Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2010 February 10

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February 10[edit]

Where can I find information of people killed per person[edit]

Hello this is hursday. I was watching interview of Dr Richard Dawkins a UK professor and anti religious person in interview they asked him about the last hundred years being most secular or non religious and yet most people die in it i think attempting to tie less religion to more people dieing but I do not think this is correct as there are more people in earth now. what i would like is graph that shows number of people killed on a per person way that is if more are killed in last 100 years but because there are more people in last 100 years there would be less percentage of them being killed by violence including wars i think the trend would be down or that more percentage of people killed from violence in the past than now i have posted a link to the video where the question is asked (Dr hursday (talk) 00:35, 10 February 2010 (UTC))

EDIT: I forgot to ask question. Where can I find this data? (Dr hursday (talk) 01:11, 10 February 2010 (UTC))

I know of no such data, and worldwide it would be horribly difficult to calculate, especially since in many countries the number of people killed by violence is (or was) a state secret - the state having been responsible for much of it. Just look at the hugely varying estimates of World War II casualties there are around. If we can't get good estimates of deaths for a war that largely took place in industrialised countries and where the winning side (who is making the estimates) is likely to be fairly open about the results, what hope have we of estimating deaths in places where government is sketchy at best.
Incidentally in my personal opinion you shouldn't be interested in Dawkins opinions on this matter. This is where Dawkins scientific objectivity (which is excellent when applied to his own field of Biology) gets completely abandoned as he tries to 'stick it' to religion. In The God Delusion he assigns blame for any atrocity committed by any group calling itself religious to the religion itself, but then says that the fact that at least two of the three greatest genocides of last century (Mao, Stalin and Hitler) were carried out by atheists in the name of explicitly atheist ideologies is "no more relvant than Hitler and Saddam both having mustaches". If his students wrote stuff like that in Biology he would never let them get away with it. DJ Clayworth (talk) 01:40, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
As the article on Adolf Hitler's religious views discusses, it really isn't accurate to describe him as an atheist, although it would be hard to ascribe any recognised religious faith to him, either. Warofdreams talk 15:13, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
I said two of the three. Hitler is the one whose killings were not done in the name of an explicitly atheist regime. DJ Clayworth (talk) 16:07, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Richard Dawkins in that interview says that Hitler was a Roman Catholic, but that Hitler did not do his deeds in the name of that religion. Bus stop (talk) 15:52, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
If you want statistics (and the difficulties in getting them), check out, for example, Democide. --Mr.98 (talk) 02:14, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
I think murder rate or homicide rate would be a start, but they won't include deaths in war or internal oppression, and as DJ pointed out, figures for those are both hard to get and unreliable. I do think the question of violent deaths as a proportion of population is an interesting and legitimate one. DuncanHill (talk) 05:16, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
For peace time numbers, you might be interested in actuarial tables. Here is a page with a lot of that sort of thing for the US. In general, most developed countries have experienced a steady decrease in violent crime per capita over the last few decades (see Crime in the United States for an example). As for wars, I agree getting casualties for those is difficult, especially since often many victims are killed indirectly, through starvation or disease, for example. You can see estimates for individual wars at War#List of wars by death toll. You could divide those tolls by the number of people thought to have lived at the time to get an approximation of their impact. At a glance, I would say the An Shi Rebellion is thought to be the most devastating war on a "per capita basis", killing (a disputed) 36 million people when the world population was less than 800 million. TastyCakes (talk) 06:08, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
There was a British man some decades ago who did pioneer work on the mathematics of war, which included the number of people killed for various sizes of war over history. You could take his data and rearrange it according to date and compare that with population. I've been reading the Alexiad, written around 1148, and although you may imagine they were more religious then, the emperor seemed to be constantly fighting almost non-stop in various wars and battles. Update: it was Statistics Of Deadly Quarrels by Lewis Fry Richardson. (talk) 12:12, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Sorry for being a latecomer, and hopefully not repetitious, but did everyone see this? - Selected Death Tolls for Wars, Massacres and Atrocities Before the 20th Century-- (talk) 18:41, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
People were very religious in the Crusades, yet they had lots of fighting and killing. Perhaps the more religious people are, the more they fight, not the other way around. (talk) 00:34, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
The homicide statistics will vary enormously depending on your (non)religious views on abortion. Peter jackson (talk) 10:49, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Or vegetarianism. (talk) 15:35, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
"Homicide" is from Latin "homo", meaning "man", including human beings generally, not animals. However, you could certainly evaluate different cultures according to whatever criteria you wished. Peter jackson (talk) 17:56, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

