Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2009 March 19

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March 19[edit]

What is the average number of romantic interests a person has in their lifetime?[edit]

dlempa (talk) 02:30, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

Please clarify your question (although either way I doubt it's answerable): by "romantic interests" does this include people you have a "crush" or "interest" in but never entered into a romantic relationship with? Or is it limited to people with whom you have had a romantic relationship? I also think that "romantic interpersonal relationship" is subjective to the person, in other words a couple that holds hands and hugs (but doesn't even kiss -- first base) could still be considered a romantic interpersonal relationship because there was mutual romantic intent. Rfwoolf (talk) 02:40, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
Someone's probably done a paper on this somewhere. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 04:26, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
How could you ever find out? You'd have to catch people at the end of their lives (how would you know when that was?) and ask. And even then, (if for some inexplicable reason, they were in the right frame of mind to answer you and to hear your definition of "romantic interests") they'd probably have forgotten many of them. Clarityfiend (talk) 05:10, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
You don't have to. We can estimate average life expectancy by surveying people on the street without them dying (after taking into account sample selection bias). Similarly, we can catch people midway through their love lives and get a good idea of the overall distribution. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 09:03, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
How is surverying people at the middle of their lives going to help? It's most likely the the number of new partners drop off over time in general but that it will increase near the end (as partners die off, kids leave etc) but it's liable to be a lot more complicated then that (e.g. perhaps small increases around the time people have mid life crises etc). And we obviously can't just guess plus it's would be even more dumb to presume it's linear so that if you catch people at 40 years old and the average life span is 80 you just double the figure. Furthermore, this is surely going to vary from culture to culture and from country to country. Nil Einne (talk) 07:39, 21 March 2009 (UTC)
I'm sure I read somewhere the proportion of people with n different partners per year seems to go down approximately as the power law 1/n2.3 so in any large country there's people who have one a day or even more. Makes the average and variance not such good measures Dmcq (talk) 14:39, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
I figured that surely there must be some page in Kinsey Reports with a dry chart dealing with this issue. There is indeed a section on the Kinsey institutes FAQ dealing with this issue here: [1]. Apparently males aged 30-44 have had an average of 6-8 partners in their lifetime and females about 4. Belisarius (talk) 20:41, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
Men have eight partners and women only have four? Either someone isn't kissing and telling or the 10% figure for homosexuality is much, much too low. ;-) Matt Deres (talk) 03:31, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
Not necessarily - lots of women could be having relationships with the same men. Or, probably more likely, social expectations mean the the women responding to the survey could be "rounding down", and the men "rounding up". --Nicknack009 (talk) 12:13, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
I think the difference is too great to be predominantly caused by inaccurate reports. A small number of women having lots of relationships seems like the more likely cause to me. (Those averages are, presumably, medians - the means should be equal.) --Tango (talk) 15:08, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
I'm sure another study I saw said basically that women tend to deny affairs far more than men no matter how much one assures of secrecy or puts in computers to make it less personal or anything like that. Dmcq (talk) 22:55, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
That depends whether we're talking about a median or the mean (or something else). If it's the (arthimetic) mean, which is what people often mean by average then unless I'm mistaken the number does have to be equal (ignoring homosexuality et al), regardless of the distribution of the partners. That of course is the nature of means and why they are sometimes considered pointless in situations like this. If you have one woman with 1 million partners and the other 999,999 with 4 partners you still end up with a mean of nearly 15 per woman. Edit: Didn't notice Tango had already addressed this point Nil Einne (talk) 07:39, 21 March 2009 (UTC)
Regardless of the accuracy of the figures, I would note it specific that this is at age 30-44. As I've mentioned above, trying to estimate a lifetime figure from this is IMHO clearly flawed. Also I don't think the Kinsey figures are that relevant to the original question anyway unless romantic interests was a euphemism as it's likely a resonable percentage of sex partners were not romantic interests and resonable number of romantic interests didn't result in sex but we have no reason to presume these balance out. Nil Einne (talk) 07:43, 21 March 2009 (UTC)
The humourist Jerome K Jerome said in one of his essays that people only fall in love a maximum of two times in their lifetimes, and that matches my experience. This topic makes me wonder if modern media is downplaying falling in love compared with earlier decades. (talk) 23:23, 24 March 2009 (UTC)

East Prussia[edit]

What was the area, in square kilometres, of East Prussia between the 1st & 2nd world wars (1920s and 1930s)? —Preceding unsigned comment added by RKramp (talkcontribs) 08:26, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

Well, an infobox on the German Wikipedia page on East Prussia says 36,993.9 km². But the box also gives the dates 1773-1829 and 1878-1945. Since the Memel territory was trasferred to Lithuania, the area can't have been the same over all that time, so that can't be entirely right. --Anonymous, 09:56 UTC, March 19, 2009.
An old WP mirror has "Im Mai 1939 umfasste Ostpreußen, einschließlich des Memellandes 39.840 km² mit 2.649.017 Einwohnern", which means "in May 1939 East Prussia, including the Memel territory, covered 39.840 km² and had a population of 2.649.017. Further Googling gives: "OP hatte 1939 eine Fläche von 36 996 km² und 2,5 Mio. Einwohner", which translates as "in 1939 the area of EP was 36 996km2, the population was 2.5 mio". As the two areas of the Memel territory and around Soldau, the Polish corridor, were transferred (to Lithuania and Poland, respectively) at the end of WWI in the Treaty of Versailles, the latter would seem to be the area in the years between the two wars. --Cookatoo.ergo.ZooM (talk) 11:07, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

Ubi sunt[edit]

The Norton Anthology of Poetry (Fourth Edition, 1996) has a chapter on "Anonymous Lyrics of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries" where it features a poem of sixty-one lines in Middle English titled "Ubi Sunt Qui Ante Nos Fuerunt". Unfortunately, the footnotes make no further reference to specifics regarding its provenance. The first six lines read:

"Were beth they biforen us weren,
Houndes ladden and hauekes beren
And hadden feld and wode?
The riche levedies in hoere bour,
That wereden gold in hoere tressour,
With hoere brightte rode."

