) 19:57, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

Where does the food go?[edit]

In a developed country like the United States, there are supermarkets filled with massive quantities of food with limited shelf life and the persistent advertising scheme that the food is always fresh. If the food is always fresh, where does the overdue food go? Are they fed to homeless people on the streets, to feral cats and dogs, or to the recycling center? How do supermarkets predict that the supply of food meets the demand for food? What if consumers suffer from a bad economic crisis and cannot purchase food? 140.254.70.33 (talk) 14:36, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Supermarkets in the United States have sophisticated inventory-monitoring systems and computer algorithms that predict, based on historic data, exactly how much of a given item will be consumed on a given day of the week, or even date of the year, to take account of annual holidays. They stock their shelves accordingly to minimize wastage. A complicated calculation can balance foregone profit in the event an item runs out against the cost of wastage if an item stays on the shelf past its sell-by date. The result is remarkably little wastage. What wastage there is ends up in locked dumpsters behind the supermarket for only an hour or two, since disposal is synchronized with waste pickup. The resulting wastage ends up usually in landfills where it feeds microorganisms and perhaps wild fauna. As for your last question, for people in the United States whose incomes don't cover their food costs, there is a program called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Most if not all developed countries have programs designed to ensure that nobody goes hungry. (The programs are not always completely effective, so there is still some hunger in developed countries.) Marco polo (talk) 14:59, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
@ Marco polo. Your quote: The result is remarkably little wastage. unquote. Is hundreds of thousands of tons your idea of little wastage? Almost half of the world's food thrown away, report finds. Appears your quoting from big-company public relations blurb ― not ever-day reality.--Aspro (talk) 17:16, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Do supermarkets overestimate or underestimate the supply of food? How do they know whether to round up or down? 140.254.70.33 (talk) 15:19, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
First some nearly expired food is sold at mark-down and often in out-of-way corners. Some is cooked up into deli prepared foods. Charity organizations like Gleaners[5] collect some of the food for distribution through food banks. Some is sent back to be sold at "salvage groceries" which specialize in expired food.[6] Rmhermen (talk) 16:13, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Rmhermen is right that not all wastage ends up in bins. As for the question of overestimating or underestimating, the goal is to come as close as possible, using statistical methods, to an accurate estimate. That said, if the cost of a highly perishable item is high and the profit margin is low, then a profit-maximizing algorithm will tend to underestimate demand. If the cost is low and the profit and shelf-life are high, all other things being equal, then there would be a tendency to overestimate demand. Marco polo (talk) 17:06, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
So, who or what type of people do the actual work of estimating accurate supply amount? Do supermarkets just hire economists or mathematicians or statisticians or data analysts? 140.254.70.33 (talk) 17:46, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Marketers ( people involved in the marketing business ) are most of them statisticians themselves, and they will also be hiring other statisticians if necessary. Accuracy is right from the beginning a requirement regarding economic success. Health and environmental regulations are only a supplementary and after all, rather limited drag on their otherwise productive capabilities. --Askedonty (talk) 19:34, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Managers of all businesses try to meet supply with demand, it's not difficult. 184.145.87.79 (talk) 19:55, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Related info: food loss and food waste is estimated at about 33% by the FAO - see their reports here [7] and more info here [8]. Our article on food waste gives a higher estimate- 1/2 of food is wasted. The table of data does not separate retail waste from production waste. See the section there Food_waste#Reduction_and_disposal for some things that happen to food. Here's an article from NPR specifically about retail waste from supermakets in the USA [9]. 18:17, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Food loss from waste is highest in developing countries without a refrigerated "cool chain" from field to table. According to this study consumers, not supermarkets, account for most food waste in the United States. That said, I stand corrected about retail food waste in the United States. Apparently supermarkets find it more profitable to keep food in stock even if there is a fair likelihood that it will time out before it is sold. Marco polo (talk) 18:34, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
  • The law probably differs greatly by state. My mother has complained that in NJ they are not allowed to give the food away, it has to be treated as garbage once the expiration date is reached. Items nearing that date will often by marked down greatly in price. Marco Polo basically gets it right. Also most people know SNAP as "food stamps". There's also WIC which is for mothers with infants and children. In NYC there are occasionally scandals with expired meat being washed in bleach (chicken) or dyed red (ground beef) and sold as if still fresh. I once had that happen with hamburger meat, I was cooking it for chili, the meat stank and a purple die floated in top of the pot as I was rendering it.
μηδείς (talk) 18:44, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
The usual merkin way of dealing with dead meat is to use extraordinary rendition. That would have fixed it good and proper. (Was it a Cuban chili, by the way?) -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 21:07, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Merickan is neither spelt that way, nor lower case. By rendering I simply meant to melt off the fat, since it was cheap 70% lean beef. I threw it out and complained to the owner. He got me a fresh cut and put it through the grinder for me, and told me to request freshly ground meat from then on. This case with Mike Nichols' widow was a famous one at the time, and involved NY stores. 21:32, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
I was, of course, referring to this type of merkin. I'm sure you have a goodly supply of them in your closet. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 06:24, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
One day, I came to (my former) job to find that not only had last night's storm knocked out the power at my house, but at work as well. The majority of the frozen foods had at least a good eight hours to thaw. I was under the impression that it went to pig-farmers or something. You can take out all the plastic, metal, and cardboard, boil it into a slurry, and safely serve it to pigs without giving them food poisoning... Unlike homeless people, which way too many customers told me we should've given the spoiled food to. Nevermind that I was just a cashier. Oh, wait, I was one of two white male cashiers, so everyone assumed I was a manager. Ian.thomson (talk) 18:58, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
One method they use to limit food wastage is to put things on sale that will expire soon. Apu: "Homer, you can't work at the Kwik-E-Mart any more, you keep forgetting to change the expiration dates !" StuRat (talk) 19:06, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
The UK's largest supermarket chain, Tesco, claims that "...where possible, if food could not be sold it was either donated to poverty charity FareShare, converted into animal feed for livestock, or was recycled into renewable fuel." [10] Alansplodge (talk) 22:20, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
I like "renewable fuel" - I'm sure even Tesco's food doesn't have a large percentage of ingredients derived from crude oil (or uranium). It's like "No preservatives!!!" on canned food. Unless, of course, they make fuel that you can burn twice from time-expired croissants... Tevildo (talk) 23:01, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Tevildo, See Biodiesel Blueboar (talk) 11:55, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Anaerobic digestion--Phil Holmes (talk) 09:54, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
This is an example of a restaurant in the UK which uses "intercepted food" (which we haven't got an article on yet). Are there not such establishments in the US? --ColinFine (talk) 22:37, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
States and localities can regulate food distribution, see from HuffPo: "CBS reports on the bizarre rule that turns away food, perhaps the most needed item for any shelter, because according to health officials, it's impossible to gauge the items' salt, fiber, and other nutritional stats" on just one of many such actions by former New York City Fuehrer, Mikhail Bloomberg. (PS, he's bought British subjectionhood (what is the word for that?) and he wants to run for mayor of London next.)

