Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2008 December 16

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Humanities desk
< December 15 << Nov | December | Jan >> December 17 >
Welcome to the Wikipedia Humanities Reference Desk Archives
The page you are currently viewing is an archive page. While you can leave answers for any questions shown below, please ask new questions on one of the current reference desk pages.

December 16[edit]

Bengali Asian Eyes[edit]

According to the Bengali people article, it states that Bengalis have Tibeto-Burman ancestry. Some Bengalis especially the Bengali-speaking Bengladeshis have oriental eyes. What mongoloid tribes did the Bengali people mix with in history? Sonic99 (talk) 01:44, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

Your question involves a couple of assumptions, none of which is probably true. You assume that 1) a given ethnic group on the borderlands of South Asia and Southeast Asia can be assigned cleanly to one or another Western racial category; 2) that we can identify present-day tribes with people who may have intermarried with members of different ethnic groups in Bangladesh in the past; and 3) that there was a people that could be called Bengali before they intermarried with people that could be identified as Mongoloid. (Your question also assumes that Western racial categories are a meaningful way of classifying people, but I will not address that assumption.) Putting aside your assumptions, it isn't possible to give a certain answer to your question, which I will take to be something like "What present-day people with physical features akin to those of East Asians historically intermarried with the ancestors of today's Bangladeshis?" In fact, I don't think that there is a historic record of such intermarriage, but genetic evidence indicates that it occurred in prehistoric times. Marco polo (talk) 02:55, 16 December 2008 (UTC)
Well, Bangladesh is next to Burma (hint: Tibeto-Burman). Aside from the Burmese, there are a number of Tibeto-Burman minorities in the area (Lolo, for example). There's a good chance that there's been some historical intermarriage there. But equally, the British were in the area for centuries, as well as the Portuguese and the Indo-Aryans. Lots of mixing = hard to tell. Steewi (talk) 02:51, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

Contemporary philosophy[edit]

After looking around Wikipedia, I came to the conclusion that philosophy kind of died after deconstruction, meaning that there were no other real new movements. Is this accurate or did I miss something? Evaunit♥666♥ 03:38, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

You mean movements in Continental philosophy, because analytic philosophy has paid little attention to the trends of its cousin (although, as mentioned in Wikipedia's deconstruction article, Derrida has been criticized by a number of analytic philosophers namely Quine and Searle). Jean Baudrillard seems to be a reasonable big name in Continental philosophy who produced ideas outside of the spectre of deconstructionism. Slavoj Žižek's ideas seem to go against deconstruction. I am sure someone more well-versed in Continental philosophy can provide more insight, since I am an outsider.--droptone (talk) 10:19, 16 December 2008 (UTC)
In the continental tradition there's been a lot of developments in feminist philosophy over the past 20 or 30 years (although the major figures like Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva come from a post-structuralist background) and gender/queer theory (Judith Butler is best known, but again draws heavily on people like Michel Foucault). There are still people doing work in a Marxist tradition, e.g. Slavoj Žižek, Fredric Jameson, and to some extent Jürgen Habermas. Outside of work in specific fields (feminism, gender, maybe race) there's no big new movement, just steady progress by people from different traditions - although post-structuralism and deconstructionism was hardly a coherent unified movement either. Bernard-Henri Lévy is probably still the leading figure in French philosophy, and I think some French people are rather upset about the nation's philosophical decline. --Maltelauridsbrigge (talk) 11:00, 16 December 2008 (UTC)
As far as I know, among philosophers Bernard-Henri Lévy is considered a preposterous clown. French philosophers who have recently attempted to return to ontology and a kind of metaphysics, rejecting postmodernism and poststructuralism, are Alain Badiou and Quentin Meillassoux. (talk) 16:54, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

Prof. Grashchenko?[edit]

I'm trying to ascertain the identity and full name of a "Prof. Grashchenko" who was the USSR's representative on a post-WWII commission of inquiry (presumably international) into the Nazi-era Majdanek camp. This 1964 photo was taken on a visit to the Ghetto Fighters' House (also in the photo: Sara Shner-Neshamit and Yitzhak Zuckerman). Per this photodocumentation, he couldn't be Viktor Gerashchenko, who would have been 27 years old at the time; however, I suggest there appears to be a family resemblance. I'd appreciate any help in pursuing this further. -- Thanks, Deborahjay (talk) 07:47, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

