Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2006 December 2

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December 2[edit]

Religious emblems[edit]

When I was thinking of the various imagery associated with the major world religions, the thought occured to me that one stands out as being non-abstract: the Christian Cross. (See the image at the top of the religion article for a sampling).

Of course the cross refers to crucifiction, a terrible and humilating punishment, practically extinct in the modern world.

Am I the only one who finds it a touch curious that the world's foremost religion has a symbol of execution on the spires of its temples, and around the necks' of its practicioners?

Or perhaps there is a darker meaning behind other religion's symbols that I am not aware of. If so, please inform. Thanks -- Theavatar3 01:00, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

Ah, yeah... It's rather strange... The cartoonist Dan Piraro once did a (censored for major media) cartoon with catholic-like priests carrying electric chair replicas around their neck, and doing stylized chair signs with thir index fingers. Quite funny! ;) 惑乱 分からん 01:11, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
I wonder if there's a scan on the Internet somewhere... It's probably published in one of his Bizarro compilaitons. He briefly had his own magazine in my native Sweden (featuring his cartoons and other humor comic strips and cartoons , and they included a section called "Brpphffgh, as a dog would have put it", (or something like that) featuring more of his "edgier" stuff, with jokes about taboo subjects such as sex, religion etc... 惑乱 分からん 01:36, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
Absolutely hilarious. It has become a symbol of sacrifice and redemption, the core meaning of Christianity. Clio the Muse 01:16, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
I guess if you leave the Almighty God out of the equation, the core meaning of Christianity would be that Jesus was executed by the leading power of the day, the Roman Empire, for being a little too pro-active. Thus the Cross would be a little reminder for everyone, forevermore, not to be too smart for their own good. Preach against the prevailing hegemony, and we'll nail you to one of these. :) -- Theavatar3 05:57, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
Thank you. I do, however, urge you to look a little deeper into this question. Christ was not crucified for preaching against Roman power. Clio the Muse 08:50, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
Yeah -- I have read on Wikipedia that Nietzsche thought it wasn't the Romans either. And I've never known Nietzsche to be wrong. So, why exactly was Jesus crucified, and by whom, in your understanding? Theavatar3 19:53, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
You could have a read through Jesus Christ#arrest, trial, and death, Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus and Caiaphas and draw your own conclusions. Also please note that I did not say that Christ was not crucified by the Romans. Only the Roman governor of Judea would have the power to carry out sentences passed by local courts. Clio the Muse 23:28, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
Thanks very much for the links. :)
I had a look through -- it looks his Jesus's losing his cool with the moneylenders in the temple is the straw that broke that camel's back. Presumably the rest of his activities were not overly objectionable.
At any rate he seemed to have some serious issues with what was going on in Israel back in the day, and he was quite outspoken on these matters. When he got violent, well, bad news. Theavatar3 02:20, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

Crucifiction? I imagine that's a horribly written novel? - Nunh-huh 01:59, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

I would interpret wearing of the cross as a Christian reminder that the material world is not real and the immortal world is in heaven. I think it is a glorification of death, as Christ left the world on a cross. Moonwalkerwiz 02:40, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
Just the contrary, Moonwalkerwiz: it's a glorification of life, or of victory over death. Christ did not leave the world on a cross; he rose from the dead before ascending to heaven of his own volition. Clio the Muse 02:44, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
Once again, my ignorance of the Bible shows. Yeah, now I remember. Still, I think Christianity is basically a negation of the material world, and the cross represents not a "victory over death," but a resignation or a relinquishment of the will to live, knowing that true life is somewhere else. Moonwalkerwiz 03:24, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
The 'negation of the material world' is less a feature of Christianity than some of the dualist heresies against which the medieval church battled, including the Cathars, and Gnostics. Nietzsche's critique is pitched less against the sacrifice of Christ, and much more against the priestly cast. As a supplement he proposes 'affirmation' rather than the emphasis on suffering and sacrifice that lie at the core of Christian ethics. But of course this has nothing to do with the significance of the Crucifixion as such. You puzzle me, Moonwalkerwiz. How can someone so obviously knowledgeable about Nietzsche not have a detailed understanding of Christianity? After all, so much of his philosophy, the concept of the superman and the revaluation of all values takes Christianity as a point of departure. Clio the Muse 03:47, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
(Edit Conflict) Also, Jesus did not 'lose the will to live'; this is obvious from what he said in the garden: "Father, if it is possible, let this cup (of suffering) pass from me - yet not my will, but yours be done". He died as a sacrifice for people's sins, not because he didn't want to live any more. He even said shortly before he entered Jerusalem, "This is why I have come (i.e., to die on the cross)" (John 12:27). BenC7 04:35, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
To tell you the truth, I don't study Christianity at all. I am a non-practicing Catholic by the way. I only know Christianity through what my mother and my elementary teachers told me about it. But I take it from Nietzsche that it's just unhealthy to delve in it. "How wretched is the "New Testament" compared to Manu, how foul it smells!—" he says, funny as ever. I guess I apply Nietzsche's views less on religious matters but more on the general philosophy of life. Thank you for the info, though, about the Cathars and the Gnostics. However, I am aware that Nietzsche was not criticizing Christ, he was basically awestruck with him. But the last Christian died on the cross, and Christianity now as I see it is nothing but the opium of the people. But this is far from the original question so let's drop it. ( : Moonwalkerwiz 04:32, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
If you want an accurate picture of Christianity, you should read the New Testament yourself, rather than relying on someone else's opinion. Incidentally, it says in Proverbs, "Every story sounds true; then someone else comes along and sets the record straight". If you only ever read Nietzsche, that's what you're likely to believe. BenC7 04:38, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
I've read some of it (though I like the Old Testament better, much more exciting) and it used to produce a kind of enchantment within me. But after reading Marx and Nietzsche I came to look at it very differently. If you want to reply, please post it on my page because I don't want to clutter the discussion here over the original question. Moonwalkerwiz 05:02, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
I have one additional comment to make. Those who are not familiar with the statement by Karl Marx might be interested in the full thing, which has very little to do with religion in any theological sense, and a lot to do with earthly suffering; Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, or the soul of souless conditions. It is the opium of the people. Clio the Muse 08:50, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
Sorry for interrupting the original topic again. But "very little thing to do with religion in any theological sense"? I don't understand what you mean, Clio. Marx was referring to religion as an expression of mankind's earthly suffering. He was criticizing religion as the necessary illusion of man/woman under the burden of an imperfect society. As long as people cannot face the reality that true happiness can only be achieved in this world, and keeps looking at someplace else (heaven, for example) for a unification with his/her essence (God in religion), then he/she attains no freedom. "The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion," he writes. When man/woman practices some kind of "universality" in state affairs (voting, etc.) and then goes inside his/her room to pray to his/her God at night (a form of "particularity"), it is an expression of society not yet humanly emancipated. As long as there exists a chasm between private and public life (as long as Rorty has his followers) man/woman is not fee. Moonwalkerwiz 00:10, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps worth noting, also, that when Marx wrote, opium was extremely widely used in the form of Laudanum. The 'opium of the people' is therefore a familiar drug, dulling inescapable suffering. As Clio hints, Marx was more concerned with the suffering than with the painkiller. Cheers, Sam Clark 15:05, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a theologian, by any stretch of the imagination. However, I've seen, and understood, that there are differences in interpreation between crucifixes, which show Jesus hanging on the cross, and an empty cross. A crucifix, which is more of a Roman Catholic symbol, represents Jesus's giving himself for mankind. The empty cross, which is more of a Protestant symbol, celebrates the triumph over Death. User:Zoe|(talk) 02:59, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

