Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2009 August 16

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Humanities desk
< August 15 << Jul | August | Sep >> August 17 >
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.

August 16[edit]

What's REALLY the oldest profession?[edit]

Colloquially, whoring is considered to be the "oldest profession", but how true is this? Besides sex--violence, eating, and communication are pretty essential human activities as well. Might the mercenary/hitman, the hunter/fisherman or the bard/poet/entertainer be equally ancient occupations? How do we know that the idea of trading/bartering for sex is so ancient relative to paying for other essential services? Anthropologists, please weigh in.--The Fat Man Who Never Came Back (talk) 01:34, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

It may depend on what you consider to be a profession. How about leadership? A tribal chief, or whatever, performs a task for other people (leading them) and, presumably, receives some kind of compensation (a share of the food without having had to grow/hunt/gather it himself (or herself), perhaps). Other primates have hierarchies, so I expect humans have for as long as we have been human (which is a subject for debate in itself). --Tango (talk) 01:57, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
Mother and Father. Wrad (talk) 04:32, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
I don't think that's a "profession." -- (talk) 04:42, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
Landlord? Clarityfiend (talk) 05:58, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
Flint-knapper.--Wetman (talk) 06:04, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
It is just a saying but a good case could probably be made that bartering for sex is the earliest form of trade in the animal kingdom. Dmcq (talk) 07:47, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
It depends what you mean 'trade' I guess. Couldn't the endosymbiotic theory of origins of mitochondrion be considered be considered a form of trade between the eukaryotic (or whatever) cells and the prokaryotic cells that formed the mitochondria? While this obviously preceeded animal evolution, it was a trade between two cells all animals are dependent on. Many bacteria transfer plasmids although you could perhaps argue this isn't a trade since the donor bacteria isn't guaranteed something in return* and I don't know if this definitely predated animal evolution. *I presume it's likely this evolved as there's a selective advantage to the plasmid being transfered. Of course this is sometimes called bacteria sex anyway... Nil Einne (talk) 16:22, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

The answer really depends on what is meant by "profession." If it's used in the broad sense of an occupation or career, then the answer is probably flint-knapper (or, if even broader senses are intended, hunter-gatherer). However, profession more narrowly means an occupation that requires considerable training and specialized study, a definition that excludes prostitution, at least at the entry level. My guess would be midwife. John M Baker (talk) 21:35, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

On the basis of that definition, I'd have to go with Wetman's flint-knapper. DOR (HK) (talk) 06:32, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

The classic joke has it as follows - the answer is lawyers. In the beginning there was chaos - who do you think caused the chaos? --Dweller (talk) 13:27, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

DOR - Traditionally, something like flint-knapping would be considered a skilled trade, rather than a profession. Among the distinguishing factors are the relative lack of formality in admission to and organization of the trade and the fact that the trade does not involve the use of independent professional judgment. John M Baker (talk) 15:14, 17 August 2009 (UTC)
As has been mentioned, a key matter is to distinguish a 'profession' from a 'trade.' I'd pick priesthood. B00P (talk) 19:26, 17 August 2009 (UTC)
Did any prehistoric religions have an organised priesthood? I think religious leaders would learn in the same way other specialists learn - through apprenticeships. So where do you draw the line between professions and trades? --Tango (talk) 22:36, 17 August 2009 (UTC)
The boundaries between skilled trades and professions are fuzzy and elusive, and some are difficult to justify. For example, electricians are usually considered to be members of a skilled trade, and our article is explicit on this point, but electricians do meet most of the standards for a profession. I guess the justification must be that electricians do not receive as much formal education as most learned professions; they do have formalized training, restrictive standards on admission, and the use of independent professional judgment.
Priests traditionally are professionals, so they would be another candidate for the oldest profession. However, flint-knappers probably could pick it up by observation and practice, with no real standards to show if they were flint-knappers or not, and no independent professional judgment is involved. John M Baker (talk) 14:21, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

