Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2010 February 19

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February 19[edit]

Indifferent to and ignorant of topics like taxes, insurance, social security, political activities, economics, etc.[edit]

I'm 21 and I'm indifferent to and ignorant of these topics but people of my age seem to be interested in those issues. Am I unusual and should I be ashamed? What would be the cause of this? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:58, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

I doubt that you are really uninterested in economics unless, maybe, you have inherited wealth. Aren't you concerned about how you will come up with money for housing or to do the things you want to do? Those are economic questions, after all. As for taxes, insurance, and social security, the first two are only an issue once you have some money, which you may not yet at your age, and the last (assuming you mean U.S. Social Security) is only a concern when you get much older. So I would be surprised if a person your age were interested in those three things. As for politics, some are interested in politics outside their immediate surroundings, and others aren't. Still, once again, I'm willing to bet that you do care how decisions are made and who has the power to make them at school, at work, or even at home. Those are political questions. But there is no reason to be ashamed if you aren't interested in what goes on on Wall Street or in Washington (or in the City of London or in Whitehall if you are British). Marco polo (talk) 02:23, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
Well, we all have opinions about whether it matters if one is politically aware or not, and whether being young and political is good/bad/whatever. I personally find political apathy a little pathetic. But I will observe that once you start paying full taxes on your own income, you will probably find yourself taking a keener interest in them. I never really understood what that was about until I started getting asked by the IRS to pay thousands of dollars to support a lot of stuff (war, subsidies, thousands of random political programs) that I don't support. --Mr.98 (talk) 02:26, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
I doubt whether you were asked to pay, so much as being told to pay. That is a critical difference - decisions which affect every person, their wealth, happiness, chances of survival and so forth are being taken every day by people - politicians, bankers and so on - who have power in the society in which each person lives. Mature people are interested in those decisions, and try to involve themselves to some extent. Certainly, people are more likely to do so when they have other people, such as children, for whom they are individually responsible. Ghmyrtle (talk) 10:04, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
I'm 19 and have had a full-time job, taxes and all, and I'm as apathetic as I was when I was ten. That said, I'm not really normal. I don't partake in the traditional British pastime of moaning. Anyways, I just spent ten minutes unleashing my best Google-fu, but couldn't come up with any statistics as to how many young people care. Which is odd...I'd imagine this is the kind of thing a newspaper would poll, decrying the depravity of the youth of today. Vimescarrot (talk) 09:45, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
"What's the difference between ignorance and indifference?"
"I don't know, and I don't care." Rhinoracer (talk) 13:04, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
Fittingly, in this diff Vimescarrot asks himself when his desire to have a brain is going to kick in: [1]Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 15:32, 21 February 2010 (UTC)
@Vimescarrot: I don't think such apathy or indifference is particularly unusual amongst the young in the UK. Maybe it has something to do with our taxation system where you only submit a tax return if your pay brings you into the higher tax brackets and you have something unusual in your source of income (like property you rent out, foreign earnings, huge investment income, etc.) Most income tax is collected at source through PAYE, your social security payment (national insurance) is compulsory and deducted automatically from your pay, and there is not the system of allowances for all kinds of things which I believe exists in the USA (so no need to go through your cheque book every year looking for things you can get tax allowances on). In other words, you don't have to be knowledgable about tax and social security to get on with your life. Astronaut (talk) 04:21, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
I also think that because most working young people in the UK fall into the same tax bracket and are therefore subject to the same level of taxation, there is less of an interest in doing something about changing your economic situation through political means. I don't know if taxation is seen as unair, but I think most young people believe there is little they can do about changing it. Astronaut (talk) 03:28, 21 February 2010 (UTC)
I wonder how many individuals (as distinct from companies) still use cheque books. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 11:28, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
I do! Not very often, though. (talk) 16:48, 24 February 2010 (UTC)
I write checks for power & water and very little else, but I still use the same ledger to record e-payments. —Tamfang (talk) 21:56, 25 February 2010 (UTC)
I believe it was Thomas Carlysle who coined the phrase The Dismal Science in reference to economics. Vranak (talk) 01:25, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Yes, in an essay berating economists and other ivory-tower meddlers for failing to recognize the intangible spiritual benefits of a time-honored and humane institution. —Tamfang (talk) 21:58, 25 February 2010 (UTC)


1)What is the role of the endocrine system in your body ? name two hormones and explain the importance of these hormones in your body ? A: name another body system that is related to or controlled by the endocrine system .how does the endocrine system regulate to relate to this other body system ?

