Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2009 April 25

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Humanities desk
< April 24 << Mar | April | May >> April 26 >
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.

April 25[edit]

don't mess with the binding[edit]

A response to the recent question about libraries reminded me — Forty years ago I used to see this notation: "This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not be sold, lent, rented or otherwise circulated in other than the original binding." (Misquoted from memory, obviously.) Why? —Tamfang (talk) 04:42, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

When books go unsold at bookstores, rather than returning the entire book to the publisher (which is expensive!), the covers are torn off and returned to the publisher for a refund and the book is supposed to be destroyed. If the book is missing its original binding, it may be an indication that someone has been defrauding the publisher by taking a refund for a book then later reselling the rebound book. 04:44, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
See stripped book and remaindered book. (talk) 17:35, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

are some kinds of extortion legal?[edit]

I'm not asking for any legal advice, just curious.

So a lot of people call offers of court settlement, and even legal initiations in general, "extortion". ie you can say to their legal that if you don't paid (whether the other party considers your claim against them as having merit or not), you are taking them to court. This means you make them pay no matter what. They have to their time, lawyers, etc.

Obviously this is usually legal (ie if you're not just being completely frivolous, e.g. making claims against someone on the other side of the planet that you have absolutely no connection with or claim against).

But are there any other cases of extortion (loosely, not legally) being legal? If extortion is saying, I can do something you won't like, then making the other party pay you or you will just hurt them even worse (than their monetary loss paying you off), are there any other cases where making this set of consequences express to the other person is legal? I can't really think of any.

Thanks! (talk) 07:45, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

the last think you describe sounds more like extortion than blackmail. The key thing around blackmail it seems is that what you are threatening to receive is Substantially true. It appears that this form of blackmail is a crime - if you've not already it's worth reading the wikipedia article on it. ny156uk (talk) 09:25, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
actuallually you are absolutely right and I mean extortion. I've changed every instance in my question above. (talk) 15:39, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
What makes blackmail illegal is actually quite contentious in legal circles. If I have compromising information about you, can I ask you to pay me money not to publish it? Worded in some ways, I can. Worded in others, I cannot. There is not necessarily anything illegal about the act of publishing the information—just the act of asking for compensation not to publish it.
Which is a round-about way of indicating that yes, there are forms of what we might consider extortion that we consider legal. Getting people to pay you money so that you don't do something is part of many business models (this comes up in patent and copyright law quite often—buy a license, better be safe than sorry, etc.). The line between "extortion" and many legal practices is very thin. -- (talk) 21:28, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
For your statement "If I have compromising information about you, can I ask you to pay me money not to publish it? Worded in some ways, I can. Worded in others, I cannot.", could you give an actual two sentences that are probably legal, probably illegal respectively? (Or are there famous cases where courts have found it legal based on the exact phrasing?)
I understand your extortion examples. I think license and patent portfolios are an excellent example, but they still amount to "legal threats" since the mechanism of 'punishment' in both cases is the law. Anything that doesn't use the law but is legal? (talk) 08:10, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
Somewhat tongue in cheek, you might say that almost everything to do with raising children is extortion of one sort or another: "Behave yourself or . . ." and then name a punishment; "If you behave yourself then . . ." and name a bribe. There is also blackmail, though usually practised by siblings rather than parent to child: "I'll tell on you unless you give me . . ." and name a price/prize. As far as I know, all of that is "legal" and it does not appeal to the law for enforcement. // BL \\ (talk) 23:23, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
Another example might be the sale of nude photographs of a celebrity, which may come up to auction legitimately (e.g.[1]), but the celebrity may wish to buy them to avoid their dissemination. This may also happen with private letters. William Hearst and friends tried to buy the rights to Citizen Kane to stop it damaging Hearst's reputation[2], though the studio and Welles certainly didn't want to sell it so there was no intent at extortion. There are also (possibly apocryphal) stories of people buying up every copy of a book, film, etc, to prevent it coming to light. --Maltelauridsbrigge (talk) 11:17, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
Wheel clamping on private land, where you effectively hold someone's property hostage until they pay up (and use intimidating behaviour to encourage them to do so), was legal for a time in both England and Scotland. It was suddenly discontinued in Scotland in 1992 when a court found it to constitute "extortion and theft" (see here) and remains illegal under Scottish law. However, despite English legal discussions over whether or not it may amount to "demanding money with menaces", it remains legal in England and Wales. There is an argument, particularly in view of the Scottish decision, that wheel clamping may be a type of legal extortion. Karenjc 13:16, 28 April 2009 (UTC)

