Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2010 March 12

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Humanities desk
< March 11 << Feb | March | Apr >> March 13 >
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.

March 12[edit]

Has there ever been an actual, verifiable (or even strongly suspected) case...[edit]

...of a country purposefully bombing its own cities/attacking its own citizens in some manner, then blaming it on a foreign power - as a means to rile the People up into a sense of patriotic outrage and serve as an excuse to go to war? I've heard loads of conspiracy theories but in all of history, has it ever actually happened for real? I'm not thinking of any one event in particular here, just for what it's worth and I'm not trying to advance any conspiracy theories myself. Just interested in finding out more about it. Is there a given name for this type of ploy? -- (talk) 04:12, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

See USS Maine (ACR-1). The ship sank in Havana Harbor in 1898; the cause of its sinking is still entirely unknown. It was likely not purposefully sunk, however the sinking was blamed on the Spanish by the U.S. government, and used as a pretext for the Spanish American War, which went somewhat disasterously for the Spanish. While it is proposed (but unlikely) that the Americans sunk their own ship, it is more likely that they knew it wasn't the Spanish that sunk it, but let the rest of the country believe that it was to drum up support for the coming war. --Jayron32 04:26, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
And then there was the Mukden Incident, which was the bombing of a section of Japanese-owned railway in Manchuria that the empire used as pretext to invade. It wasn't proven to be the Japanese, but the possibility of conspiracy is accepted as much stronger than that of the attack on the Maine. —Akrabbimtalk 04:55, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
see Category:False flag operations.—eric 05:06, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
The Gleiwitz incident fits the bill. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 05:12, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Another famous example advocated by 9/11 conspiracy theorists is that 9/11 was a false flag operation. --Kvasir (talk) 05:44, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Similar people make a similar claim about Pearl Harbor. They claim that the U.S. government had full knowledge that Japan was going to attack, but felt that the attack would bolster support for entering the war. In the case of Pearl Harbor, they aren't claiming that the U.S. bombed their own ships. They are claiming that the U.S. knowingly let it happen. The funny thing is that there are conspiracy theorists on the opposite side that claim the Japanese government had full knowledge of the planned bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but felt they would bolster waning Japanese support for the war. It seems that every devastating event is prime ground for conspiracy theorists to pick through the evidence, throw away anything that makes sense, and use what is left to make up claims about conspiracy. -- kainaw 06:35, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
There was an incident in Croatia in 1993 in which an artillery attack on the city of Šibenik was apparently staged by the Croatians, but this was done for show before a TV crew and did not (directly) cause any serious damage. See here.--Rallette (talk) 09:15, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
In the article on Operation Himmler there is mention that several Germans was killed by German undercover units (although probably unintentional), in the succesful attempt at creating a legitimate cause for the attack on Poland. --Saddhiyama (talk) 10:00, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
The Gulf of Tonkin Incident was a pretext to the U.S. accelerating the Vietnam War, although that was not a case of the U.S. bombing itself, but was more like the Maine. There's a connection between Pearl Harbor and 9/11, in that opponents of the U.S. entry into World War II and the acceleration of the "War on Terror", respectively, made claims that the U.S. "let it happen" or even "made it happen"; namely, right-wing, isolationist Republicans, and left-wing conspiracy theorists, respectively. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 10:24, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

Other suspected cases:

