Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2012 January 19

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January 19[edit]

How long will English Wikipedia shut down?[edit]

How long will English Wikipedia shut down? When will it restart? (talk) 01:23, 18 January 2012 (UTC)

First sentence here. --Mr.98 (talk) 02:26, 18 January 2012 (UTC)

Why doesn't the US start a war against North Korea or Cuba?[edit]

Compared to North Korea and Cuba, Iraq and Libya are holiday resorts. In North Korea even the birds are filled with grief over the death of their great and benevolent leader and inhabitants are sent to concentration camps for not being sad enough. I don't want to get into a discussion, but what official reason is given by the average US politician, who did endorse the war in Iraq, not to invade North Korea (I don't want an answer like 'They have no oil' or 'We have no business with them')? There is a huge Elephant in the room isn't there? Are journalists asking about this and what do the politicians say? Joepnl (talk) 01:27, 18 January 2012 (UTC)

North Korea has nuclear weapons within striking range of key US interests in that part of the world (South Korea and Japan). The USA promised Russia — a country of some standing — that it wouldn't invade Cuba, as part of the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Both of those seem like pretty good realpolitik reasons to me to not invade those countries. I don't think there's much of an elephant in the room there — just a few facts that journalists who work the foreign beat surely know. --Mr.98 (talk) 02:04, 18 January 2012 (UTC)
Your factual statements are dubious; but, let us consider that any person may decide that it is desirable that one country invade another and proceed. The United States is currently at war with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, James D. Thurman oversees US forces and UN forces in relation to this war, which is currently in a state of armistice and ceasefire. The United States does not wish to activate this war for the reasons that Mr.98 mentioned; but, additionally, the Korean War wrecked the US economy, the US currently has 1.5 wars going on and its economy is hindered by the war. Why the US has not previously reactivated the war related to Soviet and Chinese nuclear weapons, a changed UN Security Council make up, the previously mentioned economic effects of war, and the continuing economic effects of the Great Society US space program and the economic and military effects of the US involvement in the Vietnam War while trying to maintain a conventional deterrent or aggressor force in Europe. Invading North Korea would not allow for war powers, as these are already available (and have been since 1991 largely). Similarly, unlike the Afghanistani people or the Iraqi people (and former state), North Korea is organised to militarily oppose a large conventional invasion by known hostile threats immediately to the south. The DPRK is prepared for war.
In relation to Cuba, apart from the considerations about past military failures, the economic cost of war, the current availability of war powers, and the complexion of the UN Security Council and General Assembly as being opposed to wars of aggression; invading Cuba would satisfy a small group of US constituents while irritating a much larger group of US constituents. In addition to this, after two recent invasions opposed by world public opinion, the United States would be viewed as an imperialist pariah state (much as the DPRK is viewed as a pariah state) by many countries not firmly welded to the bosum of the US political and industrial complex.
As far as the ideological justifications for this by US politicians, I suggest you write them directly. They change so often, and have so many apologetics available to them for maintaining policies in contradiction of their professed ideology that you'd get more "accurate" information by directly asking them. I believe that your direct representatives have an obligation to write back to you (they do where I live, but your mileage may vary). If you're not a US resident, I suggest you write to the nearest US embassy. Fifelfoo (talk) 02:21, 18 January 2012 (UTC)
  • China doesn't want a US ally on their border(South Korea), they therefore would go to war with us if we went to war against North Korea. That's pretty much the reason.AerobicFox (talk) 02:32, 18 January 2012 (UTC)
If you read People's Republic of China–North Korea relations you will understand that their relation is not so great. In the event of a war between the US and North Korea, China would not jeopardize its economic dependence just to save its "spoiled child". Likewise the US would not invade North Korea for the same reason.--KAVEBEAR (talk) 02:42, 18 January 2012 (UTC)
I don't believe "China doesn't want a US ally on their border(South Korea)" indicates that I think China and North Korea have a good relationship. There have been plans now for a while for a South Korean led united Korea which some Chinese officials may be leaning towards since North Korea is such a problem. However, if you believe that China would allow its biggest rival and perceived threat, the United States, to invade and occupy a neighboring country on its border without responding with military backing of the North Koreans than I think you underestimate their paranoia.AerobicFox (talk) 04:25, 18 January 2012 (UTC)