The last line is:


The article on Ubi sunt doesn't mention it, I thought it might be worth a sentence, but I don't even know how to refer to it, let alone any other information. TNA does have 20 pages of "Permissions Acknowledgements", but they are sorted alphabetically by author/editor, and I gave up on looking. Can anyone find something about this poem and its provenance? Or should it just be referred to as "The anonymous 13th century (?) poem "Ubi Sunt Qui Ante Nos Fuerunt"? (I currently cannot access google books. My browser crashes.) ---Sluzzelin talk 11:22, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

It does appear to be a fairly well-known, oft-anthologized poem, and it is anonymous. Here's a source dating it c. 1350: <ref>{{cite book|last=Manly|first=John Matthews|title=''English Prose and Poetry''|publisher=Harvard University|year=1916|pages=23|url=|accessdate=2008-03-19}}</ref> --Fullobeans (talk) 11:51, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
The usual way to reference the source of the poem would be to give the shelf mark of the manuscript in which it's found, along with the folios on which it appears—in this case, "Oxford MS Digby 86, ff. 126v–127." (The stanzas actually seem to be part of a longer poem [see Carleton Brown and Rossell Hope Robbins, The Index of Middle English Verse (1943), no. 3310] that appears in other manuscripts as well, but the Digby MS is the one cited as the source for the printings of the poem in both Brown's English Lyrics of the XIIIth Century and Silverstein's English Lyrics Before 1500.) Deor (talk) 13:42, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
MS Digby 86 is usually dated between 1271 and 1283 while part of the poem also forms "The Sayings of St Bernard" in the Auchinleck manuscript which was most likely compiled in the 1340s. The ascription to Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153) is almost certainly spurious but it shares the sentiments of Meditationes piissimae de conditione humana which is usually attributed to Bernard so Ubi sunt is often believed to be part of a longer reworking of Bernard's philosophy. For a detailed study of this see J.E. Cross The Sayings of St Bernard and Ubi sount qui ante nos fueront. Review of English Studies NS 9 (1958): 1-7. meltBanana 14:30, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
Thank you, all. I'm a bit overwhelmed by the fluidity in dating and text overlap you've revealed to me. I did want to add it as an example of Middle English following the medieval tradition of Ubi sunt, but I can't view those books and am far outside my scope here anyway. I should read more about Ubi sunt, Oxford MS Digby 86, and the art of referencing anonymous manuscripts. Thanks again! ---Sluzzelin talk 17:55, 21 March 2009 (UTC)
You could cite Carleton Brown, ed., English Lyrics of the XIIIth Century (Oxford: Clarendon, 1932), pp. 85–87, as that's still frequently used by scholars; but if you want to give a quotation, the text and orthography would have to match that in the book (where the first line appears, for example, as "Uuere beþ þey biforen vs weren"). If you want me to transcribe part of the poem from that edition for you, let me know on my talk page. You could also just cite the Norton Anthology as your source, of course. Deor (talk) 23:11, 21 March 2009 (UTC)

Why wasnt the Commonwealth better than joining the European Union?[edit]

Why did Britain join the EU rather than creating something similar with the British Commonwealth? The 53 states of the Commonwealth would have provided both the raw materials and an export market for British manufacturing, plus (ignoring the ethical aspects) potentially cheap labour. Before we joined the EU I remember we had, for example, lots of cheap New Zealand lamb and butter which we no longer have. We used to have bananas from the Commonwealth, these now seem to have been replaced by bananas from other countries. I imagine that if you opened up the borders in the Commonwealth as they are in the EU, then Britain would have a huge amount of economic immigration, but this could be restrained by imposing strict educational and skills criteria. It would be great to be able to move freely (if you have the education and skills) between Britain, Australasia, Canada, India, Kenya, and so on. (talk) 12:11, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

