Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2008 September 15

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September 15[edit]

Cloak[edit]

Are cloaks completely dead as serious garments? I imagine that a strong waterproof cloak would be a quite versatile piece of clothing. --S.dedalus (talk) 01:02, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

This is all OR. A cape requires a lot of material, much of which is flapping around your legs. It weighs a ton because of all that extra material. It gets caught up between your legs, unless you can afford silk or cotton clothes and a silk or cotton lining on the cape, just with noraml walking. Forget trying to run unless you can bundle it up in your arms before you take off. You certainly can't ride a bicycle in one. Even sitting in a car, it is bulky and interferes with the operation of seat belts and gear levers. It is too big for the overhead rack on an airplane. If it is waterproof, the rain drips down onto your legs or footwear (including inside your boots). If it isn't waterproof, it gets soggier and soggier the whole length and then weighs two tons. The hem is always covered in muck if you wear it full length, and if you don't, everything drips and splashes right at the place where the cape ends. It is a lovely elegant garment when made of velvet or silk or satin and can be whirled about with great style and panache. It does, however, require a wardrobe mistress, a servant and a very leisurely lifestyle in order to show it off. You can hide things -and perhaps another person-under it and use it for a blanket or a pillow. For most practical purposes, it is a complete bust for modern life. That means, however, it is likely prime for a new fashion trend. ៛ Bielle (talk) 01:26, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
The last man who rocked the cloak the way it was meant to be was FDR. If he were here today, he could still rock the cloak. --98.217.8.46 (talk) 01:55, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Actually there was a man who 'rocked the cloak' at least as effectively since FDR: Pierre Trudeau. this is the only picture I can find but I'm sure there are others. DJ Clayworth (talk) 17:19, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
In the developed western world, cloaks seem to survive mostly in uniforms, formal evening wear, and fancy dress outfits (wizards, Hallowe'en, etc.) but in some other parts of the world, such as Africa, you do still see them in everyday use - for instance, see burnous and bernos. Strawless (talk) 11:32, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
I would argue that cloaks haven't gone anywhere, but like everything else, it has evolved. Look at the trenchcoat (or coats in general). That's essentially a cloak with holes for the arms. Name one advantage that a waterproof cloak has over a trenchcoat? 195.58.125.39 (talk) 18:30, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

They're still popular in some circles - especially amongst historical reconstructionists, folk music afficionados, some goths and the like, but definitely more for women than men. Steewi (talk) 00:31, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Ponchos (the kind for girls/women that was recently in fashion, and then quickly out of fashion) might count as a cloak, as would a sort of a wrap to go with an evening gown. They've just changes style, perhaps? --Alinnisawest,Dalek Empress (extermination requests here) 00:41, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Out of common use, yes; but dead? Try telling that to the girl in my year at school (along with her parents) who exhibit wonderful green velvet cloaks about 30% of the time. Freedomlinux (talk) 23:29, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

Why would a Georgian minister say this?[edit]

I'm always hearing about the "Israeli-Georgian" connection in the 2008 South Ossetia War, but I don't believe it. But how do I explain the following?

From http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1010187.html

' Jewish Georgian Minister Temur Yakobshvili on Sunday praised the Israel Defense Forces for its role in training Georgian troops and said Israel should be proud of its military might, in an interview with Army Radio.

"Israel should be proud of its military which trained Georgian soldiers," Yakobashvili told Army Radio in Hebrew, referring to a private Israeli group Georgia had hired.

Yakobashvili, Georgia's minister of reintegration, added that this training provided Georgia with the know-how needed to defend itself against Russian forces in the clashes which erupted last last week in the separatist region of South Ossetia.

Yakobashvili said that a small group of Georgian soldiers had able to wipe out an entire Russian military division due to this training.' Haaretz.com, 11 August 2008

I'm trying to understand the political motivations behind these statements. Who are these statements directed to? Was he trying to rally Georgians? Or was he trying to encourage more military support from Israel? Was he trying to say to the Russians that Georgia is well trained and equipped? 203.217.36.198 (talk) 01:34, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

If the Western press, the Georgian press, the Russian press and the Israeli press all report that the Georgian army received support from Israel, perhaps it is time to stop being skeptical and accept that this is probably true. And why did Yakobashvili say these things? Well, he was interviewed by the radio station of the IDF, what else is he going to say, "your support didn't help us one bit"? DAVID ŠENEK 16:35, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
I'm not talking about Georgia receiving arms from Israel. I already know that this is true. I'm talking about the particular statement quoted and the political reasons for saying so.
I guess what you're saying is that Yakobashvili was trying to gain empathy from the Israeli audience listening. He was trying to build up support for the Georgian cause. Does anybody else have anything to add (or correct)? 124.171.166.27 (talk) 01:27, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
It's a hopeless task to disentangle the confused and self-contradictory pronouncements of the Georgian leaders anxious to gloss over their ignominious defeat. As may be inferred from the Russian press, Yakobashvili is a Georgian Jew who recruited several recently retired Israeli generals to lead the Georgian units into South Ossetia. Quite a few Russian soldiers were killed with Israeli-made weapons. As a result, Russia offered to sell its high-tech weaponry to Syria. The Syrian leader visited Moscow immediately after the conflict to finalize the deal. That will make Israel think twice before selling their weapons to rogue regimes in the future. Naturally, Yakobashvili is anxious to retain Israel as a valuable arms supplier, hence his statement. --Ghirla-трёп- 13:21, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Consider along with Ghirla's remarks, the need to distinguish the "players": the Government of Israel (arms dealing), and these trainers (former IDF personnel now employed by private companies) are not equivalent to "its military," a.k.a. the IDF. Here's another source with more extensive content (including what's in the Haaretz link above), from the online English "ynet news" published by mainstream daily Yedioth Aharonoth. It distinguishes between the private companies' activities and those of the Israel Ministry of Defense. Of note in this type of reportage is the description of Georgian Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili as "a former Israeli who is fluent in Hebrew" – but not long ago in the Israeli press I read that he attended one year of high school as an immigrant teen, then returned to Georgia. (The Israeli identity card is issued at age 16 while the age of majority is 18, so it may be techically true he's a "citizen who returned to his native Georgia.") I'm translating this from the Hebrew Wikipedia to correct the citation on his page here, as just because it was published in a newspaper article doesn't mean it's authoritative or reflecting reality; see the variety here. -- Deborahjay (talk) 20:45, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Thank you Ghirla and Deborahjay. I believe that sometimes I can get a better understanding of an issue when I hear different viewpoints on the matter. Any further comments would be much appreciated. 203.214.118.24 (talk) 13:36, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Stadium music[edit]

In the US, if a stadium for an NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL team plays a popular song over the PA, do they have to pay royalties to a record company, like radio stations do?97.118.170.250 (talk) 05:18, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

I’m sure they do, and the royalties are almost certainly paid to ASCAP or BMI, not to “a record companie." Radio stations don’t pay the record companies directly either incidentally. --S.dedalus (talk) 05:25, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
As I understand it, these things depend on how long they play the song for. I think under a certain number of seconds doesn't require payment, but once it gets beyond a point they have to pay. I remember this featuring in a Charlie Brooker Screenwipe episode where he explained loads of stuff about how much it costs to make even a basic tv show. 194.221.133.226 (talk) 08:49, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Recession and Depression[edit]

Are recessions and depressions absolutely necessary (to clean up after the market tested some options) or just residual risk (thing that get wrong even if we do our best)? Mr.K. (talk) 09:16, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

See Business cycle. Some people argue that recessions serve the purpose of "cleaning the fat" out of the economy to "make way" for the following exansion. They put weak companies out of business thus ensuring that only the stronger ones survive. The employees (and other resources) from the bankrupt companies are put to use more efficiently in the stronger companies. Zain Ebrahim (talk) 09:48, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

History of science question[edit]

Not sure if this belongs here or in the Science Desk, but it feels more arty/historical than scientific, so will give it a go. Somewhere, maybe in a Borges story, I read that natural philosophers used to believe that where there was a disease, there would also be the plant that cured it - a kind of sympathy between the two causing one to grow in proximity to the other (I suppose like quinine easing the symptoms of malaria, both deriving from the tropics). Can anyone tell me the term for this school of thought and point me to an article about it?

