Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2012 February 14

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February 14[edit]

Yelling In Lower Chambers (Govenment) When Someone Is Talking[edit]

In the Canadian House of Commons and British House of Commons there is yelling when a Member of Parliament (which is what representatives are called in both polities) is talking. Why is this? Should there not be decorum when a person is speaking so he/she can be heard? Is it not disrespectful to talk over someone?Curb Chain (talk) 01:00, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

You mean House of Commons of the United Kingdom. Alansplodge (talk) 17:52, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
The relevant point is that this happens in the Commons, which, after all, is supposed to be composed of commoners. So, you'd expect less decorum from the average commoner than a member of the House of Lords, wouldn't you ? StuRat (talk) 01:13, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
Commons is traditionally a combative environment in Westminster systems and Westminster-influenced systems. Commons has a right of freedom of speech, a rare right in most Westminster system countries, and commons has traditionally used it. Commons culture operates based on the Speakers' involvement. Quite often Commonners swore the moon blue before television broadcast of parliament, A conga-line of suckholes indeed. Now TV has made commons dull and boring. Fifelfoo (talk) 01:21, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
But what about Hansard, and the prohibition on unparliamentary language such as swearing? Both of these long predated TV or even radio broadcasts of parliament. The Australian House of Representatives is also notoriously rowdy, and the televising of proceedings, particularly Question Time, has not dampened them down one iota but if anything has spurred the members to even greater heights of immaturity. The Speaker has the thankless task of endlessly but fruitlessly calling for order. All interjections are technically out of order, and the Standing Orders are occasionally invoked and members are dealt with, but these represent a vanishingly small proportion of all interjections. -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 08:28, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
Small point to correct a mistaken impression - the 'House of Commons' is an English version of 'House of Communes' because its members represented the communities of the Kingdom; it isn't named because it is the Commonalty as opposed to the nobility. But it is quite right that behaviour has improved markedly since the TV cameras have arrived. There seems to be a big difference for MPs between having their misbehaviour described in print, and realising that their constituents will actually see it. This improvement in behaviour is quite contrary to what many people thought when cameras were introduced, when the fear was that MPs would misbehave in order to draw attention to themselves. Sam Blacketer (talk) 10:06, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
Do you have any references for the 'House of Communes' etymology? -- Q Chris (talk) 10:40, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
I've never heard of that etymology before, but it's mentioned in House_of_Commons#History_and_naming. AndrewWTaylor (talk) 10:47, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
To clarify Fifelfoo's point, if the heckling is harming the ability of the member in question to address the house (and hence the parliamentary timetable to be kept to), the Speaker will almost always intervene to achieve hush. However, tradition - prompted by the physical arrangement of seats and the accordingly clear "government/opposition" dichotomy - is that members will signal their like or dislike of statements made verbally. - Jarry1250 [Deliberation needed] 12:44, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
It is not really yelling in the House of Commons. Usually you can hear supporting MPs saying "hear hear", indicating their approval of what is being said. If an MP wishes to object or ask a question, it is usual for them to attract the attention of the Speaker and wait until the Speaker invites them to say what they have to say. Of course, if the issue is particularly contentious, the opposition might start booing, and if that gets too bad the person holding the floor might appeal to the Speaker to be allowed to continue. Astronaut (talk) 12:57, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
Really? Have a look at this YouTube video - "Funny House of Commons Moments". In the first example, the Speaker, Betty Boothroyd, tells an MP not to wait for quiet "because the Honourable gentleman is not going to get it". In the third clip, when Gordon Brown accidently claims to have "saved the world", he is drowned out by a chorus of artificial laughter from the opposite benches - a common tactic to highlight any gaffs or to support jokes by your own side. Over the years, there have been many attempts to move away from "Punch and Judy politics[1]" but it just makes things so dull. I think the answer is that most of us like it that way. Alansplodge (talk) 17:31, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

Could The Yelling Be Coming From The Galleries?[edit]

In both pictures, there are people setting in areas above the MPs which I presume is so that the-public can observe the debates. Could the yelling be coming from these galleries?

