Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2009 March 23

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March 23[edit]

prayer of George VI[edit]

I have tried searchng the internet and wikipedia to obtain the text of the Prayer of George VI. I think he parayed it just before D Day. Some of the words are I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: Give me light that I may tread into the unknown. He replied put your hand in the hand of God. That will be to you something better than light and better than a known path.Can you help me find the rest of the text?203.110.156.190 (talk) 00:12, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

See http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=400561, http://www.geocities.com/piers_clement/gate.html, and The Gate of the Year. --Tagishsimon (talk) 00:15, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
The poetess was Minnie Louise Haskins, and the poem is called The Gate of the Year, but you have to rely on an outside source for the text, because our article doesn't quote it. How odd. -- JackofOz (talk) 06:06, 25 March 2009 (UTC)
What on earth is a 'poetess'? I wasn't aware 'poet' was a male profession. A female poet is a poet. Pretender (talk) 01:14, 28 March 2009 (UTC)
See Poetess.
Also, why does the AMPAS award Oscars to "Best Actress" rather than "Best Female Actor"? Indeed, why does the Academy have a sex-based differentiation at all when it comes to actors, when it doesn't do it for any other category? It's not as if female actors only ever appear in women-only films, and male actors only ever appear in men-only films. All the film awards in other countries have blindly copied this, but if you dare refer to a female actor as an "actress" outside of the context of awards, you'll probably be told you're using offensive language! English is sometimes a terribly confusing language even for native speakers, and this is one issue about which I remain terribly confused. -- JackofOz (talk) 22:38, 28 March 2009 (UTC)

shooting an elephant[edit]

do you think his purpose in this essay is to explore something about himself or something about the nature of british colonialism or both? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 69.127.29.56 (talk) 04:27, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

Hi, we don't answer homework questions here at the RefDesk. It may behoove you, however, to take a look at Shooting an Elephant. bibliomaniac15 04:33, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
don't use "it may behavoove you" (or anyone else)....seriously. 79.122.48.154 (talk) 10:53, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
You are the only person here to have used that curious misspelling. Algebraist 13:47, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
And did he shoot an elephant wearing his pajamas ? :-) StuRat (talk) 16:21, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
I love multiple choice questions! The answer is C. both - 161.181.53.10 (talk) 20:34, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
I vote D, "he made it up to impress his English teacher", myself. But then I suppose we shouldn't put it to a vote, as we all know Polls are evil. --Alinnisawest,Dalek Empress (extermination requests here) 01:42, 24 March 2009 (UTC)

Fate of US after a bankruptcy[edit]

If the United States is declared bankrupt, who are the creditors that will gain ownership of the country? NeonMerlin 06:38, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

