Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2007 January 15

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January 15[edit]

History of carnivals[edit]

Hi again - can anyone point me to an online text describing carnivals/fetes/fairgrounds in 17th or 18th century European cities? - a Parisian carnival would be ideal, though I realise I'm asking a lot.

Thanks Adambrowne666 02:01, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

In French history, carnival is a very different concept from a fairground. Do you mean the latter, which is devoid of religious and quasi-religious undertones? --Dweller 14:53, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
You might have a look at Carnival, or, if you can read French, its sister article fr:Carnaval. Then have a look at Fair or fr:Foire. Marco polo 20:27, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
Thanks; what I was hoping for was more vivid physical descriptions of carnivals - what went on there, the tumblers, clowns, rides - rather than their history, which is what the wp articles concentrate on. To answer your question, Dweller, ideally, I'd love to find info on both carnivals and fairgrounds, though, again, I realise I'm asking a lot. Still the fair article does have a beautiful link to a 19th century account - I was hoping for something earlier in history, but it certainly helps. Adambrowne666 22:32, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

Spencer's Faerie Queen might have something for you, although it is from an earlier time than what you are after. Tom Pocock wrote an excellent autobiography of Horatio Nelson which might have some elliptical descriptions inside it for you. Jane Austen's work might give you some ideas of outside parties, but I imagine, with such a small middle class and so little liesure time there isn't much happening. DDB 03:51, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for that - got Faerie Queene from Gutenberg - very inspiring... Adambrowne666 11:18, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

See Emmanuel_Le_Roy_Ladurie. He wrote Le Carnival de Romans (available in English too) about a massacre surrounding a French carnival in 1580. I don't know if you can find this online, other than to purchase. --Dweller 16:46, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

Sovereign Immunity[edit]

The Wikepedia article on Sovereign Immunity makes the statement that "cities and municipalities are generally not considered to have sovereign immunity".

What sources or references would support this statement by Wikipedia? Is there specific case law that supports this statement?

No other articles on the net make such a claim. 03:33, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

Cities and municipalities have limited powers granted by the state but they are still executive government units and have sovereign immunity at common law. A city or municipality may limit their immunity by consent. The article is excellent in my view and cited many important cases. If you have access to a legal computer program, such as LEXIS or WESTLAW, and search for "sovereign immunity," you will probably get hundreds of thousands of cases. It is asserted routinely. 75Janice 04:58, 15 January 2007 (UTC)75Janice

3:00 14 January 2007 (UTC)

I'm sorry I didn't fully understand the question. The article states that municipalities do not have sovereign immunity when the action is brought under the equal protection or due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Violations of the Fourteenth Amendment are so important that an exception to Sovereign Immunity has been carved out in these cases. Generally, though, sovereigm immunity does apply to these entities.75Janice 16:52, 20 January 2007 (UTC)75Janice 20 January 2007

The Book of One Thousand and One Nights[edit]

Does this actually contain 1001 stories? Clarityfiend 04:43, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

The title is a reference to the period of time over which the stories were told by Queen Scheherazade - you can find the full legend on the page you linked. The exact number of stories depends on how you count them - the whole thing consists of stories within stories, so it becomes a question of what, exactly, you count as a distinct "tale." However, I do not believe that any counting results in 1001 tales, although I could be wrong. There is a List of stories within The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, if you would like to count them yourself. Carom 07:12, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
There are 477 entries in List of stories within The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, but each entry is not a distinct story. Some are titled, "The End of the .... Tale" - so there are multiple entries per story. --Kainaw (talk) 07:16, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
1001 (number) mentions how it is a conventionally large number. meltBanana 14:33, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
It's basically a collection of traditional stories so the total number depends upon which version you're discussing. -THB 15:40, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

Richard the Lionhearted[edit]

I have read somewhere that Richard the I of England was called the Lionhearted for his "lion" cruelty in putting down a revolt. Is this true? Which revolt? Thanks. Xanon 05:08, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

See Richard I of England. --Kainaw (talk) 07:12, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

I already looked there. The article doesn't answer my question. Xanon 04:21, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

Funny. When I read it, it specifically stated which revolt he put down. In fact, it still does: "After his failure to overthrow his father, Richard concentrated on putting down internal revolts by the nobles of Aquitaine, especially the territory of Gascony." --Kainaw (talk) 05:08, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

Funnier still, this absolutely does not answer my question! I asked if he was called "lionhearted" for his cruelty in putting down a revolt, not whether he put down a revolt cruelly. Can you see the difference?Xanon 05:25, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

It's "Lionheart" not "Lionhearted" - PocklingtonDan 11:11, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