2) Given the following pieces of information ,form an argument either for or against the usage of this new brand of birth control ,respirdra .your target audience is a group of young women (age 21to 23) who are all sexually active .based on the facts ,you must decide whether you support or oppose the usage of this birth control by these young women .be sure to have a strong topic sentence that states your position on the issue ,at least 3 additional statements that support your position and a strong concluding sentence

Respirdra is a new birth control pill that has recently appeared on the market . it can be prescribed by a women’s doctor . The drug claims that is has a 99.9% prevention rate against pregnancy ,it also claims that is prevents against 45% of sexually transmitted diseases ( this is more than any other birth control available ) Unlike traditional birth control ,respirdra comes in a pill form and only needs to be taken a week ( instead of every day ) Respirdra is developed and manufactured by Roche ,a pharmaceutical company established in 1973.Roche is a well known and well respected pharmaceutical company .

In a recent laboratory test with 100 women 67 women experienced severe headaches after I week of taking respirdra .88women suffered from mild anxiety or depression after 1 month of usage .42 women experienced severe abdominal and chest pain . 3women who were taking the birth control passed away from heart failure .it is still unknow whether these women already had heart problems or whether their heart failure is linked to respirdra . —Preceding unsigned comment added by Sammyhuang (talkcontribs) 05:03, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

It appears that you have copied homework questions from your textbook and expect us to do your homework for you. We will not do that. If you need help with answering the questions, please explain what you have tried to do and what you don't understand. We will help you understand the material so you can answer your homework questions yourself. -- kainaw 05:14, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

Automatic writing[edit]

The other day in philosophy class, I heard about Automatic writing and became very interested. The professor even made the claim that a person was able to write a different story with both hands at the same time. Ever since, I've been trying to train myself to write with my left hand so that I can attempt to write two different stories at the same time (not necessarily unconsciously, but it'd still be cool). My questions are: will I be able to train my left hand to write as well as my right or am I too old (college student)? And how does one automatically write? I know most dont even believe in it, but how would someone write something without thinking about it?  ?EVAUNIT神になった人間 05:53, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

