Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2010 June 1

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Humanities desk
< May 31 << May | June | Jul >> June 2 >
Welcome to the Wikipedia Humanities Reference Desk Archives
The page you are currently viewing is an archive page. While you can leave answers for any questions shown below, please ask new questions on one of the current reference desk pages.

June 1[edit]

Was Mirza Ghulam Ahmad vegetarian?[edit]

The Mirza Ghulam Ahmad article links to a reference listing the "Ten Conditions of Baiat" which includes "That he shall not inflict injury on any of Allah’s creatures." Does this imply vegetarianism? (talk) 00:56, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

Possibly not. On the website of the Ahmadiyya movement, you can read the members' pledge of faith; it doesn't mention vegetarianism and refers to injury in the context of injury to human beings: I will not inflict any injury on the people generally, and in particular on the Muslims, under any undue provocation by tongue or hand or in any other manner.
Also on that website, there is a FAQ question about whether meat-eating causes suffering to animals. It concludes: That objection may have looked worth considering before the scientific discoveries of the 20th century. It was no less a person than an outstanding Hindu scientist and a Nobel Prize winner, Sir J. C. Bose, who discovered that vegetables have, not only life, but sensibility particularly of pain. That finishes for all time the objection of cruelty to animals.... to put the animal kingdom to the uses for which it was created is no cruelty.
I haven't found any reference to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad being personally a vegetarian. Perhaps the quickest way to get a definitive answer to that and to your original question would be to contact the Ahmadiyya mosque closest to you. The address for the one in Thailand is here. Best, WikiJedits (talk) 15:35, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

when did the reichstag fire start?[edit]

And also, how were the firemen notified? it says in the article (Reichstag fire) that the berlin fire station recieved a call saying the reichstag was on fire at 2125/10p (two different times are offered...) but when did the actual fire start? I would understand if it's not known, but given that there was a trial and everything you'd think a source would exist that said at least aproximately what time it started... if not what time it is/was claimed to have started.

As for the follow up question, how were the firemen notified? did they get a call, ie, was someone on the street walking and was like OH MAN THE REICHSTAG IS TOTALLY ON FIRE (except in German...)? or what, and how did they tell the firemen, it says they recieved and an alarm call/message, was this a phone call? how ubiquitous were phones in 1933 Germany?

thanks. flagitious (talk) 06:51, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

In the UK before telephones were common, a fireman was detailed to sit at the top of the fire station tower and keep a lookout for smoke or flames. Simple but effective. Alansplodge (talk) 11:47, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
The German Wikipedia article says the fire alarm in the Reichstag was pulled "shortly before 9 pm" after fire was discovered first in the restaurant. That doesn't tell you exactly how the firemen were notified - by hearing the alarm or by being telephoned or fetched in person by someone who heard the alarm - but it's almost certain that the seat of government (and probably fire stations too) was/were equipped with telephone service in 1933; again turning to the German Wikipedia, the History of the Telephone article says the first phones were available in Germany in 1877; main networks were laid in the 1880s, and by 1936 Germany had 6,647 exchanges with 26 million km of line. Best, WikiJedits (talk) 12:55, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
Pulling a fire alarm should have caused a bell to ring at a fire station, resulting in firemen rolling out the door in less than a minute. The alarm ringing at some office wherefrom someone phones the fire station or runs down to the station to knock on the doorseems like a bizarre arrangement. Edison (talk) 17:33, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
"To the bitter end: an insider's account of the plot to kill Hitler, 1933-1944" By Hans Bernd Gisevius, pages 6-8 says that a "divinity student" walking at the west side of the building heard glass break "shortly after 9 o'clock," and saw a light start to flicker. He notified a policeman at 9:05.Witnesses saw a flame moving around inside the building, Two couples walking on the street saw the glow of the fire, approached the building, and saw flames coming out the windows. They ran to a fire alarm box at the porter's lodge in the Engineers' Building and pulled the alarm at 9:14 p.m. The fire brigade arrived within 4 minutes thereafter. Additional alarms were pulled and phone messages went out to government personnel. "The Night of the Long Knives" By Paul R. Maracin, page 93 says the alarm sounded at 9:14 at Firehouse Number 6 on Linienstraße. Shame on the Germans for not having automatic fire alarm reporting via high temperature sensors at the ceilings of the rooms. Such automatic alarms were in common use by 1919, as were automatic sprinklers. Edison (talk) 17:43, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
The Google books link you provided seems only to give access to the book for residents of the US, so I don't know exactly what the source says. But by "common", do you mean commonly used across the globe or only in US skyscrapers? --Saddhiyama (talk) 17:59, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
They were in common use in factories, warehouses, large stores, and similar buildings where prompt fire department response might decrease loss. The cost was probably offset by lower insurance premiums. As a "self-insurer" a government might just take a chance on the watchment spottong a fire. Another source, "Telephone magazine: an illustrated monthly magazine," Volumes 15-16 (1900) pages 172-173 said that by 1900 the Berlin Fire Department had fifteen engine companies, and each had its own fire alarm circuits. A Morse register at the station records which alarm box sent in a signal. In 1900, a portable phone was plugged in at the alarm to talk back to the station when the engine arrived. By the 1920's it was common to have a telephone at the fire alarm so the citizen could state the address of the fire and give an idea of how large the fire and structure were. Edison (talk) 18:12, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification (by the way the new Google Book link you provided, only shows up as snippet view for me, which is unfortunately almost the same as not having the link as it barely show one full sentence of the book) --Saddhiyama (talk) 16:01, 3 June 2010 (UTC)

