Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2007 June 7

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June 7[edit]

New Mexico State Penitentiary[edit]

Does anybody have any idea how old the New Mexico State Penitentiary is? There is very little information considering that it was the location of a big prison riot. Thank you in advance.

From this website, it appears that the main unit was opened in 1956. --Tλε Rαnδоm Eδιτоr 01:18, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

Thanks a lot.

Tsunami affecting Vivekananda Rock Memorial[edit]

how did tsunami 2006 effected vivekananda rock memorial situated at kanya kumari and what is the present situation of that place...?????

There are links to a news report and video here: [1].—eric 06:37, 7 June 2007 (UTC)


Finnegans Wake[edit]

Hi again! I started reading Finnegans Wake this afternoon (so far we're tripping along together pretty pleasantly, like lovers in a country dance) and I was wondering if you can recommend any other beautifully nonsensical poetic narratives. Are there any books aside from this one anywhere in the world that have done away with plot and other uninteresting constraints and attempted to craft a work of literature based purely on the loveliness of the language? I understand that Nabokov and Pynchon have come close to doing this. It's difficult trying to find literature that's consistently as elegant as Shakespeare, or Keats, or even Ray Bradbury, really.

On an unrelated note, can you recommend any fantastic social comedies? My criteria for good social comedy (or even tragedy, for that matter - Socrates said they're the same) tends to involve well-constructed situations and unusual relationships between different sorts of people. (For instance, Shakespeare - especially during the middle period - or the television series The Office.) I asked this once before but no one could think of anything. I'm looking for a certain kind of "infinite reflectivity" - in which the various characters all portray a symmetry / series of interrelationships / parallelism, and loads of irony.

Thanks for all your help! I'll be happy with whatever you can give. - MelancholyDanish

I take it you have read Ulysses? You might also want to look at The Street of Crocodiles and Sanatorium under the Sign of the Hour Glass by the wonderful Bruno Schultz I would also recommend anything by Malcolm Lowry, particularly Under the Volcano. I suppose I should also mention One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, since that would seem to fit in with what you are looking for, though personally it leaves me quite cold. Happy reading! Clio the Muse 08:11, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
Try the Symphonies of Andrey Bely if you read Russian. It is all verbal music and almost no plot at all. I'd describe some of the earlier, more poetic novels by Robbe-Grillet as "beautifully nonsensical poetic narratives", although many would disagree. I fail to see anything nonsensical about Nabokov, however. I'm not sure that I understand the second half of your question. Olesha's Envy, Bulgakov's Ivan Vasilievich, Gogol's The Nose and many short stories by H. G. Wells qualify as "fantastic social comedies". --Ghirla-трёп- 09:41, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
Oh, shoot, someone might as well mention the picaresque. Apulieus's The Golden Ass is the general starting point, but check out Gil Blas and Tobias Smollett's very interesting Humphry Clinker (note that it's "Humphry" and not "Humphrey"). Utgard Loki 13:01, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
Try Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. Avoid Anthony Burgess's Napoleon Symphony, a pretentious (and failed) attempt to make Beethoven's Eroica Symphony into literature. ObiterDicta ( pleadingserrataappeals ) 19:54, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
Napoleon Symphony may well be pretentious, and fail in it's attempt to make the Eroica into literature, but it is also a rattling good readDuncanHill 00:01, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
Ah, the "musical novel!" Who was it who wrote that study of Tristram Shandy that tried to make the case that it should be understood as a musical arrangement? An interesting insight (and Sterne seems to tell us to do it in the third part), but it gets pushed too far pretty quickly. (No doubt my favorite novel, if A Tale of a Tub is not a novel, and my second favorite if it is.) Geogre 00:52, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
Thank you for all of your suggestions so far! I've already checked out a few. Perhaps this will help to clarify my original question a bit with some better chosen examples: I was reading through Joyce and I came across this wonderful line, "A word as cunningly hidden in its maze of confused drapery as a fieldmouse in a nest of coloured ribbons." And then towards the end of "Titus Groan" by Mervyn Peake, one of the characters (who has been slowly going insane for most of the book) thinks to himself, “And there will be a darkness always and no other colour and the lights will be stifled away and the noises of my mind strangled among the thick soft plumes...” and another character thinks, "There is something very unhealthy about this by all that's bursting into flower in an April dell there is..." I like this sort of unrestrained lyricism, which is rich in metaphors and rhythm and poetic device and heedless of the need for plot or anything but the riches of its images and sounds (Bradbury is especially good at such things), and possibly experimental as well in the form of new words and modes of thought (who else but Joyce has invented words like "tumblerous" or "showeradown" or phrases such as "a rude breathing on the void of to be"?). But apart from the writers already mentioned I don't know where to look. Where is the ee cummings of prose? And what is this style's name? - MelancholyDanish
Well, Titus Groan is pretty outstanding. He tosses off more profound images in a page than most in a book ("as disused as an unloved heart"). E.M.Forster has fantastic passages in Howards End as well. I think that's where the fog is described as stalking around like an excluded ghost. However, for the hardcore lyricism, I'd recommend Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel, Vladimir Nabakov's Pale Fire, and Jean Toomer's Cane. Each author's lyricism is in a different movement, but it's simply powerful prose. We all treasure these gems when we find them. Note that not all of these are necessarily great novels. Wolfe, for example, is so poetic that his novel perhaps fails to function. Toomer is magical, but it may not function very powerfully as a story. Nevertheless, these three should send you over the moon. Geogre 00:50, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, I'm in the middle of Wolfe's Of Time and the River at the moment... really, given the setup and his use of language, it should be the perfect novel, but he spends thirty pages on an irrelevant conversation about politics and then another three pages trying to recreate the noise of the train. There's something indefinably wrong about it, as much as I would love to love a book like this. I'm finding Finnegans Wake more enjoyable reading. - MelancholyDanish