I do not know about you. An average person is able to do anything with his or her left arm that the person can do with his or her right arm. It just takes practice. -- kainaw 06:05, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
Writing different things with both hands at one time would be much harder than just writing with the left hand, though. The bottleneck is the brain's ability to control two streams of language at once. Try reciting a quotation that you know well, while typing something completely different. Or try reading while listening to someone talk. I won't say it's impossible, but at best it's very hard to do it at all well. --Anonymous, 07:01 UTC, February 19, 2010.
I believe that many people think it is hard to do, but it is common. I am not special in any way, but I can write and talk rather easily. Because I teach, I am often writing on the board or typing a program into the computer while I am talking about something other than what I'm writing or typing. It does take practice - as does any skill, but I picked it up rather quickly. Similarly, I often have conversations with people while I'm typing - as I'm doing now. I am discussing my schedule for tomorrow while writing this post. It does make for excessive Freudian slips, but for the purpose of automatic writing, slips of consciousness are a necessity. Now that I think about it, a similar skill would be writing or studying while singing along to music. It isn't exactly the same, but the brain is performing two streams of language at the same time (assuming you want to count lyrics as "language"). -- kainaw 07:11, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
I suspect you're taking your experience and generalising it, Kainaw. People can be trained to do certain things that, prior to then, they could not do; we've all done that. But most people have very strong resistance to writing with their non-dominant hand. It's only when they have no choice, e.g. they've lost the use of their dominant hand, or lost the hand entirely, that they switch to the other. Even then, it's a frustrating, uncomfortable, counter-intuitive, joyless and unsatisfactory experience for most people. (A bit like a person with no aptitude for language, who's displaced and finds themselves in a hostile linguistic environment. They use the new language, but not happily, and not very well.) I'd say you're one of the few people who have some natural facility for writing one thing and speaking another. The fact that you can do it says nothing about what most people can do. My only other comment is a question: what proportion of the population are "average", and what do you mean by that term? -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 08:12, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
We all have various degrees of multitasking ability... but I don't really know WHY you'd want to write different things with both hands. Multitasking in general is usually results in a loss of quality to BOTH activities (and quite a number of studies have shown), and I find quality AND time goes up when I focus on one thing at a time. I guess it's a trick, but as tricks go... --Mr.98 (talk) 13:54, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
It's a good trick for professors. Especially math professors. The classic version of the trick is to write the two sides of an equation with different hands and meet at the equals sign.
I've never met a professor who can do this, but I've often heard rumors about them, so it obviously leaves an impression. APL (talk) 16:31, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
One famous person capable of multitasking like this was James A. Garfield, who was able to write simultaneously in Greek and Latin; but nobody alleged that his was a case of automatic writing. Nyttend (talk) 00:50, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Automatic writing has nothing to do with being able to write different things simultaneously with both hands. In the latter, you are consciously controlling what is written, even if it is with both hands: the former refers to the ability to "channel" information from supernatural sources, bypassing the conscious mind. --TammyMoet (talk) 08:36, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
Related ref-desk thread from last October, which includes a mention of automatic writing. Deor (talk) 14:17, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
A "split brain" patient whose corpus callosum has been severed (as perhaps a means to control severe epilepsy) has two independently functioning centers of consciousness, and each brain half would be able to control the opposite hand. One half might have far superior language skills, and the other might have to do a lot of learning to develop the ability to write or type. Only one hemisphere would control speech. If one of those split brain patients wrote a message with his left hand (assuming right handed pre-op) then it would indeed be "automatic" in terms of the awareness in the dominant(speech-controlling) hemisphere. In the normal person, the activities of the brain hemispheres are coordinated. The limitation of ability to write different messages with both hands is one of short term memory and attention, in being able to follow two separate streams of thought simultaneously. Daniel Kahneman's 1973 book "Attention and Effort" included some examples of the limits on focal consciousness to do divided tasks. There may be simultaneous activities which can be done pretty well at the same time if they use different parts of the cognitive apparatus, or if one of them is so well learned it is automatic. If the tasks use the same mechanisms, there will be more interference. If a cashier gets into an intense and interesting conversation with a customer, she may continue to process the transaction fairly automatically, but forget to give the customer change, or to return the credit card, or some other detail. An automobile driver can have a conversation and drive at the same time (a verbal skill not interfering that much with a spatial-motor skill), but if the driving suddenly involves steering out of a skid, or high speed pursuit, it may be necessary to end the conversation and devote full attention to the usually automatized driving task. Similarly, giving detailed instructions for defusing a bomb might require stopping the car to devote full attention to the verbal task. Trying to write or type with both hands at the same time is a very severe task in that the nonpreferred hand lacks the motor learning to write well (except in those who have practiced it or those more ambidextrous), and in addition the same cognitive mechanisms are being used, as well as the same short term memory and focus of attention. Some sort of alternating/time sharing method is likely to be used, with words alternately assigned to the two hands, something like touch-typing with both hands. It sounds a bit harder than using both hands to play piano music which is being sight-read. Edison (talk) 15:40, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

Tribe in Northern India[edit]

What is the name of the tribe(?), I think, in northern India where there is a high incidence of blue or green eyes in the population? --Reticuli88 (talk) 15:14, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

The Nuristani people spring immediately to mind - borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan. DuncanHill (talk) 15:19, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
See also this unforgettable image. --NorwegianBlue talk 19:21, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
There are also the Kalash. Marco polo (talk) 02:52, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
It was startling to see, once, a grocery checkout girl who appeared to be Indian from clothing and skin tone, but who had brilliant green eyes. Edison (talk) 03:37, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

Diptych of novels?[edit]

