Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2010 July 27

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July 27[edit]

Reckoning age from baptism[edit]

I removed the unreferenced claim from Childbirth that "Historically, in Europe age was once counted from baptism." It seems that baptism certificates can be a useful source for determining birth date when there is no birth certificate, but I get the impression that both dates are recorded, and age is still reckoned from birth. Is that right, or have some cultures reckoned from baptism instead? If so, we should probably update childbirth, ageing, birthday, and infant baptism (or consolidate age reckoning coverage). -- Beland (talk) 05:56, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

I've never heard of such a way of defining age before. It is true that Christians often refer to baptism as being "reborn" or "born again", but I've never heard of them taking that metaphor so far as to restart their measuring of age. --Tango (talk) 14:25, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
Unless you believe in various forms of baptismal regeneration, you're not going to equate baptism and being born again or reborn. I've never heard either term being used of baptism — those who adhere to some form of baptismal regeneration, such as Catholics and those in the Churches of Christ, believe baptism to be necessary for salvation, but they don't hold that it is responsible for one's salvation. I'd guess that the dating factor is responsible, since before the advent of groups such as Baptists, everyone in Christendom was baptised as an infant. Nyttend (talk) 02:50, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
Not only baptised as an infant, but usually baptised within the first month. Infant mortality was high and baptism was performed as soon as practical. And remember that church baptism records were the only legal register of birth. (talk) 04:31, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

Heidegger and Monty Python[edit]

Heidegger was the only philosopher who was alive enough to have the opportunity of registering that he was mentioned by Monty Python in both Bruce's Philosopers Song, and in the philosohpers football match. Does anyone know if he knew anything about it? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:19, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

". . . the only philosopher who was alive enough . . . ." Does this mean that philosphers exist in various states of semi-vitality? Has this got something to do with Schrödinger's cat. Or did you mean ". . . alive long enough . . . ? (talk) 18:10, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
Or Eric the Half-bee?  :) -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 21:32, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
Heidegger was 80 or so when MPFC started in 1969, he died some 5 or 6 years later, and according to Bruces' Philosophers Song, the song itself was never featured in the TV show, but appeared in stage productions, and thus likely originated sometime close to or after Heidegger's death in 1976. So I suspect not. --Ludwigs2 01:38, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
But The Philosophers' Football Match was broadcast in 1972 when he was still alive. Adam Bishop (talk) 02:31, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
Franz Beckenbauer, who played in midfield with Jaspers in the German philosophy team, is still alive. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:00, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

Socks in fashion[edit]

If long tube socks were fashionable with sneakers in the 1970s, are short below-the-ankles socks fashionable with them now? It would be interesting to see the history of hosiery over the centuries, which seems to encompass more than just socks. Who decides these things, anyway? 8) -- Beland (talk) 11:45, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

Inuit death rituals[edit]

What did the Inuit traditionally do with their dead, especially those in the very far north? I mean, burial would be tough because there is permafrost. There was probably not a ton of extra wood or other fuel lying around so they probably did not burn their dead. Burial at sea might be an option in the summer, but it would probably be very difficult and dangerous to do in the winter. So what did they do? Googlemeister (talk) 13:25, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

There is some information under Inuit culture#Death, unfortunately without reference. ---Sluzzelin talk 13:28, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
Ah cairns. I should have thought of that. Googlemeister (talk) 13:41, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

Alternatives to North Anna for Grant in '64, & Chickahominy in '63[edit]

I'm working on a book with the Battle of Chancellorsville as a Union win, with a shorter ACW (by about 18 months) and many things easier than OTL later. As you don't do hypotheticals, I've narrowed my question to our timeline, as what happens after alt-Chancellorsville is similar to the Overland Campaign. I'm figuring Lee & Longstreet (who arrives after the Union has taken Spotsylvania & they're unable to dislodge them) try a last ditch effort, with a much more badly bruised Army of Northern Virginia, to destroy part of the Union Army at something like our Battle of North Anna.