US Social Security numbers[edit]

Will US Social Security numbers be reused after a moratorium period if the first person to have that number dies? That is if they are needed... Or has the US gov't not thought that far ahead? How many numbers will be possible given the current number of digits? Dismas|(talk) 02:06, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

Given the restrictions, there are, AFAICT, 987,921,198 possible viable SSNs (absent the conditions, there are 1 billion [10^9] combinations). (talk) 02:20, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
I guess we won't be running out of numbers any time soon then... Dismas|(talk) 04:23, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
No, and if we did... we could just add another digit, and get 9 billion more combinations. -- (talk) 04:46, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
And such an action would cause massive problems for virtually every computerized personnel system. Who then was a gentleman? (talk) 19:41, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
Considering a birth rate of 14.2 per 1,000, a net migration of 3.05 per 1,000, and a current population of 305 million, roughly 5.2 million new SS numbers are needed each year. This figure doesn't include SSN's of people who migrate out of the U.S. Considering the current population and that the Social Security system is 73 years old, it is likely that nearly half of the available numbers have already been used. By my back of the envelope estimation, all of the remaining numbers will be used within 100 years. —D. Monack talk 03:31, 17 August 2009 (UTC)
Then we'll have a Y2.1K problem, and thus a whole bunch more employment for computer programmers! Except this time around, they'll be offshore. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots 07:31, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

Are poor people in USA really buying homes?[edit]

I have seen several claims that (depending on the time and source) approximately 40-46 percent of poor households in USA own their home. My two dozen co-workers and I each earn within a few cents of minimum wage; none owns a home or has any real hope of owning one. Our ages are well-distributed (twenties through fifties) and none has any children to support (a few of us have adult children, but no minor children to support).

So some of us are wondering how millions in USA who are poorer than we (since none has any children to support, none are considered poor) own homes while we have no hope of doing so.

How do these poor homeowners do it? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:14, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