Our article on diptych states that the word "is also used figuratively for a thematically-linked sequence of two books." Margaret Atwood's two latest novels, Oryx and Crake (on which we have a good article, if not a Good Article) and The Year of the Flood (stub), appear to qualify. I'm not talking of a sequel or prequel, but two separate literary works, each moving through a similar space and time with overlapping characters. An example in drama would be House & Garden (plays) by Alan Ayckbourn. What other examples are there, especially of modern books? BrainyBabe (talk) 16:27, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead could be another example in drama. (talk) 16:43, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
See also Side story and Parallel story?--Shantavira|feed me 17:04, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
Terence Rattigan's Separate Tables was originally a double bill; the setting and the minor characters are common to both plays, but the major protagonists differ. The 1958 film version (one of my 2 all-time favourite films) merged the plays into a single screenplay. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 18:23, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
There's also The Norman Conquests, also written by Ayckbourn, but it's a trilogy, not a diptych. Woogee (talk) 22:25, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

Washington, D.C. and The Golden Age by Gore Vidal -- written more than 30 years apart. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:40, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

Stephen King's Desperation and The Regulators would seem to fit nicely. They are set in different cities, but use the same set of characters (slightly different in roles, most notably with a family of four where the kids in one book are the parents in the other and vice versa) and the same supernatural bad guy. Other than that, many genre writers set up their universe and then plot novels in it, so you could say it's not uncommon to have books that are separate but working in the same space and are not sequels. TomorrowTime (talk) 11:19, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
John Scalzi's two novels The Last Colony and Zoe's Tale overlap considerably, with the latter telling the story from POV of a teenage girl, while the former (which I've not yet read) is I believe largely seen from that of her parents. (talk) 16:18, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
For what it is worth, I have fact-tagged the claim in the Diptych article that this is a term used for a book and its sequel. Sounds to me like a lame neologism that some author thought would be cute and/or full of gravitas. Comet Tuttle (talk) 19:54, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for all your responses. I wasn't familiar with the extension of the term from painting (etc.) to literature, and the Oxford English Dictionary does not list any example of the word used in a literary sense, but Wiktionary does. I'll copy the final definitions here, with two citations:

a. a literary work consisting of two contrasting parts (as a narrative telling the same story from two opposing points of view) "a diptych, a pastoral in which the author narrates the birth of Christ ... first as it has impressed the rich countryman Asveer, then as it has been seen by the skeptic Nicodemus" -- François Closset
b. any work made up of two matching parts treating complementary or contrasting pictorial phases of one general topic "the first volume of a diptych Vegetation and Flora of the Sonoran Desert" -- F.E. Egler

Stephen King's pair sound like a sequel, if a generation has passed; am I wrong? The Norman Conquests sound fascinating -- perhaps they are a triptych? Interesting comment from TomorrowTime about genre writers setting up their own universe; Atwood's latest two novels are clearly science fiction, although she used to resist the term. Any more examples? BrainyBabe (talk) 16:01, 21 February 2010 (UTC)


In Asterix and Caesar's Gift, a veteran asks a young soldier how long he has been enlisted.

  • "Two years."
  • "Only eighteen years to go, then."
  • "Yes, my buddies and I have already celebrated our MMMMMMD."

A footnote explains that this means 6500 days to freedom. (Liberally translated from an old memory.)

What French custom does this parody? —Tamfang (talk) 16:50, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

The French foreign legion where service was traditionally for twenty years. That is not the case now - modern legionnieres sign on for 5 years. Astronaut (talk) 17:45, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
And did French Foreign Legionnaires celebrate when they had 6500 days to go? I assumed that the panel alluded to some customary celebration with a much smaller number. —Tamfang (talk) 20:28, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

In Vietnam,the draftee soldiers made a big deal about their DEROS date,having a countdown written on helmet covers and on pin ups on their lockers.E.G."365 days and a wake up". 23:06, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

And did they customarily celebrate a specific number of days? (Perhaps there weren't enough in any one place who shared the same date to have a party.) —Tamfang (talk) 18:35, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

In France, when the military service was compulsory, the soldiers used to celebrate the Père cent [hundred Father] or percent. It takes place one hundred days before the end of the service.— AldoSyrt (talk) 11:01, 24 February 2010 (UTC)

Thank you, that's the kind of answer I was looking for! —Tamfang (talk) 21:54, 25 February 2010 (UTC)

Source/authenticity of MKULTRA photo?[edit]

I am trying to determine the author/source and authenticity of a photograph that I have seen of a child that was supposedly a subject in the MKULTRA research studies.