I believe Marx may have gotten it backwards. I would argue, tragic as it is may be as an observation of a large element of society today, that: "Opium is the Religion of the Masses".
And Clio, though I'm sure you didn't mean it, I fear that your statement that "Christ was not crucified for preaching against Roman power" though true in the narrowest of senses, nonetheless has the potential to lead to a dangerous misperception. No, the Romans didn't crucify Christ for preaching against Roman power strictly speaking, nonetheless, they did crucify him for causing unrest within the local population. Loomis 09:45, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
Loomis, this is an issue on which I refuse to be drawn, for all sorts of reasons, which, I feel sure you will understand. I assume you have read over the links I flagged up for Theavater, all relevant to the topic? I do agree that this is one of the most sensitive areas that it is possible to touch on, the source and cause of centuries of religious misunderstanding and anti-semitism. However, the strict interpretation would be that Christ was executed for blasphemy. Only the Romans had the power to carry out such executions; but when he was handed over to them, Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea, initially demurred, finding, as he saw it, no obvious fault. When the matter was pressed he, nevertheless, went ahead; so it is possible to say that the crucifixion was indeed a way of preventing further unrest, and I readily conceed the point. I make no judgement beyond that. Clio the Muse 23:57, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
Actually no, Clio. I haven't read over the links and I don't intend to. Loomis 03:43, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
Not a bad thing, and I do understand. Clio the Muse 05:54, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

Christians aren't the only ones to do this - the GLBT movement often uses the same symbol that homosexuals were forced to wear in Nazi death camps. Eran of Arcadia 16:35, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

Averting Nuclear War[edit]

Hello. A while back it was featured on the main page about some Russian who averted nuclear war during the Reagan Administration by ignoring the faulty declarations of a computer that the USA had launched missiles at Russia. Does anyone recall who this man was? Thanks. 02:03, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

It was Stanislav Petrov. Clio the Muse 02:06, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

Thank you! 02:08, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

You are very welcome. Clio the Muse 02:09, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
Didn't they have several such incidents? I can only remember 2 more: Cuban missle crisis, and one time that the Russians thought that a ?Norwegian? weather balloon was an American missle. I think that in both occaisions, we were only minutes away from nuclear war (the second one at least). | AndonicO Talk | Sign Here 02:16, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
Now that I have the base article, I can go along the linkchain -- most likely you are thinking of Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov and the Norwegian rocket incident. You can also see the article World War III.
There have been at least 4 such "false alarms". See [1]. -- 14:21, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

Titles and Duties of crew members on a ship[edit]

Hi, I've been trying to find the definitions of various types of crew members on a sailing ship. I can find every bit of sailing terminology from knot making to racing but nothing about the people who work on and maintain the ship. I got started looking for this information because I thought I recalled that one of the crew member's jobs would be to relay the Captains orders by yelling them out to the rest of the crew. I guess they would be the captain's assistant or something. But I cannot find any information to the actual titles these crew members would be given.

Any help would be much appreciated.

Thank you, Zelda ;)

What era and what size ship are you talking about? A three-man yacht and a ship-of-the-line have very different crew requirements. --Carnildo 07:07, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

Oh sorry, I was thinking about the old large wooden sailing ships with actual sails. Not anything modern. Thanks.

