Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2008 November 27

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Humanities desk
< November 26 << Oct | November | Dec >> November 28 >
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.

November 27[edit]

Iraq Christians[edit]

When the U.S. army invaded Iraq, the Christian population was celebrating upon the arrival. Why did they that? Were they the victims of Saddam Hussein? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:24, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

From what I remember (mind you, I watch the BBC, which I believe to be biased in its reporting of other world affairs) most of the Islamic population celebrated too, because Hussein and his sons ruled the country in an abominable manner. I doubt there was much celebrating in Tikrit though. --Dweller (talk) 09:31, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
From what I understand, Christians were (relatively) welcome under Saddam Hussein's leadership. One of the highest ranking officials (I forget his name) was Christian. Since the US attacked in 2003, most Christians have fled Iraq because they are no longer safe. (talk) 14:50, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
You are thinking of Tariq Aziz. Here's a BBC article on how conditions have deteriorated for Christians in Iraq:[1]. Fribbler (talk) 14:54, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

The reason I asked that because I saw a video of a girl who did the cross on her chest when the US came. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:08, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

So you know that one person made a possibly celebratory gesture, and extrapolated to 'the Christian population was celebrating'? You should be more careful in your reasoning. Algebraist 15:12, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
It is also possible that the making of the sign of the cross was not in celebration, but in supplication, which would be just as valid an interpretation, absent other information. Behind the supplication there could be as much "God save me" as "thanks be to God." With only one person's action being seen, as Algebraist cautions, it would be misleading to draw any general conclusions. ៛ Bielle (talk) 18:18, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

how much money would the US have to print to make the dollar lose 80% of its value?[edit]

assuming people didn't think that even more would be printed (ie barring speculation), if the government wanted to decrease the price of the dollar by 80%, how many more dollars would it have to introduce by printing? I'm thinking that it would have to be a HUGE number, like $100 trillion in current dollars. Any guesses? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:17, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

