Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2007 April 13

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April 13[edit]

Global Warming Economics[edit]

Scenario: - Sea level rises by several meters or more in the next century (or more quickly). - Coasal areas, major cities flood. ie. London, Shanghai, Vancouver, Miami. etc. you name it.

People's real estate investments will dissapear. Stock markets will crash. Currencies will devalue.

Will a transfer of wealth take place on a global scale? What would the best way to preserve any of your savings? What has history shown in examples similar? Thanks. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 03:23, 13 April 2007 (UTC).

If this change happens over a century, I would expect major cities to build massive dikes. If the Netherlands can exist largely below sea level, so can those cities. Poor countries would be the ones which would need to abandon coastal areas, but they have less valuable real estate to lose. StuRat 07:32, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
I agree with StuRat that the wealthiest places can probably come up with a technical solution to rising sea levels, at least during our lifetimes. This is among the least of the near-term threats to the value of assets. The collapse of the real estate bubble; the mushrooming external debt of the United States, which threatens the value of the world's reserve currency and thereby the financial stability of the world as a whole; peak oil; nuclear war: any of these could send the value of assets and currencies tumbling. Unfortunately, this constellation of financial threats is historically unprecedented, so there are no guideposts. I am not qualified to provide financial advice, but those who are qualified generally recommend diversifying one's assets. This should involve owning completely different kinds of assets, including real estate in safe and economically resilient places, some stocks or other financial assets in a variety of different sectors, countries, and currencies, and some precious metals. This way, if any of these kinds of assets collapses in value, one is likely to be able to preserve some wealth in another kind of asset. Marco polo 13:04, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

As for what to invest in, may I suggest seeds? Dikes, meanwhile, will probably be only for the most monumental and important cities (the New Yorks, Londons and Shanghais of the world), whereas when it comes to the less prosperous, less culturally valuable cities, I would imagine those would just be abandoned to the waves rather than have the billions of dollars spent on their survival. My home town of Birmingham is especially well positioned - according to estimations, even if the polar ice caps melted completely us Brummies will get a coastline. 14:08, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

fund managers[edit]

dear sir/madam,

i wanted to know how fund managers work?for example,if we consider the arcelor-mittal deal,how did the fund managers help in the deal?how did the different fund management companies help in the deal?what is the work done by the fund management companies like BARKLAYS,CITIGROUP etc in the deal?

thanking u

Mohitshalla 05:44, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

We have an article on fund management. Generally speaking, a fund manager manages investments on behalf of group of investors. The investors may be private individuals or institutional investors, such as banks or insurance companies. The investments are usually held in a collective investment scheme which safeguards the assets within the fund and ensures that all investors are treated equitably. The term "fund manager" may refer either to a firm providing these investment services or to an individual who makes investment decisions. The funds managed by fund managers can be significant shareholders in industrial companies, so fund managers' views on the profitability (or otherwise) of a merger or takeover offer can play a significant role in deciding whether the offer is successful. Gandalf61 09:56, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Intellectual property rights[edit]