Two (Sorry, it became three :-)) questions:

1. Looking at, it looks like the North Anna is how the Union would need to go for a straight shot at Richmond, but would manuevering west, around the Chickahominy, have been viable, or is that too far out of the way? How exactly did Hooer plan to go toward Richmond?

2. Our article says the Chickahominy River overflowed with floods in 1862 and '64, but is there a way to find out how much it had flooded in May of 1863? It's probably a seasonal thing, but I don't know. (I do know there were heavy rains in the Fredericksburg area in early May.)

Thanks in advance.Somebody or his brother (talk) 14:08, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

Actually, I found some cool maps at, maybe I'll just wing it on the first one - given the disparity in '63, I suppose I don't have to be too specific - it's only to give background and introduce some soldiers on both sides who might have died, sort of like The Winds of War.Somebody or his brother (talk) 17:59, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

Judicial acts in "His/Her Majesty Name"[edit]

In countries with the King or Queen as Head of State, such as England, Canada, Thailand, etc., the acts of the courts are required to be performed "in the name of His/Her Majesty" because of what reason?

For example:

  1. A warrant of arrest (in Canada): "This is, therefore, to command you, in Her Majesty's Name, forwith to arrest the said..."
  2. Section 197 of the Constitution of Thailand, 2007: "The trial and adjudication of cases are the power of the courts, which must be proceeded by justice in accordance with the Constitution and the law and in the name of the King."

Are the acts of the courts in the countries with other kind of Head of State, such as, President, Emir, Sultan, etc., required to be performed in the name of the people, the soveriegnty or the Head of State?

Thank you so much :) (talk) 14:57, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

The monarch is the "font of justice" - the source from which justice comes. Traditionally, the monarch has absolute power and anyone else has power only because they have been granted it by the monarch. --Tango (talk) 15:42, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

In Poland, judges give sentences "in the name of the Republic of Poland". I suppose it's similar in most other republics. — Kpalion(talk) 16:32, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

At least in the UK, the Queen is sort of two separate things. She is a symbolic personification of the country ("The Crown", "Her Majesty"), and she is a person. That's why, for example, she has two birthdays: one is the official birthday of the monarch, the other is the birthday of Elizabeth. As such, when things are said to be done in Her Majesty's name, at Her Majesty's pleasure, in the Name of the Crown, etc, they are being done in the name of the abstract symbolic personification of the country, not in the name of Betty :) (talk) 17:25, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
In medieval England, the Sovereign would personally dispense justice - there is a Biblical precedent for this in the Judgement of Solomon. The royal court would make laws, issue charters and be the final stop in the legal process. The House of Lords was the highest court in the land until a few months ago. Judges still represent the Sovereign when in court. Until very recently, when the Queen visited a town, court sittings were suspended because it was obviously impossible to have the Queen and her represntative acting as the Queen in the same place. I wouldn't be surprised if a more pragmatic approach is taken these days. Alansplodge (talk) 20:14, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

What about constitutional law?[edit]

In monarchies where the power of the government is limited by a written constitution (like Canada), what happens when a law is deemed unconstitutional? Does the court rule in the name of the queen that her own law violates her own constitution? Or does the constitution belong to the people (as the contract between the crown and its subjects)? (talk) 20:18, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