The upper house for UK would be the House of Lords, while the upper house for Canada would be the senate. So there is no yelling in either of these chambers? I thought they were open to the public?Curb Chain (talk) 07:23, 16 February 2012 (UTC)

No. We have a similar structure in Australia. If the public in the gallery behaved like the members of the house, they would be thrown out. I've often wondered at the irony of that. HiLo48 (talk) 07:33, 16 February 2012 (UTC)
There have been many instances of people in the public gallery being removed for interjecting. Only today, the Speaker warned the advisers who sit on the floor of the House of Reps near the front benches, that if any of them spoke up during proceedings, as one did today, they would be banned fron the chamber for the entire duration of his speakership. -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 07:59, 16 February 2012 (UTC)

Simon Blackburn's interpretation of Matt 10:5-6[edit]

According to this article, it cites that Simon Blackburn claims that Jesus Christ is a sectarian, which means that people may believe that their own salvation, or the success of their particular objectives, requires aggressively seeking converts from other groups; adherents of a given faction may believe that for the achievement of their own political or religious project their internal opponents must be purged. I have checked out this quote myself by doing a casual search on Google and read the quote from Twelve Apostles, and I am confused about the interpretation.

"5 These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead,[c] cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. 9 Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, 10 nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.

11 “Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. 12 And when you go into a household, greet it. 13 If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!"

From my interpretation (it may be a little far-fetched), I really see no hint of sectarianism. I think the passage is trying to say that Jesus wants the twelve apostles to go on a mission: to help people in some foreign city that needs help. It relates to how modern-day evangelical Christians use faith to relieve poverty in poor countries... and also seek new converts in the process. Well, if one is in a desperate condition, and there is some religious missionaries coming at one's door, then the desperate one would probably accept help as soon as possible and be willing to convert, even though the new religion may completely different from one's former's beliefs, right? How is it about aggressive sectarianism? Merely helping others does not sound very aggressive to me. SuperSuperSmarty (talk) 03:45, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

It seems to be the "But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" part. Since Christianity, at the time, was just a sect of Judaism, they are being commanded to poach people from other sects of their own religion. StuRat (talk) 04:03, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
If the article on Sectarianism describes the sense in which Blackburn uses the word when he describes Jesus as "sectarian", an approach which involves bigotry and hatred of those who are not "of us", then it is not who the disciples are to go and help, but who they are not to help that is at issue: the Gentiles and the Samaritans. They are directed only to help those "of the house of Israel". Bielle (talk) 05:23, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

Constitutions and Capitalism[edit]

The French constitution includes the Declaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen which itsel includes article 17, which protects property unambiguously. Similarly the American constitution is amended by the bill of rights and the 5th amendment which also protects "property".

It is frequently said that Western constitutions do not have an economic theory built into them (unlike the Soviet Union, which had one economic theory / policy built into its constitution).

I am wondering However if these 2 examples are a little dent in that "no economic theory in Western constitutions", in the sense that property in these article/amendment do not mean your house, but anything you own, including money, and therefore capital. By protecting capital in such a fundamental way, how can we still assume that it is possible for an economic system other than Capitalism to be legal within those countries? I am not asking for opinions but pointers to economic or constitutional theoretitians which have addressed the issue. Many thanks in advance for your help. --Lgriot (talk) 09:20, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

