Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2012 March 9

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March 9[edit]

Capability of the UN regulating the internet[edit]

Regarding the new treaty on internet governance backed by China and Russia, how would the UN be able to regulate the internet? They'd have to go through the United States to take control of the domain name system. The United Nations is impotent, so I don't see how all of these other countries would be able to regulate the internet. Would it be within their own borders or would traffic be intercepted internationally in a coordinated manner? --Melab±1 01:09, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

They would only be able to do it with the cooperation of the member states who actually have physical control over the internet lines, hubs, etc. The Internet is a bunch of hardware connected by a bunch of wires — it is a physical thing that lives in a physical world. It's not unregulatable, but you really have to take that into consideration when thinking about how it'd be regulated. There is zero possibility that the UN could do it without a lot of active participation from the member states. --Mr.98 (talk) 02:04, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
Since China's main interests in the internet are for cyber-attacks, copyright infringement, and censorship, it's quite possible they may want to have the UN regulate it, knowing full well they will be incompetent at it, leaving China free to do as it pleases. StuRat (talk) 02:17, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
Why would a UN organisation be less competent at regulating the internet than anyone else? And why would incompetent regulation be better for the Chinese government than no regulation? Seriously, what is with these bizarre assertions about the UN? Though I'm not sure what treaty are we talking about exactly - the only references I can find are from random blogs that call it the 'internet control freak treaty'. To Melab: I'm not really sure why you think it would be necessary to take control of the domain name system globally - countries already routinely filter access to domains; there is no reason why you can't do this on a local level. I imagine it would be trivial for China to separate from the existing domain name system if they really wanted to. (talk) 17:52, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
How many examples can you think of where the UN solved any major problem ? For example, how did they do at preventing genocide in Rwanda ? They make lots of resolutions about Israel/Palestine, so I take it they've solved that problem ? StuRat (talk) 22:25, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
I take it you realise that the UN Security Council is only one dimension of the UN?
ALR (talk) 22:51, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
Yes, but how has the UN done at accomplishing most of it's goals ? StuRat (talk) 23:39, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
The World Meteorological Organisation and UNESCO are both arms of the United Nations. They have achieved a lot. HiLo48 (talk) 01:58, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
Well given that the goals of the UN are centred around facilitating international co-operation and dialogue in many areas it's pretty successful. From a personal perspective I think the UNSC structure is not conducive to delivering that around conflict but that's a legacy of when the UNSC was formed and reducing the power of the five permanent members is well nigh impossible; turkeys rarely vote for Xmyth.
In other areas ICAO and IMO are pretty successful, the International Court of Justice has had many successes in areas that national courts are limited. ITO is a success. UNIDO has been less effective in the last couple of years although that's largely down to economic retrenchment and increased protectionism.
With respect to the issue at hand I think it's going to be a real struggle as it brings the ITU into opposition with the WTO, although that's not a UN body. Implementation would appear to involve a number of anti-competitive measures that I'm not convinced are within the purview of the body.
ALR (talk) 11:23, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
The World Health Organization has been hugley successful, for example in co-ordinating the eradicate of smallpox, and in many other ways. Grandiose (me, talk, contribs) 12:29, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
Beyond the examples given above, I would suggest the United Nations Development Programme has also had some success. In fact, if you look at List of specialized agencies of the United Nations, I would suggest most agencies there have had some success. E.g. UPU, FAO, ICAO, IFAD. Even the IMF and the World Bank (parts of which are UN agencies) for all the criticism they tend to come under would seem to have been successful in some areas. And whether or not the goals here are smart, it seems to me that the ITU has been somewhat successful in a number of areas particularly around standardisation. In fact, logic would suggest if the ITU was really as useless and toothless as suggested, then people like the FCC commissioner below wouldn't really give a damn. (This doesn't mean the treaty, if agreed to, will work.) Nil Einne (talk) 16:25, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
The agencies list is relatively short; see Category:Organizations established by the United Nations for more (including some now-defunct ones). It's hard to argue that, eg, UNRRA or UNICEF have not had a net positive effect. Shimgray | talk | 18:42, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
Activists in unfree/partly free section of the world gain information about freedom and rights through the internet, and the servers of most websites are based in the free world (i.e. the first world). So it is predictable that some countries, such as those mentioned above, will try to destroy the epicenter of knowledge, which is possible only through the United Nations. If the United States doesn't shut down servers/websites in their land, they will be accused of violating international laws. Here is a critical analysis. --SupernovaExplosion Talk 04:48, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
Note that that article is by a commissioner of the US Federal Communications Commission, so hardly a neutral party. I'm a little bit surprised by the lack of independent analysis of any of this - maybe I'm just choosing bad search terms. (talk) 18:40, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
U.N. isn't a state... its power comes from the consent of its member states. The Security Council isn't the whole U.N. but its veto power makes it an unignorable part of any U.N. action. I think the most salient point here is Mr 98's point that it's possible to regulate, but hard. I've always been a little amused when people see the internet as some bold new regulatory frontier. There are structural issues to be sure, but Lawrence Lessig's take on how code is as critical as laws, is probably the most dramatic difference between the internet and the rest of the world. I'm not sure exactly the question the OP wants answered... how would the U.N. regulate the internet despite its supposed impotence? I guess the way they'd do anything else, with all the issues that accompany that. Shadowjams (talk) 03:46, 12 March 2012 (UTC)