I've never had the guts to attempt to read it, but I'm told that Marcel Proust devotes 30 pages in In Search of Lost Time explaining his decision to turn over in bed. If that's not doing away with the plot, it must come a close second. -- JackofOz 02:20, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

May I suggest Joyce's compatriot, the wonderful Flann O'Brian . At Swim Two Birds is described by Graham Greene as "a book in a thousand..in the line of Tristram Shandy and Ulysses" but I recommend The Third Policeman first. Mhicaoidh 09:56, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

I love At Swim-Two-Birds, but its prose is far more Swiftian and straightforward than anything like the lyrical flights of Joyce in "The Dead." It's fantastic, head-opening metafiction, but it's not really lyrical. (I totally disagree about The Third Policeman, though, as I found that really quotidian.) O'Brien, I think, has Joyce as his Parnassus and Swift as his pathway. Utgard Loki 12:46, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
"quotidian" Utgard? you must lead an extraordinary daily life! ; ) but I take your point regarding the language Mhicaoidh 23:48, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

Sounds like someone's in need of some Gertrude Stein!! I would steer clear (for your purposes) of her more accessible work like The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and its sequel Everybody's Autobiography. Head straight to her more impenetrable, endlessly playful stuff like The Making of Americans. There's something very robotic and alien about the way she deconstructs prose and poetry (her writing is not elegant like that of Joyce), but I find her work still delights in small doses.--The Fat Man Who Never Came Back 13:07, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

Is that where "Lifting Belly" comes from? (Read that. Playful it might be. Pretty, it wasn't.) Utgard Loki 17:45, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

Why do we humans have consciousness at all? (argued from an evolutionary perspective)[edit]

Why is it necessary that we have a consciousness and make experiences? Was that an evolutionary advantage? - Wouldn't it have been enough to be like a machine/computer? E.g. instead of feeling being hurt, there would simply be sent a signal to the brain that something is not in order. And the brain would respond to this in the same way as if it would have felt that the human body was hurt. Was consciousness maybe an 'unintended' by product of the brain? The brain being deviced to survive in this world. And its processes creating by the way a stream of consciousness ...? This very special thing which we can't trace by means of material utilities. 84.75.161.211 07:28, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