Charles A. Beard developed the "economic interpretation" of the United States constitution, which became rather famous and somewhat influential during most of the 1910s-1950s. However, beyond the fact that the 1787 formulation of the U.S. constitution came down firmly on the side of creditors (in opposition to debtors), and that there was a desire to encourage national trade by sweeping away certain state restrictions, most of the specifics of the "economic interpretation" haven't held up over time... AnonMoos (talk) 10:02, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
This book by Colker may be relevant. --SupernovaExplosion (talk) 12:02, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
I would say that free countries are automatically capitalist. Even without any protection of contracts, even without any protection of property, as long as citizens in good standing are more or less free, you automatically have capitalism. This is pretty obvious to see: if you do not make an example of anyone successful and lock them up, then people can follow their model and live better and better by being clever. As they live better, are healthier, and better-educated, they will be in a better position to use anything and everything (including simple thoughts) and you will have a capitalist state of affairs. You pretty much have to lock talented people acting within their means and within the law in order to prevent capitalism. I can't think of a single country in the world that isn't capitalist, now and in the past, and also isn't totalitarian. Indeed, it is pretty easy to see why this would not be long possible. --84.2.175.230 (talk) 13:21, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
You're taking for granted a lot of infrastructure. The means of protecting private property. Common currency. Markets at all. Production from monopoly by said "clever" people. Without those, you don't have capitalism, you just fall into something else. You need rules to create capitalism; even Adam Smith knew this. Somalia isn't capitalism. --Mr.98 (talk) 14:48, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
I would say capitalism associated with classical liberal thought is based on the non-aggression principle. Somalia is an example of warlordism where many regional warlords take the role of authority and create their own quasi-states. --SupernovaExplosion (talk) 14:59, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
Yes, capitalism requires, at a minimum, a state that enforces a monopoly on violence and that upholds and enforces property rights. Marco polo (talk) 15:23, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
It requires institutions that discourage violence and protect property; not everyone agrees that a monopoly state is the most effective such institution, let alone the only one possible. —Tamfang (talk) 21:03, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
The question was whether an economic system other than capitalism would be legal in the USA or France without a constitutional amendment. I would say yes, so long as the new system had some legislation to back it. Some varieties of democratic socialism could legally be introduced, as they would retain ownership of property, within socially-defined limits. Itsmejudith (talk) 21:09, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
The relevant bits of the 5th Amendment seem to be "...nor be deprived of ... property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation". The first part just seems to say they can take your property so long as it's legal, which is scant protection. The second part specifies that if it's taken "for public use", then "just compensation" must be paid. However, this doesn't seem to prevent it being taken, by the government, and given to somebody else, AKA redistribution of wealth. In such a case, I'm not sure any compensate is required. Likewise, note that "just compensation" isn't necessarily the "true market value". They may be able to say that a penny is "just". Also note that income tax, as approved by the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, means they can tax you at any rate they see fit, and seize all your property if you don't, or can't, pay. So, with this in mind, it certainly seems legal for the US to take away all private property, although certainly not politically possible. StuRat (talk) 21:35, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
The government takes people's property all the time -- see eminent domain. The Constitution just says they have to pay for it. (Taxation is considered different from the "taking" of property.) There is nothing in the Constitution that prevents nationalization of industry -- as we know, the US government bought a majority stake in General Motors a few years ago. The government can also start its own business, like the Bank of North Dakota. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 00:03, 15 February 2012 (UTC)
I'm a lifelong democratic socialist and I consider the "takings clause" of the Fifth Amendment to be an important guarantee of individual liberty against arbitrary or capricious coercion by the police or a political antagonist. The important question is how broadly or narrowly the Clause is interpreted. In a recent very important U.S. Supreme Court case, Kelo v. City of New London (2005), where the plaintiff sued to prevent the city from taking and demolishing her house to help a private development, free-market pro-business groups like the Cato Institute and the Institute for Justice found themselves joined as friends of the plaintiff by liberal organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Ms Kelo lost her case on 5-4 decision, prompting a wave of state "takings" laws that I think (as a socialist) probably go too far in restricting legitimate eminent domain proceedings for genuine public uses.
¶ Having said that, you really don't need Charles Beard or Forrest McDonald to assert that the Framers of the Constitution and Bill of Rights were incorporating an economic theory, because the debates and proceedings that led to the Constitution and its ratification were quite clear about strengthening the rights of property owners (including slaveowners) and creditors in general and in particular against debtors. Their chief opponents, the Anti-Federalists, by and large, also endorsed the rights of property, at least in general, although not the U.S. Constitution of 1787. —— Shakescene (talk) 06:26, 15 February 2012 (UTC)
From your description as well as the article, I take it you're referring to anti "takings" laws or laws designed to restrict what happened in the Kelo case? I was a bit confused by your comment at first until I read the article. Nil Einne (talk) 21:45, 15 February 2012 (UTC)

Thank you very much to everyone, I will have a read through all of these links and books, it will certainly take me some time. --Lgriot (talk) 10:21, 15 February 2012 (UTC)

k.u.k.[edit]

According to [2] the company Lohner was in 1876 "Lohner k.u.k. Hofwagenlieferant" quote: ab 1876 war Lohner k.u.k. Hofwagenlieferant.