The United States does not invade other countries because they are human-rights abusers. The U.S. invaded Iraq on the grounds that it was in violation of the ceasefire from the first Gulf War and subsequent UN resolutions. (It also cited human-rights abuses but would not have been able to go to war citing that reason alone.) The U.S. did not invade Libya; it helped out rebels in a pre-existing conflict from the air. North Korea has engaged in conduct that might lead to invasion (such as shelling South Korean territory and sinking one of their ships) if it was a less-dangerous country. However, invading North Korea and attacking its huge army would lead to massive death and destruction to soldiers and civilians, as well as the opposition of China and Russia. There would be tremendous opposition in the U.S. to an invasion of Cuba and almost no support internationally. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 03:13, 18 January 2012 (UTC)

Just a small note - the US did not provide airstrikes in the Libyan war - they were involved at the very beginning, but pulled out very soon for unrelated reasons. It was all done by European nations, most notably the UK and France, both of which also provided Special Forces ground troops to train and (and arm, in the case of the French) the rebels. The US was not involved, besides providing logistics and command support to the European forces. The whole thing wasn't really anything to do with NATO (though NATO was involved by name). It was a coalition of European and Arab nations (Jordan and Qatar specifically). KägeTorä - (影虎) (TALK) 15:42, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
Remember: invading Cuba wouldn't really have any substantial benefits for the USA. We don't have some sort of economic dependence on them, they're not attempting to conquer us or talking about attacking us any time soon, and it's been quite a while since they actively participated in warlike preparations against us that could have had substantial results. Nyttend (talk) 03:42, 18 January 2012 (UTC)
Ruth Wedgwood, a former adviser to Donald Rumsfeld, has been quoted as explaining why the USA opposes military action against North Korea.[1] Wedgwood said "You haven’t seen the glint in the eyes of the South Korean military ... They’re desperate to get hold of the North’s nuclear arsenal. That’s unacceptable ... Because if a unified Korea becomes a nuclear power, it will be impossible to stop Japan from becoming one too and if you have China, Japan and a unified Korea as nuclear states, it shifts the relationship of forces against us." Any successful action against the North would involve South Korea, and would end up in reunification, quite possibly with South Korea having access to North Korean nuclear technology. Hence the USA prefers to keep North Korea isolated, to try and persuade it to disarm, and prevent nuclear proliferation that way. --Colapeninsula (talk) 10:02, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
I'd stress the point made above that the main reason the US doesn't invade North Korea is surely the wanton death and destruction that would result from taking on a slightly crazily governed (from a Western POV), armed to the teeth nation with strong leadership and no obvious signs of internal dissent. All other options have not yet been exhausted. (With regard to Cuba, I would agree that it's not a strategic target in nearly the same way. Also, Castro's almost dead, so it's a wait and see period.) - Jarry1250 [Deliberation needed] 18:45, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

How is Cuba worse than Libya? Mingmingla (talk) 20:29, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

Well, as far as I remember, they haven't participated in bombing aircraft recently, and they've not had any substantial armed revolts in recent years that would have reasonable chances at overthrowing the current government. Nyttend (talk) 00:57, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
The Korean People's Army has over 1,100,000 soldiers, and is described in that article as "the fourth largest army in the world". Plus the possibility of nukes, and who knows what other nasty little surprises. While the U.S. demonstrated in Iraq that it can tear apart an apparently large military force pretty quickly, it also demonstrated that the remaining weapons and personnel can remain a big problem for a long time afterward. But Cuba is much more mystifying - why the U.S. attempted nothing but the half-witted Bay of Pigs invasion, a fabled series of bizarre assassination attempts on Castro, and a never-ending embargo. Even facts on Cuba seem difficult to get, being split between hardcore apologists for Castro, and Cuban exiles with financial motives ... I'm never sure whose propaganda distorts the truth more. My guess is it must all trace back to the Cuban missile crisis and some kind of secret treaty. Wnt (talk) 23:54, 21 January 2012 (UTC)
Actually, Kennedy apparently made a quite non-secret commitment after the crisis not to attack Cuba, according to Cuban_missile_crisis#Crisis_ends: "The US will make a statement in the framework of the Security Council in reference to Cuba as follows: it will declare that the United States of America will respect the inviolability of Cuban borders, its sovereignty, that it take the pledge not to interfere in internal affairs, not to intrude themselves and not to permit our territory to be used as a bridgehead for the invasion of Cuba, and will restrain those who would plan to carry an aggression against Cuba, either from US territory or from the territory of other countries neighboring to Cuba." --Roentgenium111 (talk) 01:32, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