I'm no expert, but it seems to me that being aware of our mental processes gives us a degree of foresight and is very useful in learning complex tasks. If we weren't conscious, we'd find it hard to learn tasks that didn't have an immediate, tangible result. After watching someone else take a piece of flint, hit it with a rock, break a piece off and be left with a useful sharp edge, I imitate him and get the same result. Intelligence but no consciousness required. To make an iron blade I need to find iron ore, dig it up, find the materials needed to make a very hot fire and tools to enable me to manipulate the ore in the immense heat, smelt the ore into iron in the fire, shape it, beat one edge of it very thin, cool it, grind the edge to make it sharper. The sequence of tasks is too complicated to learn by observation and imitation or by trial and error - I have to understand the purpose of each action in producing my intended goal. I need to be conscious. Similarly, when you learn to drive, you're conscious of every action you take, but once you've been driving for a while you do it "without thinking" - not really without thinking, you're still performing the same mental processes, just not consciously. --Nicknack009 08:11, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
I don't see how consciousness, whatever it be, would help us, as you say, learn complex tasks better. I am assuming that you are assuming that only humans have consciousness, so animals and computers wouldn't have it. But I can imagine a computer doing all those tasks that you talk about. I guess "understanding the purpose of each action in producing your intended goal" is what you call consciousness. But, how do you define "to understand"? A.Z. 18:55, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
The Chinese room thought experiment touches upon some of these issues. -- Diletante 21:51, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
Incredibly, the google search "evolutionary advantage of consciousness" returns several promising results. Anchoress 08:15, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
Having read quite few books and articles dedicated to this question, I can report that I did not find a satisfactory answer – satisfactory to me, that is, although several authors apparently felt they had given the definite answer (ususally quite incompatible with the other answers). Among the many answers, one was that consciousness is an illusion (we just think we are conscious and experience things, but actually we don't), and another that it was an accidental, unintended, and quite useless side-effect of the evolutionarily advantageous capability of self-reflection. One problem in even discussing the issue is to define the terms and notions used. Is "awareness" the same as "consciousness"? Is "self-awareness" more than ordinary awareness in which part of the world the entity is aware of is labelled "self"? How do we know we are not like a machine? (See Problem of other minds.) Put conversely, how can we be so sure machines are not more "like us" than we think they are? Can a computer be bored? If not, why not? Erwin Schrödinger, of Schrödinger equation fame, speculates in his essay What is Life? that individual consciousness is only a manifestation of a unitary consciousness pervading the universe. If he was right – but how could we possibly tell? – then the question remains: why does a unitary consciousness pervade the universe? But perhaps we should first answer the question: why does anything exist at all? See further Cosmic consciousness, Philosophy of mind, Mind-body dichotomy, Thomas Nagel#Philosophy of mind, Consciousness Explained, and The Mind's I: Fantasies and reflections on self and soul. The latter book is a recommended read.  --LambiamTalk 11:07, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
Lamibain gives a good answer, and I was about to wikilink to some of the same articles. The problem is that we don't conciousness is, and I don't think science is anywhere near being able to define it. (Nagel is skeptical that science will ever be able to capture the subjective quality of conciousness.) This makes it especially hard to do higher order speculation about why conciousness is good or evolutionary fit. -- Diletante 21:39, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
The Google searches "why does anything exist at all" and "why does something exist instead of nothing" provide answers such as:
  • "Nobody knows. And yet the answer is obvious. The First Cause must be obvious. It has to be obvious to Nothing, present in the absence of anything else, a substance formed from -blank-, a conclusion derived without data or initial assumptions"
  • "Leibniz answered this question by arguing that something exists rather than nothing because a necessary being exists which carries within itself its reason for existence and is the sufficient reason for the existence of all contingent being"
  • "The exegencies of explanatory adequacy led Aristotle and Thomas to argue that the First Cause must also be wholly simple, and immaterial, immutable, and timeless." A.Z. 18:49, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