I can't see any reference to companies in K.u.k. (it seems clear that the company was not acquired by the royal court) - I assume that the title means a company with a royal commision, or some other sign of prestige.

Does anyone know what this means in a company context?Mddkpp (talk) 13:18, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

As you suppose, it means the same as "by Royal appointment". (Or I should say, Royal and Imperial.) "Hoflieferant" translates to something like "supplier to the court".--Rallette (talk) 13:52, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
See K.u.k. Hoflieferant --Pp.paul.4 (talk) 13:55, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, I've added a link to the see also of K.u.k..Mddkpp (talk) 17:36, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
Resolved

FOREX.com spreads[edit]

On the FOREX website here (http://www.forex.com/uk/pricing-live-spreads.html) a lot of the currency pairs seem to have no spread. Can anyone confirm if this is actually the case or could it just not be updating or properly? Seems odd since my understanding is that FOREX brokers usually make money only through the spread and that seems to be the case for FOREX.com as I see no mention of any fees. --TuringMachine17 (talk) 13:29, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

I think that the spreads you see quoted there are the spreads on the interbank foreign exchange market, which are available only to the biggest financial institutions. If you look at their actual claimed prices, they appear to set a minimum spread for all trades. I'm guessing that this minimum is, in effect, their fee, on top of the actual interbank spread. However, the best way to find out for sure would be to phone them and ask. Marco polo (talk) 14:51, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
The page now shows non-zero spreads for all currency pairs. I imagine there was a gremlin in the works when you first looked at it. Gandalf61 (talk) 15:45, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

Beach Walk Rear, Honolulu[edit]

During his posting to Hawaii (at around 1928) Townsend Griffiss lists his address as "290 Beach Walk Rear, Honolulu" (in his book), an address the BBC suggests was "within yards of Waikiki beach". A modern search of Google Maps doesn't find the address - where (roughly) is that, in terms of current street names? Is Beach Walk just the old name for Kalakaua Avenue? -- Finlay McWalterTalk 15:18, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

"Beachwalk", one word, seems to be a street near Wakiki Beach, running between Kalakaua Avenue and Kalia Road. I assume Beachwalk Rear was an access road now destroyed by the numerous hotels built either side of Beachwalk. (Looking on Google Maps, it seems the smaller, older buildings along Beachwalk still have some sort of alleyway behind them.) Smurrayinchester 16:10, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
I would take the address to mean, of two (or more) units sharing a lot at 290 Beach Walk, the one farthest from the Walk – rather than to imply the existence of a Beach Walk Rear. —Tamfang (talk) 06:53, 19 February 2012 (UTC)

If a US VP becomes President, how much longer can they serve as President?[edit]

If a United States president dies, and the vice president becomes president, can he be elected for two additional terms? Computergeeksjw (talk) 15:19, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

View the text of the amendment -- only if he hasn't served more than two years on the term he inherited... AnonMoos (talk) 15:29, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
For example, Ford, had he won in 1976, could not have run again in 1980 as he served more than two years of Nixon's term.--Wehwalt (talk) 15:32, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
Conversely, Johnson was eligible for a second reëlection in 1972, because he only served fourteen months of Kennedy's term. The reason he wasn't his party's candidate for president that year was due to other issues, such as the Vietnam War. Nyttend (talk) 17:33, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
Considering that LBJ, minus the pressures of the office, died 2 days after what would have been the last day of his 1969-73 term, it's a reasonable guess that he might have died in office anyway, had he been re-nominated and re-elected. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:38, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
He'd withdrawn from the 1968 race extremely early, with: "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President". To come back with renewed interest in 1972 would have been extraordinary, to say the least. -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 00:45, 15 February 2012 (UTC)
I think Nyttend meant to say 1968 rather than 1972. Had things been going better in Vietnam, maybe he could have run and won. However, if things had been going better, maybe he would have lived longer anyway. Having your name attached to the slogan, "How many kids did you kill today?" had to sting. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:06, 15 February 2012 (UTC)
That occurred to me too, but then I thought maybe he did mean 1972. He wasn't elected in 1968 (he didn't even run), so he was still eligible for a further term, and Vietnam was very much a live issue in 72. -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 19:15, 15 February 2012 (UTC)
Oops, yes, I did mean 1968. No wonder all of you objected to my statement :-) Nyttend (talk) 17:59, 16 February 2012 (UTC)

"Referring" a US Senate bill[edit]

I encountered the following description of a bill in the 1976 index for the Congressional Record:

S. Res. 378 — To refer the bill (S. 2907) entitled "A bill for the relief of innocent victims of the occupatoin of Wounded Knee, South Dakota".

