Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2011 September 17

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September 17[edit]

chinese immigration?[edit]

hi, Can a Chinese immigrate from a county to another county? what is the status of Hong-Kong on this matter? And what about democracy?can Beijing change the results of the election? Exx8 (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 00:53, 17 September 2011 (UTC).

Emigration from China requires official state permission, which can be denied (or granted) rather arbitrarily. (There is an editorial account of one such emigration in the New York Times today, which is interesting.) See Chinese_emigration#Late_20th_century:_modern_emigration for more information. People with "clean" political records can often get business or student visas.
The PRC is not really a democracy. There are elections (see Elections in the People's Republic of China) but they are all more or less for the same party (there are no opposition parties). I'm not sure Beijing needs to change the results of elections, but, if they needed to, they probably would. There is not an independent judiciary or anybody to conduct real oversight. --Mr.98 (talk) 01:02, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

I assume that a Chinese citizen in good standing is not free to leave, which is what separates the "evil" countries like dictatorships, communism, totalitarian, countries, from "good" countries like the U.S., Canada, European countries, etc. This is just my impression though. (talk) 01:12, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

Indeed, Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country." - Wikisource. Avicennasis @ 01:27, 18 Elul 5771 / 01:27, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
I believe the OP meant to say 'province' but used 'county' instead. I don't believe the OP meant 'country', as 'a country to another country' makes little sense here. I lived in China in the early 1990s, and there was little freedom of movement. There were many rural people coming into the cities to find work, but very often they were being sent back to their homes in the countryside again. I believe the situation is different now, but how different, I do not know.--KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 01:42, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Right, I also believe the OP really meant county, but anyway: if you can't even leave your county, it's certainly impossible to leave your country. Quest09 (talk) 01:48, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Not necessarily. It's easy to imagine a country where because of possible population density problems or fears of ethnic tensions or whatever, migrating from one county (or whatever) to another is difficult in at least some cases but they don't care if you bugger off somewhere else. Nil Einne (talk) 05:04, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
See Hukou system. In fact there are counties in China. Here is some information on how China regulates internal migration. Marco polo (talk) 16:20, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

Question about Leading Leisure Expert[edit]

I wanted to know the history of leisure. While I was researching I found someone who said he's the leading leisure expert. and this is his website: His name is Lee Zhur. I don't get it. Why is he never mentioned in leisure studies? Icemerang (talk) 02:14, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

See wikt:leisure and go to the pronunciation. It's a pun. --KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 02:23, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
as if the fact that this definitive history begins "Leisure activities began simultaneously in late June 1949" wasn't enough... (talk) 12:27, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

Question about the law[edit]

Can a person practice law in the United States if they have been convicted of a felony crime? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:03, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

It probably depends on your own particular state's bar standards, but the Wikipedia article Admission to the bar in the United States requires that lawyers maintain Good moral character, but does not define specifically what that means. It would probably depend on the nature of the felony. --Jayron32 05:10, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Have you ever seen a lawyer with good moral character? Wikiweek (talk) 00:09, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
Let's not forget that it's other lawyers who are making the determination. Dismas|(talk) 01:21, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
Generally no, but there is a widely used system of requesting exemptions for past and relatively minor or less pertinent crimes. I believe laywers are frequently granted exemptions for DUI felonies in most states. (talk) 01:47, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

The prohibition is on persons having committed a felony involving a crime of moral tupritude. So it's not all felonies. Each state may be different.Greg Bard (talk) 04:38, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

Not exactly a spire...[edit]

Building in Poulsbo, Washington

Does someone know a proper term for the spire-like element on this building? - Jmabel | Talk 05:31, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

Finial? --Jayron32 05:35, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Steeple (architecture) ? (In the "Images" section at the bottom, you will see some similar ones.) StuRat (talk) 05:42, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Or maybe Onion dome? The way the spire bit bulges in the middle does look a bit like an onion dome; and there are similar structures in pictures in the Wikipedia article. --Jayron32 05:52, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Minaret(scroll past the description and look at the images) might be closer to what you are describing User:Jayron32, but it is more than likely a Steeple Heiro 07:43, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
On what wings dare he a-finial? (talk) 21:24, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