(outdent) The book Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin has quite a bit of interesting information on emotions, feelings, consciousness, and corresponding brain structures, focusing on humans, cattle, dogs, pigs, and chickens mainly. Apparently the brain structures involved in things like pain, desire, play, anger, etc, are very similar among these different animals. The question being asked above makes a connection between consciousness and "the feeling of being hurt". Grandin explores the function of things like "feeling hurt" (and many other types of emotion common to mammals and other "higher animals") from many angles. One comes away from the book with the sense that cows, dogs, pigs, horses, etc, experience essentially the same feelings as humans. It is possible that non-humans are not conscious of pain and other feelings, but it seems unlikely except in unusual cases (Temple writes a lot about how autism affects feelings and consciousness, sometimes making them stronger, sometimes weaker). The ability of humans to think about feelings and consciousness in symbolic terms (language), probably alters the way we respond to some kinds of feelings. But animals lacking language are not necessarily any less conscious of their feelings. It may well be that the ability to symbolize experiences allows humans to distance themselves from their feelings, becoming less conscious. Temple gives several examples of this kind of thing. In any case, her book makes a good case that the evolutionary roots of consciousness probably go back to at least the common ancestors of all mammals, and probably quite a bit before that. Pfly 19:41, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

Consciousness could also be a negative byproduct of some other development. - MSTCrow 21:24, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

Behaviorism in its most extreme form claimed that thought was just internal speech. John B. Watson claimed that it involved small movements of the vocal apparatus, and electrical recordings from the throat showed there is speech-like muscle activity while people are "thinking." Deaf-mutes who use sign language were observed to make small hand movements while thinking. [2] The crucial experiment would be to give someone curare so they could not move a muscle, and afterwards (when a respirator had kept them going until the paralyzing agen wore off) determine if they had done any thinking while paralyzed. This experiment was done in 1946[3] and the subject saw and heard everything that happened while he was completely paralyzed. On the other side,I have noticed that the richness of the internal memory of a musical selection is decreased when movement of the voice box is voluntarily stilled. Some people also clearly subvocalize while remembering, problem solving, preparing an utterance, or reading, and it may in some way facilitate the process. Some have argued that thought is an epiphenomenon, which occurs as the brain carries out its business, but which does not have a causal role. I have noticed that when on a TV show someone says my (real life) last name, I startle before I consciously perceive that my name had been said. Cognitive psychologists of recent decades have pretty clearly seen a role of thought and consciousness in behavior: you can hear a series of nonsense words many times without learninf them, but if you consciously try to learn them the retention is much greater. In human information processing theory, consciousness has been associated with the efficient use of our limited immediate memory, in which we can hold only 5 to 7 things we see or hear, to be remembered or to be used as the basis for a reaction-time response. Edison 22:58, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
In addition to all this, let me just point out two more books that might interest you and that are both pleasantly accessible:
  • Nicholas Humphrey: History of the Mind: Evolution and the Birth of Consciousness Chatton & Windus, London, 1992, ISBN 0-70-113995-1. A book arguing that the evolution of consciousness is linked to social intelligence. Simply argued, that consciousness emerged enabling us to use our minds as models for other members of our species, and to question our own emotions and thoughts, imagining how we would behave in a hypothetical situation. A simple thought, Humphrey calls it boring. A fascinating read.
  • Steven Mithen: The Prehistory of the Mind: A Search for the Origins of Art, Religion and Science Thames & Hudson Ltd, London, 1996, ISBN 0-75380-204. Mithen approaches Humphrey's and other notable evolutionary cognitive theories from a palaeoanthropological point of view, comparing what has been dug up in the digs with what has been thought up in the think tanks and ivory towers.
---Sluzzelin talk 01:23, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