Thanks Adambrowne666 (talk) 09:33, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Sympathetic magic doesn't sound quite like what you're after, but it turns up in Traditional Chinese medicine. Julia Rossi (talk) 11:41, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Does Doctrine of signatures fit your requirements?--droptone (talk) 11:47, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
The theory of humorism included plenty of ideas that are very similar to sympathetic magic. Scholars from Antiquity until the Renaissance made many "intuitive" associations between health conditions and the foods or drugs (the difference between the two were not particularly strict) that could fix them. Medieval medicine has more information on the application of humorism in the Middle Ages. See for example "Theories of medicine" and the example of the use of the plants skullcap and lungwort.
Peter Isotalo 08:26, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, everyone - lots of grist for the mill - maybe I was wrong, maybe there was no such theory, about proximity linking disease and cure - still, got lots of grist from the mill from you guys. Adambrowne666 (talk) 11:31, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Erm, what was that British battle?[edit]

Hello all. Came across an interesting question at WT:MILHIST, which has failed to get an answer there, and so I advertised the wonderful ref desk. So it's now up to you all to prove your worth! Gwinva (talk) 09:36, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

I read a quote once, moons ago, about a British battle, probably WWI, with appalling losses for the British. It was so appalling that... if I remember the quote correctly.. some politician or general or other was trying to rebuild the British army, and someone remarked, "Can't you see, you're fighting against X?" where X is the name of the battle... sorry so vague. Thanks in advance. Ling.Nut (talkWP:3IAR) 15:52, 13 September 2008 (UTC)

There's the Battle of Fromelles fought North of the Battle of the Somme, with appalling losses for the Allies including the British. Could that be it? Julia Rossi (talk) 10:24, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
There are stats for battles here[1] which outrank this unless it's for a single charge, including the Battle of Passchendaele (80K British) in a summary here[2]. Julia Rossi (talk) 11:28, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Whatever the actual casualty figures Battle of Passchendaele is the one deeply enough embedded in the British psyche that someone is likely to have made the above remark. DJ Clayworth (talk) 17:13, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
I don't recall the battle either, but I remember hearing a quote like that in the beginning of My Boy Jack (film). — jwillbur 22:34, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Ovo vegetarians[edit]

Do ethical ovo vegetarians actually exist? I have a sneaking suspicion that ovo vegetarianism is, in practice, nothing more than a logical possibility. I have never met or heard of anyone who considers eating eggs ethical but drinking milk and eating cheese, yogurt, etc. unethical. At best, ovo vegetarianism may exist among people who in principle would be lacto-ovo vegetarians, but are lactose-intolerant, allergic to milk, etc. Has anyone else ever encountered someone who rejects meat, fish, and dairy products on ethical grounds, but accepts eggs? —Angr 12:27, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

I am sure there is someone, perhaps someone who keeps hens in ideal conditions in their back-yard, but I have never heard of any organisation or religion that advocates this diet. -- Q Chris (talk) 12:37, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Has anyone else ever encountered someone who rejects meat, fish, and dairy products on ethical grounds, but accepts eggs? See our article on this very creature! --Cookatoo.ergo.ZooM (talk) 18:12, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

My sister, believe it or not, is an ovo vegetarian (and i never thought it was especially weird until now...). She doesn't eat diary on ethical grounds however, more becuase she thinks it bad for her. but still, doesn't change the label..82.22.4.63 (talk) 20:16, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

I have a close relative who doesn't see eating dairy food as unethical, but does not eat any dairy food, although she does eat eggs. she is not lactose-intolerant. There's a tendency to assume that all vegetarians have some ethical basis for their diet; it's not always an accurate assumption. Consider, in the non-vegetarian world, the kerfluffle over dolphin-safe tuna (a concept with little sympathy among tuna), or the many Americans who down hundreds of pounds of beef per year but are adamantly opposed to the human consumption of horsemeat. --- OtherDave (talk) 00:11, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
I'm well aware there are people who are vegetarians for other than ethical reasons. (I myself mostly eat vegetarian food, but not for ethical reasons -- you could call me an unethical semi-vegetarian!) But this question was specifically about "ethical ovo vegetarians", people who exclude dairy for ethical reasons, but include eggs. The anon's sister excludes dairy for health reasons; your relative excludes dairy for some unspecified reason that isn't ethics. So we still don't have an example of an ethical ovo vegetarian. —Angr 07:49, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Oops, my mistake -- I didn't catch the "ethical" in the original question. --- OtherDave (talk) 01:11, 17 September 2008 (UTC)
This question is impossible to answer with complete certainty. As you suggest, they probably do not exist; but who knows? There could be some person out there who loves animals but absolutely hates bird ova (the existence-of, not the taste-of). — Twas Now ( talkcontribse-mail ) 08:06, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Well, okay, my first question, "Do ethical ovo vegetarians actually exist?" is probably impossible to answer with complete certainty, but my last question, "Has anyone else [here on the RD reading this question] ever encountered someone who rejects meat, fish, and dairy products on ethical grounds, but accepts eggs?" should be answerable. —Angr 08:11, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Consequences to acceptance of risky or bad debt by Federal Reserve[edit]

In recent months the U.S. Federal Reserve System (or the Fed) has agreed to accept billions of dollars worth of risky or bad debt from investment banks and other financial institutions, including the failed investment bank Bear Stearns. After the failure today (or yesterday) of Lehman Brothers, there is discussion of possible Fed intervention (further extension of credit). With the news today that AIG, a huge insurer in serious danger of bankruptcy is asking the Fed for a bailout, and with other major corporations likely to follow, I am wondering whether there are limits to the Fed's ability to prop up or resuscitate failing megacorporations. What are the possible consequences of the Fed accepting perhaps more than a trillion dollars of supposed collateral that may in fact be worthless? What are the consequences of lending hundreds of billions of dollars to corporations that may never be able to repay? And if there are no consequences, why doesn't the Fed just send a check for $1 million to every U.S. citizen? I have some understanding of finance but am a little baffled by the role of central banks. Thanks. Marco polo (talk) 13:33, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