In Canada, the court does not rule "in the name of the queen." The court rules in its own name against "the queen." -- Mwalcoff (talk) 22:13, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
Presumably, an individual has to challenge the constitutional status of a particular law; the case would then be "A. N. Other versus Regina" - the court would then decide in favour of the plaintiff or the defendant (being the Crown). I'm not an expert or a Canadian though. Alansplodge (talk) 16:13, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
In Thailand, the Constitutional Court does decide, in His Majesty' Name, as to whether a law (or a project of law - a bill, for instance) is inconsistent with the Constitution. All Thai laws are signed by the King and countersigned by the Prime Minister (or other person as may be required). — (talk) 15:27, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
  • I would like to say more about Thailand that a case as to the constitutionality of law or bill in Thailand is noncontentious. Such case is instituted by an ex parte request submitted to the Constitutional Court ("CC") by any empowered institution, such as a required number of Senators, an Ombudsman, an Administrative Court, etc. And the CC will decide in favour or against the request. In its trial, the CC may summon any person taking charge and control of the law or bill to give statement, such as an explanation as to whether the request submitted is well grounded. The CC can decide the case in the name of the King, because it does not rule against the King or anybody.
  • For example: In 2003, a number of Senators submitted a request to the CC for its decision as to whether section 12 of the Individual Name Act, BE 2505 (1962) is constitutional. The said section prescribed that a femme couverte must adopt the family name of her husband as her own family name. The CC summoned the Minister of Interior in charge of the Act to give representation, and then resolved, by 13:2, that the section was unconstitutional. Therefore, the said section 12 ceased to be in force from that time onwards. (talk) 08:43, 29 July 2010 (UTC)

Vegetarian diets[edit]

What are the main dishes for "far" vegetarian, quasi-vegetarian, lacto-ovo vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian, macrobiotics, vegan, and raw food diets? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:57, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

There are no "main dishes". There are all kinds of different dishes that vegetarians eat, just as there are all kinds of different dishes that omnivores eat. --Tango (talk) 15:43, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

The answer is tofu stir-fry. (talk) 15:45, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

It's probably fair to say tofu substitutes for meat/fish/et al., though I've only had it once where it was prepared with what I'd call flavor (!). As I understand "degrees" some consider fish as within vegetarian limits, some not; same for eggs. PЄTЄRS J VЄСRUМВА TALK 15:58, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
At the risk of digressing, there are far more "substitutes" than tofu. I've been vegetarian almost all my life and tofu is about as boring as it gets. Protein foods also include a huge variety of nuts and beans. See also meat analogue and its links. We also have a variety of articles about vegetarianism etc.--Shantavira|feed me 16:22, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
I frequently eat vegetarian food (since my mother is vegetarian) and we never have tofu. It's horribly stuff. We eat a lot of quorn, though. We get most of our protein from cereals and pulses (various kinds of both), though, which is fairly typical of vegetarian diets around the world. --Tango (talk) 17:18, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
I don't know of anyone who eats a significant amount of Tofu, I never eat it.
Curries with paneer, beans and peppers, bean chillies, pasta with grilled vegetables, root vegetable stews now and again. A reasonable amount of salad. Quite a lot of soups. Clearly the curries option covers a pretty wide range of things and I'd say I have a couple of curries a week, of various kinds.
ALR (talk) 17:28, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
  • For some ideas on how to expand your vegetarian options, I suggest reading about Indian cuisine. Indian food is fairly often vegetarian, but tofu only pops up rarely. --M@rēino 15:15, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

Modern Asian Secret Societies?[edit]

The Bilderberg Group and the Freemasonry are influential, western secret societies. Are there any powerful & influential asian secret society today? What are their group names? (talk) 16:40, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

See Triad (underground society). Comet Tuttle (talk) 17:05, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
Triads are organised crime groups rather than secret societies. There is some overlap between the two (in that secret societies are often accused of illegal activities, or at least the covering up of such activities by members), but I don't think many people would consider Triads to be secret societies. --Tango (talk) 17:14, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
I'm looking for the names of the asian secret societies which has influences in politics and military like The Bilderberg Group and the Freemasonry. I'm not looking for triad organzied crime groups. (talk) 17:01, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
The Hongmen seem to be the most significant example. Warofdreams talk 22:10, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
You may be looking for something that no longer exists. In the past, the Green Gang and others had significant direct influence in Chinese politics and the armed forces, but those days are long gone. Today, the triads such as Sun Yee On, Wo Shing Wo and 14K are what is generally referred to as "secret societies," both in law and in common usage. DOR (HK) (talk) 02:19, 2 August 2010 (UTC)

murder compensation common law[edit]

is there any way for a wife to claim compensation from her husband's murderer in a civil court .I want to know this with regard to common law countries like india or uk and can a political party leader be held responsible for the actions of his partymen eg if his party men go and kill people of a particular sect after he makes an inflammatory speech against that sect.has this ever happened in india.i know that leaders have done this in india but have they been booked under any provision ? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:14, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