To address the point of the question, we humans have consciousness for no particular reason except that it is something that has developed through evolution and has come in useful in the short term. However it is yet to be seen if intelligence is a long term evolutionary advantage, we may well become extinct. Time will tell Mhicaoidh 08:57, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

Can you give a reliable, published source for this claim, or is this just your personal opinion?  --LambiamTalk 10:32, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
Good point, there are numerous texts on the subject as it is a widely accepted view, but we could start with Darwins second book The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex Mhicaoidh 10:45, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

Paul Davies has been asked this before, I think on the documentary series "The Big Questions". He has also dealt with the issue of consciousness at length in his popular science books. He admitted on the doco that we know of no evolutionary advantage in consciousness, that is, self-awareness. It may indeed be wiser for scientists and philosophers to take the idea of the soul a little more seriously. The Mad Echidna 09:30, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

I believe that all sentient creatures have consciousness. The thing that separates humans from the others is that we are (usually) conscious of our consciousness, whereas the others aren't. -- JackofOz 10:21, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
Can you give a reliable, published source for this last claim, or is this just one from among several possible unverifiable beliefs regarding the matter?  --LambiamTalk 10:32, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
The "I believe" applies to my whole post. No, I can't provide a source other than ... my consciousness. In other words, I am conscious that I am consciously aware of my consciousness. And no, I can't source that either, except from ... my consciousness. Et cetera all the way down.  :) -- JackofOz 10:39, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
What, not even a single turtle?  --LambiamTalk 15:25, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
Actually, what I challenged was your claim or belief that "the others aren't". Surely you can't know that by introspection. Quoting from Dr. Darwin's most excellent book referenced above: "But how can we feel sure that an old dog with an excellent memory and some power of imagination, as shewn by his dreams, never reflects on his past pleasures or pains in the chase? And this would be a form of self-consciousness."  --LambiamTalk 15:34, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
Maybe dogs do reflect on their past pleasures, but we don't have any evidence that they do that. Until they acquire language, we won't ever have any evidence. True, this isn't the same thing as saying they don't do such things. -- JackofOz 00:21, 9 June 2007 (UTC)
I don't see how one could be "conscious of consciousness", unless you mean conscious of the idea of consciousness, or a memory of consciousness, which doesn't seem remarkable. Pfly 21:19, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
To be aware is to be aware that one is aware. -- JackofOz 00:21, 9 June 2007 (UTC)
Oh wait! That's the thing humans seem to have much more strongly than other animals: to be aware that one is a "one". Ok, nevermind! Pfly 04:00, 9 June 2007 (UTC)

rape case[edit]

Hello. I just took a look at the DYK, and found this article. I just wonder if that's the usual way to write of a lawsuit on Wikipedia. The article reads like journalism to me (I don't mean journalistic style is a bad thing). Is that appropriate?--K.C. Tang 08:54, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

It's a terrible article whose format goes against the Wikipedia manual of style and desperately needs copyediting. Well-referenced, though. There are cleanup templates you can put on the article page, and/or you can bring up your concerns with other article editors on the article's talkpage. Anchoress 09:09, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
Good grief! It's horrible! DYK hasn't been screening for quality very tightly lately. Shoot, I'd say that's an AfD matter, regardless of the citations. It's written as if a first hand account or some attempt at a novel. Ick! Utgard Loki 17:59, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
There is only one word for it, ugh! --Tλε Rαnδom Eδιτor (ταlκ) 02:52, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

Question about 2006 tsunami and rock memorial[edit]

how did the tsunami 2006 effect vivekananda rock memorial situated at kanyakumari and what is the present situation of the sight? ---Hardik.rindani 09:45, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

The article on the Vivekananda Rock Memorial contains an external link which mentions events related to a 2004 tsunami. Anchoress 09:58, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
And, there's also the answer from the other time you asked the question, a few hours ago. Anchoress 10:12, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
It looks like my reading comprehension was poor when responding to the first question, which must refer to the July 2006 Java earthquake and tsunami and not the one of 2004. Our article does not mention any damage to the coast of India, and i can find no other information. Officials at the Department of Meteorology in Sri Lanka expected a maximum rise of one foot to sea levels, and did not anticipate any damages.[4]eric 18:14, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