For the latest breakdown, see Treasury Bulletin for Dec 2008. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 07:36, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
And for foreign ownership stats: Major Foreign Holders of Treasury Securities. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 07:42, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
First off all, the US is not going to go bankrupt. It just ain't gonna happen, there's no way. However, if we were to entertain the notion for a second, it doesn't work the same way when a country defaults on it's national debt as when companies do. The US is a sovereign country, and other countries don't just "take it over" when it can't pay it's debt. No one "gains ownership" (nobody "owns" the US today, so how could you transfer "ownership").
Two things happen when a country defaults on its national debt: the people that lent it money gets screwed (they have no way of collecting), and no one will ever loan them money again, which is why it almost never happens (though it is not unheard of, Argentina did it in 2002). Even poor third world countries do everything they can to pay every cent they own in interest, because a national debt-default is a catastropic event.
Also, in addition to those two things, if the US specifically were to default on its debt, a third thing would also happen: people would start watching Mad Max as an instructional video. 195.58.125.75 (talk) 11:41, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
There is no such thing as a country declaring bankruptcy, that's just rhetoric. Countries have no legal obligation to pay back their debt since there is no jurisdiction that has power over them. As 195.58 says, all that happens when countries default on debt is that creditors lose their money and the interest the government has to pay to borrow money (which almost all governments need to do) shoots up (if they can borrow money at all). There are no legal proceedings - the sovereign debt market is a purely free market (probably the only one), everything is governed by market forces. That said, if the US, or another major government, defaulted on its debt it would mean the complete collapse of the world economy. Pretty much the whole of economics is based on the assumption that these treasury bonds are risk-free (see risk-free interest rate) - if that assumption doesn't hold then everything goes wrong. --Tango (talk) 13:58, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Let me be the devil's advocate and argue for defaulting on the US national debt:
1) When a nation, just like a corporation or family, can't possibly ever pay off its debt, then it's time to consider bankruptcy, or, in the case of a nation, going into default. The US seems to be close to the point of no return here, where it can't possibly ever pay off the debt.
2) The result of not being able to borrow money might, just like in the case of a family, actually be a good thing, as it would force the US to live within its means. If nothing else can accomplish this goal, then, by default, default may be the only way. StuRat (talk) 16:13, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Like any country that issues debt in its own currency, the U.S. can inflate its way out of debt (which has adverse consequences of its own of course). The deterioration in the U.S. government's finances is alarming, but the debt burden as a proportion of GDP is not yet anything remarkable compared with other developed countries. Mowsbury (talk) 19:02, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
This isn't meant to be a discussion forum, so I'll only comment to the extent it may be responsive to the OP. The U.S. is by no means close to a point of no return. As of 2007, the national debt was only 65.5% of gross domestic product (GDP), and that includes intragovernmental obligations such as Social Security Trust Fund holdings. Although the percentage has increased since 2007, it is still well short of the levels experienced in the late 1940s. While it is true that the government probably will never pay the national debt down to zero, that is not necessary or even desirable. It is sufficient that each individual governmental security will be timely repaid.
Of all of the ideas to make the U.S. live within its means, a debt default must be the worst. A default would result in the failure of the large majority of financial institutions worldwide and the collapse of the global economy. It would be much more serious than the Great Depression and would have political and social ramifications that at present can only be the subject of speculation. Because these facts are well-known to policy-makers, a U.S. governmental default is not under even passing consideration. John M Baker (talk) 19:09, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
You are working under the flawed assumption that paying off the debt is desirable. There is no reason to pay it off. As long as the country can afford the interest payments and people are willing to keep lending it money when old debt comes due, then the debt doesn't need to be paid off. Ideally, you want to make sure that the economy grows at least as fast as the debt, so debt as a percentage of GDP doesn't rise. There will be time when it increases, but on average you want to keep it at reasonable levels - the US is managing that pretty well overall. --Tango (talk) 20:12, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Let's do some calculations here. Say the US goes from owing 65.5% of it's GDP to 100%, by the time the current financial mess is ironed out. And suppose that the interest on this is a mere 5% per year, after inflation. That would mean 5% of the GDP would need to be paid every year just to service the debt. I suppose that would be manageable if that was all taxes were used for, but obviously they need to also be used to do everything else government is expected to do. So, then, could we ever get an additional 5% of the GDP (which is probably more like 25% of the taxes collected) to be set aside to pay interest ? And this isn't even starting to pay down the debt, but just keeping up with interest. I can't see it happening. So, like the family in too much credit card debt, the options are to continue to rack up more and more debt, until we can no longer make the minimum interest rate payments, or to default. StuRat (talk) 21:08, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
If we look at history, rather than made-up numbers, we see that the US has in the past had a debt of well over 100% of GDP without having to default. Algebraist 21:16, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
But that was right before the record growth of the 1950's, which was only possible because the economies of Europe and Asia were destroyed by WW2, and the US was basically without competition in the export market. I don't think anyone sees that situation happening again. StuRat (talk) 22:29, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