In the UK, compensation in cases like these are handled by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. As to the rest of your question, I don't know. Nanonic (talk) 18:48, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

i read about that . thanks a lot nananic .but isnt it the gov thats paying for it? i want to know whether you can make the murderer pay. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:22, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

I've just been looking at the CICA website [1] and they don't mention paying compensation to relatives of murder victims. --Tango (talk) 20:20, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
See [2]. Nanonic (talk) 20:52, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
The political leader wouldn't be responsible for the actions of anyone else, but they would be responsible for their own actions. Incitement to commit violence is a criminal offence in the UK (and similar offences exist elsewhere). --Tango (talk) 20:20, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 (as amended by the Administration of Justice Act 1982) does give such a right to sue for wrongful death in the UK. --Tango (talk) 20:27, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
There's a lot more going on in your question than the previous answers have acknowledged. As to your first sentence, yes, in civil court a surviving spouse or child (depending on statute) can bring wrongful death actions. Those actions weren't typically permitted at common law (actions died with the plaintiff) but are available by statute or otherwise available now in most U.S. states and I think in the U.K. too. That's suit against the perpetrator though. As for compensation from someone else, i.e. the government, i.e. the taxpayer, I guess the above responses sort of answer that, but that's not classic civil law. That's more of an administrative response. Shadowjams (talk) 08:55, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
I don't know about the "common law" part, but this general scenario reminds me of the successful wrongful-death lawsuit filed against O.J. Simpson:[3]Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 10:40, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
Yes, that is probably the best known example of someone being sued for wrongful death. --Tango (talk) 13:01, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
Yes, there is statute in the UK that provides for the right to sue - I linked to the relevant Act just above your post. --Tango (talk) 13:01, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
Weregild is an old European idea of compensation for wrongdoing, including murder. Ask your lawyer. Zoonoses (talk) 19:04, 31 July 2010 (UTC)


The article says in the 13th century in Venice "bills of exchange" were developed as a legal device to allow international trade. Since this would have been a very important document, what type of "paper" was this written on (so the writing would not have faded) and how was it protected from thieves or forgery? How long would a "bill of exchange" have been good for before it was no longer honored?--Christie the puppy lover (talk) 20:06, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

These bills of exchange wouldn't have been required to last for long periods of time, so I don't see why the writing fading would be an issue. They were probably written on ordinary paper. I would expect they used the same kind of seals as were used to authenticate letters. --Tango (talk) 20:30, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
Probably not ordinary paper since that was pretty expensive stuff back then. Vellum would seem more likely, as well as more durable. Googlemeister (talk) 20:44, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
Would the "document" have been in the format of flat book style or rolled up like a scroll? If a scroll, would there have been a protective or decorative "ribbon" wrapped around the document? Can you elaborate on this of a "seal" to authenticate? What would the vellum probably been made of? What animal? --Christie the puppy lover (talk) 20:46, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
Vellum usually came from cows or sheep, depending on the area (an interesting sub-field of codicology is determining where the animal actually came from). I'm not sure about the size, but earlier in the cheque article it says the Templars wrote in a code only they could decipher (that sounds pretty suspicious to me though). Chirographs could be used to authenticate medieval documents but I don't know if they did that with cheques. Adam Bishop (talk) 21:29, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
If a "bill of exchange" was a scroll of vellum, would there have been a protective or decorative "ribbon" wrapped around the document to hold it together? If in a codex format, would there have been a "ribbon" to hold it together?--Christie the puppy lover (talk) 20:07, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
Both ways likely would have had a seal on it (or it would have been tied together with a seal hanging off it). Adam Bishop (talk) 00:07, 29 July 2010 (UTC)
I don't know a definitive answer to the question about the ribbon, but since nobody else has given one: to me it sounds like asking "does a cheque have an envelope"? i.e. I expect the answer is "yes, when somebody wanted to put one on, for tidyness, or to make it look impressive, or to entrust it to a carrier, or ... ". --ColinFine (talk) 06:57, 29 July 2010 (UTC)
Thanks gentlemen for the excellent answers.--Christie the puppy lover (talk) 11:08, 29 July 2010 (UTC)

