Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2012 September 5

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September 5[edit]

Marriage rights and religion[edit]

What is the relationship in the intersection between the enumeration of legal marriage rights by governments and those by religion? Do they conflict or interfere? Does one influence the other? Viriditas (talk) 03:13, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

Welcome to Wikipedia. Your question appears to be a homework question. I apologize if this is a misinterpretation, but it is our aim here not to do people's homework for them, but to merely aid them in doing it themselves. Letting someone else do your homework does not help you learn nearly as much as doing it yourself. Please attempt to solve the problem or answer the question yourself first. If you need help with a specific part of your homework, feel free to tell us where you are stuck and ask for help. If you need help grasping the concept of a problem, by all means let us know.--Jayron32 03:40, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
Western laws do not generally recognize polygamy. In countries which have or had the "millet" system, the laws governing marriage and inheritance are left up to the religious authorities of each recognized religious group... AnonMoos (talk) 04:56, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
I had to check to see if Viriditas was being impostored, but no. He's been here 8 years and should know better than to ask homework questions. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 07:48, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
I suspect this isn't a homework question just a poorly phrased regular question, although probably not a great RD one and history suggests answering it is not a good idea. Nil Einne (talk) 14:53, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
I'm not sure this is a homework question, nor is it a trivial one. In most European states, there have been serious conflicts between church and state regarding the different roles of secular and religious marriages. In France, civil marriage became the compulsory form in 1792 as a result of the French Revolution. As I understand it, in Germany, only civil marriage is legally binding. As a result of Bismarck's Kulturkampf, from 1875 to 2008, religious weddings could only be performed legally for couples already in a civil marriage - in practice, this is still the case, although theoretically the two are now independent. The religious ceremony has no legal effect. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 15:07, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
Indeed, the dispute over things like same-sex marriage and polygamy are strictly over civil law. There are church ministers who are perfectly willing to perform such weddings, and have been for a long time. On the other hand, justice-of-the-peace weddings have a peculiarly religious component to them. So it's not a totally bright line of separation. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 15:40, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
It is a full separation in England and Wales. Couples who prefer or who are limited to a civil ceremony are not permitted any religious component at all to their wedding, so no hymns or prayers or mentions of any deity, and a religious minister cannot be appointed to officiate in place of the registrar. Nonreligious readings and music are permissible. - Karenjc 16:45, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
That's odd. How is it enforced? If you prayed, would you be charged with, in effect, blasphemy? μηδείς (talk) 18:00, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
I suppose they could always stop the ceremony if there was an outbreak of guerilla praying before the big moment, and hurl you out into the street unwed. The ceremony ends pretty quickly after the declaration of marriage, so there's no time to squeeze in a defiant psalm before you're outside being hassled by the photographer. The nonreligiousness is in the guidelines issued to you at your appointment to book the ceremony, and it's mentioned on the official government website here. The registrar has to approve any music you choose for the ceremony, and they control the playing of it, so no sneaky hymns can be slipped in. With a civil partnership ceremony like the one I attended recently it's even more restrictive: not only can't you have religious content, you mustn't mention marriage either. If you need a religious ceremony in England or Wales, it's church/chapel/synagogue/mosque/gurdwara/whatever or nothing. - Karenjc 18:33, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
But I presume there's nothing stopping you doing what is done in a number of other countries and doing the civil (or legal) part before the religious ceremony (provided the religious people allow it). Do you even need music etc in the civil part (whether marriage or partnership) or can you just listen to whatever the person says, agree, sign the papers have the witnesses sign and be done with it? I presume there's nothing stopping people calling their partnership a marriage in their non official ceremony right? Nil Einne (talk) 05:16, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
A civil ceremony can only take place in a building that's licensed for performing civil marriages, and a civil ceremony can only be performed by a superintendent registrar. Buildings "with a recent or continuing religious connection" cannot be licensed for religious civil marriage ceremonies. (Nor can anywhere that is not identifiably a premises, incidentally, so you can't get married in a garden or a park, or on a bus.) So no, you can't get legally married in a civil ceremony in a church and then have a religious service afterwards, even if the minister were willing to permit it. Nor can you have an (official) religious ceremony in a hotel, castle, or other place that has been licensed for civil marriages because only registrars, not ministers of religion, can marry people in those places. You can have two official ceremonies but they will be in two places - many people marry in a short register office ceremony with minimal frills as you describe, then go to a church for a blessing service, either on the same day or later. Others are content with the civil ceremony alone and do the more elaborate thing with nonreligious music, readings and so on. If you do an unofficial DIY ceremony afterwards and call your civil partnership a marriage, or do some hymn-singing and praying, nobody's going to arrest you, but no minister or registrar will officiate. You cannot officially combine civil marriage and religious marriage ceremonies in any way in England and Wales - they are entirely separate. - Karenjc 08:45, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