For a start, the EU is far more compact than the commonwealth. Large amounts of intra-EU trade is transported by road and rail, which is far cheaper than sea or air which would be necessary for intra-Commonwealth trade. Also, the original EU countries were far more alike economically than Commonwealth countries, so it ends up being a fairer deal for all - you list several advantages for Britain in a free trade/free movement Commonwealth, but I'm not sure the other countries would get such a good deal out of it. It would probably result in all the most skilled people leaving their home countries and moving to Britain. Great for Britain, devastating for the rest of the Commonwealth. --Tango (talk) 13:57, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
One of the chief differences between Europe and the Commonwealth is the obvious one that it is close together. It's a lot easier to ship things from France to Britain than Australia to Britain. I also doubt that the other countries involved would be as interested in a Commonwealth Market as they are in their own local free trade areas - NAFTA is a lot more significant to Canada than any pact with Britain, Kenya or Australia would be. India definitely has its own concerns.
A second issue is that the Commonwealth countries are in very different places economically. It would be very hard to persuade Britain, India and Kenya to follow similar economic policies, as the EU has done; what is right for one might be very wrong for the other. The EU countries are, mostly, in similar economic stages.
Thirdly, if you think ahead fifty or a hundred years, a country like India is going to become a superpower, economically and in other ways. Do tiny little countries like Britain and Canada really want to be in a treaty with a power ten times their size, so big that their interests will eventually dominate in the way that the US dominates all North American commerce?
Fourthly you've spotted the 'immigration' issue. You say you could prevent mass economic migration by imposing educational standards, but that would undoubtedly be perceived as unfair. A limit like "you must have a high school level education to migrate" (say GCSE equivalents if you're British) may sound fair; but that criterion allows 95% of Brits to migrate freely while excluding 95% of Kenyans; how do you think the Kenyans will feel about that? And is it really necessary to have that education to be a street sweeper, construction worker, or any of the jobs that would pay the Kenyan equivalent of a fortune.
There are probably other reasons too. Maybe you could look at some of the things written during the various referenda the UK had on joining the EU? (And sorry if the above read like I was picking on Kenyans - nothing personal. You have a great country.) DJ Clayworth (talk) 13:57, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
Great for vacations but I guess, but most of us wouldn't like to live there. Flamarande (talk) 14:29, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
I'm going to let you into a open secret. The main purpose of the UK joining the UE is to delay everything for as long as it can, and if possible to destroy it from the inside. That's why the UK is outside of the Schengen Agreement, Euro, etc. As far as I can judge this matter way too many ppl in the UK truly believe that the country should never had joined in the 1st place (you may even be one of them). In a democratic system politicians have to be truly careful and brave in going against the wishes of the voters for the future good. Most politicians in the UK aren't gutsy enough to honestly explain to the ppl of the UK that the centuries-old policy of "supporting the weaker power in continental Europe against the stronger one in order to be left alone and rule the seas" is simply out-dated. Now let me be blunt; if the ppl of the UK can barely stand being in the UE you truly believe that they would like being a part of an open-trade and open-travel Commonwealth? As economic and political masters of an empire OK, as benevolent advisers of former colonies fine, but as equal partners in an open-trade and open-travel political entity? I honestly don't think so (but then I'm not British).
On the other hand to create a open-market but not open-travel British Commonwealth wouldn't have worked. The democratic credentials of many of these countries are dubious to say the least. No one wants to live in a country oppressed by dictators and prone to war, famine, and disease. Many countries of the Commonwealth suffer from these problems, which create wave of refugees. On the other hand none wants too many foreigners emigrating into one's country. To believe that by "imposing strict educational and skills criteria" for immigration is going to solve the problem is a child's dream. The ppl of the 21 century are highly mobile and there is a huge number of air planes, ships, and cars entering the UK (and every other other country) every single day. The borders are porous and illegal immigration is way too easy. Flamarande (talk) 14:29, 19 March 2009 (UTC) PS: I believe that the "cheap lamb, butter, and bananas from the Commonwealth" that you fondly remember were replaced by lamb, butter, and bananas from other countries as prices increased with the passing of time. Rest assured that the "Brussels-run EU" isn't interested or even able to impose what you or can't buy in your local supermarket. It's the international market with its rules of supply and demand.
I believe the typical British calculation as for what trade orgs work best for them, are as follows, in descending order:
1) In an ideal world (with no EU), the Commonwealth would be best.
2) Membership in the EU is next best.
3) Membership in the Commonwealth, and exclusion from the EU, is worst.
So, they want to avoid the third situation, as exclusion from the EU would cost them a lot of trade. They would really prefer that there was no EU, but can't prevent it. So, their policy has been to drag their feet as long as possible, to prevent the EU from gaining full control, but to ultimately join it as a better alternative to exclusion. StuRat (talk) 16:46, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
There are non-economic benefits to the EU that should be taken into account. The interconnectedness of EU economies, politics, even foreign relations means that any wars within Europe are pretty much impossible. That is a significant benefit. --Tango (talk) 17:53, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
The Commonwealth countries, believe it or not, are often a lot less keen on their former colonial overlord than she is on them. Commonwealth citizens are all regarded as "British subjects" and can vote in British elections and enjoy British health care while resident in the UK. The reverse is, generally, not true. Ironic, but actual British people are not counted as "British subjects" for the purposes of, for example, the Australian constitution's provisions on voting. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 23:48, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
The Constitution as applying in 1901 makes no direct reference to voters needing to be British subjects, as far as I can see. S. 30 says "Unless the Parliament otherwise provides, the qualifications of electors ... shall be in each State that which is prescribed by the law of the State ...". The first election in 1901 was conducted under a variety of different state-based qualifications (women could vote in some states but not others; the voting ages probably differed; and some states required voters to be landowners, while others didn't.) Back then, we were all British subjects, Australian citizenship not being created until 1949. But voting qualifications for federal elections have been uniform throughout Australia for a long, long time, probably since the first Parliament 1901-03, so the Parliament has certainly exercised its right to make laws about this. Australian citizenship has been the primary voting qualification ever since 1949. I believe citizens of other Commonwealth countries have been entitled to vote in Australian elections at various times since then, and may even be entitled today for all I know, but the electoral laws have changed many times. Such largesse is at the whim of the parliament. -- JackofOz (talk) 00:34, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
You are right. I was confusing British laws on the matter with Australian ones. The actual phrase in question in Sue v Hill before the High Court of Australia was "foreign powers" - the issue being whether Britain was one. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 09:13, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Australia removed the 'British subject' category from its citizenship laws (and the privileges previously attached to this ctegory) in 1987. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 09:41, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Do you really think most Commonwealth countries are interested in being seen as being a source of "raw materials and an export market for British manufacturing"? Or to give Britain a license to cherry pick their best (which many developed countries including the UK are already doing to some extent)? For that matter how exactly is it a open border when you "this could be restrained by imposing strict educational and skills criteria" and what is the difference you envision from such a situation then the current system of skills based immigration? Nil Einne (talk) 08:03, 21 March 2009 (UTC)

Refugee status[edit]

Ms. Ann has fled from her country because of civil strife, she has come to Zambia because there are better jobs and conditions of living and she claims she is being threatended by the opposition and they are pointing guns at her. According to her, her husband fled 2 years ago from Zimbabwe because he was in the opposition group and she believes he has found a good job in Zambia and is settled so she is seeking asylum on these grounds. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Katux (talkcontribs) 12:26, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