Is SES a predictor of the hookup culture?[edit]

Do people with higher SES and more opportunities in life engage in less hookups than people of lower SES? 140.254.70.33 (talk) 16:30, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Read This and This and This one looks really awesome for answering your question just as a start. --Jayron32 16:38, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Are middle-aged people part of the hookup culture too? Or is it more of a teen thing? 140.254.70.33 (talk) 16:47, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Have you read Hookup culture? Rojomoke (talk) 16:54, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
I did, it's a horrible article where you can see sources with severe biases stating contradictory facts. 184.145.87.79 (talk) 19:58, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Middle-aged "hook-up culture", especially in the context of middle-aged people nominally involved in committed relationships, is often known as swinging. The more general term for engaging in open sexual relationships with many people, without regard for any long-term commitment, is Polyamory. Those articles will lead you in interesting directions if you're willing to both read them, and follow their links and references to more information. --Jayron32 01:30, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
No, I think you've misunderstood the term "polyamory". You make it sound like casual sex, but as I understand it, it's supposed to be about deep loving relationships with multiple people. Whether those relationships are "long-term" or "committed" is a somewhat different matter, but certainly in the polyamorous ideal, there's no reason they shouldn't be. --Trovatore (talk) 03:06, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Acronym expansion: SES = Socioeconomic status. -- ToE 16:50, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
Although our article fails to mention it, there are indeed middle-aged people who engage in hookups. It's just much less common than among younger people. Marco polo (talk) 17:01, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

What is the correlation of both SES and emotional intelligence with the ability to attract sexual partners? 108.171.132.161 (talk) 19:36, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Edith of Wessex[edit]

How was Edith of Wessex treated by William the Conqueror after the Norman Conquest?--The Emperor's New Spy (talk) 23:47, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Indications in the article are that she was treated with dignity. William presumably had no issues with Edward the Confessor. It was Harold who (according to William's side of it) had betrayed William. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 01:26, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
"She herself had to hand the keys of Winchester, the ancient Anglo-Saxon base, to William the Conqueror... William allowed her to keep her considerable properties, so she remained in Winchester until her death on 19 December 1075." James Panton, Historical Dictionary of the British Monarchy (p. 144). Alansplodge (talk) 10:24, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

April 30[edit]

Revenge and Punishment[edit]

What's the difference between revenge and punishment?

Johngot (talk) 01:47, 30 April 2015 (UTC)

There can be many reasons for punishment, revenge is only one. Another reason for punishment is deterrence. StuRat (talk) 02:14, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
In the case of capital punishment, I've heard it said that it's not precisely punishment, but rather it's permanent removal. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 02:19, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
It's both. Permanent removal is no fun. Most people like being here. Sometimes we're removed for no good reason, but when we go by capital punishment, it's at least ostensibly for some bad thing we did. Prevention is just gravy, and deterrence is the cheese. InedibleHulk (talk) 06:27, May 1, 2015 (UTC)
  • Say there's a drought, and it's illegal to fill your swimming pool, with a $1000 fine. But you don't care, you can afford to pay, and you fill it. The policeman comes and tickets you. You've been punished, but might just look at it as an expense you are willing to pay. Now your neighbour gets personally incensed, and pours a bucket off pee in your pool. That's revenge.
μηδείς (talk) 03:07, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Punishment acts first and foremost as a penalty enacted by authority, as in it requires that the enactor is viewed as authoritative; and possibly as a deterrent for the punished or the witness, irrespective of who the crime is committed against. Revenge is the restitution for the crime committed against oneself, and does not require a level of authority. Plasmic Physics (talk) 08:00, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
👍 Like ‹See TfD› SemanticMantis (talk) 12:04, 30 April 2015 (UTC)

Good Without God[edit]

God is good. But does one have to be good with God? Can one be good without God?

Johngot (talk) 02:10, 30 April 2015 (UTC)