Certainly not a minaret. It's not quite an onion dome (too narrow). Steeple is, like spire, awfully general for shape, and tends to specifically connote part of a church. If it's any help, the town is mostly Norwegian American, and I'm guessing that it is something specifically Nordic. - Jmabel | Talk 07:55, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

I would go with the generic Spire then, specifically Bell-shaped spires(close to bottom of page. Heiro 08:01, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Ah, thanks, that's doubtless the term. - Jmabel | Talk 17:14, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
If you'll give me a minaret to summarize this not-so-dome question, the peak is steep enough to be a steeple, but can only aspire to be a spire, and that's my finial thought on this. StuRat (talk) 19:55, 18 September 2011 (UTC)

Do cats think?[edit]

The article does not say anything about this, but it does state that cats dream. Seeing as they do dream whilst asleep, it makes me wonder whether or not they actually think when awake. Would anyone know whether cats do in fact think? Thanks.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 07:06, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

Sure they think - if we do. Defining "thought" is tricky, though. Several animal have shown clear signs of self-awareness - see Mirror test. However, I'm not aware that cats have passed this test so far. Of course, this is obviously only because the Supreme Masters of the Universe do not deign to participate in tests set up by their litter box cleaners. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 07:46, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
AFAIK, cats utterly fail the aforementioned mirror test by fiercely attacking their mirror image. --Belchman (talk) 15:10, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
With all due respect and sympathy for a liberal reading of the term Humanities, I suggest posting this query on the Science Ref Desk. -- Deborahjay (talk) 07:52, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
See Cat intelligence --Meerkatakreem (talk) 11:05, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
My favourite 'test' of cat intelligence, carried out by reserchers who clearly had little experience of cats, involved pulling on bits of string to get a tasty treat. The reserchers noted that dogs would learn to pull the right piece of string to get a treat, but cats wouldn't. They seemed to think this refleced badly on the cats' intelligence, but frankly it reflects badly on the researchers. Playing with bits of string is a cat's ultimate goal, especially if they aren't particularly hungry: why would they reject something they like for something less appealing? It would be like a dog manipulating a piece of meat to make string dangle: it's not that they can't, they'd just never want to. (talk) 11:52, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
My favorite book on animal intelligence in general is Temple Grandin's Animals in Translation. Give it a read — you'll be glad you did. It is simply fascinating. They do think, but they think differently than most humans do. --Mr.98 (talk) 14:24, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
"Using the mysteries of autism to decode animal behavior"? --KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 20:12, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Indeed, and I was a bit suspicious of it at first. But it's for real — and pretty interesting. Grandin is one of the most influential and most important animal behaviorists of our day. She's also one of the most important autism (and autistic) activists of our day. It's actually pretty profound stuff, and she's extremely good at indicating where she's going out on a limb and where she's not (unlike most science writers). Heavily recommended. --Mr.98 (talk) 14:49, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
Cheers - I have ordered it from our local library. I used to teach autistic children and I'm interested in animal behaviour, and of course, linguistics. :) --KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 17:53, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
The real question seems to be whether cats have phenomenal consciousness. I am convinced that they do, but sort of by definition there is not (and cannot be) any objective test. They could always be p-zombies. --Trovatore (talk) 20:37, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
But in truth, we could be p-zombies too. It strikes me as somewhat implausible that humans would be terribly different in that respect from other mammals with sufficiently developed brains. I suppose one could consider phenomenal consciousness a threshold effect, but that seems like kind of an odd, exceptionalist assumption to me — the burden of proof would be on showing that human conscious was somehow different from animal consciousness (given that humans are, in fact, animals), not the other way around. But I'm sure that our understanding of what consciousness really is still has quite a lot of room for development, yet. --Mr.98 (talk) 14:52, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
You could be a p-zombie. I couldn't. From your perspective, of course, it's the other way around, unless you really are a p-zombie, in which case you don't have a perspective at all. --Trovatore (talk) 19:43, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
