Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2010 January 21

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January 21[edit]

Classics[edit]

Are works of Literature quantifiably better than regular written works? In other words, is it possible to measure the quality of Homer, Shakespeare, etc. and prove that it is better than Stephen King and Danielle Steele?

It obviously feels that it is better, but that feels an awful lot like opinion rather than fact, but is it actually measurably better?72.2.54.36 (talk) 00:00, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

If you compare works from old literature with the best and most famous from today, it can be mostly a matter of opinion. However, comparing average or randomly selected works from the two eras, the ancients tend to be better, maybe because mostly the best survived (the rest being mainly forgotten), while we can have access to nearly any contemporary work, regardless of quality. Some of the most famous ancient works having a great influence on the culture of many generations can contribute to this effect as well. --131.188.3.20 (talk) 00:11, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
I suppose you could construct some sort of of metric that adjudicates how sensible and beneficient each author's ideology is. Ultimately it will come down to value judgements though, so the project would be inherently vulnerable to scorn and ridicule. At least compared to scientific enterprise. Much of Nietzsche's writings were focused on this sort of thing, back in late 1800s. Although he dealt mainly with other philosophers. Vranak (talk) 00:32, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
Not quantifiably better, because that's not an applicable criterion. How would you tell someone deaf from birth that the first movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata is "better" than "Kitten on the Keys"? It certainly looks more complicated, if you're comparing scores but can't hear it. "Good" is a value judgment: much fruitful modern thinking about human works looks at how they work in the context of their own time, how they employ sources, how their internal structure affects their meaning, etc etc. The idea that separates "works of Literature" from "regular" written works might be analyzed itself. --Wetman (talk) 12:34, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
I think the usual attempt to quantify something like this that is inherently subjective is to conduct a poll of "experts" or of the public at large, and then you can say "4 out of 5 people say William Shakesman is better than Danielle Steel." This doesn't demonstrate any truth, but it feels more solid because there are numbers. Comet Tuttle (talk) 18:54, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

The most we can say is that the Classics have stood the test of time. DOR (HK) (talk) 07:12, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

The Operation, Art, Painting[edit]

The Operation, Art, A Painting;

While I was growing up, in my Doctors office was a painting of a patent undergoing exploratory surgery and/or being operated on? In this depiction, the patient (a bearded male) was tied to a table laid open. Having his skin hooked and attached to various positions in order to gain complete access to his chest and abdominal area. The grueling look of anguish covering this mans face epitomizes the lack of any anesthesia being use for this operation. This apparently did not deter the Doctor performing the operation, nor any of its viewers.

The Doctor performing the operation is pointing to or holding an organ (I can’t remember which) in the open chest cavity, while looking up explaining to his colleagues. As they looked on from they’re perched seating area of this small operating theater. The intrigue, of the on looking Doctors or students of medicine, show the quest for knowledge in this piece of art.

It appears to be the late 1880 or they’re about with English yet American flair to it. Like the halls of Oxford or the like. If anyone knows who the artist was, what the painting was called and where I might get a copy, it would be greatly appreciated. This piece of Art haunts me and I would love to give a copy to my daughter who now is a Doctor. I have told her of this painting many times but just can’t find it. Winterocks (talk) 01:18, 21 January 2010 (UTC)Thank you in advance

Sounds like a scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. And probably not a Normal Rockwell work. Have you tried Google, maybe by putting in some key words, and selecting Google Images to see what turns up? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 01:51, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
To eliminate some possibilities, details of your description suggest that it was neither The Agnew Clinic nor one of the several other broadly similar works mentioned within that painting's article (q.v.), which you might however want to check out. 87.81.230.195 (talk) 01:54, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
The most famous are likely Rembrandt’s “Anatomy Lesson of Dr Tulp” and Thomas Eakins’s “Dr Gross’s Clinic.” That’s a corpse in the Rembrandt, however, and there is an anaesthetist pictured in Eakin’s work. (The patient's face is covered in the anaesthetist's cheescloth "mask"). Bielle (talk) 02:16, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
I think it's most likely to be Rembrandt's as well. But if not, how about the Flaying of Sisamnes by Gerard David or one of several works depicting Saint Bartholomew? Astronaut (talk) 08:30, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

The Art of War in The Great Book Burning[edit]