Confucius "With only plain rice to eat and only my elbow for a pillow I find delight in all"[edit]

Where is the online source page for this translation please? I can only find it on the spam-like pages here but I cannot find it in the text that Scribd has copied it from (talk) 11:28, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

Try Wikiquote? BrainyBabe (talk) 13:23, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
Lún Yǔ 7:16.—eric 14:50, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
7:14 in the Bartleby text.—eric 14:53, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

Thanks. I now have three different renderings of that saying - I have to guess which is nearest to what Confuscius may have said. (talk) 21:45, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

You have two emblems of the simple life and an expression of delight in the natural world. The rest is wording.--Wetman (talk) 23:26, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
Or 7:15 in the Chinese wikisource version.
Here's the original text according to that: "【七之十五】子曰:「飯疏食,飲水,曲肱而枕之,樂亦在其中矣。不義而富且貴,於我如浮雲。」"
Here's a more or less literal translation if that would help you:
The Master says: "Eating rice with vegetables, drinking water, bending elbow to use as pillow, delight/pleasure lies therein also. Having no morals but being rich and having high status, to me that is like a floating cloud." --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 07:11, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

That's a really odd quote. Plain rice does not have the necessary nutrition to sustain a person. Can people really survive on rice alone without getting all malnurished? (talk) 07:42, 1 May 2009 (UTC)

Zionist parties outside of Israel?[edit]

Is there any non-Israeli political party that is officially Zionist? Specifically, is either the American Republican or Democratic Party officially Zionist, or programatically aligned with Zionism? If not, have any efforts been made to officially incorporate Zionism into their platforms? LANTZYTALK 20:12, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

Not sure what that would mean -- several platforms adopted at major-party conventions in the U.S. during the 1940's stated support for the creation of a state of Israel, and after Israel was created in 1948, most U.S. politicians were opposed to the possibility of it being destroyed, but you'll have to decide whether you think that amounts to a "Zionist ideology". Israel is an issue near and dear to some party supporters, but it doesn't define the overall character of either major party in the U.S., as far as I can see.. AnonMoos (talk) 20:50, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
Thanks, AnonMoos, for providing a helpful answer. LANTZYTALK 16:30, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
What does "Zionism" signify in the 21st century? The right of the State of Israel to exist? What normal person would not be a "zionist" in that sense?--Wetman (talk) 23:21, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
"Normal"? Just because someone does not agree with your political ideology, that does not make them abnormal. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 03:56, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
Typical jewish POV. Just ignore it. (talk) 09:42, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
That response actually brought a question to my mind, but I know the reference desk frowns on questions of this type. However I don't like just guessing: is there an official list somewhere of areas of inquiry that are not welcome here at the reference desk? Thanks. (talk) 12:40, 26 April 2009 (UTC) I have taken the liberty of copying the immediately preceding question and placing it in its own section below. // BL \\ (talk) 15:52, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
I wonder what's meant by "Israel's right to exist". Are there states (other than all of them) that exist without such a right? Are there nonexistent states that do have such a right? —Tamfang (talk) 18:46, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
Clearly. Seccesionist states such as Biafra, Kurdistan, Palestine, etc. claim the right to exist, but do not, presently, form nation-states. Who then was a gentleman? (talk) 19:10, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
There is a difference between "a people's right to live and exist free from persecution and other violations of their human rights, including civil and political rights", and "a political state's right to exist in accordance with either its existing or its claimed borders and system of government and to defend said territory and system of government by the means of its own choosing". The former is generally respected, the latter is debatable according to the precise circumstsances of the case. An unqualified "Israel's right to exist" is of the latter kind, not the former. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 23:53, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
Many political parties have support for Israel's existence in their platforms. In the 2005 general election in the UK, the Conservative Party was committed to "Israel secure within its borders"[3] and the Labour Party to a "safe and secure" Israel[4], although both also supported a Palestinian state. --Maltelauridsbrigge (talk) 11:34, 28 April 2009 (UTC)

Is there an official list somewhere of areas of inquiry that are not welcome here at the reference desk?[edit]

Thanks. (talk) 12:40, 26 April 2009 (UTC) (Moved from the preceding section. // BL \\ (talk) 15:52, 26 April 2009 (UTC))

