Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2008 May 1

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Humanities desk
< April 30 << Apr | May | Jun >> May 2 >
Welcome to the Wikipedia Humanities Reference Desk Archives
The page you are currently viewing is an archive page. While you can leave answers for any questions shown below, please ask new questions on one of the current reference desk pages.


May 1[edit]

Flags[edit]

If the United Kingdom changes it's flag (eg if Northern Ireland is removed) would countries like Australia, New Zealand change their flags accordingly? What about Hawaii?--Shniken1 (talk) 03:22, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Simple: each country would do whatever its government felt like. --Anonymous, 05:37 UTC, May 1.
'Northern Ireland' isn't in the Union flag; the cross of St. Patrick is (St. Patrick being the patron saint of Ireland); see: Union flag#Since 1801. In the unlikely event of Northern Ireland removing itself from the Union, theoretically the St. Patrick's cross might be removed from the flag but, on the basis that at least some people living in Northern Ireland would still remain British subjects, there would be no great hurry to remove the cross.
The flag itself commemorates the Union as a whole; the constituent parts of the Union - England, Wales, Scotland, and (Northern) Ireland - all have their own flags although <deep sigh> the Ulster banner, representing Northern Ireland, is in some sort of official limbo (the article has been the subject of prolonged edit-warring), and the Welsh dragon or cross of St. David is not represented at all on the Union flag (perhaps because either the pattern wouldn't fit or because Wales is a principality rather than a kingdom). --Major Bonkers (talk) 09:52, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
The non-presence of the Welsh flag is a result of history: while England was united with Scotland and Ireland by Acts of Union, Wales was incorporated into England by conquest. Thus unlike the other parts of the UK, England and Wales share a single legal system and flag. Algebraist 10:24, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
Don't tell anybody where I come from that we share a flag. We are liable to burn down your holiday home. AndyJones (talk) 17:28, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
See Flag of Hawaii. The use of the Union flag is historical there, the dominions may decide to keep theirs the same. Corvus cornixtalk 21:33, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
What dominions?? See Commonwealth realm Mhicaoidh (talk) 09:41, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
I can't keep up with all of these renamings.  :) Corvus cornixtalk 17:56, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

price of oil and value of dollar[edit]

What is the relationship between the price of oil and the value of the dollar? Is part of the increase in oil due to the decline of the dollar? What does this mean for those buying oil in other currencies, such as the euro? --Halcatalyst (talk) 04:03, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Not directly, but indirectly, very likely. Consider the following: The price for a barrel of crude is quoted in dollars. If the value of the dollar falls it has less purchasing power in other countries. If e.g. a sheik wants a boat from France he'll have to sell more oil to pay for that boat or raise the price per barrel. If said sheik invests his hard earned oil dollars in the same currency, then his interest or dividend payments also will buy him fewer goods abroad. Same result. A large portion of the oil price is actually what the oil companies add on. They also buy a lot of their ships, materials, personnel etc. abroad. Guess what, if they have to pay more dollars for them they'll raise their prices. Oil companies are owned by stockholders. Stockholders outside of the US want to buy the same things in their countries as before. They'll ask the company to increase their dividend payouts or they'll sell all their stock and the stock-price of the company will fall. So the company will have to make more profit to pay higher dividends. The price goes up. The oil company will also have borrowed money from banks and investors in other countries. The interest will probably have to be paid in the local currency of that country, i.e. cost more dollars. You know what they'll do to cover the cost increase. Oil companies also build refineries in foreign countries and operate businesses there. They have to pay for materials and wages (and taxes) in the local currency = costs increase with a weaker dollar. Even if our oil company were all local and have non of these costs, their competitor may have their headquarters abroad and need to make more dollars to earn the same amount of Euro. They would be forced to raise their prices. Our oil company would then see that they could make more profit if they raised their prices, too, although they are not forced to. This is a very simplistic view, though. The real market is a lot more complicated. There are things like futures and forwards that distort things. Forex trading also changes the picture. For those who buy oil in other currencies, they get more oil for their Euros because the crude is priced in dollars, until our sheik increases the price. The consumers buy from the oil companies. Although they now get more dollars for what they make in Euros, they also have to pay more Euros for their local organization. It's more likely that they will keep their prices stable or raise them than lower them. Only if there are enough local competitors that sell at lower prices would the oil companies lower their prices. Although the companies in Euroland pay the same or less Euros for their oil, the things that they export to the US are more expensive for consumers there. US consumers will buy fewer of those products. The Euroland companies also get fewer Euros for all their Dollar investments. They'll probably react by raising their prices on the domestic market. The Euroland consumers will want to buy a lot of products from the US because they are cheaper. The companies will pay for the goods in Dollars, but earn Euros. There will be a trade deficit. That affects the value of the Euro to the dollar. Off to the next round. (The real game is a whole lot more convoluted, though) --Lisa4edit (talk) 08:05, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
All true, however the recent increases in oil prices are more directly attributable to issues of supply and demand than to currency fluctuations. Basically there is more demand for oil & petroleum products than there ever has been, and at the same time supply (and refining capacity to a lesser degree) is very tight with little, if any, excess supply to meet that demand. So prices rise. Also important are expectations of future supply and the fact that a lot of oil industry players seem to be accepting that we're getting close to peak oil. AllanHainey (talk) 08:36, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

campaign finance[edit]

These three questions are posted together since they address essentially the same topic of campaign finance.