I has to present an Essay on the following topic: "Imagine the world without Intellectual property rights!" But I don't have much idea about this issue. Can anyone plz help me in detail. To be frank I want to know introduction, maincontent and conclusion. Temuzion 10:32, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Temuzion, go to Intellectual property and if there is anything to still do not understand then come back here. Clio the Muse 10:50, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Picture China just a smidgen more lawless. 'nuf said. On second thought, this is a bad example. Clarityfiend 15:16, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
It is impossible for me to imagine a world without intellectual property rights, because we have always had them, one way or another. We have not always had individual property rights, and we do not have them uniformly now. From the privileged presses in England to the various government licenses in the US to the government collective ownership in the Soviet Union, there have been protections by law of intellectual output, either through permission (licensure) or protection. Religious authorities, state authorities, and then, later, personal laws have exerted this "ownership" of intellectual rights. The thing only comes up as an issue when an extant power has no interest in an intellectual endeavor and an emerging market does. (E.g. the Soviet might not care about DVD's, but the consumers do, so the external "owners" aren't protected by the existing Soviet's regulation.) Such cases have always, in the past, resulted in the emergence of a new power (e.g. copyright itself, which emerged when sub jure matters turned into matters of political concern). Utgard Loki 17:24, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
I don't think you could have NO intellectual property rights without also having no perception that words should or can be "owned by" anyone...which, in turn, would mean a lack of the authoritative voice that comes with that ownership of ideas on paper. The cascade effect here would be startling: it would be easier to build on the work of others, since you could borrow more, but there would be less incentive to do solid work, especially pre-digital files, because anyone could copy your work without your name -- the object (parchment) would be worth more, proportionally, than the ideas on it; I bet you'd get more decoration and less content in early writing as a result, and thus slower cultural growth in some ways. For more about the ways in which IP and authoritativeness drove the era of writing, and in turn the acceleration of scientific thought, I recommend the works of Walter Ong and Neil Postman.

Also: one possible response (IF your teacher has a sense of humor) is to hand in someone else's essay on the topic, with a note that says "in a world with no intellectual property rights, handing in this paper under my own name would be perfectly legitimate. Heck, you could even just cut and paste my words above, to start with... Jfarber 18:41, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Well, I'm not sure that we had a drive of the era of writing from intellectual property. In the ages before copyright, we had solid and continuous advancement, and the monastic model (signing your name is the sin of pride) did alright. There was always glory to be had. In today's world with intellectual property, glory is all the author of an advanced work is likely to get anyway. (I have a ... friend ... who wrote a book on literary theory. It was a 'best seller' as these things go. It was praised madly in the scholarly press. He made $800 total on it. I'm sure his publisher did better. I have another ... friend ... who made a record album. Sold well -- 10,000 copies -- and got played on college radio. Made $250. Again, the distributors did considerably better than that.) In other words, without copyright, we still have progress, but less directed and controlled and orderly progress, perhaps. Geogre 23:49, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Well, there was a time when "intellectual property rights" benefited the populace in general. In the early years of the Industrial Revolution the only options one had to recoup the investment in development work was to keep them a trade secret and hope that no competitor found out. Companies and their output were quite small in that era. So eventually the concept of the patent was developed, where the inventor sold the IP to the Crown, which then issued licenses. Unfortunately, nowadays the main purpose of a patent seems to be patent trolling. The other day I saw one that stated that sevoflurane can be dried over molecular sieves. Prior art, anyone? Dr Zak
I'm always thinking about copyright, but patent is another, bigger issue. I suppose that the guild structure also protected patents and income-averaged to some degree. The real need for patents probably comes after the emergence of capitalism. For our questioner's professor's thought experiment, we get to reimagine an entire world to fit this one thing, so I suppose we can have our medieval guilds killing rogue practitioners, wearing aprons, and chanting in the back room of the local diner. :-) The patent system today and prior art is ... well, apparently my body is in flagrant violation of intellectual property rights, as it never got permission to make those proteins that have been patented, and it never got royalties for expressing genes that Amgen owns. (Yes, I know, they really own the processes of purification, not the molecules themselves. The patent office isn't that stupid, after all.) Geogre 12:28, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
Emergence of Capitalism? How do you define Capitalism? I'd say the need for patents emerged with large-scale manufacture. Wikipedia's very own History of patent law says that the first patents were issued in 15th century Venice and then in earnest in England with the Statute of Monopolies 1623. That sounds about right, given that the ironworks in Coalbrookdale, where coal was first used for iron and steel making, date to that era. (As a chemist I did make the pilgrimage to the place.) But Geogre, you are more at home in that era, so you must know what arts and literature say about the impact of trade on a larger scale. Dr Zak 03:16, 15 April 2007 (UTC)
I'm more at home with the era, but I'm entirely at sea with money and the monied, so I know more about the effects of the ingenious invention and patent on the hoi poloi. Capitalism, in the sense of industrial production where a single point would be in control of the means, needs patents to protect it from unfair trade. Thus the very important laws to protect the water loom, the spinning jenny, and the tulip (yes). When there is decentralized production, away from a large facility or owner, a state benefits most by national patents. E.g. a farm technique helps the nation most when it gets spread about. That's what I meant by capitalism requiring fully developed patents (private intellectual property) instead of crown licensing or national intellectual property (the laws forbidding the English long bow from being exported or bowyers leaving England go way back). Again, I was just saying that we needn't assume that "intellectual property" means "individual property" or "company property." Geogre 04:07, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

