Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2008 June 21

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June 21[edit]


Is there any common term for this phenomenon - when for instance, a white person, perceives that most of the people from the Asian ethnicity look the same in his eyes, or vise versa. I would be glad to find a Wikipedia article on this phenomenon. Acidburn24m (talk) 05:45, 21 June 2008 (UTC)

I don't know the precise term. I looked around (very hard to find anything about this issue) and found this article: Face perception. There is a paragraph which seems to deal with this issue. Flamarande (talk) 07:18, 21 June 2008 (UTC)
Judge Alexander Morrison should know. He got into hot water in 1995 when he told an all-white jury at Derby crown court "I have before me photographs of twelve Asian men, all of whom look exactly the same." Xn4 20:00, 22 June 2008 (UTC)

I think the term is "race blindness" but I may be wrong. (talk)Glenda —Preceding comment was added at 04:21, 23 June 2008 (UTC)

I've heard the term "race blindness" used to mean something quite different. If somebody doesn't "see" race; i.e. they look at a person and think of them as a person first, not a member of a given race, then they are "race blind". For a parody example, see the 5th paragraph under Stephen_Colbert_(character)#Characteristics. jeffjon (talk) 16:28, 23 June 2008 (UTC)

Four Great Classical Novels Dream of the Red Chamber[edit]

Of the Four Great Classical Novels, was Dream of the Red Chamber the only one that was not completely written in Classical Chinese? (talk) 08:25, 21 June 2008 (UTC)

No, according to our article, the Romance of the Three Kingdoms "was written in partly vernacular and partly Classical Chinese."John Z (talk) 09:57, 21 June 2008 (UTC)
From the experience of reading all four of the books, non of them are written in what can strictly be called "Classical Chinese", they're really a more loose form of Chinese that's easily interchangable with the modern form of Chinese. (talk) 01:37, 27 June 2008 (UTC)

Who decided left and right wing... ie. social conservatism and fiscal conservatism go hand in hand[edit]

I always wondered why (at least in English-speaking and Western countries) liberal and conservative two seemingly completely unrelated issues (social values and economy) become intertwined to form left and Why are a fundamentalist Christian related to capitalist businessmen, I'd expect they have nothing to do with each other (especially you'd expect Christians to be not associated with that bit about Jesus telling to reject material goods and all)and why are social liberals (ie. believe in being progressive and rejecting older traditions) associated with rejecting capitalism and being a hippie-like socialist...

Why is there this trend anyways? I always thought it would be more rational to have separate terms for the economic idealologies and social ones rather than lump them together to form left and right. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:36, 21 June 2008 (UTC)