Use of copyright law in an educational environment.[edit]

What is the current state of affairs regarding copyright laws in the classroom? If a lit teacher wanted to for example show small clips from for example "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" to their students to illustrate the recurring theme of man versus self and how it applys to todays popular media, Would he or she be able to play those clips? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:32, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

There is no general copyright exemption for educational uses (educational users have to respect copyright as well), however there are some small, specifically worded, exemptions in some cases. I'd suggest you look at our Copyright in the United States article (assuming you're in the U.S.) but mainly suggest you ask your school's administration for some guidance. Any reasonably sized district should have some policy in place regarding this sort of thing. Shadowjams (talk) 21:36, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
I would actually discourage you from trying to read the copyright articles on your own... you probably are not capable, without doing a LOT of additional reading, of making informed legal judgments on the question of what is or is not fair use in that context. (And neither are we—we can't give legal advice.) For a good overview of the general questions and some suggested guidelines, I would however recommend reading the Stanford Copyright and Fair Use Center's Copyright FAQ chapter on Academic and Educational Permissions, as well as maybe their chapters on Videotaping for the Classroom and Proposed Educational Guidelines on Fair Use. They give very good, practical advice based on previous case law (which is how all fair use judgments are determined, unfortunately, making it quite a vague piece of legislation). Their "proposed guidelines" recommend "up to 10% or three minutes, whichever is less, of a copyrighted motion media work (for example, an animation, video or film image)." This is not a hard-and-fast rule (there are none in fair use cases!), but is a deliberately conservative, fairly "safe" recommendation. --Mr.98 (talk) 21:42, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
That would likely fall under fair use. -- (talk) 17:00, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
Not necessarily. Read the articles I cited above. --Mr.98 (talk) 22:04, 29 July 2010 (UTC)

Thank you for your answers for they have been most helpful. - Original Poster —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:43, 28 July 2010 (UTC)

Two way radio operation[edit]

Is a license required for the operation of two-way radios such as this or these? I was looking into them as an alternate method of communication during storm spotting, rather than amateur radio and cell phone, but if it requires a license, it makes amateur radio a more appealing option. I notice our two-way radio article says that they need a license, but it seems unreferenced, and I have yet to hear of a simple two way radio needing a license except for certain frequencies (such as police/fire/emergency management & amateur radio frequencies)...if two-way radio use actually does needs a license, how might one be acquired for such a purpose as communication between two vehicles during storm spotting, and would it be easier or harder to obtain than an amateur radio license? (And before anyone suggests it, cell phones would be a relatively bad option due to spotty service in the rural areas of the Great Plains). Thanks in advance, Ks0stm (TCG) 21:02, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

Never heard of CB radio? Or why not use mobile phones? (talk) 22:51, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
CB radio is a possibility...but I already explained in my original posting why mobile phones would be a rather sketchy option. In the end, though, unless my original questions are answered, I can't weigh all the options as I would like to. :-) Ks0stm (TCG) 22:57, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
I believe the first link (Midland) requires a license, as it is more of a commercial-grade system. The second appears to be FRS/GMRS equipment. Family Radio Service is unlicensed: General Mobile Radio Service is higher-performance, and requires a license. This, however, is widely ignored. Acroterion (talk) 03:01, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
{{distinguish|Family Radio}} At first I thought you meant that Harold Camping was running a pirate radio network. Nyttend (talk) 03:56, 28 July 2010 (UTC)
Ok, how might one obtain a license for the GMRS one of those? I'm blind...I should have thought to check the article...=P I need sleep. Ks0stm (TCG) 04:12, 28 July 2010 (UTC)