  1. It makes sense that if the government squelches campaign contributions it has the same effect on voters as squelching does on listener's of audio, i.e., the results are clipped and therefore distorted. As such the voter can not have (a conspiracy?) a clear picture as to whom the candidate truly represents from the list of campaign contributors and the amount each contributes. For this reason shouldn't campaign contributions not be squelched?
  2. Publications which are not promoted, featured or advertised often have poor readership, although some may have high readership as the result of only "word of mouth." Are multi-million dollar campaign expenditures and contributions really necessary?
  3. Candidates may have to spend a lot more to convince me I should spend my time and energy going to the poles to vote for them. What if I could vote online instead of fighting traffic and standing in line? Wouldn't a virtual pole reduce the amount of advertising required to get me to go to a real world pole? --Taxa 05:45, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
Re 3) There is already trouble with electronic voting machines that don't print out a receipt. What would keep a crook from stealing the election. You'd have to make sure that each vote is cast by an actual person of voting age and that person is who they claim to be and you'd have to make sure that that person only casts one vote. Even if you checked social security numbers or passport numbers, what would keep people from casting a vote for s.o. else. How would you keep bright hackers or a malicious big company mogul from cracking the system and faking the results? If you do register ID then a malicious government could later single out voters for the opposition and toss them into prison or worse. "It's hard to make things foolproof because fools are so ingenious." --Lisa4edit (talk) 06:55, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
  • How do you know you can trust the people at the real world poles and the manual system currently in use? What checks and balances against corruption and fraud are there now? Creating a top notch online pole would present the very opportunity necessary to incorporate such checks and balances so that no one has to worry about corruption or fraud.
  • Tokens are often used as a way to assure only one vote per voter, the person voting is not under aged, the person is who they claim to be, that no one else can cast a vote in their place. If you check online forums such as SMF you will find extensive polling and voting mechanisms which are secure and which do not even use tokens.
  • What keeps the rich from using starvation, withholding of medical care and forced exposure to the elements to kill off the poor? --Taxa 08:04, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
Paper ballots can be and often are recounted. There are representatives from both parties present when votes are counted, but still there will always be some degree of cheating. If the losing (or winning) party thinks that there has been an accidental or intentional miscount they can request a recount of the votes. I'm not sure about your top-notch system and how you would ensure that that could not be tampered with. Starting from the progamers and company that develops it down to the individual voters there are more opportunities for holes than in a sieve. If the internet were safe no one would need virus protection software. Are you going to distribute retina scanners or fingerprint readers along with those tokens? Otherwise what's keeping the husband from voting for his wife. The teenager from voting for his parents or his grandma. The postmaster from voting for everyone in the village? Organized crooks from collecting the real token and sending out fake ones? The rich will starve the poor and withhold medical care no matter how votes are cast. Lisa4edit (talk) 08:43, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
BTW polls not poles :-}Lisa4edit (talk) 08:16, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
  • If that were true, "...the rich would live and the poor would die...", Joan Baez.
  • "Poles" and "polls" are used interchangeably. Some prefer to use "pole" when speaking of a long term periodic and legally binding vote or the place for casting your vote where your security concerns are justified and "poll" when speaking of frequent and not legally binding opinion. Hence, voter pole and opinion poll. My question is about changing the voter pole from off line to online.
  • Current off line voting methods do not include or require retina scanners, fingerprint readers, or DNA testing.
  • If you have a bank account are you afraid to access it online? --Taxa 10:07, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
Pole and poll are not used interchangeably. Buy a bloody dictionary. Malcolm XIV (talk) 10:59, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
Or maybe Poles, where irregularities in elections are connected to the bipolar disorder, which, I think, affects all areas in between the two Poles? Mind you, these two Poles have to stand all year long in the freezing weather and turn the little handles which poke out of the ice to ensure that terrestrial rotation is maintained. The aforementioned Polar Disorder has also been connected to global warming, however, I seem to digress, as per the hypothesis of Bipolar Chaos Theory. --Cookatoo.ergo.ZooM (talk) 09:36, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
The very kind of comment we have come to expect from something that rhymes with poll. Adaptron (talk) 10:57, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
If that were true, ...the rich would live and the poor would die At least 25,000 people would agree with that statement every day (2003 figures) If you'd just like the US reference try statistics for things like relative income and murder rate, infant mortality, insufficient health-care, alcoholism etc. "Poles" must be some regional variety. Current off line voting methods include a picture ID that a person can associate with a reasonable likeness of the face you are wearing. (Although if you look like your driver's license photo you may not be fit to vote :-) A PC camera photo/video of you would not be a sufficient online equivalent because you can feed video data from a file instead and there would be no way of telling. I get a bank statement from my bank and if they withdraw money from my account that I don't have a record of they'll have to remove the charge. We installed secret ballots for a reason. If you introduce a method for linking the person of the voter to the vote they cast for online voting you do away with that. Lisa4edit (talk) 13:29, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
  • 25,000 dying of starvation is not good nor is any statistical correlation of income to murder rate, infant mortality, insufficient health-care, alcoholism etc. but that is a far cry from genocide of the poor. The Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation, to mention one (and there are many more), the UN, the World Bank and many other "rich" people and organizations considered rich by anyone's standard are working hard to help the foodless and the homeless.
  • "Poles" is not regional or universal, but used nonetheless in connection with places where citizens go to select a candidate to hold office, versus an exit "poll" taken by a newspaper or TV station to get a rough idea of which candidate faired best.
  • You are confusing voter registration with voting. Voter registration is where you jump through all the hoops to prove you are you. Online voting is where you give your token to one candidate or the other and where they return the tokens to the Election board for verification. Only the computer connects the registered voter, the token and the candidate and to the best of my knowledge has no use for a bribe, since they have pretty much everything they want anyway. ;) You are not worried about the computer cutting off your electricity if you don't vote for the candidate of its choice, now are you? ;) --Taxa 14:15, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
Once again, Google is not the arbiter of correct spelling. "Poles" is incorrect in this context. Look in a dictionary.
Almost all of the Google hits on your link relate to Polish people voting; the rest are simple spelling mistakes. If "poles" were an acceptable variation for "polls", I would expect to see it used in this context on the website of a reputable newspaper or similar publication. I don't. Malcolm XIV (talk) 19:55, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
  • You Brits have the distinct dysfunction of not being able to accept anyone's use of the English language other than your own. Consider for instance your rule for doubling the consonant which follows a short vowel. Despite this Google turns up 97,000,000 hits for "traveling" and only 47,000,000 hits for "travelling," which Firefox and IE browser spellers show as a spelling error. --Taxa 06:05, 2 May 2008 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.100.6.147 (talk)
Oh, and it's fared best, not faired best. Although you'll probably say that's a legitimate variant as well. Malcolm XIV (talk) 19:56, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
Not necessarily. What we refer to your concern in engineering as, is dithering. --Taxa 21:12, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
That is a typo, not a legitimate source. As I now see that you are the well-known Ref Desk troll 71.100.etc under an assumed name, I shall cease attempting to set you right on matters of spelling and shall simply ignore you. Malcolm XIV (talk) 22:23, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
  • If its a typo how come its the consistent spelling throughout the site?
  • Then at least I have accomplished something. --Taxa 04:02, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Soviet military thinking[edit]

Futher to my past questions on diplomacy and strategy in the inter-war period I would now like to focus a little more specifically on Soviet military thinking. What I need to know is why the Red Army was so ill-prepared for the German attack in 1941? I'm thinking here in terms of strategic planning. What themes had Soviet military specialists pursued in the inter-war period? Was their decision-making so politically circumscribed that they were effectively unable to respond to German battle-field innovations? Clio, in the light of our previous discussions, I imagine you have a view about this? John Spencer (talk) 08:25, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Look at the Russia page. They had a "little" civil war inbetween WWI and WWII. "The Allied powers launched a military intervention in support of anti-Communist forces and both the Bolsheviks and White movement carried out campaigns of deportations and executions against each other, known respectively as the Red Terror and White Terror. At the end of the Civil War, the economy and infrastructure were devastated." They had only 18 years to organize a new government, a new economic system, restore an economy that had just been through 2 consecutive wars and revamp and reorganize their military into the Red Army. Considering that they managed quite well I think. --Lisa4edit (talk) 08:58, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
Stalin had purged the Russian officer corps; the Russians also got a bloody nose in the Polish-Soviet War. I suspect that part of the answer is that the Eastern European steppe favoured mobile warfare; the Poles and the Russians were making the slow transition from equine to mechanical cavalry, whereas the Germans were already fully mechanised and had honed their tactics during the invasions of Poland and France. --Major Bonkers (talk) 10:15, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