It may be a coincidence, but the picture you showed does show a family resemblance between Viktor and the unnamed "Professor". While I would agree that, given the age, it is obviously not Viktor, I would not rule out a father/uncle/cousin connection somewhere... 13:12, 16 December 2008 (UTC)
I did a google search for both spellings: Grashchenko and Gerashchenko and it turned up enough hits (even removing all of the links to Viktor) to indicate that both are common enough Russian names to make this a somewhat difficult search. 13:16, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

British laws of war on land[edit]

I like to know what was the forreign policy of Britain about laws of war on land (laws and customs of war on land) during the 19th century especially on the second half of the 19th century. Was the policy of laws of war on sea was different? Did they act differently from other countries? Did they acted differently when they fought against armies in asia or africa (native) and other way when they fought white peoples (was the recorded policy different?) oded —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:11, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

I have added a subject heading to your post. Please take the time to read the reference desk header as it will help you get a faster response Nil Einne (talk) 18:32, 16 December 2008 (UTC)
The Brits were the first to use concentration camps against civilians, in the Second Boer War. The Boers were Africans of mostly Dutch descent. StuRat (talk) 21:29, 16 December 2008 (UTC)
Not so. The Spanish used them first, in Cuba. (talk) 11:42, 17 December 2008 (UTC)
Interesting. He beat the Brits by a few years, but was apparently less successful in their use. StuRat (talk) 15:44, 17 December 2008 (UTC)
Please stop saying "the Brits", by the way. (talk) 15:58, 17 December 2008 (UTC)
Isn't that an acceptable shortening of "the British" ? StuRat (talk) 07:01, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
Not really, no. (talk) 10:43, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
Whether the Turkish dislike being called Turks has absolutely no bearing on whether the British dislike being called Brits. StuRat (talk) 00:36, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
With respect, if a Japanese person asked you to stop talking about 'the Japs', would you argue the point with him? If some British people profess to dislike the term (as one of the posters in the Turks thread indeed does), it would be courteous to respect that.
Certainly the phrase 'the Brits' has an implicit air of condescension - a 'Yo, Blair' quality to it - that some people find distasteful. It'll only take two extra keystrokes to type 'the British', and you won't get people's backs up by doing so. Malcolm XIV (talk) 09:35, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
Again, whether one ethnic group dislikes a shortened form of their name has no bearing on what another group likes. Do Australians object to being called Aussies ? Or, for that matter, how about non-shortened nicknames. Do New Zealanders object to being called Kiwis ? Do Americans object to being called Yanks ? (As for the last case, I certainly don't object.) And what any one person prefers tells me nothing about how the term is taken in general. If you can find a dictionary entry that says it's a pejorative term, or some survey that shows that a large portion of the Britsh find the term offensive, then I'll stop using it. StuRat (talk) 18:25, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
How about you bother to listen when people ask you not to do something? I'd have thought WP:DICK strongly applies here. Malcolm XIV (talk) 00:40, 20 December 2008 (UTC)
I'm not likely to respect the opinions of people who insult me like that. StuRat (talk) 04:43, 20 December 2008 (UTC)
Oh the irony, it burns. —Tamfang (talk) 20:07, 27 December 2008 (UTC)

What's wrong with saying 'the Brits" btw? (talk) 23:48, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

Brit Awards. Sorry, just commenting on "Brits" really. ~ R.T.G 06:38, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
I can't think of a British person I've met here in the UK in the last six years who would find "Brit" the least bit objectionable or offensive, though it's not common usage at all here (the way "Aussie" and "Kiwi" are in their respective countries) and would lead the listener to guess the speaker is American.
Which isn't the question asked, but we've hopefully all learnt a few new things ;-) - David Gerard (talk) 09:59, 24 December 2008 (UTC)


Could you please tell me what occupation was a JUNKEEPER in Scotland —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:37, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

Do you have an example of this word in use? I am struck that it may be a transcription error for "jun. keeper" - a junior keeper. DuncanHill (talk) 21:57, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

I am working on my family tree and my third generation grandfather occupation is listed as Junkeeper.Robert Steel —Preceding unsigned comment added by Robert steel (talkcontribs) 22:34, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