Well, there's a lot of thought on this. There are some—Libertarians in particular—who say, "let's disentangle them!" and use their little Nolan Charts and the like to show how that might be. And indeed it is the case that you can find people all over the scale—fundamentalist Christians who are socialists, sure, why not, I'm sure there are some out there, there's an almost infinite amount of variety when you are talking about the fringes. In practice, though, on the whole, I tend to think that the ideas of people like George Lakoff (as articulated in his 1996 book Moral Politics) are a bit more plausible as to explaining why certain seemingly unrelated beliefs consistently end up getting clumped together for most people—that they correspond to often unstated metaphors (or large-scale beliefs, whatever you want to call them) about what sort of thing our society is and how it should be run. Lakoff's personal approach says that the difference between "left" and "right" in the United States, anyway, is about fundamental metaphors analogizing the government and country as a family, and they correspond to different beliefs about how a family should be run (are kids inherently good and need to be protected, or inherently bad and need to be disciplined?). I'm butchering his argument—read his page if you want more details, or the book if you really want to jump in—but maybe you can see as an example the type of explanation he provides for such a thing. There are other explanations as well. I don't think the Libertarian answer is very satisfactory, personally, because it doesn't explain why the vast majority of people seem to honestly and organically fall into one of two primary categories. As Lakoff points out, even Libertarians tend to come in left and right varieties as well. -- (talk) 05:30, 22 June 2008 (UTC)
Keep in mind that Left and Right have different meaning in other parts of the world. In general, though, leftists promote social programs, minority rights and providing for the community as a whole; while rightists (if that's even a word!) promote individual freedoms and self-sufficiency. Extremely left-wing groups promote Marxist socialism, while extreme right-wing groups promote tightly held tradition. Both are prone to racism, nationalism and isolationism. In the United States, even our liberals are considered rather right-wing by European standards. — The Hand That Feeds You:Bite 12:20, 22 June 2008 (UTC)
Indeed, I gather it leads to some confusion since economic and social values are tied together differently in different countries. Socially liberal but economically conservative is, I gather, how the UK government generally looks to the US (I seem to recall there being a whole article about this, but maybe I dreamt it?) (talk) 13:57, 22 June 2008 (UTC)
Note that there has been a flip-flop on this in the US. During the Civil War, the Democrats were the party of the poor, yes, but were also the socially conservative party, being pro-slavery. The Republicans were the party of the rich and socially liberal. This trend continued until some time in the middle of the 20th century. I'd say the socially liberal policies of Democrats like JFK caused the Democrats to flip, and the Republicans did likewise. StuRat (talk) 15:56, 22 June 2008 (UTC)
I'm curious as to where FDR fits into this Stu. Interesting discussion so far, so I hope I don't torch the whole thing with my platitudes, but here goes.. One general idea, alluded to above by HandThatFeeds, is that the political left generally supports greater equality, and believes that needs to be secured by state intervention. They don't accept that the status quo is just, nor that the market alone can improve social welfare sufficiently. The political right generally thinks the opposite, hence they value freedom. This gives them sympathies on social matters that are at least reasonably predictable: left-wingers favour the "underdogs" - gays for example; right-wingers favour the idea that the status quo of middle class, white, patriarchal values (platitude alert!) is a successful tradition, and is a greater breeder of welfare than new ideas. Essentially, it has at least something to do with what the status quo is, economically and socially. This is never itself simple and clear, so the generalisation into two wings is only that, and not taken as anything more. Remember always that regardless of this, politics breeds strange bedfellows at the best of times. (talk) 18:54, 22 June 2008 (UTC)
FDR wasn't particularly socially liberal. So, while he worked to restore the economy, he didn't work to end discrimination. For example, desegregating the Army had to wait until he died and Harry Truman took over. His wife, Eleanor, however, was far more socially liberal than him, and this might have been one source of tension between the two. StuRat (talk) 16:42, 23 June 2008 (UTC)
I've always been struck at how arbitrary modern American political bedfellows are. You can just as easily imagine pro-underdog liberals sticking up for helpless fetuses and preferring the rights of crime victims to those of victimizers, and pro-status-quo conservatives being stalwart environmentalists and opposers of war and capital punishment on Sixth Commandment grounds. --Sean 13:58, 23 June 2008 (UTC)
Well, Lakoff's book, linked to above, suggests that they are not arbitrary. And I think he's right that something underlies those choices, because you can put two liberals in total isolation and ask them a question they've never considered and they'll come up with the same "liberal" response; ditto with conservatives. That being said, it's no doubt true that many of these political lines are historically contingent, based around specific debates and fears, but I do think the utter stability of most of these categories suggests that Lakoff is right and that there are deeper, unarticulated justifications behind them. -- (talk) 13:38, 24 June 2008 (UTC)

Israel and China[edit]

Did the two know of each other's existences in classical and Bronze age times? When would be the earliest contact between the two countries/empires and what would be their opinions of each other first time they met? (talk) 21:41, 21 June 2008 (UTC)

Silk Road might be what you're looking for. Corvus cornixtalk 00:02, 22 June 2008 (UTC)
In classical times, and perhaps earlier, there was an awareness in the West of the great civilization of China; however, until Roman times, little was known about it except that it was the source of silk. During Roman times, travelers almost certainly journeyed between China and Rome along the Silk Road, and ambassadors traveled from Rome to China. However, during the time of the Kingdom of Israel, there was little or no travel from Israel to China, even if some Israelites may have known vaguely of China. On the other hand, the Chinese were almost certainly unaware of the Kingdom of Israel. The ancient Chinese were generally not interested in the world beyond the peoples on their borders. The opening of the Silk Road about the second century B.C. (long after the fall of the Kingdom of Israel) brought a greater awareness among the Chinese of the lands to the west, but Chinese records refer only to the largest and most important states to their west, such as the Seleucid Empire, the Parthian Empire, and the Roman Empire. Chinese interest in these distant lands was still limited, and it is unlikely that they would have known of the existence of the relatively small part of the Roman Empire known as Judaea or of the Jewish people who inhabited it. Marco polo (talk) 01:25, 22 June 2008 (UTC)