Its origins are unclear, but the sobriquet seems to have been applied to him posthumously. It's widely assumed that it was for his soldierly qualities in general, particularly his Crusading. Assuming that the tag did arise posthumously, it seems unlikely it was for a specific incident of rebellion-quashing. And you are correct, our article gives no information about the name's origins, perhaps because they're so speculative. All we know for sure is that he is known by the nickname. --Dweller 11:26, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

...which was Coeur de Lion, as he never spoke English. The conventions of surnames were not yet standardized, even for nobility, simply the concept of a House, not unlike a clan. Individuals' "nicknames" often came from the stronghold in which they were born ("Soandso of Suchaplace") or some personal characteristic ("Longshanks", "Lackland", "Redbeard") --Wetman 17:00, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
As the name originated posthumously, it's irrelevant what language/s Richard spoke! --Dweller 09:34, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

Civic Age[edit]

Who created or used this expression and what does it realy mean. Jawson84.172.228.213

It ought to mean "an age of citizens." To me, it sounds like it refers to a historical time and place characterized by the rise of a politically important group to whom citizenship, civil society, or membership in the bourgeoisie is important. Harold Bloom divided up Western history into periods, claiming that an "aristocratic age" was followed by a "democratic age" lasting from 1832 to 1900. Your source may mean something similar by "civic age." I'm not sure it's a common or specific term, but a Google book search seems to confirm my suspicions, with some scattered examples referring to the rise of the ancient Greek polis, the post-feudal Enlightenment world of Giambattista Vico, etc. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Wareh (talkcontribs) 17:13, 15 January 2007 (UTC).

Analysis of cultural clashes between African Americans and Jewish Americans[edit]

Can anyone recommend a good analysis of the causes, prevalence, and ramifications of hostilities between African Americans and Jewish Americans? Preferably online, but anything is good. If the question or the phrasing sounds ignorant, it's because I am ignorant of this topic; I know practially nothing, and I don't even know where to start looking. Thanks in advance. Anchoress 10:58, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

Is this an essay topic or something? 惑乱 分からん 13:20, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
No, I'm just curious. Why, does it make a difference? Anchoress 22:59, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
I think you will have better luck finding unions between them, not clashes. I'm sure there are minor disputes in areas where large populations are mixed, such as New York, but nothing on a wide scale. It is a pathetic stereotype, but one of the neo-nazi white supremist skinhead KKK arguments is that the Jews and Blacks are working together to put down the white race. Therefore, you will surely have to sift through all that garbage to get to something real if you are doing online searches. --Kainaw (talk) 14:20, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
You may be right; but I had heard quite a bit about conflicts and hostilities between the two cultural groups, and I wasn't sure what was real and what was propaganda. I'm not meaning to imply that I think it's a huge problem, but it is a genuine phenomenon, and I would like to know more. Anchoress 22:59, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
Not sure if this will help you, but I think a lot of it stems from the Nation of Islam movement. Try Louis_Farrakhan#Farrakhan_and_allegations_of_antisemitism and Nation_of_Islam#Allegations_of_anti-Semitism. Also try Jesse Jackson. Now I'm not sure about this, but I've heard arguments about some problems between Jews and African American's stemming from some African Americans moving into Jewish-owned buildings in NY, not being able to pay thus being evicted, and accusing Jews of only caring about money, etc. I'm not sure of how much truth there is to this but maybe you can look it up. Hope this helps. --Solid Reign 14:32, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
Here's a better one for NOI: Nation_of_Islam_and_anti-Semitism--Solid Reign 14:43, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, I was already familiar with Louis Farrakhan etc, I'm very appreciative for the links but I'm interested in a bigger picture, rather than individual incidents, people or branches. Anchoress 22:59, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
Issues with the Nation of Islam have less to do with underlying African American/Jewish American clashes than the much more mundane Muslim/Jew sadness that afflicts Abraham's descendants. --Dweller 14:50, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
Well, yeah. My impression is that Jewish/Afro-American stereotyping isn't any more common between the two groups, than with other groups in USA. 惑乱 分からん 15:48, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
Regardless, the Nation of Islam is a Black movement, and most Jewish-African American tensions that I've heard of have come from there. The leaders from the NOI movement are identified with African American struggle, not with Muslim struggle in the US. I doubt that any Muslim who is not African American feels any kind of affinity to these leaders. --Solid Reign 16:08, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
Remember that it was Protestant minister Jesse Jackson who referred to New York City as "Hymietown". That has nothing to do with NOI. User:Zoe|(talk) 17:27, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, that reminds me there have also been some issues with Al Sharpton, who also isn't from NOI. --Solid Reign 17:46, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

I'm surprised there is no article on Black-Jewish relations in the United States. My sense is that it goes back to the 1960s. Jews were heavily involved in the civil-rights movement. There was a power struggle within that movement toward the mid-to-late 60s between the interracial moderate faction and the radical Black Power movement. As Black Power and afrocentrism gained more adherents, naturally conflict developed between those people and the Jewish liberals who had played such a large role in civil rights up to that time. Black Power advocate Malcolm X, in his biography (actually ghostwritten posthumously by Alex Haley), claimed Jews were involved in the civil-rights movement for personal benefit and didn't really care about blacks.