The actual performance of the Red Army is not that bad when you consider that their tactic was a fighting scorched earth withdrawal to a final bulwark around their major cities (especially Moscow, Leningrad). After a time the Germans could not take their attritional losses as well as the Russians could because the Russians had a greater population (think cannon fodder). I am not a dog (talk) 13:32, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

As Major Bonkers points out, all the people who actually knew anything about tactics were shot in the Great Purge. --Relata refero (disp.) 13:36, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
True, but there were three other factors in play: (1) the officers who knew how to fight a war were replaced by incompetents who were more skilled at staying alive & getting promoted under Stalin than their actual jobs; (2) the primary military tactic the Soviets used was a massed assault, supported with massive artillery bombardment when available (the scenes at the opening of the movie "Enemy at the Gates", where boxcars of conscripts, only one in four of whom is given a rifle, are forced by machinegun-toting NKVD comissars to charge into German lines says it all); (3) the not unworkable strategy that if the Soviet army fell back far enough, the steppes & the Russian Winter would destroy any invader (which is what happened to Napoleon in the previous century). -- llywrch (talk) 17:23, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Hello again, John. You have, in fact, already supplied a partial answer in the form of your inquiry: yes, strategic planning was effectively limited by the political constraints placed on the military specialists. Before I proceed I should make it clear (though I am sure you are well aware of this yourself) that the suggestion that the officers who knew who to fight 'were replaced by incompetents' is utterly wrong, as indeed is the rest of the prior submission. The Red Army had some superb general officers, including arguably the best commander of the whole war.

To begin with Soviet strategic planning in the inter-war period was hampered by the appointment of the incompetent and unimaginative Kliment Voroshilov as Commissar for Defence in 1925. He had replaced Mikhail Frunze, a brilliant organiser, largely responsible for the peace-time development of the Red Army, badly neglected by Leon Trotsky, his predecessor. The appointment of Voroshilov, a close associate of Stalin, was in part offset by the promotion of Mikhail Tukhachevsky as chief-of-staff. It was Tukhachevsky's aim to continue the work of Frunze in turning the Red Army into a professional fighting force. In 1928 he published a book entitled The Future War, in which he laid out the idea that a grand offensive must be supported by tanks, armoured vehicles and aircraft, all thrust forward at great speed to deliver a knock-out blow of overwhelming power. He was, in effect, outlining the concept of Blitzkrieg, theoretical notions of which were already being developed in England by Basil Liddell Hart and J. F. C. Fuller.

In his own argument Tukhachevsky placed greatest stress on what he called 'deep operations', the form of offensive he considered most appropriate to modern military technology. It was inspired thinking, but it contained one essential weakness, determined, in large measure, by the political thinking that informed almost every aspect of Soviet planning: it was based on the orthodoxy that the Red Army would automatically take the offensive as soon as war was declared. No allowance was made for defence in depth, for the need to use space and prepared positions to counter a possible enemy surprise. This weakness was further compounded by Boris Shaposhnikov, who temporarily replaced Tukhachevsky shortly after The Future War was published. Right up to 1941, until after the German invasion, it was assumed that a war would be a two-stage affair: that the enemy would he held on the frontier by covering operations, which would allow the completion of full mobilisation. Once the army was assembled then the 'killer blow' would be delivered.

The Purge of 1937, in which Tukhachevsky and a great many of the Red Army's senior officers were killed is important, yes, but not perhaps as significant as usually assumed. There were serious weaknesses in the 'modernised' army, particularly in the area of command and control. Just as serious, junior officers were lacking in flexibility and tactical awareness. The Purge only served to compound what one German observer described as 'fear of responsibility.' Given this background Tuckhachevsky's concept of deep operations, while good in theory, was seriously flawed in practice.

The main effect of the Purge was to politicise the army to an even higher degree than before, undercutting much of the professionalism that Tukhachevsky and others had attempted to introduce. There was also a retreat from modern concepts of mechanised warfare. In February 1939 Pravda even published an editorial condemning such notions in the clearest terms;

Military thought in the capitalist world has got into a blind alley. The dashing 'theories' about lightning war, or about small, select armies of technicians, or about the air war which can replace all other military operations; all these theories arise from the bourgeoisie's deathly fear of the proletarian revolution. In its mechanical way, the imperialist bourgeoisie overrates equipment and underrates man.

It was this kind of stupidity, advanced by Voroshilov, which continued to guide Soviet thinking in the early years of the war. They learned next to nothing from the German operations in Poland, France and the Balkans. It was an axiom, dangerous to challenge, that any enemy offensive would be held and defeated on the borders. The Red army, as Voroshilov put it, would carry the war 'on to the enemy land with little loss of blood.' It was on his recommendation that the powerful Soviet tank corps, another of Tuckhachevsky's innovations, was split up and distributed among local infantry units. We all know what the outcome was to be. Clio the Muse (talk) 00:59, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Thank you to all who responded, but a special thank you to Clio, who truly is the brightest star! John Spencer (talk) 05:54, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
I think I could kiss you, John; in fact I think I could kiss everyone tonight! Clio the Muse (talk) 23:06, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Pigs in the mud[edit]

Hello. I'm trying to remember a specific piece of literature, where the author states something like he would rather be an unknowing pig wallowing in the mud than a human, who must suffer from knowledge gained but unwanted. It's a British literature piece. Thanks. 69.16.88.103 (talk) 08:25, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

It’s unlikely, but you’re not referring to the “doctrine of swine” controversy over Utilitarianism, are you? Jeremy Bentham’s take on utilitarianism (that actions are intrinsically nonmorally good or bad according to the extent to which they promote pleasure or pain) was condemned by others, notably Thomas Carlyle, as a “doctrine of swine”, because if mere pleasure was the true end of human life, with no nobler goal, then the lives and pleasures of a pig and human are of equal worth. John Stuart Mill’s defence of utilitarianism involved distinguishing between quantity and quality of pleasure – we are capable of taking pleasure in all kinds of “higher” things a pig can’t, so a state of unhappy awareness may be better than one of blissful ignorance. “It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question. The other party to the comparison knows both sides.” This contradicts the quote you’re looking for, though. -- Karenjc 15:11, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
Animal Farm? Mad031683 (talk) 18:52, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

There's some William Blake poem against churches where he revels in his decision to 'lay me down with the swine' User:Rhinoracer —Preceding comment was added at 12:32, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

The Blake poem Rhinoracer suggests is 'I saw a Chapel':
I saw a chapel all of gold
That none did dare to enter in,
And many weeping stood without,
Weeping, mourning, worshipping.
I saw a serpent rise between
The white pillars of the door,
And he forc'd and forc'd and forc'd,
Down the golden hinges tore.
And along the pavement sweet,
Set with pearls and rubies bright,
All his slimy length he drew
Till upon the altar white
Vomiting his poison out
On the bread and on the wine.
So I turn'd into a sty
And laid me down among the swine.
Unfortunately I don't think it matches the description given by 69.16... so unless he can supply us with more information... Yours, Lord Foppington (talk) 21:18, 4 May 2008 (UTC)

Surprises in history[edit]

I like learning about historical events that show contact between distant peoples that I did not imagine was possible. Some examples are Battle of Wayna Daga and Indo-Greek Kingdom. Does anything else spring to mind?