No, there isn't. All areas of true enquiry are welcome on the Ref Desk. It is not the subject matter itself that is frowned upon, but what the questioner appears to be seeking by way of an answer. I quote from the lead-in language at the top of the page:
Yes, if you need advice or opinions, it's better to ask elsewhere.
The reference desk does not answer (and will probably remove) requests for medical or legal advice. Ask a doctor, dentist, veterinarian, or lawyer instead.
The reference desk does not answer requests for opinions or predictions about future events. Do not start a debate; please seek an internet forum instead.
If you are looking to talk about (gather opinions on) an idea, issue, event or a collection of data, especially if the topic is a controversial one, then non-Wikipedia internet forums are your best place; if you want information (facts and sources) about an idea, issue, event or a collection of facts, however controversial, then the Ref Desks may be helpful. Perhaps you might also keep in mind that starting your question with a disclaimer like "This isn't asking for medical/legal advice" or "I am not looking for a debate" doesn't make it so. Frequently, asking for "facts" about a controversial subject is a flimsy disguise for an invitation to debate. The narrower the focus of your question, the less likely it will be to attract debate and the more likely you are to get a good answer. It is also important not to suggest that only answers supporting a particular POV are acceptable unless your question is about facts in support of that POV.
Please note that, except for the guideline quoted, this is my personal interpretation. Others may disagree. In the case of disagreement, I suggest we move this whole debate to the Ref Desk talk page, with a link from here. // BL \\ (talk) 15:52, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
In fact, your sentence is almost right. It's: Frequently, asking for "facts" about a controversial subject is will be claimed to be a flimsy disguise for an invitation to debate. Specifically, there are some areas of inquiry for which questions are not welcome in my experience, and I would like to know the list of these, rather than just have to guess. By the way construing a "request for facts about a controversial topic" as an "invitation to debate" is a ridiculously subjective judgment, as anyone can see. It would be different if you said "in the past this type of question has engendered a lot of debate". Instead, questions are deleted which cause NO debate, merely because they are on "the list" of unwelcome questions. How do I know they cause no debate? I have taken them to a different reference desk (different language) where no debate has ensued. This clearly proves that the straw man argument that a request for facts is "secretly" a way to start a debate is mere slander to silence the question on the unwelcome topic. But what is the complete list of these unwelcome topics? (talk) 07:09, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
This post right here is a rant. Writing a rant on the ref desk about how closely you follow ref desk rules is a contradiction in terms. APL (talk) 14:03, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
it would be a rant on any other thread than this one -- here it is an explanation of my request. (talk) 13:43, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
And now we have a debate about whether or not it is a rant. // BL \\ (talk) 19:49, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
There is no specific list of unallowed topics, but in the words of late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart: "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it..." Livewireo (talk) 19:12, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

English History Question -- What's a Cord Maker?[edit]

The name Cordell means, "cord-maker" or "cord-seller" in Middle English[5].

What was a cord-maker?

A person who twisted yarn together for dress trimming(Cord (sewing))? A worker in a "rope walk"(Rope#History)?

Thanks! (talk) 20:52, 25 April 2009 (UTC)Cordell

I've reformatted your refs - footnotes don't work on this kind of page (they would all appear at the bottom rather than in each section, which isn't much use). --Tango (talk) 21:47, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
They would if the group feature of {{reflist}} was used. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 22:52, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
True, but I'm don't think that is necessary for our purposes. Refs in the way I have formatted the OP's work fine. --Tango (talk) 23:38, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

Or possibly a leather worker? see from The Honourable Cordwainers' Company. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:14, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Is Britain already a police state?[edit]

This afternoon while shopping in my local town centre I saw a parked police van with a remotely operated camera on top of it observing the perfectly law-abiding public, including looking at me as I looked at it. I could see the camera moving about under human control. A few hours later a noisy dark-coloured helicopter was meandering about in the sky for a long time - it could be nothing else but a police helicopter, and I have often seen them. This town has a number of sinister looking cameras positioned on tall poles put up just for that purpose, and probably many others I have not noticed. There is already a pole-camera near where the police van was, so it was rather redundant, unless the pole-camera had broken down. Even before all this surveilance started, this town had one of the lowest crime rates in Britain, so it does seem unnecessary. I feel insulted about being treated like a criminal. In the recent news there have been instances of police brutality. We might be a democracy, but none of the political parties offers to decrease or remove survelliance, so it is beyond democratic control. We now have detention without trial - although that might be justified perhaps. Identity cards are soon going to be introduced - the kind of thing my parent's generation risked their lives to stop. Britain seems to have turned into a foriegn country, like Portugal under the junta. So, is the UK already a police state? I hope asking this question does not result in PC Plod opening a file on me. (talk) 21:26, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