A further split developed in 1968, when New York devolved control of schools in the Ocean Hill-Brownsville area of Brooklyn to members of the local community. The neighborhood school board fired some teachers and replaced them with more-radical ones. The largely Jewish city teachers' union went on strike. Although not all the fired teachers were Jewish and not all the newly hired ones were Gentiles, the strike was largely seen as a black-Jewish controversy, and some manifestations of anti-Semitism were made by supporters of the neighborhood school board.

The Israel issue has to be considered as well. Many African-Americans have joined mainstream Islam or the pseudo-Islamic Nation of Islam and therefore identify with the Palestinians as fellow Muslims.

A 2005 Anti-Defamation League survey found 36% of blacks, but only 9% of whites, had "strong anti-Semitic beliefs" ( That said, it's questionable whether this is because African Americans have something against Jews particularly or white people in general. As Chris Rock says in his routine: "Black people don't hate Jews; black people hate white people. We ain't got time to differentiate." -- Mwalcoff 00:13, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

Thank you for this awesome answer. I have heard bits about this issue over the years, but didn't know where to start to understand the issue better. I've heard that a) it's just Zionism vs the Nation of Islam; b) it's garden variety racism, with ages-old anti-black sentiment dating back to long before Jewish immigration to NA on the one side, and 'trickled down' anti-semitism (from whites to blacks) on the other; c) it's classism that has been rebranded in a cultural context. I really appreciate all the info you gave, now does anyone have any comprehensive works that I can read? Anchoress 22:59, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
Anchoress, have you read How the Jewish Became White People? I don't think it may explain as much on the specific issue, but it does help with the definition of the Jewish racial identity and that might help with a part of the question. ColourBurst 23:29, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

Islam and ties[edit]

I've heard that some Muslims believe it is not acceptable for them to wear ties. Could anyone tell me why (perhaps citing some sources)? I've also noticed that Iranian government officials never wear ties, although otherwise they dress up according to western fashion, with suits and shirts; I've also heard they are actually prohibited to wear ties, but I'm not sure about that and I've never found the reason why. Thank you.

SFinamore 11:16, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

Here's a fatwa meltBanana 14:28, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
...which will tell you "It is said that it was a symbol for the obedience of the husband to his wife" and also assert "Allah knows best"! --Wetman 16:50, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
Thank you for that fatwa. The problem with fatwas in Islam however is that a fatwa is only as authoritative as the person who issues it, so I'm not sure that fatwa is really reliable. Anyway, I did some more research, and maybe I've found an explanation by Thomas Meaney on
The necktie has a knotty history in the Middle East. For some hard-core Islamists, its crisscross shape resembles a crucifix. For other, less fanciful Muslims, it's simply an emblem of encroaching Westernization. In the 1920s, when the secularist leader Mustafa Kemal came to power in Turkey, he encouraged his countrymen to abandon traditional Muslim garb in favor of suits and neckties. The modern style quickly swept the country and hasn't changed much since. In neighboring Arab countries, this advance of the necktie—like Kemal's Romanized Ottoman alphabet—was perceived as yet another inroad on traditional Islamic society.
In Iran, the tie became a much more controversial symbol of Westernization. The CIA helped Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi* take power in the early '50s, and in the years that followed, the shah's necktie linked him with his U.S. backers and their corporate oil interests. For many Iranians living under the shah, it was also a sign of his subservience and decadence. (Iranians still sometimes refer to the shah's rule as "the regime of the Crown and Necktie.") After the shah's ouster in 1979, the tie came under fire from Ayatollah Khomeini, who sought a return to Islamist—or at least anti-Western—attire. Ever since the revolution, Iranian officials have adhered to an unspoken dress code of dark suits, unkempt beards, and bare collars. (One of the ironies of Saddam's tielessness was that it made him look more like Iran's President Ahmadinejad than he would probably have cared to admit.) With their loaded history, neckties now make for a ready symbol of dissidence for pro-Western Iranian students, who nearly always wear them in protests.

Once again, thanks for your help. SFinamore 16:50, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

On a frightfully practical note, it is often rather hot in large parts of the arab world making shirt-tie-and-suit rather impracticable and the traditional thawb much more sensible. meltBanana 20:22, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

President Ronald Reagan's proposal to name Ketchup as a vegetable in the school lunch program.[edit]

I am having a discussion on-line concerning the Reagan Administration. I seem to remember Mr. Reagan proposed to name ketchup as a vegetable in the nation's School Lunch program. Can you give me any information on this matter? Thank you. Ronald Berry —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 16:21, 15 January 2007 (UTC).