The possible consequences would be losing the money... --Tango (talk) 14:23, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Obviously, they don't have an unlimited purse. Expect the foreign debt to balloon in the coming years. Also, sending a million dollars to every US citizen would be a bad idea even if they could. Inflation would skyrocket. 90.235.8.202 (talk) 14:32, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
True. Even sending $300 to every American was a stupid idea. —Angr 14:44, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Try looking at pages such as inflation, national debt. There will be a limit to the number of firms a government can 'realistically' bail-out. The consequences of lending money that may never return could be positive (if it helps prevents a longer/harder depression) or negative (if it ends up that the depression happens anyway and taxpayers end up with a big loss with no notable upside). The value of money is not in the number itself, but in its purchasing power. If everybody was given $1m it would ruin the value of the dollar, having a horrific impact on the local and international economy, would hugely affect imports and exports and would make problems much worse. It's important to remember the value of a dollar (or any money) is in its perceived worth not in the amount written on the bill itself. (see Fiat currency, and gold backed currency - if that article is titled that) 194.221.133.226 (talk) 14:52, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Okay, forget my question about $1 million to every U.S. citizen. Obviously the purchasing power of each dollar would then be much smaller than at present. But nobody has answered my main question, namely, what are the limits on action by the Federal Reserve and the government? Can they bail out every failing corporation and then everything will be hunky-dory? Or do they face any constraints? Marco polo (talk) 16:20, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
The fed would be limited by its own balance sheet. Note that in some cases (like Bear Stearns), other banks also provide some of the capital to protect depositors. Zain Ebrahim (talk) 16:42, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Not really. It's not as much about the money itself as it is about Moral hazard. Mainly, if the feds starts bailing out some corporations, other corporations will, at the least, raise the probability of their being bailed out as well and will take more risks. With the Lehman call, the feds may be saying, we're not going to do this again. (IMHO, they should have kept their fingers out of Bear Stearns as well!) The money is an issue but, in the worst case, they can just go ahead and print more of it (devaluing the dollar of course) or go out and acquire more debt or some such not so good thing. --Regents Park (count the magpies) 16:41, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Ba in finance, and good question. First of all, your thinking is slightly a Loaded question. The limits? I do not agree that there are limits. Its a hugely complicated issue. You could look at this from a legislative angle. What if congress passes a bill, and the president signs it, that says the limit of government bailout shall not exceed 10 billion dollars per year. Now that you have a limit, do you really think exceptional circumstances won't necessitate emergency bailouts? So if the limit on paper is $10B, and the de facto limit is undefined, what am I supposed to tell you?
The most logical way to look at this, is that government spending for these types of financial doomsday prevention, are best resolved on a case-by-case basis. In business school, we had to do a case study on Long-Term Capital Management. read that article, and it has some great links under the See Also section. The government should handle everything on a case by case basis, and only give out bailout funds when it is "worth it". They should not give bailouts when they're not worth-it. But you're question is way to advanced for me to properly answer it. Maybe you have an interest in politics? Sentriclecub (talk) 16:43, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Sentriclecub is obviously much more knowledgable on this subject than me, so listen to him :) Just to add a little bit to his answer: the federal reserve can't wave a magic wand and make money out of nothing (well, they could, but inflation would reduce the value of the US dollar so they would not be adding actual capital value), it has to come from somewhere, whether it is from taxes or from foreign lenders. But realize that the US government first of all has a pretty darn huge income stream, much higher than any single coorporation. And they can borrow huge amounts money without any problem at all. So to answer you question, what's the limit, well, the federal reserve can borrow as much money as it needs to. It doesn't have the kind unpassable limit you're thinking of.
However, as I said, they can't wave a magic wand and get cash. They have to pay interest on the loans it gets, which will come from tax-payer money in the future. So they can't go completely crazy. But the bigger issue is (as someone already said), moral hazard. Companies need to be able to sustain themselves, and if they think that the government will just bail you out anytime you run into trouble, companies will not make responsible choices. The actions the fed are taking right now are emergency tools. If Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were allowed to go under, it would seriously destabilize the world economy and very possibly lead to a new depression. Together, they hold a debt of around 5 trillion dollars. If you sum up what the entire world spends in a day on stuff, it's about 50 trillion. So the fed had to bail them out. They really had no other choice. 195.58.125.39 (talk) 18:12, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Wasn't Charles Ponzi's operation illegal even without the Ponzi scheme?[edit]

In light of the recent financial troubles Wall Street is suffering through, I started to meander through Wikipedia articles (as you do), and I came upon the fascinating article on Charles Ponzi (I was reading the article on Goldman Sachs, and in the history section there was a link to Ponzi scheme). I knew about his Ponzi scheme and how it worked, but I hadn't heard about where the income stream from his company was supposedly coming from. The article states that he had built his business on the idea that in Italy (which had a very weak currency compared to the dollar), someone would buy lots and lots of international reply coupons cheaply, and send them to the US where they would be exchanged for postage stamps, which would then be sold at a profit. The article states that "[t]his was a form of arbitrage, or buying low and selling high, which is not illegal".

My question is this: how can this possibly be legal? Setting aside the fact that his business was failing and that he was using his eponymous scheme to make it seem that it wasn't, how can this fundamental business model be allowed to exist? I mean, he's basically taking huge sums of cash from the United States Postal Service, and not giving anything back. I mean, all money is paid to the Italian post-service. Why would the USPS allow that? It's basically stealing money from the government! And this part of his business wasn't kept from the public, it was well-known that this was what he based his business on (well, it wasn't, but supposedly it was).

In the article on international postal reply coupons, it says that "in practice the overhead on buying and selling the very low-value IRCs precluded profitability", and that since then, prices for the coupons have been adjusted so as to make this type of thing impossible. But my point is this: it's not completely infeasible that he could have built a business on this practice in the 1910s and 1920s, and in fact most people were convinced that this was actually what he was doing. And nobody was stopping him, not until his wider criminal actions were revealed. So why didn't the US government shut him down sooner, and saved all those poor people from losing their life-savings? 90.235.8.202 (talk) 13:40, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Without truly understanding the workings of this system, from what you state where is the illegal activity? If the US government is foolish enough to offer a product that can be redeemed for something that has a higher value than the purchase-price of the original product then anyone taking advantage is simply operating within the boundaries of the system. I don't see where in your details it amounts to stealing? They offered these coupons for sale at price X, they can validly be redeemed for stamps at price Y, if someone can find a way to make X cost less than Y then they can turn a profit. examples of arbitrage occur all over the place - the bookmakers who accidently set odds that make it possible to bet on all outcomes and still turn a profit, the company offering free air-miles that work out being worth more than the cost of the product itself (see the film Punch drunk love), the company offering vouchers that are worth more than the minimum-contract period required to obtain them. It sounds to me like this is much the same thing, an oversight that few people would A) notice and even fewer would go to the effort to exploit. Though i'm bound to be misunderstanding something. 194.221.133.226 (talk) 14:04, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
But this is different. The coupons purpose was to allow people to send a letter from overseas and provide postage so that the recipient can respond. The purpose was never to allow large-scale trading of these coupons, Ponzi was clearly abusing the system for his own profits, to the detriment of the government of the United States. Certainly, one can argue that what he did wasn't technically illegal since he had found a loop-hole in the system, but it would take congress (or indeed, the post office) all of ten minutes to close this loop-hole (by, for instance, making it illegal to change the coupons in above a certain value).
And remember, this wasn't a private enterprise he was scamming, this was the US government. Different rules apply. If a bookie makes the boneheaded error where someone can bet on everything and make money, that's certainly unfortunate for the bookie, but it doesn't go much further than that. If a company offers frequent flyer miles with their products that exceed the value of the products, then they are only responsible to their stockholders.
But the profits that Ponzi generated (well, supposedly generated) came straight from the pockets of the taxpayers! His whole business model was to cleverly exploit a flaw in the system to steal money directly from the taxpayers! What sane government allows this to happen?
As for anyone not noticing, he had thousands of customers, and was personally made a millionare within six months, which he very publicly claimed came straight from the exchange of these coupons (it didn't, as it turned out). You'd think maybe someone at USPS or the Department of Justice would perk up and say "Hey, this dude has apparently stole millions of dollars from us! Maybe we should do something about it?" 90.235.8.202 (talk) 14:27, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Or even "Hey, this dude says he's stolen million of dollars from the postal service, yet we don't see any loss of money on our balance sheets. Maybe we should investigate were he got the money". But they didn't, it was the media (thank god for the free press, huh) that exposed him. 90.235.8.202 (talk) 14:30, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Whether it was the intended use of the system is irrelevant, the system they produced evidently had a hole in it and some people exploited it. Different rules don't apply to taking advantage of a poorly considered product/policy. Certainly it 'feels' worse because innocent tax-payers are made to pay for government inability, but similarly innocent share-holders would pay for inept management/price-setting in the bookies example. A government is just a liable to stand by its fine-print as other firms. As unintended a consequence as this may be, until the loop-hole was closed 'exploitation' will continue. The government doesn't so much "allow" it, they simply don't disallow it. Obviously once enough attention has been raised it will eventually be stopped, but the problem with people exploiting weaknesses in systems is that they will always find new ways to do it. Benefit fraud is a huge problem for governments, though in many cases that includes breaking the law, but from the sounds of it was Ponzi did (in the coupon department) didn't go against the rules that were laid out - that it was against a government (and that taxpayers felt the pain) is a mute point, they are just as responsible as business for the ineptness of their decisions. 194.221.133.226 (talk) 14:42, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
If coupon resale is not explicitly illegal (under the jurisdiction where it is being sold) then there is nothing illegal in buying it at the low asking price and selling it at the higher price. Arbitrage traders explicitly exploit these price inefficiencies and often, if the market is imbalanced but the low initial price has to be maintained, legal prohibitions against resale are necessary. Ticket scalpers are a good example of arbitrage traders and ticket scalping is prohibited by law in many areas (not that the prohibition works very well!). --Regents Park (count the magpies) 17:38, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Voting in Indiana[edit]