Why not have a look through some classic literature which touches on the subject of sailing? I would recommend Moby Dick and Two Years Before the Mast. The page on Able seaman also has a link to other marine occupations. The assistant to the captain on a sailing vessel, incidentally, is usually known, depending on the size, and the degree of formailty, as the master's mate Clio the Muse 23:53, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

Will do, thanks ;)

Canada in WWIII[edit]

People keep telling me that if there ever was a WWIII between USSRand USA, that Canada would be bombed out of existence just because it is between the two. Is this true? Would Canada be wiped off the map by the USA just so that the Soviets would not be able to establish a beach head? Or would it just be a case of faulty nukes prematurely exploding over the Canadians? --The Dark Side 02:55, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

Since the USSR ceased to exist several years ago, it is highly unlikely. -THB 04:04, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
I think the past tense is the operative context here, and the sense in which the question should be understood, interpreted and answered. I do not have the information, so I can venture no detailed response. I will say, though, that if there ever had been an all-out nuclear war, Canada would have fared no better than the rest of North America, suffering either direct attack or massive radiation fall-out. Clio the Muse 04:13, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
The OP is referring to some dark plot by the Pentagon to bomb Canada to prevent the Commies from establishing a beachhead. Doesn't seem very likely for a lot of reasons. If there had been a WWIII, it would have been a nuclear (or nucular) war, with no invasions. I don't think the USSR even had the capability to land a large enough invasion force anyway. D-Day was relatively small (only a handful of divisions) and from bases a short distance away and it still took 6939 ships and boats.[2] Even if the Reds were daffy enough to try, why would the USSR land in Canada instead of the US? It's not as if the American coastline had strong defenses in place. The US wouldn't have bombed Canada either - a little matter of radioactive fallout being blown south. Besides, the Americans wouldn't have dared; they knew that we would have unleashed our hockey players on them, eh. Clarityfiend 05:37, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

Nuclear missiles that fall short of their target wouldn't detonate, but would spread some radioactive contamination. The only direct targetting of Canada would likely have been the DEW Line, the Mid-Canada Line and the Pinetree Line, which were an important part of joint US-Canadian defences during the cold war. However, of the three, only the Pinetree Line is near populated areas. StuRat 06:00, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

The USSR had plenty of missiles to spare (good old overkill). There's not a lot of worthwhile Canadian targets, so I'm sure they would have dropped a few on Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal/Quebec City basically, with a sprinkling of other targets. Clarityfiend 06:13, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
I think using them to take out US missile locations and other targets would be a much higher priority. StuRat 06:35, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
They had plenty for both, with backups, and backups for their backups. According to this [3], a precision strike by the US against Russian military targets would take 1300 missiles. At the time of its dissolution, the USSR had 35,000 (Russia and weapons of mass destruction#Nuclear weapons). Assume say 3000 American targets and even with the lesser accuracy of Russian ICBM's, you'd still have a huge redundancy factor. It was just ridiculous how paranoid they were in those days. Trust me, they wouldn't have left out any significant US allies (including our mighty, stealth, nuclear-powered Zambonis). Clarityfiend 06:58, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
This is an excellent point, Clarityfiend. People have a tendency to believe nuclear strikes would be against population centres and major strategic locations; but I have seen target lists which, among other places, included transport hubs and rail networks in Austria, which was not even a member of the NATO alliance. Clio the Muse 08:33, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
It should be noted though that the 35,000 refers to total warheads, not necessarily armed weapons, and not necessarily ICBMs or SLBMs. You'd have to look at the number of launchers to really know what their strike capacity was. -- 14:28, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
90% of Canadians live within 100 miles of the US border. -THB 06:42, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
I think this is an important point. Even if they didn't target Canada, targeting large US cities near the border with hydrogen bombs (Seattle, Detroit, Buffalo?) would probably wash quite a bit of fallout into the heart of Canadian cities as well. -- 14:28, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
How would bombing Canada before any Russians landed there stop them later on? Or am I misunderstanding this? DirkvdM 09:57, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
There seems to be some presumption that if the U.S bombed a Canadian harbor or beach, the Russians would be unable to land an invasion fleet there later, either because it woudn't exist anymore (?!) or because it would be so radioactive they would die. In the immediate post World War 2 period, the U.S. conducted atom bomb tests and had our military personnel move into the bombed area soon afterward. I have seen a documentary which showed an old Pentagon film of this , with soldiers/sailors shown in the post blast area smiling and healthy, to show that our soldiers would be able to fight and win a nuclear war. The documentary then showed some of the same personnel as old men with cancer, which they attributed to the radioactivity. After a week, the fallout has becreased dramatically in intensity, and after 2 weeks U.S. civil defense manuals said it would be safe for citizens to come out of their fallout shelters and go on with life. If the Soviets had nuked a Canadian or U.S. port or landing area to eliminate defenses, in a few days the commanders would probably have been willing to send soldiers into the area to exploit the breach in defenses, and defenders would be sent in to stop them. Battlefields are places where combatants get killed or maimed immediately in horrible ways. The possibility that they might die 10 or 20 years later or even a few weeks later would have likely not been at the top of the worry list for fighters at the Charge of the Light Brigade, Antietam, Custer's last stand, The Battle of the Somme, Battle of Stalingrad, the Battle of the Bulge, the Guadalcanal, or Iwo Jima. I doubt that the commanders would have conceded the still-radioactive battlefield to a ruthless foe to protect the health of their troops. Edison 16:22, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
Yes, the Soviets sent many people to certain deaths in the Chernobyl cleanup. They gave them paper masks and told them that would protect them, which they did, long enough so they didn't die until shortly after they had finished the cleanup. StuRat 08:38, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
Many of them knew they would die, but went in anyway without coercion to save hundreds of thousands of lives. Clarityfiend 09:51, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
Right, I saw a documentary in which some of those workers explained how that worked. They knew they were being exposed and that the 'protection' was pretty useless, so they went in for a short time each. Which is why it would have been hundreds. Of whom many delveloped cancer later on. I suppose that also has to do with this idea Russians have that they can take anything. This was in a documentary on nuclear energy, and one of those workers declared himself an advocate of nuclear energy, despite what happened. DirkvdM 07:23, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
StuRat, you shouldn't expose yourself like that (no pun). People might start thinking that all the rest you say is complete bull too. :) DirkvdM 07:24, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
It wasn't "complete bull"; many of them went in with completely inadequate protection, and died as a result, just as I said. StuRat 12:18, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