Hypothetical philosophical question[edit]

This is a fun one : ) A professor of mine said that an experiment cannot prove something, it can only not disprove something. My thought experiment was a group of experimenters who would leave a kitchen utensil on a table, leave the room, come back in the room, and see if the utensil still existed. This is based on the idea that physical objects do not exist when a person is not looking at them. Well, after close to an infinite amount of experiments, one discovers that the utensil stopped existing when no one was looking at it (they go back in the room, and it's gone).

What does this prove? I believe it's specifically a Descartes thing, but could you point me in the right direction? Thanks!  ?EVAUNIT神になった人間 07:04, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

I guess you could start with the article on falsifiability, which is the notion your professor was talking about. Gabbe (talk) 08:18, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
You might also be interested in "If a tree falls in a forest" and where that article links to. ---Sluzzelin talk 09:26, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
From the scientific standpoint, the fact that the utensil is there every time does not philosophically "prove" it exists, but the best evidence available is that it does exist. A humorous twist on this premise is a Far Side cartoon in which a group of cows are standing on their hind legs, like humans, out in the pasture near a road. One of them yells, "Car!" As the car drives by, the cows are on all fours as they normally would be expected to be. In the final panel, they are back standing on their hind feet. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 10:54, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
The OP should also consider this: What about something that exists only when you're not looking at it? Meanwhile, I'm curious, from the mathematical standpoint, what specific number is "close to" infinity. And from the scientific standpoint, you have to consider the possibility that someone picked up the spoon and put it somewhere else. The failure to apply rational thought to observations is where religions come from, don'cha know. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 10:57, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
The falsifiability article is very good, and I'd share Gabbe's recommendation that you check it out. More generally, the issue your professor was referring to was that of the ability to prove inductive theories - I'd recommend reading the problem of induction article to catch up on that. In this case, I'd suggest that the example would prove that at the point of time when the experimenters looked for the utensil and it was not there, the utensil had disappeared. That doesn't solve the problem of whether or not it existed when the experimenters were not looking, as it doesn't state anything about the utensil's status when they were out of the room. (Maybe it did exist when they weren't looking, but ceased to exist on that one occasion when they did). Bilby (talk) 11:11, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
Or maybe someone picked it up and moved it, perhaps temporarily. And if they can't determine who moved it, it must have been something supernatural! ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 11:28, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
A corollary to this experiment, which is based on a similar conceit, is the comment of a sports fan, "They only win when I'm watching", or "They only lose when I'm watching." ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 11:30, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
Ockham's razor strongly leans towards the "anything other than ceased to exist" approach. :) - Bilby (talk) 11:42, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
I wonder if wikipedia has an article about socks disappearing from one's laundry? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 11:47, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
Coincidentally a variation on the missing socks problem happened yesterday. My brother got his socks wet, and left them outside on a rock to dry. When he went to get them, they were gone. I think a chipmunk is currently shredding them and lining her nest with them. StuRat (talk) 12:23, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
God in the incarnation of a chipmunk? What'll He think of next? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 12:53, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
If you take a look at proof disambiguation page, you'll see that there are a lot of mathematics-related entries, and none that are related to science. Proof only happens in the context of some rules. To oversimplify (I love oversimplifying!), mathematics is about taking rules and proving their consequences, and science is about coming up with those rules in the first place. Sometimes, say, physicists will do a mathematical proof, but proof and experiment are two totally different things. You can "disprove" something with evidence, but that doesn't really have anything to do with proof; someone can come along later and do more experiments to "disdisprove" it. Paul (Stansifer) 15:03, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