When Qin Shihuangdi ordered the burning of all books except those on medicine, agriculture, and philosophy, did that include military treatises? If so, how did the Art of War survive? 169.231.9.45 (talk) 08:42, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

Sun Zu definitely classified as a philosopher (an influential one, at that), even if his seminal work is a military treatise. That is, putting aside the fact that "philosophy" and "philosopher" are Western concepts that the Chinese didn't use for their wise men and their schools of thought, and never even had a word for until fairly recently. TomorrowTime (talk) 17:01, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
In general, "philosophy," even in the modern West, is a pretty broad category. Historical definitions of it are pretty much fluid (all of science was considered "natural philosophy" through the 18th century). But even without that, looking at the article on the book burning, it appears that a number of the prohibited works survived anyway, so it doesn't sound like it was all that systematic in its implementation. But I don't know anything in particular about the period or the event. --Mr.98 (talk) 15:55, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

Concerning a Previous Question - POW Pay Rates[edit]

A few weeks ago, somebody asked whether POWs in WWII were given back pay, even though they were not fighting. I cannot recall whether the question was answered, but I can give one now. Not one hour ago I telephoned Dad's Army mainstay Clive Dunn in Portugal. He has just turned ninety. I know him through my great uncle William Hughes being a friend of his he marched through Austria with on orders from the Germans as POWs. He informed me that he did receive back pay, but it wasn't that much, even after all those years. His thought was that of all, the New Zealand soldiers were treated best by their government, then the Australians, and the British worst. I told him I had read that returned servicemen in New Zealand were offered farms after the war. He thought that was very generous. So, to whomever asked the question, there is one answer for you. I hope this has been helpful. I apologise for not knowing who asked the original question, but I find it difficult to navigate through the archives. The Russian Christopher Lilly 12:08, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

The original question was at Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2009 December 16#Did British POWs in WW2 still get paid while imprisoned?. Edison (talk) 20:04, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

Shootouts not as often as in the Movies[edit]

In New Zealand the police are not normally armed, but access to firearms if necessary. Therefore shootings by and of the Police are relatively rare. Since records began, there have been about thirty police officers killed in the line of duty, and not many more than thirty people ( only one woman ) shot dead by police. But in countries where the police are normally armed, one would expect this to be more so, per capita wise. In movies and television, for the sake of ratings and making it entertaining, they show the police heroes blowing away someone every other week, but is this really the case, even in the United States ? I have seen documentaries about police, and some there even say they may go their whole career without ever having to shoot anyone, and yet I have also seen films of famous police shootouts - a lot of them. Granted, that is collected from all over that country, involving a fraction of the law enforcement community, and my understanding is that even in the States, this doesn't necessarily happen every day. Although I do understand that about two or three officers across the US are killed in the line of duty each week - especially considering that mad man who killed four of them before Christmas in Washington State. What is the truth ? I could get the idea that certainly not every police officer is ever going to have to kill someone, because that isn't what the job is about. I would hope it is more mundane, rather than like the Wild West. But could it be said that every cop, if they don't ever shoot someone, knows someone who did, and what of police officers that have had to shoot more than once ? I know the movies overdo things, and sometimes I prefer not to see the police have to kill someone, because in the end, that is more like real life. It may only seem like the US is a shooting gallery because it is so huge, and it is not as if having a cop NOT shoot someone is going to make the news. I am not trying to be morbid, rather it interests me to know what things are really like. The Russian Christopher Lilly 12:39, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