I'm with Duncan on this. About 120 years ago? Game keeper. --Tagishsimon (talk) 22:36, 16 December 2008 (UTC)
You may want to ask on the Scots language version of wikipedia as it may be a scots term which they're likely to be more familiar with than most of the folk here at the English site. AllanHainey (talk) 09:28, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

Why is the devils tri tone so disturbing?[edit]

Why does it make my backhairs grow legs and crawl up my spine? What is so subconsciouly disturbing about well spaced notes? Does it somehow draw in a dark spirit solely from its physical makeup? I'm scientific but sometimes.....could someone tell me what's happening here?--Dr. Carefree (talk) 20:41, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

Some information in Tritone may help. Or not. --Tagishsimon (talk) 22:00, 16 December 2008 (UTC)
Also explained here[1] and some at dissonance. More eeriness here[2] on the effect of a minor scale. Julia Rossi (talk) 23:43, 16 December 2008 (UTC)
Keep in mind that those who wrote about the "disturbing" nature of the tritone tended to be listening to music in meantone temperament. It seems to be less disturbing to modern ears, at least in part because equal temperament makes it an interval of 600 cents rather than 579 cents. The "pure" tritone would be 583 cents. Do you find West Side Story unnerving? - Nunh-huh 00:05, 17 December 2008 (UTC)
The Flattened fifth needs to resolve onto the fourth of the scale. Thats why its a bit tension creating. Listen to bars 3 & 4 of Ellington's 'Take the A train' for the flattened fifth effect. Personally, I like it--GreenSpigot (talk) 00:22, 17 December 2008 (UTC)
In what context do you find it disturbing? The tritone is found throughout music. It gives the dominant seventh chord its zing, for example. And that is very a common chord I doubt few would find dark or disturbing. Think of that first chord, sung note by note, in the song Twist and Shout. When the 4th note comes in, making a tritone, does it turn dark? To my ears it rather becomes a bit energized. If one plays a tritone "bare", without other notes or harmonic context, it is fairly dissonant, but not as much as the minor second. There's some historical baggage about the tritone being "diabolical", but as other have said, that comes from old tuning systems in which the tritone often did sound awful. But in modern 12-tone equal temperament the awfulness has been greatly reduced--albeit at the expense of other intervals. I mean, listen to the equal tempered major third carefully. The way is it jarringly sharp from the pure resonance of 5:4 is quite disturbing! ...or perhaps energizing. Pfly (talk) 07:16, 17 December 2008 (UTC)
For further perplexing energizing/evil quandry check out some of Mars Volta's Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's use of it.NByz (talk) 23:40, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

What's wrong with dog meat?[edit]

Why is it forbidden in many countries to eat dog meat? The article makes some general comment on friendliness and emotion of dogs. The same could be said about pretty much any other domestic animal we eat (maybe with the exception of crocodile, but I'm not sure that really qualifies as "domestic"). So what's wrong about eating dogs (for non-vegetarians)? --Ibn Battuta (talk) 20:53, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

I'd say intelligence is important, too. Pigs are about as intelligent as dogs, but cows and especially chickens are less intelligent. Dogs have also been kept as pets the longest of any animal, so gained a special status from that. StuRat (talk) 21:15, 16 December 2008 (UTC)
Hm, I like the "privilege as longest pet" idea. As for intelligence, I heard that pigs are more intelligent than dogs (in fact, the most intelligent domestic animal) though I don't remember if this comes from a trustable source. --Ibn Battuta (talk) 21:47, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

PS: To clarify: I'm not so much looking for dog defenders (though they're invited to join the discussion, of course!), but I'm trying to understand why certain people or institutions feel so strongly about the issue. See dog meat for examples where people talk about "unnecessary cruelty" and ask for boycots etc. The Muslim prohibition could explain outrage among Muslims (though there actually isn't, at least not to my knowledge), but the most outspoken opponents don't even seem to have religious reasons. So... what's going on? --Ibn Battuta (talk) 21:52, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