Per your description, her husband "was in the opposition" himself and is now located in Zambia. If he's formally received asylum status, perhaps Zambia has a policy of "family reunification" for first-degree relatives (i.e. the persecuted refugee's spouse and children, possibly also parents and siblings). On the other hand, there might be an extradition policy between the two countries regarding illegal immigrants (i.e. not holding a valid visa or residence permit). This information might be obtained from a Zambian embassy in a neutral country if not from the Zambian government itself. -- Deborahjay (talk) 13:33, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
What is the question? - BanyanTree 05:09, 21 March 2009 (UTC)

cant give legal advice —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:14, 19 March 2009 (UTC)


I'd like to find informations about the plans regarding the destiny of Western nations like Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Scandinavia if Axis Powers won the war. I red all wikipedia's pages about the occupied lands of Western Europe (Reichskommissariat Niederlande, Militärverwaltung in Belgien und Nordfrankreich, Reichskommissariat Norwegen) but I wasn't able to find long term plans of the Nazis. Were them to be annexed (partially or totally) thus germanized? Or maybe they were to be satellite nations of Nazi Germany? Did Hitler ever talk about this matter? In particular, I red that Himmler aimed to recreate a new Burgundy carving it from Belgium and France and I'd like to find some more informations about it. I'm also searching information about Mussolini's plans about Southern France (like annexing Savoy, Nice...) -- (talk) 13:49, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

This book might help if you can lay your hands on a copy. Otherwise, you caould always try contacting the author about the subject. Couldn't find much else though. - Jarry1250 (t, c) 20:27, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
In his conclusion to volume two of Hitler's War Aims, Norman Rich lists the following territories which would have become integral parts of the German empire:

In the north: Denmark, Norway, and almost certainly Sweden, with Finland as an ally to guard Germany's flank in the northeast.

In the west: the Low Countries, Alsace, Lorraine, and Luxembourg, together with a broad strip of territory from the mouth of the Somme to Lake Geneva, fortifications along the French Channel coast, and the British Channel islands.

In the south: Austria, Switzerland (almost certainly), and northwestern Yugoslovia; and, after the Italian surrender, all Italian territory north of the Po, as well as a broad strip of territory along the Adriatic littoral.

In the east: Memelland, Danzig, all of Poland, the Sudetenland, and the Czech provinces of Bohemia and Moravia; the Baltic states, White Russia, and the Ukraine, with territorial claims staked out to the Urals and beyond.

In the regions of Central and Southeastern Europe there would have been a bloc of allied satellite states from Slovakia to Greece, where Germany would have made every provision to safeguard its strategic and economic interests. The future of Serbia remained indefinite. It might have been turned over to the Croatians, but more probably it would have been left under some form of German administration to ensure German dominion in the Danube area. Germany's flank in Southeastern Europe was to be guarded by another ally, Turkey.

Until the Italian surrender in September 1943, the task of safeguarding Axis interests in the south had been assigned to Italy, which was conceded supremacy over the Mediterranean region, including the greater part of North Africa, the Adriatic littoral, and the Arab Near East. After the Italian surrender, a large part of Northern Italy was scheduled for annexation to the Reich, while the Italy left under Mussolini's Fascist Republican government was relegated to the role of a satellite-ally. What was to become of rump Italy in the future was uncertain.

Also uncertain was the future fate of rump France, as well as those countries which did not fall under direct German dominion in the course of the Second World War: Spain, Portugal, Britain, and Ireland.

Rich, Norman. (1974). Hitler's War Aims. 2, The establishment of the new order. p. 421. OCLC 186797483.

eric 20:48, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

A question on relgion[edit]

I've recently started a course on the nature of Christianity and my supervisors claim that there is hard evidence to confirm that the gospels are factual. Does any scientific proof exist on the factual basis of the gospels? In other words, what other sources confirm what is written in the gospels? Is it even possible to verify the claims that are being made in the gospels to begin with? PvT (talk) 16:42, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

I think you want our article Historicity of Jesus. Algebraist 16:45, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
On a related matter I don't think you are looking for scientific proof. You are probably looking for historical proof, or historical evidence. DJ Clayworth (talk) 17:18, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
Ah yes. My mistake. I meant " historical proof. I've got a new question though. How did historians determine the original date of writing of the gospels? Are there any full intact passages left from the first/second century? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:51, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
Our Gospel article says "Estimates for the dates when the canonical Gospel accounts were written vary significantly; and the evidence for any of the dates is scanty. Because the earliest surviving complete copies of the Gospels date to the 4th century and because only fragments and quotations exist before that, scholars use higher criticism to propose likely ranges of dates for the original gospel autographs. Scholars variously assess the consensus or majority view as follows:". There is likely further info in the article and elsewhere. Also see Dead Sea scrolls Nil Einne (talk) 18:00, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
It would seem that you are thinking of physical/chemical dating, e.g. radio-carbon or ink analysis. Only manuscripts are dated that way, not texts themselves. As you might imagine, texts such as the gospels have been copied and recopied many times, so -- even if original manuscript fragments existed (as they sometimes do) -- physical dating will not give you a reliable date for anything but the material on/with which the text was rendered.
Instead, philologists use methods collectively known as "linguistic dating". The methods employed include:
  • semantic changes: through comparative philology between texts, it is possible to determine when a certain word that means X actually came to mean X. So, if the tested text uses that word in that sense, one can tell that the text was composed at some time after the word came to mean X, but before the time the word came to mean Y.
  • phonetic changes: as languages evolve, the words in it undergo changes in pronunciation. So, from the way a word is written, it is possible to determine which changes in pronunciation had already occurred, and which had not yet occurred, and so identify the period in which the text was composed.
  • "self-clocking": when texts refer to events that have occurred, one can assume that the text must have been composed after that event occurred. Sometimes they even tell us (in a reliable fashion) how long previously that event occurred.
  • "external-clocking": this consists of looking at key phrases that appear in two or more texts. The oldest of the texts then identifies the earliest possible date of coinage.
With the exception of self-clocking, all these techniques rely on the fact that languages evolve as long as they are spoken (i.e. don't become extinct). Its an inexact science, since it only works in comparison to other texts in the same language, and the less there are of these, the more inexact the outcome is. A now-defunct theory that attempted to address the need for texts to compare to postulated that all languages in a language group evolve as the same rate. But, as I said, that theory is today deader than a doornail. -- Fullstop (talk) 19:00, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
[addendum] Here is an article that summarizes how compositions are dated, and what the problems with the methods are. -- Fullstop (talk) 19:31, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