religion questions[edit]

hello this is hursday. I have some religious questions or more specifically questions about non religion and the history of it should I put these questions on micelanious desk or humanities desk? or could we not set up a help desk for religion and sprituality i think the subjects are big enough to have own desk (Dr hursday (talk) 00:50, 10 February 2010 (UTC))

According to this new page, a Religion desk has been proposed and rejected four times. Here on the Humanities desk we do indeed take questions about religion (or the lack of it) and spirituality. As you can see from the above, this desk is not exactly drowning in religious questions that would require another desk. Comet Tuttle (talk) 00:57, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
That's why it is "not exactly drowning in religious questions" — because it is a Humanities desk. Bus stop (talk) 21:34, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
On the main reference desk page, it lists religion under humanities, similar to many academic institutions. —Akrabbimtalk 02:05, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

pacific island cult[edit]

Hello this is hursday. I watched documetnary on Aubrey degray and in it they talk about cult in pacific island where they built airports out of trees with towers and stuff in hopes that the gods would send plains from the sky with supplies. is this true? why did they do these things? (Dr hursday (talk) 01:14, 10 February 2010 (UTC))

Yes, it is true. See Cargo cult. BrainyBabe (talk) 01:20, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
I have always wished that some billionaire would hire an old DC-3, fill it with goodies, and fly it to such a cargo cult "airport," just so the long-suffering true believers could say to the doubters: "See! I told you they would come back if only we were faithful." By the way this is not hursday, this is uesday. Edison (talk) 01:43, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
If it's uesday, this must be Elgium.  :) -- (talk) 02:40, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Oh no! That means we have to eat russels sprouts, and Russell won't like us taking his food! --Anonymous, 05:02 UTC, 2010-02-10.

Forgotten weapons of the Cold War[edit]

Hello, I've attempted researching these weapons on the web and using an older Jane's book but have not been having much luck. Does anyone know more about -- 1) the Heller antitank rocket launcher, reportedly used by Canadian forces in the 1950s and 1960s, 3.2" projectile, one web source says it was never fielded but in another web source a Canadian veteran recalls firing it while serving in Germany; 2) A 73-mm antitank rocket launcher used by the French in the 1950s, might have been called the "Strim" like the 89mm model which came later; 3) An 80-mm recoilless rifle called the APX-80 that was developed by France in the 1960s, not sure if it was fielded or not. Thanks for any comments. Cheers, W. B. Wilson (talk) 05:07, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Don't think this really a Humanities desk question, maybe RD/Miscellanous?
Anyway I found a mention of APX-80 on Wikipedia, but it was an American IFF reading device from Vietnam in this article/section. Mention of Heller Here, but appears no references. We have an article on the Strim, but it is called the LRAC F1 "sometime called STRIM ('Societe Techique de Recherches Industrielles et Mechanique) -- (talk) 17:08, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
The only thing I found was a 73mm ati-tank rifle grenade; "Grenade à fusil antichar de 73 mm modèle 1950"[1]. You can buy one from a French auction site apparently[2]. Alansplodge (talk) 17:54, 12 February 2010 (UTC)


Suilliac Beach (?) appears in several late 1942 archival photos of a seashore locale in Mauritius. I'm trying to confirm this name with its correct spelling. Also of interest: its location in relation to Rose Hill/Beau Bassin and Port Louis. -- Deborahjay (talk) 11:18, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

There's a town called Souillac - is that the one? See also Google maps AndrewWTaylor (talk) 12:10, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Excellent - yes, that must be it! And the shoreline in the lower photo image looks very much like the photos we hold. Thank you! -- Deborahjay (talk) 12:24, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Selling owned office building and leasing it back[edit]