The movies definitely exaggerate the amount of gunfire in a typical officer's day, to be sure. If we want to look at fictional accounts, I suspect The Wire is a bit closer to the mark. I think over the course of the whole series, there was maybe one instance of officers coming under direct fire, and that was because those firing on them didn't realize they were officers. I think maybe one officer in the whole series discharged his gun in the line of duty, and that was, in the series, recognized as a huge mistake.
This seems backed up by statistics. In New York City, according to an article from 2008, out of a force with 36,000 officers, police opened fire a mere 60 times in 2006, with a total of 540 bullets expended during the year. So that's about once a week in a city of 8 million, one with quite a number of high-crime areas. (NYC might not be representative—I suspect that middle-sized cities probably have higher percentages—but it is often featured in the movies.) So that's a pretty low rate. But yeah, if you take that number (60 times a year), and multiply it across every city in the U.S. (scaled for size and crime rate, of course), you easily get more than once a day, though in any given place that is still going to be a rare event. --Mr.98 (talk) 14:11, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
(edit conflict: interestingly, we both talk about The Wire) I remember David Simon, creator of The Wire, remarking that more people are killed on Law & Order than in real-life New York City. That observation supports your impression that things get exaggerated in entertainment. However, Simon's point was that Baltimore, a much more violent city, was virtually ignored by the news media, TV, and movies. —Kevin Myers 14:14, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
The Swedish crime novelist Leif G. W. Persson, or rather one of his characters, once muses, when a raid on a suspect's home has turned into a shootout, that "every shot fired by a police officer marks a failure of basic police work" (quoting from memory). I think he has a point, and I imagine most police officers would tend to agree, at least up to a point.--Rallette (talk) 16:50, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
Someone was shot and killed in Edmonton last year, and this was considered unusual, and possibly due to inexperience by the officer, who was new. (The guy was trying to grab the officer's gun though.) See here. Is it true that there is a vast amount of paperwork just for unholstering a gun? That sounds like the kind of thing that is always repeated without any evidence, but if true, maybe that would have something to do with the rarity of shootouts. Adam Bishop (talk) 17:20, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
That's something I'd like to know about - films and TV shows show US cops (and FBI agents) drawing their guns routinely before entering buildings, pointing them at anyone that appears the slightest bit threatening even when there is no reason to believe they are armed, etc. How accurate is that? In the UK, the police just pointing a gun at someone is considered a really big deal. --Tango (talk) 18:21, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
The cop reality shows in the U.S. show officers entering the residences of drug dealers with guns drawn because there is a real danger of getting shot. The officers aim a shotgun or pistol and shout for the suspect to get down on the floor. This does not mean that they frequently have shootouts. Gangs in large U.S. cities are well armed and frequently shoot their rivals, often hitting innocent bystanders. The U.S. murder rate is about 7 per 100,000 population per year, but in New Orleans, the murder champion, it was 55 last year. New York is at about the national average, while London is at 2.4. [1]. It is more likely gang members with guns than the number of guns that drives up the murder numbers, but an angry person of any background attacking you barehanded is less likely to result in homicide than if he has a gun. If he has a knife you might outrun him. "Suicide by cop" seems fairly common in the U.S., where brandishing a knife or driving the car toward cops is enough to get them to empty their guns into the perp, but seems far less likely if the cop is an unarmed London bobby. Edison (talk) 20:01, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
Recall hearing 'somewhere' that TV shows (Miami Vice I think) exaggerate the amount of shooting by many thousand times. Greater use of Capsicum spray or similar, and Tasers should help reduce gunfire even more. US cops seem (justifiably) to be more jumpy than in Australia. Of course shows like COPS tend to show the more dramatic moments. A car stop where the cop walks up, checks credentials, advises the driver to drive a bit slower, 'Have a nice day' and to go on his way is not high rating TV! '--220.101.28.25 (talk) 22:40, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
Even with COPS showing mostly dramatic footage of police, they rarely shoot and draw their weapons less often than you may expect. There is also a show on TruTV called Speeders that focuses almost exclusively on routine traffic stops. It seems to be fairly successful. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 206.131.39.6 (talk) 16:04, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
The U.S. had 120 officers die last year. 47 were shot, 2 died of "assaults" and 9 from vehicular assault (often struck by drunk drivers).[2][3].75.41.110.200 (talk) 04:40, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
An officer in Chicago's nipple was allegedly bitten off recently by a man he sought to arrest. Who would not seriously consider shooting someone committing such mayhem on his person? Edison (talk) 05:45, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
I know Chicago's Loop. Where is Chicago's Nipple?--Wetman (talk) 07:34, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
Oddly enough, it was bitten off by a man with a wooden leg named Smith. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 00:27, 23 January 2010 (UTC)

I would like to say that any constable would not care so much about paperwork in drawing a gun if they thought their life was on the line, and would not consider having to kill somebody if they saw they had no choice, any failure at all. The failure would be in not acting, and allowing themselves or innocent civilians to be harmed. The failure, if a cop has to shoot, is in the criminal, and in society for not changing its ways.