A country is only going to default on debt if it can't borrow enough to pay off debt that comes due, which will only happen if people think the country is going to default. As with most of economics, it's all self-fulfilling prophecies. There is only a problem if people lose confidence in the economy, and that isn't going to happen purely because of high debt. Inflation is more of a concern than debt - if inflation gets out of control, people aren't going to want to invest in anything denominated in that currency, which includes government bonds. High debt can, of course, lead to high inflation if the interest payments become so high printing money is the only option left (there is only so much money people can lend to the government, regardless of how confident they may be in it). --Tango (talk) 21:39, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
I don't think printing money to pay off debts ever works, as it leads to hyperinflation and creditors who will refuse to loan any more money unless it's paid back in a more stable currency. If a country must borrow money just to pay off earlier debts, that's going to lead to an ever increasing spiral of debt. Once it begins to spiral up at a rate faster than the growth of the GDP, it's just a matter of time before nobody will be willing (or able) to loan the amount of money required any more, leading to default. StuRat (talk) 22:23, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Borrowing money to pay off debt that comes due is standard practice - if you have a consistent budget deficit (which most countries do), you have no choice. It's known as "rolling over" the debt. If you get to the point where you can either hyperinflate your way out of debt or default, you don't have a good option - whichever you choose, your country is in serious trouble. I think the main benefit to default is that it gets it out of the way quicker - you know where you stand and you just get on with it. Make the necessary reforms, behave yourself for a few years, and you're back on track - it hurts, but you know you'll get through it. If you go into hyperinflation it is anybody's guess what will happen. Eventually you will come out the other side, countries always do, but it could be years of chaos and suffering to get there. I think countries that hyperinflate to get out of debt either don't understand economics at all or are falling victim of wishful thinking ("We just need to print a little bit to tide us over, we can stop before it starts to spiral out of control"). In my (extremely non-expert) opinion, default is the better choice. --Tango (talk) 00:51, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
It is possible to create new money without automatically triggering hyperinflation. The UK government is doing so at present. Of course, one has to be careful, but failure is by no means inevitable. Algebraist 00:56, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
The UK government is doing it (at least partially) in order to create inflation. We're at very real risk of deflation without it. The money isn't being printed because the government wants to spend it, it's being created because it has been deemed in the best interest of the country to increase the money supply. --Tango (talk) 01:11, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
Would you believe it, just after posting that I head over the BBC News (as I often do) and there is an article posted less than an hour ago about the UK being at risk of deflation: [1]. The BBC are (with the aid of foresight) creating references specially for me! --Tango (talk) 01:13, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
I think, maybe, that a better example may be the Republic of Ireland; they are said to be closer to bankruptcy - and other countries could stop lending to it, there are few Irish banks with sufficient capital and/or onus to provide money. Basically, IMHO, the US have infinitely deep pockets, but time could be called on Ireland. Are none of the debts secured? - Jarry1250 (t, c) 20:33, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Nobody has infinitely deep pockets (although that might explain how I keep losing my comb). :-) StuRat (talk) 21:10, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Let's not forget Iceland. Clarityfiend (talk) 22:20, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Worth noting: The US economy has a GDP of approximately $13.5 trillion (give or take a few hundred recessionary billions). IF the total national debt were to become equal to the GDP and IF the interest payments on the debt were 5%, that would still only be $675B annually. FY 2007 interest was $237 billion (via wiki page on 2007 United States Federal Budget). Despite the spending for stimulus and other recession-driven expenses, we are still a long way from a National Debt equaling GDP and a long way from interest expenses being unmanageable. (For one thing, interest expenses are nowhere near 5% and despite the massive increase in spending, the debt offerings by the Treasury sell quickly and at relative low cost). Lastly...most of the "bailouts" that have been completed to support the financial system have been done by effectively (but not quite literally) printing money, rather than by issuing debt.Brewfangrb (talk) 09:10, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
The US national debt clock shows over $11 trillion in debt right now: [2], and the deficit this year is expected to be around $2 trillion, which would bring us almost up to the GDP this year (or, if this year has already been added to the clock, then next year). If the GDP declines slightly, or if we wait an additional year, we will be sure to top 100% of GDP. Even if we can get the deficit down to $1 trillion a year, that's still 7.4% of the GDP, and the economy is unlikely to grow at such a high rate, on average, over the long haul. Thus, the US will go deeper and deeper in debt as a percentage of GDP, until it must default. StuRat (talk) 16:13, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
Once we're through this recession, the US will probably have to raise taxes and cut spending in order to pay back some of the debt being built up at the moment. A long term deficit isn't a big problem as long as it isn't too great on average - that means when it gets too great at some point you need to have a very low deficit (even a surplus) for a time afterwards to pay back the extra and get it all to average out. If the US continues with a 7.4% GDP budget deficit once this recession is over, it will soon find itself in very big trouble. --Tango (talk) 16:21, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
"Continues" isn't the right word, as that's a much lower level than the present $2 trillion deficit, which is closer to 15% of GDP. StuRat (talk) 16:45, 24 March 2009 (UTC)