Below the description are only the usual elements about sponsors, committee assignment, cosponsors, and the Senate's vote to pass this resolution. What effect did it have on S. 2907? It doesn't say anything about where it was referred or whatever else "refer" might mean. 129.79.34.222 (talk) 15:47, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

Usually they are referring the bill to a committee for discussion, investigation, or amendment. In this case, though, 94 S. Res. 378 (according to the Congressional Record itself) says that they are referring the bill to the chief commissioner of the United States Court of Claims. "The chief commissioner [of the Court of Claims] shall proceed with the same in accordance with section 1492 and 2509 of title 28, United States Code, and report to the Senate, at the earliest practicable date, giving such findings of fact and conclusions thereon as shall be sufficient to inform the Congress of the nature and character of the demand as a claim, legal, or equitable, against the United States or a gratuity and the amount of any, legally or equitable due from the United States to the claimants. Such report shall specific the amount due to each of the claimants and maximum responsible attorney's fees that should be paid from such amount." (Congressional Record, August 9, 1976, page 26370 — any typos are mine). I note that this is boilerplate and there is an identical worded referral right below it (S. res. 491) for relief of some other group. The article on the Court of Claims gives a good overview of why they had to do this — it seems like standard procedure for any area where Congress is giving monetary relief. --Mr.98 (talk) 16:57, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
Thank you. I've seen lots of bills getting referred to committees, but I've never before seen a bill get referred without the CR noting to where or to whom it was referred. Couldn't check anything but the index for lack of time. Nyttend (talk) 17:36, 14 February 2012 (UTC) I'm the original poster; didn't feel like signing into the public computer just to post this question.
See page 6 of this brochure published by the court for more information on congressional referrals. Basically, these are situations when someone is seeking compensation from the Government for something-or-other, but it's not compensation the person is legally entitled to; Congress would have to specially provide for it. But Congress doesn't want to decide whether the person has a just grievance or not; it wants an independent decision-maker to investigate the case and make a recommendation. An Article III court would not have jurisdiction to give an advisory opinion of this nature, but since the Court of Federal Claims is an "Article I courtm," it can. This referral practice has been around for quite along time, though my sense is it's much less common than it used to be. Newyorkbrad (talk) 19:49, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

Best book on the origins of human morality[edit]

What is the best book that traces the evolution of morality from our animal ancestors to our current human society? Are there any books that study animal morality and have sections that describe how this relates to humans? --Ghostexorcist (talk) 16:28, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

The articles on Evolution of morality and Altruism in animals have some sources, including The Origins of Virtue by Matt Ridley, who seems to have written several books on similar topics. Ghmyrtle (talk) 16:53, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
Hello. For some early speculation see David Hume at, for example, T 2.1.12, 3.1.1 (paragraph 25) (there's other places, but I'm lazy). See [3] for an example secondary literature. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 17:38, 15 February 2012 (UTC)

What if... ? (USA Civil war)[edit]

I propose a question of Counterfactual history. What if the Confederated States won the American Civil War. How would the later history of the US (and perhaps the world) be different? Cambalachero (talk) 16:41, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