This may be of interest History of the Jews in China

Jewish settlers are documented in China as early as the 7th or 8th century CE, but may have arrived during the mid Han Dynasty, or even as early as 231 BCE (talk) 09:51, 22 June 2008 (UTC)

The first known reference to China in Jewish literature is in the 9th century CE, so it's doubtful. ([1]). -- Mwalcoff (talk) 02:42, 24 June 2008 (UTC)

What are the "neighborhoods" in our mind about?[edit]

Is there a name for it? And what is it, exactly? Messages from beyond? Subconscious hallucinations? Dreams, drug trips, and even the right music can trigger this. What evolutionary advanantage is there to being completely detached from reality? . Do mind machines (probably disguised as cell towers) have something to do with this?--Dr. Carefree (talk) 23:12, 21 June 2008 (UTC)

Imagination, leisure, entertainment, escapism? Julia Rossi (talk) 03:36, 22 June 2008 (UTC)

Where does the government get money from?[edit]

Is it just taken directly from the treasury? Or is more money simply printed? Seems they can always come up with millions on short notice. Does this affect the national debt?Hey, I'm Just Curious (talk) 23:46, 21 June 2008 (UTC)

The goverment can't "take" money directly from the treasury or print some for its own sake. It finances itself over taxes, fees, and emitting bonds and other similar debt instruments. GoingOnTracks (talk) 23:51, 21 June 2008 (UTC)
Some governments around the world have simply printed more money but that can cause hyperinflation. PrimeHunter (talk) 00:08, 22 June 2008 (UTC)
The US government actually currently can and does print money when it needs it, in combination with taxation and other money-producing programs. The irresponsible printing of money is part of the reason inflation is such a problem in America. Wrad (talk) 00:13, 22 June 2008 (UTC)
  • There is no irresponsibl printing in the US. As far as I know, this is only an urban legend. —Preceding unsigned comment added by GoingOnTracks (talkcontribs) 01:48, 22 June 2008 (UTC)
Inflation isn't a major problem in the US, and printing dollar bills is a very minor component of the increase in the amount of money circulating. Money supply would be a good starting point for reading more; in particular, there's a graph there comparing the size of the different measures of the amount of money in the US: M0, the amount of physical currency, has remained nearly constant as a fraction of the total money supply for at least the past half-century. -- (talk) 01:32, 22 June 2008 (UTC)
Whether or not inflation is a major problem is debatable, but the idea that there is "no irresponsible printing in the US" is a bit naive. There is irresponsible printing at least to some degree. Saying that there is absolutely none is quite a position to take. Irresponsible printing does contribute partly to inflation in the US. Wrad (talk) 01:58, 22 June 2008 (UTC)
Do you have any sources about irreponsible printing in the US? Principally showing printing with the aim to pay debt (as in the third world). The Fed is smarter than that. GoingOnTracks (talk) 03:12, 22 June 2008 (UTC)
I agree that the US only prints money to replace old, damaged, or destroyed money. Inflation hasn't been a problem in the US until quite recently, and the recent spike in prices was caused by the tight oil supply in conjunction with the US's overdependence on oil. A misguided policy decision to solve this problem by paying farmers to turn corn into ethanol also caused food prices to spike. Corn prices go up directly, so does the price of animals that use corn for feed, so does the price of alternative crops that are switched to corn production, etc. StuRat (talk) 15:42, 22 June 2008 (UTC)
Amusingly, I came across cancelled checks from WWII in an archive transferring a few million dollars to Leslie Groves for the purposes of the Manhattan Project (they did it like this because they wanted to avoid the normal channels, for secrecy). I thought it was pretty amusing that they actually wrote him a check from the US Treasury. -- (talk) 05:08, 22 June 2008 (UTC)
That's not such an odd thing: if you're an American, you'll likely get an income tax refund, and you're almost certain (if you live long enough, and if you're employed at some point in your life) to get Social Security. Checks for both of those are drawn on the US Treasury. Nyttend (talk) 04:48, 24 June 2008 (UTC)