SeeSL-1 A U.S experimental military power reactor incident lead to the deaths of the three operators and a radiation level of 500 roentgens per hour. Volunteers were sent in to retrieve bodies with a 65 second exposure allowance. "Radiation exposure limits prior to the accident were 100 roentgens to save a life and 25 to save valuable property. During the response to the accident 22 people received doses of 3 to 27 roentgens total body exposure and 3 doses above 27 R. In March 1962 the Atomic Energy Commission awarded certificates of heroism to 32 participants in the response." Onboard a nuke sub, crew would have to endure lethal doses of radiation to try and limit a reactor incident, since the alternative would be loss of the sub and entire crew and comtamination of the local area. Firefighters at Chernoble were sent to lethal exposure levels to limit the damage. In a war, in battles such as those listed above, soldiers are exposed to the liklihood of death or maiming to invade or defend a country, so high rad exposure level would be likely be allowed as well. Edison 17:26, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

The Seven Worlds[edit]

There was a mention of seven worlds that were created along side Earth in the Jewish religous texts, this page once existed, but now it doesnt... could anyone provide the names of these seven worlds

Well, they're mentioned in the Zohar in an exegesis of the Psalms ("I will walk before the Lord in the lands or earths of the living" (Ps. cxvi. 9).) But I don't see their names there - the Zohar would never be so prosaic as to be pinned down to a single list of them, or a single interpretation. Still, here are some things I found on the web; how much is in the actual texts and how much is later elaboration is left as an exercise for the reader - Nunh-huh 03:36, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
  1. Arqa
  2. Adamah
  3. Tziah
  4. Gey / Geh
  5. Nishiyah / Nesziah
  6. Erez
  7. Tevel / Thebel (Earth)

Stuff to look at: [4] Ah, and oddly enough, we seem to have no article at The Seven Worlds, but one of our mirrors does.... Apparently we deleted it as non-notable and unsourced. - Nunh-huh 03:44, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

I for one think this seems rather interesting and notable. Someone up for giving an article another shot? Sourced this time of course.--SeizureDog 20:25, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

Falkland Islands[edit]

Why did the British leave waffles on the Falklands?

More seriously, how large is the current British garrison on the islands? --Carnildo 06:42, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

According to Military of the Falkland Islands, they maintain a force of about 500 soldiers. This is a tiny number overall, but huge relative to the Falkland's population of just over 3000. Those troops, and nine aircraft, and a frigate or destroyer, are there to defend against any further attempts by Argentina to retake the islands by force. StuRat 08:57, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
I know my knowledge of history is bad but the leaving of waffles on a group of islands really confuses me. I don't see a mention on the Falkland Islands article, so could someone explain what this means? I'm guessing it's not the breakfast cakes that we're discussing... Dismas|(talk) 14:31, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

The questioner is referring to a famous double-meaning headline from 1982: "British left waffles on Falkland Islands". 14:53, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

LOL. StuRat 15:47, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
Does 'to waffle' mean the same thing in the US as it does in the UK? Anyway, for those of you who may still be perplexed by this it simply means that the political left in England, headed by the Labour Party, talked at length about the Falklands issue without reaching a definite conclusion. Nothing at all to do with the breakfast cakes! Clio the Muse 23:42, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
Yes, same meaning in the U.S., where—I suspect as in the UK—it is primarily an activity of politicians. - Nunh-huh 23:44, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

Doonesbury tends to use imagery for political leaders, instead of actual images of Presidents, candidates, etc. One of his images was of a talking waffle. I wish I could remember who it was representing. User:Zoe|(talk) 03:04, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

According to Waffle (speech), it was none other than Bill Clinton. Clarityfiend 06:16, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

"Waffle iron" = golf club used to strike politicians who constantly change their positions. StuRat 08:58, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

Lebanon and March 8[edit]

We all know why the governing coalition in Lebanon is known as the March 14 coalition, but from where did the anti-government forces derive the name March 8? Is it just a label that's applied to them by outsiders? If so, why?

--Noung 10:50, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

The reference is to a mass demonstration organized by Hezbollah on March 8 2005, directed against Israel and US policy in the Middle East. Clio the Muse 10:56, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

Workers owning their factory[edit]

Is there an example of workers owning their factory / plant / big business so that they make the decisions and control the shares receiving the dividents? Is it viable? How would it work? Keria 11:37, 2 December 2006 (UTC) p.s. I'm thinking big businesses say 100+ employees.