I don't believe you couldn't be a p-zombie. Citation needed :> Greg Bard (talk) 20:50, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
Didn't say you should believe it. I said it's true. I know I'm not a p-zombie; no one else really can. --Trovatore (talk) 21:56, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
Cats have a very different socialization than common pack animals such as dogs or horses. They appear to be indifferent and uninterested when they aren't particularly hungry, probably because it gains them some kind of an advantage to wander off as opposed to remaining with groups. They certainly think and exhibit problem solving behavior when they are goal-oriented, such as when they are stalking prey. Most of the time, though, it might be fair to say that their minds wander. (talk) 20:41, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
No other form of life, aside from humans, can plan long term projects. The projects don't even have to be particularly long term. Other than humans, no form of life does much in the way of planning. I don't mean that which is biologically programed into a creature, but rather cogitation, conceptualization, holding onto and idea and doggedly pursuing an aim. Bus stop (talk) 14:20, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
That's so not true. Heh. See this for example. Tool usage is another. It's always wrong to judge sentience based on anthropocentric criteria. If we applied those criteria on a three year old human child, we'd come to the conclusion that our children are all non-sentient automatons.-- Obsidin Soul 14:56, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
How long ago in human history do you think the first efforts were made to get to the moon, invent a printing press, invent a computer, develop long range communication? I realize that this Chimpanzee is using a stick. But that is a severely limited activity in human terms. Bus stop (talk) 15:24, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
We are actually discussing this very thing in our class with Dr. Allison Brooks. We're basically trying to determine what is human culture and does it have a beginning. We have covered the multiple forms of tool use (and advanced planning) various tribes of great apes use, etc. I even wrote a nice paper which I am not showing anyone here, but let me submit, for your approval, some clear examples of complex learned behaviour.
See, for instance, this video of chimps hunting, catching, and proceeding to nom a poor little monkey using pretty advanced planning and tatics for lower animals imo (reminiscent of buffalo hunting)
Stone hammer and anvil use
And of course, one of those most important of human characteristics, the ability to play Medal of Honour: Pacific Assault. [1]. Need anymore be said on this topic?
Oh btw, I (and probably other people) determined that the reason why the chimps and such can't go as far as us is they start doing something like say using two rocks to smash nuts, and think "this is good.", and leave it at that. We use two rocks to smash nuts, and think "this is good, but how can I make it better?" That's what sets us apart from other animals. That's the reason why chimps still do the same stuff that our most recent common ancestor probably did. Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie | Say Shalom! 21:36, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
A caveman didn't wake up one day and say, "Someday, I will go to the moon! Today I will look for food and then later learn how to make fire so I can make that possible." Human advances were cumulative. Forward planning and memory is actually a pretty common thing even among lower animals. Sure, some animals are just robots of DNA, but given that we humans aren't, why shouldn't there be others who aren't as well?
I mean, think of it, where did we start from in the first place? Sentience was not a magic thing suddenly bestowed on humans and humans only, the capacity for it developed gradually from somewhere, and these animals are developing it too (at least partly). As we've found out, having more processing control and breaking the DNA's prime directive of 'replicate me through whatever means necessary' is pretty nifty. It's called convergent evolution.
Arguing that only humans are capable of sentience at all is a kind of species-solipsism that is just as easily likely to be from avoidance of guilt. Just less than two hundred years ago, people used the same reason as an excuse for slavery on fellow humans. And no, I'm not a tree-hugger and I love meat. :P -- Obsidin Soul 03:04, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
"Slavery on fellow humans".[2] Give me a break. Humans probably conceptualized space flight to the moon thousands of years ago. The computer was probably conceptualized thousands of years ago. You linked to an article on a crow using a twig to poke a rubber spider. Other forms of life address issues right in front of them. There is no long term planning. Humans think conceptually. Even a human of thousands of years ago would have understood numbers, and would have conceptualized that a machine could help a human to make mathematical calculations. That would be a thought concerning an archaic computer. When metallurgy was explored and developed, human beings would already have had in mind the sort of machines they wanted to build. Concerning human beings, the planning is already in place before the means even become available. The complexity of human projects sets humans apart in a virtually absolute sense from other animals. I think that has been the case for tens of thousands of years. The case can be made that humans are like animals but not the other way around. : ) Bus stop (talk) 03:33, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