Religionists tend to say "No", while non-religionists tend to say "Yes." ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 02:18, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
I would say it is more nuanced than that. Religionists may also say "you can be good" but you cannot get into heaven, or whatever the equivalent is, for that religion. That is, being good is a necessary but not sufficient condition. That is, nearly any member of any major religion would recognize that any person is capable of doing good acts. Few major religions recognize that the acts themselves are sufficient for reaching the ultimate good state and oneness with God/Gods, etc. (Heaven, Nirvana, Valhalla, whatever). For a specific example, see the Christian concepts of Sola fide and Good works and more broadly Salvation (Christianity). --Jayron32 02:23, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Without God, being 'good' is meaningless and vain, because without a locus, 'good' has no absolute constraints - it is defined by someone's opinion. The problem this creates is that you can both be good and not good concurrently, depending on who you ask. So, no they're mutually inclusive when treated as absolutes. Plasmic Physics (talk) 02:40, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
According to whom and in what system, PP? μηδείς (talk) 03:02, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Which assertion? Plasmic Physics (talk) 07:45, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Just guessing: the first sentence. It sounds an awful lot like it's disregarding and contradicting whole subfields of ethics. But maybe you're just talking about normative morality. It's fine to consider that non-absolute or unconstrained -- but then again, there's no constraints(from a logical perspective) about what any given god thinks is good or bad either... so before you start calling a perspective "meaningless and vain", understand that that assertion can be applied to any religious notion of morality as just as aptly. SemanticMantis (talk) 12:01, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
OK, normative, if that is what you call it. Personally, I do apply it to any religious notion of morality, with an addendum - being in communion with God, who is the transmitter of the moral absolute by way of conviction, the chances of committing a good work are increased, without full knowledge or understanding the moral absolute. Plasmic Physics (talk) 12:26, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
My point was, if you assert "Without God, being 'good' is meaningless and vain"- then you (logically) have to also accept that religious-based perspectives on morality (e.g. "With God, being 'good'") are equally "meaningless and vain" to people who don't subscribe to that religion. At least that's how I see it. Of course any given religious devotee thinks they have it right, otherwise they wouldn't be there... I think OP would do well to just go straight to the articles I linked below. I'm pretty sure none of our regular responders are professional philosophers or ethicists; I know I'm not :)SemanticMantis (talk) 13:08, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
That is also true and acceptable. FYI, I don't think that I have it right, I just know that I want to have it right, and me trying is good enough for me. Plasmic Physics (talk) 22:30, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
But since there is no God, the twist is that you've been being good (or not) on your own the whole time anyway. Adam Bishop (talk) 10:55, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Speaking of "someone's opinion" .... -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 11:04, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Nothing but the cold hard facts :) Adam Bishop (talk) 13:32, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
There is no cold hard fact that disproves the existence of God. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:27, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
...nor the existence of Invisible pink unicorns, of course. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 11:31, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
Right. The one thing I might question is how something invisible would have a color. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 13:21, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
Credo quia absurdum. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 13:34, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
True believers can probably see the color. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 14:09, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
Or it is revealed to them! --Stephan Schulz (talk) 14:14, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
Whatever works. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 18:03, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Catholicism holds, according to Aquinas, that following the natural law which is available to all men baseed on reason and an understanding of human nature is sufficient for doing good and avoiding evil. (Salvation through Christ is a separate matter, those who have heard the Gospel and believe and do not die in a state of mortal sin will ipso facto be joined with God in Heaven. Whether that applies to others is not revealed, but see Harrowing of Hell.)
Hence one can be a good person even if not a good Christian. This is why a secular state is justified in punishing crimes like theft and murder regardless of the beliefs of the criminals and victims. Of course what exactly constitutes natural law and human nature is an open question (e.g., homosexuality) but the general principle is that belief in God is not necessary for being moral. See the Noahide Laws as regards conservative Jewish belief.
μηδείς (talk) 03:00, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Agnostics think that since so many different kinds of gods were used to reinforce useful social mores for so long, that there's probably a way to do it from first principles, too, without reference to a spiritual afterlife, ghosts, imaginary beings, or superstitions. Aristotle's Ethics, flawed as they were in places, have few references to the moral utility of unquestioning belief in the supernatural. EllenCT (talk) 04:48, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Ask countless killed people and abused children of God makes people good. (The non-existent, social concept of) God is not good. Fgf10 (talk) 07:47, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
I don't understand you're implying. No one here said that killers and abusers were made good by God. Plasmic Physics (talk) 11:33, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Einstein and the Dalai Lama think God and /or religion are not necessary to be good. Plato explained why "Good = what God defines as good" doesn't make sense. Iapetus (talk) 11:42, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Their opinion is their prerogative, but an opinion nonetheless. I view the Euthyphro dilemma as a false dilemma - that God and Moral standards as they are referred to, are co-dependent. God relies on his omniscience to perfectly adhere to these standards, while at the same time the standards only exist because He does. In effect, He is the transmitter of moral standards, who without, we are just guessing. Plasmic Physics (talk) 12:26, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
  • We do have a rather large and well-sourced article on ethics. Among other things, "ethics seeks to resolve questions of human morality, by defining concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime." We also have an article on good and evil, which outlines many approaches to the problem that do not depend on any deity. We also have a long article on morality, and it also describes many ways to define good without depending on any god. SemanticMantis (talk) 12:01, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Again, that's not the Catholic position. Morality is not a command of God by fiat, it's a fact of our nature, discernible by all people by reason alone. Salvation by God's grace is quite a separate issue. μηδείς (talk) 21:21, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
The folks I'm thinking of (Protestants) claim that moral laws arise from God, not from man. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 00:40, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
A Catholic might respond that a man who has himself for a priest has a fool for a congregation. In any case, Catholics don't hold that morality arises from human whim (Cardinal Ratzinger wrote treatises on the subject of moral relativism, Without Roots is actually a good quick read) but again from reasoning applied to human nature. A good example is the Church's teaching that every human, whether they have heard of Christ or not, should know that murder is wrong. μηδείς (talk) 04:48, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
That can't be right. I remember an account of a missionary to a particular tribe in PNG (I think), where murder was a quite socially acceptable component of everyday life. If someone from the tribe had a grudge, or simply didn't like someone, they would simply kill them, and no one would even blink as the practice had become so very pedestrian. Although this is precisely why the missionary was so successful in converting the tribe. Plasmic Physics (talk) 05:46, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
You're likely thinking of Don Richardson (missionary) and the notion of the "peace child". My memory of the story is that the gap Richardson found so difficult to bridge was not that the tribe accepted murder, but rather betrayal, and so they saw Judas as the sympathetic figure at Gethsemane, until he explained that Jesus was a "peace child" from God. --Trovatore (talk) 00:11, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
  • I'm skeptical of (at least) the missionary's understanding. Would members of that tribe kill over any grudge except killing a friend? Had they no friends? Were they indifferent to the possibility of their own murder? —Tamfang (talk) 09:06, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
I'm not certain about their precise motivations, but it was not done out of ritual. They were certainly not indifferent, but not because of morality, but out of self-preservation. They didn't have any allies beyond their tribe. I suppose within the tribe, everyone were either friends or neutrals, the remainder being dead or soon to be. Plasmic Physics (talk) 10:36, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
I'm skeptical of the whole story really. Sometimes I'm even skeptical that some of these "tribes" even exist. Adam Bishop (talk) 10:34, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
Before the Dawn (book) addresses this issue. Among sedentary rain-forest tribes in South America and New Guinea, intertribal war is a sort of sport. Certain tribes are considered the enemy, and on occasion, a small band of young men will set out from one tribe, and kill a man from the other tribe and bring back a trophy. The outgroup is not considered "us" so killing them is justified in revenge for their past killings of "us". It's a kind of culture like that of the Miri episode of star trek, run by permanent adolescents who don't realize the death toll because it happens so slowly.
There was also a recent (since the 90's) documentary about an uncontacted tribe in the amazon who were known to pick off lone outsiders. The documentarians made contact and exchanged gifts, and explained that they would not kill the tribesmen if the tribesmen left the documentarians alone. A good time was had by all, until one of the porters for the filmmakers was killed, since he wasn't perceived by the tribe as belonging to their group. Once the mistake was made evident, there was no further peaceful contact, as the tribesmen expected to be killed by the filmmakers. μηδείς (talk) 05:52, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
But addresses what issue? I can't speak for Tamfang or Adam Bishop, but I have no problem believing much of what you said without having to look at the documentation. However what you have described seems to be quite different from what Plasmic Physics described which doesn't sound like intertribe warfare, but instead random, unregulated intratribe murders. (Some tribes may allow some killings in some cases, but even in those cases, it's normally in a fairly regulated fashion, not a chaotic system like described by PP where everyone is free to kill everyone else, apparently without consequence or fear of retaliation.) The example given by Trovatore appears to likewise describe something largely involving intertribe warfare, rather than people randomly killing people within their tribe without retaliation or some sort of code. N.B. I use the term tribe losely, since in some cases, the groups may not be particularly fixed, and so may often break up and join in different ways, with violence being involved in numerous ways. But again, we're still referring to a system where people are normally in groups (except for those people who lose their groups) and where violence tends to either happen between groups, or within groups but only in a regulated fashion. Nil Einne (talk) 14:10, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
I am not sure the notion of random murders going unaddressed is an historical norm. Normally the victim's kinsmen would take revenge, or the killer might be ostracized, which happened a lot in Siberian tribes. If the tribe had a chieftan he might kill the murderer for usurping his privilege. The Germans had the custom of weregild, where the victims would accept a settled payment as restitution. Of the studies I have read, mostly Russian work on Siberia and comments on rainforest tribes, a unjustified killing within the group does not go unaddressed. Of course this is not the sort of thing one can google to get modern incidents in the news of tribal justice. μηδείς (talk) 19:46, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
There are also the traditions of feuding and dueling which are only recently disappearing. These traditions to have their rules of "honor". It's only the rise of a disinterested system of law with a monopoly of force that allows such things to be put to an end, and we are all the better for it. Although we have our own recent barbarities with the authorities "standing down" or allowing 'self-rule' in violent ghettos from Europe to the US. μηδείς (talk) 05:52, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
  • And, of course, the barbarities resulting from the authorities' own traditions of in-group honor. —Tamfang (talk) 00:36, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Inspection of this editor's contributions and his evident familiarity with Wikipedia from his earliest edits strongly suggests that the questioner is a troll, and the question was posed disingenuously. RomanSpa (talk) 19:57, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
You nailed it in one, anyway. InedibleHulk (talk) 06:31, May 1, 2015 (UTC)
Buddhism does not have a God, and Buddhist monks tend to be good people. Many atheists are good people. It is a general tendency for people to steer away from what is morally or ethically wrong in the eyes of society, with no need for any kind of God for guidance. Religions with Gods, however, tend to be the justification (whether true or merely just an excuse) for many wars and atrocities committed over the past few millennia, in which case, IMHO, having a God is worse than not having one. I don't know if trolls have Gods, but if they do, well, good luck to them in getting a life, or a girlfriend, or something. KägeTorä - () (もしもし!) 11:46, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
I don't know about Internet trolls, but Scandanavian trolls weren't Christian or good, in the capital God sense. Þorgerðr Hölgabrúðr is a goddess who seems to have some sort of connection to a troll king. Seems to have sockpuppets, too. InedibleHulk (talk) 12:07, May 1, 2015 (UTC) 12:07, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
More often than not, it is not the religions with gods that justify wars and atrocities, but the men who use the religions to justify. In a manner of speaking, don't blame the dagger for stabbing the victim, but blame the murderer who used the cheese-knife as a dagger. Plasmic Physics (talk) 11:58, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
No true Scotsman would ever use belief in Huitzilopochtli to justify mass murder of non-combatants. --Stephan Schulz (talk)
I did not use the No True Scotsman argument. I simply said that usually it is the person, not the belief system, which calls for violence. Plasmic Physics (talk) 04:54, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
The notion of good and evil evolved first which ultimately gave rise to various religions and the notion of a God. You could perhaps still believe that God exists in the following sense. If some group of people stick to some religious doctrine, then collectively they are executing certain algorithms to run their society. So, you could then argue that such a society is a super organism which is that God they are worshipping, just like you are just a community of cells that collectively are executing certain algorithms. Count Iblis (talk) 16:09, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
We have articles on secular morality and secular ethics, which reliable sources state are major production and service activities of secular, post-Enlightenment governments. EllenCT (talk) 18:58, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