History can never really "prove" the Gospels, but can only ascertain whether the historical references contained in the Gospels are consistent with the historical references in non-Christian literature. As for the manuscript basis of the New Testament, it's on a much firmer footing than many other works of ancient literature -- for example, there are a number of works from Classical Greece (i.e. dating about 4 or 5 centuries before the New Testament) which have only survived in a very small number of manuscripts of the Late Byzantine period (often about 1500 years later than their date of composiition).

As for the "historical Jesus", the evidence for the existence of Jesus as a person is about as solid as the evidence for just about any other individual who was not a ruler or high government official, and who is not mentioned in contemporary inscriptions. However, this does very little to "prove" Christianity... AnonMoos (talk) 02:18, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

There is very little in the Gospels that can be confirmed from external sources. The existence of Pontius Pilate, John the Baptist, Herod, Quirinius the governor of Syria, and a few others is attested elsewhere, but not what they are have said to have done in the Gospels - with the exception of Quirinius' census. And even that leads to problems with chronology, as Quirius' census took place ten years after Herod died. Paul's letters were written earlier than the Gospels, but contain very little about Jesus' life and deeds to corroborate the Gospel accounts. --Nicknack009 (talk) 12:02, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
Paul never met Jesus... AnonMoos (talk) 20:16, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
True, but he associated with people who did, so if he had written anything significant about Jesus' life, it would have been valuable. --Nicknack009 (talk) 13:36, 21 March 2009 (UTC)
Not exactly. He associated with people who the Gospels say knew Jesus. That fact that Paul didn't write anything significant about Jesus' life (other than insisting that he was crucified, unlike some other Christian missionaries) may indicate that he didn't know anything about Jesus of Nazareth, as distinguished from Christ Jesus in heaven. Thus such information might not have been passed on by his associates who, themselves, may not actually have known him.
Remember that the question related to the historical reliabilty of the Gospels. Thus one can hardly use them as 'outside' evidence for their own validity.
As we are dealing with an issue that impacts directly on many people's confessional interests, it is best to be as precise as possible. B00P (talk) 09:17, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Paul could have both met a lot of people who knew Jesus, and also felt that the mission he was qualified and called upon to undertake did not include writing a biography. For that matter, no part of the New Testament is a full biography of Jesus in the conventional sense (e.g. one of Plutarch's Lives etc.). AnonMoos (talk) 12:59, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
Not necessarily - Dr Richard Burrage, dean of King's College London, has often advanced the theory that the Gospels are classical biographies by genre. He emphasises their extensive treatment of the subject's teachings, and the large section of the text dedicated to the subject's manner of death. According to Dr Burrage, it was popularly believed in the classical era that the manner of death disclosed a great deal about someone's character - hence the attention given to Socrates' demise, for example. Plutarch was a trend-setter in biographical writing, so he's not necessarily a good example of prior practice. Classical biographies were never big on exact dates, places and narrative - the idea was to illustrate character, not develop 'plot'. AlexTiefling (talk) 13:46, 25 March 2009 (UTC)

General strikes[edit]

I've just read that the French are having yet another general strike ([2]). Does anyone know what these kind of strikes end up costing the economy? It seems to me that a general strike is one of the worst things you could possibly do during a recession. --Tango (talk) 17:07, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

Be cautious of all "estimated" costs to an economy and wary of the essayists who make points by quoting such "figures".--Wetman (talk) 18:06, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
Of course. Such estimates aren't entirely meaningless, though, you just need to check the methodology used before you start trying to draw conclusions from them. --Tango (talk) 19:06, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
Without answering the question, I guess it depends who your referring to. Since one of the biggest problems during a recession is that quite a lot of people aren't actually working because no one wants their services/products, and it may therefore be possible to make up for a fair amount of the time lost simple by working when you might not actually have been working much I wonder whether the effect would actually be rather small in comparison to a time of growth. Of course the size of the economy is smaller so even a smaller effect would have a big result it still seems to me it's not necessarily as bad as it seems. Obviously it'll also depend on how long the strike lasts. Nil Einne (talk) 07:22, 21 March 2009 (UTC)

why not use 600 pound fatsos for the goalie in hockey?[edit]

I don't get it, if you can have super-tall freaks of nature play in the NBA, why can't you have 600 pound fatsos (or 800 pounds, or whatever -- a quick google shows there might even be 1200 pound fatsos) completely fill the goal, which is pretty small, and thereby be this impenetrable wall guaranteeing 0 points for the other team for the duration of their career? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 16:02, 19 March 2009

While it is difficult to assume good faith of an editor who uses expressions like "fatso" and "freaks of nature", I suppose I can try. A hockey goal is 1.83 metres wide and 1.22 metres high, or about six feet by four feet. I imagine you'd have a harder time than you think finding someone of the necessary dimensions to fill that gap. Even if you did, you'd probably find it difficult to convince them to sit in goal as some sort of "impenetrable wall" based solely on their girth. Even the morbidly obese have dignity. (You might also run foul of the IIHF rules for hockey, which specify maximum dimensions for the goalkeepers jersey - 76.2 cm at the widest point, which wouldn't cover your hypothetical giant goalie.) Read up on Eddie Gaedel for a similar experiment in a different sport. - EronTalk 20:29, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