I suspect it has something to do with the dog's status as a working animal (almost a tool when used skilfully). To eat a trained hunting dog would fill your belly for a day, but deprive you of food for much longer. DuncanHill (talk) 21:54, 16 December 2008 (UTC)
People generally oppose the eating of pet animals. Dogs and cats are strongly associated with being pets, and people interact with pets like they interact with other family members, particularly the way they interact with children. Thus, to some, someone eating a dog hooks into the same emotion as someone eating a child, although generally not as strong. Cultures that eat dog appear to be more common than those that eat cat, plus dogs have the whole 'loyalty, unthinking sacrifice' thing. Voilà. (talk) 22:09, 16 December 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I agree, but I also think that this is just one of those cultural "accidents". Different cultures have different do's-and-dont's when it comes to food. Muslims can't eat pigs, Jews can't eat shellfish, Hindus can't eat cows, westerners can't eat cats. Meanwhile, it's completely acceptable to eat a snail or frog in France, a dog in China, bull-testicles in Mongolia, or fermented herring in Sweden (that might not sound as bad as the others, but trust me, it stinks like nothing else). Different cultures simply have different hang-ups when it comes to food. Belisarius (talk) 00:49, 17 December 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Belisarius, it is entirely cultural. There is no real logic to it.--Eriastrum (talk) 22:47, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

There is one good reason not to eat dog: it's a carnivore. Raising cows is great because you're using the cow to process grass (something you can't eat) into meat (something you can eat). Raising dogs uses meat (something you can eat anyway) to make less meat. This doesn't make as much of a difference now (since the cows are mostly eating corn that could feed people), but traditionally it made eating dog rather wasteful. SDY (talk) 22:58, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

People not in the habit of performing such acts seem inclined to prevent them. Preventing all animal slaughter is less likely than preventing one or two types of animal slaughter first beginning, perhaps, with the one they grow up playing with and love, their little alien brother or sister (woof, woof)? Sigmund Freud (granddaddy of psychology?) says that our subconcsious reacts in a highly intelligent manner such as would support that teaching people evolution, that other creatures are less developed or infantile species, equates eating animals to eating children. This would lead to strong paranoia and a strong urge to prevent this paranoia without accepting the fact that anything unnacceptable has occured,or performing worse acts to convince the mind that it is not a bad thing to do. Now, Freud would equate an imagined brick to a remembered penis if he could convince himself but he convinced a lot of other people too. @SDY, Hasn't made as much sense for quite some time. At one time taking the skin off an animals back was priceless to any human and food which grew on trees was not available in such large fields and supermarkets. Winter would be a nightmare. ~ R.T.G 04:51, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

Quote by Emerson[edit]

Transcendentalist Emerson made some vivid comment on that he doesn't care if he changes his mind. I don't remember if he says you could shoot him with a cannon or whatever. The bottomline, however, is that if he said something different before, who cares, now this is his opinion. Anyone knows from this vague description which quote I might refer to? Thanks, Ibn Battuta (talk) 20:53, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

Don't know about Emerson offhand, but Whitman expressed something similar when he wrote "Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes." Deor (talk) 21:54, 16 December 2008 (UTC)
You're probably thinking of the essay Self-Reliance. The famous quote is: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." --Fullobeans (talk) 22:55, 16 December 2008 (UTC)
Fullobeans is right. This is a glorious essay, worth reading in full, and then reading again once a year. The paragraph you are thinking of is this:
"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Out upon your guarded lips! Sew them up with pockthread, do. Else if you would be a man speak what you think today in words as hard as cannon balls, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said today. Ah, then, exclaim the aged ladies, you shall be sure to be misunderstood! Misunderstood! It is a right fool's word. Is it so bad then to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood." (From Self-Reliance)
Would that we had more such thinkers. Antandrus (talk) 04:31, 17 December 2008 (UTC)
We need a "WP:FOOLISHCONSISTENCY" page. (Or maybe IAR covers that.) Adam Bishop (talk) 08:59, 17 December 2008 (UTC)
William Randolph Hearst has been quoted as saying something to the effect that "it is better to be correct than consistent". I can't seem to find the source, though, right now.--Eriastrum (talk) 22:44, 17 December 2008 (UTC)
So what happens when you apply this to WP:MOS? :) Wrad (talk) 00:45, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
Aldous Huxley wrote: "Too much consistency is as bad for the mind as it is for the body. Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are the dead". That reminds me of what my Dad used to say: "Moderation in all things - including moderation". -- JackofOz (talk) 21:00, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
Bertrand Russell (i think) remarked that, while it would be irresponsible not to change one's views upon improved understanding, such a change is (culturally) seen as a sin for a philosopher because philosophy grew out of theology. —Tamfang (talk) 20:13, 27 December 2008 (UTC)