May 1[edit]

Pasteur's height[edit]

I had an impression that Louis Pasteur was of medium height until spotted this photo where looks taller than 180 cm (maybe something around 190 cm). This source, however, says he was "of a medium height". Is it just me or he indeed looks taller than average here? Brandmeistertalk 13:49, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

It's just you. It's hard to tell how tall someone is in a 2D picture, where perspective can play funny tricks. With the long smock on, it's hard to judge his proportions by looking for visual clues such as belt line and the like, and we have no way to know what the relative position of the shelves are in the lab; if we're expecting the shelves to be taller than they are, it might make him appear taller to you. See Ames room for some of the ways that 2D perspective issues can mess with one's sense of proportion. One of my favorite pictures for messing with people's sense of perspective, which has some of the Ames room type problems with it, is this picture of George Patton and Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. from WWII. Because of the particular composition of the picture, at first glance it makes Teddy Jr. look like a very small person. You can see from other pictures, however, this isn't so: [11] or [12]. So, it's really hard to judge someone's height from a photograph, and you really shouldn't place any stock in your own perception of their height from a single image like this. --Jayron32 14:02, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
(ec)I agree that the image gives the impression of a very tall person. But I think that's misleading. The "table" on the left is actually just a stool with a tray on it. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 14:07, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

Bank Losses[edit]

In today's paper it states that the Royal Bank of Scotland has lost £50 billion since it was bailed out by taxpayers (with £46 billion) in 2008. It even lost £446 million in the first thee months this year. With these continuing losses, how can it manage to pay its staff, pay its electricity bill, its suppliers etc. Where does it get the money from? Widneymanor (talk) 14:17, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

From the taxpayers, evidently. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 14:23, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
Debt, some of which is underwritten by the Treasury, and some is actual debt owed directly to the Treasury (some of which they have paid off, some has I think been forgiven, and some outstanding). -- Finlay McWalterTalk 14:27, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
(EC) From the money held in the bank accounts. We give them our money to 'look after', and get very little in return. The banks invest the money, or use it to pay their staff and bills, etc., plus their ridiculously large bonuses for their top management. Only the bailout itself was paid with taxpayers' money. We don't pay tax to the banks. We pay it to the government. If everyone using RBS suddenly and simultaneously decided to withdraw all of their money from their accounts, there is absolutely no possibility that RBS would even be able to fulfill those requests, and the bank would immediately become bankrupt. KägeTorä - () (もしもし!) 14:35, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
KageTora is describing a bank run. In the UK, the government protects individual depositors against the negative effects of such problems with a form of deposit insurance known as the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. So ultimately, if customers of the bank decide they don't want their money in that bank, and there is a bank run, the taxpayer is ultimately on the hook for it. --Jayron32 15:14, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Nope. The FSCS fund is not funded by taxes. It is "funded by a levy on 'authorised financial services firms.' " according to the article linked above and my memory. --Llaanngg (talk) 14:07, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
So basically what you're saying is, we are paying for our own money? KägeTorä - () (もしもし!) 16:47, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
You always are. In terms of real value, keeping money in a bank ends up with most people slightly losing money. This explains it well, but the basic principle is that 4% interest is basically breaking even for most people. Any account paying less than 4% is losing real value, while accounts need to be paying significantly more than 4% to make any real coin. RBS is currently paying [13] 0.40% annual rate (yes, 0.40%). Meaning that, in real inflation-adjusted terms, you are paying the Royal Bank of Scotland to hold your money for you. --Jayron32 16:52, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
The general rule is that if "interest rate < inflation rate" you are losing money in real terms. The 4% figure is not some magic number for the purpose and current inflation rate in UK is very low by historical standards, even going into negative territory for short periods.
Secondly, apropos some earlier responses in this section, it's important not to forget the bank's assets when making "taxpayer on the hook" calculations. When markets panic, these assets can be priced irrationally low due to market liquidity concerns, and systems like the Federal Reserve System and deposit insurance were established just to prevent such kinds of self-feeding frenzies. The eventual cost of the US Troubled Asset Relief Program program depends upon how one calculates it but is by any measure much smaller tan the headline number of $700 billion. Similarly, the cost to the UK treasury of bailing out RBS is likely to be much smaller than the £46 billion cited above (and may even turn a "profit"). Abecedare (talk) 17:22, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
Oh, I'm sure the bank is still making money off of you. TANSTAAFL always applies. The 4% figure is, of course, not a static number; but it also isn't based solely on inflation. It's a good rule of thumb, because it takes into account not just inflation, but other issues such as taxes on interest and Bank charges, which our article does not adequately cover, but which also add up a lot. Yes, the 4% number is not set in stone, but 0.40% interest is an account that is going to lose real money in the long term. --Jayron32 19:51, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
The bank can continue operations and meet current payables because it isn't broke. At year end 2014, it had equity (i.e., the net positive capital position of its shareholders, as reflected on the bank's books) of 60,192 million pounds (see p. 344 of its 2014 annual report), so it was able to absorb a loss for that year of 2,711 million pounds. The reason it has significant equity is that the government bought large amounts of shares during the recession, giving the bank additional capital and diluting existing shareholders. As of December 2009, HM Treasury owned 84.4% of the bank, although this had declined to 79.1% as of December 2014 (see p. 96 of the annual report). The government bought these shares to protect the bank's viability, presumably calculating that its losses on the investment would be less than its losses from paying out on deposit insurance if the bank failed. Funding for these losses did not come from debt or from depositors' accounts. John M Baker (talk) 16:41, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
+1. Also note that the current market capitalization of RBS is around £39 billion, which is the markets assessment of how much the bank is worth after taking into account all its assets and liabilities. The bank is far from broke. Abecedare (talk) 17:22, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

Thank you Widneymanor (talk) 17:06, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

identify artist of painting of George Washington's first inauguration[edit]

There is no artist listed for the painting accompanying the page about George Washington's first inauguration. I need to know the artist, where the painting hangs, and if it is under the Architect of the Capitol for usage rights. This is the page where it appears. [14]98.242.248.67 (talk) 15:49, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

According to this, the picture was painted by Ramon de Elorriaga around 1889. Wikipedia has no further information on the artist, from what I can tell. --Jayron32 16:34, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
This book indicates that the original painting is part of the "Granger collection" of New York. Wikipedia has lots of other images sourced to said collection: [15] But I don't know much more about it. It also gives an 1899 date for the painting, rather than 1889 as reported by some other sources. --Jayron32 16:41, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
Here is the main website for the Granger collection, and here is their contact information. If you contact them directly, they may be able to help you find more information yourself. It seems like a well-referenced painting, and having a Wikipedia article about it and its artist may be useful. --Jayron32 16:43, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
And here is the item itself at the Granger collection. It has the 1889 date, FWIW. --Jayron32 16:44, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure the Granger Collection only sells images of paintings and does not hold the physical canvas paintings per se.--Cam (talk) 18:28, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
According to the Smithsonian Institution, the actual painting hangs in Federal Hall in New York City. It belongs to the National Park Service. Marco polo (talk) 18:42, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
<Homer Simpson eying donut voice>Ooh, a red-link!</Homer Simpson> "Otro pintor bilbaíno, Ramón de Elorriaga, de treinta y nueve años, viajaba por los Estados Unidos de América.", but it doesn't actually say that in the snippet view. He was a Spanish painter of Basque decent. Working on it. --Shirt58 (talk) 04:17, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
The Basques are a very decent people. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 06:22, 3 May 2015 (UTC)

Plummer v. State v. Bad Elk v. United States[edit]

(And yes, the title is a bit of fun, purposely confusing two different meanings for "v."...)