This is a rant with a request for opinions tacked onto the end, it is not a legitimate reference desk question. There are plenty of forums on the internet where you can discuss this kind of stuff, please take it to one of them. --Tango (talk) 21:44, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

No, it is an informal list of characteristics which may or may not indicate the existance of a police state. (talk) 21:50, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

You are perfectly free to read the article you yourself already found and linked and formulate your own opinions on the matter. However, this is not the place to start a discussion or debate over such opinions. Since you seem to have found the relevent Wikipedia article already, there's not much else for anyone else to do. 21:51, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

The article does not give an explicit set of criteria for categorising a country as a police state or not. (talk) 21:59, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

Sure it does. I can find such quotes in the police state article as "The inhabitants of a police state experience restrictions on their mobility, and on their freedom to express or communicate political or other views, which are subject to police monitoring or enforcement." and "Political control may be exerted by means of a secret police force which operates outside the boundaries normally imposed by a constitutional republic." and "Genuine police states are fundamentally authoritarian, and are often dictatorships. " as well as probably a dozen or so criteria explicitly explained criteria in there which may help to inform your opinion. As to whether these criteria apply to any specific nation you have in mind, that is still entirely up to you. 22:13, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

If it is entirely up to me to decide if a country is a police state or not, then has anyone developed something like a scorecard to make this process less fuzzy please? (talk) 23:00, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

The Reference Desk is not set up as a debating society. We are glad to help establish facts and suggest directions for your research.--Wetman (talk) 23:10, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
Can you vote? Can someone in power legally read your e-mail without applying for a warrant? Are you allowed to meet whoever you want to meet? Can you go to another country if you feel like it, permanently or otherwise? Can people just disappear overnight after a visit from the cops, without a trial or the right to legal representation? Can newspapers publish articles on political figures without being shut down by the state? Is your access to media severely restricted? No, Britain is not a police state. That's not to say that the state of affairs you refer to must be nice, necessary, or even altogether benign, but that doesn't make it a police state. That's a fundamentally more restrictive and oppressive regime than what you're experiencing. (Where the line would be drawn exactly can be unclear, but the "ideal" police state and Britain are so far apart form each other on the spectrum that it's obvious that the UK isn't one.-- Captain Disdain (talk) 23:18, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

Detention without trial is by no means novel in the UK. Detention for reasons of political acts or suspected affiliation was covered by the Defence of the Realm Act 1914 and the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act 1939 (in particular Defence Regulation 18B). Moreover Operation Demetrius involved the lengthy detention of nearly 2,000 people. In all of these cases those detained had little practical recourse to law, and by and large courts rarely materially interfered with their detention; by contrast the current provisions have been heavily modified by the House of Lords. In general those provisions that pertained in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, with extensive powers of search, arrest, and detention by armed police and a very large army presence make any of the current provisions utterly pale into insignificance. (talk) 23:27, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

The term "police state" is usually used to refer to how a state operates during peace time. Most countries reduce civil liberties during genuine wars and states of emergency. You may or may not agree with such actions, but they wouldn't generally be considered to make a state a police state. --Tango (talk) 23:34, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
That's true in theory, but in practice true police states (and repressive governments in general) always say that there is a state of emergency right now, so as to justify their actions. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. (talk) 23:44, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
See, this is a debate that you wanted. You asked for facts and references, when provided with such facts, you openly refute them. That's a debate. There's a place for debates. It's called the rest of the internet. Wikipedia's reference desk is not for these kinds of discussions. 01:10, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
Jayron32, you appear to have confused me with the OP, who is an entirely different person using an entirely unrelated ISP. I don't believe I've done anything that justifies your vitriol. (talk) 09:08, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
That is why I was careful to write "genuine". --Tango (talk) 21:59, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

How do you write with a southern accent from the 1900 in Alabama?[edit]

Specifically I am looking for how too write a letter, with a southern accent of an african american, possibly not the greatest educated, female, living in Maycomb Alabama in the 1930's. I know this is not a real place but I am doing an assingment for my Language arts class on " To kill a mockingbird", so i would really appreciate it if someone could help me. Thank you! —Preceding unsigned comment added by Iluvgofishband (talkcontribs) 22:41, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