Well, that was one reason for the subprime mortgage crisis. People who could not afford mortgages got them anyway. Adam Bishop (talk) 02:22, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
It was made possible because the US government decided that "everyone should own his own home" and interfered in the housing market to make this happen. Specifically: (1) the government established Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government controlled corporations that were charged with buying mortgages from banks so that the banks were able to make additional loans; (2) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were (a) exempt from filing requirements so that their activities were partially hidden from the public view, (b) implicitly backed by the US government -- meaning that, if FM and FM were to go bankrupt, it was understood that the US government would bail them out; (3) Congress put political pressure on FM/FM to buy "high risk" mortgages (mortgages to people with spotty credit, low income, and un-documented income); (4) the government put political pressure on private banks to loan to lower income people. The end result was a system in which banks were pressured to, rewarded for, and shielded from the risk of making loans to people who couldn't pay off the loans. Wikiant (talk) 02:26, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
I can understand that you take some enjoyment in repeating the Republican take on the current crisis as often as possible, but in this case the question wasn't about that at all.-- (talk) 15:54, 17 August 2009 (UTC)
(EC with above) There are many things which contribute towards people being able to own their own home. In some metropolitan areas (say Washington DC or LA) it is impossible for all but the upper middle class and richer to own a home; 1500 square foot homes are routinely still selling for half a million dollars or even more; modest-sized homes are still out of reach for most poorer families. However, in other places, it is still possible to buy a similar sized home for less than $100,000. I own a similar sized house in Raleigh, North Carolina with a ~$150,000 mortgage, which puts the monthly payments in range of what rent would be in a similar sized apartment. There are rural areas where similar sized homes could sell for much less, thus there are many places where "poor" people can afford a home that richer people in other areas could not.
Furthermore, home prices have risen faster than incomes over the past 50 years or so; many poor people may have purchased their homes when the value was more within their reach. Take a look at these charts: US median incomes and US median home prices. Just looking at national averages; in 2000 the median income was $50,557 (2007 dollars) and the median home price was $119,600 (2000 dollars), this means that a home was more than 2x a years salary for a person. In 1970, the same income number is $41,620 while the same home number is $65,300 which is only about 1.5x a years salary. While these are very rough numbers, it is simply that in the past, housing occupied a smaller fraction of a person's budget, which means that poorer people could better afford to buy a house. If you bought that house in say, 1990, you also bought it with 1990 dollars, which means that while your income may have gone up due to inflation, your mortgage payments remained constant for that whole time; which is why real estate can be a good investment; your income will rise while your payments remain constant. Thus, a poor person, who we already can see could better afford a house in the past, is in a better position to be still owning that house than a richer person trying to buy a house in TODAYS market. --Jayron32 02:35, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
I've noticed a few times that when Americans say "average income" they actually mean "average household income" which, with many households being couples, the average individual adult income would be something like half this. (talk) 17:37, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
My guess is that most of these 'poor' homeowners didn't buy homes while poor. My readings suggest that roughly three-fourths of poor homeowners do not have a mortgage, leading to the inference that these three-fourths either bought their homes decades earlier when (a) they were working and had above-poverty income, and (b) prices were much lower and homes were more affordable than today. I believe there is also a significant number of poor homeowners who acquired their homes through preferential, non-market processes. For example, years ago I knew a single mother on welfare ('the dole') who bought her home in a declining neighborhood from her grandmother at preferential price and terms. Today I know a poor woman who inherited her home, and surely there are more than a few others similarly situated. Also, I believe that the percentage of poor who own homes has actually declined in recent years, which would suggest the seemingly high rate has not been driven by subprime lending, which I think has gone primarily to working class people earning more than a poverty-level income. (It's pretty darn hard to qualiufy for a mortgage without a job or other aubstantial and consistent income.) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:57, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
"Own your home" is much different from "could now buy a home." A lot of those poor homeowners are elderly poor whose only savings are the home the live in and that they bought or inherited many years ago. -Arch dude (talk) 11:48, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
Most poor homeowners fall into one of two categories: 1) People who bought the house when working and not poor but who are now old and poor because their only income is meager social security; and 2) People who inherited their homes or bought them at a modest, nominal price from an older family member. There is probably a third and smaller category of poor people who inherited or were given a little land by family members and who then built their own house (perhaps with the help of handy family members) on that land. I'm guessing that poor homeowners are most common in the rural South where land prices have always been relatively low and where incomes are low by national standards. Marco polo (talk) 16:29, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

Also, do you (the OP) live in a city? I'm sure home ownership rates, even among poor people, are much higher in rural areas than big cities, because it is much cheaper there. I think city-folk tend to be wealthier on average which would compound the effect. TastyCakes (talk) 16:02, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

What cartoon is this describing?[edit]

An article by Peter Denning (available here) describes the following:

It was in 1964, I think, when I first saw the now-famous New Yorker cartoon of a classroom of the future. The picture shows a tape recorder on each student’s desk and a tape player on the teacher’s table. The machines whir quietly -- and no one is in the room. Thus did the cartoonist skewer the stereotype of the classroom as a venue for transmitting information from teacher’s brain to student’s notebook.

Apparently, the New Yorker staff haven't been able to find this cartoon given this information from the article. Can anyone suggest the actual source of this cartoon? Sancho 02:33, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

It may have been the New York Times rather than the New Yorker. See this archive [1] I found using a google search for the terms cartoon classroom of the future tape recorder 1964. This seems to have been a hot topic in 1964. This may be a dead end, as it requires paying the NYT to actually see the contents of the archives, but it may be what you are looking for. --Jayron32 02:43, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
The New York Times article has a number of silly taperecorder-themed cartoons in it, but nothing like the one described. -- (talk) 04:16, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
There is also a similar scene in the movie Real Genius which may be referencing that cartoon... --Jayron32 02:45, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
Well, I did some rather quick searching around on Google Images with a variety of probable phrases. (You can get all cartoons if you select the "line art" option under the "Advanced" menu.) I don't see anything resembling it (and it doesn't sound like a New Yorker cartoon to me, anyway). Dare I put forward that it is not as "now-famous" as this author believes? -- (talk) 04:40, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