As for tasers, we are currently arming our police with them, as well as stab proof vests. There was an incident last year in the Waikato, when a man by a river was being threatening an unruly, until the Police brought a taser all the way down from Auckland - about eighty or so miles away. As soon as he saw it, he surrendered. Last year we also had an actor attempt suicide by cop in Auckland. He actually rung them himself, describing a dangerous man dressed in such a way, then dressed up in that manner himself. He was shot in the chest, but thankfully survived.

Sometimes we even think that the police shoot the wrong people. There are some shot dead here who probably did not need to be, and yet more dangerous criminals still breathing. This was demonstrated about a year ago when an innocent bystander was killed by a ricochet police bullet on the Auckland Motorway, as officers were chasing at a dangerous man firing at them. This is the only time in our history I can be certain that the New Zealand Police shot dead an innocent man. All of this does not count deaths of police in accidents. Then there are also the people killed in car chases trying to elude the police. In those situations it is like a damned if they do, damned if they don't kind of thing.

Also, speaking of Canada. I once watched a documentary on a standoff in central Toronto. A black man holding hostage a black woman he did not know after he had tried to kill his wife. He was shot dead by a sniper before it was found his gun had jammed previously and therefore did not work. Who could know ? They said that was the first time any Police sniper in Canada had ever taken anyone out. Is this true ? After all, there was the Canadian drama about police snipers called Flashpoint, where sure, they did not kill every week, but there was still a bit of action. I understand some of the history to that concerns one of the characters attempting a shot at a villain, but kills his hostage instead. I think that actually did occur in the United States. Again, damned if they do . . .

As for overall crime and murder rates, my understanding is that one is six times more likely to be murdered in the US than in New Zealand. We tend to get about one murder a week. This works out to something like 1,25 per hundred thousand, which sounds close. Just over half the murder rate of Britain. It seems terrible to just take that in one's stride, but there it is. I saw somewhere that said in the US there are about sixty homicides a day, making about 22,000 killings anually. I don't know if this is the most, but I understand that both Brazil and South Africa have high murder rates.

The comment about Law and Order is interesting. That and other shows give one the impression that police are overwhelmed with murder cases, and this is why not all are solved. I am sure all police are overwhelmed with any work at least, but on thinking about it, would the average homicide detective really being investigating a new murder each week ? But then again, the aforementioned programme does have those dates in there that no one probably pays much attention to, but which do show that murders are not all solved within sixty minutes.

In New Zealand, we seem to have a higher percentage success rate, where a lot of the time the police have someone in custody before the news of the murder gets out, but this is probably because there are not as many suspects to choose from, and that in New Zealand a lot of murder is a spur of the moment thing - like someone gets drunk at a party and lashes out. Premeditated murder does occur, as well as many other sorts, but even then, the police tend to have a good idea as to whom might have done it.

As for shows like COPS, that debuted here in 1990, and even before watching it I knew cops did not shoot people every day. I suspected we were not going to see them do that - this was going to be about ordinary police work. But now, after more than twenty years, I wonder, did they ever film any gun play ? Not that we would want that . . . I have seen other shows showing amazing police chases and shootouts, but as noted before, this is all collected from what was action fulled - sifted out from the hundreds or thousands of routine days, not to mention that in front of a camera some cops may draw their gun more than they normally would.

I do like movies like Dirty Harry, since action is what movies are about, but I do not mind cop shows that don't have to have guns. You can pick and choose, then, as long as you have some idea of what real life is about. The Russian Christopher Lilly 10:15, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

Suggestion: If you would like your reply actually be read, you have to err a little more on the side of brevity, and perhaps add some paragraph breaks. 1,000 word blocks are a little off-putting for those of us who are just doing this for fun. --Mr.98 (talk) 15:53, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
Agree. This block of text may contain some jewels of writing; but I'll never know because I refuse point blank to read it. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 21:07, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
The US has a pretty low murder rate per capita—but people's perception of it is very high. In general, US shows and films reflect, and contribute to, a general idea that violent crime is always "on the rise," even though it has actually been in decline for some time here. In New York, you have about two murders a day—so around 600 a year or so. From a population standpoint, that is pretty low—8 million people live there—but from the standpoint of a police department trying to solve them, that's pretty high. In the mind of the public, that seems awfully high, though of course the vast majority of those murders are concentrated on certain segments of society (drug dealers picking fights with other drug dealers).
I remember watching a reality show about American homicide detectives (one was in Miami, one was somewhere else) on a plane a few months ago—The First 48. Tt was pretty fascinating. It was not like the television shows, definitely not high-tech like CSI or anything like that. It was the tried-and-true tactic of interviewing people until you figure out who is probably lying and who is telling the truth. Of course, reality TV isn't exactly real life, as we know. (And I really do wonder how the show is legal, to be honest—it seems like it would compromise any court case.) But it was pretty interesting as a point of comparison—check it out, if you can. --Mr.98 (talk) 16:27, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