This question cannot really be answered, because there are too many other variables, some of them very difficult too quantify. For example, the dollar could lose a lot of value even if the US printed no money, if the investors who are still buying a lot T-bills would be convinced that this was no longer a smart thing to do because the US economy is such a mess. On the other hand, the US could print a lot of money and there would still be no inflation, even deflation, if this money would end up in the hands of people and banks who decide that it would for the moment be wise not to spend any of it. (One of the reasons the bailout plan so far has not been very succesful is that the banks that have been capitalized seem to prefer not to do anything with that capital.) (talk) 11:42, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure it can be easily calculated. The assumption that people wouldn't expect more to be printed is almost certainly false - there would be an enormous loss of confidence in the currency if it dropped 80%. If we go back to the old days of a gold standard, it's easy, they would just have to print 4 times the current money supply, thus multiplying the money supply by 5, so dividing the value of each dollar by 5 (ie. cutting 80% of its value). I'm also not sure which measure of money supply is relevant, I suspect M0 (the amount of physical currency) since a change in that would propagate through all the others. In that case, the current M0 supply for US dollars is (if I'm interpreting these numbers correctly) a little less than $1 trillion, which would suggest they need to print $4 trillion to devalue it 80%. This is all based on completely incorrect assumptions, though, so take it with a very large sack of salt. --Tango (talk) 11:40, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
It wouldn't be enough to print the currency. People would have to withdraw the currency from banks ATMs and spend it at something like 5 times their current rate of spending. For that to happen, realistically, people would have to suddenly get 500% raises of their wages and salaries. So, I think that the government would have to print the money and decree at least 500% raises for everyone. It would probably also have to do a little extra to destroy confidence in the dollar on foreign exchange markets, such as selling dollars and buying euros and yen to bring the exchange rate down. Marco polo (talk) 15:42, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
The way central banks generally issue currency is to lend it to the government (ie. buy government bonds with it) which then spends it. If the government starts spending more money the people they buy goods and services from would have more money which they would start spending, and so on. It would take some time (I'm not sure how much), but printing money does cause inflation, no government decrees are required. --Tango (talk) 16:32, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
That's true but increasing the money supply that drastically will very likely cause the rate at which currency is used (V in the equation below) to decrease. So while prices will doubtlessly increase, they won't increase by that much. Also, it's impossible to tell how much of an effect this would have on forex markets. Zain Ebrahim (talk) 19:05, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Why would increased public spending decrease velocity? Shouldn't it increase it, since it is extra money being spent? --Tango (talk) 21:37, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
As fas as I understand the model, velocity refers to the average velocity of each dollar. So increased spending with "new" money won't necessarily increase the average velocity of each dollar. I believe it would decrease. Think about what would happen if the government suddenly spent the $4 trillion. The money would end up in the hands of contractors and generally wealthier people who usually save more. If saving increases, velocity decreases according to the Spending multiplier. Fractional-reserve banking does mean that these savings become a source of further money but again it would go to people who save more. The average consumer won't be able to suddenly spend 5 times more. Zain Ebrahim (talk) 07:04, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, it'd be almost impossible to target a specific amount of inflation that is so far outside of the normal range (I assume you're talking about annual inflation here, because the otherwise it would be pretty easy to just project out the current annual range, compounded, until it achieves 80%). Although inflation is, at it's core, a monetary phenomenon (someone important said that), there are plenty of business cycle and 'confidence' influences that the other posters mentioned above. Right now, for example, the Fed is printing and injecting money like crazy, but the last FOMC minutes mentioned that there was a possibility of deflation to worry about. This is because, as the banks are de-leveraging, the amount of artificial money that they've created through the money multiplier decreases.
So, with all of those assumptions out of the way, I'm reminded of John Mauldin's newsletter yesterday. He reminds us that, by definition, MV = PQ where M is the Money Supply, V is the number of times per year that each dollar is spent, or circulates, P is the price of the average good (when this increases, this is inflation, although we usually measure inflation as only a specific basket of goods, for ease and applicability) and Q is the quantity of goods that change hands. (we mentioned some reasons above why they shouldn't be), we can play with M and P. To get an "80% reduction in value" we'd need a 1/.2 increase in the price level: P=5 in the relationship M(new) = Q/V*5.
The current US M0 money supply is about 750 billion dollars, and current annual inflation rate is about 1.04 (approx.). This implies a current Q/V of 535.7143. Holding this constant, the new money supply to achieve the 80% annual inflation rate would have to be about 2.6 trillion dollars. Remember, this it he M0 money supply. One bank money creation takes it's toll, the M1 etc. would have to be much higher. This estimate is rough as all get-out, and has more problems than just the ones the other posters and myself mentioned above (confidence and/or a 'currency run' is the numero uno).NByz (talk) 18:39, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Is the Fed actually printing money, or just lending out existing money? When a central bank prints money it buys government bonds which it then holds onto, so it has a massive stockpile of them, I think it is that stockpile that is being used for all these injections - the central bank exchanges government bonds for the high risk mortgages, etc., that nobody wants. I think that would increase velocity, rather than money supply. (It's probably just a technicality anyway, it doesn't affect your conclusions at all.) --Tango (talk) 18:52, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Yep you're exactly right (edit: about the "lending out existing money" part). For the purposes of determining the "money supply" taking Fed "shelf money" and using it to buy back bonds is the same as using newly printed money to buy back the bonds, though. Any money that the Fed either holds on to, or hasn't printed yet, isn't included in the "Money Supply" - it's not in circulation.NByz (talk) 18:55, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
[2] these nickels, for example, didn't enter the money supply until passers-by started grabbing them and running... NByz (talk) 19:07, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
But they aren't buying the mortgage back securities with money, they're buying them with government bonds that were bought with money ages ago. --Tango (talk) 19:24, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Hmmm, well anything that comes out of TARP is straight out of the federal budget. It increases the deficit, requiring more short-term borrowing by the government, but the M0 Money Supply stays the same (it's like Fiscal Policy). Any cash comes from the Fed and any standard monetary intervention (like that which is needed to cut interest rates) is done with the Fed's Money, which is money that's out of circulation. Were the most recent interventions done with securities instead of cash? If so, you're right, they don't increase the M0.NByz (talk) 21:10, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
There have been so many different interventions and bailouts in so many different forms, I've lost track. When central banks have injected money into the short term money markets, I believe that was simply an exchange of illiquid mortgage backed securities for liquid treasury bonds. The other forms of intervention may have been different. --Tango (talk) 21:37, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, and just in the normal course of reinforcing their targets on the overnight rate, they're going to have to be flooding the market with liquidity. As far as I see it, if you're going to be 1) buying back general instruments to increase money supply and 2) buying back specific instruments to reinforce their value then you may as well 3) Buy back specific instruments to increase money supply AND reinforce their value. NByz (talk) 21:42, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Last King of Rapa Nui?[edit]