I heard about a factory in South America (I think) quite recently, don't know much about it, though, Argentina in connection to a national economical collapse, or similar... 惑乱 分からん 13:04, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
See worker cooperative and list of cooperatives. See also John Lewis Partnership, which is slightly different.--Shantavira 14:05, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
Note, though, that that list of cooperatives is not about this. In the Netherlands section (the one I'd know about) there are some companies that definitely aren't worker coopertives. DirkvdM 07:02, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
See socialism. -THB 03:44, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
A hell of a work incentive. We could do with some more of that. DirkvdM 07:02, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
Some more of what? Loomis 22:21, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
You know, Loomis, that dear old fashioned notion that Friedrich Hayek warned against in The Road to Serfdom, and even Edmund Burke anticipated, when he wrote; This barbarous philosophy, which is the offspring of cold hearts and muddy understandings. It's an intellectual museum piece, some might be happy to say. Clio the Muse 00:14, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
Seriously, Clio. I warned you of my literary limitations. If you want to spread your message to all the flora and the fauna of the world, you're gonna have to dumb it down a few notches. Perhaps even the elms might understand! But yes, thanks to the hyperlinks you provided I managed to catch the meaning of your post.
I wouldn't call it a museum piece though. I happen to think that the idea of workers owning the business they work in should be given a chance and thought through a bit. Let's say you start with 100 workers on something simple like a farm. Of course someone has to decide which crops to plant. Human nature being what it is, we all have our respective strengths and weaknesses. Some are strong and are able to do the heavy tasks such as ploughing the fields, some are well trained in horticulture and are better at tending the delicate plants, and some are exceptionally intelligent and are just born leaders. It's only logical, then, to choose the brightest among the workers to make the important decisions. It's also only logical that the rest of the workers respect the decisions of the leaders, for the good of all. Otherwise the business would be a failure and all the workers would suffer. But wait, now they're not truly equal, are they? That's not right! I know what's wrong! One of the leaders is a traitor! The solution is simple: Blame it all on Snowball, send him off to exile in Mexico and then have him assassinated! Ok, so I may have done a bit of reading in my day. Loomis 03:28, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, Loomis; for once it is me who is being unclear. My response was in relation to your question about Dirk's statement which was in relation to THB's suggestion. Phew! The museum piece in question is socialism rather than worker co-operatives. Clio the Muse 05:51, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
No, you were clear enough. I knew it was socialism. With all your literary prowess, couldn't you tell that my response was a pretty obvious reference to Orwell's Animal Farm? Even if you haven't read it...exile to Mexico? Assassination? Ring a bell? Trotsky? Perhaps I've overestimated you. Loomis 06:44, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
Oh, yes, Napoleon; I understood that-All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. Clio the Muse 06:53, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
When all the while I was talking about worker cooperatives, which is, after all, the subject at hand (also note the indentation). But now that we're off-topic, nothing wrong with socialism, as a counterbalance for capitalism. (Or were you guys thinking of state socialism (animal farm)?) One needs a bit of each. Socialism at the bottom to keep people from starving and a free market for the rest to keep the economy going. Most countries have that, even the US, although many take it a bit further, giving the bottom enough, not only to lead a decent life, but also to ensure that people are fit (and knowledgeable) enough to be productive and that all children get an equal chance. DirkvdM 07:36, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
You've basically just described the "capitalist" welfare state. And all this time I tought you were a Marxist. Loomis 19:37, 4 December 2006 (UTC)


During a movie or play, what is the most effective way to stop someone in the audience near you from popping and snapping their gum? The glare usually doesn't work, because the chewer doesn't understand what the annoyance is about. Asking the person firmly to cease and desist often increases the popping and snapping. Threats of violence, of course, are off-limits. Your best advice? 14:50, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

If they respond to a polite request by making still more noise, it is unlikely you can get them to stop by asking nicely. If other neighbors show solidarity and also tell them to shut up, they might respond to social pressure or fear of getting hit. Possibly they are bored and do not want to be there, but someone coerced them to come. Possibly the performance is wretched and their artistic sensibilities are offended by it. Self-help attempts by you, such as grabbing them and throwing them out of the theater, might be prosecuted as assault and battery. What is left is to inform an usher of the offense and let them deal with it if it is a concert, opera, or play with high admission charges, assigned seating and enforced decorum. They are good at shushing or removing people at the first break in the program where a scuffle will not interrupt the performance. If it is the movies, try moving to another part of the hall, or get a big screen TV, digital cable, and a DVD player and then be selective about who you invite to watch movies with you. Edison 16:46, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
A problem everyone faces eventually! I'd say try to get the seat behind him, and kick his seat from the back( gently, at least at first). If not possible, try to establish alliances, like Edison said. And of course, the people sitting behind him are of utmost relevance when it comes to alliances like that.Evilbu 22:09, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
The most effective way is a .38 Special or equivalent. --Carnildo 22:36, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
Levity?--Light current 22:40, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
No, that method splatters brains all over the screen, which is fine for horror movies, but really kills the mood during a romance scene. :-) StuRat 12:12, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

Proof for God's inexistence[edit]

As with any other theory, it can be formulated in a falsifiable way or a non-falsifiable one.

The most common is the non-falsifiable model, which, by nature, must be rejected, since that is by itself a fallacy. The reason for this is that it just doesn't describe anything, it doesn't provide any prediction for any testable event (think of it as saying something and then accusing the tester of misunderstading your statements).

On the other hand, all falsifiable "God theories" are absolutely trivial to refute, since all experience shows that random governs the world, not any "intelligent" being (think of cursing God and not happening anything as a bad example).

Everybody should accept things as they are, because otherwise results in lower happiness due to continuous frustrations while facing the real world. If you accuse an incoming car of not existing, then you will face the consequences when it hits you.

Therefore, everybody should be a strong atheist.