Point taken, Jack of Oz. Even as I wrote it, I realised it looked like one huge block, and I wished I had edited it. I hsve altered it, if you would reconsider. My lack of brevity comes from my youth, when I used to sit down at school and full whole refills with stories I made up. Guess I do get carried away. I apologise, because I realise that there are a lot of things to read, and why need we use 1000 words to say what 100 could ? I shall endeavour to condense my enthusiasm. Regarding Mr 98's comments - I have seen the First 48 advertised on my Dad's Sky channels. We do watch some of those and similar programmes.

I would rather think that such crimes are less. I have not known anyone close ( family ) that has been involved in murder, although recently there was a double murder just round the corner from my parents' home in Christchurch. Over a year ago a young woman who lived in a house I used to babysit her uncles in, went missing. Nearly a year later it was found her neighbour two doors down had ( allegedly - O suupose I should say ) done it, after he stupidly reported his wife missing - seeing he was the one who killed her too. Both bodies were buried in his house - a house my brother in law once stayed in many years before the killer ever moved in. Over the past few months people had been seeting fire to it, which seems to happen here to the houses of murderers. Then a few weeks ago they brought in the bulldozers and levelled it. No more fires.

I guess we make a big deal about murder, thinking it is everywhere, due to these programmes. Of course, if one's family is affected directly by murder, then it is not such a distant thing. In saying this I am not trying to lessen the seriousness, but rather to make us all aware to be say - cautious about crime, but not let it imprison our lives - otherwise we'd never go out. The Russian Christopher Lilly 13:32, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

History of consumer movement in Bangladesh[edit]

Sir, I would like to get information relating to consumer movement in Bangladesh from 1971-2009. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 119.30.36.56 (talk) 15:32, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

Pictogram voting delete.svg Please do your own homework.
Welcome to Wikipedia. Your question appears to be a homework question. I apologize if this is a misinterpretation, but it is our aim here not to do people's homework for them, but to merely aid them in doing it themselves. Letting someone else do your homework does not help you learn nearly as much as doing it yourself. Please attempt to solve the problem or answer the question yourself first. If you need help with a specific part of your homework, feel free to tell us where you are stuck and ask for help. If you need help grasping the concept of a problem, by all means let us know. Comet Tuttle (talk) 18:20, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
Huh? The OP says they are looking for information on a particular topic. A reference desk seems like the perfect place to ask... --Tango (talk) 00:58, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
Doesn't sound too much like homework to me. The real homework would be interpreting the information he gets. Vimescarrot (talk) 06:59, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
A search for "bangladesh" "consumer" and "movement" turns up lots of useful sources, e.g. [4] and [5]. Warofdreams talk 11:46, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

canadian-Guatemalan ambassadors[edit]

Does anyone know the names of the Guatemalan ambassador to Canada and how long Canada and Guatemala have had embassies in each other? Library Seraph (talk) 17:47, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

I googled "guatemala ambassador canada" and the first page shows a Canadian government website that has a list of ambassadors to Canada, which says it is His Excellency Carlos Humberto JIMENEZ LICONA. So far I don't know how long they've had diplomatic relations and had embassies in each other's country: Neither our article Foreign relations of Canada nor our article Foreign relations of Guatemala lists the other country, and I couldn't find the information on the website of the Canadian embassy to Guatemala nor in the website of the Guatemalan embassy to Canada. If web searching keeps coming up short, you could of course e-mail one of the embassies and ask. Comet Tuttle (talk) 18:43, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
Diplomatic relations between Guatemala and Canada were established on September 16, 1961.[6] At this page if you select Guatemala in the box that says "Post" you can find a list of Canada's ambassadors to Guatemala (I can't seem to link to it directly).--Cam (talk) 01:47, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

Thanks, both of you. Library Seraph (talk) 14:29, 23 January 2010 (UTC)

The vigour of the American people lies with its African-Americans[edit]