Rather than talking about "proof" and "disproof" for real-world situations (as opposed to pure mathematics or logic), it's more useful to talk about evidence and inference. See, for instance, Bayesian inference which talks about how the accumulation of evidence for or against a proposition can be used to rationally update one's level of belief in that proposition. --FOo (talk) 19:47, 5 June 2010 (UTC)

elimination of advanced culture[edit]

Is there a book which covers the degradation of culture, which virtually all historical literature or stage plays in England, or opera in Italy or ballet in Russia represent through perversion by the lower class who find such things unnecessary or a waste of time, aside from books about the Nazis? (talk) 12:39, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

I haven't been able to figure out what you mean. Could you expand a bit on what you mean but use shorter sentences please. Dmcq (talk) 13:08, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
I'll try. You are a member of a family unit. You have established routines, etc. Grandma comes to visit and really to stay due to her declining memory. You try to work her in. To do so means you have to stop using fowl language, no more porn on the telly. Forget rock and roll music. You can't skip church anymore. Your established home culture has gone completely a muck and you might as well get use to it because grandma is not ready to die. (talk) 14:14, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
"No more fowl language" = "no calling people chickens, or turkeys, or dumb clucks". As for going to church, if granny asks, just tell her you went and she forgot. :-) StuRat (talk) 03:52, 3 June 2010 (UTC)
Do you mean dumbing-down of culture? If so, maybe this book will help? --TammyMoet (talk) 13:26, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
Scanning very, very briefly I would have to read more. Possibly. (talk) 14:09, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
The example you gave above doesn't lead me to dumbing down. I see that as an example of a temporary modification of your culture in order to accommodate someone else's culture - maybe acculturation? --TammyMoet (talk) 14:48, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
Look at it from grandma's point of view in the event her established culture was violated. A better example might be if the government began to acquire civil servants not far above the mental and social capacity of a computer. Sure they would get the bureaucratic job done but what if the perspective that this was all that had to be done began to effect the thinking and attitude and behavior of the higher ups who at one time liked to attend plays but now find it quite unacceptable to stay in line with and accommodate the new bureaucratic thinking in order to have any respect at all that would allow such beasts to be managed. (talk) 15:05, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

Perhaps Puritan will be relevant. Your last paragraph sounds like a dystopia such as Orwell's 1984 or Fahrenheit 451. (talk) 18:00, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