Lotsofissues 09:41, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Most of the British Empire? The current excitement in Afghanistan being either the Forth (if you treat it as a continuous campaign) or Forth and Fifth (if you split out the 2001 invasion and subsequent campaigns) Anglo-Afghan Wars. On a personal note, I don't suppose that this (or these) wars will have any more lasting effects than their predecessors; we go in, knock a few heads together, go back home, and five or six years later it's anarchy again. Do you notice that we've been fighting the Afghans for longer than Nazi Germany? You might also enjoy the Kingdom of Sarawak. --Major Bonkers (talk) 10:07, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
PS: from Max Hastings' Nemesis (hardback ed., p.88); the British raised two divisions from Britain's African colonies to fight in Burma during the Second World War. Some units were officered by Poles who had been encouraged by Churchill to emigrate to West Africa. Most of these Poles spoke the same pidgin English as their men.
As an aside, non-Christian African soldiers swore an oath of loyalty over a bayonet rather than a bible and, according to Col. Derek Horsford: During the advance into the Kabaw valley, I found some of our chaps crouching behind a bush, watching a party of West African soldiers bathing. The Gurkhas were gazing fascinated, uttering exclamations of unwilling awe, at what they perceived as the extravagant dimensions of their black comrades' private parts. --Major Bonkers (talk) 12:28, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
Looking beyond the more famous empires, there were some wonderfully unlikely European colonies, such as the settlement of the Danish East India Company at Tranquebar on the Coromandel Coast, begun in 1620. Part of the history of this settlement is its seizure from the Danes by the British in 1801.
In the realm of fiction, there's the successful invasion of the United States by Grand Fenwick in about 1955. Xn4 10:36, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
Sino-Roman relations is pretty interesting. I would not suggest Franco-Mongol alliance as a good Wikipedia article, but the historical relations between the West and the Mongols is an interesting topic. Adam Bishop (talk) 12:03, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

The Indo-Greeks dominated the north-west of India for centuries, of course, and the lingering effects of their art and calendar can be seen in India and Pakistan today. The Saka emperors sent gifts that were the wonder of Rome in Augustus' day: there's a coin or two somewhere that shows a tiger cub named for one of Augustus' beloved grandchildren I think. Here is a seminar report on these fun trade links. Note particularly the Roman mosaics in a villa outside Cochin and the fascinating statue of a Roman Buddhist. (In armour?!?) --Relata refero (disp.) 13:23, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

The Gauls of Asia are also interesting. And from a recent story in the New York Times: On first making landfall in southern Maine, Gosnold’s ship, the Concord, was greeted by a canoe rigged with a mast and sails, so that it was at first mistaken for a European fishing vessel. The Indians onboard “spake diverse Christian words,” one of the Englishmen wrote, “and seemed to understand much more than we.” It turned out they had been trading for years with Basque fishermen. --Relata refero (disp.) 13:32, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

There are lots of dark spots in African history that are not only fascinating, but desperately need Wikipedia articles. For example, the Genoese had a trading post on the upper Nile in Nobatia -- how many more of these distant Italian outposts existed? Then there is the matter of Chinese-African trade. (Richard Pankhurst has a written a wonderful chapter on the subject in his An Introduction to the Economic History of Ethiopia -- as well on other aspects of pre-1800 East Africa.) Then there is the narrative of the behavior of the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean over the first few generations -- they were always eager for a fight, & sacked many different ports on the African & Asian coasts. (Estêvão da Gama's raid on the Ottoman fleet at Suez deserves a better treatment than I have been able to give it.) Mention of the Red Sea reminds me of the antics of Raynald of Chatillon in 1104. And a last suggestion would be the Roman campaign against Yemen: Wikipedia seems to have only the briefest of mentions of this in Sabeans. -- llywrch (talk) 17:50, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

I was surprised to read that the Vikings ranged as far south as the Mediterranean, reaching Turkey by navigating the rivers of Eastern Europe. That meeting would have surprised me. DJ Clayworth (talk) 18:06, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Not so far distant, but I still find the Battle of Prague (1648) where the Czech capital was attacked by Swedes, pretty odd. SaundersW (talk) 20:55, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
It was no odder for the Swedes to be involved in the Battle of Prague than it was for them to be involved in the Battle of Poltava. They were major players in the Thirty Years War and for a good many conflicts thereafter. Clio the Muse (talk) 01:12, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Oddness is in the eye of the beholder. SaundersW (talk) 16:41, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Is it really? How odd! Ha-ha!! Clio the Muse (talk) 23:11, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Take a look at Danish India. Corvus cornixtalk 21:55, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
I have heard that there were a few Koreans forced into labor by the Nazis, discovered in the aftermath of D-Day. Apparently the Koreans had been captured by the Japanese, then by the Russians, and then by the Germans. I can't vouch for its authenticity, but it would be a very odd combination. bibliomaniac15 Do I have your trust? 01:18, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
I don't think this can be right, Bibliomaniac. Korea was part of the Japanese Empire. Korean nationals were thus drafted into the Japanese army, though most often in an auxiliary role. They were used in high numbers to guard prisoners of war, and had a particularly brutal reputation. Clio the Muse (talk) 01:47, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
I read that story about the Koreans recently, I think. May have been in "D-Day" by Stephen Ambrose (interesting but a bit too "patriotic") Jørgen (talk) 18:53, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
An oddity of this kind I've always loved is King Mongkut's offer of elephants to President Buchanan in 1861. By the time a response was sent, Lincoln was president, and his reply (which I can't find right now) is charming to read. He explains that "Our political jurisdiction does not reach a latitude so low as to favor the multiplication of the elephant." Not so impossible, maybe, but incongruous. --Milkbreath (talk) 02:07, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Maybe he meant "political jurisdiction at this time"? Because Asian elephants are thriving in Tennessee and Florida. --Relata refero (disp.) 08:17, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Thank you. Great list. Keep them coming. Or have we nearly exhausted history? Lotsofissues 10:39, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Well, ok then; this is completely out of kilter, but you might well enjoy reading the Flashman series of novels, assuming that you haven't discovered them already. --Major Bonkers (talk) 12:32, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Or you might not. I know several people who find them difficult reading and vaguely offensive. I personally think that if you want that sort of thing, go all the way and read G. A. Henty. Plus, the latter are in the public domain!
Since we're departing from real history so dramatically here, the novels in the recent past that most lovingly reproduce clashing cultures are certainly those in the Baroque cycle from Neal Stephenson. --Relata refero (disp.) 12:50, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Nah flashman is just about hating darkies and banging dusky ladies. I am working on My Early Life by Winston Churchill. Was it almost required reading at Harrow? Lotsofissues 17:17, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Did you know that the Czech Legion played an important role in the Russian Civil War? These were POWs being trained to fight against Austria-Hungary in WWI. After the Bolshevik Revolution, the Czechs made arrangements to take the Trans-Siberian Railroad east to Vladivostok and travel east around the world until they could reach the Allied lines in Europe. But some Bolshevik forces didn't get the message and tried to mess with the Czechs on their passage east. The Czechs easily defeated the poorly organized Bolshevik forces and soon wound up in control of the whole railway. Then the Komuch government, one of the forces opposing the Bolsheviks, convinced the Czechs to intervene on their behalf. The Czechs didn't get home until 1920, long after WWI had ended and Czechoslovakia had won its independence. According to our article on the Legion, one Czech general took a right turn at the Sea of Japan and wound up helping a Korean uprising against the Japanese! -- Mwalcoff (talk) 21:53, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact is interesting, even if most of it is probably bunk. I also remember being intrigued that the Portuguese royal family temporarily resided in Brazil, and that there was once an emperor of Mexico. I can also remember how amazed I felt when I read about the First Crusade and the Byzantine Empire for the first time, when I was 15. Adam Bishop (talk) 04:24, 4 May 2008 (UTC)