Please, comment my argument... possible flaws, misunderstandings... Thanks.

--GTubio 15:03, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

Per WP:NOT, "Wikipedia is not a soapbox: Wikipedia is not a soapbox or a vehicle for propaganda and advertising. Therefore, Wikipedia articles are not: Propaganda or advocacy of any kind. Of course, an article can report objectively about such things, as long as an attempt is made to approach a neutral point of view. You might wish to go to Usenet or start a blog if you want to convince people of the merits of your favorite views. You can also use Wikinfo which promotes a "sympathetic point of view" for every article." This also applies to the reference desk. Thanks. Edison 16:51, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
Hi. Two objections: 1) the claim that non-falsifiable theories are nonsense is not obviously true. The first reason for being worried about it is that it appears to be self-refuting: is the theory 'non-falsifiable theories are nonsense' itself falsifiable? 2) It is highly disputable that 'all experience shows that randomness governs the world'. If this is true, how is it that we are often able to predict the course of future events? None of this demonstrates the existence of God, but your argument doesn't seem to disprove it either. Cheers, Sam Clark 15:11, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
To avoid confusion I'd like to know what you are trying to prove/disprove exactly - ie define what you mean by 'god' - this may sound obvious but it helps a lot. 15:21, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

To be a true scientific theory, the existence of God would, indeed, need to be falsifiable. A specific description of God, can, in fact, be tested. For example, the theory that God created the Earth and Adam and Eve a few thousand years ago can easily be tested and disproven, as every scientific method we have at our disposal (plate tectonics, radioactive decay, sedimentation rate, erosion rate, genetic drift, etc.) proves that the Earth is far older than that (some 4.5 billion years old). However, if you allow "God" to be a nebulous "creative force", which can be redefined as needed, then that "theory" is not falsifiable, and therefore not scientific. For example, we could say that God controls the vibration of the cosmic strings upon which everything is based. Then, if scientists are later able to identify the source of that vibration, God could be redefined to be controlling that source. This can happen ad infinitum. StuRat 15:33, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

Niggle - - from scientific tests we can infer that the earth is older, but not prove it. (Your use of the word 'proves'....) 15:41, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

In my experience, if one wants to start poking holes in the notion of God, it's best to take a psychoanalytic perspective. Why do people want to, or need to, believe in God?

Best answer I can give: it creates, in their minds, an omnipotent power that they can appease, for favorable results of course. Declaring faith in God is, I think, no different from invoking the word 'karma' or 'fate' to account for one's circumstances.

We all crave certainty, and if there's large gaps in our understanding, getting 'God' involved is an extremely useful way to temporarily alleviate any uncertainty. However, every time you ascribe things to being the work of God (or karma, or fate), it's like tying a little knot in your brain, that will need to be untied later, for the sake of clarity, serenity, and overall being a happy and useful member of society. Theavatar3 20:04, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

I would not begin by saying that "science doesn't explain everything." I'd rather state that science is good to test, explain and prove things able to be tested. Many domains of human knowledge are not in science's scope.
E.g., history cannot be tested, lived once again, be it populations', societies', or individuals'history. You may tell that it happened and offer proofs : the experience is not reproducible and proves nothing more.
When science stops, there is religion, not better nor worse when considered as human experience, there is philosophy, art ... Let God preserve us from inane thinking - if he has time to think about us. -- DLL .. T 21:18, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
Ah, my favorite topic. Trying to squeeeeeeze God into the "science box" amounts to practicing Scientism. Science has limits and God falls into the category of metaphysics of which natural science is a mere subset. Check out the Pope's otherwise controversial discourse on Religion and Reason, here, for an interesting read. IMO, the error that tends to be made is confusing science with reason and scientific with reasonable. Reason goes well beyond the limits of science (at least as science is presently defined). --Justanother 06:07, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
My God is omnipotent, and therefore, obviously able to transcend those subjects such as "science" and "logic" that us feeble-minded primates so arrogantly think we've mastered. Attempting to prove the existence of God is an excercise in absolute futility. In fact, if some scientist or master logician were to claim to have finally arrived at absolute proof in the existence of God, that person would surely be insane. God will forever be scientifically and logically unprovable, and that's why I love Him! Loomis 02:19, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
Such a god surely has no use whatsoever. That which is outside the realm of description is in the realm of madness or death, and no one has ever returned from it to tell the tale. "What we cannot speak of, we must pass over in silence." - Moonwalkerwiz 01:12, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
What I see as the problem here can best desribed as hubris. Humans, though we may be the most intelligent of all life forms we know of, are ultimately limited in our intelligence. All of us, no matter our beliefs, must accept this inescapable truth, be us Atheists, Agnostics or Deists (such as myself). To expect a human to understand the infinite mysteries of the universe (which, in my case, includes a Supreme Being) is akin to expecting a cockroach to understand simple arithmetic. From a cockroach's perspective, simple arithmetic, 1+1=2, is completely and utterly incomprehensible. It's so far beyond the limits of their intellectual grasp that, for them, I suppose it can fairly be described to be "outside the realm of description". But does that mean that simple arithmetic is "in the realm of madness or death?" Of course not! All it means is that cockroachs are so incredibly feeble minded that the simplest of concepts are beyond their grasp. Of course us humans are far more intelligent than cockroaches. To us, simple arithmetic is child's play. Unfortunately however, our intelligence has its limits as well. Even the brightest minds among us still struggle to understand the mysteries of the universe. And when it comes to the most difficult questions of all, such as "Why are we here?", "What's the meaning life?", "Is there a God?", we're no different from cockroaches attempting to tackle what for them (not that they even possess the capacity to even contemplate the question) would be that most mysterious incomprehensible of incomprehensibles: "What is 1 + 1?" Loomis 05:46, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
You're comparing apples and oranges. Of course, 1+1=2 is not outside the realm of description. It's a mathematical equation. It is within the realm of reason. It is within language. Cockroaches cannot understand it because they don't have reason, they are in the realm of reason's opposite (madness). But can the same logic be applied when comparing humans and god? No. Because this time, the cockroaches(humans) are the ones that possess reason, and man (god), madness. This time, the only describable world is our world, the human world and not some other godly world. This time, god is indescribably and we cannot derive any reasonable proposition from him because he (I'm not implying that he is male) is outside the limits of reasoning. "we're no different from cockroaches" - that's preposterous. God, in the realm of madness, indescribable, infinite, without reason cannot be of any use to a sincere man/woman. For I ask, how can something that cannot possibly exist in our consciousness be of any use to us? Moonwalkerwiz 07:42, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
More hubris. Can you not accept that there exist some truths that are simply beyond the grasp of human intellect? Just as a hypothetical to illustrate my point, can you not envision some extra-terrestrial race as intellectually superiour to us as we're intellectually superiour to cockroaches? You seem to divide "intelligence" in the broad sense of the term, into two and only two categories: Humans, endowed with reason, and non-human animal life, not endowed with reason. I'd submit, with the backing of the scientific community no less, that this is a gross simplification of the notion of "intelligence". Rather, it exists on a spectrum, as an admitedly oversimplified illustration, try to think about it in these terms: Cockroaches → Chickens → Cattle → Dogs → Chimpanzees → Humans → Hypothetical Creature X → Hypothetical Creature Y → Hypothetical Creature Z → ? These hypothetcal creatures need not exist for my point to remain valid. All I'm saying is that human intellect is limited, and to believe otherwise, that the human mind is the epitome of intelligence, is pure hubris. Loomis 14:33, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
All He/She/It/They would have to do is show up and perform a miracle, raising all the dead from a cemetary would do nicely, and then we would have proof. StuRat 12:09, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

