Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2009 April 26

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April 26[edit]

a colonnaded portico[edit]

Hi, on Time Team a couple of weeks back they referred to a "colonnaded portico." Since a portico is by definition colonnaded, or so I gather, this seems a tautology. Is there such a thing as a non-colonnaded portico? It's been emotional (talk) 01:34, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

In some places you have porticos where upper floors are supported by simple timber posts or the entrance is flanked by plain walls. In modern architecture, a cantilevered slab above an entrance may be called a portico, as in the Grand Rapids Art Museum (no picture, unfortunately). --Cookatoo.ergo.ZooM (talk) 14:58, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
Image here. --Sean 13:31, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for the trouble you took here Cookatoo, with the nifty photo added, :). Now I can add "cantilevered" to my vocabulary, It's been emotional (talk) 08:32, 27 April 2009 (UTC)


Is Hadith really needed to interpret Quran? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:11, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

The relationship between Hadith and Quran is that Hadith are very similar to the relationship between Talmud and Torah in Judaism. That is, the Hadith, like the Talmud, are not divinely received, but rather are well accepted interpretations of proper behavior. The Hadith is meant to cover places where the Quran is silent; though widely accepted and considered divinely inspired, they are not considered the direct word of God like the Quran is. Similar sorts of relationships in other religions include the relationship between the Upanishads and the Vedas in Hinduism or between the Catechism and the Bible in some Christian tradiditions. In each of these cases, the former texts are not necessarily held as "Word of God", but still attempt to describe how to properly live your life in a religious manner, and thus should still be followed by the adherants of that religion. Try this table on for size:
Faith Supplemental Commentary Scripture
Islam Hadith Quran
Judaism Talmud Torah
Hinduism Upanishads Vedas
Christianity Catechism Bible
Buddhism Vinaya and other guidance texts Buddhavacana or Sutras

Hope that helps some. 03:30, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

I would replace "Catechism" with "early Church fathers", and possibly "Upanishads" with "Brahmanas". Also, ahadith have a somewhat distinctive status, in that they're not really supplemental sacred scriptures (as the Brahmanas are), and they're not attributed statements by various respected early religious scholars (as is the case with the Talmud and Christian church fathers), but rather they're historical traditions about Muhammad as an individual which were apparently transmitted almost purely orally in the first 150 years after Muhammad's death. The reliance on Hadith is considered necessary in traditional mainstream interpretations of Islam (since many things are not discussed in the Qur'an in sufficient detail to lay down a detailed legal code etc.), but is somewhat problematic, since all serious scholars admit that some ahadith are bogus, leading to a whole complex convoluted field of hadith verification. AnonMoos (talk) 14:00, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

Pedantically, "the Hadith, like the Talmud, are not divinely received, but rather are well accepted interpretations of proper behavior" is not a 100% accurate characterisation of what the Talmud is thought to be in traditional Judaism. The Talmud includes many strands, but a fundamental one is that it is where oral law is discussed. Those oral laws are traditionally considered to have originated from divine revelation to Moses on Mount Sinai - that's why he was up the mountain for 40 days and nights. --Dweller (talk) 13:15, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

WESTERN US rail development 1850/1860[edit]


Please do not type in all capitals. It is akin to screaming, and can be considered rude in public internet forums such as this. To answer your question, you may want to read History of rail transport in the United States, and use it as a launching point for your research. You can follow wikilinks to other Wikipedia articles if there seems some relevent ones. 03:35, 26 April 2009 (UTC)


The legend of Sisyphus ends with him condemned to roll a boulder for eternity. And it seems that the image struck a chord with many philosophers like Camus and Sartre. What if one day Sisyphus just decided to stop rolling the boulder. Did any philosophers consider what that would mean? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:32, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

Searches in Google Scholar and Google Books don't turn up much written by philosphers (feel to try different searchword combinations yourself, of course, I tried "sisyphus stops" and "sisyphus were to stop"). But the idea appears common in popular culture (google "sisyphus stops") and is the conceit of contemporary plays and other works. Best, WikiJedits (talk) 13:11, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
Surely "condemned" means he has no choice.-- (talk) 11:54, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
Close, perhaps: Atlas was condemned (for being on the wrong side of the Titanomachy) to "stand at the western edge of Gaia, the Earth and hold up Ouranos, the Sky", and in a famous latter-day novel and philosophical treatise he shrugged it off. --Sean 13:42, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
I think you have the myth slightly wrong. It's not that he had to roll a boulder up for eternity and then just watching it roll down. It's that he was supposed to be free when the boulder reached the top of the hill, but it would always start rolling down just before he reached the top, and he would have to start over. A big part of the punishment is that Sisyphus couldn't complete the task. He had been guilty of hubris, tricking the gods and thinking he could do anything, so he was sentenced to an eternity of not being able to complete a single task, no matter how hard he worked. This is a rich pattern of symbolism that ties in as diverse threads as hubris, fate, prophecy and many other things.
As for why he couldn't just escape. Well, that's pretty obvious: he was in the underworld. You can't escape from the underworld. You can try, but you ain't gonna succeed (unless you're a badass life-death-rebirth deity, but that's a whole 'nother thing). Belisarius (talk) 14:50, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
Atlas also passed off the sky to Hercules for awhile, long before Ayn Rand. Adam Bishop (talk) 19:43, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

Robin Cook[edit]

Out of the 29 novels that Robin Cook (American novelist) has written so far, which would you recommend?? I am a high school student interested in science, and my teacher recommended this author to me. I ran a search on him on Wikipedia, and it tells me he has written 29 novels. 29 is too large a number to choose from, and I would like some advice or recommendations on which of those 29 are the best or the most interesting to read. Thanks. Johnnyboi7 (talk) 10:22, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