Not exactly long-distance contact, but in Norway we sometimes say (tongue-in-cheek) that if we'd won the Battle of Stamford Bridge, Norwegian and not English would be the global language today... History's littered with battles that could (at least at first glance) have changed a lot had they turned out differently. Jørgen (talk) 18:56, 4 May 2008 (UTC)

Well, Jørgen, Harold lost the Battle of Hastings but English is still the global language, not French! Clio the Muse (talk) 22:14, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
I guess that's why they don't teach us about that battle. You of course know where the Normans got their name from, so perhaps we won, after all, we're just not telling you... Jørgen (talk) 09:50, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
Yes, indeed! You Northmen/Normans could not get us one way so you went for the other, coming in as a bunch of Frenchified illegal immigrants! Ah, well, maybe English is just a Scandinavian dialect (Richard Wagner was under the impression that it was a dialect of German!) Clio the Muse (talk) 22:59, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

Fort Denison, in the middle of Sydney Harbour, was fortified in the 1850s due to a fear of attack by Russians during the Crimean War. It never eventuated, but if it had, I can't imagine an enemy travelling a greater distance to mount an attack. Then there was the Japanese submarine attack on Sydney Harbour in 1942 in which a converted passenger ferry, the HMAS Kuttabul was actually sunk and 21 sailors perished. And of course the German sinking of HMAS Sydney off the Western Australian coast in 1941. -- JackofOz (talk) 15:07, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

What fascinating answers! I intend to bookmark this and come back to pursue links later. Once again, I come late to the party, but I will attempt to add a few.
The OP specifies historical encounters. Today we express no surprise at any people meeting anyone else; that's called globalisation. Take, for example, United Nations Peacekeepers, who are deployed all over the place; [[Tim Butcher] gives a typical example, of a Malaysian U.N. officer nominally in charge of a tugboat on the Congo River. But in fact similar concatenations did occur throughout history, as the examples above so ably prove. One of the factors that makes this more likely is the presence of an empire. The Romans were good at far-flung expeditions and colonisation: it is said that Africans were in Britain before the English, i.e. that soldiers of the Roman Empire, recruited from North Africa, occupied much of what is now England centuries before the Angles crossed the North Sea.
The Phoenicians sailed to the Atlantic coast of the Iberian peninsula thousands of years ago, and rock carvings of their ships' arrival, made by the indigenous inhabitants, still exist: the coming together of preliterate tribal people and a centralised society. For a more modern version of that, take a look at the aboriginal Australians' response to the first Fleet. Tales of the European explorers are preserved in the oral history of the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Odd colonial outposts include the Europeans, primarily Dutch, who settled Sri Lanka, giving rise to the Burgher people, of whom probably the best known internationally is the author Michael Ondaatje.
More recently, the Soviet Empire spread its people over much of the world; Stalin moved people around like chess pieces. It comes as a shock to the unwary to find a substantial population of Koreans in Central Asia, for example. Vietnamese teachers and medics volunteered or were sent to Angola in the 1980s, where the locals greeted them with some awe and astonishment, expecting them to be physically bigger, as they had seen off the American army. The British Army still has the Brigade of Gurkhas, tough fighters from Nepal, who no doubt never expected to end up in the Falkland Islands. Sometimes it suits former colonial powers to move a group of people, especially those on the losing side in a war and who thus face persecution from the victors, to somewhere else entirely different: hence the airlift of several thousand Hmong from the highlands of Vietnam to French Guiana, much to the bemusement of its largely Caribbean-encultured inhabitants.
Speaking of airlifts, what about the rescue of the Ethiopian Jews to Israel? All sorts and colours of Jews rub shoulders in Jerusalem, people who never expected to meet each other, Russians and Chinese and French all praying together. Likewise at the Masjid al-Haram, the Great Mosque in Mecca, where Muslims from all over the world meet. Even as I type this, a Somali child is settling in to life in Sweden under its generous refugee programme, and is befriending a Sami child. The grandparents of one herd goats in the desert, and the grandparents of the other herd reindeer in the tundra, albeit now with helicopter assistance. BrainyBabe (talk) 16:43, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

Laundry poem[edit]

I'm trying to identify a poem I heard read on the radio about 5 years ago, as part of an interview of which I only caught a fragment. The poet was female and I have an idea it might have been Jackie Kay or Carol Ann Duffy, or perhaps a contemporary with a similar poetic voice. The poem was fairly short, and the subject was a woman standing at her washing line, collecting freshly dried laundry, gathering sheets protectively into her arms and holding them to her as one would hold a child. The poet stated that her inspiration was her reaction to the death of James Bulger. I didn't chase the poem for a while, and by the time I did I was unable to get details of the programme or its content from the radio station. Googling and desultory bookshop browsing have drawn a blank so far. I'd be very grateful for any help in pinpointing it. Thanks. -- Karenjc 09:51, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

I think you may be mixing two poems together here. I confess that my knowledge of either Kay or Duffy is weak but I know that Jackie Kay wrote a poem titled 'Pork Pies' in her book 'Other Lives' which alludes (quite heavily) to the Bulger case.
As to the poem about washing nothing springs to mind, hopefully someone else can be more helpful! Yours, Lord Foppington (talk) 18:03, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
I know the Pork Pies poem (eww, creepy) and it's not that. I'm reasonably sure the laundry one was inspired by the Bulger case - the metaphor of gathering in sheets as one would gather in a child made a tremendous impression on me at the time - but thanks for the suggestion. Will keep looking! -- Karenjc 22:22, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
You might want to try The Women's Library (London), or the Poetry Library, also in London. Their librarians should be able to help. BrainyBabe (talk) 15:44, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

is migration good for development?[edit]

I've studying several texts on the subject and i as just wondering what people's views are. I should specify: is migration good for the development of sender countries or receiver countries? can it be good for both?