This article might help clarify things for you. In short, the decision did not come directly from President Reagan - rather, the standards that reclassified ketchup as a vegetable were produced by the US Department of Agriculture at the direction of Congress. Carom 16:55, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
Of course the proposal did not come directly from Reagan. But it came from his appointee, John Block head of Agriculture Department, who continued to defend it long fter the proposal was withdrawn. Edison 19:15, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

And, of course, "cat soup" will be classified as a meat, under the school lunch program. :-) StuRat 22:29, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

Then again, tomatoes aren't really vegetables; ketchup would be a fruit. | AndonicO Talk · Sign Here 14:00, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

the 'Thirteenth Check'[edit]

I am quering the origins and the meaning of the "Thirteenth check" as a bonus that is paid to a companys' employees at the end of the year.I have heard that if you are paid monthly,it means you receive 12 pay checks a year,ie one for every month of the year, however if you are paid every 4 weeks ,it means that by the end of the year you receive 13 pay checks ie 52 weeks a year divided by every 4 weeks equals 13 paid weeks. Therefore if you are paid on a monthly basis,to make up that extra week in a year,companies offer their employees a thirteenth check!I am wondering if this is true and does anyone know the true origins Thank Ruti —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 18:37, 15 January 2007 (UTC).

Not knowing the setup but if you are paid monthly your payment would be equivilent to a month's pay. If you are paid four-weekly it is equivilent to 4 weeks. There is no reason for a thirteenth check unless the company paying their staff is paying them for 4-weeks pay on a monthly basis. I am paid on the 27th of each month as my work is a salary-pay it doesn't change month to month. If you are paid hourly/by the day a month's pay would vary dependent on how many working days there were in that month. ny156uk 20:18, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
I cannot definitively speak to the "thirteenth check," but teachers in some school districts in the United States are paid every two weeks, resulting in 26 paychecks. This means that, in two months out of the year (most commonly June and December, I believe), they recieve three paychecks, as opposed to the normal two. I'm not sure when this practice began, but I imagine the origin is concurrent with the origin of two- or four-week pay periods. Carom 19:19, 15 January 2007 (UTC)
In Israel, at least, some employers pay their employees a bonus in the form of an additional month's wages, hence the "13th month" (sic; literal :he:en: translation). This is calculated on their base rate for a standard month, and has nothing to do with the number of paychecks they receive during the year. -- Hope that helps, Deborahjay 08:56, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

European Parliament Coalition "Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty" : what is the point, if Bulgaria and Romania are to hold elections this year?[edit]


since the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union, the observers of those two countries are now members of the European Parliament as well. This allowed far-right politicians from several nations to surmount a barrier to form their own fraction (19 members). But I don't get it, those observers are just temporary representatives, Bulgaria and Romania will elect their own representatives within a few months. Why bother to make this fraction in parliament, knowing that it's possible those members from Romania and Bulgaria are not elected? Thank you,Evilbu 19:33, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

The factions/fractions may be trying to get strategic advantage for the polls/election. It could play well to their voters to be seen to favour joining this faction. Whilst it isn't certain they'll be re-/elected it may benefit them to lay out their store on the issue. Also it is a statement of intent. Whether that is seen publically as positive or negative it is an opportunity for a clear marker of what these groups/people support or want to do in the future. ny156uk 20:14, 15 January 2007 (UTC)


I was just in West Vriginia a little while ago and they had a relatively new sport which i tried called airboarding. They don't have it really anywhere else on the east coast except for vermont, so i looked for the wiki on it, but there doesn't seem to be one. is there some way it could be called something else or is it just really new?--Technofreak90 23:34, 15 January 2007 (UTC)

The two things that came to mind were airboard (a mini-hovercraft for one person) or skysurfing (skydiving with a board attached to your feet). I suspect you meant the former, since they are actually called "airboards". ---Sluzzelin 07:45, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
Ah, unless you mean sledding down snowy slopes on inflatable mattresses. I found some touristic websites calling this activity airsledding and airboarding too, but if you type airsled in the search box you get something entirely different. I sledded on inner tubes over 20 years ago, see Tubing_(recreation)#Snow, and I remember seeing downhill races with entire teams on rafts being broadcast on television around that time too, so the idea isn't that new. Maybe new materials, a new patent, or new marketing strategies have helped revive the idea, Some Alpine ski resorts offer it too. ---Sluzzelin 07:59, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

The particular sport of airboarding is definitely new to the us, but not the rest of the world.--Technofreak90 22:32, 17 January 2007 (UTC)