Hideous mermaid image[edit]

I posted this on the Science Desk with no success, despite many valiant attempts from contributors. Here's the original query: Ages ago, I found on the internet a black and white illustration, possibly an engraving, of a skrinkled up little corpse of a purported mermaid - not the Feejee Mermaid, but one less human, more ghastly. I wanted to use it on the cover page of something I'm writing, but foolishly I seem to have deleted it from my files. Can anyone find it for me? (I'm thinking now it may not have been a mermaid after all, but just some random scientific curiosity from a wunderkammer somewhere).

Thanks in advance. Adambrowne666 (talk) 02:36, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

I found this on Flickr

hotclaws 07:20, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

Thanks, Hotclaws, but it was less human looking, a better, darker etching.Adambrowne666 (talk) 12:57, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

Why'd they rename it Dominican Republic?[edit]

The answer isn't available anywhere on Wikipedia! I want to change that. Why did the revolutionaries rename it La Republica Dominica vs. Santo Domingo or something else? Why? NickDupree (talk) 05:01, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

Probably for the same reason that other countries are named with descriptive names like "Czech Republic" (republic of the Czech people) or "United Kingdom" (a kingdom formed of 4 substituent countries). The capital city is "Santo Domingo" and the people are called "Dominicans" so the name that best describes the "republic of the people who are called Dominicans" is the "Domincan Republic". It's probably so simple an explanation that it does not bear elaborating on. Many countries official names carry some form of "<blank> Republic" or "Republic of <blank>". For some states, there is a more common form of the name, for example "China" as a synonym for "People's Republic of China", which is the real name. For other states, there is no "common" synonym, so we use the full official name "Czech Republic" or in this case "Dominican Republic". --Jayron32 05:29, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
Prior to independence, they were Spaniards; DR was the colony of Santo Domingo, then Spanish Haiti, and I was not aware their people were called "Dominicans" then. If so, when did they begin calling them dominicans? And Why? NickDupree (talk) 05:39, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
According to the article, they actually named it "República Dominicana" (Dominica is a completely separate Caribbean island). That name uses an adjective form corresponding to the noun "Domingo"... AnonMoos (talk) 05:39, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
Ah, I see. They are Santo Domingo-ans, essentially, as that land was the colony of Santo Domingo. NickDupree (talk) 05:43, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
I found a book from 1830 written by a Cuban, which in one place refers to the people of Santo Domingo as "los dominicanos" (it doesn't seem to be a reference to the Dominican order). So the usage apparently predates independence. --Cam (talk) 15:56, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
Just to clarify, the city of Santo Domingo was named after Saint Dominic. The Spanish version of Saint Dominic's name is Santo Domingo. The Spanish name Domingo is derived from the Latin Dominicus, so the Latin version of Santo Domingo is Sanctus Dominicus. Spanish often uses the original Latin form as the basis for adjectives related to a Spanish noun. Hence the inhabitants of Santo Domingo were known as dominicanos. Marco polo (talk) 16:23, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
As does English, often. Not that I was ever consulted (*sniff*), but it was decided back in the early days of the settlement that the people of Melbourne would be called not Melbournians, but Melburnians, from the presumed Latin version of the name. -- JackofOz (talk) 21:08, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
Proleptic etymology, as it were. —Tamfang (talk) 03:15, 18 August 2009 (UTC)

What was Hitler's opinion of Republicanism?[edit]