Thanks —Preceding unsigned comment added by 81.96.161.104 (talk) 10:21, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

An extremely complicated question and the basis of much current research. The simple answer is that it depends on the kind of migration.
Highly-skilled migrants are unquestionably beneficial to the host economies. This is why H1-B visas are so important to the United States, and the political barriers to increasing those visas is one of the reasons why the City of London is overtaking Wall Street as a financial centre. Most countries are aware of this, and that is why points-based immigration systems are common across the English-speaking world - except the US - and in many countries of the European Union.
The loss of highly-skilled migrants has traditionally been considered a negative for the economies they lose. In the 1960s they called this the brain drain, though that terminology has come under attack. There are reasons for this: massive emigration, such as South Africa has witnessed in recent years, and India witnesses in the medical and scientific professions, weaken crucial parts of the sending economy, and in some cases, such as certain Latin American nations, the entire social infrastructure.
Recent studies have moderated this outlook by focusing on the fact that a significant proportion of such migrants eventually return, with skills and capital they have picked up abroad. This was particularly evident in Eastern europe through the 1990s. Google Oded - Stark for papers that analyse this phenomenon.
The problematic nature of this question has led to some economists arguing for an "emigration tax", especially from countries where education is subsidised. The Economist ran a cover story some time ago on the "global war for talent", I think.
Blue-collar migrants, which form the majority of economic migrants, are more intensively studied, and less can be said for certain. Most major econometric studies reveal that they are a net benefit for the economy as a whole, though they can negatively impact the wages of those in blue-collar professions. Some studies suggest that even for those whose wages are directly impacted, the second-order effect of reduced prices through cheaper labor is in itself enough to raise standards of living all round. There are major dissenters to this influencing policy. George Borjas of Harvard (I hope thats a bluelink) for example has made a career arguing that recent Hispanic immigrants to the US are "lower quality" than those that came earlier (he's a Miami Cuban) so that empirical analysis based on historical figures that suggest large net gains won't be a proper guide to the future.
Do such emigrants benefit the countries they leave behind? Yes and no. Kerala in India is one of the most highly developed parts of the third world, and the money that keeps it going is almost entirely from blue-collar emigrants working in the Persian Gulf. Here again, things must be moderated: some studies of Nicaragua suggest that remittances of this sort are being used as a crutch, rather than to increase growth all round. Also, recent figures (from last week!) show such remittances from the US to Central America are dropping, which is terrible news for Guatemala and Chihuahua province. --Relata refero (disp.) 13:17, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
[Edit conflict] See this newspaper report, which links to recent House of Lords inquiry on the subject: Limit immigration, warns House of Lords.
The typical canard about immigration is that the brightest and best of the donor nation emigrate leaving the stupid and idle behind; I have heard this said of the Scots by the English, and it is apparently said of the British by the Americans [ref: Bicheno, Hugh (2006) Razor's Edge Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London. p.89], although all is not lost as long as we still have Clio! Niall Ferguson in his book Empire, argues that the greatest exports of Britain during the Empire were capital and people. See also the article: Brain drain.
In my own view, immigration can have a number of perverse effects; (1) In Britain, because our healthcare system is essentially a public monopoly funded out of general taxation, the politicians who run it try to keep its costs down by recruiting nurses and doctors from abroad on the basis that immigrants will accept a lower salary for the consolation of British citizenship; thus the third world is stripped of healthcare professionals. (2) Because any citizen of the European Union has a right to live and work in any other country, London, which is a de facto capital of Europe, attracts huge numbers of immigrants such that Nicholas Sarkozy and Donald Tusk, now respectively Presidents of France and Poland, campaigned prior to their elections in London. London was claimed to be the sixth-largest French city as measured by French population. (3) You get distorted immigration patterns throughout Europe; I'm told that Holland allows immigration from Somalia, but then insists that immigrants learn Dutch. They simply move to other, neighbouring, countries. (4) With the ideology of multiculturalism, which allows the immigrant communities not to integrate, you get ghettos of black and white areas, including schools. More dangerously, it has been alleged that this lack of integration has led to the development of muslim extremism, particularly in Britain (eg. 7 July 2005 London bombings), the Netherlands (cf. the murder of Theo van Gogh) and Denmark (cf. the Mohammed cartoons).
See also: Migration Watch website --Major Bonkers (talk) 13:35, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
Before I risk clicking that link, could anyone tell me whether it is anything like other "____watch" sites in terms of paranoia and unpleasantness? I'd rather not have it in my history if it is. Thanks. 79.66.2.176 (talk) 04:39, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Not as objectionable as the one you wikilink, perhaps as objectionable than this one, but best not click on it if anyone who's an immigrant is likely to notice it in your history. They might not think well of you. --Relata refero (disp.) 08:14, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
<sigh> Well, on the basis that you're somehow afraid or unable to make up your own mind, you could always read the Wikipedia article on MigrationWatch UK before deciding whether or not to commit thought crime. --Major Bonkers (talk) 10:08, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Sigh back at you. Forgive me if I fail to explain my reasons for not wanting specific other people to think I visit hate sites. It's not thought crime; if they're as paranoid and unpleasant as the one I wikilinked, I honestly have no interest in hearing what they have to say or increasing their hits, let alone leaving such things for others to find. Thanks Relata for the helpful answer. 79.66.2.176 (talk) 04:44, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
The brightest and best of the donor nation emigrate leaving the stupid and idle behind: the educational attainment of even working-class immigrants are almost universally higher than the average in the countries they're leaving behind, so the numbers suggest it isn't really a lie. This does not necessarily apply to political refugees: nobody who has spent a winter in Massachusetts will ever suppose the Pilgrim Fathers were particularly smart. --Relata refero (disp.) 14:03, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
I've always found it a rather interesting question at what point "immigrants" (arguably the vast majority of US Americans) cease to be such and become locals. The answer seems to vary with country and ethnicity. Lisa4edit (talk) 13:42, 1 May 2008 (UTC) Another little aspect comes to mind in that regard is that neither the "out of Africa" movement (although disputed among some anthropologists) nor the migration period nor any other migration that comes to mind has had any demonstratable long term ruinous local effect. The only possible example to the opposite I could think of would be the "settlement" of America and most of the "current Americans" would probably disagree with that view. Lisa4edit (talk) 14:02, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

I was only obeying orders[edit]

How far were ordinary soldiers involved in the crimes of the Third Reich? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.153.161.140 (talk) 17:24, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

