Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2012 June 18

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June 18[edit]

Alternative voting system[edit]

Which country currently uses alternative voting system and is there a sample from the last election that took place in that country that used that system? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:08, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

I was tempted to ask "alternative to what?", but on a jackofozian caprice I plugged in alternative voting system and it redirected me to Instant-runoff voting. If that's what you're interested in, the details you're after should be there, or links to where they can be found. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 03:20, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
Apparently the term "alternative vote" is the Britishism for the Australian "preferential ballot." Australia uses the preferential ballot for its lower house, the House of Representatives. Voting data is available down to the booth level from the Australian Electoral Commission's website. Fifelfoo (talk) 03:58, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
Down to booth level is really good data. I thought France was good, having found the results to commune level on newspapers' websites by 10pm BST yesterday. Itsmejudith (talk) 10:32, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
Full preference distributed booth data is available sometime after the election but before that parliament convenes. Booth data for "First Preferences" is available on the night, most psephologists can use booth level predictive simulations of preference flows to predict the electoral outcome of the lower house on the night. My favourite psephologist for this is Antony Green who predicted a hung parliament in 2010 on the night…he started looking cagey around 7.15 (75 minutes after polls closed in NSW), and refused to give expected national results all night—normally Green can tell you the result by 8pm. The upper house takes weeks to resolve due to sheer number of votes to count and the complexity of the count (image of actual ballot paper). Usually before parliament sits the "wonks" have done analysis on which demographics have changed their voting pattern based on booth and seat demographic alignment. Fifelfoo (talk) 11:00, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
NZ also publishes polling place level data [1]e.g. [2] except IIRC when the polling place has less then 6 voters (to preserve anonymity). However we use mixed member proportionality. I'm not sure when it becomes available. Some of our local council elections use single transferable vote (i.e. multiple winners) but I don't believe instant run-off (single winner) is used anywhere although I'm not sure. (Unlike in Australia, a STV vote it still valid even if you don't rank all possible candidates.) But local elections are by postal ballot. Edit: Guess I should have checked out the article which confirms instant-runoff is used in some councils. I believe the councils were given the option of choosing IRV/STV or FPP a while back but I'm not sure of the details. Nil Einne (talk) 15:29, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
The Libertarian Party (US) uses it. It seems most equitable. μηδείς (talk) 04:02, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
There are some failures—in terms of seat design, geographically dispersed but politically coherent voting blocs tend to be underrepresented, where as geographically coherent voting blocs tend to be overrepresented. In Australia this was viewed as a "good thing" in order to assist the rurally based anti-Labor "Country Party" (now called the Nationals). Currently this distorts the Green vote significantly, which is geographically dispersed but politically coherent. Australia seeks to redress this by suppling a second house, based on states as single multimember electorates, with single transferrable vote multimember proportional representation. Admittedly, with 6 seats per state per half-senate election, and with the Greens achieving 10% votes at the moment, the final two senate seats per state are quite interesting to observe as examples of vote transfer flows. A significant body of Australian voters follow Party advice on preference order, but a significant body rejects Party advice. Fifelfoo (talk) 04:16, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
The single transferable vote, a similar system, is used in Cambridge,_MA#City_government. Paul (Stansifer) 20:04, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
Just to add to that, STV is equivalent to AV/IRV/whatever when only one candidate is to be elected. Several countries use STV and this situation can occur, for example, in by-elections, or in particularly small electoral districts. (talk) 13:35, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

Query on term for intentional celibacy philosophy adopted by scientists during The Enlightment/Scientific Revolution[edit]


Hopefully you can help me. I'm a writer doing research for a script. During a story discussion with another writer, he'd recollected something he'd read about a type of philosophy/belief set down during the Enlightenment, specifically in the Scientific Revolution. It was a belief that adopting a life of celibacy contributed to scientific abilities/progress in the field. He couldn't place the term, nor the original author of the time. I started research, using Google, which led me here to Wikipedia, and specifically your article on the scientist/inventor Nikola Tesla. In it I found some reference to his being celibate. It didn't state his motivation, though. The only other lead in the article I could find was a reference to a time of his life when he was influenced by the Vidi philosophy (Hindu). Thinking this might lead somewhere, I followed the link to this article. I did find some useful information (brahmacharya--taking vows of celibacy for spiritual reasons; believing sex and focus on these type of relationships only can lead to materialism). This isn't quite what I'm looking for. When I went back with this information, my writer friend said this wasn't the term. What we're looking for is intentional celibacy motivated by scientific reason, not spiritual.