I got no idea who would know this so why I am doing this. Who was the last king of Rapanui aka. Easter Island? I came across three: Riro, who was assassinated, Atamu Tekana, who ceded island to Chile, and an unamed one who died in slavery in Chile. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Queen Elizabeth II's Little Spy (talkcontribs) 10:56, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Steven R. Fischer's Island at the End of the World - The Turbulent History of Easter Island (Reaktion Books, 2005) seems to answer this. See here: "They were dying in Peru... A very small number ended up shovelling guano in the hellish summer heat of the Chincha Islands, where Polynesian labourers were dropping like flies. This was allegedly the tragic fate of Nga'ara's son Kai Mako'i 'Iti – Easter Island's current ariki mau – and grandson Mau Rata." I'll add a note to Kings of Easter Island. Xn4 (talk) 01:32, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

French history -early christianity[edit]

I am unable to find anything about it. Searching in French history gets me nothing on early christianity, searching in Christianity gets me stuff on schisms and major centres such as Antioch or Rome.

I know there are legends of early christians going to France and I want to assemble these and any facts on the matter.Elspethp (talk) 13:49, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Saint Faith? AnonMoos (talk) 15:26, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
... and Roman Catholicism in France. ---Sluzzelin talk 16:36, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

If Ireland left the UK...[edit]

Would the flag be reverted to the Kingdom of GB version? Would the coat of arms be amended? Would the Canadian COA be amended to reflect the UK's changes? Thanks! -- (talk) 19:10, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

You mean Northern Ireland, surely. The Republic of Ireland has been UK-free since 1916 (declared) or 1922 (recognized). --Nricardo (talk) 19:15, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Assuming you do, indeed, mean Northern Ireland (otherwise the question doesn't make sense), do you mean the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom? If so, yes, I expect it would be changed. The Canadian one would probably be changed too. That's assuming NI doesn't remain a Commonwealth Realm, or at least a member of the Commonwealth - if it does, it may stay on the coat rather than go through the hassle of changing it. --Tango (talk) 19:22, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
It's by no means that clear-cut. Note that the fleur de lys of France remained on the royal coat of arms until 1801, long after the British monarch had any territory there. Malcolm XIV (talk) 23:42, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes, but that's because the British monarch still claimed to be "King of France" (nobody believed it, but they said it anyway). I very much doubt the British monarch today would continue to claim dominion over Northern Island if it was granted independence (since royal assent would be needed for such a grant). Who ruled France was decided on the battlefield, there isn't likely to be a full blown war over Northern Island (either a war of independence or a standard war over territory with the rest of Ireland). --Tango (talk) 23:47, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Where is this Northern Island of which you speak? Malcolm XIV (talk) 23:52, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
NZ?DOR (HK) (talk) 08:17, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
How did I make the same typo twice? That's terrible... (My fingers have a tendency to typo homophones of the words I think, and Ireland and Island are pretty close, I would normally notice such a typo and correct it, though...) --Tango (talk) 13:11, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
The royal coat of arms of Canada, adopted in 1921, contains a quarter for France, so I don't see dropping Ireland from it; the quarters, though they are arms of kingdoms, represent heritage not dominion. –Tamfang (talk) 02:01, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
There's quite a lot of example were national symbols are not automatically updated as territorial boundaries of a country shifts. Until 1973 the Swedish king was titled 'King of the Wends'. The Indian national anthem (Jana Gana Mana), contains a reference to Sindh (now part of Pakistan). --Soman (talk) 08:18, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

Continental Aspects of American Constitutional Theory[edit]

I am an American lawyer of a certain age. I was taught and my personal reading confirms clearly that American constiutional theory was formed from British constiutional theory. The Inns of Court, the Magna Carta, development of common law, the role of a legislature are British constitutional doctrines. A college student said that I was incorrect that German almost became our common American language and that British legal history played an insignificant role. This is new to me. I am preently reading a tome on Henry II and the British examples are so clear to me. Has a shift occurred in academic thinking? Who are the continental political scientists, other than Rousseau, who contributed to American political theory. Did other couuntries pursue republican and democratic reform during this time period? 75Janice (talk) 20:52, 27 November 2008 (UTC)75Janice