Please see the remit for this page, stated at the top. You're asking us to speculate, which is not what this page is for. --Dweller (talk) 16:46, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
Indeed: "The reference desk does not answer requests for opinions ... Do not start a debate; please seek an internet forum instead." But surely there are counterfactual history texts on this subject? It cannot be new ground. --Tagishsimon (talk) 16:47, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
Harry Turtledove is a popular writer of alternate histories; his Southern Victory Series postulates that McClellan never comes into possession of Lee's general orders prior to the Battle of Antietam, resulting in successful secession, and he builds from there. Things get increasingly speculative as he moves into the 20th century (the butterfly effect, great man theory, and all that), but the early premises are reasonable. It's one path, anyway. — Lomn 17:18, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
That Turtledove series got bogged down considerably, consider his The Guns of the South. There are other examples, but I consider that one the best.--Wehwalt (talk) 17:35, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
I agree that it bogs, but Southern Victory is more properly counterfactual/alternate history; The Guns of the South is fantasy. Consider, as a parallel non-spoiler case, "the colonies lose the Revolutionary War because Britain breaks the Siege of Yorktown" versus "the colonies lose the Revolutionary War because curious aliens kidnap American leadership". I like Guns better, but it's not useful in this case. — Lomn 18:46, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
Then perhaps we can compromise with Bring the Jubilee.--Wehwalt (talk) 18:49, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
Winston Churchill's contribution to the 1931 If It Had Happened Otherwise, If Lee Had Not Won the Battle of Gettysburg, is perhaps best remembered for turning the genre on its head, being a counterfactual history written from the viewpoint of a historian in a counterfactual world, imagining what would have happened had events played out the way that they actually did in our world. -- ToE 17:25, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
We have an incomplete list of American Civil War alternate histories. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 17:48, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

I would say a confederate victory would not have resulted in a much different history. Slavery would have been abolished, albeit a bit later, because, with time, a growing intellectual movement against slavery was imminent. SupernovaExplosion (talk) 18:20, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

Err, aside from whether that is probable or not, that's hardly the only variable in thinking about the effect of the Civil War on American history. --Mr.98 (talk) 19:35, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
I think somewhere in the last episode of Ken Burns' The Civil War someone says something like "The South's dreams of building a Confederate empire across Central or even South America were dashed". If my memory is correct (I'll see if I can find my copy), I'd be interested to know who exactly did harbour such a fantasy; evidently the Confederacy was not founded with such grandiose plans in many minds. -- Finlay McWalterTalk 21:23, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
Found it. Last episode, 3 minutes in: "Its leaders had once dreamed of a tropical empire reaching ever southward - to Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil. By April 1865 the dream was gone" - said by McCullough, the narrator. -- Finlay McWalterTalk 21:53, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
Finlay McWalter -- The southern states in 1860 contained people who favored Caribbean expansion as well as those who opposed it, but many people (both North and South) assumed it would be more or less inevitable, given the United States' recent history of territorial growth. The Crittenden Compromise pretty much fell apart over the issue of slavery in territory to be acquired in future -- many Republicans were prepared to allow "New Mexico" (then meaning both New Mexico and Arizona) to enter the union as a slave state (on the understanding that all other existing territories would eventually become free states), and guarantee that the federal government would never interfere with slavery within slave states, but influential Republicans (including Lincoln) were rigidly and inflexibly absolutely 100% opposed to allowing slavery in any territories that would be acquired by the U.S. in future. For grand dreamers, you can see Knights of the Golden Circle... AnonMoos (talk) 00:58, 15 February 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, that's very informative. It didn't occur to me that folks considered Manifest Destiny to be quite so expansive (but then that article too talks of adventures beyond CONUS). Ah, the Knights of the Golden Circle, who I so fondly remember from that super-accurate Nicholas Cage documentary (of which they're making two more, so we'll get to find out about Nathan Bedford Forrest's adventures on the Moon). -- Finlay McWalterTalk 01:22, 15 February 2012 (UTC)
And you should specify what you mean by "won". Do you mean the South achieves a stalemate and everyone returns to their pre-war lines, as in North and South Korea ? That seems plausible. If you mean the North surrenders to the South and is occupied by it, that requires a great deal of imagination. The North had far more resources available, and would have brought them in, had they thought it necessary. StuRat (talk) 21:42, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
  • Excellent counterfactual resources exist in the USENET archives of soc.history.what-if and in current forum based discussion groups' archives, such as the archive of alternatehistory.net. The quality of these histories vary from hard to soft within a kind of sci-fi paradigm of "hardness," though I find the examples given at the link I just posted incredibly soft in general, for my tastes there are two further "harder" scales lying above almost all of the examples given in terms of "hardness," such as the academic counterfactual which relies significantly and only on proposed but neglected plans that were achievable (or had the potential to fail); or, densely cited detailed analysis. The counterfactual you propose has previously been widely considered. Wikipedia is not a place for discussing counterfactuals. Fifelfoo (talk) 00:58, 15 February 2012 (UTC)
While obviously completely fictional highly unrealistic and only tangentially related, I once played a round of Victoria II as the US. In the years prior to the Civil War, I took a vastly different strategy than the US actually employed. I invaded, extorted and otherwise undermined most of Central and South America, forcing it into my sphere. Meanwhile slavery related tensions grew and the Civil War eventually broke out, although considerably later than it did in reality (sometime around 1885), mostly due to the amount of wealth coming in from my imperial expansionism. By this time my empire of latin client states was completely secure and came to my assistance in putting down the rebellion. It is a bit of stretch to imagine Venezuelan, Columbian and Mexican troops troops marching on Richmond but hey it's a video game. --Daniel 03:44, 15 February 2012 (UTC)