I always laugh at the phrase "intellectual property rights". What's so intellectual about lyrics like "I'm gonna slap dem bitches an' ho's" ? StuRat 00:54, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

1864 Election[edit]

Hello Wikipedia, I am hoping you can help me track down some specific sources about the 1864 Presidential Election. This was between Lincoln (R) and McClellan (D) during the American Civil War. What I want to find is information related to what effected the outcome and what the publics opinion was during the time leading up to the election.

Also I am looking for information about the Atlanta Campaign, specifically the importance of Atlanta strategically and morally to the war. I know how important Atlanta was to the election but I don't really know why.

Any other info, newspaper articles and guidance would be very useful.


And hello to you! McClellan's biggest ally was war weariness. The fall of Atlanta, an important commercial and transport hub, was second only to the fall of Richmond, and gave Lincoln's campaign a huge boost, reversing months of disappointing news from the battle fronts. Also, the Democrats were deeply confused in both purpose and direction. George B. McClellan was adopted on what might be described as a Copperhead platform, but immediately rejected this, saying that he would fight the war 'more skilfully' than Lincoln. Nevertheless, he still had to run with George H. Pendleton, the vice-presidential nominee, and a leading peace Democrat. Few, moreover, can have been convinced that the man who effectively let the Confederate army escape after the Battle of Antietam was capable of any decisive initiative. Federal officials also ensured that soldiers in the Union army would have every opportunity to vote, thus giving a huge boost to the Lincoln ticket. In the end, the American people decided that, with every justification, it was important not to 'change horses in the middle of a stream'. There are several references on the Wikipedia page on the 1864 campaign, which should give you some more detailed information. Clio the Muse 11:33, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Although there are specific works on this one part of the war, I recommend the third volume of Shelby Foote's The Civil War: A Narrative. He is immensely readable, and he consistently covers the way that the military actions were playing with the civilian leadership. McClellan was quite popular, and the election was not a landslide, but polling the troops diluted any single area's votes.
Let's put it this way: states are won or lost, not general votes. Therefore, the states nearest to the war (and, other than Gettysburg, the South's defensive strategy meant that the north had not been invaded), which might have voted most for peace and separation, would also have the most troops in them. These could be registered as voters from their home states or not. If you win a state's vote, you get that state's electoral vote. Add to this the "shadow governments" that the Federal government had set up for various southern states, and you get some distortion immediately. (In other words, Georgia, for example, would not vote, but there might be an "official" Georgia delegate anyway, and this person would be beholden, probably, to one of the war parties, as he could only hope to become the real, as well as official, representative of Georgia if the war continued to victory.)
Atlanta was extremely important. The South had used the roads very effectively to resupply and reinforce its troops in battle after battle. Because it was fighting defensively, its troop positions were always "close" to a held position on the rails, and therefore a large army could be transported quickly where it was needed. For the north, transportation meant a large baggage train and a long march into enemy territory. Therefore, the destruction of the rails had been a war aim of the north in all of its military actions, from the outset of the war. Killing Atlanta was therefore massive.
In the Atlanta battles (there were at least three in what we would now call Atlanta that determined Atlanta's fate), Sherman's mission was not to occupy, but rather the neutralize and isolate. Hood made some famous mistakes in that, and Joe Brown made some thoroughly stupid decisions that cost the state its status entirely. News from the West had been very good for the north for some time, but news from Virginia had remained frustrating. Atlanta was another of the western successes. Utgard Loki 17:15, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Wen Jiabao in Japan : what does he speak?[edit]