Puritans may be too idealistic and Fahrenheit 451 to inclusive to qualify since no deliberate distinction is made between practical media like repair manuals and stories or novels. 1984 is another possible but way extreme outcome. In other words literature might not be eliminated but only its depth and certainly the appreciation thereof. (talk) 19:17, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
If that is so, then I think you'd have to write your own book - critique, textbook, dystopian novel or whatever, as your narrow criteria are likely to exclude everyone elses. By the way, I think you should try using commas. (talk) 22:37, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
There was no question in the explanation. I compared the explanation with the original and was unable to find any correlation. There was a question mark at the end of the last contribution explaining more but there was no question words in the sentence. You might as well be speaking a different language as far as I'm concerned. You really do need to try harder to communicate if you want reasonable answers. I am pretty intelligent so you probably have drastically restricted the number of potential replies. Dmcq (talk) 19:23, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
What obligation are you under to respond to the question that demands shorter sentences for your comprehension and corrections of an obvious typographical nature your mind can recognize but is unable to make for its self? Perhaps you should work on another question which does not present so many difficulties beyond your ability to resolve.. (talk) 19:41, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
I've read your "What obligation .." sentence a few times but it keeps on eluding me. We're not a bunch of dummos around here; maybe you should try a little harder to speak in simple sentences that contain one essential idea. Complexity requires more shorter sentences, not a longer single sentence. If you're not getting your message across, that's your problem and your responsibility to resolve, not ours.-- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 20:37, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
When children are in the room sometimes its necessary to talk over their heads. (talk) 06:59, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
After reading through your posts twice, I am still unsure if you think plays, operas and ballets represent good things which we are losing our ability to understand due to the indifference of the lower classes and general dumbing down, or if you consider them bad things, which the upper classes are forcing on the lower classes in order to subvert their culture and destroy their fun (like granny). Therefore I cannot answer your question. Since I feel under no obligation to answer any questions on this desk which I do not understand, this does not bother me in the slightest. I mention this confusion merely for your benefit: since you went to the effort of posting this question, I presume you would be keen for someone to answer it. If so, it would be to your advantage to clarify your question rather than abuse the intelligence and goodwill of the refdeskers (who are generally all intelligent and generous). Gwinva (talk) 21:51, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
  1. You should answer according to both points of view.
  2. You are taking this too personally. Go have a beer. (talk) 07:03, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
(ec) Actually, 71.100, I disagree with the premise that you are starting from: that if many people dislike or turn away from opera or ballet or old literature, then it represents a "degradation" of culture. This is a very controversial stance, which our High culture article touches on (but unfortunately doesn't tackle as much as it should). There was a deliberate, decades-long effort in the Victorian era (more or less) to exalt opera, ballet, and the stage, for the specific purpose of creating a divide between the favored elite and the unwashed masses. We have all been taught for over a hundred years that these arts are pinnacles of human achievement, and the middle and lower classes (and many individuals in the upper classes) feel like idiots for not loving Italian operas from 200 years ago. I am with those who believe this stance is nonsense. There are magical pinnacles of artistic achievement in each of these fields, but so are there in film, cartoons, TV shows, and stand-up comedy. La bohème is not intrinsically, provably superior to Toy Story. (PS: I agree with those who have suggested you use shorter sentences; the run-on sentences make it difficult to follow your point.) Comet Tuttle (talk) 21:57, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
What many people fail to comprehend is the nature of the past. Our momentary and present culture starts with the moment before that and that moment starts with the moment before it. A more or less contiguous path can thereby be constructed to the distant past. For some, however, the personal path excludes Egypt and the Cradle of Civilization, Europe, the British isles and about five thousand years of human history. However, because occurred in the past the present can not escape being influenced by it even if it does not lie in the direct path. Consequently the "...magical pinnacles of artistic achievement in... film, cartoons, TV shows, and stand-up comedy." can probability be found in past rather than being original. Again, if a question is above your head then simply ignore it and move on. (talk) 07:21, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
Don't insult people on the Reference Desk, please. Personally, I'm not providing you any further answers on the Reference Desk until you apologize. Comet Tuttle (talk) 17:30, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
Please do not feed the trolls.
Judging by the OP's sympathetic remarks about such supposedly lowbrow things as rock'n'roll, porn, and doing chicken imitations, I think the OP would agree with you. It seems to me the OP is looking for a good example of the historical literature which "represents this degredation through perversion (of the entire culture) by the lower class, who find such things (as art) unnecessary" - even though this is a flawed premise. The OP specifies a story like 1984, but less extreme. (The Time Machine springs to mind, but it's pretty extreme too.) (talk) 22:55, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for your support! :-}
H.G. Wells seems to be exploring the topic in a very provocative, extreme and unsubtle way. I'm looking for coverage which is somewhat more camouflaged like the beasts of the jungle, oceans or deserts that wait for the opportunity to eliminate whatever happens by; in this case any form of culture that might take up a moment of their time. (talk) 07:31, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
"Very provocative, extreme and unsubtle", was it? Hmmm ............ -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 20:48, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
I feel compelled to point out that the culture of your granny was the popular culture of her day. I know that I much prefer listening to the progressive rock music of my adolescence to the hip hop music of my kids, and the RnB (so-called) of today's kids. To me, my music is "better" simply because it's the stuff I grew up with, am familiar with, and fell in love with. That doesn't mean to say it actually is better. I was inspired to point this out by a forthcoming showing of Aida on the BBC, which led me to remember that my grandmother was in the chorus of a production of Aida in Birmingham in 1919, when she was 17. She used to play the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves every day until the day she died. When I was a kid she explained to that this was her "pop music". --TammyMoet (talk) 16:32, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
That reminds me when my parents criticised the Rolling Stones when they first appeared on American TV back in 1964; yet they had both been fans of Frank Sinatra who attracted loads of screaming girls in the 1940s. Every generation has its pop culture.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 16:38, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
"Never ask, 'Oh, why were things so much better in the old days?' It's not an intelligent question." Ecclesiastes 7:10. That is, even 2,200 years ago, this was considered a cliché. Unless everything has actually been constantly getting worse for thousands of years (unlikely), I think we can conclude that people who ask this question have no sense of history. (talk) 18:07, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
THe OP may be interested in deskilling, prolefeed (also see its links), Proletarianization, vulgarity, and Poshlost. (talk) 20:49, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
I have no idea what the OP is after. if he's looking for dystopic acculturation, I can't think of a better book than Huxley's "Brave New World". If he wants philosophy he should start with Neitzche and work his way up to the Nihilists (or towards the Beat Generation if he's more interested in literature). My sense is he's mistaking the mere presence of culture with a dissolution of freedom, which is inaccurate, but... --Ludwigs2 04:58, 4 June 2010 (UTC)
My reading was that the OP was unhappy about the loss of highbrow or 'elite' culture. (talk) 17:11, 4 June 2010 (UTC)

