Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2008 June 3

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June 3[edit]

Median population line(s) for Britain[edit]

Where would the west-east line lie that has 50% of the population to the north of it, and 50% to the south? And similarly for westerners and easterners. (talk) 00:12, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

According to this source it says Appleby Parva in Leicestershire is the center of population for Britain. In other words, 50% live north, 50% live south, 50% live east and 50% live west. AlexiusHoratius (talk) 01:12, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
The centre of population isn't necessarily the same thing as saying 50% of people live either direction north/south and east/west (as far as I can determine). It takes distance into account, so it is actually the geographical point nearest to all the inhabitants of Britain, on average. Or in other words, if everyone in Britain weighed the same, then the point of balance would be around Appleby Parva. But because Britain is relatively small and densely populated, I think one could probably approximate it pretty well. Rockpocket 01:35, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
It depends on how you define "Britain". Do you mean Great Britain or the United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland)? If you mean just Great Britain, then the north-south median line would be around 52°20' N, to the south of the southern border of the West Midlands metropolitan county. If you are including Northern Ireland, then the line moves a few miles further north to take in the southern fringes of the West Midlands metropolitan county. (This is based on the data at .) In either case, the line is more than 15 miles south of Appleby Parva. This is probably because Appleby Parva lies the smallest mean distance from the inhabitants of the UK. While the population of the UK north of Appleby Parva is not quite as large as the population south, the mean distances per person are greater due to the lower population density. This pushes the center of population north of the median north-south line. Because there is less of an east-west skew to the UK population, I would expect that the east-west median line (running north-south through the UK) would be fairly close to Appleby Parva. (While the largest population center, London and the South East, is to the east of Appleby Parva, most other population centers are to the west: the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, most of West Yorkshire, and all of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, I don't have time to perform the calculations to confirm this.) Marco polo (talk) 20:25, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

I'm most interested in the mainland - England, Scotland, and Wales. I'm not certain if the centre of population mass would be the same as the median line or point, in the same way that the arithmetic average is usually not the same as the median average. (talk) 20:49, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

They would not be the same, because a person at a greater distance would shift the center of population further than a person at a smaller distance, since the center of population is the point from which the mean distance for all persons is minimized. The way in which this works mathematically is analogous to the way in which a lever works physically. Marco polo (talk) 00:51, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

Pledge of Allegiance[edit]

Do American children have to swear the Pledge of Allegiance every day in school, or is it only done very rarely? Isnt it inconsistent with the freedom that Americans go on about a lot? (talk) 00:31, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

When I was in elementary school we did it every day. As for freedom, well, it's been a controversy for awhile (see Pledge of Allegiance criticism), especially the question of the non-religious having to swear that the USA is "one nation, before God", and whether they can opt out of the Pledge without it being socially ostracizing or facing formal punishment. I'm fairly sure they're not allowed to do formal punishment anymore for people who want to quietly opt out. In my day, at some point I stopped saying much of it that I didn't agree with, as I got older (I have never been religious, though it wasn't clear to me that this was exceptional until I got to a certain age). I doubt anybody noticed; when you do something like that every day it becomes rote, you stop paying attention. It was years before I even thought about what the words actually meant (the idea of an indivisible republic is a little abstract for a 6 year old).
As for whether it is inconsistent with freedom—Americans talk about freedom a lot but what they generally mean by that is not very well articulated and thought out. Much of our visions of what it means to be "free" come from WWII-era/Cold War era propaganda about Nazis and Soviets and gosh-isn't-it-great-we-don't-have-the-terrors-here. But of course the US has had many, many periods in which people who said things that weren't considered kosher (of all political points of view; right and left alike) were immediately forced out of public office, out of jobs, out of civic society. No, they weren't killed, except in rare cases, but that's just it—for most Americans, the question of what freedom is, is anything less than murder by the state. Which, when you think about it, is something of a rather low bar to set. Anyway. I digress. -- (talk) 00:47, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

Our school says it everyday. Just remember we aren't actually forced to say it; its not like we would get into any trouble if we didn't and if the teacher were to yell at a student for not saying it the teacher could get into trouble with the parent. I live in a rural area so everybody in my school says it without compaint; it is patriotism. If the student just were to skip saying God there would be no problems. All the problems are just sparked by some atheist that just can't let things be. - MOFILA —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:15, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