You'll have to be more specific. Soldiers in combat have harmed civilians both before & after WW II, more often from negligence or accident than malicious intent. (The tools of their trade are lethal & destructive.) On the other hand I am reminded of the comment by Bill Mauldin, that although he & his fellow soliders were told that they were fighting the Nazis, the only time they saw Nazis was when the Germans threw some SS units into the front lines. -- llywrch (talk) 18:01, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
By 'crimes', I suspect this question means in particular genocide and the German mass killings of prisoners of war and civilians, contrary to the Geneva Conventions. There used to be a myth that the Wehrmacht had little to do with any of it, and that the villains were nearly all in Einsatzgruppen of the SS and the Waffen-SS, and in the Gestapo, but this has been exploded. Some of the best witnesses are the Wehrmacht military chaplains, who reported the regular army at work on mass killings in Poland, Byelorussia, the Ukraine, Yugoslavia and elsewhere. See, for instance, Omer Bartov's The Eastern Front 1941-1945: German Troops and the Barbarisation of Warfare (1985) and Doris L. Bergen's 'Between God and Hitler' in Bartov & Mack's In God's Name: Genocide and Religion in the Twentieth Century (2001). Xn4 18:10, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
An exhibition - somewhat controversial - has been shown in Germany and Austria recently which addresses this topic. I believe that the original view of many - a handful of "bad" Nazis at the top, millions of "good" (and ignorant) common soldiers at the bottom - is one of the last self serving myths to be toppled. Maybe it is no coincidence that it required two generations to come to an end of the "denial phase" of this era. --Cookatoo.ergo.ZooM (talk) 22:02, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
If you look at the article on the Milgram experiment you can find a good example of normal people doing inhumane things under an authority figure. Ironholds (talk) 23:15, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
I wish people would stop mentioning the altogether silly Milgram Experiment whenever questions like this come up. It has no relevance at all to history, to the workings of history, of politics and of ideology. If people do things it is not always because they are told to but because they want to. Clio the Muse (talk) 01:34, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
But why do they want to do the things they are told? Of course people always ultimately do what they want/what makes them happiest in that moment, it doesn't mean no further thought or work is required in that area. It's relevant. People doing awful things in Nazi Germany often did do them because they were told to, even though they found them distasteful. That they ultimately were happier at the moment of making the choice with following the instruction rather than not is true, but it doesn't tell us why. To answer that people do things because they want to is as useful as answering that gas molecules disperse when someone asks why there are hurricanes. Your comment reads as if you have decided that the results of the experiment do not fit with your world view, and therefore you reject them. Sadly, scientific results need to be countered by more results, or finding flaws in the method and then repeating the experiment without them, not by simply pronouncing them 'silly'. Next thing you'll use the word 'horrid', and then all is lost! :) 79.66.2.176 (talk) 02:39, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
True enough, though Clio's response is instructive in that it represents the reaction of the traditionally trained historian to the importation of any of the commonly accepted results of social psychology, or, indeed, the social sciences in general. The historian-as-artist will disdain all forms of theorizing that appear to focus on replicable results, as interpretation is individual and never replicable. --Relata refero (disp.) 08:11, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
I wouldn't say I was entirely hostile to the application of social psychology to certain types of historical analysis, particularly when dealing with forms of collective behaviour. I have a particular interest in crowd psychology, in the ideas and arguments developed by the likes of Gustave le Bon and José Ortega y Gasset, which have provided a useful insight into the nature of mass action. What I am hostile to, and deeply so, is the notion that human behaviour can be isolated and reproduced in laboratory conditions, as if people were chimpanzees or rats.
People will react in all sorts of ways to any given set of circumstances. Yes, the power of the collective, or the tribe, is important, perhaps crucially so. But so, too, is education, fear, greed, resentment, anger, ideology, indoctrination, politics and a whole set of other variables. People may also act out of feelings of decency, honesty, morality, altruism or faith, things which cannot be reduced, quantified and analysed. History is complex; society is complex; people are complex. The idea that we can be programmed like Pavlov's dogs to produce a certain reaction given the right stimulus is absurd, almost as absurd as saying that for evil to triumph it only needs men in white coats! There are certain things, certain ways of looking at life, which cannot be improved because they are flawed from the outset. And as far as I am concerned the horrid Milgram Experiment is high among the most pseudo of pseudo-science! (Well, I didn't want to disappoint you, 79.66, though if I were upping the ante I think I would prefer laughable!) Clio the Muse (talk) 23:45, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
There's also The Third Wave. Corvus cornixtalk

It was a myth, popular with former soldiers, and promoted by senior officers, that the Wehrmacht was a 'haven' from the excesses of the Nazi regime. It was, rather, as ideologically compromised as every other branch of state. There is little evidence, for instance, that the Commissar Order was widely disobeyed, despite Erich von Manstein's assertion to the contrary. During the Russian campaign the army also followed the order to 'live off the land', regardless of the impact on the civilian population, showing little in the way of moral reservation. There is absolutely no reason at all to suppose that the Wehrmacht did not share Hitler's view that the war in the east was a Vernichtungskrieg-a war of annihilation. Of the almost 6 million Soviet prisoners taken by the army some 600,000 were shot out of hand and a further 2.7 million died in captivity. None of this is really all that surprising; for almost all of the soldiers and junior officers had been educated in the Hitler Youth. If executioners they were, they were willing executioners. Clio the Muse (talk) 01:34, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

The question you have posed is also a matter for considerable historical dispute. On the one hand you have the 'ordinary men' argument, which runs along the lines that (in the example given) a German reserve police battalion, by a combination of peer pressure and gradually pushing the boundaries, turned themselves from 'ordinary men' into war criminals. This view, however, is opposed by the 'Hitler's Willing Executioners' school, which argues from the same evidence! that the Germans of the time were simply anti-semitic and only too glad to start killing Jews. You pays your money and makes your choice.
It's worth pointing out that the passions inflamed by this topic, and the related argument about how (non-Jewish) Poles behaved towards the Jews, are considerable. Norman Davies, the foremost historian on Poland, was denied a chair at Stanford because of his views on the subject. Professional historians, it seems, can behave just as cretinously as Wikipedia's edit-warriors! --Major Bonkers (talk) 09:55, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Yes, the treatment of Davies has been shabby. Ah, Major, if you only knew just how much politicking and back-stabbing goes on in history departments. It's a little like Italy in the time of the Borgias! Clio the Muse (talk) 00:04, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
That one was truly unprecedented. There have been other high-profile rejections, but that one stands alone in many ways. I carry no brief for Davies, who's average at best, but I can't think that the words Stanford used were in any way justified. --Relata refero (disp.) 07:44, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Would a comparision to certain American soldiers torturing prisoners in Abu Graib strain your tolerance? Soldiers, and people in general, mostly do what they are encouraged to do. Society/the establishment/superior military officers show the 'little guy/soldier' how he should act and behave. If the 'little guy/soldier' does something unwanted he gets punished. Reward and punishment always works. The majority will follow these encouragements soon enough. And war always manages to bring out the worst of Humanity. Flamarande (talk) 23:54, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Murdered Hebrew prophets[edit]

Which of the Judaic prophet is Jesus referring to when he says to the Pharisees, "are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets."[1]?--71.108.5.203 (talk) 17:34, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

As I understand it, he is referring to all of the Judaic Prophets who were killed by their own people, no specific one. Wrad (talk) 17:40, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
I have one so far.
  1. "Zechariah son of Berekiah"[2] =Zechariah ben Jehoiada--71.108.5.203 (talk) 17:49, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

woman warrior who dyed herself blue[edit]

what was the name of that female warrior who dyed herself blue before entering battle? i cant remember if she was a celt or a pict or french and i also cant remember if it was ancient or if it was as recent as the french revolution. i've seen a painting of her but its very fuzzy in my memory. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 129.81.72.232 (talk) 20:26, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