So is slavery OK as long as the slave is not capable of long-term planning? How is that even relevant? --Trovatore (talk) 03:43, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
How is a slave not capable of "long-term planning?" Bus stop (talk) 04:58, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
That's not the point. Of course human slaves are generally capable of long-term planning. The question is, why would it make slavery any better if they weren't? --Trovatore (talk) 05:02, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
I added a link to my above post. I was quoting another editor. Bus stop (talk) 05:08, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
It still appears to me that you are claiming that there is no moral issue with the enslavement of animals, and that partly in support of that position you adduce the claim that they are not capable of long-term planning. Are you saying that, or not? It's certainly possible that I have misconstrued. --Trovatore (talk) 05:11, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
I have not touched upon any issues concerning morality. I am making a distinction between humans and other forms of life. I think that distinction is just a functional distinction. Bus stop (talk) 05:17, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
Fair enough; my mistake. Still, I'm pretty sure ObsidianSoul was making a moral point, namely that we risk dealing unjustly with animals if we deny their capacity to ... feel, suffer, hope, whatever. I think it's a point at least worthy of taking into consideration. --Trovatore (talk) 06:53, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
(edit conflict) But I don't think that using an animal as a beast of burden would constitute "dealing unjustly with animals"[3] whereas coercing a human to do demeaning work against their will would probably be unjust. There are reasonable distinctions that can be made between humans and animals due to not insignificant discontinuities found between our capacities and those of lower forms of life. Bus stop (talk) 12:59, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
Er... wasn't that the point? By drawing the line between which organisms are capable of sentience to humans only, it makes it easier for humans to coerce animals to do demeaning work against their will. Exactly like what we did with slavery before.-- Obsidin Soul 13:15, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
I don't think a harnessed animal reflects on such notions as "demeaning work" or lack of remuneration. It is not necessarily going to suffer a slight to its dignity because a human is directing its activity. The animal may experience a degree of pain associated with exertion. But the animal is not thinking about how embarrassed it would be if its kids saw it pulling a plow. Bus stop (talk) 14:00, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
So are those the criteria for sentience then? Embarrassment, dignity, and awareness of the lack of remuneration. We can apply the same things, like I've said earlier, to human toddlers. They also are not embarrassed, have no concept of dignity, and don't expect you to pay them. So are human children not sentient then? Are they also just animals instinctively running around, playing with toys, eating, smiling, attempting to imitate sounds, and whatnot? And if they are not sentient or at least only of limited sentience, does that also justify cruelty? The elephant below is slowly going insane from its barren environment, but it's not a human being and thus by your argument, not sentient.
Our article for feral child might be an interesting read.-- Obsidin Soul 14:28, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
Human children are human children—they are still human, even if they are children. It would be possible to treat animals in a way that would constitute cruelty but I am certainly not advocating that. Nevertheless we do use animals in a variety of ways. For instance we kill them and eat them. Yet we don't countenance cannibalism—the eating of human flesh. And most of us do not countenance the enslavement of other humans. These are standard positions held by most people. There were times in the past when the institution of slavery had the imprimatur of such august bodies as sovereign governments. But nowadays human trafficking and associated abuses are frowned upon although practiced in an unlawful way. I am not excusing human slavery and I am certainly not advocating that we treat animals cruelly. Bus stop (talk) 15:22, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
Recognize it? It's commonly mistaken for dancing. But think prisoners banging their heads repeatedly against the wall to the tune of NIN (lol) before going berserk. An instinct robot wouldn't do that, as long as you provide food and shelter, they should have been perfectly happy with things.