  • The Russian apartment bombings are strongly suspected of being caused by the Russian government to justify the Chechen war.
  • The strategy of tension in Italy saw right-wing groups conduct terrorist bombings and blame them on left wing organisations (who also carried out terrorist acts such as the murder of Aldo Moro); many people suspect that the US government, Greek right-wing junta, and possibly Italian governments were involved.
  • Many people suspect that the Turkish government was responsible for the Taksim Square massacre.
  • Reichstag fire. --Normansmithy (talk) 13:24, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Also see agent provocateur. StuRat (talk) 14:43, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Operation Susannah and the Lavon Affair is a similar, but not exact, instance to the one being asked for in the question. Operation Susannah was a failed Israeli attempt to bomb multiple American- and British-owned targets (both the United States and Great Britain were, and still are, Israeli allies) located in Egypt, in the hopes that "the Muslim Brotherhood, the Communists, 'unspecified malcontents' or 'local nationalists'" would be blamed for the attacks, resulting in harsher American and British foreign policies towards Egypt and closer relations with Israel. The operation, although somewhat successful at first, ultimately completely failed, resulting in the death of four Israeli operatives, the imprisonment of several others, a decline in relations between Israel and the United States and Great Britain, and some turmoil within the Israeli government, in which numerous Israeli leaders who knew about the operation beforehand resigned, including defense minister Pinhas Lavon. Laurinavicius (talk) 21:04, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

Styles of authority or power[edit]

Some people or organisations treat people according to written or unwritten codes of conduct, laws etc. Others treat people according to the personal relationship they have with them, and laws or codes of conduct are disregarded or may not exist.

The latter would be called authoritarianism. But what would the former be called, in fields such as sociology, psychology, management, politics, and so on? Thanks (talk) 11:22, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

You'll probably find what you're after at Leadership#Leadership_styles.
ALR (talk) 11:29, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Thanks, but none of the four types described there correspond to the former type above. (talk) 11:40, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
OK, personally I'd disagree with your characterisation of the latter point as authoritarian.
In leadership theory you'd consider relationships, explicit regulation, implicit regulation and archetypes within the organisation. You'd also consider a number of spectra; power distance, comfort with ambiguity, masculinity/ femininity.
Your question appears to hinge around the explicit/ implicit regulation issue and power distance. An authoritarian style would tend towards explicit regulation and high power distance ie a hierarchical structure. A style that works more with implicit regulation and low power distance would tend towards a more participative.
Without context for your question that's about as much as we can say for the moment.
ALR (talk) 11:55, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
See also guanxi for an example of one type of power system (and two closely related analogues: Wasta, Blat).--达伟 (talk) 13:15, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

If it helps, a fictional example could be a traffic warden or traffic cop who tends to give out parking fines to people she does not like, while letting her friends relatives or men she fancies off. Another traffic cop does things by the rules and disregards any relationships, even fining her friends relatives and boyfriend if need be.

So the contrast is taking action or making decisions (including doing nothing) on the basis of attending to the rules or codes of conduct and disregarding the personal relationship; or doing so on the basis of the personal relationship and disregarding rules and codes of conduct. (talk) 14:06, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

That's clearer. I think what you're getting at is more around how one approaches the regulation applied to the authority relationship. There is some work around how closely individuals adhere to the regulations around their role, and wheat level of pragmatism is applied. There are two aspects to what you describe; situating the application and consistency around the application. In the example you're talking about the pragmatism is applied to the relationship, not the situation.
I don't recall seeing anything formal, although there is bound to be something as the whole issue of power relationships is quite a big area of psychological study. What you're essentially getting at is nepotism.
ALR (talk) 16:16, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
What I was asking about was the non-nepotism (as you call it) case. Anyway, I'm not sure nepotism would be the best word for the fictional scenario I described. (talk) 17:43, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
The former could be legalistic or impartial or principled or simply just or fair. Or to use a slightly old-fashioned word untouchable, in the sense of The Untouchables. I'm not sure that the latter is authoritarian; authoritarianism implies ruthless enforcement of rules and controlling leadership, but if someone is letting their friends get away with murder then they're not being authoritarian, they're being biased, arbitrary, or corrupt.--Normansmithy (talk) 18:21, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

I think many people treat people in a personal way due to ignorance. I can imagine myself in their shoes and see that to them, it is a throughly good thing to be biased (although that is not a word they would use) to your friends and relations since they are good people and that's what frienship etc is about, while people you dislike are bad people. They have the idea that you should judge (their impression of) the whole person rather than just their behaviour. (Unfortunately their judgement of others is overwhelmed by their personal liking or disliking and the halo effect, and popular stereotypes and other folk-psychology).