Cold War histories[edit]

I'm interested in reading about Cold War history, but find the reading list at that article somewhat overwhelming. I'm looking for books about the politics, diplomacy, intelligence and military (infrastructure, not the actual equipment) of that time. I'm not so interested in personal histories/memoirs. I've read and enjoyed The Cold War by John Lewis Gaddis and Cold War: For Forty-five Years the World Held Its Breath by Jeremy Isaacs and Taylor Downing and probably a few others that have slipped my mind. I am probably going to get another Gaddis book (which one?) but was wondering if anyone could reccommend anything with a European, British or Russian slant? Thanks --Kateshortforbob talk 12:40, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

I'm a big fan of David Remnick's Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire, which is mostly about the period of the 1970s-early 1990s in Russia. It's pretty fascinating on all fronts, and well-written. It's journalism more than straight history, but I think you'll find it as rich as Gaddis. --Mr.98 (talk) 14:28, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
For infrastructure in the UK, try Cold War: Building for Nuclear Confrontation, 1946-1989 by Wayne D. Cocroft. Amazon has it. It's an illustrated inventory of the physical infrastructure of Cold War installations in the UK, done in cooperation with the National Trust. You may also like Cold War Secret Nuclear Bunkers: The Passive Defence of the Western World During the Cold War by Nick Catford, a bit less scholarly. Catford's associated with Subterranea Britannica (SubBrit) [1], which has a section on Cold War relics [2]. Acroterion (talk) 20:30, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
Thanks, Mr.98 and Acroterion for the recommendations - I'll have some interesting holiday reading! Lenin's Tomb sounds like just what I'm looking for, and I wouldn't have thought about Subterranea in the Cold War, but it fits in nicely with my Underground London fascination :-) --Kateshortforbob talk 10:07, 3 June 2010 (UTC)
If you are still reading: I might also recommend David E. Hoffman, The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy, which recently won the Pulitzer. I am about half-way into it myself and enjoying it. It features a lot on the intersection between US and Soviet politics and their respective military infrastructures, especially relating to WMD research. Time period is mostly 1980s-1990s. Pretty enjoyable and has excellent portraits of both Reagan and Gorbachev and their troublesome interactions, especially relating to the "Star Wars" issue. --Mr.98 (talk) 02:37, 7 June 2010 (UTC)
Oddly, I have just been reading Dead Hand (nuclear war), which reminded me to come back and take note of these books before the question is archived! That one's definitely going on the list, thanks --Kateshortforbob talk 15:03, 7 June 2010 (UTC)