I remember reading something to this effect last year but watching Denzel in The Book of Eli last night it sprang to mind. I can't find a quote on Google. Anyone have a clue who said it, or the exact quote? Thanks! Vranak (talk) 18:13, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

I've never heard of this, but if an American said this, spell "vigour" this way: "vigor". Perhaps you'll get better search results? A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 00:59, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
Sounds like racist blarney. Edison (talk) 05:39, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
It was written back in the 18th century or thereabouts, bear in mind. :) Vranak (talk) 05:48, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
Hard telling what it's supposed to mean. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 05:53, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
If it was written back in the 18th century, the original quote would not have used the term "African-Americans". Try searching with "blacks" or "Negroes". —Kevin Myers 06:54, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
I believe you are correct on the second count. Vranak (talk) 07:09, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
And I believe it means that the fat lazy slavedrivers running the plantations down south appeared a lot less admirable to the quote's author than the hard-working slaves from Africa. Vranak (talk) 19:38, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
I'm sure that slogan would have made the slaves feel much better while they were toting that barge and lifting that bale. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 00:26, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
Indubitably. Vranak (talk) 12:58, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
Not sure, since I no longer have a copy at my finger tips, but this sounds quite a lot like something written in works by W. E. B. Du Bois, quite likely The Souls of Black Folk. Its a classic work on race relations in America, quite prophetic given when it was written. His quote from that work "The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line." is chilling when one considers it was written in 1903, without any sense of what would happen over the next 60-70 years from when he wrote it. I would not guarantee the quote, or the sentiment, is in DuBois's work, but it would certainly fit within the context of the work, and I would not be surprised to find the OP's quote, or one like it, there. --Jayron32 05:08, 23 January 2010 (UTC)

Nazi Germany child-naming[edit]

Hey all. Today I fell into the trap of repeating a rather unlikely suggestion I had once heard, and then, on being interrogated, was unable to provide any supporting information whatsoever (which would suggest to me I had misremembered the factoid). It is thus: "In Nazi Germany, in recognition of bearing a tenth child (son?) you were allowed to call him Adolf". Any ideas what the factual basis, if any, there might be for this? There seem to be an awful lot of Adolfs from the period. - Jarry1250 [Humorous? Discuss.] 20:05, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

OR, but that seems completely wrong to me. I mean, wrong that parents would have had to produce 10 children before being able to name one of them Adolf. They had bigger families back then, but 10 kids was still pretty unusual. Surely people named their children Adolf for reasons ranging from: misguided respect for the Fuhrer; just to be on the safe side (= fear); it was a common name anyway. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 20:30, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, it seems wrong to me to. But then, they did offer medals (gold class was 8+ if I recall correctly) so it doesn't seem so unlikely that they could have offered other "incentives. Whether this was one... - Jarry1250 [Humorous? Discuss.] 20:39, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps the legend or factoid you recall is related to the very real Mother Hero, " an honorary title in the Soviet Union awarded to all mothers bearing and raising 10 or more children." BrainyBabe (talk) 23:10, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
The German version was Cross of Honor of the German Mother. I expect the Adolf factoid is just a fabrication to ridicule it (as if it needs any more ridicule) meltBanana 01:17, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
The more interesting fact would be that there was a ban on calling other children Adolf during Nazi-rule - I've never heard of such a ban, I would have expected to if it existed. --Tango (talk) 05:53, 22 January 2010 (UTC)


Sounds a bit far-fetched, considering that 1930s-40s Germany had a higher population density than, say, France. Moreover, food shortages were quite common, pre-War. DOR (HK) (talk) 07:17, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

  • Given the proportion of families that could be expected to have 10 or more children, this would have been a way of ensuring there would be very few Adolfs indeed. I think that, so far from minimising the number of Adolfs, it would have been far more likely for the regime to have maximised the Adolfs by making it mandatory for every first born male to be called Adolf - but there's no evidence for that, either. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 07:26, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
  • No matter if the population density was high, or food supply was low, increase of the German ("Arian") population was the prime policy of the Nazis. See e.g. Lebensborn. The overpopulation problem was to be solved by eastward expansion ("Lebensraum in the East"). --Stephan Schulz (talk) 08:47, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
Actually, it is very, very tough to increase a population without sufficient food. DOR (HK) (talk) 05:43, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
Not that it doesn't happen now in undeveloped parts of the world, where people are starving but still increase their population in an extremely quick way, depending on food aid from developed countries who are happy to help them to do it. Or even in developed countries, Gypsies for example.--131.188.3.20 (talk) 07:37, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

did the Greeks know their legends were bullshit?[edit]

If you Google "Chuck Norris" you will find real legends about him (this only just started the trend). But, even though many of these posts will show NO indication of humor, etc, but be stated and replied to very matter-of-factly, obviously no one believes what they are saying.