I recommend the language desk; they are the experts on lingustic usage patterns. Phonology, accent, dialect, and how that is made evident in the written format -- all these are their forte. BrainyBabe (talk) 22:58, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
Be aware that the dialect in question is one that can easily appear racist if done without great care. -- (talk) 03:30, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
The usual recommendation is to avoid writing "accents" or dialect if at all possible, as they are rarely done well and can be annoying or difficult to read. If you feel your composition will suffer from not including dialect quotes, the usual advice is to pick one or two affectations which characterize the speech (dropping 'h's, swapping 'v's for 'w's, or 'sh' for 's', etc.) and then be consistent in their usage. Above all, don't try to shove six different changes from standard English in one person's mouth, as their quotes then start to approach illegible gibberish. By the way, if you're doing an assignment on To Kill a Mockingbird, it'd probably be worth seeing how Harper Lee represented different types of accent, and then try copying his style. -- (talk) 19:41, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
... her style. Harper Lee was (and still is) female. --Cookatoo.ergo.ZooM (talk) 20:34, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

The Uncle Remus books by Joel Chandler Harris were written in what was considered in the late 19th centurypage 403 to be an accurate rendition of postCivil War era Southern Negro dialect as spoken in South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. Some now would consider such dialect depictions to be racist. The books are available online at Project Gutenberg:[6]. Kentucky writer Irvin S. Cobb wrote similar stories a few decades later, also with his depiction of southern Negro dialect and southern white dialect, also likely to be offensive to some. There was a style of American fiction writing in the early 20th century which maximized on perceived stereotypes by writing out every utterance of minorities of foreigners in detailed dialect. By the late 20th century, books on writing strongly discouraged this, and said to only suggest the dialect with some indication when the person is introduced. U.S Also from Project Gutenberg:Cobb's "Sundry Accounts" (1922)page 221-230.Someone in the 1930's who was able to write might write with more standard spellings than the dialect stories suggest. It would be unusual for someone to write entirely in dialect, and not know the standard spellings of any of the words. "The WPA Oklahoma Slave Narratives" are transcriptions of interviews with ex-slaves in the 1930's. It preserves some of the pronunciations and the word choices. Page 52 is an 87 year old former slave whose parents were from Alabama and Georgia. Page 6 notes that the compilers/recorders. who included both blacks and whites, attempted to "incorporate a standardized Afican American dialect" for consistency.Page 9 says that idioms were preserved, but that spelling "dis" for "this" might have been done regardless of whether the subject spoke standard English. Edison (talk) 22:40, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
See reply (re: Zora Neale Hurston) to this query crossposted on the Language RD. Other content of interest, though not necessarily about dialect as written: African American Vernacular English and Ebonics -- Deborahjay (talk) 06:04, 28 April 2009 (UTC)

Cold War[edit]

Is the current security environment more complex than that of the Cold War? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Martinrjy (talkcontribs) 23:24, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

In some respects, yes (eg. threats from more sources), in other respects, no (eg. the threats don't generally use such advanced techniques). --Tango (talk) 23:36, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
It is easy to oversimplify the Cold War as being simply bipolar, but remember that the same bipolarity was able to channel a wide variety of threats across the globe (proxy wars, third world revolution, high-level espionage, etc.). I would argue that the Cold War period was at least as complex as the current period, if not even more complex. At the moment there are, for example, relatively few groups out there who want to do damage to the Western world. They are diffuse and sometimes hard to identify but their numbers and ability to project power are far less impressive than the Cold War blocs. That being said, their lack of need for responsibility (statelessness) makes them perhaps more dangerous (you'd never have the USSR doing something like 9/11—it would bring with it too much retribution), and it is probably always easier to destabilize things than it is to stabilize them (which in a way was what the USSR was trying to accomplish—creating stable, Communist regimes). -- (talk) 03:23, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
Yes, but it's fairly well established that 9/11 didn't come entirely from outside sources. This 'inner war' that we are having is far more terrifying than the Cold War, because at least in the Cold War we had a nuclear deterrent. Now, all we have is our kids getting sent off to foreign countries to be killed, just so the corporations can make money.--KageTora (영호 (影虎)) (talk) 05:55, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
No, that is not "fairly well established" at all. Please keep 9/11 Truther nonsense off the Reference Desk; it is unhelpful and will invariably lead to debate. -Elmer Clark (talk) 08:03, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
Apologies. It was late at night when I posted that.--KageTora (영호 (影虎)) (talk) 13:32, 26 April 2009 (UTC)