Corporations testifying[edit]

A bank has been on trial in Liberia recently; this article discusses the case slightly and observes that the bank has refused to testify on its own behalf. I'm familiar with the idea of corporations being tried in criminal cases in the USA, and I suspect that the situation would be comparable in Liberia — but how would the bank testify? A press release? An executive takes the witness stand? I've never heard of corporations testifying: I've only ever heard of officials testifying. Nyttend (talk) 01:57, 18 January 2012 (UTC)

Best guess of what they mean by "refuse to testify", is that they refused to call any of their employees as witnesses during the trial. --Lgriot (talk) 09:36, 20 January 2012 (UTC)

Best way to get lobbying money out of Congress?[edit]

So, bills like SOPA/PIPA, the Research Works Act, and the treaty harmonization of Golan v. Holder capitulating to the copyright term length extension lobby in France instead of further treaty negotiations, are all seen by Lawrence Lessig and other authorities as symptoms of the same root problem: the influence of lobbying money over US congresspeople who have to spend 85% of their working hours fundraising because the greater campaign spending predicts election winners with 94% accuracy. Other problems like patent term length and other reform, fossil fuel and renewable energy subsidies, universal health care, sentencing reform against the prison guards' unions, defense industry and contractor abuses, and even teacher pay in poor school districts are other manifestations of the same pay-for-play politics exacerbated by Citizens United v. FEC which allows unlimited anonymous campaign contributions from 501(c)4s through super PACs. However, so far the only proposed solutions have been public campaign financing, but that would require a constitutional amendment, and those are remarkably difficult to enact.

So, what if congressional and presidential salaries were indexed to inflation from the 1700s, or at least to some amount larger than their current campaign spending, like $10 million per year? Would that effectively prevent the influence of donations on access to congresspeople and the predisposition of their votes? What are the advantages and disadvantages to raising congressional salaries to $10 million per year? If it was good enough for the Founding Fathers, on an inflation-adjusted basis, is it good enough to solve the problems of today's dysfunctional lawmakers-for-hire? (Hat tip to User:Slakr for this idea.) (talk) 06:13, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

A political system that needs to bribe its representatives not to be corrupt needs fixing... AndyTheGrump (talk) 06:20, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
I agree that this is a core problem in the US. The source of the difficulty with banning political contributions (and replacing them with public campaign financing) seems to be the Supreme Court decisions (Buckley v. Valeo and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission) saying "money equals speech", and therefore many attempts to limit contributions were limiting free speech. Frankly, that's just totally wrong. I would hope that will eventually be overturned, much as Plessy v. Ferguson was overturned in Brown v. Board of Education. Just how bad things will get before that happens, I do not know.
Another problem is the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, which required "equal time for the opposing POV". This allowed news organizations to abandon neutrality and pick sides, resulting in a level of polarization of the nation which has led to total deadlock. StuRat (talk) 07:54, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
Historical precedents can be of some use in situations like this. The first Polish republic had a similar problem (one the founding fathers were trying their best to avoid repeating), could look at what they did about it for advice. (talk) 10:45, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
Have a link, on me: First Polish Republic#Shortcomings. The last paragraph seems the most applicable, although it isn't bribery by foreign powers that's the problem in the US, but rather powerful domestic special interests. In the terminology of the time, perhaps guilds would have been the term for those then. StuRat (talk) 05:01, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
If you indexed congressional pay to their first annual salaries, they'd only be making about $70,000 which is much less than they make today. Increasing their salaries to campaign spending levels is a terrible idea because it would only fund incumbents when the idea behind exclusive public campaign finance is to put incumbents and challengers on a level playing field without regard to campaign contributions. The drawing board, back to it. Selery (talk) 16:16, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
Good point. How about simply awarding the incumbent and the top-polling challenger $10 million each six months before the election? Or, the top two contenders if the incumbent isn't planning to run? (talk) 17:35, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
That is very similar to what Canada, Germany, Japan and Sweden do. Selery (talk) 17:48, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
You might be interested in reading Voting With Dollars, a proposal for public financing of campaigns by a couple of Yale law professors. It's a few years old, but the ideas are still pretty applicable and interesting. Meelar (talk) 01:24, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
The undue influence is largely due to re-election campaign contribution seeking. This is why I think having a term limit of one term has merit. No looking for a career as a legislator. There are definitely problems with this approach (not least of which is it ain't gonna happen), but would help some of the kowtowing to monied interests. -R. S. Shaw (talk) 00:07, 21 January 2012 (UTC)
I think term limits are great, but all of Congress is senority-based, which makes them very difficult to transition to. Selery (talk) 01:25, 21 January 2012 (UTC)