What's the largest percentage of GDP which any nation has owed and yet been able to recover from without defaulting (excluding "debt forgiveness", which is just another form of default, IMHO) ? StuRat (talk) 15:58, 24 March 2009 (UTC)

Well over 100%. I'll see if I can find some examples. --Tango (talk) 16:21, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
Japan's debt in 2006 was 176.2% of GDP. I don't think they have "recovered" from that yet, but I haven't heard anyone suggest they are at risk of default. --Tango (talk) 16:26, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
Just what percentage of GDP do you think a nation can recover from ? And, if Japan hasn't yet recovered, what's the maximum from which a recovery has occurred ? StuRat (talk) 19:53, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
I don't know. I tried to find historical debt figures for some major economies and couldn't - I know they are out there somewhere, but I would need to spend longer searching. You don't really need to recover from high debt, you need to recover from a high deficit. If you can get to a surplus (or a deficit lower than your economic growth) then the debt will gradually come down, but it could take a very long time. (I wouldn't expect Japan to get under 100% for decades, at best.) A better question might be: what is the highest (sustained) budget deficit (as a percentage of GDP) a country has recovered from without defaulting on debt or issuing a new currency? I don't know the answer to that, either, but I'd be very interested to find out... (Define "sustained" in whatever way makes the answer easier to find out! We may wish separate answer for deficits due to war and deficits during peacetime.) --Tango (talk) 20:09, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
But the debt and deficit aren't independent. If the debt is high enough, the interest alone will ensure that there is always a deficit, and, when combined with the bare minimum the government needs to spend to prevent it's collapse, can easily exceed the meager growth rate which such a heavily indebted nation can sustain (since there will be very little capital left to invest, after most is borrowed to service the debt and pay for government essentials). StuRat (talk) 23:47, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
Indeed - high debt may well lead to a high deficit, but it is the high deficit that is the problem. A high deficit can be caused by numerous things and is a problem regardless of the cause, and you can avoid a high deficit while having a high debt (if you can keep confidence high and thus interest rates low, for example, or simply raise taxes), in which case you won't be in danger of collapse. --Tango (talk) 15:17, 25 March 2009 (UTC)
However, when the debt gets high enough, you can't do any of those things. You can't keep confidence high, because creditors will inevitably start to worry about being repaid. You can't raise taxes, because that would lower the growth rate, which you desperately need to keep high if you want to keep the deficits below that figure. Also, it's politically difficult to raise taxes to pay for immediate spending, but raising taxes with no immediate tangible benefit is political suicide. StuRat (talk) 16:17, 25 March 2009 (UTC)
As long as the deficit is low, people won't be too worried about not getting repaid. --Tango (talk) 15:45, 26 March 2009 (UTC)
But, as I said previously, the deficit can't possibly be low when the debt is massive, as the interest alone will ensure that the deficit remains high. StuRat (talk) 16:24, 26 March 2009 (UTC)

Is it not foolish to compare long-term debt against short-term income? The debt is not a 1-year debt, it is a long-term debt so why would we compare it to a 1-year GDP amount? 194.221.133.226 (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 16:24, 24 March 2009 (UTC).

Yeah, I think the same thing sometimes when people insist on comparing everything to GDP. GDP is used as a measure of the "size of economy". It makes sense to compare debt to the size of the economy, the question is whether it makes sense to use GDP as a measure of that (although I don't really have a good alternative to propose, so it may be out best option). --Tango (talk) 16:26, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
Looking at the total wealth of a nation is also highly subjective, since things like real estate fluctuate dramatically. And being near the point of default may cause many such assets to plummet in value. StuRat (talk) 19:56, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
Wealth is really difficult to determine because there isn't a market for most of a country's assets (at least, not one that involves regular enough similar sales to determine an expected price for something about to go on sale). For example, how would you put a value on a country's road network? When was the last time somebody bought a road network? There just isn't a price for such things. A good road network clearly contributes a significant amount to the value of a country, though. --Tango (talk) 20:02, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
An important note on this side discussion is that a country without strong rule of law, effective property rights or a credible system of taxation will be able to support a much smaller national debt ("...as a percentage of GDP.") The most important factor in a country's ability to sustain debt is the country's ability to service it through it's tax base. If that is put into question, bond prices will drop and, implicitly, credit spreads on the yield will widen until the country no longer has the practical ability to roll over one year's debt with the next. That is when a default or "debt reorganization" becomes the rational choice.NByz (talk) 20:13, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
FYI: I just watched Frontline: "Ten Trillion and Counting", which put the US national debt at 89.2% of GDP, after this year's deficit is factored in. StuRat (talk) 04:51, 25 March 2009 (UTC)

Fuente Ovejuna[edit]

analysis of fuente ovejuna —Preceding unsigned comment added by 207.237.33.82 (talk) 10:27, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

I didn't recognize this as a question until just now, as it lacked a question mark, a "Please provide" in front, or even a heading (which I've now added). See our Fuente Ovejuna article and come back here with any unanswered questions, please. StuRat (talk) 16:28, 24 March 2009 (UTC)

WWII "zeroes"?[edit]