Plummer v. State says:

"a person [...] may not resist an unlawful arrest being made peaceably and without excessive force."

...but Bad Elk v. United States says:

"an individual [has] the right to use force to resist an unlawful arrest."

Which is correct? Which page needs fixing?

Please not that, as documented at Plummer v. State#Internet meme, there are a lot of political blogs that claim that "Citizens may resist unlawful arrest to the point of taking an arresting officer's life if necessary", and readers who run into that claim often end up reading our Plummer v. State page, so we really want to get this one right and make sure everything we say in that article is well-sourced. --Guy Macon (talk) 19:22, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

Both cases indicate that the courts ruled, in each case, that a person has the right to resist an unlawful arrest. Plummer v. State says "The case overturned a manslaughter conviction, ruling that the convicted defendant had been protecting himself from the illegal use of force by a police officer." Bad Elk v. United States says "The Supreme Court reversed his conviction, noting that a person had the right to resist an unlawful arrest, and in the case of a death, murder may be reduced to manslaughter." They both seem to agree with each other. Of note, the second case is both later and a U.S. Supreme Court Case, while the first is only an Indiana State case. If there had been a conflict, the later and Supreme Court case would have primacy, being both later and U.S. Supreme Court. But in this case, it seems both rulings are in agreement. --Jayron32 19:44, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

It should be noted that Plummer was decided under Indiana state law while Bad Elk applied federal criminal law, so they need not be fully consistent. Newyorkbrad (talk) 06:23, 3 May 2015 (UTC)

Ashford v Thornton[edit]

In the case of Ashford v Thornton, the defendant was charged with rape, but "The prosecution informed the court that it had no evidence to offer on that count, and Mr Justice Holroyd directed the jury to find the prisoner not guilty of rape, which they did." At the time, did English law not permit the judge simply to throw out the charge? Nyttend (talk) 19:50, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

Not in the way you mean. The prisoner (once an indictment had been preferred by the grand jury) is being tried by the jury (not the judge), and only the jury can pronounce the verdict. The judge may (as in this case) direct an acquittal - see No case to answer - and various judges over the years have attempted (and failed) to direct convictions, but the actual verdict has always been the jury's responsibility. Tevildo (talk) 12:50, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
Is this a difference between the English/Welsh system and the American one? I thought it was the case in the United States, at least in some jurisdictions, it was possible for the judge to enter a verdict of not guilty even after the jury returned a guilty verdict, and also that the judge could ordinarily simply dismiss the case for lack of evidence. If you're the defendant, though, the best scenario is the one where the judge directs a not-guilty verdict, because it can't be appealed, whereas a dismissed case might sometimes be refiled if the prosecution discovers new evidence or a higher court overrules the dismissal, and I seem to recall that a judge's overruling the jury's finding can also be appealed. But I'm not at all sure of any of this so clarification is welcome. --Trovatore (talk) 21:15, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
See directed verdict and Judgment as a matter of law for our articles on the US position. This is not the same as in England and Wales - an unsafe jury conviction can only be overturned by the Court of Appeal, not the trial judge. Since 2003, acquittals for more serious offences can be appealed by the DPP if "new and compelling evidence" is found. In 1818, there was no formal system for criminal appeal - unsafe convictions could be overturned by the King (or, in practice, the Home Secretary) as an exercise of the Royal Prerogative, but this was an action of the executive rather than the judiciary. Tevildo (talk) 22:37, 2 May 2015 (UTC)

Article title question[edit]

I would like to find out, if possible, the title of an article I read on Wikipedia some time ago, but I have since forgotten. It is a supernatural story about a man waking up in an environment which is not precisely identified in the story, but it is assumed to be a city. The man doesn't know who he is or what he is doing there and walks obesrving his surroundings. In the end it turns out that the place may be a cemetery and he may also be dead. The name of the city sounds morbid but I don't recall it. If anyone has any idea what the title of the story may be please let me know. Thank you. Δρ.Κ. λόγοςπράξις 20:06, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

Sounds something like the plot of the Elegy episode of the original Twilight Zone. ("Happy Glades" was the name of the cemetery.) StuRat (talk) 20:40, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
Thank you StuRat. It was not related to that Twilight Zone episode and there was no high-tech component like astronauts. It was actually more like a medieval setting and the actual name of the city sounded like a modified word reminiscent of something morbid. Δρ.Κ. λόγοςπράξις 20:49, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
These kind of partial rememberings can sometimes be solved by pouring over lists at TV Tropes - for example YouWakeUpInARoom or WakingUpAtTheMorgue. In fairness, you probably won't ever find what you're looking for, but you'll be lost in the TV Tropes hall of mirrors forever, which might be better than the (perhaps actually quite bad) thing you're vaguely recalling. -- Finlay McWalterTalk 21:00, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
Thank you Finlay. That's too bad I guess. I thought it was a well-known story, but it appears I was mistaken. The article was about a story of the folklore, not a film of any kind. Δρ.Κ. λόγοςπράξις 21:14, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
You could try looking through Category:Science fiction novels or Category:Horror novels to see if anything rings a bell. There are quite a lot though.--Shantavira|feed me 09:11, 2 May 2015 (UTC)

Judges with 'Ag' after name[edit]

Why do some people have [Ag.] after their name in the Caribbean leagl system? See eg http://www.eccourts.org/olvin-jn-baptiste-v-inspector-peter-ermay-ag/

Thanks 87.114.38.61 (talk) 22:03, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