You did posit complex planning as the only indicator for intelligence. I contend it's far more complicated than that and you're putting too much emphasis on human criteria that no nonhuman creature will understandably achieve. That article is about animals planning.
The problem is how do you we know that animals don't think conceptually? Elephants mourn. That shows an awareness of the concept of mortality. They have been documented extensively for the ability to show empathy not just to fellow elephants but to other injured creatures. They also know the concept of revenge. Those are abstract concepts. Dolphins also have names for themselves and for each other, and have at the very least a rudimentary language. Those are also abstract concepts. Dolphins exhibit very complex play, behavior done for the sheer fun of it. Both these animals (as well as a lot of others) have the capability to go insane in captivity. And despite what you said, both understand numbers, something shown in numerous studies.
What do they need to prove that they are aware of themselves and their environment in more ways than that of a robot gathering input? Do we need them to start walking on two legs and building spaceships before we say that 'ah! I think this one thinks'. It's like two people from different continents meeting for the first time, each unaware of the other's language. Is it fair if one person expects the other to speak English as a way of determining intelligence? This is more than that. Nonhumans might have different priorities, different thought patterns, and different senses.
And yes, like Trovatore said, that was the point I was making with slavery. Slave owners refused to accept that slaves might actually be humans. Later on when it became too difficult to deny, they then refused to believe that slaves might have souls. Not because they could not recognize common humanity, but simply because it made it easier for them to accept their reality that they were basically working someone else who felt and thought the same way they did to death. The capacity for cruelty increases the less empathy we have for someone else. We can swat a mosquito without feeling guilty about it afterwards, but vivisecting a puppy is another matter.
And no, I think you're putting waaaay too much credit on humans. Perhaps we get that impression now given how much our communications have improved and how much we know. But humans only started planning really complex projects around 11,000 years ago with the realization that they can cultivate food and build their own caves. Civilization. That's 11,000 years out of the 400,000 to 250,000 years our species have existed on this planet. Precolumbian American civilizations never invented the wheel, nor did they have iron. The ability to do maths, to read and write, and make art were sheer magic (cf. runes) limited to specially skilled people to the vast majority for most of human history. And it's most certainly not true that humans planned spaceflight 'thousands of years ago'. They thought stars and planets were just pretty moving lights, eclipses were caused by giant dogs, the world was resting on turtles all the way down and it was flat, and that a rabbit was pounding rice cake on the moon. Where do we draw the line for sentience? Homo habilis? They had tools, probably a primitive language, but they probably did not plan much beyond what the next season would bring.
Note that I'm not arguing that cats may be sentient, just that sentience is not a human-exclusive trait and that it's not merely about the capacity to plan complex projects.-- Obsidin Soul 12:38, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
A thought is basically the result of the brain manipulating symbols. In the case of humans and cats the symbols are made out of the meat of the brain, whereas in a computer they are made out of ones and zeros. In the cat's cabesa there is a symbol for "wet cat food," and one for "dry food," one for "balls of yarn," etcetera. These are all concrete objects which appear in the mind as an image of that object. Abstract ideas do not appear in the mind as the image of any particular object. Whether or not cats have abstract concepts is debatable. These are things like "hope," "decency," "pride," etcetera. Cats obviously get hungry, and so "hunger" as a concept is there, but this is the type of abstract idea that is very closely associated with the cat's biology. Greg Bard (talk) 04:59, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
Cats are also masters of thermal regulation. They know which spots in the house are warmest and coolest, and go to the appropriate spot to warm or cool themselves. They also know that the temperature is dynamic, and will move to follow a sunny patch as it moves across the floor. This shows some rather abstract thought capability. StuRat (talk) 05:23, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
Does the exhibited behavior to which you refer, indicate that they will be exhibiting much different behavior 100 thousand years hence, and especially—does it indicate that they will gain much better control over the temperature of their environment 100 thousand years hence? Maybe they will convince humans to provide them with feline-friendly thermostat controls 100 thousand years hence. Bus stop (talk) 05:29, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