According to myth, it was Boudica, Queen of the Mycenae, who painted herself with woad. I emphasise, according to myth, and point you to the article. SaundersW (talk) 20:48, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
No, not Mycenae, Iceni. Otherwise correct! --Major Bonkers (talk) 20:51, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
Iceni, of course. Bugger dysphasia! SaundersW (talk) 08:41, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Myth isn't quite the word. In his Bello Gallico, Caesar says Omnes vero se Britanni vitro inficiunt, quod caelureum efficit colorem atque hoc horridiore sunt in pugna adspectu..., and his vitrum was traditionally read as 'woad'. For instance, in an 1847 edition Schmitz says in a note "Vitrum is the herb woad, used for dyeing a blue colour. The ancients also called it glastum, and modern botanists call it isatis tinctoria. It seems to have produced a greenish or blueish colour." Although many present-day scholars prefer to read vitrum as 'glass', 'woad' was the conventional translation for centuries. Somehow, the woad became attached to the name of Boadicea, after she had been forgotten for centuries. Supposing 'woad' is wrong for Caesar's vitrum - and I gather woad doesn't work terribly well for making people come up blue and thus giving them a shaggy aspect in battle - then it's just one of those textural mistakes we can smile about, here in our age of wisdom. Xn4 22:21, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
Yes, thank you, Xn4. The other one that makes me smile is the suggestion, still prevalent, that the Celts advanced into battle naked...apart from the dye, that is! Or was the blueness simply on account of the cold? Clio the Muse (talk) 02:10, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Everyone knows it was William Wallace who painted himself blue before battle. Of course, he had other quite extraordinary attributes, such as fighting a battle on a level playing field and convincing everyone that it was a Bridge. Gwinva (talk) 03:22, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Holocaust questions[edit]

Two questions about the Holocaust. Why were Nazi extermination camps all in Poland? Is there anything to explain why the extermination programme began when it did? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Karl Hanke (talkcontribs) 22:48, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

I can answer the first one. Not all Concentration camps are currently in Poland, eg. Bergen-Belsen concentration camp is in Lower Saxony. However, at the start of the Second World War, Poland was annexed by Germany and split into two zones. After the war, Poland regained its territories. Therefore, the Concentration Camps that are currently in Poland were at the time part of Germany. PeterSymonds | talk 22:57, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
This one wasn't either Neuengamme Lisa4edit (talk) 22:59, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
Thank you. Please note, though, my question was about extermination camps. There were concentration camps all over Germany and other places in Europe. Also extermination facilities like Treblinka and Majdanek were not in German territory. Karl Hanke (talk) 23:01, 1 May 2008 (UTC)
Oh, sorry. Well, at the time, Poland as it is now would've been East Germany; far away from Berlin, quite "out of the way" as it were. However, I'm sure someone can expand upon that; it's late. :) PeterSymonds | talk 23:07, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Poland was convenient because it was outside Germany and was also fairly central to the populations intended to be taken into the camps: a very large proportion of the Jewish population was in Poland itself. The decision to kill the Jews who were in the power of Germany seems to have been formally agreed in Berlin on 20 January 1942, at the Wannsee conference. There's a debate about when the 'real' decision was taken - for a summary of that, see our article Final Solution. Xn4 23:12, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

As to why the decision was taken when it was: essentially, Hitler had run out of options for his long-stated goal of riding Europe of the Jews. The Madagascar Plan was unrealistic and large scale immigration was out of the question, because no country, least of all the United States, had wanted to accept large numbers of Jewish immigrants prior to the war (and the onset of World War II made immigration from Germany to its enemies untenable of course). The British had forbidden the immigration of European Jews to Palestine, also. So, all that was left was mass murder, either through working abled-bodied Jews to death through labor to help the war effort combined with an inadequate diet and appalling, disease-ridden living conditions or, for those too weak to work, large-scale execution. ObiterDicta ( pleadingserrataappeals ) 23:27, 1 May 2008 (UTC)

Yet another place I have been before! Here below is part of what I said on a previous occasion, adapted for present usage. Clio the Muse (talk) 01:57, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

On the central point under consideration, there are a number of things that should to be made clear. First and foremost, there was indeed a clear difference in the Nazi scheme of things between concentration camps and Extermination camps, which were built for one purpose, and one purpose only. Concentration camps were located, as Karl says, all over Germany and elsewhere in Europe; but extermination centres were located either in areas annexed from Poland, or in the General Government. The first category included Auschwitz-Birkenau and Kulmhof. To these we should probably add the minor camp of Stutthof near Danzig. The second category includes Majdanek, as well as the main Operation Reinhard camps of Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor.
Why were these camps established where they were? The simple answer-one that has already been given-is that they were all close to major Jewish population centres. It would have presented much more severe logistical problems to have transported millions of eastern European Jews to, say, France or any other country in the west. Poland, moreover, had good transport links with the rest of the Continent, and people from France, Holland and elsewhere could be taken with relative ease to the east. The main camps were still fairly remote, and the marshes at Auschwitz offered the opportunity of disposing of tons of human ash. Poland had the additional advantage of being more completely subject to the Nazis than any of the other conquered territories, many of which retained some semblance of self-rule. If anyone wonders why there were so many Jewish people concentrated in Poland it was here that they were officially allowed to settle during the Tsarist days, in the area known as the Pale of Settlement.
On the subject of the Holocaust itself, there seem to be a number of misconceptions. It is important to understand that there was a considerable degree of improvisation in Nazi policy towards the Jews; and as late as 1939 mass migration was still the favoured option, with Madagascar being given serious consideration as a likely destination. Only the outbreak of World War Two put a stop to such plans, which had involved Adolf Eichmann, amongst others. From 1940 onwards the favoured strategy became one of 'ghettoization', with the Jews of Western Europe being transported to join pre-existing communities in the east. But up to the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 there was no specific plan for mass murder. The mass killings in fact started in Russia, with the introduction of the Einsatzgruppen, following in the wake of the armies. The favoured methods were gas vans and mass shootings, at Babi Yar and elsewhere.
Nazi policy overall was now taking a far more radical turn; and in December 1941 the first gassings started at Kulmhof, where Jews were transported from the nearby Lodz Ghetto. However, the various strategies were still considered to be too ad hoc, and there were also concerns about the rates of mental breakdown among the SS personnel involved in the field executions in Russia. To remedy this-and to ensure maximum co-ordination amongst all government agencies-the Wannsee Conference was summoned in January 1942. It was from this point forward that the Holocaust, in the sense we understand it today, acquires a much more definite and systematic shape, with the major extermination centres coming into gradual operation. Clio the Muse (talk) 01:57, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Clio, what you wrote would suggest that Jews started to settle in what is now eastern Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine only after Empress Catherine II established the Pale of Settlement on the territories acquired by Russia in the partitions of Poland. And that they settled there because it was the Russian tsarate that invited them and encouraged to stay. I don't want to say anything wrong this time, so I'm just asking you to clarify that. — Kpalion(talk) 18:51, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, Kpalion, my point was obviously not as clear as I would have wished. The Jews had been settling in Poland for generations, encouraged to do so by the likes of Boleslaw the Pious and Casimir the Great. It was the policy of the Tsars that resulted in a concentration of the Jewish population along the western borders of the empire, in small communities, preventing any wider dispersal. Clio the Muse (talk) 00:15, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
Thank you, Clio. — Kpalion(talk) 08:56, 3 May 2008 (UTC)