Now my question: were the legends of ancient Greece the same, where no one REALLY believed them? Or did people really believe these legends described actually occurred facts? Thanks for any insight you might have on this question. 82.113.106.103 (talk) 21:59, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

He was a Roman, not a Greek, but Juvenal (second century) says in the Satires (2.149) that nobody believes in ghosts or mythology except kids who are too young to pay to get into the baths. Whether people really believed it earlier than that, I don't know; I'm sure someone will be along soon who does. Marnanel (talk) 22:16, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
There's Euhemerus... AnonMoos (talk) 22:18, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
First, I might take issue with the premise as a "loaded question". I don't claim that the Greek Gods and the various heroes and heroines were real. Yet there are similarly fabulous stories in the Bible, and millions believe them to be true. And going a step farther, what about the various Hindu gods? Are they real to the people of India? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 22:20, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
Also judging by the number of temples they built, it was real to them. --Kvasir (talk) 22:28, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
People may believe in the existence of supernatural forces and gods without necessarily believing the legends to be literally true - just like how a lot of people believe in the existence of a Christian God without necessarily believing the Bible to be completely and literally true. --PalaceGuard008 (Talk) 22:42, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
Baseball Bugs's analogy with the Bible is probably a good one. In ancient times there were surely people, particularly educated and sophisticated people, able to take a critical view of their culture's religious canon. By the Hellenistic times in which Euhemerus operated, such people may have been a majority of the literate populace (though likely a minority of the populace as a whole). However, even though today we have a much higher rate of literacy, education, and exposure to different religious perspectives, including atheism, still many people even in the Western world believe that the Bible is literally true. Probably in ancient times (at least before the spread of mystery religions and Neoplatonism in later antiquity), most people accepted classical myths and the existence of gods as true. Marco polo (talk) 00:10, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
You might be interested in the book Did the Greeks Believe in Their Myths? -- Mwalcoff (talk) 00:12, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
My understanding of it is: The Greeks viewed it as a divine drama played out in a divine other world but had ramifications and parallels on our own world. Not uncommon in other ancient literatures. Hence, the items of the legends were not necessary understood in the literal sense but in the applied sense. With regard to the Bible it is important to understand the literary form being used in which book. A poetry book is understood differently to a history book and both are in the Bible, a liberary of books. Hence, one is true in the literal sense and the other is not. Hence, the parable of the man falling among robbers on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho is understood as a lesson not in the leteral sense, but is still true, as a teaching. MacOfJesus (talk) 00:38, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
Curiously, Christians typically understand that Jesus' parables were simply stories He made up to illustrate a lesson. Yet many Christians will regard the Old Testament as being literally true, even though much of it consists of stories with moral lessons, like the parables. There's not that much distance between the Greek and Roman mythology, and the Old Testament stories. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 01:00, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
If they were bullshit, then why bother writing and telling them at all? There is a book called The Power of Myth that may be of interest. Vranak (talk) 05:46, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
Is that really a valid argument? There are plenty of reasons to tell stories you don't believe in. Entertainment would be the first that springs to mind. Vimescarrot (talk) 06:57, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
I infer that you hold a dual view of mere entertainment -- both as a distraction and a reason to live itself. Vranak (talk) 07:05, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
You'll all be interested in the book-length essay by the historian Paul Veyne, translatewd by Paula Wissing, Did the Greeks Believe in their Myths?: an essay on the constitutive imagination, 1988. A reviewer in International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 35.2 (April 1994:111-112) remarked "He admits in the concluding chapter that anyone with even a little knowledge knows that the Greeks believed in their myths." Veyne's concern, and it should be ours too, is why and how the Greeks believed their myths. Understanding the analogical way they believe their myths, their separation of mythos from logos would shed light on our own beliefs in our own myths. Oop. My apologies to Mwalcoff, who forestalled me in this.--Wetman (talk) 07:20, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
To understand this question fully, we must take 2 important, but most often neglected things in consideration: 1. Those times were different not just because of technological differences, but also in the way of thinking. The modern man, for example, can see a traditional activity as silly, but in those social conditions it made perfect sense, and after centuries of social evolution it might have even made more sense than what we do now in our world, because we have a lot of technical and social innovations the long term effect of which are not yet fully understood. 2. Linguistic differences. People tend to see the shape, composition and purpose of language as the same as today without some modern words which were introduced later. As I learned from an ethnographer and linguist, in the past the abstract and literal meaning of a word was much more close to each other than now. For example, the stork bringing children is seen now as a silly superstition, but actually the bird itself was the symbol (or even in some regions the name) of childbirth, with the sacrifice and pain and everything the woman had to pay for it. So when someone said the stork brings the children, everyone understood whet they were meaning. Only later devolved this to an excuse tale told to children. Even most folk tales were very important to pass on the structure and functioning of society to the next generations, the plot itself being not that important.
After this long introduction lets go back to the original question. Keep in mind, that there is a huge difference between polytheistic deities and the monotheistic God. The Greek, Roman and similar deities were personifications of the forces of nature, and deities of tribes before written history were the personification of that tribe or ethnic group. Remember the misunderstanding what the people of Abraham had with all the other tribes: previously if one tribe defeated the other, "my god" and "your god" meant nearly the same as "my tribe" and "your tribe", and the defeated one accepted the one of the other tribe. It was a hard time for people of Abraham, for example, to explain that they do not mean "our deity" but they were meaning the creator of the whole universe, someone or something on a higher plane of existence. You don't even have to go back so far in time, even in Europe of the middle ages a lot of poetry used Hellenistic or Northern deities as personification of natural or other forces, and the Church did not consider them as heretics. For example, writing the name of "Fortuna" in a poem did mean the same as writing "luck" and not that the writer actually believed there is a woman called Fortuna who lives on a high mountain above the clouds and can do magic. --131.188.3.21 (talk) 13:16, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
With regard to the Biblical interpitation of the Old Testament versus the New, The Christian world does not take The Song of Songs or the Book of Psalms in the literal sense, nor indeed the parable spoken to King David of the poor man with the beloved sheep, by the prophet.
MacOfJesus (talk) 13:29, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
This question from the beginning should be dealth with in an article page entitled Hermeneutics, already existing but viewed in a narrow and inadequite sense in Wikipedia. This dialogue more than ever points to the need for this. All of this: Greek Myths, Ancient legands, Biblical understanding is all dealth with in this Science. My response to those who continually ask questions that have been studied and written of in so many learned publications is to say: Pick up and read: Tolle, lage.