  • The line about "German becoming our national language" is an urban legend of long standing; apparently it's been going around since the mid-19th-century. A pretty good explanation of what actually happened is here. --jpgordon∇∆∇∆ 22:42, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
We got that covered in an article: Muhlenberg legend. But as I understand the question, it is rather about History of the United States Constitution. — Sebastian 00:29, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
The wikipedia article cited is simplistic. Perhaps it is difficult to convey the political theory and English common law traditons in a short article. I graduated law school and practiced constitutional law for several public interest groups. So I know more is involved. Now that I understand the comment about adoption of German as the official language, I'd like to know more about the European origins of the U.S. Constitution, if they exist. Several French philosophers are usually cited. The student's remark about German made me think of European examples. My knowledge of European history and thought is limited. Thanks. (talk) 00:46, 28 November 2008 (UTC) 75Janice
I don't pretend much knowledge of specifically American political and constitutional theory, but don't overlook men like Montesquieu, Tocqueville, and Mazzei. Xn4 (talk) 00:47, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
Montesquieu, Cesare Beccaria, Rousseau, Pufendorf, Grotius, Vattel, Burlamaqui. —Kevin Myers 04:09, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
How do the Inns of Court illuminate American constitutional theory? —Tamfang (talk) 02:14, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

Briefly, b/c this is not a debating forum, the Inns of Court are an integral part of the development of British common law. Many of the Founding Fathers, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton are the clearest examples to me, were American commom lawyers, practicing British common law in the colonies. The American General Assemblies wielded great legislative power, practically . With the Stamp Act and other measures, Britain tried to exert its authority to help English, not American, commercial interests. The American colonies consciously chose to apply British common law to events that occurred soley in America. American law students are still taught common law principles by reading important English common law cases. One of the most striking I remember is a tort case from medieval England. They were asserting what they perceived to be their God-given rights as English citizens. Certainly the Magna Carta rights are a cornerstone of the American Constitution. It was not developed out of whole cloth. (talk) 04:43, 28 November 2008 (UTC) 75Janice

Among Continental countries that in some way influenced the US Constitution was Poland which provided an example of how not to organize elections of the chief executive. Gouverneur Morris argued that "the mode least favorable to intrigue and corruption, that in which the unbiassed voice of the people will be most attended to, and that which is least likely to terminate in violence and usurpation, ought to be adopted. To impress conviction on this subject, the case of Poland was not unaptly cited. Great and ambitious Princes took part in the election of a Polish King. Money, threats, and force were employed; violence, bloodshed, and oppression ensued; and now that country is parcelled out among the neighboring Potentates, one of whom was but a petty Prince two centuries ago."
Charles Pinckney also warned that "we shall soon have the scenes of the Polish Diets and elections re-acted here, and in not many years the fate of Poland may be that of United America."
James Madison, too, observed that "altho' the elected Magistrate [in Poland] has very little real power, his election has at all times produced the most eager interference of foreign princes, and has at length slid entirely into foreign hands", adding Germany and the Roman pontificate as other examples of foreign interference in elections where people other than natural-born citizens could run for the highest office. — Kpalion(talk) 21:32, 30 November 2008 (UTC)

Libertarian Socialism is a contradiction in terms.[edit]

Socialism involves the control or ownership of property by the State; Libertarianism involves private ownership and control of property. Flavors of Socialism include: communism, fascism, natzism, "mixed market", and current day conservatism, liberalism, and populism. Variations of Libertarianism include: anarchism, minimalism, "free market", and Austrial school economics.