Hello, it is no secret that I find languages an interesting topic. A few days ago I saw Wen Jiabao on a visit in Tokyo. First he was jogging and talking to some local Japanese, then he went to parliament. What did he speak? I mean, do those Japanese people in the street speak Chinese? Or does he speak English or Japanese?? Is it common for "important" people to learn Japanese in eastern Asian countries (as if it is the lingua franca?) —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Evilbu (talkcontribs) 14:20, 13 April 2007 (UTC).

I cannot find any evidence that Wen Jiabao speaks anything other than Chinese. He is an engineer by training and has not spent much time outside of China. I don't think that many Chinese of his generation, even with college educations, speak English or Japanese. I don't think that most Japanese can speak Chinese. When dignitaries such as Wen travel outside of their home country, they bring a team of interpreters. Relations between China and Japan are important enough that Wen probably uses interpreters who can interpret directly from Japanese to Chinese and vice versa, without going through English. As for the jogging scene, he was probably either accompanied by an interpreter, or repeating brief Japanese pleasantries that he had memorized. Marco polo 15:42, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Okay thanks. Seeing that he is from Gansu, is it likely that he doesn't just need "a Chinese interpreter" but really an interpreter speaking his language and Japanese? I find the continuum of dialects/languages within China hard to grasp..Evilbu 09:43, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
Hmm? Anyone who wants to get anywhere in China must be fluent in Mandarin. No matter what Mr Wen learnt as his home language, he now certainly speaks Mandarin almost every time he opens his mouth (probably his provincial tongue only comes out when he phones his mother). 14:20, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Muslim prayers[edit]

I have noticed that most practicing Christian and Jewish people "say a blessing", or thank God for their meal before eating. Is this a common practice among Muslims? Thanks... J.delanoy 16:25, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Grace_(prayer)#Other pre-meal sayings... AnonMoos 17:34, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Presence of US troops[edit]

Japan and Europe still have US troops located there this long after WWII. Will US troops in Iraq have to be there that long as well? 18:06, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

As far as I've read/seen, that's still a matter of debate. Dismas|(talk) 18:08, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
You are comparing two completly diffrent situations. The US troops in Europe and Japan were stationed there because of the Cold War, to protect the allies of the USA from the Soviet/Russian/Communist threat. The locals needed and wanted the US military there. These days I don't think that the Iraquis (or better yet, certain powerful factions inside Iraq) will leave the US troops (and any future US military bases) remain there unharmed. If the US military doesn't retreat it will be attacked every day (as usual these days) and suffer small loses again, again, and again ad perpetum. It is more likely that the US military will retreat with its tail tucked between its legs. Flamarande 19:34, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

I would say isolated US bases out in the desert would be pretty easy to defend, as anyone who comes near them would be shot. It's only in cities, where they can't keep a safe distance from potential attackers, that there is a threat. Of course, such isolated bases aren't quite as useful, either. StuRat 19:52, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Insurgents (or rebels or terrorists, call them what you want) don't atack US military bases. They attack the patrols and the supply convoys. A mine or a IED is alltoo esy to place on a road and an ambush is not impossible. Shoot, run, and hide. Don't forget that for many Iraqis the US troops are slowly becoming less and less 'allies and liberators' and more and more 'foreign ocuppiers'. Flamarande 20:00, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Well, having a base that is out of site helps with that, too, as it's hard to be angry with somebody you never see. I was talking about eliminating patrols. Supplies can be brought in by helicopter/plane, or, if the base is on the border with a friendly country (or perhaps Iraqi Kurdistan), supplies can be safely trucked in. StuRat 20:14, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