MacOfJesus (talk) 14:25, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

After having read a fair dozen articles on Greek mythology overnight, I have to tell you, there is a huge treasure trove of profound wisdom in there, if you have the mind to receive it! Vranak (talk) 19:33, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

Thank you. Oui, oui, but how about putting all our efforts into making a better article page on Hermeneutics, where all this would have correct place. Wisdom should never be confused with knowledge, the film: "Lawnmower man" hi-lights this. How about telling the one who asked the original question about this? I will not repeat what he called your wisdom! Reading again from Biblical Commentries on Hermeneutics I'm more convinced than ever a top Article page is awaiting to be written for Wikipedia! Overnight, I was reading Raymond E. Brown, S.S.'s article 71 in The Jerome Biblical Commentary.

MacOfJesus (talk) 23:28, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

If someone here wants to vent some anger and some expletives and explore some extra-terrestrial wisdom; then try the article page 187 in popular culture. Yes, the number: 187 in popular culture is an article page, that is threatened with deletion! Bon Voyage!(In embarking on the path that explores the truth and sorts out the wood for the trees! Is it worth saving? Does it have any meaning?). Good Luck!

MacOfJesus (talk) 19:42, 23 January 2010 (UTC)

I have discovered this gem in my study. I am studying Jung's Answer to Job, and came across this answer:
"But myth is not fiction: it consists of facts that are continually repeated and can be observed over and over again.  
It is something that happens to man, and men have mythical fates just as much as the Greek heroes do."
A clear answer to your original question.
MacOfJesus (talk) 22:40, 12 February 2010 (UTC)