I assume that JB7 is talking about Robin Cook (American novelist) and not the late British poltician. Most of the books of the former have stubby summaries in WP, so you may check these to find a medical topic which interests you. Other refdeskers may give you a better answer, but I am not familiar with the author. --Cookatoo.ergo.ZooM (talk) 12:10, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
Thanks Cookatoo: I've changed the link. and thank you for the tip, as well. Anyone else who can help me?? Johnnyboi7 (talk) 14:10, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
I read Coma (novel), which was his first. Good enough for me to reread it twice; but apparently not enough for me to become familiar with any of his other books, so take my one point of data for what it's worth. It now reminds me a little of House (TV series). Tempshill (talk) 15:16, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
Here are his most popular books as weighted by sales and by customer rating on Be aware that the customer-ratings search turns up a lot of stuff by different Robin Cooks.--Sean 13:48, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
For recommendations and discussions on the merits of various books and authors, you may wish to try LibraryThing or other social reading sites. BrainyBabe (talk) 18:46, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

Peerage and Titles[edit]

I'm currently writing a Novel, and am having trouble researching how titles are passed on. Here is the situation; A dukes only daughter (Presumably a 'Lady'), marries an untitled man (Mr Stevenson), who has a daughter who is also getting married. Would Mr Stevenson recieve any title? And if so would his Daughter recieve any title? And if so would her fiance recieve title be after their marriage? Thanks in advance, Pritchardhelen (talk) 13:52, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

In 18th/19th-century British usage (as opposed to medieval), a woman never transmitted honorifics to her husband, and transmitted them to her children only if she had inherited a noble title in her own right (and was not merely the daughter of a nobleman). AnonMoos (talk) 14:28, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
Under what circumstances would the daughter of a nobleman inherit a noble title? Tempshill (talk) 15:20, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
In British law, when the title was created by writ rather than by summons and there are no sons. Kittybrewster 16:10, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
Kittybrewster means "by writ of summons rather than by letters patent". The baronies by writ were created when the king issued a writ of summons (to Parliament) to a person who did not already have the title mentioned in the writ. In such cases there's abeyance to worry about, if you hadn't specified that the duke has an only daughter.
Most pre-1707 Scottish peerages, too, can pass to daughters (if they have no brothers). A recent example is the earldom of Erroll. —Tamfang (talk) 18:27, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
While we're up, when did the rules change from medieval (most peerages heritable by women, exercised by husband) to modern (nearly all peerages male-only)? —Tamfang (talk) 18:22, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
The first creation by letters patent was in 1387 (Baron Beauchamp, of Kidderminster). However, these were relatively uncommon until the time of Henry VI, and by the time of James I, creation by writ of summons had essentially ended. The most recent examples would probably be from the baronies created by error by a misdirected writ. Choess (talk) 19:42, 30 April 2009 (UTC)
That answers a question that just came to my mind, but does not answer the one I asked, so I'll make it more concrete: Richard Neville "the Kingmaker" was earl of Warwick in right of his wife, and earl of Salisbury by inheritance from his mother; both of these (neither being a barony by writ) would be impossible later on; what happened, when? —Tamfang (talk) 04:25, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
Even if Lady Margaret Stevenson (supposing that her name is Margaret) inherits the dukedom, Mr Stevenson's child by a previous marriage gets no formal promotion, unless the duchess adopts her. —Tamfang (talk) 18:50, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
Duke's daughters are only "lady" by courtesy (see Courtesy title, and particularly the section on the Courtesy prefix of "Lady". The title is not substantive and cannot be passed down, or given to her husband. An interesting aside, however, is that by marrying a commoner, she keeps her original rank and precedence as daughter of a duke, but if she had married a peer, she would take his rank. So if her sister married a viscount, Margaret would outrank her. Also, don't forget Margaret's brother's courtesy titles. The eldest (the heir) will take one of the Duke's lesser titles (by courtesy); younger sons will prefix their names with "Lord", for example, "Lord John Surname". His wife will be "Lady John Surname" NOT "Lady Mary Surname". (I have made the assumption that you are imagining a UK scenario). Gwinva (talk) 22:35, 27 April 2009 (UTC)


Prince Himiko of Yamatai, in Japan, begins a war against the King of Kunukoku. True? or was he a queen? Kittybrewster 16:07, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

Himiko and Japan's elusive chiefdom of Yamatai by J. Edward Kidder has Himiko / Pimeko as a queen. You can look it up under Google books here [1]. --Cookatoo.ergo.ZooM (talk) 18:18, 26 April 2009 (UTC)
Himiko was definitely a woman. There were several TV documentaries about this in Japan, plus an article in Newton Magazine about how she would have actually looked. There is no controversy about whether she was a man or not, and it is pretty well documented, even though there is no proof that she actually existed.--KageTora (영호 (影虎)) (talk) 22:37, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

Has globalisation replaced God?[edit]

Has it?--Yo Dawg! What's Going On Today? (talk) 19:51, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

Read the articles. They are two unrelated topics. If you are looking to spawn a discussion about economics vs. religion, this is not the place. You want a discussion forum - there are thousands of them on the Internet to choose from. -- kainaw 19:53, 26 April 2009 (UTC)

No. Edison (talk) 04:44, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
Yes! Wait, no! Hmm. Ask me later... Belisarius (talk) 14:33, 27 April 2009 (UTC)
Could this be in reference to a recent book God is Back, by two writers from The Economist, about the "return of religion" (as if it ever went away)? Roger Bolton discusses it on Radio 4's Sunday programme here at 5:50. BrainyBabe (talk) 18:55, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

How can you replace something that is not proven to exist?-- (talk) 09:24, 1 May 2009 (UTC)