I was surprised to read in Hitler's table talk that he criticized Napoleon for making himself emperor, and believed aristocratic republic were the best government? Was the Third Reich considered a republic? Did Hitler see the Reich as a third way between republics and monarchies? --Gary123 (talk) 05:10, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

The Hitler government was clearly republican. Republican is not synonymous with liberal democracy; pretty much any government that is not a monarchy is a republic. Hitler and the Nazi party were elected to their position; lots of republics have heads-of-state with indeterminate terms of office, so that isn't really the dividing line between republic and monarchy. Even most dictatorships are nominally republics. Its a very inclusive term that can be applied to any government where access to executive power is not restricted to a noble/royal class.--Jayron32 05:21, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
See the first sentance of our article Republic. "A republic is a form of government in which the head of state is not a monarch[1] and the people (or at least a part of its people)[2] have an impact on its government." This broad definition clealry includes the Third Reich. --Jayron32 05:23, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
Hitler held a great contempt and suspiction against monarchists and the nobility, even if some high ranking Nazis belonged to the nobility (like von Ribbentrop). This can be seen as one of the differences between Nazism and Fascism (Nazism is sometimes seen as a sort of Fascism, but there are too many differences for this to be true, I think). Fascism in Italy and Spain was monarchist and used the monarchy as a symbol for the nation and a link to the past. Nazism was more radical and wanted to create something new. So, to add this to the previous answers, yes, Nazi Germany was a republic. E.G. (talk) 05:31, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
Practically speaking, how was Hitler different from a Monarch? Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots 13:27, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
Practically speaking he did not even have a son or a daughter, a line of succession... --Olaf Simons (talk) 14:44, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
In the Monarch article, it doesn't seem to establish that as a requirement. However, maybe the term "Emperor" fits Hitler better anyway. Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots 14:52, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
What you are doing is confusing a monarch with an autocrat. Some monarchs are autocrats—some are not (think of the UK royals). Hitler was an autocrat, but he was not a monarch. It was not a hereditary rule, which is usually what is defining to a monarchy (elective monarchies being the exceptions). -- (talk) 14:57, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
Monarchy merely means that the executive authority of the government rests in a closed "royal" or "noble" class which no one has access to except those with a hereditary claim to royalty or nobility. Even in elective monarchies such as Poland or the Holy Roman Empire, the monarch had to be chosen from among eligible members of the royal classes; the Kingdom of Poland, for example, often elected its monarchs from younger sons of other ruling houses from across Europe. The deal with monarchies is that the access to power is closed UNLESS you are born into the ruling class. Republic refers to any government where theoretically ANY member of the society could be the Head of State; that is being born into a certain class is not a requirement for access to power. That's why the Third Reich is a republic; though not a democratic republic. Hitler's rise to power was not a function of his class at birth but of his own personal power and ambition and skills, without regard for his class. Democracy is not a requirment for a state to be a republic, merely that the executive power is not closed to anyone who isn't royalty. --Jayron32 00:16, 17 August 2009 (UTC)
  • Fascism is much more accurately called a dictatorship than a republic. Government cannot be divided into a simple duality of monarchies and republics. As far back as the ancient Greeks, men were well aware of dictatorships that fell into neither category, and would not have called Hitler a republican. --M@rēino 16:46, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
In principle you are right, but Nazi Germany was not a monarchy either and for the reasons named above it was more close to be called a republic than a monarchy, if these two were the only options to sort by. – Also, it was not Fascist, it was Nazist. There is a difference between these two ideologies (which has been discussed on this reference desk before not long ago, see Wikipedia:Reference_desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2009_July_26#Nazism_vs._Fascism). E.G. (talk) 07:30, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

If Hitler ever said that about Napoleon, I doubt he meant anything serious with it. If you google "republic" on site, you can see that whenever he uses the word, it is in a negative context. He didn't consider himself a "republican", but an advocate of a "Reich": "That is why we must face the calculators of the materialist Republic with faith in an idealist Reich." "In order to look upon such a deed as abhorrent one must have the republican mentality of that petty canaille who are conscious of their own crime." All in all, when he heard "republic", he thought "Weimar republic", and when he heard "Weimar republic", he thought "Jews, Commies, democrats, traitors" (see especially (talk) 20:23, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