Queen Anne Boleyn's polydactyly[edit]

Interesting and funny (even if a rumour) :

  • the english article Anne Boleyn reads "... and on her right hand six fingers"
  • the french article fr:Anne Boleyn : "... polydactylie (six doigts à sa main gauche)" = left hand
  • the german de:Anne Boleyn : "... an jeder Hand sechs Finger (Polydaktylie)" = both hands

I asked the question here fr:Wikipédia:Oracle/semaine 10 2012#la reine Anne Boleyn (Oracle = Reference desk) and someone who searched different books on google books answered that the left hand was mentioned more times...

Anybody, another information ? (talk) 07:56, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

Well, according to the Chicago Medical Recorder, Volume 37 published by the Chicago Medical Society, she had 6 fingers in both hands, and 6 toes in both feet. But a quick google search shows there is no proper information available and different sources are making different claims. --SupernovaExplosion Talk 08:19, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
A BBC article claims historians dispute whether Anne Boleyn really had polydactyly. --SupernovaExplosion Talk 08:21, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
The six fingers allegation derived from the pro-Catholic Nicholas Sanders who was overtly hostile towards Anne and greatly contributed to the monster image of Anne Boleyn.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 09:15, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
Jeanne, that's certainly been persuasively argued, but I'm not sure that historians agree on it. --Dweller (talk) 13:49, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
So, how reliable is the information about her third nipple/breast? Astronaut (talk) 14:37, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
How would you know if a woman had third nipple in 16th century? Of course reality show didn't exist at that time. --SupernovaExplosion Talk 00:00, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
Considering people of all social class were wildly superstitious in the 16th century, the presence of six fingers, a third breast and a large wen on her neck - all believed to have been the marks of the Devil - would this have made her popular at the French and English courts, not to mention endearing her to Margaret of Austria? The likely destination of a girl with these obvious birthmarks would have been a convent not three royal courts.--Jeanne Boleyn (talk) 17:29, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
Also, considering that the king had executed Boleyn, saying nasty things about her would have been a good way to win the king's favor. Certainly few would have dared to speak up in her defense. Marco polo (talk) 17:52, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
I changed the info in the German WP, now matching the English WP (six fingers at her right hand), in order to match the original 1585 quote (Anne Boleyn was rather tall of stature, with black hair and an oval face of sallow complexion, as if troubled with jaundice. She had a projecting tooth under the upper lip, and on her right hand, six fingers), see Nicholas Sander; Edward Rishton (editor): De origine ac progressu schismatis Anglicani, Cologne 1585, fol. 16 and Ingolstadt 1587, p. 16.. --Pp.paul.4 (talk) 18:09, 11 March 2012 (UTC)

ECB liquidity boost for banks[edit]

So the European Central Bank lends banks money at ultra-low interest rates, which enables the banks to purchase government bonds that yield much higher rates. It's like the Fed's quantitative easing, no, but instead of banks parking the money at the Fed they're buying high-yielding investments? Isn't this just giving money to the banks? If it's just another form of government bailout, wouldn't it make more sense for taxpayers to take a stake in the banks in return? (talk) 14:40, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