This search has produced little fruit and is becoming increasingly frustrating. The closest/best answer I can come up with on my own is 'sexual sublimation', hypothesised by Freud. The definition: "To divert the energy (sexual or other biological impulse) from it's immediate goal to one of a higher social, moral, or aesthetic nature or use; to make nobler or purer." I'm not sure if this is it, either. According to my colleague, this belief was set down in the Enlightenment, which was in the 18th century. Freud came up with this a century later. And now that I think of it, Tesla lived in Freud's time, as well. Did the Enlightenment extend into the 1800's?

So my question is, would anyone happen to know anything about this philosophy? Again, not spiritually motivated. And the Freud sublimation reasoning, I'm not sure about either. From what I can understand of that, the term came about because of the more rigid beliefs about sex during that time. Sex was something taboo/not openly discussed, nor expressed. So it was felt that sublimation would take care of the problem of improper sexual urges. It would benefit society more if the sexual energy of the libido were instead transferred to endeavors that would better benefit society, such as in art or the sciences. I'm unsure if this is the motivator my friend was talking about. In ways it makes sense to the objective of the character I'm writing, who is a retired physics professor. But I just can't get past the reasoning. My writer friend suggested that the practice was believed to help scientists in their abilities. It was not spiritual in nature, to avoid materialism. And it's not quite the Freud sublimation term either, because that just suggests transferring energy that was felt to be improper. I believe the philosophy I'm searching for is a celibacy motivated by the belief that it ENHANCED the scientists abilities. According to your article, this was exactly what Tesla believed/what motivated him. But it didn't state what Tesla attributed this to/a specific term. My question is, if there was a term for this, what was it?

Thank you so much for any help you can provide! Kim KrauseKkrause26 (talk) 04:19, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

Nikola Tesla was notably eccentric, and may have suffered from OCD. I imagine he held a number of highly unusual beliefs. Gandalf61 (talk) 08:27, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
Hm, perhaps your friend was thinking of Francis Bacons New Atlantis? The inhabitants of his scientific utopia Bensalem are apparently very chaste, though as far as I recall I don't think they are completely celibate. --Saddhiyama (talk) 08:52, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
You might compare the celibacy of Isaac Newton and Temple Grandin. Note also the latter's autism and the suggestion that Newton had Asperger's. μηδείς (talk) 16:42, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
The idea that celibacy would have not only moral enhancements but also physical and mental ones has been variously popular throughout many eras. Certainly there were those in the 17th century who thought this (e.g. Newton); there were those in the 19th century as well. The idea that seminal fluid was "vitalizing" had a lot of play in the 19th century; the work of Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard was particularly influential. I doubt the 17th century folks thought of it in quite the same terms — it seems rather clear that Newton considered it a moral issue, not a physiological one. I don't think there's a single, well-known term for this set of beliefs, though. --Mr.98 (talk) 17:51, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
That idea is the ancient Chinese concept of qi, and it was rediscovered by Europeans in the C18. I don't have a good reference for that though and would be interested in one. Itsmejudith (talk) 21:03, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
I think it's simply a rationalization for a pre-existing organic condition or personality quirk. Not that one could complain at the contributions such people make. μηδείς (talk) 06:12, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

Apparently it is still common belief in modern American tv (although TV Tropes doesn't say anything about it). Most notably with the Seinfeld episode "The Abstinence", where George Costanza becomes a genius on account of sexual abstinence, while Seinfeld on the other hand becomes a moron. The same theme is sometimes being mentioned in the sitcom The Big Bang Theory. I am sure there are other examples. --Saddhiyama (talk) 08:30, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

Native Hawaiian or Native American[edit]

Look at these two pictures: boy and girl and these pictures: other boy and other girl. Do they look Native Hawaiian or Native American? Does the two girls look the same except in different clothing or are the two different girls? Don't judge by textual evidence. Now after that did the photographer, as listed on the Smithsonian, Henry Wetherbee Henshaw ever went to Hawaii?--KAVEBEAR (talk) 04:56, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

They all look Native Hawaiian to me and I believe they are two different girls. I'm sorry but I haven't a clue whether the photographer went to Hawaii after taking the photos.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 09:23, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
All except the "other girl" look very Polynesian (I won't say "Hawaiian" if I'm ignoring textual evidence), and they're definitely two different girls. FiggyBee (talk) 10:12, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
"In December of 1894, due to failing health, Henry resigned from the Bureau and moved to the Hawaiian Islands to regain his strength. There he became known as a photographer capturing many valuable images such as the native costumes, houses, and other hard to reproduce negatives."[3] He also wrote this book at that time. FiggyBee (talk) 12:16, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

Why do names of fictional characters get censored in some fictional stories?[edit]

An example from a 19th century horror story I just finished reading, 'The House and the Brain' by Edward Bulwer-Lytton:

"The house is haunted; and the old woman who kept it was found dead
in her bed, with her eyes wide open. They say the devil strangled
"Pooh! You speak of Mr. J----. Is he the owner of the house?"
"Where does he live?"
"In G---- Street, No. --."
"What is he? In any business?"
"No, sir,--nothing particular; a single gentleman."
I gave the potboy the gratuity earned by his liberal information,
and proceeded to Mr. J---- , in G---- Street, which was close by
the street that boasted the haunted house. I was lucky enough to
find Mr. J---- at home,--an elderly man with intelligent
countenance and prepossessing manners.