It might very well be that your grandchildren one day ask if American troops will remain in X (supply any location you like) as long as they have in Iraq! Military victory in that country was easy; political victory, the more fundamental prize, seems to be as far away as ever. The real problem seems to be that the United States and my own country (Great Britain) entered Iraq without any clear idea what the long-term political consequences would be, or without even knowing how finely balanced the ethnic and religious tensions in that country were. We now have the wolf by the ears: we do not want to hang on, but we dare not let go. If anything this problem, in both political and strategic terms, is worse even than that of Vietnam. America could, and did, cut and run from the latter conflict; but just imagine what would happen if the Allies did the same thing in the Middle East. For one thing the power of Iran, growing steadily by the day, would increase dramatically. Repulsive as he was, Saddam Hussein was an opponent of Iran, and Iraq, in geo-political terms, an effective counter to that country's ambitions. Iraq's new democracy is far too weak to stand up to the power of Iran and the support it has from the Shia militias in the south. Withdrawal would also been seen as a victory for Al-Qaeda and the old Baath party elements, who are behind the Sunni terror campaign. I hate making predictions, but, yes, Coalition forces are likely to be in Iraq as long as American troops have been in Europe, and under far less favourable circumstances. Clio the Muse 00:04, 14 April 2007 (UTC)


While i've been reading some psychology related texts, i've seen a kind of personality disorder called “schizotypal personality disorder”. It is defined here: as: “Schizotypal personality disorder, or simply schizotypal disorder, is a personality disorder that is characterized by a need for social isolation, odd behaviour and thinking, and often unconventional beliefs such as being convinced of having extra sensory abilities.” I’ve also heard that in some cases of FBI, people with ESP abities are hired, so does it mean FBI uses people with schizotypal personality disorder through investigations, or this is a rumour, or people with ESP abilities really exist, or what? Can someone please say the difference, i’m rather confused...

Well, it all depends on what one believes about ESP. If I believed that ESP did not and could not exist, then I would believe that anyone who claimed to have ESP to be either a liar or somehow mentally disturbed. If a person honestly claimed to have ESP, I might consider them to have a schizotypal disorder as their belief would be, in my point of view, odd and unconventional. I would also not hire them for their ESP skills, as I would not believe that those skills exist.
If, on the other hand, I did believe that ESP existed, then I would be unlikely to consider anyone claiming those skills to have a schizotypal disorder, as I would not consider such a claim to be odd or unconventional. I might in that case hire them for those skills.
If the FBI hires people with ESP for certain investigations, I would assume that the FBI considers their claims of ESP to be valid - which would mean that the FBI would not consider them mentally disordered. If the FBI did consider a claim of ESP to be a sign of mental disorder, then they wouldn't be likely to hire someone who claimed ESP, because they wouldn't believe in ESP in the first place.
As to whether ESP exists or not... I'd say that most scientific evidence suggests "not", but that doesn't stop of lot of people believing that it does. - Eron Talk 18:58, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
I don't believe in ESP, but that doesn't mean I think those that claim to have it are either liars or mentally disturbed. I suspect that most just tend to recall any vague premonitions that could possibly be thought to have come true, while forgetting about the overwhelming number that didn't. That's just human nature, to only recall the interesting events. Also, if, say 1 in 6000 people have premonitions of a disaster each day, then that would be one million each day, leaving a million people convinced they are psychic because they happened to have had that feeling on 9-11-2001 or the day or the tsunami or some other disaster. StuRat 19:45, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Very true. The human tendency is to seek patterns, and often we create patterns where there is really just random coincidence. That said, if there are three general attitudes towards ESP - it's real; it's a misguided belief; it's a sign of mental defect - only the first of those would lead me to engage the services of people with ESP. - Eron Talk 20:09, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Though they're not "the absolute" answers, they are relevant and rational, thanks... (by the way, I guess nobody could give an absolute explanation)