The default interpretation would be an abbreviation for "acting". But that would normally appear slightly before or after the name of the office, not the name of the person, thus: Ag. Inspector Peter Ermay, or Inspector (Ag.) Peter Ermay. Also, while possible, it seems unlikely that an acting inspector would be appearing before an acting chief justice and an acting judge of appeal. I feel I'm wrong about this being an abbreviation, but that's all I got. I doubt it's short for "Attorney General". -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 22:40, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
Just curious. Why is there a "g" in the abbrev for acting ? StuRat (talk) 23:27, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
Well, the obvious guess would be it's from the Latin for "acting", which I believe would be agens. However, I've just checked a bunch of online dictionaries and other web site and have found no support at all for this, only other people asking about it: for example, here. But on Australian web sites I found two lists of abbreviations which both include this but with the spelling "A/g", as if it stood for a two-word phrase. --174.88.134.161 (talk) 00:04, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
Agree that it could be acting. Compare Albert Redhead - http://www.eccourts.org/montserrat/ and http://www.thestkittsnevisobserver.com/2011/01/14/high-court-judge.html Nanonic (talk) 23:19, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
Those links do seem to suggest it means "Acting". The abbreviation might just be first and last letter; or might derive from a Latin word formed from ago (act, do) - probably the participle agens which would mean "acting". --ColinFine (talk) 00:11, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
I've been seeing "ag." and "a/g", to mean acting, in Australian contexts for more years than I care to remember. I'm surprised these abbrevs are not more widespread. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 00:29, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
Jack, can you explain what "a/g" might stand for? It seems a very odd abbreviation for agens or any likely inflected form thereof (maybe the ablative absolute would be the right case? that would apparently be agentī). --Trovatore (talk) 23:01, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
I have never mentioned Latin in this thread. These are abbreviations of the English word "acting". I'm not sure why others are complicating matters by introducing an aringus ruber. It's perhaps understandable, though, since "ag." and "a/g" seem to be unknown in the UK, the USA and New Zealand, but are confined to obscure places like Mauritius, Kenya, Belize, the Caribbean and Australia, if the following refs can be believed: [16], [17], [18], [19]. But as I said up front, I'm not at all sure this is the correct explanation.
Another possibility is that, given that "ag" is the internet TLD for Antigua and Barbuda, it may well be a more general abbreviation for that country. The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court covers a number of countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, so that seems a much more likely solution.
But then I see pages like this judgment, where only the latter two of the three justices of appeal listed have "Ag." after their names, and given it includes a full stop (period), that swings my radar back to an abbreviation, so maybe it is "acting" after all. This was a matter involving Montserrat, nothing to do with Antigua and Barbuda.-- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 06:17, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
Oh, you're saying the g is the one from the word "acting"? That possibility had seriously not even occurred to me. Reminds me of Calvin's club GROSS (Get Rid Of Slimy girlS). --Trovatore (talk) 18:59, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
That's how I've always understood it, yes. As I said above, "ag." and "a/g" have been widely used in Oz forever, and until now it never occurred to me that they're virtually unknown in the other major anglophone countries. I've never seen anything (till now) to suggest the g derives from something Latin, but then, I've never seen any actual etymological exegeses of these abbrevs at all. It's hard to search for, as you might expect. I do agree that the form is somewhat unorthodox, but when you've seen a thing, like, 10,000 times, you sort of stop noticing that. My hunch (and that's all it is) is that the "a/g" form is a relative of the military form "A/" or "A./" (as in "A/Sergeant-Major" for "Acting Sergeant-Major"). Maybe they included the g in these forms to distinguish them from "assistant" or some other word. Such collocations do occur in the temples of bureaucracy: "Acting Assistant Deputy Under-Secretary". (I'm reminded of Ray Bolger's character's title in April in Paris (film): "Assistant Secretary to the Assistant to the Undersecretary of State, and formerly Assistant Assistant Secretary to the Assistant to the Undersecretary of State".)-- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 22:25, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
The reason I said Latin was an obvious guess was that the original question was in a legal context and of course the law uses a lot of Latin terms, some of them abbreviated. However, if the Australian usage in other contexts is frequent, that's another matter.
I just did a Google Books search on the words "acting", "abbreviated", and "ag". I didn't find any hits explaining the abbreviation, whcih is what I was looking for, but I did find a couple where the context was African rather Australian. One was Abraham Esau's War: A Black South African War in the Cape, 1899-1902, where a glossary defines "Ag" as "acting" and the combination "Ag RM" (I don't know what that means) is used repeatedly. I don't know if the author, Bill Nasson is South African or not; the publisher Cambridge University Press. Another hit was A Casebook on the Law of Succession, by W.M. Musyoka; again I don't know the author's nationality, but the publisher is LawAfrica, based in Kenya. Here Ag is used together with abbreviations of judicial titles, e.g. "Ag JA". --174.88.134.161 (talk) 08:58, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Given the context, I can only assume that "Ag RM" means "Acting Regimental Medical Officer" although "RMO" would be a more familiar abbreviation. "RM" usuially means Royal Marines, but it doesn't work in this case. Alansplodge (talk) 18:38, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
The British Army abbreviation seems to be "A." added before the rank; see "Bt. Maj. (A./Lt.-Col.) Archibald Bentley Beauman, D.S.O." [20]. Otherwise in the UK, it is generally spelt out in full as far as I know [21]. The "ag" abbreviation isn't mentioned in our Acting (rank) article. Alansplodge (talk) 22:14, 2 May 2015 (UTC)

Man impaled Greek statue[edit]

I'm reading about Athanasios Diakos, a Greek soldier captured and impaled by the Turks in 1821, which reminds me of another story. As I recall, on a Greek island there is a statue of a man impaled. This man was a criminal, not a hero. It made an impression on me because it was such a horrific way to die. I read the story several years ago and the details are fuzzy, if not completely wrong. I went looking again for this story, but I have not found anything. Are there two such stories, or is there just the one and I am confused? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 50.53.244.141 (talk) 22:18, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

Not an answer, but if you are interested in impaling, you might want to read up on Vlad the Impaler (the inspiration for the Dracula story). StuRat (talk) 22:38, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
Wikipedia has an article titled Impalement. Perhaps it may lead you in the right direction. --Jayron32 23:04, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
  • I suggest you avail yourself of a search of google images. If the statue exists you will be able to pick it out quickly from hundreds of images. Just pick good search terms. μηδείς (talk) 03:45, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
Strong stomach required if you follow this advice (I did). Alansplodge (talk) 00:11, 4 May 2015 (UTC)

May 2[edit]

Hell and Punishment[edit]

Who punishes people in hell? Does God punish people in hell? Does the Devil punish people in hell?

Johngot (talk) 02:38, 2 May 2015 (UTC)

Under which belief system? If you really want to know (instead of merely trying to start a lively discussion, which is NOT what this place is for) read the article titled Hell and follow links from there to learn more. --Jayron32 02:40, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
Under the belief system to which I subscribe, Hell is not a place, but an event that is yet to occur on Earth. This event is a great cleansing, where the unsaved, including Satan are destroyed, by God. Plasmic Physics (talk) 04:49, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
You last edited the article Hell on the 22nd of April. Did you read it at the same time? Nanonic (talk) 02:43, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
If you're Bimbo, it's Betty Boop. If you're there for stealing chickens, the whole graveyard joins in. If you're Pluto (the dog, not the god), a jury of cats. If you're Pluto (the god, not the dog), it's up to you. InedibleHulk (talk) 08:47, May 2, 2015 (UTC)
What if you're a dyslexic god? -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 21:04, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
You win today's Antique Joke Revival award. :) ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 21:12, 2 May 2015 (UTC))
I guess I'd damn you all to EHLL. InedibleHulk (talk) 16:52, May 3, 2015 (UTC)
See Ecclesiastes 9:10.—Wavelength (talk) 18:46, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
In Buddhism and Hinduism (yes, there is a hell in those religions): Folks who were reincarnated for that purpose. These beings are roughly equal to equal to humanity in terms of Karma, slightly more or less depending on tradition.
I beg to differ. Buddhism has no hell - not original pure Buddhism. Hells and Heavens were all created later to please the little people in the suffering populace who were unable to let go of their original teachings of Gods and heaven in their former religions. Karma does NOT mean what you did in a past life. It means what you did immediately prior to your present action. There is no soul, no spirit, no reincarnation - except the fact that your body and mind is contantly reincarnating itself. When talking in a discussion about God, Devil, and Hell, don't bring Buddhism into it, as it is completely irrelevant. You've been reading too much Christmas Humphries. KägeTorä - () (もしもし!) 11:58, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
In Christianity: Some popular medieval and renaissance commentaries liked the imagery of fallen angels inflicting relevant punishments, but hell in the Bible and in theology tends to be more of an environmental or existential hazard than a place where certain beings actively punish people. Meister Eckhart seemed to describe the warmth of God's love and the fires of hell as the same thing just perceived differently (burning away one's sins or burning away one's attachments). C. S. Lewis leaned toward self-inflicted (if not self-enforced) punishment. The verse in Ecclesiastes referenced by Wavelength calls back to an older tradition: that "hell" is mostly the realm of the dead, which is just full of suck rather than active punishment (although Sarte was an atheist, think of his quote "Hell is other people"). The fire and brimstone punishment place would be Gehenna, where only major dicks like Hitler would go, and that's still more of an environmental hazard than active torture by an outside agent.
In Gnosticism: We're already here, and are either being punished or tested by the archons (lion-headed serpents or worms that are the spirits of the seven classical planets).
In Islam: Angels appointed by God for the purpose of punishing evildoers. Mystical interpretations may vary.
In Judaism: No one, as far as I've found. Sheol and Gehenna may play a part, or "distance from God" may be the explanation, as can reincarnation.
In Scientology: Hell was a movie that Xenu brainwashed a bunch of dead aliens with billions of years ago, which now inhabit your body. Finding out that these aliens exist and how to get rid of them costs a ton of money. Ian.thomson (talk) 21:26, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
Maybe that's why I can't get "You Should Be Dancin'" out of my head. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 21:44, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
There are many religions, like neopagan revivals and (some think) early Judaism, hell wasn't and isn't a punishment, because everyone goes there. In most of the older forms of Christianity, the demons do the punishment. There is some question in some forms of Christianity exactly when the damned arrive at Hell. Some think it isn't until after the Last Judgment, pretty much the same time that the demons themselves are permanently sent to Hell, some think earlier. The basic idea about what happens after the Last Judgment in Christianity is that the damned humans and angels all are at least in Hell then, and the fallen angels, probably having more power, can make it more painful for the less powerful dead humans. But it is generally agreed that, at least in most forms of Christianity, God does not actively punish those in hell, although their being separated from his presence is a form of passive punishment. In the majority of the branches of Christianity, it is the demons of hell who both punish the humans and, to an extent, each other. In non-Christian religions, well, they vary a lot on this matter. John Carter (talk) 22:20, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
This depends on whatever particular work of fiction you're following. Also, this should be in Entertainment, as it's a (poorly specified) literature question. 82.21.7.184 (talk) 23:24, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
Literature is normally part of the Humanities topic. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 00:04, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
In Roman Catholisism in which I was brought up and have not subscribed to for a long time, Hell was quite clearly the place where the Devil and his demons poked you with pitch forks and fire brands for eternity. Vespine (talk) 04:22, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
And of course, after a few days or weeks of this treatment, you would soon get used to it. Like a heavy cold or a fungal infection - it just gets bad, and then just stays bad, not getting any worse, so you learn to live with it. Eternity is a long time. What I would like to know is how they make duplicates of the bodies that are just buried/cremated for all of this poking. And why is it considered taboo amongst S&M followers? KägeTorä - () (もしもし!) 11:44, 4 May 2015 (UTC)