It also goes on to blot out names of other characters in the story, such as the narrator's servant and a traveler he meets at a gentleman's club. I'm guessing this was for legal reasons (similar to the standard "purely coincidental" disclaimer you see written in the fine print within books and movies today), but is my assumption really 100% correct? I've also come across this phenomenon in other stories whose titles I can not recall, but I have mostly seen this in fiction written around the same era as this story (although I think I may have also seen this name-mangling pop up in a couple of short stories by Asimov from the 1950s -- but it has been a long time, thus I may be remembering incorrectly).

Oddly enough, later in the same story, a character by the name of "Mr. Richards" is explicitly introduced, with his name not blanked-out. This inconsistency is why I have doubts. -- (talk) 06:49, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

It is hardly for legal reasons, but were a common trick for writers at the time to convey a feeling of realism to the story, as in "I won't divulge the name of this character or this town, because they exist in real life" (but of course they didn't). --Saddhiyama (talk) 08:54, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
(ec)The author is conveying a sense of reality and a sense of focus and urgency. By omitting the names, on the one hand he adopts a style that might be found in newspaper reports of real events, and as a side effect he communicates to the reader that he will not bother him or her with unnecessary detail. It has nothing to do with legal concerns, but is a literary device. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 09:06, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
Reinforcing the above editors, they censored Mr. S————'s name for the same reason that fictive television blurs characters' faces, or censors words they are permitted to broadcast: an appearance of verisimilitude by mimicking artefacts of media that claim to present fact. Fifelfoo (talk) 10:22, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
I always thought that it was the result of the author 'not bothering' finding a name for a minor character who would not appear again. Kafka uses this in some of his novels, at least in 'The Castle', and Dostoyevsky also does it in Crime and Punishment. I believe (can't remember) that in both cases it's done with characters who appear once, and are never heard of again. Why insult all the people who share a last name, when a simple initial can do the trick? V85 (talk) 15:39, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
It is not from laziness. Stephan Schultz's answer is correct. It is an attempt to imply (or reference others who imply) that the characters and locations are real. --Mr.98 (talk) 16:35, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
So, clearly, that strategy didn't work on me, since the characters seemed less real, than had they been given actual names. :-) V85 (talk) 19:19, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
True, but (and I'm probably labouring the obvious here) the stories were written for readers of their era used to that convention, not to someone from a different culture far in the future. "The past is another country. They do things differently there." {The poster formerly known as} (talk)
I just saw this in a China Miéville short story, which surprised me because I thought that that practice had died out. Supporting what folks have said above, it was the only story in the collection in which the narrator was a London-based author named "China Miéville". Paul (Stansifer) 19:51, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
I'd bet good money that China is, in that story, deliberately evoking the feel of the period when the practice was common, and aiming it at a readership familiar with the practice from reading stories from the period. The New Weird movement of which he is a prominent member builds on Steampunk and plays with Penny dreadful and Gothic fiction sensibilities, so cannot be fully appreciated without a familiarity with original Victorian-era (and earlier) stylistics. {The poster formerly known as} (talk) 22:49, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
In a related topic, it was once fashionable to write dates in a similar manner, as in "September 1, 197-" or "January 4, 19--". Is there a general name for this literary device? I'm surprised there's no article... Matt Deres (talk) 02:27, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
If done to mimic media reporting, it is an attempt at creating verisimilitude. Syntactically it is a form of ellipsis, and the punctuation used is the em dash. FiggyBee (talk) 02:45, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

You see the same thing in other countries, too. In Russian, it was a very common device to use N (Cyrillic letter H) to replace a surname or, more typically, a given name/patronymic. The N stood for "nobody" (никто). Anton Chekhov used it a bit. When Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov first adopted the nom-de-guerre "Lenin", it often appeared as "N. Lenin". He himself signed some of his pre-revolutionary articles this way, and 100% of Russian readers of those articles understood the code, viz. a bare N signified that what came after the N was a pseudonym. If a person's true name was ever shortened to initials, both the given name and patronymic were initialised. For example, Russians sometimes refer to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky as "P. I. Tchaikovsky", never as just "P. Tchaikovsky". Unfortunately, some Western reporters assumed "N. Lenin" indicated his first name was Nikolai, and reputable Western reference books for years proclaimed his correct name as "Nikolai Lenin", which he never used ever in his life. It was originally just the one-word name "Lenin", but that later became his surname, and his original forenames Vladimir Ilyich were reattached to it. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 20:16, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

