Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2012 June 10

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June 10[edit]

A question on the birther thing[edit]

Before anyone freaks out about the heading, just know that I'm not here to promote any of the various Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories. I think my editing history with regard to stuff like that speaks for itself. I'm really only inquiring about a very small aspect of it: namely, the claim that President Obama (or then-candidate Obama) actually legally fought to not have birth records and the like released by the Hawai'i state government (the claim usually being accompanied by some seven-to-nine-digit figure that he supposedly spent on said legal battle). My question, basically, is "did that actually happen?". I've done a lot of research into the whole conspiracy theory and have found it baseless in every respect, but this is the one part of the whole thing I've not quite figured out. Thanks! Evanh2008 (talk|contribs) 06:54, 10 June 2012 (UTC)

No, there is a state law that Obama had to pay to get waived to release the long form. If there was any evidence he or his attorneys ever tried to prevent its release, I'm sure we would have people making sure it was included several times per hour. (talk) 11:07, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
That sounds about right. Thanks for the info! : ) Evanh2008 (talk|contribs) 23:29, 12 June 2012 (UTC)

Who is this person, associated with the England Euro2012 football team?[edit]

On June 8 I came across some of the England Euro2012 football team entering a bus (which I later learned took them to visit Auschwitz). Only this person greeted the crowd. Who is it, please?Hayttom (talk) 08:31, 10 June 2012 (UTC)

That is Avram Grant Mo ainm~Talk 08:44, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
There is more information on his involvement in the Auschwitz visit here and here. Ghmyrtle (talk) 09:36, 10 June 2012 (UTC)

Are attorneys sticking to tax haven advice providing incompetent opinions?[edit]

For more than a decade, shrewd tax attorneys have been advising that U.S. companies shelter their foreign income from taxes by using tax havens, which are usually very complicated loopholes and the largest of all tax shelters by at least an order of magnitude. Last autumn both the White House and the Senate said that they would not support any further "repatriation holidays" (which are additional loopholes Congress must to pass for corporations get their money back out of tax havens) because the last one caused the companies which benefited from them to cut jobs and do all sorts of other terrible things to the economy. However, tax attorneys (who I imagine must have quite a bit of their reputation at stake on these matters) have not been advising their multinational corporate clients to stop using tax havens, but instead to lobby much harder for a new repatriation holiday. This strikes me as profoundly unlikely, akin to Congress allowing a return of the accounting standards which caused the Enron scandal.

1. What is the standard for "engaging in a pattern of providing incompetent opinions on questions arising under the Federal tax laws" as defined by the Internal Revenue Service's Office of Professional Responsibility on the question of whether shoving trillions of dollars in these offshore banks is still a good idea?

2. Who at the American Bar Association's Committee on Foreign Activities of U.S. Taxpayers, Subcommittee on Sourcing of Income, Allocation of Expense, and transfer pricing is responsible for issuing the ABA's opinion on the likelihood that there will be any further repatriation holidays? (talk) 11:29, 10 June 2012 (UTC)

I think you're operating on the incorrect assumption that the only reason to put money in a tax haven is to subsequently repatriate it: money can be used to buy assets abroad or invested abroad, e.g. if you're planning to emigrate/retire overseas, or leave it for your children, and there are many other possible tax ruses. And since many legislators are extremely rich, and most of their funders are even richer, I would not rule out another holiday. --Colapeninsula (talk) 09:59, 11 June 2012 (UTC)
Indeed. Borrowing against foreign deposits as collateral is another possibility. (talk) 21:54, 11 June 2012 (UTC)

The right of a husband to incarcerate his wife in a convent[edit]

I have heard, that prior to the French revolution (1789), a man in France had the legal right to imprison his wife, or a female relative, in a convent for as long as he saw fit. My question is: could he do this when ever he felt like it, or was it necessary for him to obtain some sort of permission from the authorities? Was he forced to give a formal reason to why, or was all reasons acceptable? Could he have her place there as long as he wished? Thank you. --Aciram (talk) 13:46, 10 June 2012 (UTC)