Hello, I am a student at Indiana University, and I am from Missouri. I registered to vote in Indiana, and I voted in the Democratic primary last spring. I plan to vote again come November, but I do not have any documentation of my voter registration with me in Indiana. What can I do, or what do I need to get, to ensure that I can vote in the coming elections? Thanks, 156.56.171.157 (talk) 13:48, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

You need to mail off for a absentee ballot from your local Missouri clerk. You wouldn't be allowed to vote in Indiana even if you had your registration as you are not a Indiana voter. If you qualify to vote in Indiana (I'm not sure) the deadline to register is Oct. 6 [3] - this link also recommends visiting the canivote.org website. Rmhermen (talk) 14:14, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
If he's registered to vote in Indiana, why not? He should call the County Clerk of the county in which the campus he attends lies; if he's at Bloomington, this would be Monroe County, Indiana, and the County offices are in the local phone book - and linked to from our article. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:49, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Generally, full-time students are eligible to vote where they attend school... AnonMoos (talk) 15:54, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
You do not need documentation of your registration to vote. If you registered and voted, then you are still registered at whatever address you used when you registered. The precinct workers often do not check people's identification at polling places, but that's the most they generally will do. So, if you haven't moved, just go back to the same polling place where you voted last time (unless you've received a notice that the polling place has changed). You might want to bring identification and some proof of residence, like a recent utility bill, if you're concerned that you might be challenged. You should be able to vote there. If you have moved since last spring, then you need to register again using your new address. You should do it immediately, as the deadline for registration for voting in November is probably very close. You can register with your town or county clerk or board of elections and perhaps at some other government office. Do some research in Google using the terms "voter registration Indiana" to find out your options for registration. Once you register at a new address, they will typically send you a postcard with your new polling place. Marco polo (talk) 16:26, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
That's state-dependent, which is why you should talk to the county clerk; in some states, moving from one dorm room to another would not require reregistration. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:50, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Also, voting in the Democratic primary does not indicate that the questioner is registered to vote. Primaries are run by the policital parties. The real elections are run by the states. It is trivial to vote in both Democratic and Republican primaries without being qualified to vote in the real elections. -- kainaw 18:38, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Again, this depends on the state. In my state, as in Maryland, primaries are run by the counties, under state authority, just like the general election. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:12, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

(outdent) I am a former chief election judge in Maryland. (That means one of the two people in charge of a voting precinct.) I believe the practice here applies to Indiana as well. With that disclaimer: If you voted in the Democratic primary, you certainly were a registered voter at that time. The difference between a primary and a general election is that some states have closed primaries in which, for example, only registered Democrats can vote in the Democratic primary. A registered Republican who wanted to vote in the Democratic primary would have to change his party affiliation by the cutoff date (usually several weeks before the primary). In other words, when you show up to vote in a closed primary, you get the ballot for the party listed with your name in the voting registry.

In an open-primary state, you will be asked which party's primary you want to participate in. Your registration doesn't matter, but you can't vote in more than one primary at a time, so you have to choose which party.

(None of this applies if you actually participated in a caucus, rather than voting in a primary. Did you have voting machines, a voter registry, all that jazz?)

In Maryland, the primaries are run by the state board of elections, not by the parties. (Election judges [precinct workers] are commissioned by the state.) That's true elsewhere: you will recall the flap in Michigan and Florida, where the party would have had to reimburse the state for the cost of re-running the Democratic primary. I believe but cannot say for certain it's true in all states.

The board of elections where you registered in Indiana (it's probably a county board, even if you voted in a city) should still have you on its rolls. Check with them ahead of time to be sure; your having voted in the primary tells me you're registered, and your name will appear in the voting register for the precinct where you voted in the primary.

If you show up at the polling place and for some reason are not listed in the register, you have the right under federal law to cast a provisional ballot. This is something like an absentee ballot; it will be compared against the lists of actual voters to ensure that you didn't go to more than one precinct and attempt to vote. --- OtherDave (talk) 00:50, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

And, more importantly, to make sure you are registered. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:12, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

OtherDave got it. Also, there is no penalty for registering more than once, or in more than one place. The only restriction is that you can only vote in the last place you registered, and you can only vote once per election. DOR (HK) (talk) 07:48, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

(original user here) Well, that was a bigger answer than I anticipated! I found this Indiana Statewide Voter Registration System, and I found my name in it under search results. I think this shows that my registration applies to both primary and election. It also had a note, "no additional documentation required", so is my driver's license pretty sufficient? I also changed addresses from my IU residence last school year, so do I need to update my address or is it no big deal? Thanks, 98.223.188.95 (talk) 12:40, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

I'd guess that you'd have to update your residence: when I took an American government course a few years ago, my professor spoke of a close vote here in Pennsylvania that was overturned because tons of college students (who had voted for the measure) had moved addresses since registering, making their votes invalid; the vote was overturned because the margin without the disqualified students was a majority against. I'd definitely update it; there's no real reason not to, at any rate. Nyttend (talk) 14:20, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
And if you don't, you will have to, at least, spend time on election day affirming your change of address. No reason not to do it now. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:03, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Public Law 109-2005 requires Indiana residents to present a government-issued photo ID before casting a ballot at the polls on Election Day, says the Indiana secretary of state. The link includes the requirements for valid ID.
<editorial>This is the bogeyman of voter fraud, a near-mythical crime feared mostly by political parties who can't sign up enough folks. I'm glad I'm not working a precinct in Indiana. As check-in judges for the 2004 election, my partner and I handled some 50 voters per hour -- that's about 70 seconds from "next, please" to "next, please"." Add 20 - 30 seconds for people fiddling with their ID, and you're going to need a lot more precinct workers. (The head of the Baltimore County board of elections, asked about the demographics of her workers, said that their average age was "deceased.") If you have nothing to do for 15+ hours on election day, plus set-up the night before, plus mandatory training, volunteer to be an election judge. If not, don't grumble at the lines. Blame your state legislature.</editorial>
You may want to look at 'a resident of another state attending college in Indiana' as well, especially the third and fourth paragraphs. Though if you already registered and voted in Indiana, then I guess they think you live there permanently. --- OtherDave (talk) 19:07, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Why does it say North Korea is a socialist republic?[edit]