american law[edit]

im taking a test and this question is not very clear to me. help would be greatly appreciated!

the following events are out of order: the jury anounces the verdict, judge instructs the jury before the trial begins, grand jury votes for and indictment, a summons is mailed to each prospective member of a petit jury, and members of a petit jury are selected. Which step is Grand jury votes for an indictment?

I believe they want you to put them in order, number them, and tell them which number is assigned to that step. If you put them in order, we will tell you if you are correct. StuRat 15:35, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
The grand jury indictment comes before the petit jury trial. -THB 00:17, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
We say "do your own homework" not to be mean but because this is stuff you are supposed to learn. It really does not help you if we give you the answers. So look at grand jury and look at petit jury and look at your books and work it out. --Justanother 07:24, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
Of those it would come first in order. (I sure hope this is a high school homework question and not a law school or bar exam question...otherwise, I wish I'd gone to your law school or was taking your state's bar exam!) Loomis 09:30, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
Just to make it perfectly clear:
  1. grand jury votes for an indictment
  2. a summons is mailed to each prospective member of a petit jury
  3. members of a petit jury are selected
  4. judge instructs the jury before the trial begins
  5. the jury announces the verdict - Nunh-huh 21:28, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
Of course, summoning a jury is usually unrelated to any particular indictment and could conceivably happen before the indictment (not that the wheels of justice normally turn that quickly) Rmhermen 21:48, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
Good point, since he asked about the mailing of the summons. I have had jury duty a number of times and it seems the summons was mailed out about a month before the appearance date. So conceivably that could be the first item on the list. Mmmm, maybe a trick question (wink). --Justanother 22:58, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
You're both right. But that would be a nasty trick question, or, more likely, the professor hadn't considered that possibility. Reminds me of a trick multiple choice question I once encountered: Which of the following four don't belong? 1) A Rhinocerous, 2) A Zebra, 3) An Elephant, or 4) A prune. Why the Zebra of course! It's the only one that isn't wrinkly! Loomis 01:57, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

Wouldn't court cases be simpler if they just determined who is the richest, and have them win automatically, without going through the pretext of a trial ? :-) StuRat 11:58, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

Yes, that would certainly be an improvement on the situation in the US. You could also take the less drastic measure of reforming the system in a way that's less prejudicial to the party without the deep pockets. It's a bit better on that count up here, but we could use some reform too. Loomis 18:56, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

Direction to story?[edit]

I read a story I liked, and it was called... The Cabuliwala. In Afghanastan, and there's this girl and the Cabuilwala, and stuff. How is it spelled? X [Mac Davis] (DESK|How's my driving?) 17:02, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

Kabuliwala. –mysid 18:51, 2 December 2006 (UTC)


What was the senate vote to confirm Ruth Bader-Ginsberg? 19:13, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

Do you mean what was its result? It was 96 to 3 (see Ruth Bader Ginsburg#Judicial career). –mysid 19:23, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

Only $19.99![edit]

What's the term for that annoying sales tatic where everything is just a penny (or a nickel) shy of being a round dollar? --SeizureDog 20:17, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