I was told that a company would sometimes sell an office building it owns and uses, and then lease it back from the new owner. Supposedly an arrangement like that improves the financial performance of the company. I can think of two ways that kind of arrangement may help:

  • the financial metrics by which the company is judged count an office building on its books as capital used in its ongoing operations, but don't count cash in the bank the same way
  • the rents paid to the new owner are deductible expenses while the money that company would have saved by owning the building is not

My questions: 1. Is it indeed true that selling your office building and leasing it back somehow can improve your financial performance? 2. If so, are the reasons as I stated? -- (talk) 13:28, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

The way assets (particularly real assets, which unlike most assets often appreciate) are valued for accounting purposes can be very complex (and will vary both by jurisdiction and circumstance). If the the market value of such an asset exceeds its nominal book value, then the sell-and-leaseback arrangement would allow the company to realise that, otherwise theoretical, gain, and that certainly would make the accounts look rosier. Whether the company had taken on debt to finance the building is another factor (and again debt's role in accounts is complex). Another factor is liquidity - many otherwise viable companies fail due to lack of liquidity, and the sell-and-leaseback arrangement could allow a company's cash reserves to increase, something that makes both their bank and often their owners (particularly for a publicly-held company) more comfortable. Whether the deductability of rent is a factor depends on the business, and again the tax jurisdiction. Some large companies have a real-estate holding company that then leases premises to other companies in the group, in an attempt to minimise the local tax liability and offshore the profit. -- Finlay McWalterTalk 13:49, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
On the qualitative level, it also gives a company flexibility. The company I work for used to own most of its buildings. Now it leases most of them. That allows them to simply walk away once the lease is up and/or if they have a change in strategic direction. In another example, the Chicago White Sox, who had built and owned Comiskey Park for generations, sold it in the early 80s and leased it back. That gave them leverage when they wanted a new stadium. And it worked. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 14:49, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
The university that I work for leases some buildings. It does so because the owner is responsible for repairs and upkeep. That removes the liability from the university. So, I can see it very reasonable that a company with an old building (which will need more repairs than a new one) will sell the building to someone else and lease it back. If the monthly lease is less than the cost of repairs and upkeep, the company profits. Of course, the company that now owns the building gets a raw deal unless they can do repairs and upkeep cheaper - which is usually the case. They are in the business of leasing buildings, so they have a crew that specifically goes around taking care of the property. -- kainaw 15:16, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
But a large organization like a university that doesn't lease all of its buildings will have to have its own crew that specifically goes around taking care of the property so it is hard to see any savings coming from renting only some of them. If you only had one or a few buildings in a particular city, I can see that working. (talk) 16:22, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Ha! We have an article on this! Leaseback! Another reason some companies sell their property and lease it back is simply that this gives them a wad of cash they didn't formerly possess, and most companies believe they know how to get a good return on cash by expanding their current operations. If they forecast that the sale-and-leaseback will improve their return on assets in the short / medium / long term (whatever is important to the current management), then they'll usually do it. I would be remiss if I did not refer the original poster to this important reference, from 3:00 to 3:19. Comet Tuttle (talk) 18:20, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Wikipedia really lives up to its reputation! -- (talk) 21:14, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Arab World university history[edit]

does anybody know about any universities in the Arab World that teaches History? like riyadh, doha, abu dhabi, kuwait, beirut and etc? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:46, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

The King Saud University in Riyadh has a History Department ( within the College of Arts. The Department offers BA's, MA's, and PhD's in History. This is just an example. I would think that most "general-scope" universities in the Arab World offer History programs and degrees. Rimush (talk) 16:04, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
The American University of Beirut and the American University of Dubai do. Adam Bishop (talk) 21:22, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Ludwig Freiherr von und zu der Tann-Rathsamhausen[edit]