The first question you should be asking is whether it is true at all. This has the feel of an urban legend to me. --Tango (talk) 18:45, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
Well, I do in fact know that it was true: I have read about history, so I was aware that this did happen, but I never focused on that phenomena before, so I did not read about it properly when I had the chance. In the 18th-century, convents could be used by women as a place to escape to; or, in the contrary, as a place were wealthy men placed their women when they considered fit. The question is about the legality of the matter. --Aciram (talk) 20:45, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
Of course a french lord had every right to make his wife or daughter enter a convent, if he thought it was the best way to preserve the family honor or monetary interests. The woman's family would then intervene, or not. But convents were not obligatorily prisons; they were rather known in those times as a place where nice well-bread women were idle and available for men of the gentry. T.y. Arapaima (talk) 18:57, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
Thank you Arapaima! If I understand you correctly, a man in the 18th-century France could place his wife in a convent if he considered it necessary for his honour. For example, if she had been sexually compromised. Was there no legal terms involved at all, or did the authorities not bother with it? I seem to remember, that I have read somewhere, that a man had the legal right to do this, but not unconditionally: that is to say, there were in fact some legal requirements in the 18th century? --Aciram (talk) 20:45, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
You can read something about the legal means of imprisoning your relatives, confining them to convents etc. in our article on the Lettre de cachet. I gather that as long as you had the money or clout to get hold of one you didn't need to justify the imprisonment in any way. --Antiquary (talk) 20:48, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
There is a big difference between a way for wealthy individuals to buy exceptions to the law and a legal right. For one thing, most people are not that wealthy. I think I'm right that the idea of this legal right existing is an urban legend derived from the existence of these letters. --Tango (talk) 22:07, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
Is that what Hamlet was referring to when he said to Ophelia, "get thee to a nunnery"? It's usually assumed this meant a convent, but better heads than mine assure me it's actually a reference to a brothel. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 19:30, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
It's frequently asserted that he was meaning that, probably as a deliberate double meaning (for example, this highschool teacher makes that claim). But Random House disputes that it's so clear cut. The ever-fun TV Tropes has its usual list of such alleged innuendo. -- Finlay McWalterTalk 21:26, 10 June 2012 (UTC)

Matthew, Count of Boulogne, allegedly imprisoned his wife, Marie I, Countess of Boulogne, in a convent. Surtsicna (talk) 22:37, 10 June 2012 (UTC)

The protagonist of The Nun (La Religieuse), Denis Diderot's novella (later turned into a film that was banned for years in France because it upset Madame de Gaulle), is essentially forced through physical coercion into a convent by her father because she's illegitimate and he doesn't want to pay her dowry. The character's name, Suzanne Simonin, is taken from that of a real French nun, and Diderot could well have been recounting what might have been a common practice in contemporary France, but La Religieuse was not documentary but fiction partly written as a practical joke on a philanthropic friend of Diderot's who'd concerned himself greatly with helping troubled sisters. ¶ As for shutting up one's own wife in a convent, or making her take the veil, I'd speculate that pre-revolutionary France might have had some fairly severe penalties for adultery; so if a husband had evidence of marital adultery, his suspected wife might have had little practical choice. —— Shakescene (talk) 10:57, 13 June 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I have read much about this; that is to say, that convents prior to 1789 were often used as places were men could have difficult women locked up, but I have never been sure as to whether it was an informal practice, or if it did have some legal support. When it comes to your example, I can't help but asking: did a man in pre-revolutionary France have any legal obligations toward an aknowledged illegitimate daughter? --Aciram (talk) 23:25, 13 June 2012 (UTC)

See Elizabeth Packard for something in the United States... AnonMoos (talk) 01:55, 11 June 2012 (UTC)

So many interesting and helpful answers, thank you! Perhaps I should specify a little more. I do know that it did happen that men, at least from the upper classes, could have their wives, or other women, imprisoned in convents if they chose to in pre-revolutionary France. What I do not know, however, is this:
Was this purely an informal matter, or did it require a legal permission from the authorities? Some sort of "arrest order" and formal motivation perhaps? Or was it in fact illegal, and demanded the use of bribes? A husband was his wives legal guardian after all, so he would have the right to house her were he chose.
Reading a book about women’s rights in France in the 19th-century, I read the phrase: “This was quite different to the marriage laws prior to the revolution, were a man had the right by law to keep his wife locked up in a convent for as long as he chose to, though not without some legal difficulties.”
To me, that seemed to indicate, that the man did have the law’s permission to simply use a convent as a prison for his wife – but that it was necessary for him to obtain some sort of permission from the authorities first?
A husband was the legal guardian of his wife, so perhaps the phrase simply meant that a guardian could place his ward wherever he wanted, and that it was not necessary with a permission because of that? --Aciram (talk) 23:25, 13 June 2012 (UTC)

The highest ranking female servant[edit]


I wonder if anyone could tell me: who was the highest ranking female servant within the staff in 18th-century France? And by highest ranking, I refer to the woman with most authority to give orders to the rest of the staff and organized the household. I know in England there would have been the housekeeper, but France perhaps had different customs? Or was it the same? I have the impression, that in France it was in fact a male servant who had the right to command the household in that was rather than a female, but perhaps I am mistaken? In that case, who was the highest ranking male servant?