Here is a very low-quality (partial??) version of the original: [2]

Here are a few links to an adulterated, low-quality version of the photograph (I have not been able to find a full-quality version of the original):[3][4]

Basically, I am looking for:

  1. A full quality version of the original image.
  2. A determination of the authenticity of the image (is this tin-foil hat crap, or is this a real photograph? -- and was it a photograph of an MKULTRA subject?)
  3. The author and source of the image
  4. Background information on the subject of the photograph.

Thanks to you all, in advance.

--Jrtayloriv (talk) 20:07, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

If it were me and I really wanted to know for sure, I would try to just send a FOIA request to the CIA about it. The fact that there is a declassification reference number on the photo should, in an ideal world, make it easy for them to track down exactly what it is, if it is something that originated with them, and the fact that it has already been declassified means that it should only take them a few months to get back to you about it with a better copy. --Mr.98 (talk) 00:37, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Nothing in the photo specifically suggests that it shows more than an old photo some kid in some sort of orthopedic harness. Edison (talk) 03:33, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Which doesn't really prove anything either way... again, the only way to really authenticate it would be to just request it again from the CIA. --Mr.98 (talk) 04:07, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Edison -- that's why I wanted to verify it. It would be nice to include some photos from some of the CIA's old experiments, if any exist (doubtful). It seems that a bunch of "UFO/Reptilian awareness" type sites have included this photo, claiming that it is from an "MKULTRA experiment", but I'd think if that was the case, then I'd probably find it on a notable website (like the National Security Archives, etc). I'm going to email them, and some other groups, and then officially give up. Thanks again to both of you for your answers. Jrtayloriv (talk) 04:20, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
My guess is this was done as sort of an art project from found photographs, for a CD cover or concert poster or whatever. It seems that the maxim "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" applies here. Some questions: Why would the CIA declassify this photo, and wouldn't some news organization or amateur detective try to identify the girl and locate her family? Wouldn't photographic evidence of a child MKULTRA subject lead to it becoming a standard part of any discussion of the subject?--Cam (talk) 16:45, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

Why do Bermuda and Greenland have the same net worth?[edit]

According to this United Nations University list, these two share the same per capita net worth of $138,417 (which is also shared by Saint Pierre and Miquelon). That's strange, given that the density of that distribution is only 18 per $100,000. There are many more such coincidences in that table. Many of those are neighboring or related countries/locations, so that a possible explanation might be that these values were not computed per country/location, but per some common criterion. However, I don't see such a common criterion between Bermuda and Greenland, other than that they're islands. Moreover, there are more such pairings that aren't apparently connected:

  • Iraq - Maldives
  • Libya - Réunion

Is there an error in that table, or am I overlooking something? I asked a similar question a few days ago at Talk:World_distribution_of_wealth#Why are there so many repeated values?, but have not received an answer there.Sebastian 20:19, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

Is $138,417 a round number in Euros? —Tamfang (talk) 20:35, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
It's €102,000-ish now, but it could have been €100,000 when it was written. --Tango (talk) 20:37, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
What a great idea! Unfortunately, with the conversion of $138,417 → €100,000, no other value but that of the Bermuda-Greenland connection becomes a round number, or something that looks like a nice fraction of one. I get the following list for the group values: €2,526.79, €34,366.37, €55,169.45, €61,447.73, €71,903.09, €76,065.22. It doesn't look better when I look at solitary values, either. — Sebastian 21:09, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

The source provided is a copy of something called wider-wdhw-tables-2006[1].xls, which comes from an undefined source and uses undefined formulae to divide the world’s (undefined) wealth among the nations and territories based on data from a decade ago (as best I can gather). What makes you think the data are either accurate or unbiased? DOR (HK) (talk) 02:29, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

It's not just some "undefined source"; the source is the United Nations University; they gotta be more reliable than your average web page! But you're right, it's not good scientific practice to just put these values there without any derivation. Do you have a reason to assume that they are inaccurate or biased? If so, then we shouldn't just replicate them unquestioningly in our article. — Sebastian 07:56, 21 February 2010 (UTC)