How would Ludwig Freiherr von und zu der Tann-Rathsamhausen have signed his name on a letter addressed to someone not too familiar (so "Ludwig" wouldn't have been enough), but also not to someone in whose case a formal letter would have been required? Rimush (talk) 15:56, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Initials? (talk) 16:08, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Freiherr is a title and can be dropped pretty readily. The German Wikipedia has his title entry as "Ludwig von der Tann-Rathsamhausen" which is something of a contraction that maintains a modicum of formality (the "von der") but eliminates a lot of the just flowery stuff. If he were a guy on the street, he'd maybe just be Ludwig Tann-Rathsamhausen, but that would be too informal for a Bavarian baron-general. --Mr.98 (talk) 16:14, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Well, a ship named after him was called "Van der Tann" but why do we suppose that there was any level of formality such as this, requiring a different form of signature. Perhaps he always signed fully? (talk) 16:19, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
In the UK aristocracy, the Duke of Norfolk signs himself simply "Norfolk" for instance. Perhaps old Ludwig would just write "Tann"? Alansplodge (talk) 17:10, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

Worst electoral result for a sitting President[edit]

Sitting President Viktor Yushchenko was defeated in the Ukrainian presidential election, 2010, taking 5.45% of the votes. His article states "This score became the new world anti-record of an incumbent president's support, ahead of that of the Slovak presidential election, 2004." Is this really the worst electoral result ever for a sitting President? If so, what was the previous record - I can't believe it was the Slovak example given. Warofdreams talk 16:55, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Can't answer the question but "world anti-record" is just horrible English. --Dweller (talk) 16:59, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Yes, absolutely - that's the first thing which attracted my eye to this passage. Warofdreams talk 17:08, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
The worst US results I saw was the 1912 election where sitting president William H Taft got a mere 23% of the vote, and only 8 electoral votes. Googlemeister (talk) 17:24, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Also, "ahead of that of the Slovak presidential election, 2004" would to me mean 'before the Slovak presidential election, 2004' which wrong, because the Ukrainian presidential election was in 2010, six years later, as stated. I know what it's trying to say, but it's not saying that. --KageTora - (影虎) (A word...?) 17:37, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
That's a perfectly reasonable usage. Random House gives "be ahead" to mean "to be winning" and offers "superior to" as a meaning of "ahead".[3] Ahead does not always refer to relationships in time but also to positions in contests. --Normansmithy (talk) 12:35, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Hello Warofdreams. If any head of state will do, not necessarily one called President, List of landslide victories may be a great place to start. Once you find the biggest landslide, look up who the loser was. In that list, btw, there is more than one example of an outgoing leader winning zero seats, starting with the 1935 election in Prince Edward Island, Canada, in which premier William J. P. MacMillan won no seats at all - every one was taken by his opponent Walter Lea. Best, WikiJedits (talk) 19:05, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for the link to the list of landslide victories, which I've not seen, although I was aware of most of the examples, also including the Alberta general election, 1935, where the governing party also lost all their seats, but took only 11% of the vote, and the Premier came third in his own seat. Warofdreams talk 09:22, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Rather, MacMillan's party won no seats. But that's clearly a different thing from winning 0% of the votes. In fact, according to the Wikipedia article, the party actually won 42% of the votes! But proportional representation was not in use and, to produce this result, the ratio of votes between the two parties must have been almost the same in all 30 seats. I think it is better to consider the original question was being limited to directly elected leaders. --Anonymous, 19:35 UTC, 2010-02-10.
The 1993 Canadian federal election was pretty bad for the Progressive Conservatives. They started out with 169 seats in Parliament and ended up with 2, an almost 99% drop. The actual popular vote only changed by about 27% but regional parties like the Reform and the Bloc Quebecois had sprung up in the meantime. The Prime Minister, Kim Campbell, did not even win her own seat back (although that's not as bad as it sounds, since she only won it by 200 votes in 1988 and only lost by 4000 in 1993). This actually pretty much killed the PC party entirely (now after various mergers and name changes it is just the Conservative Party). Adam Bishop (talk) 21:21, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
@KageTora - I don't agree. In the context of records, I certainly understand "ahead of" to mean "exceeding" rather than "preceding". Not that I'd write that myself ... --ColinFine (talk) 23:00, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
These are all good examples of very poor results for parties and, in some case, Prime Ministers, but I am particularly interested in results for President (or similar individually elected officials). Googlemeister's mention of William H Taft's poor result is useful - was that really the worst result for a sitting president anywhere until the Slovak election of 2004? Warofdreams talk 09:22, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Everything I can find about Taft's "record" doesn't specify if they are talking about American presidents or any president in any country. However, the google result description for this academic article (behind a paywall) says Jacques Chirac of France's first-round result of 19% in 2002 was the worst ever for an incumbent. However, Chirac went on to win in the final round by a landslide, so I don't know if you'd count it.
I'm moving on after googling these interesting facts that are still not your answer. Will you let us know if you find it?
I read in an old edition of the Guinness Book of Records that in the Liberian presidential election of 1928 the winning candidate's majority over the runner-up was about 40 times the number of people on the electoral register. (At the other extreme there was the election for the Southern Irish Parliament in 1921, in which not a single vote was cast, everyone being elected unopposed.) Peter jackson (talk) 18:03, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Need help finding a couple pieces of provincial legislature from the Ontario archives / e-laws[edit]