As the OP, the real aim of this question is to find a vocabulary I can use to try to gently persuade such people that they must instead be objective and rule-based in their judgements. They do not see themselves as corrupt, they see themselves as good honest people, and may believe they have superior judgement to others. Telling them they are corrupt is just going to alienate them and not be believed. What vocabluary or form of words could I use? (talk) 11:04, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

One mode would be being impartial - unfortunately that word seems little used now perhaps due to having been over-used in advertising in the recent past for "impartial advice" from brokers of various kinds. It could also be called being administrative. As APL above says that the other is not authoritarianism, then I'm wondering what it should be called. Perhaps its related to respect in a tough-minded sense of that word, or a power culture. (talk) 17:57, 14 March 2010 (UTC)

Paying mortgage off early[edit]

I pay a certain amount every month on my mortgage (which includes insurance as well). I was wondering what that math is that would let me calculate the impact of me paying extra (I think I can pay extra towards principal directly) on my monthly payments, and on the number of payments (years) I will be paying off my mortgage.

Basically I was looking for a way to confirm either:

  • If I pay $50 more a month I will only pay for 29, instead of 30 years
  • If I pay $50 more a month, my monthly payment will be X less a year.

Thanks! Chris M. (talk) 12:16, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

Assuming you pay back interst and capital, the formula from present value is the following:
where payments are made at the end of each month, Loan is the outstanding amount you borrowed, i is the current annual interest rate from your contract, n is the number of years left, X is your annual repayment and
Using the current interest rate, you can set up the equation and then see what happens to n when X goes up by 12x$50 (I don't understand your second bullet). There will be all sorts of other funny fees/charges/stipulations which should be in your contract. This exercise will be much easier if you do it on a spreadsheet - you can use one line for each future cashflow and see what happens when things change. Zain Ebrahim (talk) 12:40, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Second bullet was a question of mine. I pay a certain amount that is interest every month. I would think if my principal were lower I would have less interest accumlated and then have to pay less. But then again, I clearly don't know how this works (hence the question). I'll try to work out a spreadsheet for you. Chris M. (talk) 13:04, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
My understanding was that you pay a fix amount each month: a portion of that goes to paying interest and a portion goes to paying off the principal you borrowed. But the monthly payment doesn't change over time. Is that right? If that is right, then the interest portion decreases over time but the principal portion increases over time so that total payment stays the same. Zain Ebrahim (talk) 13:09, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
I assume you are right because I guess I've paid the same amount for 6 months. But I tried out your math above. I tried to calculate the principal with my rate and years and payment, with this in excel (C2 is year payment, B2 is interest, D2 is years left):
What I got was a loan amount of 7.1621E+18. What did I do wrong? Chris M. (talk) 13:23, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
I was counting escrow before, When I fix it to only count yearly principal and interest, I get 5.4E+18. Chris M. (talk) 13:26, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Sorry, I wasn't clear - you need the second equation to work out the . So if i is 5%, then , which is 4.889...%. Zain Ebrahim (talk) 14:11, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
So in your formula where it says
it should say
. Zain Ebrahim (talk) 15:07, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Most lenders will do these calculations for you, if you either go for a visit or phone them. they will take the guesswork out of all this. Some lenders have online calculators that will do the work too. DJ Clayworth (talk) 14:01, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
By the way the answer to the second one is "If I pay $50 more a month, my monthly payment will be $50 more". DJ Clayworth (talk) 14:02, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
As for whether paying your mortgage off early makes financial sense, that depends on what other interest rates you're paying. Since the interest rate on a home mortgage is usually the lowest interest rate anyone pays, it makes more sense to pay off higher interest rate loans, such as credit cards, first. Only after all those are payed off would increasing your mortgage payment be in your financial interest. StuRat (talk) 14:34, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Also, I think it prudent not only to eliminate all higher-interest debt before considering accelerated mortgage repayment, but also to amass enough savings to be able to cover one's expenses, including minimum mortgage payments, for at least a year. In this economic environment, you never know when you might face an extended period of unemployment. Marco polo (talk) 15:01, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
If you Google "mortgage calculator prepayment" there are many calculators that will figure this out for you. Another thing I really recommend if at all possible is to refinance into a 15 year loan, which costs more per month, of course, but it saves an enormous amount of money over time. (talk) 17:26, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Don't forget to consider the tax implications of paying down your mortgage early. In the United States, mortgage interest is (usually) deductible on your income taxes. See IRS Publication 936: Home Mortgage Interest Deduction. —D. Monack talk 01:26, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
I paid off my mortgage early in the past, but now I think that was a mistake. What I should have done is to have used my spare cash (and the equity I had in my house) to buy more houses for buy to let. If I had done that I would have been much wealthier than I am now, due to rises in house prices since then. As someone is going to point out, if house prices were to fall then you would be much worse off. (talk) 11:14, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