I knew you were all going to say what you said above.  :)
Seriously, if there is such a phenomenon as ESP - and I don't discount it - then I doubt it's amenable to rational or scientific analysis. If it exists, it exists despite lack of scientific explanation. Scientists would say, "Well, that's only because we haven't found a scientific explanation for it yet, but it's only a matter of time. And when we discover it, it will no longer be extra-sensory because whatever makes it happen will have been proven to be sensory, not extra-sensory. All we have to do then is expand our notion of what the senses are and what they can perceive." But what if it really does exist, and really is permanently beyond scientific explanation because it's - and I hate to use this word but I can't think of a better one - supernatural? JackofOz 15:28, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

Government - the cyclical pattern in historical governments[edit]

I read somewhere that a theory exists defining how government has changed throughout history. This theory explains that forms of government seem to be changing in a circular pattern, which persists, and eventually whatever form of government we have today will eventually change into a form of government we have experienced before.

I don't know any specific terms, so I've had a hard time of finding what I'm looking for on Wikipedia. I'd appreciate any leads to an article here, or to external documentation. -- Secondary Ed. Undergrad 19:51, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Since my response contains opinion, I've placed it here: [1]. StuRat 20:02, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
I'm looking for a way to apply it to the civic education of students discussions. I'm writing a paper on the topic, and also working on a speech to persuade individuals to involve their children in their communities. I think if I could apply this theory, it would greatly help me in defending the need for civic participation in American democracy. I would hopefully be able to use it to show the potential for undesireable change in our society. -- Secondary Ed. Undergrad 20:29, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Ah, the eternal recurrence? Sorry; I'm joking! I myself know of no theory that puts forward this kind of circular model. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that earlier and arguably more primitive forms of government can recur, but this would depend on the nature of any given nation's history, and the relative strength of both its civil society and forms of law. If you take the example of Russia, a country with little in the way of a democratic tradition, or an advanced civic culture, it is quite possible that it could revert from its present constitutional experiments to earlier forms of dictatorship; indeed, some might argue that this very process is already underway. But will democracy and capitalism give way in western society once again to feudalism and absolute monarchy? The answer clearly has to be no, and therefore modes of government are not, and can not, be subject to the kind of circular development you are alluding to. However, on the broader issue of politics, participation and civil responsibility there is a lot of material that might be useful for you to draw on, Secondary Ed, including some of the most ancient. What you are driving at would seem to be very thing that Aristotle promoted in both the Nicomachean Ethics and the Politics, namely that political participation of any kind has to be based on a civil partnership-It is clear that all partnerships aim at some good, and the partnership that is the most authoritative of all and embraces all others, and aims at the most authoritative good of all. This is what is called the city-state or the civil partnership. Our definitions of what constitutes a public good has clearly changed since the days of ancient Greece, but some of Aristotle's general principles still apply, including his contention that the ends of government is, or should be, the promotion of the welfare of the citizen. And for Artistotle citizenship is an active, not a passive construct, defined, it might be said, by the extent to which we as individuals take part in the whole process which gives shape to our civil and political culture. Citizenship is a privilege; but it is also entails a set of duties, the most important of which is direct involvement. The alternative would be to delegate all power and decision making to specialists and bureaucrats, which would mean entering the bleak world outlined by Robert Michels in Political Parties. Clio the Muse 23:33, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
As Clio is a historian, I am surprised that she did not mention the work of historical theorists such as Arnold J. Toynbee and Oswald Spengler, who both propounded varieties of social cycle theory. The Economist recently summarized Toynbee's theory as follows: "Civilizations proceed... from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to to courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to apathy; from apathy to to dependency; and from dependency back to bondage." His theory is discussed more fully in our article on his magnum opus, A Study of History. While this theory does not explicitly lay out a cycle of political development, it has implications for the likely trajectory of politics in a civilization moving, for example, from selfishness to apathy: democratic institutions break down due to lack of interest. Toynbee thought that he saw such a process in ancient Greece and Rome and foresaw a similar process in the Western world. While I think that Toynbee's claims were too sweeping and teleological, and his theories are very much out of favor among professional historians today, still I think that he had some useful insights. Perhaps because I am American and she is European, I disagree with Clio that the danger is that power will devolve to specialists and bureaucrats if democracy is allowed to falter. In the American context at least, I think that a much graver danger is of plutocracy, as the influence of money in politics removes the last vestiges of democratic choice. Politics in the United States are already sharply circumscribed by the very rich, who largely control the media and the mainstream political parties and candidates. Marco polo 01:45, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
You are right to raise life-cycle theory, Marco. I did not because it is pitched at far grander notions of the rise, development and decay of civilizations, which does not at all fit with a contention that forms of government somehow leap-frog one another over the passage of time. Besides Spengler (this is the second time I have had occasion to mention him recently!) is a cultural pessimist, whose philosophy of history has an analogy with the individual biological life, linear, in the deeper sense, rather than circular: decay, in other words, is inevitable, and does not lead to a return to a former state of political existence: At last, in the grey dawn of Civilization the fire in the Soul dies down. The dwindling powers rise to one more, half-successful, effort at creation, and produce the Classicism that is common to all dying Cultures. The soul thinks once again, and in Romanticism looks back piteously to its childhood; then finally, weary, reluctant, cold, it loses the desire to be, and, as in Imperial Rome, wishes itself out of the overlong daylight and back in the darkness of protomysticism in the womb of the mother in the grave. Not much about notions of civic responsibility there! The other possibility you might have mentioned is the work of Vilfredo Pareto, who suggested that history was the 'graveyard of aristocracies.' (Incidentally, I cannot recommend the Wikipedia article on Pareto, one of the worst I have ever read.) Yes, our 'dismal perspectives', yours and mine, clearly are conditioned by our differing standpoints. Living in Europe my life-every life-is increasingly conditioned and imposed upon by Toynbee's 'Universal State' with all of its bureaucratic delights! You Americans do indeed face the more immediate danger of the Super Plutocracy; and on that pleasant note I think you might appreciate one more-brief-quotation from Spengler: In the form of democracy money has won. Go down fighting, Marco; go down fighting! Clio the Muse 05:06, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
Hehe, I'm not nearly educated enough to take full part in this discussion, but it does seem that what Marco mentions could, in some way, apply to politics. I see a similarity between the progression that might apply to more recent history (Medieval to Present), and I wonder if it could be applied to even earlier history, showing a pattern similar to what I was thinking of. -- Secondary Ed. Undergrad 00:15, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
You might want to look at World Systems Theory as well. It isn't what you are describing exactly, but Wallerstein expands upon the idea of waves of history, power, and production. The link is here - DB 16 April 2007
My bad with the above - I was thinking of Long Cycle Theory. It doesn't have its own wiki entry, but the closest we get is here: It basically says that everything happens in long cycles. So everything we see today will repeat in the future, and has repeated in the past. It is very deterministic. 23:20, 16 April 2007 (UTC)