George Orwell quote[edit]

This page[3] has a Georege Orwell quote

"Men are only as good as their technical development allows them to be. "

But when you look at the source[4],an essay on Charles Dickens, the full quote is

" When he speaks of human progress it is usually in terms of moral progress men growing better; probably he would never admit that men are only as good as their technical development allows them to be. "

He seems to be presenting it as a statement Charles Dickens wouldn't agree with. Does it imply that Georege Orwell agrees with the statement? Is the first quote a fair representation of Orwell's ideas? Diwakark86 (talk) 13:18, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

Orwell presents it as a true statement Charles Dickens wouldn't admit to (not "agree with"), so I think it's reasonable to assert that Orwell agrees with it. "...probably he would never admit that all real cows have three legs and fly" (or some other false statement) wouldn't make sense as a meaningful contrast. — Lomn 14:06, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

Rev 1[edit]

what does "Rev 1" mean in "TK (Tamils, LP updated) Sri Lanka (Rev 1) CG [2009 UKAIT 00049 (11 December 2009)"] ?
Thanks. Apokrif (talk) 15:21, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

Revision one, maybe? --Tango (talk) 19:04, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps, but revision of what? Of the country guidance? It should be explained in some legal citation guide, or on the tribunal website, but I didn't find anything. Apokrif (talk) 21:05, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

Native Americans in US Politics[edit]

Are there currently any Native Americans holding a government seat? I mean like a senator, mayor, etc? Reticuli88 (talk) 15:24, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

Yes. There are all but certainly too many to list at local levels, probably many at state levels, and Daniel Akaka is a serving US Senator. Other Native American members of Congress have included Charles Curtis, Benjamin Reifel, and Ben Nighthorse Campbell. — Lomn 15:32, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
Apparently, Wikipedia does not have either a list or a category for them. -- Wavelength (talk) 20:07, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
(As a foreigner, )I don't usually consider Native Hawaiians to be Native Americans, because they're of Polynesian extraction. Rimush (talk) 21:03, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
There is a category, Category:Native American politicians. Adam Bishop (talk) 21:30, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
Rimush, you're not the only one — the Census Bureau (see Race and ethnicity in the United States Census) counts them as "Pacific Islanders". Nyttend (talk) 01:53, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
The U.S. government uses multiple definitions of Native American, sometimes at the same time: the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act has "Native American" means of, or relating to, a tribe, people, or culture that is indigenous to the United States".[5] (talk) 14:51, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

Robert Mugabe[edit]

Which activities did Robert Mugabe do that people consider him a left-wing politician? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:56, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

  • Two things spring to mind. One, he was one of the leaders of the liberation movement against white-minority rule in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. Before South Africa's reforms, opposing white-minority rule was a somewhat left-wing position (although plenty of British and American conservatives, and possibly others, spoke out against Rhodesia.) Two, Mugabe has been enacting land reform, which is usually a left-wing thing. Having said that, it's probably more accurate to call Mugabe a far-right politician, using the European definition of "far-right" as a party with a governing ideology that its opponents think is racist and xenophobic. Also, Mugabe's most significant achievement that didn't involve racism was crushing the Marxist group ZAPU, so Mugabe's relationship with African leftists has always been contingent and shifting. See Robert Mugabe for more details. --M@rēino 21:57, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
Any attempt to fit people (especially at the extremes) onto a single-dimensional political spectrum is doomed to failure. The Political Compass (which I don't really endorse from a quality analysis point of view, but it does include Mugabe in its famous politicians section so I'll go with it) put Mugabe as "Left/Authoritarian" [6] (the first bit being his economic position and the second his social position), which sounds about right. Somebody like Hitler was Right/Authoritarian, so people tend to equate authoritarianism with right-wing, but there is no reason to do so. --Tango (talk) 00:36, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