When they are obviously communist? Also their official name is, Democratic People's Republic of Korea. But they aren't democratic, nor a republic. 98.221.85.188 (talk) 15:00, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Their view is that their society has reached the level of socialism and is now heading for the ideal state of communism. Obviously, neither applies. Itsmejudith (talk) 15:41, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
And the natural extension of my colleagues answer is that they get to pick their own name ;) SGGH speak! 16:38, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
It is a republic. North Korea doesn't have a monarchy. 80.254.147.52 (talk) 16:39, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
So any government that doesn't have a monarchy is a republic by default? That's not correct. 98.221.85.188 (talk) 16:42, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Yes it is. 82.36.179.20 (talk) 23:46, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
No, it isn't. Anarchies don't have monarchs, and they aren't republics. 98.221.85.188 (talk) 02:32, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
No, there can be oligarchies and pure democracies, for example, but as the common people don't all make governmental decisions (it's not like ancient Athens or traditional New England town government), it's not a pure democracy, and as the government is officially all elected, it's not officially an oligarchy. "Republic" doesn't necessarily mean that the people get to choose who is in charge: even in the Roman Republic, most people didn't have a say. Nyttend (talk) 16:54, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
It's a hereditary republic ;-) Itsmejudith (talk) 16:58, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
As was Florence.... Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:51, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Syria under the Assad dynasty is a "hereditary republic" (apparently)... AnonMoos (talk) 21:16, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Also, note that there are different kind of monarchies. Just because something is a monarchy, it doesn't mean that the people aren't in charge: look at the UK or Sweden, for instance. 195.58.125.39 (talk) 19:12, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
And now, for the umpteenth time on the ref desk, here is, the chart! Hopefully, it will serve its purpose and provide some understanding./Coffeeshivers (talk) 20:56, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

The democracy/republic chart[edit]

Republics Monarchies
Democratic Italy, USA Canada, Netherlands
Not democratic Cuba, Turkmenistan Saudi Arabia, Brunei
Except that you'd have a hard time convincing everyone just exactly where North Korea fits in the table. There could be arguments for all 4 spots. -- JackofOz (talk) 21:50, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
How would one argue that North Korea is democratic? 82.36.179.20 (talk) 23:46, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
They have elections therefore they are a democracy. Of course it's a one party system, but that is irrelevant in terms of describing a democracy. You still get to choose which member of that one party represents you (Though you really don't as it is an uncontested list system, the problem lies with the definition of Democracy). Fribbler (talk) 00:01, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
The official title of the country asserts that it's a democratic republic. Some people might actually believe that; others see it as an undemocratic republic. In its choice of leaders it has operated more like a monarchy than a republic, and again, both democratic and undemocratic could be seen to apply. -- JackofOz (talk) 00:15, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Oh, I agree totally. I was just responding to the IP's question on how it could be considered a democracy. Fribbler (talk) 00:19, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
"Republic" has sounded good since the time of the Romans, and in today's world even kleptocracies, megalomaniocracies, and crime syndicates with pet parliaments find it necessary or useful to pretend that they have actual elections. And the Lincoln Rule applies to "democracy" much as it does to "leg." (If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have? Four -- calling a tail a leg doesn't make it one.) --- OtherDave (talk) 11:01, 16 September 2008 (UTC) (added sig after noticing I hadn't added it)

Just trying to clear this up a bit:
Republic - this only means that there is a body of legislators who each represents a constituency, and which convenes to discuss legislation and the nation's budget. Calling a country a republic does not mean that the legislators would have been elected, or appointed, or inherited their position (although each of these methods of selection are possible in a republic) - it only indicates that there is a legislation present. However, in order - technically - for a country to be considered a republic, the laws that its legislation passes should be upheld as the law of the land. Whether the executive ruler of the country adheres to these laws is another matter entirely.
Democracy - indicates that at least some of the political leaders are chosen through some kind of an election in which at least some of the nation's citizens are allowed to vote. This doesn't mean that all of the people in the country get to vote, nor does it mean that all the country's political leaders are elected, nor does it mean that those who are selected to run for office were chosen through a democratic method, nor does it mean that any citizen may run for office, nor does it mean that the elections are held on a regular basis. All it means is that at some time in the recent past that there was an election in the country, regardless of whether there is another planned election in the future.
Socialism - this means that a country has economic policies in which the government (state) actually owns and controls at least some of the country's institutions that produce goods and/or services. However, it goes beyond just maintaining a postal service, an education system, police and firefighting departments, and a standing military, among others. A country would be considered to be socialist when its government owns most of the nation's health care network (but not necessarily the health care networks for the needy and/or military veterans), the public utilities such as gas and electric (but not water and sewer utilities), airlines (but not airports), and banks (but not treasuries or certain housing mortgage firms such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). Some countries that are considered to be socialist still allow private ownership of some businesses, while other socialist countries only permit state-owned businesses. If this definition seems arbitrary and silly, it probably is... The label of socialist is a very vague and confusing one.
Communism - since North Korea is "supposed" to be following the teachings of Karl Marx, specifically his doctrine of Historical Materialism, a country may only be considered to be truly communist if it has passed through the phases of being capitalist and socialist first, which North Korea has not done, apparently. Or, at least it hasn't done so according to whoever in North Korea is in charge of giving the country its official name. Indeed, there probably has not yet been a nation that has fully realized Marx's vision of being a truly communist society. However, because there were countries that became controlled by a "Communist Party", they have been called "communist" as a result, even though technically they were not communist according to Karl Marx's definition.
So there ya have it - even after that explanation I would still not be surprised if you were as confused as much as before. Saukkomies 08:00, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Aren't those definitions kind of pointless though? Because then technically almost every country in the world would be a democratic republic and a few are socialist, none are communist. It's not really helpful in understanding what these governments are actually like though. Saying you are going to spread "democracy" to other countries becomes a meaningless phrase. 98.221.85.188 (talk) 14:57, 17 September 2008 (UTC)
No, not pointless, but it is complicated. People enrol for courses in political science to learn more. Saukkomies' definition of republic needs refining because a constitutional monarchy also has a body of legislators. On the other hand Saukkomies made a good job of explaining the definition of "communist". Even so, let me try to state it once more. There are two distinct definitions of "communist". 1) a highly egalitarian society (Marx's definition) and 2) a country run by a communist party (an everyday usage). North Korea doesn't fit under 1) but it does fit under 2). Itsmejudith (talk) 17:03, 17 September 2008 (UTC)
I do totally agree that the definitions are pointless ... mostly. Because the whole subject of what constitutes a democracy, a republic, a socialist or communist state is so fraught with subjectivity and controversy. As per a constitutional monarchy, I'm sorry, but for better or worse, it actually IS a republic! A country may have a republican form of government and still have a monarchy. I do agree totally with what you say about communist countries, Itsemejudith. Saukkomies 23:41, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Gandhi's hair[edit]

Was Gandhi bald later in life, or did he shave his head? The pictures I've seen of him in early years show hair, but never does he have any in later photos; and our article on him says nothing that I could find on the subject. Nyttend (talk) 16:50, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Gandhi voluntarily shaved his head in honour of those martyred in the name of non-violence in 1921.--Shahab (talk) 19:35, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
This is very interesting, Shahab. Is it possible to cite a source for this, though? Thanks in advance. Saukkomies 08:48, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
The only source I could find on the net was Q27 in this online quiz. This is a reliable site so the information must be correct. I must add that probably another source can be found in this movie. I saw this movie many years ago, and in it there was a scene in which Gandhi shaved his head and stated that he was doing so in memory of the first martyr of the non-violent protests he initiated in South Africa. (Not sure about the date 1921 though; if he had shaved his head in South Africa that would have meant before 1915). I do not know the answer to RegentsPark question. Regards--Shahab (talk) 15:54, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Thank you Shahab. The reason I wanted to get this as solid fact is because I happen to teach high school history, and I cover the life of Gandhi quite thoroughly. I wanted to know whether this piece of information about his bald head was accurate, as it would be a great thing to help hold the students' attention. Saukkomies 23:36, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

(Follow up Q) So did he keep shaving his head or did he go bald later in life? (Just curious!) --Regents Park (count the magpies) 20:34, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

According to this article he kept on shaving his head, ergo didn't go bald--Shahab (talk) 16:31, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Only his hairdresser knows for sure. —Tamfang (talk) 04:00, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
I suppose I could ask at the Science Desk if hair contains salt: if so, perhaps we could say that he shaved as a precursor to the Salt March :-) Nyttend (talk) 14:30, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Returning to a Room from Childhood, How Small it Seems...[edit]

I feel like it was Proust, but I cannot find the source -- an author who wrote about the phenomenon - many people have experienced this - that when you return to your old home after many years it looks so much smaller than you remember.