Resolved

I was just watching the latest episode of Dollhouse (which was quite excellent), and there was a reference in there which I didn't quite catch (this isn't a spoiler btw, just a stray line). Could someone please explain it. The piece of dialogue goes like this:

  • Dotcom-billionaire: "My first check, it had more zeroes than the Luftwaffe"
  • FBI agent: "The Japanese. They had the Zeroes, not the Germans"

Pray tell, what "zeroes" are these two fellas talking about? 195.58.125.75 (talk) 11:18, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

The Mitsubishi. -- Deborahjay (talk) 11:31, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Ahh, sweet, thanks! 195.58.125.75 (talk) 11:42, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
And in case you missed it in the article, the name Zero comes from the year in the Japanese calendar when it was introduced. Same idea as [crosses self] Windows 2000. --Anonymous, 20:13 UTC, March 23, 2009.
UNRESOLVED! Way unresolved - because you guys have given me an earworm. What song is it from? "Mitsubishi zero, dum-dum dum-dum dah-dah" BrainyBabe (talk) 21:06, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Well, all the top Google hits on a search for "lyrics" and "Mitsubishi Zero" all on Sexuality (Billy Bragg song), in which Zero is rhymed with (Robert De) Niro. Would that be the one, Babe? --Anonymous, 21:33 UTC, March 23, 2009.
Thanks, Anonymous, doubleplusgood resolved! (And for explaining your trick -- obvious, but only in retrospect.)
Resolved
Resolved
It's Billy Bragg's most sex positive song, with happy bouncy lyrics, and then this weird triple entre:
"I'm sure that everybody knows how much my body hates me / It lets me down most every time and makes me rash and hasty"
Viagra, anyone? BrainyBabe (talk) 01:05, 26 March 2009 (UTC)

Bordell Makejewka[edit]

A one-line caption for these archival documents describes them as tickets for a bordello for WWII German army officers "in Makejewka in the Stalingrad region." I doubt it's Makiivka (in the Ukraine), but I haven't found a suitable locale. Is there such a place, or is the name likely to be merely a surname or a word in Polish? (I'm posting here rather than on the Language RD as this might indeed be a geography query after all :-) -- Deborahjay (talk) 11:47, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

"Makejewka" is how the Russian name of Makiivka, "Макеевка", is transliterated to German. Makiivka lies in the South-East part of the Ukraine, and Stalingrad doesn't look that far away, from a German geographical perspective of the Soviet Union. I think it is in fact likely that the caption refers to Makiivka. ---Sluzzelin talk 12:33, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

christodoulou tzigane[edit]

In Greek language χριστοδουλου Τσιγαντε is our streetname and we cannot find any information about this person. Arounding streets are marathonanmachi street so we think he had something to do with it. Searches in google and other searchprograms give only the translation of gypsi. Who was this person and what did he do? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Manolis gr (talkcontribs) 14:35, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

You mean he had something to do with the Battle of Marathon? That is unlikely for someone named Christodoulou. Are you in Cyprus? We have Christodoulos and Christodoulou articles, do they help? Adam Bishop (talk) 17:30, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Is no information available through your municipal offices, city library, or other local or regional government source? -- Deborahjay (talk) 20:10, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Could χριστοστομο be a misreading of Χρυσόστομος? —Tamfang (talk) 05:40, 24 March 2009 (UTC)

Thank you all for the help. If he had anything to do with the battle of Marathon, sorry i do not know. The system of streetnames is not so ...clear here. Unfortunately until now I still have not found any information about this person, but I will continue, research here is difficult as we live on a small island in Greece. Internet is the only resource on the moment.

Non-Somali African Muslims in Arab Gulf nations[edit]

What is the history of Non-Somali-speaking African Muslims in United Arab Emirates? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 142.204.74.250 (talk) 14:49, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

Have you tried looking at articles connected to United Arab Emirates? Admittedly, Demographics of the United Arab Emirates and Islam in the United Arab Emirates are not terribly helpful, but they do have useful-looking links. If you have a country in mind, you could look for its emigrants, as opposed to the UAE's immigrants. BrainyBabe (talk) 20:54, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

Depression and higher IQ[edit]

I know that there is no true measurement of IQ, however, was/is there a study done regarding incidences of high IQ and likelyhood of being depressed? --Emyn ned (talk) 17:53, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