Is there an SEC law that says CEOs can't say profit?[edit]

I was in a conversation with a stranger today and he said that the CEO and members of the Board of Directors of a publicly traded company are barred by the SEC from saying the word "profit." Instead they must say something like "revenue exceeded expenses." I found that hard to believe. Is this true? If so can someone point me to the actual rule? DGDRigger (talk) 11:15, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

Yeah, I thought there was case law where someone got in trouble for abusing the ambiguity of "profit" which doesn't distinguish between e.g. pre-tax and post-tax earnings. It's one of those "abundance of caution" advisory things which is not strictly a regulation or statute but can get you sued by vulture securities lawyers easily enough that it's apparently worth the effort to avoid. I'm not sure so citation needed. Selery (talk) 16:02, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
I seriously doubt that there is any law barring anyone from saying the word "profit". However, it can sometimes be adventitious for a company to hold back a chunk of their revenue, and not declare it as "profit". This could be what the CEO or Directors are talking about - excess revenue that is not being declared as profit, but instead held aside in some other legal/accounting category. Blueboar (talk) 16:12, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
That seems at least as likely to me. I've read so much about "forward-looking statements," quarterly "blackout" periods, and pre-IPO "quiet" periods that it's all a blur now. Selery (talk) 17:44, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
Not sure exactly, but I'm guessing there are official SEC definitions for terms like "net income," "operating income" and "EBITDA" in earnings statements but maybe not "profit." As Selery says, this may lead to legal issues. For example, say a CEO says the company expects "profit" of $100 million to $120 million. Then the company reports net income of $50 million and the CEO says, "Well, when I said 'profit,' I meant operating income." The shares plunge, and soon class-action lawyers are on their tail. The CEO's "profit" comment could theoretically be used against him in court as evidence he misled investors. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 00:54, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
An aside questtions: in the US, can you call something decided by an organisation like the SEC a law? I thought only Congress or states or local authorities like a city could create laws, all other organisation could only create "regulation", but even though they are enforceable, they are not usually called "laws". I guess it is more of a language issue, not really a legal one. --Lgriot (talk) 09:43, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
There is no such requirement. If you look, for example, at the SEC's Beginners' Guide to Financial Statements, you will see that it uses the word "profit" several times, distinguishing between "gross profit" (aka "gross margin"), "operating profit" (aka "income from operations"), and "net profit" (aka "net income" or "net earnings"). I expect that the misunderstanding comes from some particular company that is insistent on its employees and directors using the exact terms that are in its financial statements in order to avoid any ambiguity.
As to Lgriot's question, yes, the "laws" are the statutes that are enacted by Congress or by state legislatures. The SEC adopts "rules" and "regulations," which are enforceable only to the extent that they draw authority from some federal statute. John M Baker (talk) 15:33, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
They all come under the heading of legislation. Laws made by the legislature directly are the principal legislation; and rules, regulations etc that are promulgated by other hands on the authority of a law, are the subordinated legislation. -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 19:15, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
The "subordinated legislation" concept does not exist in the United States, where it is understood that only a legislature can enact legislation. Things may be different in Australia and other Commonwealth countries. John M Baker (talk) 20:44, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
I believe in the U.S. the term is "regulation", which is to say that the SEC is empowered by Congress to enact and enforce regulations. The rules that the SEC passes are not called "laws" (only Congress may make laws), however they do have the "force of law" insofar as laws passed by Congress say that what the SEC does is enforcable. But the term for such rules passed by bodies of the executive branch (as opposed to the legislature) is "regulation" in the U.S. (and just as a minor point, we're talking about the Securities and Exchange Commission and not the Southeastern Conference, which has no regulatory power, despite their dominance of college football). --Jayron32 21:06, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
In the UK, the terms are "primary legislation" and "secondary legislation" (which redirects to "delegated legislation", so apparently there are lots of names for it!). It's very common for Acts of Parliament to say things like "according to such rules as the Secretary of State may determine from time to time". That gives the Secretary of State (which, in the UK, means whichever cabinet minister has that area in their portfolio - it's always referred to in law as though it is one person, but it isn't) the power to create secondary legislation to handle the details. --Tango (talk) 21:38, 21 January 2012 (UTC)
I think any government rule can be called a "law." It's not technically true that only Congress can pass a federal law, as we often hear. Only Congress can pass a statute, which is what a law is called when Congress passes it. But violating an SEC regulation is violating the law. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 06:47, 22 January 2012 (UTC)
There is no such rule or law. Corporate officers are cautious about the words they use because misleading information can be the basis of a shareholders' derivative suit. It is the threat of a suit that ties the tongue of an executive, not an SEC regulation. Gx872op (talk) 16:02, 20 January 2012 (UTC)