I've wondered the same thing and am curiously awaiting the answer. — gogobera (talk) 20:23, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

There's an answer on Yahoo answers. It seems the NHL has no limit on goalie size, but rather, they do have a limit on goalie pad size! The answer also claims that the teams and coaches care about physical fitness and health liability; however, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't care so much if a person could guarantee them consistent shutouts.
Moreover, when and if any team tried it, rules would be immediately put in place to stop them -- they are selling entertainment :::after all. And a team that did it would be forever remembered as trying to "get away with" essentially cheating. How embarrassing! — gogobera (talk) 20:28, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
I once saw a cartoon to this effect with the caption: "Pavarotti: the man, the myth, the hockey-goalie" (I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to imagine the picture).
It's not because of rules. The truth is that a hockey goal is much bigger than you think it is. A standard goal measures 1.2 meters in height and 1.8 meters in width (approximately 4 feet and 6 feet respectively). This means that the goal is actually wider than the average man is tall, so even the fattest of the fattest people couldn't cover the whole thing, and the players could easily score on him. There would be huge gaps. Better to go with a fit person with lightning-fast reaction speed. Belisarius (talk) 20:32, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
One misplaced hockey puck and Pavarotti might be able to sing soprano. StuRat (talk) 08:05, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
Of course, Pavarotti's boyhood dream was actually to be a football goalie. Algebraist 20:34, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
Maybe the ice would break, or the goalie would get frostbite because he has to lay down. Can you see a 800 lb dude standing up for 60 mins? (talk) 20:56, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
Actually Todd Gallagher tested that.[[3]] And I should say the NHL has its own goalie sweater size rules[4] (PDF p. 22). Unfortunately they didn't scan the image very well and the specific numbers are completely unreadable. --JGGardiner (talk) 23:55, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

You could probably get around the sweater issue, since if you had a 800lb guy, they would rather he wore a shirt then not. And worst case scenario, just paint his sweater on. (talk) 19:24, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

Did Soviet Union honor Russian debt?[edit]

Did the Soviet Union honor the sovereign debt of the Russian Empire? ObiterDicta ( pleadingserrataappeals ) 20:02, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

Found my own answer: apparently, not really. ObiterDicta ( pleadingserrataappeals ) 20:06, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
more ObiterDicta ( pleadingserrataappeals ) 20:13, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

This job is getting rather easy! ;) --Tango (talk) 23:46, 19 March 2009 (UTC)


StuRat (talk) 07:42, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

The Microsoft business model[edit]

Am I right in thinking that the Microsoft business model has been designed to screw the maximum amount of money out of the public? Would it be possible for MS to provide its products for much lower prices if it desired to do so, and still make a modest profit as a business? Are newer versions of Windows all they are suppossed to be, or do they include a lot of bloatware? Are not the newer versions of Windows far in excess of those revisions and extensions required to make use of "better" hardware? Are MS and computer manufactuers in a tacit cartel, where MS increases the technical hardware spec for its newest versions (causing people to buy new computers) in return for having its product included in them? If the very latest computers are essential, why does the Space Shuttle use 1970s computers? If bankers are getting a lot of stick for big bonuses, why isnt Mr. Gates getting caned? (talk) 20:37, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

Yes, of course Microsoft's business model is designed to screw the maximum amount of money out of the public. That is the purpose of Microsoft, and of most corporations. Why do you imagine they would do anything else? Algebraist 20:40, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
Seven questions for the price of one:
  • Am I right in thinking that the Microsoft business model has been designed to screw the maximum amount of money out of the public?
  • Yes. Their price model almost certainly directed at the point where price and demand meet to yield maximum profit.
  • Would it be possible for MS to provide its products for much lower prices if it desired to do so, and still make a modest profit as a business?
  • Yes, but shareholders would be unhappy at modest profit as compared with, for instance, grossly excessive profit.
  • Are newer versions of Windows all they are suppossed to be, or do they include a lot of bloatware?
  • They are a combination of "all they are supposed to be", "oops, not quite all they are supposed to be" and bloatware.
  • Are not the newer versions of Windows far in excess of those revisions and extensions required to make use of "better" hardware?
  • Yes, but that's not the main point. By way of example, increased security within the product is fairly hardware independent.
  • Are MS and computer manufactuers in a tacit cartel, where MS increases the technical hardware spec for its newest versions (causing people to buy new computers) in return for having its product included in them?
  • Pretty much. Although MS has used other carrots & sticks to keep manufacturers in line, allegedly.
  • If the very latest computers are essential, why does the Space Shuttle use 1970s computers?
  • Contemporary computers are not essential. Does the Space Shuttle use 1970s computers? Presumably these are sufficient for the application.
  • If bankers are getting a lot of stick for big bonuses, why isnt Mr. Gates getting caned?
  • He does, regularly. The difference is that bankers have richly rewarded themselves yet seen the capital values of their organisations plummet. Mr. Bill has consistently made fairly handsome profits and is not yapping at the Fed's door for a bail-out. --Tagishsimon (talk)
(e/c)Almost every business gets what it can for what it sells. I mean, even if you sold lemonade, you'd charge the most you could while selling a lot. Now, answering your other non-opinion questions, clearly there is a drive for better software to match hardware and vice-versa, but operating a cartel would be impossible. I'm sure that sales of top-computers go up when ther is a new version of Windows, but I don't think there's much in that deal for Microsoft. I don't know about the Space Shuttle. Lastly, the bankers are being 'caned' because they are percieved to have failed - for example, Fred Goodwin's £690,000-a-year pension only looks bad because the governements had to bailout the bank of which he was chairman. There's no way a middle-class capatalist country could ever support taking money away from people simply because they'd done well. - Jarry1250 (t, c) 20:46, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