Or, conversely, all the problems were sparked by some zealous anti-Communists who thought that having school kids drone on "under God" would somehow make the country better. The Pledge lacked "under God" for most of its existence; the phrase was only added in 1954, at the height of McCarthyism. It's not exactly a neutral sentiment. Personally I think the entire pledge is dubious—it is Orwellian to say the least. Blind patriotism is not something to be celebrated, in my opinion—if patriotism it be, make it committed, honest, heartfelt, not rote, routine, and uncritical. That's bureaucracy, not patriotism. -- (talk) 01:42, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
One of the jobs of the school under public education is to create good citizens. You can't expect little kids to be able to deal with the ins and outs of politics. Abe Lincoln was honest, and so was George Washington. Don't point out that in saying that you imply that all the others were maybe not so much. Let the little kids feel good about their country and about their piddling participation in its political life. The pledge was just something to be recited, like the intros to the Superman TV show and the Lone Ranger, and we got the words wrong, anyhow. It marked the opening of the school day, like a flag-raising ceremony. That's what it was, a ceremony, and not a contract between the state and its children. Sure, it seems like forced indoctrination, but a child can't be held to a promise he doesn't understand, and nobody expects him to follow through. I think that in my case the whole business served to alert me to the dangers of propaganda. As for freedom, the freedom to talk about the pledge of allegiance any way I want is enough for me. --Milkbreath (talk) 13:08, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
"A thundering horse with the speed of light, under God, a cloud of dust, and a hearty 'Hi-yo, Silver' …" Deor (talk) 18:29, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
No patriot would just let things be when he saw the government undermining his country's highest principles. --Sean 14:00, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, up to a point. The question is what would it take to make you get Old Bessie down from over the fireplace and head for the village green? We hardly feel the death of a thousand cuts after the first few hundred, but we can still scream anyway. --Milkbreath (talk) 18:35, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

By the time I was in high school, too many years ago, I think the pledge was read over the intercom about once a week or so. Nobody cared if you recited along or not. In fact, at that age, most kids (including myself) were too "cool" to be caught saying the pledge. The few kids who proudly pledged out loud were in fact the maverick minority. The silent ones were going along with the crowd, as high school kids are wont to do. —Kevin Myers 14:14, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

Comparative cost of American NHS and space exploration[edit]

How much would the cost of providing an American health service like that of the NHS in the UK cost, compared to the cost of space race / space explortation. Would it be more, or less? Half as much? Twice as much? (talk) 00:40, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