IQ tests are, by definition, a true measure of IQ. Do you mean "intelligence" rather than "IQ"? --Tango (talk) 21:43, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
"...and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow." Not a scientific study, but probably the first to address the issue :) --Dr Dima (talk) 21:45, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
This study claims a link between depression and gifted children, while this one links it to low childhood IQ. Acck! Clarityfiend (talk) 01:56, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
It's not as if those are contradictory results. It could be that if you plot the incidence of depression against IQ, you get a bathtub curve. --Anon, 05:21 UTC, March 24, 2009.
Didn't say it was. It makes sense that you'd be most likely to be happy by being average. Clarityfiend (talk) 08:24, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
Maybe higher IQ people spend more time indoors, get less sunshine, and thus get less Vitamin D, which is linked to depression. 89.243.177.130 (talk) 11:10, 25 March 2009 (UTC)
I had a quick look at the article linking higher IQ to lower happiness and it struck me as rather flawed. Not to say the results are necessarily wrong of course. It kept going on about self esteem and that is a quite bad thing to measure or want to improve directly in people or to use as a happiness or depression measure. Also if there really is a correlation there is the possibility the cause is the other way round, that being unhappy makes people work harder and think harder and so makes their measured intelligence higher. there is evidence for instance that trying to boost people's self esteem in a non-constructive fashion makes them work less hard and be less successful. Dmcq (talk) 00:04, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

News website[edit]

I'm looking for a news website that I can read to keep up with the "important" stories all over the world. I find that the paper from home (NZ Herald) is not the greatest, and often the front page stories are not the most important stories, but the most recent. I don't usually spend much time looking at the news, so I'd like a nice site that just has the important stuff so I'm not completely out of touch. Any suggestions? Thanks 77.12.54.219 (talk) 20:16, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

I suggest the BBC's website, here - you'll need to select 'International version' by pressing edit near news (but I would be suprised if this weren't set by default for people physically outside the UK). Important stories - yes; worldwide coverage - yes; neutrality - mostly (there have been accusations of slight liberal bias). - Jarry1250 (t, c) 20:40, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
The Wikipedia English home page does a good job of summarizing the news, with less of a recency bias than other sources: [3], and hopefully won't have any coverage of Paris Hilton until somebody gets around to killing her. There's also Wikinews, if you want more than just a summary of each story: [4]. And, like Wikipedia, Wikinews allows you to make a correction if you find an error. StuRat (talk) 20:51, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Could we avoid calling for people's assassinations? I know it's Paris Hilton, but still... --Tango (talk) 21:41, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
I'm not calling for her assassination, I'm just saying I never want to hear from or about her until and unless she's killed. Besides, to be assassinated, don't you have to be of some actual importance ? StuRat (talk) 22:12, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
The "gets around to" part read like you were saying she should be killed. I think the importance point is just another point in favour of not calling for her assassination! --Tango (talk) 01:09, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
We have the same problem here! The local paper of record is a broadsheet pretending to be a tabloid.
The New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com) and the Daily Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk) are two I like to check regularly (despite the very different editorial standpoints). If you are interested in economic/financial/industrial news, either the Financial Times (http://www.ft.com/) or the Wall Street Journal (http://www.wsj.com/) are great - though some online contents require subscription.
Even though these papers have very different editorial agendas, all of them are intelligent and globally sensitive. What I mean is that, in their reporting of world events, they are not quick to succumb to stereotyping and sloganeering - problems which some papers in our more provincial end of the world suffer from.
In our own (regional) backyard, the South China Morning Post is a quality paper, but is very stingy with its website (http://www.scmp.com/). The Straits Times (http://www.straitstimes) is also nice. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 21:38, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
What's wrong with Google News? It's a compendium from news websites from all over the world, and is divided into different areas of interest. Who then was a gentleman? (talk) 23:56, 23 March 2009 (UTC)
Here's another vote for Google News [5]. Dismas|(talk) 01:58, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
Here's one that has been around for quite some time that always posts some interesting headlines and updates frequently: [6] cheers, 10draftsdeep (talk) 14:11, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
Sorry, no, one should never go to the Drudge Report looking for neutral news reports. Who then was a gentleman? (talk) 23:58, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
I also have to vote for Google News. I asked a similar question on the Misc desk about a month ago. I have been using Google News for several years. My only complaint is around local or area-specific coverage. You can set up your own news screens, but you'll often just get the most popular stories that contain the words you've screened for, not the most relevant stories to that screen. That's what you get from an editor-free source though. No bias, but also little perspective. NByz (talk) 20:06, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
Additionally I've been getting the Economist's weekly audio version. It's great if you have a long commute. NByz (talk) 20:06, 24 March 2009 (UTC)