I'd also note that setting up something like this with a few drops from the buckets of money that one earns can go a long way to help avoid public canings. - EronTalk 20:48, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

An endowment of US$35.1 billion as of October 1, 2008 seems a little large to characterise as "a few drops from the buckets"; your comment exceeds the unfair by a substantial margin. --Tagishsimon (talk) 20:57, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
I don't think he meant to be unfair - I don't think anyone doubts that the Gates a) have donated the money and b) would rather it went to good causes. The point is it doesn't matter: it still does a lot of good for you PR. - Jarry1250 (t, c) 21:00, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
Well that will certainly teach me not to try any light-hearted hyperbole. Just the facts from now on! - EronTalk 21:29, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
As I understand it, the directors and managers of public companies are legally obliged to try and make as much money as possible for their shareholders (while staying within the law, of course). If they did anything else, the shareholders could sue them. --Tango (talk) 21:00, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
What law would that be, then? Malcolm XIV (talk) 21:15, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
They have a fiduciary relationship, yes. But it is possible for shareholders to agree other principles apart from profit maximisation, and the fact of the relationship, and the specific responsibilities it lays on the director, are not one & the same thing. That said, in most cases you are correct in implying that shareholders wish to maximise returns, wither through profit maximisation or share price escalation or a combination of the two. --Tagishsimon (talk) 21:18, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
To Malcolm: Companies have documents such as the Articles of Association (UK), Articles of incorporation (US) and the memorandum of association which define the regulations governing the relationships between the shareholders and directors of the company, and are a requirement for the establishment of a company under the law. Acts such as Companies Act 1985 require such documentation. Thus we have a chain of law, from the statute to the implementation. None of the laws say "you must maximise profit" but rather they say "you must do what your shareholders wish"; failure to do what the shareholder wishes puts the director in jeopardy of one sort or another.--Tagishsimon (talk) 21:25, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
In the UK it is the Companies Act 2006 Section 172 [5]. I don't know about US law, but I'm sure a similar rule exists somewhere. As Tagishsimon says, there is a little more to it than just maximising profit (what it actually says is "promote the success of the company"), but that is what it boils to in the vast majority of cases. --Tango (talk) 21:28, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
The Companies Act doesn't come into effect until October of this year, by the way. Malcolm XIV (talk) 23:50, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
Some parts of it don't come into effect until October. Large portions of it are already in effect, although I don't actually know if Section 172 is one of them. There is a similar clause in the 1985 Act anyway, I'm sure. --Tango (talk) 23:53, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
Actually, on further investigation it isn't in the 1985 Act, it was just common law. The common law was actually much closer to my original description than Section 172 of the new Act and, of course, we have an article: Corporate benefit. --Tango (talk) 23:56, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
I largely agree with Tango and would point out at a more complicated level it ultimately comes down to what makes a successful company. In a normal economic climate a successful company is one that is growing (increase your profit). A company that maintains their profit is seen as a failure not a success. Growing a company means you have to do one or more of the following 1) Expand the market 2) Charge more for the same thing 3) Expand your company in to different areas 4) Reduce cost. The fact that Microsoft has been a very successful company for a long time doesn't mean shareholders would have thought it okay for them to stagnate. Whether you agree with these sort of market dynamics or not, it is the reality of the world. It's also worth remembering many (not all) of Microsoft's (semi-)competitors who have embraced open source often only appear to have done it largely because they had to or at best, because it was the best option for them. Nil Einne (talk) 14:58, 22 March 2009 (UTC)
A few answers:
  1. Of course Microsoft is in this to make as much money as possible; I'll bet you would be too if you were actually in the business.
  2. Bloatware is really a bit of a myth. I suggest reading this article explaining why nobody should be worried about it.
  3. The reason why the space shuttle uses 1970 computers is that computers that go into space must be absolutely 100% non-negotiably unarguably reliable. 1970s computers have been tested a lot more than 2008 computers, and pretty much every bug in them is known about. The effort in putting new computers through the testing required to fly through space is immense, and effectively rules out an upgrade.
  4. The same cannot be said for your home computer. If you are a game player, your 1970 computer (or even your 2001 computer) simply does not have the capability to do what your 2008 games requires at the necessary speed, no matter how much effort is put into making it run efficiently. DJ Clayworth (talk) 21:33, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
The main reason the shuttle still uses 1970's computers is because it is still doing the same task as it was in the 1970's. If you don't need any new features, why upgrade? --Tango (talk) 21:40, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

The aspect of Microsoft's long-term way of doing business which really makes some tech types nervous is the infamous Embrace, Extend, Extinguish... AnonMoos (talk) 02:04, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

That article on bloatware is amusing, but nonsensical. The strides made in speeding up computers and compressing more and more storage onto smaller and smaller media is nothing short of a technological marvel. The fact that MS hasn't been able to bloat their Office suite quite quickly enough to catch up is not a valid excuse for their shoddy workmanship, it's a testament to how well the hardware folks have done over the last decade or two. Matt Deres (talk) 03:55, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

Generally I agree with the bloatware article. Most bloat happens for good reasons, and bloat as such is not much of a problem (unless you're using a solid-state drive, I suppose). I don't know why you're focusing on Microsoft—all commercial software is like this. Unices and open source may be slightly behind the curve but they're catching up. Software that needs to be fast (Photoshop filters, games, data compression, scientific simulation) is still optimized; you're not losing any CPU performance to "bloat" in situations where it matters. Also, hardware is bloating as badly as software, and for similar reasons. It's not fair to blame the software guys just because there's no software equivalent to shrinking the feature size. -- BenRG (talk) 22:19, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

Bill of Rights and Minors[edit]

Are the Bill of Rights completely applicable in the same fashion to minors as well as adults? If not, what are the differences? Links to articles or web pages would be very appreciative. Thank You (talk) 21:39, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