There are a wide variety of possible space exploration and universal health care programs, but for comparison the Space Shuttle program will end up costing $173 billion (2004 dollars) to fly until 2010, over the lifetime of the program, while providing full coverage for America's uninsured would cost an estimated $34–$69 billion (2001 dollars) per year. Maybe your sister Nell can help with the math.—eric 01:26, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
(edit conflict)Some extremely quick and rough estimates:
The article on National Health Service (England) notes that the Department of Health has a budget of about £100 billion, "most" of which is spent on NHS. So let's assume about £85 billion (about $165 billion). This only covers health care for England, which has a population of about 50 million, about one sixth of that of the US. Multiply by six, and wha-la! a budget of just under $1 trillion. By comparison, NASA has an annual budget of about 17.3 billion, about 1/60th of that. But again, these are extremely rough estimates. --YbborTalk 01:34, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
(ec twice!!) According to the NHS article, the 2008-9 budget is £91.7 billion and "serves" a population of 50.8 million people (£1805/per person or approx $3540). Scaling up to the USA's population of 304 million would suggest a total budget of a little over $1 trillion. That is a very simplistic calculation, but it is more than 60 times NASA's $17.3 billion budget for 2008. Astronaut (talk) 01:35, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
Just a note on the apparent conflict of numbers, I imagine much of the conflict between myself/Astronaut and Eric, is that when looking at the budget for NHS, we're taking into account the total cost of health care, while he's taking into account the additional cost from what we already spend. In terms of the space budget, we're each looking at a fiscal year, while he's looking at the life of a single (very expensive) program. --YbborTalk 01:39, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps the OP was thinking that if money hadn't been "wasted" on space exploration, then the US could have afforded to set up an American NHS. In fact I think space exploration is pretty good value, and scrapping that avenue of research and exploration would not yield the benefits that it's critics would imagine, whilst (funnily enough) four years of war in Iraq have cost the US economy around $3 trillion.
I also think both mine and Ybbor's estimates are probably on the low side because American health care is generally recognised to be the most expensive in the world.
Astronaut (talk) 01:53, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I was thinking of that. I was also thinking that the US might save a bit from economies of scale, but I think those benefits start maxing out once you've corsssed well into the tens of millions. In fact since the population density of England (976/sq mile) is far higher than that of the US (80/sq mile), the cost even for identical care would likely be far hihger (since you'd need more local offices to reach the same number of people) --YbborTalk 02:06, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
Right Ybbor, the shuttle cost i gave was for development, hardware, and thirty years of missions, while the cost of insuring the uninsured is in America is nowhere near what the cost of a program like NHS would be.—eric 02:00, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
The question of best utilization of government spending is a difficult one. Should we scrap funding of national-parks and state-provided libraries etc in favour of more on healthcare and social-welfare? The US spends a huge amount per-person on healthcare, and the UK public system is far from a shining example of how to provide publically provided healthcare. You have to look further a-field for a more intelligent hybrid of private and public provision. I can't remember the country but it is Sri Lanka or somewhere - one of the smaller nations in the far-east that has the system that many consider to be the best. The space-program seems to be the first thing people want to drop, because they can't tie the spending back to something that benefits the citizens that pay for it. That's a pity because the space-program is hugely important and one of the greatest things that the US does for mankind the world over. (talk) 09:56, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
"the UK public system is far from a shining example of how to provide publically provided healthcare." Could you be more specific about this and give the evidence your beliefs are based on please? While the public health care in France is said to be better when international surveys are done, it is also more expensive. (talk) 14:39, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
Question asked, general estimates given. This thread is pretty much done. Remember, Wikipedia is not a soapbox.--YbborTalk 18:09, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
Somebody above referred to the "extra cost of providing full healthcare", but that's not actually the case. As you can see above you could probably pay for full healthcare with a total expenditure of about $1 trillion. But right now the US spends more than $2 trillion on healthcare. US healthcare is by far the most expensive in the world. You could provide full healthcare, at the same level as the UK now does, and halve the total US spending on healthcare! How can that happen? Partly it's because the UK health system has fewer resources per person - a UK patient will typically get longer wait times than a US resident (those who can afford it) but a typical US private healthcare organization will also spend 20-30% of its income on non-healthcare related matters. That doesn't mean hospital administration, it means advertizing, legal fees, dividends to shareholders, bonusses to CEOs etc. A typical government healthcare organization spends 1-3% on non-healthcare expenditure. DJ Clayworth (talk) 18:44, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

Who owns the copyright to the Gospel song "I'm Going Up Yonder" from 1976?[edit]

I am looking to verify the who the copyright owner is to a gospel song from 1975 or 1976 titled "I'm Going Up Yonder". It is not in the Copyright Office online records (nothing before 1978 is listed), and I have done much random internet research. Please help!

Thank you, FierySarai —Preceding unsigned comment added by FierySarai (talkcontribs) 02:52, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

You will need to ask the publisher.--Shantavira|feed me 06:05, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

Outlaws of Wild West[edit]

Hi to all you guys 'n girls out there. My question is: I've searched all of the pages about famous outlaw's of the wild-west era for one thing:

Once I read (i think it was even in wikipedia!) about an Outlaw who was riding around with another one, when they got spotted by some Gunmen who noticed their ID and hanged them upside down from a tree. The Guys then shot one of the outlaws, killing him, the other one was missed - the Gunmen even hit the rope and the Outlaw dropped to the ground, where he eventually grabbed a gun (or got the chance to grab HIS gun/guns) and shot the few Gunmen (I guess they were vigilantes).

  • Correction*: The "Guys" were (90% possibility) Vigilantes, also I can remember it may have happened near the Border of southern States of the USA, or when the two Outlaws went riding towards the Border.

But I can't find the exact article in Wiki, so could someone who REALLY is a crack in these fascinating thing about american history, help me?

P.S.: With "ID" I mean their "IDENTITIES", or "FACES" or "LOOKS" - how they LOOKED like, as you may have heard or read of someone saying "You look familiar, just like a guy I'm searching for!" - maybe really from mughots or short descriptions; not their "PASSPORTS" or something like that (If thats what English-speaking People call an ID; sorry for that mistake, my English is not so well, aber in DEUTSCH ist es einfacher zu erklären.). May be possible that the Article was a FAKE and has been deleted, it was over 1 and 1/2 Years since I read it once.