Dehra Dun[edit]

Dehra Dun, India. There are several Tibetan refugee communities in the Dehra Dun area. In addition, there is the main monastery of the head of the Kargyu lineage. Finally, there are 3-4 Tibetan Residential Centers to provide Tibetan children a place to live while they are studying in Class I through Class XII. I believe that all of these items should be mentioned under the Wikipedia topic "Dehra Dun."

Phillips Kindy, Jr. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:09, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia is the encyclopedia that anyone can edit. If you think that this information belongs in our article, and particularly if you can cite sources for the information, then you should add it to the article. Marco polo (talk) 14:55, 12 March 2010 (UTC)


Hi Both my parents died by the time I was 15,and I have no other relatives alive today.I am trying to research my American grand father,and would like to obtain a copy of his birth certificate. HOW WOULD I DO THIS? I am living in London and i am a British citizen,my father was also born in Britain.

If i can obtain a copy of my fathers Birth certificate,with my Grand father noted on ths certificate,I presume with his name,and if noted his state of U.S. birth,I might then be able to contact that U.S. state office for a copy of my grand fathers birth certificate.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Fluter. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:48, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

First, you need to know your grandfather's name and place of birth. It is likely far easier to know his name and location of death. Death records are public records, so if you know where his death is recorded, you can simply ask for it. From there, you can search obituaries for further information that will (hopefully) lead to his place of birth. Then, you can ask for his birth certificate. -- kainaw 16:02, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
The General Register Office on London Southport holds copies of birth certificates for England and Wales; the General Register Office for Scotland in Edinburgh holds them for Scotland and the General Register Office (Northern Ireland) (which goes by the delicious acronym GRONI) in Belfast holds them for Northern Ireland. All are well used to providing genealogical information, including providing copies of certificates. -- Finlay McWalterTalk 16:05, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
You will not need a copy of you father's birth certificate in order to get your grandfather's. There is no central U.S. birth registry or even necessarily any statewide one. You may need to request the information from the county or town he was born in, depending on the local system the information may not be publically available at all. And birth records are not uniformly complete. In some places they do not exist for pre-1920. Sites like this one can help with the procedures. Rmhermen (talk) 16:22, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Father's BC may show grandfather's date and place of birth, which would help. —Tamfang (talk) 23:16, 12 March 2010 (UTC) is a subscription website which allows quick searches of millions of records of birth, death, marriage, military service, and immigration, It has a great many family trees already assembled by genealogists. There are also bulletin boards where queries can be made. It might save you a lot of random poking through records. Old U.S. census records through 1930 are also online there. They also have UK records, including birth records showing mother's maiden name and presumably father's name. Edison (talk) 18:29, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Ancestry is a pay site: the initial searches are free, but then if you want to see anything you have to pay for the information. I'd make two suggestions, based on the fact you are based in London: the first is that your local library should have free access to Ancestry, so make a visit there. The other is to visit the National Archives in Kew [1]. Their really helpful (if increasingly overworked!) staff will be able to point you in the right direction. --TammyMoet (talk) 09:33, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