Debt holders get paid before equity holders in a bankruptcy, so the ECB is taking less risk by lending money to banks than it would be if it bought a stake in the banks. (You can combine the two with convertible bonds, but I haven't heard that proposed.) Generally, governments want to try and keep at an arm's length from the actual management of private businesses, which is difficult once you own large stakes in them. As for banks buying high yield government bonds, I'm not sure they are. Governments bonds in most EU countries are at very low yields at the moment. (Greece is obviously an exception, but nobody is buying Greek bonds - that's why Greece needs EU and IMF bailouts.) --Tango (talk) 16:10, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
Yes, it is a handout to banks. One hand washes the other. Imposing government ownership on the banks might lead to things like limits on vast compensation for managers (effectively) at public expense. Politicians in many countries are (partly) dependent on bankers for campaign funding, so they are loath to interfere with bankers' privileges. Note that François Hollande has threatened to do so, and as a result other European leaders are shunning him. Marco polo (talk) 18:00, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
I'm well aware that US politicians are all bought and sold by major campaign contributors, but wasn't aware that this was also true in Europe. Is it ? StuRat (talk) 22:21, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
Spanish and Italian bonds yield quite a bit, and even safer governments are paying more than what the ECB charges in interest, no? (talk) 21:04, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
Correct. To be fair, while the ECB certainly intends to help banks, it also intends to help governments. By flooding banks with cheap euros, the ECB intends to increase the supply of credit to countries such as Italy and Spain, thereby helping the financial position of those governments, and, by keeping interest rates down, supporting the euro-zone economy. The ECB works through banks rather than buying government debt directly (as other central banks do) because its charter forbids such direct action. Is it pure coincidence that its charter forces the ECB to act in a way that benefits banks? Marco polo (talk) 22:03, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
I don't believe the intention is to enrich banks. I think it is a side effect that is accepted due to the lack of a political backlash. Bailout sound so much dirtier than quantitative easing, even though it's more fiscally responsible. Also, bailouts (in the form of preferred stock placements, say) require political action, while QE takes only a central bank. (talk) 03:42, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
What rate is the ECB charging? The ECB's page on the most recent 3-year bonds issued to banks is here, but it doesn't give an interest rate. The ECB's front page says the rate for its "main refinancing operations" is 1.00%, but I believe those are for the normal 1-week bonds (and compares with 0.14% on German 3-month bonds, I can't find anything other than 10 year yields for Italy and Spain). --Tango (talk) 01:12, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
It was 1%.[1] The link works if you reach it through Google, I think ("European Central Bank long-term refinancing operation"). (talk) 03:38, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
Well found, thanks. The 3-year yield on German bonds is 0.28%, and it looks like it's around 3% for Italy and Spain. That suggests banks can make significant profits by borrowing from the ECB at 1% and buying Italian or Spanish bonds at 3%, but they are taking the risk that Italy or Spain may default on those bonds (it is that risk that gives them a high spread against German bonds). --Tango (talk) 16:44, 10 March 2012 (UTC)

politcal eating[edit]

what does tony blair eat? Anthony J Pintglass (talk) 15:30, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

Food, I would imagine. --Tango (talk) 16:03, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
There were a lot of jokes about Old Labour's steriotypical working class "beer and sandwiches" (see [2][3][4]) being replaced by New Labour's "Perrier water and wild rocket salad" (supposedly a Yuppie staple). See [5][6][7][8][9] Alansplodge (talk) 16:57, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
Well Peter Mandelson famously ate pea guacamole with his fish and chips... --TammyMoet (talk) 18:01, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
It should be pointed out that Peter Mandelson never actually confused mushy peas with guacamole dip. It was originally an American intern, working in Jack Straw's office but drafted in to help in the 1986 Knowsley North byelection, who did; the story was applied to Peter Mandelson afterwards. Sam Blacketer (talk) 20:15, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
Yes the link did say the story was apocryphal... --TammyMoet (talk) 21:46, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
Something politicians very rarely eat is humble pie. HiLo48 (talk) 21:05, 9 March 2012 (UTC)
One of my favourite political quotes was what Ian Fitchett said to Robert Menzies, who had said he would see Fitchett eat crow: I don't mind, Prime Minister, as long as it is garnished with the sauce of your embarrassment. -- Jack of Oz [your turn] 04:18, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
His Sedgefield constituency leaflet, along with an interview in the Sun, claims fish and chips are his favourite foods, the Islington cookbook he contributed to says fettucini with sun-dried tomatoes, capers and olive oil. They're probably political choices though - unsurprisingly, Islington is upper middle class, Sedgefield is working class. He's also claimed meatballs in tomato sauce are his favourite. People who've eaten with or served him say his favourite foods are steak and chips, BLT sandwiches and Beck's beer, pistachios and bananas - probably more likely what he actually eats on a day to day basis. Smurrayinchester 22:03, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