Thx alot!!! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:17, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

Sounds more like a Hollywood plot than a real gunfight. I watched a documentary recently that claimed that, in fact, most gunmen were killed by being shot in the back rather than in gun duels. Rather unromantic. Rmhermen (talk) 16:09, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
MythBusters (season 4)#Gunslinger Myths disproved the idea that you can sever a rope with a single bullet (unless you're the Man with No Name of course). Clarityfiend (talk) 16:24, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
The Sharon Stone character in "The Quick and the Dead" has a flashback scene that involves taking a shot at a rope in a similar situation... (more detail would be a *spoiler*), FWIW. -- Deborahjay (talk) 17:40, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
There was no Department of Homeland Security in the Wild West, so "they got spotted by some Gunmen who noticed their ID" makes no sense. Edison (talk) 06:08, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
It's likely the ahem, lawmen might claim they ID'd (pr: aah-deed) them from mugshots on a wanted poster as an excuse to plug'em *sorry* er, string'em up, but I'm writing fiction now... whatever really happened, 84.177, it sounds pretty exciting. Hope you find the source, Julia Rossi (talk) 11:17, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
In MythBusters episode 65 [1] they found that shooting a rope with a pistol does not cause it to part. It would take multiple carefully aimed shots at close range from a rifle. The myth, if not the rope, was BUSTED. Edison (talk) 14:16, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

Confederate political parties[edit]

Were there any formally-organized political parties in the Confederate States of America? Did Southern Democrats continue to refer to themselves as Democrats, or were there no formal parties? Corvus cornixtalk 18:06, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

While I have no expertise in this topic, these guys have an interesting discussion. It seems as though the confederacy was basically a one-party state for its lifespan. They also discuss some possible issues that might create a partisan divide. Generally though, the south was too worried about fighting a war to get most of its offices filled, let alone organize sophisticated parties to fight elections.
See previous discussion: CSA a one-party state?. --—— Gadget850 (Ed) talk - 09:39, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

Monarchy of the UK[edit]

If a situation arose where a baby was first in line to in inherit the throne, i.e. William died right after having a son, how would the baby give royal assent or perform the state opening of parliament? I know Edward VI did it through a council of regency --Hadseys 19:10, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

The next person in line for the throne and qualified to occupy it would serve as regent until the monarch came of age. See Regency Acts. Marco polo (talk) 19:28, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
That's the current position, but a Regent isn't always the next heir to the throne. The Regency Act 1953 provided for the Duke of Edinburgh to become Regent if the Queen died. Xn4 23:58, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

Trying to locate color image of plague doctor[edit]

I've found a nice color picture of "Doctor Schnabel von Rom", the plague doctor. The problem is, the only place I found it was on a MySpace page: link. (Update, I found it here too) It is low res. I'd love to track down a larger color image. I don't mind scanning it from a book if someone has a reference. (The image is hundreds of years old, there is no copyright issue). Thoughts? -- (talk) 19:42, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

It looks like an etching. There probably aren't legit color versions. Corvus cornixtalk 21:15, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
(after ec)Yeah, as far as I know it's an etching or a woodcut. There will be no colour version of that particular image. Though it may be possible to find a later coloured interpretation of the image given it's notoriety, perhaps oil-painted. Wouldn't know where to start looking for that though, I'm afraid. And copyright may be dodgy if at all recent. Fribbler (talk) 23:09, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
It is a copper plate etching from 1656, presumably by an artist named Paulus Fürst (1608 - 1666) of Nuremberg after J. Columbina. --Cookatoo.ergo.ZooM (talk) 23:13, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
Does it qualify if you photoshop areas of plain colour undersorry, hit the wrong button behind the etching lines? Julia Rossi (talk) 23:44, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
The original is well out of copyright, so I guess as long as you released the photoshopped image under an acceptable licence then it's god to go! Nes pas? :~) Fribbler (talk) 23:47, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
Well, there seem to be a variety of copies of the same basic image, some in color, some not. Yes, I know one of them is something like an etching (I'm not sure it is, it looks just as likely to be a bad reproduction of something with more detail—the Wikipedia one practically looks photocopied!), but it was not uncommon in woodcuts of that time for them to be hand colored (they weren't exactly large print runs), water colors over the original etching, etc. No, I don't want to color it in myself (and I would need a copy of higher quality anyway to do that, the Wikipedia one is awful). -- (talk) 00:46, 4 June 2008 (UTC)
The modern decorative print trade has colored more etchings and engravings in the past fifty years than were ever originally colored. We have many illustrations at Wikipedia where the tinting is modern.--Wetman (talk) 04:01, 4 June 2008 (UTC)