Does Russia Railways observe daylight saving time? Need clarify.[edit]

Russia observes daylight saving time. Moscow is 3 hours ahead of GMT in winter and 4 hours ahead in summer. According to various sources on the web, Russia Railways use a single time zone, Moscow time, across the country. Does it mean Russian trains switch time zone twice a year every spring and autumn? How does the railway system do this during the daylight saving switch? Besides, for the international train K19 (China's code) / 019 (Russia's code) from Beijing to Moscow, since China does not observe daylight saving time, if Russia Railways does, does it mean the train spend one more hour in summer than in winter for the same trip from Beijing to Moscow? And it is weird, but according to the timetable at , train K19/019 leaves Manzhouli in China at 07:01 Beijing time, and arrive Zabaikalsk in Russia at 02:26 Moscow time, if it was in summer, the train would leave at 23:01 GMT and arrive at 22:26 GMT, how can a train arrives before its departure? How does daylight saving apply to Russian railway system, need clarify. Thanks! Python eggs (talk) 16:19, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

The times on that timetable really don't make sense. I suspect that they contain typos or calculation errors. I would look for a timetable from the Russian or Chinese railway authority. As for daylight savings time in Russia, see our article European Summer Time. Marco polo (talk) 18:52, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
I am only interested in how daylight saving affect the railway system. If they follow the daylight saving time, how they switch between daylight saving and non-daylight saving in March/September. Python eggs (talk) 19:57, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
There's no reason to think that the railway system shifts to summer time differently from any other institution in Russia. The article I linked explains exactly when the change to summer time takes place in Russia. Barring any evidence to the contrary (and I can't find any), the change takes place at the same time on the railways. Marco polo (talk) 20:23, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

Menstrual extraction[edit]

Is it legal? If so, up to how long after fertilization of an egg? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:46, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

Menstrual extraction#Legality has a little information on the subject. --Tango (talk) 21:49, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

Knee/leg movement; vibrating[edit]

Okay, trying again! This time without interfering with the above poster and wrecking the reference page... :) Dear Wikipedians... I, and many with me, can place the knee/leg at an angle to my thigh, and with a certain bit of circumstance produce a very vibrating knee. I guess it more jumps than vibrates. There is something happening, and I can't find the English term for it. =) Does Wikipedia have an article about the skiddy jumping sort of movement? Cramp-like, really. (talk) 22:55, 12 March 2010 (UTC)

OP here. Okay I am dumbstruck. If someone can find out why I am apparently writing with a tiny font, I'd be much obliged. (talk) 22:56, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
The previous section was missing a "</small>". Clarityfiend (talk) 23:01, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
I know exactly what you are asking. I'm interested in this as well. --Kvasir (talk) 23:22, 12 March 2010 (UTC)
Does restless legs syndrome describe it? Astronaut (talk) 02:31, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
No, RLS does not generally involve "vibration" so much as repeated need to move the leg every little bit. It sounds more like some sort of muscular tremor. Edison (talk) 04:48, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
If i understand the OP's question correctly, I think he means that there's vibration that can be felt from underneath the kneecap when shifting leg and thigh at a certain angle. It feels like a creaking door hinge. --Kvasir (talk) 05:02, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
Sewing machine leg meltBanana 05:04, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
Fantastic answer from MeltBanana. I conclude that if there is an article on Wikipedia about it, it does not go under the name of "Elvis syndrome" or "Sewing machine leg", nor is it mentioned in the calf muscle article. (talk) 12:37, 13 March 2010 (UTC)