Psychological pricing. –mysid 21:04, 2 December 2006 (UTC)
Does that work in countries with sales tax? I mean, if you want to calculate what $19.99 is with 14% tax, surely you'll round it to $20 to make the calculation easier? --Bowlhover 03:21, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
Almost every entity in the US has sales tax, but it will be almost impossible to find a $20.00 product. What's even more ridiculous is the pricing of gasoline, which goes to the tenth of a cent. User:Zoe|(talk) 03:36, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
Well, it's common practice in the UK, where VAT-or sales tax-is built into the price. The addition of tax at the counter was something that really threw me when I first visited the US. It's particularly embarrassing if you have only just enough money to buy what you wanted! Clio the Muse 03:36, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
Conversely, I was very surprised in Europe to find they quote prices with tax included. You'd think someone over there would have realized you can make things look cheaper if you add the tax on to the listed price. But I guess if you were the first person to do that, everyone would think you were trying to cheat people. -- Mwalcoff 05:10, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
And it would probably be illegal. A price is a price. You don't go adding to the price afterwards. It's highly unethical. "Oh, sorry, forgot to add in the cleaning lady's wages, so that's another 20 cents". But when you're used to it it may seem normal. When I was confused by this once, fresh in the US, and asked about the price difference, the guy at the counter became positively rude, took my money, turned to help another customer and only after that gave me my change. I was flabbergasted, didn't say a word. Only later did I realise what had happened. DirkvdM 07:10, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

Well, it's not uncommon in Europe, or at least parts of Europe, for restaurants to add a service charge on to the bill. That's never included in the listed prices. -- Mwalcoff 18:45, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
More on the topic, something similar, albeit on a much smaller scale, has happened in the Netherlands since the introduction of the euro. Most shops now round off the prices. Up or down, depending on the price. But of course, given the pricing strategies, it's usually up. DirkvdM 07:19, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
As for always rounding prices up, this is a reason why the penny hasn't yet been discontinued in the US. There is concern that everyone will raise prices to the next multiple of 5 cents, and this will cause an inflation cycle. StuRat 08:30, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
As for not including the taxes in the price, I find this annoying, too, especially when they say "you pay only X", when you clearly must pay Y. However, it is useful in one respect, Americans are all quite aware of what tax levels exist on various items, as a result. Hidden taxes have a tendency to rise uncontrollably. There are cases where the tax is included, such as with gasoline, and many states require a disclosure of the taxes on each pump to avoid this "hidden tax" problem. StuRat 08:30, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
I was under the impression the gas stations themselves were choosing to do this so people blame the government, rather than them, for high prices. -- Mwalcoff 18:47, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
Part of the reason sales tax is not included is that it often varies from place to place. For example, I live in Spokane, with (last time I checked) a sales tax of 8.5%. Five miles from me, outside the city limits, it's a few tenths of a percent lower. By not including the tax in the stated price, a store chain can use the same advertisements everywhere. --Carnildo 22:42, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
Wouldn't it be simpler to mention the tax level next to the price? Anyway, without that, people in the Netherlands know fairly well what the tax levels are. Around 10% for basic goods (looked it up - turns out to be only 6%), 19% for luxury goods and high taxes (accijns) for special cases, up to hundreds of percents for tobacco. I don't remember that tax being added on at the counter in the US, though. DirkvdM 07:59, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
You proved my point in that you didn't know the tax rate for basic goods. If you saw the before- and after-tax prices, like in the US, then you would know that. StuRat 16:07, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

As for picking prices slightly less than a dollar, that is due to the faulty way many people truncate prices rather than rounding them, in their minds. So, some people see $199.99 and remember "it was a hundred something", rather than "it was two hundred dollars". This makes the price seem much lower. StuRat 08:30, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

A related concept is that of tips, especially where the tips are added in on a mandatory basis after the fact. I am thinking restaurants that do that with large parties but it is also done with cruise prices ("port charges additional") and many other things. Re the $19.99 I have finally trained my 7-year-old and now when he looks at the Lego catalog he says "Dad, this is only $40" when it says $39.99. I always let him slide on the tax and s/h. --Justanother 18:19, 3 December 2006 (UTC)
In the Philippines, where the US influence resulted in them also slapping the tax on at the counter, I noticed that often there were very weird prices, which after adding tax became nice round figures. But often, such as in hamburger joints they did this the wrong way around, starting with the price they wanted, say 10 peso, then substracting the tax, say 10%, putting up the price of 9 peso and then at the counter supposedly 'adding the tax' again to reach a price of .... 10 peso! I thought about asking them to do the actual calculation, but decided not to bother. I regret that now. Could have been fun. DirkvdM 07:59, 4 December 2006 (UTC)
Yes, many people don't realize that if you decrease a price by 10%, then increase the new price by 10%, you still end up with 1% less than the original price. The really odd thing, is that if you increase the price by 10% then decrease the new price by 10%, you still end up with 1% less than the original price. On the other hand, maybe some Filipino accountant understands it all very well, as is now laughing maniacally while rolling naked in a room full of pennies. :-) StuRat 11:53, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

I think the briefest answer to the original question is "First impressions count". As for tax, in Australia since 2000 most goods and services have attracted a 10% GST. It is illegal to quote a price net of GST (suggesting that the cost to the consumer is only $50, when it will actually be $55 if GST applies), and even the practice of saying "This item costs $50 plus 10% GST, for a total of $55" is strongly discouraged. JackofOz 00:06, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

I suspect that it's discouraged because the gov doesn't want people to think about how high their taxes are, as this might cause a backlash from the voters and then legislatures would be forced to reduce taxes. Of course, the $50 base price also includes many hidden taxes; on the manufacturer, delivery trucks, etc., but these are a bit harder to show, as they aren't "per unit" taxes. StuRat 04:43, 5 December 2006 (UTC)