Vitamin K fortification in foods[edit]

I'm currently working in the nutriton labeling department at a major food company. I've been asked to research Vitamin K fortification levels in foods. I was having trouble finding anything, as to what ammounts are legal in the U.S., or if it even is allowed. I guess my question succinctly is:

Is Vitamin K fortification for food products allowed in the United States, and if so, to what level? Onetrickbunny 14:35, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

We don't seem to have an article on vitamin fortification and the vitamin article on makes passing reference. Anyone want to start one? Rmhermen 15:14, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
We do have a stub at Food fortification which could link sometime to Nutrient systems. Neither mention vitamin K. Rmhermen 15:22, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
Supplementation with K would be very bad. There are tens of thousands of American citizens taking Coumadin/Warfarin, which is a vitamin-K dependent clotting factor antagonist, and those folks would have their numbers (and lives) imperiled by sneaky K levels. Utgard Loki 15:22, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
Vitamin K is added to U.S. infant formula though: [5] Rmhermen 15:25, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
True, but not many infants are on blood-thinners.... -- MarcoTolo 15:48, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
According to our article on vitamin K, it's added to formula specifically as a pro-thrombolitic agent -- to prevent hemorrhage. It's also stored in fat, so that means that you can overdose on it. Thus, it really does look like a suspicious supplement for healthy populations. Utgard Loki 17:57, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
Vitamin K is listed in the GrokFood database: [6]. I don't know if the references given there answer all your questions, but it is a start.  --LambiamTalk 22:07, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

Software licenses[edit]

Has there ever been a court case where someone was ordered to comply with a software license, even though they pirated the software and thus, presumably, did not agree to the license? --67.185.172.158 23:33, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

In my understanding of it software licenses are essentially copyright licenses; that is, licenses which restrict the use copyrighted material. Pirating the software would, in effect, be the same offense as noncompliance with a license: copyright infringement. So it wouldn't matter. You don't so much "agree" to a license, if I understand it correctly, as acknowledge that you are aware of the terms of the license, which restricts your usage of the copyrighted (or patented) material (the software). But if someone knows more about this, please correct me. --24.147.86.187 01:45, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
At least in the United States, software EULAs go far beyond simply permitting you to use a copyrighted work. A common clause is that you agree not to sue the software developer over problems in the software. Windows Vista includes clauses where you agree to not publish benchmarks of Vista without Microsoft's approval, and you agree to not play DRM-protected media in a virtualized copy of Vista. Have clauses of these sorts ever been enforced on someone who has pirated the software in question? --67.185.172.158 03:42, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
That's could still be a copyright license. The GNU GPL has similar "don't sue me/I'm not liable/there is no warranty" clauses in it. In any case, the enforcibility of EULAs seems to vary a lot by court (EULA#Enforceability); I doubt pirating it would get you out of it. --24.147.86.187 13:50, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

"Blue Henry" in Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain[edit]

Early on in Magic Mountain Frau Stohr mentions another character talking to his "Blue Henry", which was apparantly some indelicate term, but I can't figure out what it means. Does anyone know?

The Blauer Heinrich or Blue Henry was the nickname for a portable pocket-spittoon or saliva receptacle made from blue glass, designed to collect (and later dispose of) the infectuous sputum from tuberculosis patients. The Deutsches Museum website has a picture of the object. As a public health precaution, "spitting promiscuously" in public was discouraged at the time. It's back en vogue where I live, and maybe I should think about handing out Blue Henrys when waiting for the train. ---Sluzzelin talk 02:53, 8 June 2007 (UTC)
I recommend reffering to The Magic Mountain for your answer. --Tλε Rαnδom Eδιτor (ταlκ) 02:51, 8 June 2007 (UTC)