British Petroleum[edit]

Is BP wholly a public corporation, or is part of it owned by the British government? Googlemeister (talk) 19:09, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

It's wholly public, to the best of my knowledge. Do you have any reason to believe it is partly state-owned? Incidentally, it isn't called British Petroleum any more, they officially renamed as BP in 2001. --Tango (talk) 19:58, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
I can do better than that, actually. Our article (BP#1980s and 1990s) says: "The British government sold its entire holding in BP in several tranches between 1979 and 1987.". It was part of Thatcher privatising everything. --Tango (talk) 20:01, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
Really, I am a little bit surprised since most petro companies with the name of a country in it are either partially or wholly state owned (Petrobras, Saudi Aramco, Sinopec) etc... Thanks Googlemeister (talk) 20:18, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
It was party state owned when it was named, I believe. The UK, mainly under Thatcher's leadership, has largely moved away from state ownership. --Tango (talk) 21:29, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
But it does not have the name of a country in, as Tango said above. --ColinFine (talk) 22:14, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
It did between 1987, when the British government sold the last of its stake, and 2001 when it changed its name, though. --Tango (talk) 00:25, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
Time for another name change. Clarityfiend (talk) 01:55, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
And a name change that completely lacks any association. Who does not think Bitch Petroleum when they hear or see BP? (talk) 08:18, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
Everyone? Seriously, this is another case of US whitewashing. Just because people in the US want to paint BP as a devil doesn't make it so. Exxon are now doing pretty well, despite the Valdez. The British have about gone to "uncomfortable" on the BP-liking scale over this (we've gone to the Hague to support BP before now, by comparison). <gets off soapbox/> - Jarry1250 [Humorous? Discuss.] 08:39, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
Whitewashing? It's quite the opposite, isn't it? --Tango (talk) 16:19, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, this is more like mudslinging. Googlemeister (talk) 16:31, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
As opposed to mudslinging? :-) --Anon, 19:33 UTC, June 2, 2010.
My mistake. It seems like my definition differs from every other human being on the planet (seriously), for no apparent reason. - Jarry1250 [Humorous? Discuss.] 08:26, 3 June 2010 (UTC)
I wouldn't say it's "whitewashing", but more like "the subject is boring, but now it's scandalous, so the press is all over it at last". Here's a report where ABC noticed that over the past three years, BP's oil refineries committed 760 "egregious, willful" safety violations, while Sunoco and Conoco-Phillips each had eight, Citgo had two and Exxon had one comparable citation. Comet Tuttle (talk) 21:38, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
To be fair, I'm from USA and I'd always "known" that BP was short for "British Petroleum". (Though I see now that I'd been wrong for the last 9 years.) It never occurred to me that it might be state owned, I thought it was just a name, like "American Airlines" or "American Telephone & Telegraph". APL (talk) 23:17, 2 June 2010 (UTC)
The more accurate statement may be most petroleum companies which are stated owned often have the name of the country in it (clearly not always, some e.g. PETRONAS, Pertamina have names with national in their respective languages rather then the country). Country names aren't generally trademarked, so there's nothing to stop a company naming themselves after their country although nowadays it perhaps risks alienating their international customer base. Royal Dutch Shell is arguably another example (and if I understood the article correctly this one was never really owned by the Netherlands government but was given a royal charter). From a quick look at the article I'm not sure if Nippon Oil Japanese government either. Nor Encana although not sure of its predecesors. Not sure about RWE Dea AG or Japan Energy. While not a country name, Texaco doesn't appear to have ever been owned by the US state of Texas. There are if course some similarites in other areas America Online (now AOL) was never owned by the US government. Of course in this particular case, it was state owned and it just took them a while to change their name. Nil Einne (talk) 21:01, 2 June 2010 (UTC)