versus symbol[edit]

Is there a symbol for versus? (I haven't posted this on the math desk but i hope someone will look at this.)96.52.0.249 (talk) 05:56, 2 May 2015 (UTC)

Your question is broad, though your parenthetical remark indicates that it has to do with mathematics. In law, the common abbreviation is "v." See Case citation. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 06:15, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
In sports, the common abbreviation is "vs." here is the word at Oxford dictionaries, and here is a nice explanation of how to use which abbreviation. --Jayron32 14:16, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
See wikt:versus.—Wavelength (talk) 15:50, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
The above answers relate to abbreviations, but the question asked for a symbol. If there was a symbol you would expect to find it in the gigantic Unicode character set. Here is the list of all characters in the current version of Unicode, including both their official Unicode names as well as alternate names they are known by (marked with "="). The only character with a name or alternate name using the word "versus" is character 1F19A. If your computer can display it, you'll see it here: 🆚. If not, you can see it on this code chart. It simply consists of the letters VS with a square around them, and in fact its official Unicode name is "SQUARED VS". --174.88.134.161 (talk) 19:03, 2 May 2015 (UTC)
That's a stylized "vs" but it's still a "vs". ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 21:19, 2 May 2015 (UTC)

Partwork magazines[edit]

Hi all, do you know if there is a link on the internet where I can find a list of all or most partwork magazines released since 2000; I'm hoping to get some cheap on ebay. European magazines, please if possible --Andrew 18:13, 2 May 2015 (UTC)

(for potential answerers, see partwork. 184.147.117.34 (talk) 17:33, 3 May 2015 (UTC))

May 3[edit]

Request for debate[edit]

What was Highland Homes history back in 1946 502 W. Highland Ave Phx. Az 85013[edit]

+ I would like to fine out the history about Highland Homes back in 1946. Was it a Air Force, or maybe pow camp,or army barracks?70.190.231.174 (talk) 12:04, 3 May 2015 (UTC)

I don't know, but Lindsey Balinkie seems to lead a neighbourhood group that aims to "share information about the community". Might not hurt to send her an e-mail. InedibleHulk (talk) 16:49, May 3, 2015 (UTC)
The subdivision is called the "Pierson Place Historic District" - according to their website, the area has been residential since 1929. "We are not the largest historic district, not the oldest, nor do we have the cachet of some, but we offer a great place to live near the resources of our large metropolitan area". Tevildo (talk) 17:11, 3 May 2015 (UTC)

Politics in England[edit]

Does UKIP have any objectively racist policies? I had a skim through their election manifesto and couldn't find anything that fits the dictionary definition of racism, and yet everyone says they are racist. — Preceding unsigned comment added by JordenGorne (talkcontribs) 18:36, 3 May 2015 (UTC)

Well, their anti-immigration position can be construed as being racist - see, for example, this letter which appears on the front page of their website, with (presumably) their full endorsement of the views it expresses ("I am therefore not racist, but..."). See also Godfrey Bloom, whose remarks, using the term "Bongo Bongo Land", were described as "crude stereotypes that see Britain as a civilised place and overseas as tribal" by a spokesman for Show Racism the Red Card. Although he has admittedly been dismissed from the party. Tevildo (talk) 19:46, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
@Tevildo: Please redact or rephrase the latter part of your reply. Per BLP policies you shouldnt be using the Reference desk to accuse a living politician of being racist. Bosstopher (talk) 19:52, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
Sourcing added. Tevildo (talk) 20:02, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
Thank you Bosstopher (talk) 20:13, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
Basically what Tevildo says, none of their policies are "objectively racist" in a Jim Crowe sort of way, but their immigration policies are considered racist by some, or pandering to racists. Also quite a few members have gotten in trouble for making remarks that have been viewed as racist.Bosstopher (talk) 20:13, 3 May 2015 (UTC)
  • Playing the race card is really slimy innuendo. Should we take seriously a question that asked how many labour supporters smoke crack when they cottage, and how many tories are supporting the children of their former aupairs? Is there some reason not to google UKIP to find to their manifesto and read it, and judge for one's own? μηδείς (talk) 03:39, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
The OP did say they've skimmed the manifesto and turned up nothing. He reports that "everyone" says they're racist, yet he can't find any evidence that that is in fact the case. That seems like the opposite of innuendo to me. If people are never allowed to ask questions that have anything to do with racism, then PC has gone way too far. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 06:15, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Oh Medy, if you'd actually read the OP's post, that's exactly what they've done. UKIP is clever enough not to outright state their racism in their manifesto of course. Also, loving that Americans want to correct British posters about British politics (well, not so much politics as scaremongering and lying in UKIP's case, but I digress). Fgf10 (talk) 08:15, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
I would draw Medies' attention to the following passages from the manifesto:
  • Page 16: "The NHS is the National Health Service, not the International Health Service."
  • Page 23: "Our common sense approach to benefits includes [...] Ending welfare tourism with a five-year ban on benefits for migrants."
  • Page 31: "We will support and fund free schools, provided they are open to the whole local community, uphold British values and do not discriminate against any section of society." [Emphasis added].
  • Page 34: "We will not allow non-British nationals access to the Right to Buy or Help to Buy schemes."
  • Page 41: "Allow British businesses to choose to employ British citizens first."
  • Page 47: "[W]e can insist animal products are labelled to show the country of origin, method of production and transport and whether the animal was stunned before slaughter". [Emphasis added].
  • Page 53: "Truly horrific, tragic crimes have been committed in Britain by foreign criminals with long records in their home countries and petty criminality has risen as gangs of thieves, pickpockets and scammers have arrived from overseas to target the UK."
  • Page 55: "We will adopt a zero tolerance approach to cultural practices that are either illegal or which conflict with British values and customs". [Emphasis added]
  • Page 59: "Make the setting up of a traveller pitch without permission illegal."
  • Page 61 passim. Particularly, "UKIP will promote a unifying British culture", "We reject multiculturalism", "those faiths and beliefs must exist firmly within a British framework".
  • Page 67: "But the fight with and against this ideology [Islamic extremism] is not best fought on a battlefield 3,000 miles away, but at home".
Now, those statments may not be "objectively racist". The electorate will decide on Thursday whether or not to endorse them. Tevildo (talk) 10:15, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Thanks. Dog-whistle_politics may also be informative (oops, I see now RomanSpa linked this already with a different pipe. But it's worth linking again for emphasis). SemanticMantis (talk) 14:01, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
  • The key thing to understand about UKIP is that they speak in code. Sometimes the code is fairly obvious - their remarks about "NHS tourists", particularly their recent remarks about people with HIV - were fairly clearly aimed at black people (as well as helpfully reminding their audience about "disease-ridden homosexuals"). Other times the code is much more subtle - their advocacy of "British culture" really means "white lower-middle-class culture", but you have to dig through a lot of verbiage before the pattern becomes clear. They have been, and continue to be, very clever in not saying anything overtly racist, but it's clear to any Briton what they mean: British people use English with a great deal of careful circumlocution, because we don't like to be seen as rude, but we can all understand the code perfectly well. Basically, UKIP is the genteel lower-middle-class wing of the BNP. RomanSpa (talk) 10:44, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
No doubt some or even most UKIP supporters are racist, but isn't it more accurate to describe their ideology as xenophobic? Apparently UKIP is attracting some support among black people in Britain who share its xenophobic perspective: [22] [23] Marco polo (talk) 14:07, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
What utter bollocks. Speaking in code means the leftist has psychic powers to detect racism in his enemies, again, an adjuvant of the race card. Wanting to cut social spending or limit immigration may affect different races (you know, race, that concept leftists say is unscientific, unless they have need to call someone names) but unless the law says spending only on blacks will be cut or only Indians will be kept out of the country there is nothing racist about a law applied equally regardless of race. μηδείς (talk) 19:37, 4 May 2015 (UTC)