Temple Grandin's Animals in Translation will be near the top of the readers' and critics' Top 100 listof best non-fiction of the 21st Century. A human who hasn't read the book should hesitate to call himself educated. μηδείς (talk) 03:53, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

Personal correspondence/letters - archive/history[edit]

Sorry if this is a bit of daft question. I was thinking about personal correspondence i.e. a person sending a letter to another person. Historians/authors often make use of personal correspondence of people of interest, but I was wondering how they get their hands on the letters.

When I send a letter I don't make a copy, I just send it to recipient - so the only copy lies with the person I sent it to. Obviously email has changed all this, but what about decades and hundreds of years ago?

Is correspondence collected by getting recipients to donate the letters they received to a central archive? Or was it common for letter-writers to carbon-copy their letters, wikipedia Carbon_paper links to which says carbon paper was invented around 1800. So perhaps letter writers after about this time used carbon copies to keep track of what they had written, but what about before 1800ish?

This is just for personal interest, but any thought would be appreciated! Thank you, (talk) 12:19, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

It depends. We do have a fairly good collection of Jefferson letters, because he kept a copy of every letter he sent - he actually penned a draft, then the good copy, and then the archival copy. He tinkered around with a polygraph to make things easier. See here for an image and description. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 12:41, 17 September 2011
Lewis Carroll had an elaborate record-keeping system for keeping track of every letter he ever sent, but many others were much more lackadaisical (as to be expected). I really don't think that carbon paper was at all commonly in use by ordinary private individuals until long after 1800, but forms of the pantograph did exist (see Polygraph (duplicating device)). By far the most common method of copying documents ca. 1800 was hiring lowly-paid copy clerks, but often there would have been understandable reluctance to expose sensitive personal correspondence to such clerks. AnonMoos (talk) 12:53, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
It really depends on the person and the time period. (I say this as a practicing, professional historian, albeit one of the late 20th century period.) In the 20th century it is not uncommon for people to keep both sides of their correspondence, if they feel it is important (and they feel that they are important). However, it's also not uncommon in any century for an archive to only have one side of a conversation. For terribly important people, it's not uncommon to try and track down all other correspondence kept in other archives (so you get both sides of the conversation between two people important enough to end up in an archive) and to make copies of them and move them to a central archive (e.g. a rather extreme and systematic version of this is the Darwin Correspondence Project) . But no matter who or what you research, it's common to have only one side of the letters, and to really have to search them out. Fortunately this has become much easier in the last decade or so, because archives publish their finding aids digitally. --Mr.98 (talk) 13:28, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

Carbon paper would not have worked well with quill pens circa 1800. Even a 19th steel pen nib would likely bend if enough pressure were applied to make a carbon copy. A pencil would have worked fine with carbon paper, as would a mid 20th century or later ball point pen, or a late 19th century or later typewriter. Edison (talk) 19:29, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

The letters of J. R. R. Tolkien were published after his death because he kept copies; I'm not sure if he made carbons or just wrote two copies. I'm working right now in an archive that has the papers of former US Senator Birch Bayh, including letters sent by his constituents (and lots of other people, too) — the staffers that worked with these letters and wrote the replies almost always made carbon copies of the replies. Hoping that this is close enough to "personal" to be helpful for you. Nyttend (talk) 14:14, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
In 20th century US government, in particular, copies are made of everything. Overrun bureaucracy and red tape ironically make life a lot easier for historians. --Mr.98 (talk) 14:33, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Why is that ironic? It would be ironic if, for example, there was a government office concerned with preserving historical documentation, but its actions made it much more difficult for future historians to study the government. The fact that the creation of massive amounts of documentation makes it easier for scholars of the government to do their job is in no way ironic. (talk) 21:19, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
The irony is that red tape is usually seen as a bad thing; for an historian, it turns out to be a blessing. That's all. --Mr.98 (talk) 21:34, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

Elaborating on the Jefferson example above: US founders like Jefferson, Adams, and Washington knew that posterity would be interested in their correspondence and so they went to great lengths to preserve many of their letters. (But not all of their letters: of the three, only Adams made sure to preserve letters between him & his wife; for the others, this was too personal.) Founders who did not take pains to preserve their correspondence, like Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry, get less attention from historians as a result. —Kevin Myers 05:02, 18 September 2011 (UTC)

Also, people of that era kept track of letters with a letter book/letterbook. (It's odd to see that those are red links, since we have articles on almost everything.) During the Revolution, there's a letter from John Adams to Abigail advising her to get a binder or letterbook to preserve their correspondence. —Kevin Myers 05:17, 18 September 2011 (UTC)

Thank you for all your responses, I wasn't expecting such a flurry! (talk) 08:44, 18 September 2011 (UTC)