Famous Tahitians[edit]

Who are the top ten most famous Tahitians?--KAVEBEAR (talk) 11:56, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

Category:People from Tahiti has 16 people, which probably would include the top 10. Staecker (talk) 13:27, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
I would say the most famous Tahitian was the immigrant artist Paul Gauguin. I couldn't name 9 other people who spent any significant time there, but Gauguin and Tahiti are inextricably linked in many people's minds. --Jayron32 16:24, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
I was thinking more in the line of Native Tahitians for the purpose of including images of them on that page. I chose Omai, Queen Pōmare IV, Malik Joyeux, and Pouvanaa a Oopa.

Is Malik Joyeux of Native Tahitian descent?--KAVEBEAR (talk) 22:29, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

moral values of youth in the development of a nation[edit]

How do moral values of youth helpful for the development of he nation? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:34, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

What nation? Is this a homework question? -- Obsidin Soul 13:29, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

list of upcoming university inaugurations[edit]

I would like to find a list of upcoming inaugurations at US colleges and universities - how might I be able to find that information? Thanks, Bob — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:50, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

Do you mean graduations, or do you mean inaugurations of college presidents and other officials? BnBH (talk) 20:31, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

What is the Orgin of "Architectural Squiggles"?[edit]

I have traveled China, Australia, Great Britan, France, Italy, Greece, and the United States and have seen what I call the "architectural squiggle" in all the countries. I describe the squiggle as a decoration, a horizontal band of interconnecting lines. The squiggles all seem to be sraight lines, no curved lines. It can be seen on the facade of a building, on an interior wall decoration, on cabinets or counters, or as an integral part of an iron fence. I have searched Wikipedia and other sources without results. Some people I have talked to think the origin may come from Greek, Chineese, Japaneese art or architecture. HELP PLEASE!!! Petedocdad (talk) 20:32, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

Could you provide a link to an image of it? It would help enormously in identifying exactly which architectural ornament it is you are asking about. --Saddhiyama (talk) 20:39, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
It sounds like you're talking about a frieze, like a simpler version of the one shown in File:Santa Barbara frieze detail.jpg - in particular one in a snaking square form resembling a square wave? -- Finlay McWalterTalk 20:43, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
Charlieu abbey 58.JPG
Perhaps you mean a Greek key pattern, also known as a Meander (art)? Acroterion (talk) 20:47, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

Centennial Celebration[edit]

Do you know of a license plate with such a statement on it? This is not one of those special centennial or sesquicentennial plates, but would be the main license plate slogan. DCItalk 23:56, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

Did it look like this Washington plate? -- Zanimum (talk) 00:04, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
Yes; that answers the question. Thanks! DCItalk 04:58, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
Pennsylvania issued this plate during the U.S. Bicentennial on 1976. — Michael J 20:42, 20 January 2012 (UTC)