The pieces I'm interested in are from 1951-52 and 1964-65. The first is the legislature passed to renumber the Toronto Bypass and similar highways as Highway 401, and the second is to additionally name it the Macdonald-Cartier Freeway. Not sure who did the first, but the second was called for by William Rowe and passed by premier Robarts. The archives website is here.[4] - ʄɭoʏɗiaɲ τ ¢ 21:34, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

You're looking for legislation, not a legislature. Are you looking for the text of the statutes as passed by the provincial parliament? If they were statutes, that is, laws passed by the parliament, you should be able to find them with little difficulty at any large library in the province. (I don't think they're online.) If, on the other hand, the freeways were named through regulation or administrative action, you may need to get in touch with the archives to find what you're looking for. So the first thing you need to do is find out whether the highways were actually named by parliament itself or by the Ministry of Transportation. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 00:13, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Betting on the underdog ... always[edit]

I'm interested in any analysis that anyone can point to of the betting strategy of betting on the underdog in every single game across an entire season in any organized sport in which bookmakers use a point spread. My half-ass speculation is that the mechanism of the moving spread (whose purpose is to equalize betting on both sides, not to produce a 50% likely outcome on both sides) is insufficient to dampen human enthusiasm for betting on the favorite. Does anyone know of a site that does analysis like this? Comet Tuttle (talk) 23:54, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Actually, the opposite tends to be true: people bet more than they should on the longshots. See the short Favorite-longshot bias article. Searching Google with that phrase pulls up a ton of sites that you might be interested in. A better strategy is to always bet on the favorite. Addendum: that term is usually applied to horse races, where it's the payout odds that are varied, not the point spread. This article (which requires a subscription) suggests that there is relatively little favorite-longshot bias in Australian Football, though there's a significant home team bias in certain areas, and that algorithms to take advantage of these biases yield modest profits. A better strategy than to bet on the underdog or the favorite is to bet against the home team, it seems. Buddy431 (talk) 00:18, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
I agree about the Favourite-longshot bias. This has been shown to apply even more later in the day, or on the last race, as the punters take a long shot in the hope of getting back their losses. In the stock market, on the other hand, annually buying the shares of last year's worst performing companies in the FT30 or whatever has been often put forward as an investment strategy, but due to the efficient markets hypothesis I'm doubtful it would work. Regression to the mean however may occur in sports and the stock market. (talk) 00:43, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Good Lord, we don't have an article on infracaninomania! I'm shocked! :) -- (talk) 02:38, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
There was a website in the UK a while ago, perhaps it still exists, which found opportunities where by combining bets from different bookmakers (since they would offer different odds), you could win whatever the outcome of the event. (talk) 15:52, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
This last strategy is called arbitrage and also works for the stock market. It only consist in buying in one market and selling in other. You wouldn't be actually betting actually. ProteanEd (talk) 16:04, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for the references. This is great; I had not heard of any of this before. The largest study linked to in Favourite-longshot bias says that, at least in horse racing, although the bias is definitely present, it doesn't present a profit potential. It's too bad for all of us, really; I was going to make a killing in Las Vegas and donate the proceeds to the Reference Desk. Comet Tuttle (talk) 17:54, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
See also Arbitrage betting, Dutch book, and Advantage gambling. (talk) 18:26, 11 February 2010 (UTC)