Letters of Marque[edit]

I would like to know if there is any location archiving Letters of Marque issued in Britain, specifically the Elizabethan era, where it is and if they permit access to their records. (talk) 14:05, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

I suggest the first port of call is the National Archives at Kew. --TammyMoet (talk) 14:45, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
You might also get a steer from the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. {The poster formerly known as} (talk) 22:54, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

Carl Sagan and sekded-ef em khetkhet[edit]

On page 39 of his work Cosmos,[4] the astronomer Carl Sagan made reference to an ancient Egyptian phrase sekded-ef em khetkhet, or "who travels backwards". It is apparently used as an epithet for Mars, describing the planet in terms of its occasional retrograde motion at opposition. There are a few other books that make reference to this, but I can't find a published paper about it. I would like to track down the original scholarly source for this phrase. Does anybody have a good suggestion? Thank you. Regards, RJH (talk) 17:42, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

The earliest reference I could find in English was R. A. Parker, "Ancient Egyptian Astronomy," Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series A 276, no. 1257, (1974), 51-65. It is not referenced specifically (very little is referenced specifically in the article). --Mr.98 (talk) 18:03, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
I would just point out that it's apparent retrograde motion (rather than actual retrograde motion), and it's exhibited by all the planets, not only Mars.--Shantavira|feed me 18:45, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
That's true of course, but kind of irrelevant to the question. Thank you. Regards, RJH (talk) 20:37, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
It looks like this comes from the astronomical paintings on the ceiling of the burial chamber ("Hall K") of KV17 (Seti I's tomb). A detailed description of the ceiling, with citations, starts here (see "Column 26" for the description of Mars).---Cam (talk) 19:11, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
Excellent! Thank you, Cam, and you too Mr.98. Regards, RJH (talk) 20:40, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

other olympic events[edit]

apparently some of the earlier olympic gameses used to include non-sporting events, mostly artistic in nature I think, but having searched around a bit, I can find no mention of these. Did this actually happen, and if so, can anyone direct me towards a list of these events? (talk) 20:16, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

I believe you're right but I'll leave it to others to provide the links. Meanwhile, here is the Cultural Olympiad. --TammyMoet (talk) 20:46, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
Our article on Olympic sports lists all current, discontinued, and demonstration sports. I don't see "artistic in nature" (by which I assume you mean painting, etc) events on the list, but I note that there may be some confusion due to things like "Artistic" as a subclassification of gymnastics. There are, certainly, things that might seem odd to the modern Olympic audience such as tug-of-war on the list. — Lomn 21:15, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
You are thinking of Art competitions at the Summer Olympics.--Cam (talk) 21:22, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
(edit conflict) You're absolutely right; there were medals awarded in architecture, literature, music, painting and sculpture at the Summer Olympics of 1912, 1920, 1924, 1928 1932, 1936 and 1948. We have an article that details the history of the art competitions at Art competitions at the Olympic Games. Interestingly, the reason for ending the competitions after 1948 was not a lack of interest, but the fact that the artists entering were overwhelmingly professionals, as opposed to the athletes who were [supposed to be] amateurs - professionalism was seen to be against the Olympic spirit. - Cucumber Mike (talk) 21:28, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
That sequence of Games, btw, may look like it has gaps, but they correspond to the Games that were cancelled due to global wars. In fact, all the Games that were held between 1912 and 1948 had these art competitions. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 02:00, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
There was an Olympic Arts Festival in association with the 1984 Olympics. There isn't much there, but see 1984_Summer_Olympics#Arts_Festival. (talk) 20:38, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
There generally is today. I attended a classical music concert at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta that was in some performing arts center or other. However, I don't believe medals are awarded today. It's more "held in conjunction with" than "part of". And I'd be willing to bet that the elimination for the reason Cucumber Mike says was at the instigation of Avery Brundage who was both a purist on amateurism, and an art collector of note.--Wehwalt (talk) 20:44, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

J. Abrial[edit]

Who was J. Abrial? The only thing I know is he was an artist of some kind in the 1840s but I can't find anything about him. Also in old engravings/lithographs what did dibt on the left mean and the place name and lith de. [different name] on the right of the image mean.--KAVEBEAR (talk) 23:11, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

He was an artist of some kind in the 1840s, and I doubt there's much more to find. "lith de." means "lithograph of" and is followed by the name and address of the printer/publisher. FiggyBee (talk) 01:28, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
Looks like it's José María Avrial y Flores (1807-1891). He did lithographs and his name was sometimes spelled Abrial. Here is one reference, others can be found by Googling his full name.--Cam (talk) 19:05, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
The "lo dib." after his name is short for "lo dibujó" which means "[he] drew it."--Cam (talk) 21:01, 19 June 2012 (UTC)