Jahbulon is purportedly the greatest secret of the freemasons : they worship the devil. It is akin to Babalon, a pagan goddess.

Gnostics and Manicheans also had a similar Yin/Yang principle : a combination of Yahve and Baal.

Can anyone confirm this ?

It is good that Wikipedia is revealing the secrets of the freemasons. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 20:43, 13 April 2007 (UTC).

So much garbage and unverified information has been written and reported about the Freemasons that these days noone really knows what they are truly about. A cabal, devil-worshipers, secret goverment, a world-wide conspiracy, gnostics, descendants of the Knights Templar, heretics is there anything that these guys haven't been accused of? Flamarande 21:00, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
What are the freemasons truly about? They are about bringing a lot of boring old men together to wear silly costumes, make funny handshakes and swear blood curdling and patently insincere oaths. Now, this is something they really would like to keep secret! Clio the Muse 22:14, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Also to raise enormous amounts of money for children's charities. The Shriners, for instance, are an adjunct of Masonry. --Charlene 00:07, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
I'm dismayed and quite astonished that our scholarly Clio would offer a description so harsh and partial (in both senses of that word). No less a personage than Benjamin Franklin, American statesman and a Founding Father of that nation, was a Freemason, albeit over two centuries ago, and the order was known to be perscuted by totalitarian regimes. Let's not be so quick to dismiss them, please! -- Deborahjay 15:25, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
What would be a suitable punishment for dissing the Masons (being stoned to death) ? :-) StuRat 15:37, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
Edgar Allan Poe got that one right! But I'd still rather drink with our resident historienne than do 'er in ;-) -- Deborahjay 15:45, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
But then we could at least be assured that she wouldn't die from a cold, couldn't we ? Or, if that punishment is too harsh, we can always subject her to the comedy of Jackie Mason, instead. StuRat 01:27, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