Is there an author who wrote of this? Or is there a name for this psychological / phenomenological experience? Thanks Saudade7 18:05, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

The phenomenon is known as 'growing'. A room from childhood appears smaller because the last time you saw it, you were smaller and took up much less space within it.82.36.179.20 (talk) 23:51, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Ha ha. No. Saudade7 03:48, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Thomas Wolfe, You Can't Go Home Again. Or the singer/songwriter Charles Anzavour, in his La Bohème (video in French, with less-than-ideal English subtitles), with an artist recalling the past:
Quand au hasard des jours      When, by chance
Je m'en vais faire un tour     I made a visit
A mon ancienne adresse         To my old address
Je ne reconnais plus           I didn't recognize anything...
Ni les murs, ni les rues       Not the walls, not the streets
Qui ont vu ma jeunesse         Where I was young
En haut d'un escalier          At the top of a stairway
Je cherche l'atelier           I looked for my studio
Dont plus rien ne subsiste     But there was nothing left
Dans son nouveau décor         In its new getup
Montmartre semble triste       Montmartre seemed sad
Et les lilas sont morts        And all the lilacs were dead
--- OtherDave (talk) 01:13, 17 September 2008 (UTC) , who has forgot to sign comments three times today.
Yes, really, it's just because you're bigger. --Tango (talk) 13:40, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
I would have thought there'd be a word or simple phrase for it, either way. Steewi (talk) 02:42, 17 September 2008 (UTC)
Thanks every-helpful-one. I love Charles Aznavour, especially that mean-spirited "Je bois" song that I first heard on the Bob Dylan Theme Time Radio Hour. I, too, think there has to be a word for the phenomenon. I don't think it is just a result of growing bigger, because I have experienced this phenomenon since I have "become fully growed" -- for instance just last year I visited the Gustave Moreau museum in Paris and when I went back a few months later it seemed so much smaller than I remembered. A friend of mine tells me that the passage I am looking for might be in Proust's Swann's Way which I have just downloaded Here -- I will let you know the results of my quest. P.S. That La Bohème video is heartbreaking - the story of my life! Ciao Saudade7 22:06, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

I need to write a geography essay on Rio de Janerio.[edit]

There are no specific things that I have to write about. Just Rio. What should I write about? Can anyone leave their, e-mail, msn or skype to help me further with this? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 81.151.147.129 (talk) 18:26, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Have you looked at Rio de Janeiro? This is a public page so I don't think anyone will provide you with any private contact details. Zain Ebrahim (talk) 18:31, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Not nitpicking, just forestalling unwelcome comments from your teacher: You'll definitely get better marks (or at least you won't lose marks) if you spell Janeiro as Janeiro. -- JackofOz (talk) 21:45, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Editing a text[edit]

Is there anyone here who is ready to edit and considerably shorten a geography text which I have just written. If yes, please leave an e-mail or msn or skype id. Thanks. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 81.151.147.129 (talk) 20:48, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

In case you're under the impression that wikipedia is the tip of a mountain filled with OCD dwarfs heigh-hoing 24/7 to fix mss from all over the universe in an attempt to bring perfection now, I have to say it isn't but I wish you luck. Julia Rossi (talk) 22:39, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
I think actually it is. Edison (talk) 03:11, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
The correctly edited phrase would be "I actually think it is." DOR (HK) (talk) 07:52, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Actually, I think it is "Actually, I think it is.". :) Zain Ebrahim (talk) 08:10, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
I stand corrected. It actually is. Or it is, actually. What isn't so, is that the dwarfs are not drones in that some of them will choose not to snap up such an offering and will obsessively edit pedia things instead. Mebbe. Is there a difference between slave and volunteer? Should this be on the language desk? ... ∞ Julia Rossi (talk) 08:41, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Because I'm a suspicious bastard, I have to say that I'm having trouble with buying the idea that in the space of a couple of hours you went and wrote a geography text that's just so long that it needs editing and "considerable shortening" that you just can't do yourself. You wouldn't have, oh, I don't know, just copypasted our article (or some other article) on the subject and now need someone to weed out all of the unrelated crap from it, would you? -- Captain Disdain (talk) 09:16, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Travelling with friend[edit]

Hello. I'll be travelling with my son and his friend to the US in February from the United Kingdom and was wondering if it is okay with US Customs to allow my son's friend through with us even though she is not considered a family member? I ask because of the strict rules when travelling with children. All three of us are British citizens, will be travelling under the Visa Waiver Program and my son and his friend will both be 17 by the travelling time. Thanks, 86.145.104.161 (talk) 20:19, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

I recommend calling a US embassy near where you live. They would probably have better information. — Twas Now ( talkcontribse-mail ) 20:29, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, I'm wary of answering this question because it could approach being a legal question. The contact information for the U.S. Embassy in London can be found at http://www.usembassy.org.uk/ukaddres.html. —Angr 20:31, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
I would echo the advice to call the embassy. When I worked for an international railway company, we used to recommend that in similar situations, the parent of the child concerned should give a "letter of consent" to the responsible adult in the travelling party, stating that the parent has given their consent for the child to travel with them. DuncanHill (talk) 20:34, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
The embassy has that information, but I would recommend having a letter of consent, even if it's not required, just in case someone tries to make a fuss. When I did an exchange program (from Australia, and not to the US), not only did we need a letter of consent, but it also had to be cross-signed by all custodians (even - or especially - if divorced) and by a notary lawyer. The worry was that there are often cases where a child is taken overseas by one of their parents after a divorce, but never come back. Steewi (talk) 00:40, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Country Names-- Czechoslovakia[edit]

Why is it that so many English speakers, even people in their thirties, are still calling the Czech Republic "Czechoslovakia"? It's rather strange to me, since it's been gone for 15 years and counting. It's also interesting that meanwhile, a Czech I know (citizen/national or not, anymore I mean) gets the name right. Vltava 68 (talk contribs) 21:56, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