Since Socialism and Libertarianism are opposites, please delete this entry, and any references to it (such as in your Socialism page). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:44, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Libertarian socialism is a very great deal better referenced than is your dubious analysis. So that would be a no, then. If you wish to discuss the article, please take yourself to Talk:Libertarian socialism. This is not an appropriate place for such a thing. --Tagishsimon (talk) 23:12, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Actually, the OP makes a valid point. Libertarian Socialism *is* a contradiction in terms. However, just because it doesn't make sense, doesn't mean people don't believe it. People believe in lots of things that don't make sense. (talk) 02:41, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
The above is simply untrue. The article on Socialism mentions those strains that favour ownership by cooperatives and workers' councils, and while more radical forms of socialism (e.g. communism) are traditionally linked with the abolition of private property, Democratic Socialism in the west has always allowed private property (e.g. Scandinavian welfare model). Right-wing Libertarianism is closely tied with property ownership, which would be in contradiction with communism, but Left-libertarianism is based principally on ideas of liberty not on property ownership. The WP page on Libertarianism makes this clear. --Maltelauridsbrigge (talk) 12:30, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
Did you read the article on "libertarian socialism"? They advocate state intervention, abolition of private property, anti-capitalism (a Marxist term), public ownership of the "means of production" (another Marxist term) and violent revolution. None of those are libertarian concepts. In fact, all of those are the exact opposite of libertarianism. It makes as much sense as warmongering pacifists, vegan cannibals or god-fearing atheists.
But Unlike the OP, I'm not saying we should't have an article on it. If there's a group of people describing themselves as such, the fact that it's a contradiction in terms is irrelevent. After all, we have an article on the 9/11 "Truth" Movement and truth is the last thing those nutcases are interested in. (talk) 15:05, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
Terms such as "libertarian communism" predate the adoption of the term "libertarian" by right-wingers; just because they use different definitions of "libertarian" doesn't mean that one definition is invalid or contradictory. If you want an oxymoronic political term, try radical centrism. Warofdreams talk 17:35, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
If libertarian socialism has nothing to do with libertarianism (which I agree they don't), why is it included in the libertarian article? (talk) 18:11, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
Where are you getting all of this statist stuff? Read from the second paragraph: "equality and freedom would be achieved through the abolition of authoritarian institutions that own and control productive means as private property," So where is this "They advocate state intervention, abolition of private property, anti-capitalism (a Marxist term), public ownership of the "means of production" (another Marxist term) and violent revolution." coming from. I don't see that in the article. I see the opposite (except for the violent revolution part). Wrad (talk) 18:24, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm getting this from the article: "Libertarian socialism denies the legitimacy of most forms of economically significant private property", "As Noam Chomsky put it, a consistent libertarian 'must oppose private ownership of the means of production'", the section on anti-capitalism, etc. (talk) 15:12, 29 November 2008 (UTC)
That covers everything but the "They advocate state intervention..." bit, which is what surprised me most. Wrad (talk) 20:28, 30 November 2008 (UTC)
Libertarian socialism has been around for over one hundred years, and as a result is quite a diverse movement. It is certainly possible, as our article suggests, to find self-described libertarian socialists who call for an existing but very weak state, or for state intervention during a transitional period, although these currents of thought are not dominant. Warofdreams talk 10:06, 1 December 2008 (UTC)

There have been analogous discussions on National Socialism, with some user claiming NS is a misnomer since socialism is inherently internationalist. The brief answer is that wikipedia doesn't judge in such disputes, but reflects actual usage of political terms in reality. If there is a Libertarian Socialist movement (which btw has 100+ years of continous history, and has had millions of followers throughout the 20th century) then there is also a Libertarian Socialism article at wikipedia. As per the term 'Libertarian', it translates differently in different languages and national contexts. In most parts of the world, the general political understanding of the term is quite different from that of the U.S. Libertarian party. --Soman (talk) 18:38, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

Excellent point. I was going to bring this up as well. We don't put National Socialism under the socialism article, so why are we putting libertarian socialism under the libertarian article? Can we at least be consistent? (talk) 15:12, 29 November 2008 (UTC)
Because most writers who categorise these things see libertarian socialism as a variety of socialism but don't see "national socialism" as a variety of socialism. It's not our opinion that counts; it's our sources' opinions. Itsmejudith (talk) 20:41, 30 November 2008 (UTC)

Origin of trash talking?[edit]

Where does the accent I'll politely refer to as "Jerry Springer guest" come from? That sassy, in your face, mad-at-the-world, low education, english accent? -- (talk) 23:42, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

"English"? Do you mean as in "from England"? Except in the sense that all English comes from England however many generations ago, I'd really be surprised if those accents were not homegrown "Ahmurcan". I would also suggest that none of "sassy", "in your face" or "mad-at-the-world" is accent, but attitude, and it is that very attitude that Springer and Co. search out. It is not something of place but of personality, I believe, and unattractive, in my view, at that. ៛ Bielle (talk) 00:00, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
But maybe the accent is part of the public face of the attitude? And, traditionally, low education English people have indeed been mad-at-the-world and in your face. Dr Johnson comments on it quite approvingly – "... they who complain, in peace, of the insolence of the populace, must remember, that their insolence in peace is bravery in war." Xn4 (talk) 00:19, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
I would say somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon Line, possibly Appalachia. It's probably just plain old white trash. --Nricardo (talk) 00:51, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
Any relation to trailer trash country? But attitude, yeah – a prerequisite for allowing the world to know all about your private life on Springer. Julia Rossi (talk) 07:00, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
The language used on Jerry Springer is much more related to Whigger speech. For some reason, White trash/Appalachian/rural white Southern speech has become closely associated with urban African-American speech. Little Red Riding Hoodtalk 00:14, 29 November 2008 (UTC)