Trusts questions (UK)[edit]

Imagine there is a house held in a trust by trustees. I think the trustees would register the deed of trust at H M Land Registry. Would the deed be visible to all and sundry? And if the trustees took it into their heads to exclude a class of beneficiary, would they be bound to tell HM Land Registry or anyone else? Kittybrewster 22:30, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

what philosophers/schools of thought discuss this view of ethics?[edit]

I'm a linguistics student who's taking a class on the philosophy of language and some of what we've looked at in the class about the nature of lying has made me wonder something about ethics which, as a linguistics student, I feel unqualified to deal with fully. I realise what follows is probably riddled with all kinds of fallacies and nonsenses, but hopefully you can humour me enough to point me in the right direction.

Basically, it occured to me that taboos against lying could be said to serve two purposes. The first is the obvious one. It establishes that, generally speaking, all communication takes place with the underlying assumption that a speaker is not trying to create a false belief in the mind of a listener. Essentially it allows us to assume honesty.

The second purpose, however, is more sneaky. By having a taboo against lying (communicating something you know to be untrue) it implicitly allows other kinds of communication that have the same effects of lying, that is, creating a false belief in the mind of a listener, without breaking the taboo. People can selectively withhold information, tell "half-truths", "white lies", etc etc. There's a million different things we can do in speech that have the effect of lying but that we feel aren't in the same moral category as out-right lying. In effect the strict and specific rule against lying doesn't exist to stop us from doing something, it exists to allow us do it while at the same time maintaining a useful feature of communication, the assumption of honesty.

It seems like a lot of other taboos can be explained the same way. For example taboos against murder also establish situations where taking the life of another person is allowed: in war, in self defense, as a punishment, etc. The rule exists not to simply disallow the taking of another person's life in any circumstances, but to allow us to create situations where we can do so without undermining our assumption that, as a general principle, we shouldn't kill people.

Perhaps a great deal of taboos have this dual purpose. First, to explicitly create an assumption about what is and isn't appropriate behaviour in order to enable normal social interaction. Secondly, to implicitly create situations in which this seemingly inappropriate behaviour can take place without disrupting that assumption. It protects society as a whole while at the same time recognising that, in reality, these actions are extremely likely to occur.

Now you've read my undergraduate nonsense I'd be grateful if anyone here could point me in the direction of writers that discuss similar ideas in a properly philosophical way. In fact, does this even count as a philosophical idea, or is it more of a sociological or anthropological one? --129.11.249.164 (talk) 23:38, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

My initial thought is to check out virtue ethics. There may well be something more specific to what you describe, but virtue ethics focuses on why you committed the action, rather than hard rules on the rightness or wrongness of actions or the rightness or wrongness of consequences. Perhaps pragmatic ethics might assist as well? I'm not sure if either approach is entirely where you're going, but they might be a good start point. - Bilby (talk) 23:56, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
Seems parallel to the Gricean Cooperative principle... AnonMoos (talk) 01:03, 15 February 2012 (UTC)
I have no reference for this, but I would dispute that a taboo by itself implies that other behaviors are allowed. I think the other behaviors being allowed are just part of the ten thousand little cultural rules that each culture maintains (the taboos being included in their number). Comet Tuttle (talk) 22:14, 15 February 2012 (UTC)