By the way, McCain's also got it wrong several times. (See National Missile Defense#Recent Developments.) I thought he was supposed to be an expert on foreign policy. Vltava 68 (talk contribs) 22:00, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
I think it's partly because a lot of people haven't noticed that it's changed, and partly because there is no accepted one-word name in English for the Czech Republic. --ColinFine (talk) 23:10, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Old habits die hard. Not only did they separate countries, but new languages were officially born. No more Czechoslovakian language, now it's the Czech language and the Slovak language. Steewi (talk) 00:42, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Eh? I was over thirty when the combined state ceased to be, but don't remember hearing of a Czechoslovak language. —Tamfang (talk) 03:59, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
There was never a "Czechoslovak language". Czechoslovakia was always considered to have two main languages, Czech and Slovak. I think Steewi is confusing it with Serbo-Croatian, which is a language that got broken up as the country it was spoken in broke up. —Angr 07:57, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
That's plausible. —Tamfang (talk) 01:12, 17 September 2008 (UTC)
The usual tendency is to minimise the number of syllables the speaker has to laboriously get through. That's why the abbreviations USA, UK and USSR (or Soviet Union, rather than Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) etc are/were in such common use. During the Soviet era, many people referred to the USSR by the (syllabically speaking) even shorter name Russia (usually not realising that this was a large part, but still only a part, of the whole Soviet Union). Czechoslovakia presents an exception to the usual rule, because it contains 6 syllables as against only 5 for "the Czech Republic" and 4 for Slovakia. I heard some commentators at the recent Olympics referring to athletes from "Czechoslovakia". I know that these particular people know that the country broke up years ago because I've heard them get it right on many occasions. But in the white hot heat of the final seconds of a closely contested race where the commentators are approaching paroxysm (in some cases, almost orgasm), I guess the brain goes into automatic and the old program's still in there. (Oh, there was never any such thing as the Czechoslovakian language). -- JackofOz (talk) 01:05, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
It's inertia. See also "England" rather than Britain or the U.K., and "the Ukraine" for a country whose language doesn't have the word "the." --- OtherDave (talk) 01:10, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Believe it or not, there are still people whom I have met who refer to the whole region as Bohemia! Specifically, descendants of Czeck immigrants in Chicago, where there is a considerable and tradition-rooted community of Bohemians, refering to the fact that they are from Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic/Bohemia, and not that they are wild, rebellious, artsy youths. Saukkomies 08:55, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Why don't you English speakers introduce the toponym Czechia into your language? Is there any other European dialect that lacks this one-word term? --Ghirla-трёп- 13:44, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Because English has a phonological rule that -ia can be added only to stems at least two syllables long. —Angr 14:16, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
What about Russia or India? :) The root of the problem is that most Slavic speakers use adjectives to denote their countries, e.g., Česko for Czechia, Polska for Poland or Rus'ska for (Kievan) Rus. But you have to come up with a noun if you want to render it in English. --Ghirla-трёп- 15:29, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Notably, Russia and India form their adjectives by adding -n, not by dropping -ia. If Czechia were a word, the adjective (and the name of the language) would have to be *Czechian, not Czech. But since the adjective is Czech, it can't come from Czechia. —Angr 15:35, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Well, on a linguistic level you may be correct. On the other hand, there are plenty of examples where the adjective have no regular connection to the name of the country, e.g. dutch, ivorian, chechen, so there is nothing preventing the convenient but irregular combination of Czechia/Czech . /Coffeeshivers (talk) 16:01, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
I've certainly heard the country called Czechia, and called it that myself. Algebraist 15:55, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
We have an article Names of the Czech Republic... AnonMoos (talk) 15:42, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
If you think English speakers are having difficulties with Czechoslovakia/the Czech Republic, imagine the confusion between Czechia and Chechnia. -- 128.104.112.147 (talk) 22:52, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
If we introduced Czechia, what would we do with the Central African Republic? Centrafrica? Before we start coming up with Czechia, we would have to recognise that in English we use Polish orthography for a country that has nothing to do with Poland. We don't do the same with Anton Chekhov (it's not spelled Czechov), yet his name is a cognate of what we call "Czech". -- JackofOz (talk) 00:30, 17 September 2008 (UTC)
Personally, I like saying "the Czech Republic" more than "Czechia". I have a feeling that the word "Czech" comes from Polish, seeing that "Czech" means a Czech man in Polish. Incidentally, (though this is vaguely related) I wonder how names (eg. Václav ==> Wenceslas, Jan ==> John) get translated. Interestingly enough, the name "Marie" seems to never be translated, or, at that rate, pronounced correctly. Vltava 68 (talk contribs) 09:41, 17 September 2008 (UTC)
Oh it's from Polish alright. We've had this discussion at least twice before in my time around these parts. I'd be fairly confident in believing that Polish is the only language in which "cz" is regularly pronounced "ch". English has borrowed "Czech" and related words from the Polish language. We've also come up with "Czar" (but that's a bastard of a word if ever I saw one; and I mean that in both senses of the word - and it's not pronounced "ch"). -- JackofOz (talk) 14:22, 17 September 2008 (UTC)
We aren't introducing Czechia; it's already the prefered short English name as promulgated by the Czech government. And if we want to shorten the name, what's wrong with calling the CAR 'Central Africa'? Sure, it's imprecise, but a lot less so than America. Algebraist 14:30, 17 September 2008 (UTC)
I actually didn't know that, so ta for the info. However, a country that speaks a certain language doesn't get to decide how its name or any forms of its name will be rendered in other languages. It might suggest or request, but its promulgation cannot extend beyond its own territory. I know some anglophones do use the word "Czechia", but it hasn't achieved widespread use or any sort of formal recognition in anglophone countries, as far as I'm aware. And I doubt that it ever will. Czechia might sound ok to a czechophone (have I just coined a word?), but it sure doesn't sound ok to my anglophone ears. Not that my opinion is necessarily representative of anyone but myself; but if I think it's an extraordinarily ugly word - and I do - there's an even money chance others would have the same opinion. I honestly can't see it ever catching on, despite whatever the Czech government might have to say on the matter. (Famous last words, probably). -- JackofOz (talk) (or, for my New Zealand friends who may be watching this conversation, CzechofOz :)
Ha ha. Gwinva (talk) 22:54, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

How about Czechland? We call it Tékkland in Icelandic. Haukur (talk) 13:53, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Another reason we English speakers don't adopt the word Czechia into our language is because so many of us American English speakers (I can't speak for other English speaking nationalities) are barely aware that there had ever even been a country called Czechoslovakia in the first place, let alone that it broke into two separate countries, each with its own name. If you were to ask the typical "man (or woman) on the street" somewhere in the United States if they knew that a country called Czechoslovakia had existed, you'd be lucky to get 50% of the people to know about it. And to ask them if they knew that Czechoslovaki had broken up into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, you would just get a blank stare about 99% of the time. Part of the reason for this is due to the fact that America is just such a huge country that it takes a lot of concentration just to keep up with what is going on in the US, let alone what is happening in other continents elsewhere. But another part of it is that a lot of Americans were simply not taught about world history very well in school. Be that as it may, don't expect Americans to be able to use the new name of the Czech Republic - or Czechia - any time soon. Saukkomies 15:02, 18 September 2008 (UTC)
But even with the National Missile Defense stuff? At least McCain should get it right... Vltava 68 (talk contribs) 06:46, 20 September 2008 (UTC)
Saukkomies, I can readily accept that "a lot of Americans were simply not taught about world history very well in school". But the bit about "America is just such a huge country that it takes a lot of concentration just to keep up with what is going on in the US, let alone what is happening in other continents elsewhere" - that does not wash with me at all. Not these days. It might have been true in 1950 (although even then I'd have difficulty accepting it); but certainly not now. If I'm wrong, what does it say about American journalism, Americans' ability to use the internet (for other than the latest fan gossip), the general impact of the information revolution on the USA, and Americans' propensity to undertake overseas travel? Not to mention Wikipedia's penetration of its home country. Has the Prague Spring been forgotten so completely? -- JackofOz (talk) 08:23, 20 September 2008 (UTC)
Well, actually I have to reiterate it: I do perfectly believe that one of the reasons many Americans are ignorant of events occurring outside the borders of the US is due to the enormity of the country, and the sheer amount of information it requires just to keep up with events transpiring within the country. Think about it: there are 300 million Americans, making it the third largest country as far as population. The physical size of the country is enormous, too. There are fifty separate states - each with its own political and social tapestry that is constantly in motion. Quick - how many Europeans (or Australians) could name all fifty states, their capitals, and would be able to point them out on a map? If there are people in Sydney or Prague who would have difficulty coming up with the correct answers to these questions, then perhaps it might be easy to understand how it would also be difficult for people in San Francisco or Dallas to be able to do the same with questions about European countries that are smaller than most US states... There is only so much an average person can take in, and the relevance factor for most people is limited to what will most directly impact their immediate lives, and unfortunately the entire country of the Czech Republic fails that test for typical Americans... Saukkomies 13:46, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

Constitutional Paradox[edit]

Does anyone know of an example or examples of inconsistancies in the U.S. Constitution? An example of what I mean would be something like one article that prevents another being fully enactable.