Are you talking about the United States Bill of Rights? There are lots of things described as "bill of rights". --Tango (talk) 21:41, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

Pardon, I did mean the United States Bill of Rights. I'll elaborate next time. (talk) 21:50, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

The Supreme Court has established on several occasions that young people do have constitutional rights:
  • In Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (393 U.S. 503), the court ruled that juveniles have a First Amendment right to free speech, even in school.
  • In the case In re Gault (387 U.S. 1), the court confirmed that juveniles have a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, a Sixth Amendment right to counsel and Fourteenth Amendment due-process rights.
  • In New Jersey v. TLO (439 U.S. 325), the court's ruling assumes juveniles have Fourth Amendment rights, although in that case, a search conducted by school officials was considered reasonable.
  • In Breed v. Jones (421 U.S. 519), the court overturned a juvenile's conviction on grounds that his Fourteenth Amendment double-jeopardy protection had been violated.
  • In the 2003 case of Roper v. Simmons (543 U.S. 551), the court outlawed the death penalty for juvenile defendants on Eighth Amendment grounds.
  • Of course, a juvenile tried as an adult has a right to a jury trial.
It is true that under certain circumstances, constitutional rights may be of different scope for adults and juveniles. Notably, juveniles cannot purchase pornography, a material that has less First Amendment protection than political speech. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 22:39, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

How about in the case of the Thirteenth Amendment rights? Are they barred from involuntary servitude? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:46, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

Whether or not they are, they still have to take out the trash. I think that's in the little-known but extensively followed Amendment 13A. --Tagishsimon (talk) 23:12, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
No, you can't enslave someone no matter what their age. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 23:22, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

I would figure that no one can be enslaved, but a provision in the new Service law, that's pending a vote in the house of representatives, requires that children in Middle School and High School be forced to volunteer for a set amount of hours? How does that apply to the Thirteenth Amendment? Wouldn't that be an infringement? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:36, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

It could be argued either way. You'd need to take it court to establish a decision. --Tagishsimon (talk) 23:39, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
That's not slavery, that's civil conscription. Which raises a whole different kettle of constitutional fish. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 23:40, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
That would seem to stretch the definition of "volunteer"! --Tango (talk) 23:45, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
They have had similar requirements in various jurisdictions in Canada for some time now. High school students in Ontario have to complete 40 hours of volunteer work to graduate. I believe the requirement is treated like any other high school credit course; it is no more slavery than the requirement to study algebra is. - EronTalk 00:30, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
Do they actually call it "volunteer work"? If you have to do it, it isn't voluntary. I would call it "community service". --Tango (talk) 00:39, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
I believe the official term is "community involvement activities". - EronTalk 01:11, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
  • The OP may want to read our article on In loco parentis. Parents have the responsibility and the obligation to regulate their children's behavior until the age of majority, and in certain cases, these obligations can be transfered to others, usually taken as schools. In the U.S., the Supreme Court has in general come down in the middle on extending full freedoms of adults to students. Basically, insofar as a students behavior is not disruptive to the educational mission of the school, the school is considered a governmental agency, and is thus an extension of the "congress shall pass no laws..." part of the Bill of Rights. There is, however, a BIG however, and that stems from in loco parentis. Schools have an obligation to protect the rights of all students in their trust, and they also have a public trust to provide a positive educational environment for those students. Insofar as a student is engaged in behavior which is deemed disruptive to the educational enviornment, schools may act as a parent would in disciplining a disruptive student, even where such discipline may, if it were applied to an adult, be adjudged to be a violation of an adult's basic consitutional rights; but ONLY so far as is required to maintain order and a positive educational environment within the school. The cases noted above are not as simple and clear cut as noted.
    • Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District notes that students DO have a right to freedom of speech, however that right does NOT allow them to disrupt the educational mission of the school, and if it does, their rights to such activity in the school may be stopped.
    • Likewise, New Jersey v. T.L.O. upheld that while students still have the right of freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, that since it was reasonable for a parent to search any personal space of his/her child, a school acting in loco parentis had the same rights.
    • Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, not noted above, upheld that in some cases, schools had the right to restrict student's free expression in school-sponsored student publications.
  • Basically, schools cannot tell you what you can and cannot say, but they can stop you from standing up in the middle of class and shouting and carrying on and disrupting class. 01:38, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
Which is the same, really, as with adults. Adults have the right to freedom of speech but if you choose to exercise that right during, for example, a court hearing, you will be found in contempt and thrown in a cell. --Tango (talk) 12:42, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
Except that there ARE certain expressions which adults in the general public which are allowed which students in a school building are not, even if its not akin to screaming and yelling in a classroom. For example, in many schools students may not generally use profane language, or wear clothing which displays beer and cigarette ads. Also, students backpacks and lockers may be searched with impunity by school officials inside the school building, even without reasonable suspicion of actual criminal activity; such unreasonable searches may not be allowed in the general public towards adults. The point is that students rights may be curtailed by the schools insofar as a parent may curtail their own child's rights. Courts have upheld that non-disruptive symbolic expression, such as in Tinker, where students were wearing black armbands to protest a war, are protected forms of speech even for students, but they also expressly stated, in Tinker and other cases, that adult expectations of protection of freedoms are not generally accorded to students in school. 15:18, 20 March 2009 (UTC)
Are the managers of federal offices not allowed to impose dress codes on their staff? Or search staff lockers and bags? Or impose standards of conduct, including not swearing? I expect they can, and do, do all those things. --Tango (talk) 17:25, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

It is likely that in the hiring process, there was a paper that they signed saying they would abide by the office standards, ie dress code, swearing, conduct etc. There are also practical considerations, such as it might be a disadvantage to allow everyone 2nd ammendment rights at work or worse, school. (talk) 19:22, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

You exchange away some of your freedoms in return for your pay packet. Same with most other things you sign up to. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 23:31, 20 March 2009 (UTC)