This is, incidentally, where the Fascism really comes in. Fascism is primarily an idealist philosophy, and opposes itself to materialist ones (even while it reaps their technological rewards). -- (talk) 20:48, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
That is why I was so surprised by Hitler's table talk, where he claimed he supported an aristocratic republic like Venice, with a weak people's assembly, and an appointed senate that elected the Fuhrer. He also claimed to support a strict separation between executive and legislative branches, and military role in politics. While nearly all regimes call themselves republic, I would not have thought hitler would have valued republicanism even as a theory to aspire to. Does anyone have more details on this? I have not read Hitler saying anything similar in any other work. Is it possibly a forgery?

This is the passage from Hitler's Table Talk I'm referring to:

"As regards the government of Germany, I've come to the following conclusions:

1. The Reich must be a republic, having at its head an elected chief who shall be endowed with an absolute authority.

2. An agency representing the people must, nevertheless, exist by way of corrective. Its role is to support the Chief of State, but it must be able to intervene in case of need.

3. The task of choosing the Chief shall be entrusted, not to the people's assembly, but to a Senate. It is, however, important that the powers of the Senate shall be limited. Its composition must not be permanent. Moreover, its members shall be appointed with reference to their occupation and not individuals. These Senators must, by their training, be steeped in the idea that power may in no case be delegated to a weakling, and that the elected Fuehrer must always be the best man.

4. The election of the Chief must not take place in public, but in camera. On the occasion of the election of a pope, the people does not know what is happening behind the scenes. A case is reported in which the cardinals exchanged blows. Since then, the cardinals have been deprived of all contact with the outside world, for the duration of the conclave! This is a principle that is also to be observed for the election of the Fuehrer: all conversation with the electors will be forbidden throughout operations.

5. The Party, the Army and the body of officials must take an oath of allegiance to the new Chief within the three hours following the election.

6. The most rigorous separation between the legislative and executive organs of the State must be the supreme law for the new Chief. Just as, in the Party, the SA and the SS are merely the sword to which is entrusted the carrying-out of the decisions taken by the competent organs, in the same way the executive agents of the State are not to concern themselves with politics. They must confine themselves exclusively to ensuring the application of laws issued by the legislative power, making appeal to the sword, in case of need. Although a State founded on such principles can lay no claim to eternity, it might last for eight to nine centuries. The thousand-year-old organisation of the Church is a proof of this—and yet this entire organisation is founded on nonsense. What I have said should a fortiori be true of an organisation founded on reason."

--Gary123 (talk) 22:30, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

Well, as I just stated some lines above, Hitler was not a Fascist, he was a Nazi (also see the discussion from this July which I linked to). Even if there are similarities between the two ideologies, there are many differences too. E.G. (talk) 07:38, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

Funny. The quote sounds like a lot of nonsense ... which IMO proves its authenticity. The authority of the Chief of State is "absolute", yet this authority is held in check by "an agency representing the people". The individuality of the Senators doesn't matter, yet each individual must be capable of distinguishing "weaklings" from "best men". "The executive agents of the State are not to concern themselves with politics" - so either the Chief does not concern himself with politics (absurd), or he is not part of the executive branch but rather stands above everything (making the separation of powers meaningless), and "executive branch" actually means "executioners" (this seems very likely, given the obsessive talk of swords and the fact that he thinks the Party's "executive branch" are the SS and SA!) - so he is really saying "I don't want the guys with weapons to displace me from power". Finally, the state supposedly has a separation of branches of power and a system of checks and balances, and this is exemplified with the ... Catholic Church! "Table talk" is a very accurate description for this. I doubt that he was capable of seriously contemplating the future of his Reich beyond his own fate. In this respect, history proved him right, of course.-- (talk) 17:17, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