Gustave Le Bon and Plato[edit]

Were Gustave Le Bon's ideas on propaganda influenced by platonic philosophy? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:52, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

You may find crowd psychology a common denominator between Le Bon (La Psychologie des foules) and Plato (Republic) and relate that to propaganda. --Omidinist (talk) 04:40, 10 March 2012 (UTC)


Is it true that tulpas can become stron enough to take over the host body? (talk) 19:03, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

Are you talking about this? Falconusp t c 19:22, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

How long would it take a wealthy student to reach New York City from Princeton, New Jersery, in the year 1772?[edit]

How long would it take a wealthy student to reach New York City from Princeton, New Jersery, in the year 1772? (talk) 23:38, 9 March 2012 (UTC)

It might depend on the time of year, but it's about 60 miles, which sounds like a day's trip by horse, to me. However, 60 miles in a day is a bit rough on one horse, so, ideally, you'd either switch horses halfway or spend the night. Since spare horses are hard to come by, making it a two-day trip might be more realistic, assuming you don't want to drive your horse too hard. StuRat (talk) 00:20, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
In many parts of England around that time, there was a well-developed network of "posting inns" where people who were "traveling post" (i.e. not using their own horses) could change horses, and toll roads which were reasonably well-maintained. Not sure how much of that was duplicated in North America... AnonMoos (talk) 02:44, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
How did they run such a system ? I'm aware that the Pony Express used a similar system, but there the same company owned all the horses. Did they just rent out ("hire") the horses ? This wouldn't work for one-way or extended trips, unless somebody else was willing to ride the horse back. And it seems likely people would tend to abuse rental horses, just as they do rental cars, so they wouldn't last very long. StuRat (talk) 02:57, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
I don't know all the details, but I'm pretty sure there wasn't a single centralized company. And the horses were rented out for one specific fairly short "stage" of a journey (from one posting inn to another one within a few hours' travelling time on the route). The whole point of travelling post was to avoid delays that would be necessary if one travelled with one set of horses the whole way, so a more extended rental period would be pointless. Presumably the exchanged horses were rested up for an hour or two, and then were available to be given to travellers going the other way... AnonMoos (talk) 06:23, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
yes, remember that although the human would travel 200 miles, each horse would spend his life going back and forth over the same ten mile stretch. If he had an odd number of journeys in a day hed have to spend the night in a different stable and be sent back home to his owner at the last inn with the first customer in the morning. Amazingly the Russian Empire (under the Tsars I mean) did the same thing with teams of reindeer/horses and boats. You could book a 5,000 mile journey from Siberia to St petersburg and have a new reindeer team/horse/boat ready and waiting for you at each change — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:52, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
1773, however...  Omg †  osh  00:40, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
According to [10], The fastest service, called the "flying machine," took only a day and a half between Philadelphia and New York during the 1770s, but most intercity travel was difficult: the first regularly scheduled stagecoach route between New York and Boston in 1772 took one week. We have pages on the King's Highway (Charleston to Boston) , Boston Post Road , and Old York Road (the last of which cites a two day stage coach service between Philly and NYC). Sounds like if the wealthy student was willing to pay for the best service, it could be done in about a day. If nothing else, there was a decent road to use. Pfly (talk) 03:43, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
I measure about 45 miles from Princeton to New York. Also Princeton is pretty nearly on the route from Philadelphia to New York, which as Pfly said had regular coach service at that time. So I expect it would have been easily done in a day. Looie496 (talk) 03:56, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
Well, if they lacked the post system, even 45 miles is a bit much for one horse in a day. So, the answer seems to be 1 day if they had a post system, 2 days otherwise. StuRat (talk) 22:53, 10 March 2012 (UTC)