I really need to know the answer, so I hope some one can help! I would be grateful. Thanks. -- (talk) 13:52, 10 June 2012 (UTC)

Would it be chatelaine? --TammyMoet (talk) 15:49, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
Judging by that article, that wasn't really a servant role. --Tango (talk) 18:42, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
Hello!From a frenchman : a chatelaine is the wife of the chatelain, the lord of a medieval castle. In the 18° century, the lady would give her orders to the gouvernante, head of he female staff. But the maître d'hôtel would rule both male & female staff. T.y. Arapaima (talk) 18:50, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
How very helpful, thank you very much! Would I be right in thinking, that a gouvernante was the equivalent to a housekeeper, but that she was not allowed to give order to the male servants? And that the maître d'hôtel was the equivalent to a head butler, and that he managed the household when the master and his family was away? -- (talk) 23:30, 13 June 2012 (UTC)

Elephant + "Crimson wave" = ?[edit]

Hello learned humaniarians! I just saw a car sticker with the name of a southern US state, and a charging morose elephant above that legend in red : "Crimson wave" . What does that sticker mean ? I asked the car owner (a Swiss man), & he told me he had not the slightest idea, he had bought it while on a trip in the states because he thought it was funny... I figured it was maybe about the GOP growing up in the South, but what about the color crimson? In Europe, it is linked with the left... Thanks a lot beforehand for your answers Arapaima (talk) 18:38, 10 June 2012 (UTC)

Is it something to do with Alabama Crimson Tide football? Their mascot is an elephant, the origins of the name and the elephant link are discussed at University of Alabama traditions#The Crimson Tide, and a Google image search brings up a number of grumpy elephants charging through waves of water in a suitably tidal manner. Karenjc 19:05, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
While I have absolutely no idea what this sticker means, I would like to point out that the US has, for some reason, flipped the European red/blue political colour scheme: To use American political terms, red is conservative (right-wing) while blue is liberal (left-wing). An explanation of this can be found in the article Red states and blue states. However, given that the sticker said 'crimson' and not 'red', I don't think it's a political reference (while the elephant could be). V85 (talk) 19:18, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
The sticker isn't political... it's a reference to the University of Alabama football team. Blueboar (talk) 22:58, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
Thanks a lot to all ! Arapaima (talk) 10:49, 11 June 2012 (UTC)
Please read Solid South; someone who grew up before the 1960s in most of the Southern US would not have had anything of Republican influence. Nyttend (talk) 16:16, 11 June 2012 (UTC)
They wouldn't have had time for political influence, being so busy constantly switching schools and making new friends.  :) -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 19:42, 11 June 2012 (UTC)
Thanks +++Arapaima (talk) 08:03, 12 June 2012 (UTC)
I wonder who would know when this "red state / blue state" stuff started. In the 1950s, the term "Red" was so closely associated with "Communism", and specifically the USSR, that it became tainted, and even the Cincinnati Reds changed their name for awhile. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 08:17, 12 June 2012 (UTC)
According to Red states and blue states, it was the election of President Bush who introduced these concepts into American public discourse, with their current meanings. V85 (talk) 08:21, 12 June 2012 (UTC)
That's Bush the Latter, in case you were wondering. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 22:36, 12 June 2012 (UTC)

Searching for the name of a magazine similar to Foreign Affairs[edit]

Found it a week or so ago, can't find it in my search history...I believe it's a quarterly, or definitely not published on a monthly basis. Also likely to be published by a think tank. What made it stood out from the rest is that issues focus on a specific region at a time, like Africa or Latin America. Contributions are definitely from people who know what's they're talking about... (i.e. Ph.Ds) I believe that the name started with a "C," and I don't believe it had a particular political leaning. (talk) 20:28, 10 June 2012 (UTC)

Have a look at the titles listed in Category:International relations journals and see if any of them ring a bell. --Viennese Waltz 07:50, 11 June 2012 (UTC)

Word arguement[edit]

I remember reading some article on here, I thought it was "Word Arguement" but that doesn't give me a page. The concept was an arguement that was because two people define words differently and mean different things to different people. For example, example if two people argue about life or love, but they agree on the underlying concepts, so the conflict only arises when they put labels on things--labels that mean different things to different people. (talk) 22:49, 10 June 2012 (UTC)

Spelling argument correctly might be a good start, but it doesn't take you directly to an answer. HiLo48 (talk) 00:19, 11 June 2012 (UTC)
Semantic dispute? - Jarry1250 [Deliberation needed] 08:56, 11 June 2012 (UTC)