I can confirm being related to a free mason who is quite senior in their order. He is a decent, Christian man who would not have anything to do with anything so obscene as to worship the devil. Freemasonry, in modern terms, is a business order, who work with the common intent oof bringing decent businessmen into contact with each other, preventing the worse excesses of Capitalist worship. You might observe that freemasons have been advertising for members in recent years, and opening their doors to outsiders. The Jahbulon story is a furphy, like so many others, used in that recent bestseller/movie thingy. DDB 13:09, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

According to this, 15 U.S. Presidents were Masons. Not sure if that disabuses anyone of the notion that Masons are devil-worshippers, or confirms it. JackofOz 15:48, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
Occasionally they do something very, very stupid. I've read of other "trust exercises" that are part of the initiation ceremony. People are fallible, why undergo such humiliation coupled with the risk that something may go wrong and end up hurting or killing you? 17:22, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

I would rather-and more truthfully-describe them as silly and boring than devil worshipers. But it was just a little bit of fun, and I make no apology, even if Ben Franklin-and Amadeus-were once members. Clio the Muse 18:23, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

Clio, I'm sure you know this, but it's not "truthful" to say that any person or group is "silly" or "boring" - or, for that matter, "great" or "excellent". These are what's called subjective opinions. JackofOz 21:05, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
Are masons somehow different in England from the rest of the world? Here they tend to be made up of a lot of policemen and other such types, hoping to get a leg up the career ladder. I'm sorry if you do not like my response, Jack, but I do find middle aged men-and English masons are, for the most part, both middle aged and male-who wear aprons and roll up their trouser-legs and greet each other with peculiar handshakes, and so on and so forth, laughable in their absurdity, and there are times when even I cannot resist the subjective. I love the Queen of the Night and I think Sarastro is a crashing bore; now how is that for a subjective opinion! Anyway, I do not want to be drawn too far down this path, and I would just remind people that my response was intended to deflate the ludicrous suggestion made at the outset. Once again, I make no apology for this. Clio the Muse 22:22, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
To answer your question - the "class" of men attracted to the Masonic Order may very well be different in each country. Masons here in Canada tend to be private businessmen - accountants, independent geologists, and the like - and often see Masonry as a networking tool. (Although there are far fewer Masons now than there were even 30 years ago.) Historically, though, Masons tended to be found among the more prominent members of English-Canadian society. Everyone from John Diefenbaker to Peter Lougheed to Oscar Peterson to Tim Horton have shown up on Masonic rolls. --Charlene 20:50, 15 April 2007 (UTC)
Subjective is absolutely fine, as long as it's acknowledged as such. It may be an objective fact that you consider them silly and boring (and you're of course entitled to that opinion), but that they are silly and boring is not an objective fact. (Disclaimer: I am not and have never been associated with the Masons in any way). JackofOz 00:09, 15 April 2007 (UTC)
Mmm, yes; but were you ever a policeman? No need to respond, Jack; I think I can make a fair guess at your answer! Clio the Muse 00:34, 15 April 2007 (UTC)
Clio the Muse, I am arresting you on unspecified charges. <Here insert the reading of the arrested person's rights>. You will be escorted to your talk page, where you will be questioned and given the opportunity to make a statement. If you have difficulties with English, an interpreter will be provided. JackofOz 02:30, 15 April 2007 (UTC)