May 4[edit]

How do I open a manhole?[edit]

How can a manhole be opened? How deep is it? How does one descend down safely? Will it stink? Is there a way to find out about the underground sewers without getting myself dirty? 140.254.70.33 (talk) 16:40, 4 May 2015 (UTC)

See manhole. --Jayron32 17:15, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Not mentioned in our article, but you need a manhole key - they come in different sizes. Failing that, they can usually be levered open with the aid of a large screwdriver and a garden spade (blimey, we're really stretching the definition of "humanities" here aren't we?). Alansplodge (talk) 17:47, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
  • In the interest and spirit of sexual equality, should we not refer to them a Person-Holes?--Aspro (talk) 17:58, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
In the UK, there was some movement towards "inspection cover" for that reason, but "manhole" remains in widespread use, even by local government, formerly in the vanguard of political correctness. [24] Alansplodge (talk) 18:18, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
There may be laws or ordinances in your jurisdiction limiting access to sewers to authorized personnel. If so, you risk arrest or a fine if you enter a manhole. There are easier ways to find out about your sewer system. Contact your local public works or public utilities department. They may be able to answer any questions, and they may have publications that would interest you. Your IP address suggests that you are in Columbus, Ohio. If so, here is the relevant link: [25] Marco polo (talk) 18:02, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Here is "Living in the Sewers of Colombia". Bus stop (talk) 18:15, 4 May 2015 (UTC)

Why are human beings so unpredictable?[edit]

Although it would be nice to do an experiment to ascertain the cause and effect of a phenomenon, sometimes it seems that correlational studies may be easier, even though they don't provide much information beyond a correlation and may even be misleading due to a third unknown variable. Plus, scientists have to do a debriefing after deceiving for ethical purposes, which may imply that participants can intentionally go against the expected results instead of acting spontaneously like in a real-world situation. Why can't humans be more predictable and consistent in their behavior? 140.254.70.33 (talk) 17:01, 4 May 2015 (UTC)

Sapience, Sentience, consciousness, self-awareness, cognition, etc. --Jayron32 17:14, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Free will, Volition_(psychology). SemanticMantis (talk) 17:24, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
As far as evolution, game theory may figure in. That is, if you were totally predictable then other humans could take advantage of this. For a simple example, consider if you played poker "straight". That is, no bluffing, with each bet proportional to your hand. The other players would know approximately how good your hand was, and beat you consistently, if they could continue to bluff. So, you'd soon lose all your money due to this "consistency" gene. StuRat (talk) 18:14, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
There's a movie about that. See The Invention of Lying. --Jayron32 18:15, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Or Liar Liar. StuRat (talk) 18:44, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Perhaps the reason that they appear unpredictable is that one has not taken the time to get to know them properly? Star Lord - 星王 (talk) 18:51, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
  • If humans were predictable psychopaths could manipulate them. μηδείς (talk) 19:20, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Humans are very predictable and its not just psychopaths that do manipulating. I think what you are talking about is why are they not more logical - but that assumes you know what would be more logical and that requires quite a bit of work to tease out Dmcq (talk) 20:30, 4 May 2015 (UTC)

Traffic Lights - Red, Yellow, and GO![edit]

Are traffic lights programmed to switch between green and red lights at different set times of the day? How do traffic lights keep all the vehicles orderly? How do pedestrian buttons (the buttons that you press to cross the street) interfere or interact with the flow of traffic lights? Are there hidden cameras in the traffic lights to catch speeding motor vehicles or to adjust to the traffic on the road? If a traffic light is broken, what type of person maintains the traffic light? 140.254.136.157 (talk) 18:28, 4 May 2015 (UTC)

Have you seen our Traffic lights article? --TammyMoet (talk) 18:36, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
If a flashing yellow light means "proceed with caution", what does a green light mean ? "Proceed with reckless abandon" ? StuRat (talk) 18:38, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
The variation on this that I grew up with is "green means go" "yellow means go like hell" MarnetteD|Talk 18:41, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Major roads tend to be timed to assist the traffic pattern, while smaller roads may not be. As for where smaller roads meet major roads, there they may wait until a car is detected on the small road, then wait for the next opportunity to turn the light green without interrupting the pattern on the main road. StuRat (talk) 18:42, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
The big change where I live was computerization of the traffic light grid. Before that the lights were timed the same 24 hours a day - now they are timed one way during most of the day but from 12 am to 6am they can be very different. MarnetteD|Talk 18:45, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Useful information. 140.254.136.157 (talk) 18:48, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
  • I don't drive much, but in my parents' town there are two noticeable patterns. During high traffic periods, the signals are timed longer to allow traffic at a standstill to accelerate, and left turn signals are activated separately from general green lights to accommodate more left-hand turning traffic that would otherwise never get across the oncoming traffic. At night the left turn signals don't activate. Also, sensors in the pavement detect whether a lane has traffic. This is a problem at one intersection where they put the sensor too far forward, and if the first car in the left turning lane doesn't pull all the way forward (basically with his nose in the highway) the light will not activate, even if there are twelve cars waiting to turn. Many signals at night simply won't change to allow traffic from smaller roads to enter the highways unless there's pressure from a car on the sensor at the light. Hence pedestrians have to push a button on the light pole if they wish to cross, or they will stand there until a car comes. μηδείς (talk) 19:30, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
You will sometimes see a person get off of his/her motorcycle and walk over and press the pedestrian button, for just this reason (either because the bike is not heavy enough, or large enough to trigger the automatic switch). The article above suggests that some of the switches respond to weight, while others, a magnetic field. Llamabr (talk) 20:37, 4 May 2015 (UTC)