The archives I deal with are largely commercial correspondence between 1930 and 1970 between trade unions, their branches, members, politicians, peak bodies, media, etc. Over the course of this period of time you can see the quality of record keeping change dramatically due to the commercialised impact of technology. Carbons are rare in 1930, minute books are hand written. By 1970 carbons are constant and continuous (seven slips deep, etc). By 1970 some "new" office procedures start impacting on the quality of retained data: thermocopies degrade rapidly, thermofaxes yellow to black. I dread what the historians of 1985-20XX will face given poor data and records policies by institutions of that period.
One interesting thing is with only the flimsies, often you don't get to see the letterheads... sometimes flimsies are from drafts, not finals, etc. Still, with deep primary sources like this, it is often about building up an interpretive stucco rather than deeply analysing single items of correspondence. Fifelfoo (talk) 01:53, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
That is interesting. It would be fascinating to find out when the change happened. By World War II, the use of carbons was widespread in the US government. I wonder if the boom in general (non-government) usage is before or after WWII. --Mr.98 (talk) 17:38, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

Correct name for leather belts without holes (clothing)[edit]

Re-enactment groups seem fond of using a certain sort of belt that has no holes in it, and a ring in one end around which a knot is tied. I'm not sure such a belt has a historical basis. Here is an image which better explains what I mean;

What is the correct name for such a belt? --Quentin Smith 14:07, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

Medieval squire's belt or ring belt. See these images here --Meerkatakreem (talk) 15:14, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Are such belts notable enough to be mentioned on Wikipedia? Are they only used by reenactment groups? The article on belts makes no mention of them. Images of historical belt buckles suggest conventional belts have been used for a long while.
These people seem to think that it's mostly a reenactor thing. Deor (talk) 17:29, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
I have come across such items as a fashion accessory (and been unable to work out how to use them properly!), so I'd say they're more general than just historic interest. --TammyMoet (talk) 19:25, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
I think that stress put on the leather at the point of the knot would result in breakage at that point after a brief few months of usage, if used as a practical way of cinching in the waist, thus I agree that a fashion purpose would be more likely than a practical one. Bus stop (talk) 13:45, 18 September 2011 (UTC)

World War II artillery of the United States[edit]

Can anyone identify the type or types of guns in these images? A source states that they date from circa 1945, so I'm confident that they're World War II (and their placement in rural Indiana makes it rather unlikely that they're non-US), but I don't know what type. Judging by the images and by my memory from 2½ months ago, I'd guess that they're all the same type, but I'm not sure. As far as I can see, none of the images show any sort of inscriptions on the guns. Nyttend (talk) 14:18, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

All of those little circular bits around the chair, and the fact that they look like the guns themselves are meant to easily pivot around the base, makes it likely that they are anti-aircraft weapons, probably for Navy ships. I'm not a weapons gearhead, but I think it's almost certainly a Mark 22 3"/50 caliber gun? (Image) --Mr.98 (talk) 14:26, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
The fact that this gun had a low-angle mounting and could use armor-piercing shells indicate it was sometimes used against surface targets as well as anti-aircraft. (talk) 14:44, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, as our article says, a dual-purpose mounting. I agree that it does seem to be the 3" gun linked by Mr.98 above. There is surprisingly little about the gun in Bloomfield on the web. The only reference I could find simply calls it "an anti-aircraft gun". Alansplodge (talk) 16:09, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
I should have included a link up above to the source for the dates for these guns. See the second full paragraph of the seventh page of the PDF. Nyttend (talk) 01:09, 18 September 2011 (UTC)

Grover Cleveland's grandfather[edit]

Who was Grover Cleveland's grandfather? --KAVEBEAR (talk) 22:11, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

Like everyone else he had two. According to the Grover Cleveland Library his grandfather on his father's side was William Cleveland, silversmith and watchmaker of Beacon Hill CT. His grandfather on his mother's side was a law-book publisher from an Irish background, named here as Abner Neale. Sam Blacketer (talk) 22:42, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Oh. I thought it was Richard J. Cleveland, the captain of the Leila Byrd. How is this man related to President Cleveland?--KAVEBEAR (talk) 22:56, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Based on info in this book, Richard J. was the first cousin of the President's grandfather William.--Cam (talk) 03:36, 18 September 2011 (UTC)