List of Libraries[edit]

I'm trying to find a list of the 100 (just an indicative number) biggest libraries of the world. Not only English/American libraries. I know Wikipedia has a List of national libraries, but it doesn't list their size. Even searching in their own articles doesn't always give a reliable valuation: how many items are kept in Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze? I don't konow! -- (talk) 15:49, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

You may be able to find something on the Worldcat site. Worldcat is the unified online "card catalog" for 71,000 libraries. I'm not sure how to ask Worldcat for a list by size. -Arch dude (talk) 15:55, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
List of the largest libraries in the world on Listphobia. No sources for the numbers though. --Saddhiyama (talk) 20:01, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
The list I have posted only mentions the number of books in the libraries and excludes documents, prints etc. Now we only need to list the next 90. I can contribute by mentioning that the Royal Library of Copenhagen holds 4,7 million books. Though what position it has on the list I do not know. --Saddhiyama (talk) 20:09, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
This page has some information about the size of several other university and national libraries. --Saddhiyama (talk) 20:13, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
Hm, the fact that some libraries only mentions the number of items, while others only mentions the number of volumes (books), makes it somewhat difficult to create an accurate list. --Saddhiyama (talk) 20:25, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

Using debit or credit card in supermarket - how much info can they get about me?[edit]

Would using such a card give them an electronic record of my name, as well as identifying all my visits and purchases at the supermarket by keeping a record of my account number, for example? I'm just curious about this regarding data warehousing etc. (talk) 17:31, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

It likely depends on the location. In some locations that will probably be a privacy violation unless you've signed something agreeing to it which you obviously haven't if it's a random store. (For a member card, things will obviously be rather different) Nil Einne (talk) 17:38, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

Agricultural Subsidies[edit]

Where can I find out how much the US Government has spent on agricultural subsidies? --Elatanatari (talk) 17:49, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

I typed "how much does the U.S. government spend on agricultural subsidies" into google and it gave me this: [2]. There's several useful links there. Google is a wonderful thing. --Jayron32 00:07, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

Yeah, I've used it ALOT. But I'm trying to figure out how much in total over the last 66 years the US government has spent on Agricultural subsidies. That's what Google hasn't given me.--Elatanatari (talk) 01:22, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

You will find some tables at this site, including outlays for agriculture. Of course, total outlays may be greater than total subsidies per year, depending on how you define the term subsidy. If you need to get more fine-grained than that, you may need to spend some time at a library with a government document collection inputting detailed budget numbers from the pre-digital years. On the other hand, if you are able to access a database of articles in scholarly journals, you may find that somebody has already done this research. Marco polo (talk) 13:11, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

UK's action in Turks and Caicos Islands[edit]

Are there any precedents (recent) for this kind of action - suspending the government for two years, etc. (talk) 18:33, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

Yes, Northern Ireland (see Northern Ireland Assembly#The modern Assembly and suspensions). Nanonic (talk) 23:03, 16 August 2009 (UTC)
Something similar happened during the Pitcairn sexual assault trial of 2004, didn't it? Adam Bishop (talk) 00:26, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

Is there really a TV news station?[edit]

I was watching a video on YouTube. The video was about the boiler explosion aboard the SS Norway. One news station in Miami, Florida obtained a home video of black smoke coming out of one of the smokestacks aboard the vessel. The station identified itself as Just One Station. Is there really a Just One Station? If so, does it have a website or any other information? (talk) 22:30, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

It appears to be a tagline used by stations of the Sunbeam Television family, which includes two stations in Boston and one in Miami. The implication seems to be "This is a story you can see on Just One Station" (i.e. an exclusive news story). See this google search where the line shows up on news carried either by WHDH-TV in Boston or WSVN in Miami. --Jayron32 00:05, 17 August 2009 (UTC)