Thanks. --Rixxin (talk) 21:56, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Three-fifths compromise may be of interest - it isn't that it is inconsistent, per se, but rather it is a specific exemption to another segment. 98.169.163.20 (talk) 01:59, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
We have expert opinion that there is, but what the inconsistency actually is is not known; but it may survive: not all his papers have been read. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:16, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
Well, the 21st Amendment is incompatible with the 18th, but I imagine you're looking for subtler examples than that. —Angr 08:06, 16 September 2008 (UTC)
On the Gödel angle here is the source the article mentions: "What might have bothered him, though, was Article V, which places almost no substantive constraints on how the Constitution can be amended. He could have interpreted this to mean that, as long as an amendment is proposed and approved in the prescribed way, it automatically becomes part of the Constitution, even if it would eliminate the essential features of a republican form of government and obliterate virtually all the protections of human rights" (source).--droptone (talk) 11:36, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Well, for one thing, the Constitution was ratified by the original states in a manner that was inconsistent. Technically, it really should not have become the law of the land. The reason for this is that the law of the land of the early United States was based on the Articles of Confederation. The ratification of the Constitution should have therefore been done according to how the Articles of Confederation dictated. The 13th Article of these discusses how the Articles of Confederation would be changed, and says that: "...the Articles are perpetual, and can only be altered by approval of Congress with ratification by all the state legislatures." However, when the state legislatures convened and discussed whether to ratify the new Constitution (between the years 1787 and 1790), not all of the states supported it! Indeed, what really happened was that the Congress of the Confederation (the federal congress at the time) used NOT the Articles of Confederation to determine whether the new Constitution was to be the new law of the land, but rather they used the Constitution itself to determine this! Precisely, in the new Constitution, it states in Article Five that there were two methods that Congress (or a national convention requested by the states) could take in order to change the Constitution. Under the first method, Congress can propose an amendment by a two-thirds vote (of a quorum, not necessarily of the entire body) of the Senate and of the House of Representatives. Under the second method, two-thirds (2/3) of the state legislatures may convene and "apply" to Congress to hold a national convention, whereupon Congress must call such a convention for the purpose of considering amendments.
The Congress of the Confederation should have used the law of the land that was in effect at the time when the Constitution was being ratified by the various 13 states in order to determine to accept the new Constitution as the new law of the land, which would have been the 13th Article of Confederation. Instead, what happened was that the Congress of the Confederation used the 5th Article of the Constitution to determine its own ratification! Specifically, once two-thirds of the 13 states' legislatures had voted to ratify the new Constitution, the Congress of the Confederation approved it as the new law of the land - even though this was acting against the Articles of Confederation, under whose law they were supposed to be acting, which would have required that every one of the states would have had to have ratified the new Constitution before it would have legally become the new law of the land.
So, on June 21st, 1788, New Hampshire became the 9th state to ratify the new Constitution, and this meant that at that point 2/3 of the states had ratified the new law, and so the Congress of the Confederation moved to incorporate the Constitution as the new law of the land, even though Virginia, New York, North Carolina and Rhode Island had still not ratified it! Indeed, there were people in these four remaining states who had serious misgivings about the new Constitution, and there were those who were very upset that Congress had acted in this way, claiming that the new Constitution was illegally adopted.
Eventually, over the next 2 years, the four hold out states did vote to ratify the new Constitution, making it unanimous. However, the point is that at that time it was accepted as the new law of the land, it did so not under the rules that were governing the nation at the time. This would perhaps be an example of a paradox in the Constitution. Saukkomies 09:25, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Consideration of the Article of Confederation is a good slant but I disagree b/c as far as I am aware, the Confederation was a loose grouping to address common problems. It was virtually powerless. The Confederation did not incorporate English common law or current political theory. The framers of the Constitution were very aware they were establishing a new government based on British constitutional theory but bolstered by philosophy and classical literature. For instance, some patriots were rightly concerned about loss of state power to a more centralized and powerful government. The records show great deliberation and consciousness of what was happening in Philadelphia. Did the framers live within their apparent authority when they were sent to negotiage changes to the Confederation and immediately tabled improvements to the Confederation? No. Somehow, though, their actions were viewed as legitimate. Imagine the ACLU if a group of delegates decided to table the U.S. Constitution (imagine George Bush and executive power towards foreign policy and terrorism.) 75Janice —Preceding unsigned comment added by 75Janice (talkcontribs) 21:03, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

I beg to disagree with your summation that the Articles of Confederation were a "loose grouping to address common problems". The Articles of Confederation were accepted by the duly elected representatives of the people of the burgeoning republic of the United States of America to be the basis for the law of the land. It is true that there were some significant problems with the Articles of Confederation, but that is irrelevant to the point that they still were the foundation of the law of the land. If you would examine the Wiki link to the page that discusses the Articles, you will find that they indeed do spell out precisely what the process would be in order to amend or to change the law of the land - to adopt a new constitution. This process, however, was not adhered to by Congress. Additionally, it may be worth your while (if you're at all interested in this subject, and are not just trying to create argument for argument's sake) to read some of the newspaper articles that were published collectively as "The Federalist Papers". These were written under pseudonyms by three men who all served in the Constitutional Convention, and who were trying to convince the American people to adopt the newly drafted Constitution. The arguments they lay out are quite fascinating, and discuss the issues that Americans were concerned with at the time. Contrary to what many people are taught in school, the adoption of the Constitution was actually a rather difficult sell - there were many people who opposed the idea of Big Government, and that was what they saw the Constitution was creating. Also, it was not the framers of the Constitution who were responsible for what I was discussing, namely the method that was used to ratify it. And additionally, I must also disagree with what you said that the men who were sent to the Constitutional Convention lived "within their apparent authority when they were sent to negotiage changes to the Confederation and immediately tabled improvements to the Confederation". They were free to come up with whatever document they managed to agree upon, regardless of the outcome. In fact, looking at your posting there, I really wonder whether you actually bothered to read what I had written before criticizing it. It seems to me as if you were completely missing the main points in order to push forward your idea that the Constitution was an inspired document, which was really not the issue being discussed... Saukkomies 18:39, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

All these were exactly the sort of thing I was looking for. Thanks people. Rixxin (talk) 21:55, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Any bit of law is bound to have loopholes and inconsistencies. I was amused by Analysis of the British Nationality Act from 1986 using a logic programming language. You'd have though nationality at least could be determined without contradictions and omissions but no way. I believe they get round it to some extent now by asking on what basis citizenship is claimed and only checking that, and you can't change your basis for a claim. Dmcq (talk) 08:54, 17 September 2008 (UTC)
I can't even begin to give a better answer than the ones given above, but I have a little favourite among constitutional paradoxes: presidential succession. If the president and vice-president is killed, the speaker of the house would be the next in succession. But no person can hold office in two different branches of government because of separation of powers. So the speaker would have to resign from the house of representatives. But then the speaker is no longer the speaker, so she's (I'm using the female pronoun because of the current speaker) no longer the successor! So really, the next person in line is the Secretary of State! (the same issue would arise with the pro tempore of the Senate, thus skipping him too) 90.235.13.101 (talk) 00:37, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

Religion's Description of God/Universe[edit]

I know that some religions describe God as simultaneously immanent and eminent but which religions in particular do that? Also are there any religions that look at God as simultaneously a root cause and an emergent property? How about simultaneously personal and impersonal? 71.113.3.76 (talk) 23:52, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

There are all sorts of people who believe contradicting things about God (e.g. that he is both personal and impersonal). I personally see this as incoherent as God cannot contain contradictions. However, to answer your question, I am wondering if you are thinking of the word "transcendent" to go with immanent? Christianity teaches that God is both transcendent (i.e. above all and thus not entirely explainable) and immanent (still ever-present and capable of revealing himself to humanity). This is not a contradiction but a complimentary thing. As for God being the root cause and emergent (also contradictory, but anyways), check out process theology. 68.31.82.188 (talk) 02:13, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

As per your second question: you will find a fascinating give-and-take pursued by the early church and the Neo-Platonists of the opening centuries of the common era. Key thinkers are Plotinus, Origen, Porphyry and Augustine. Apparently, the early Christians appropriated pagan ideas of First Principle and Logos and gave them new names. The amalgamation of competing ideas about the godhead in centuries 1-4 is the reason that God is "simultaneously a root cause and an emergent property."Dukesnyder1027 (talk) 13:15, 21 September 2008 (UTC)