An example of two separate ceremonies was the Wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla Parker Bowles (the Queen didn't even attend the civil part). Alansplodge (talk) 09:32, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
I'm still confused. You mean ministers are forbidden from performing ceremonies if they aren't official ones? If so does this only apply if they are registered to perform marriages (or perhaps the place of worship is), or that anyone who calls themselves a minister or a religious leader is forbidden from performing such a ceremony even if they aren't even recognized by the government as such (if so, this seems a major restriction of religious freedom and freedom of speech to me, but what do I know?) Or simply that no minister will ever do it (although this seems a little extreme, there must surely be some ministers who would even if they only have their own 'church' i.e. house)? To be clear in case I wasn't in my original question, I'm not referring to a religious ceremony with any legal meaning, but a religious ceremony for the marriage that has meaning from a religious POV even if it is legally meaningless. Some religions may choose to not call it a marriage ceremony if it doesn't convey legal recognition or may choose not to have a full ceremony if it's not an official one (since there is the option to have an official one), that's of course up to them, the point that is confusing me is the suggestion that no one can choose to have such a ceremony as if religions are forbidden from doing it even if they don't suggest any legal recognition of what they're doing. (As I mentioned, my presumption was the legal part can be taken care of in the registry office with a minimal fuss, and what you choose to do after was between you and the people you were doing it with.) P.S. I've been looking for sources but the sources I find, e.g. [1] only seem to refer to the issues of performing such ceremonies if you want legal recognition and don't mention any restriction on performing such ceremonies if you don't want such recognition because you've already taken care of the legal stuff before hand probably at the registry office. Nil Einne (talk) 13:45, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
My answer was confined entirely to the legalities, per Viriditas's question. No religious input in the register office, because everything you do in there is part of your civil ceremony. No civil ceremony in the church. (Btw, all ministers of the Established Church are also allowed to act as registrar, but other sects/denominations may need a civil registrar present to register the marriage legally, though the minister will conduct the ceremony, see here for example.) No religious input in other licensed premises during the legal formalities, which can be completed in a few minutes if you want. But once the registrar has finished the legal stuff in said "other premises" and gone, the wedding itself is over. Subject to the venue's rules and the laws of public decency, you then can do what you like at your party. If an ordained minister, or a soi-disant one come to that, turns up and does a meaningless unofficial ceremony, no law is broken. Any difficulty may lie with the minister, depending on the rules of the church and his/her boss's interpretation of them. The Catholic church doesn't recognise civil unions where one partner is Catholic, for instance (see link above) so your priest is unlikely to oblige. The Methodists, on the other hand, don't distinguish between civil and religious marriage. A minister may be permitted to do something unofficial in his official capacity, or he may get into serious trouble with his church for taking part in a ceremony it disapproves of, or he may just tell you to book the church if you want <deity of your choice> to bless your union. I'm not sure where freedom of speech or religion are infringed - you just select the type of wedding you want, comply with the legal formalities that mean you actually are married in law, and the job's a good 'un. - Karenjc 19:34, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for all the assumptions of bad faith, everyone. No, I am not enrolled in any school, and the last time I did "homework" of any kind was sometime in the 20th century. Viriditas (talk) 02:37, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
You'd have to agree it was worded as a classic exam or homework question, and a very broadly based one at that. You gave no context that might have explained your interest in this area of human activity, and that would also have demonstrated it was not homework. For my money, it was a fair call given what we were given. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 02:59, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
As I explained on Jayron's talk page, the way it is worded is actually the way I think. I have about a dozen of these kinds of questions in my head on a daily basis when I wake up in the morning. To be perfectly honest, I have no idea how exam or homework questions are worded. Viriditas (talk) 03:03, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
Did you do any research of your own at all, or was here your first port of call? -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 03:18, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
I haven't researched it at all, nor would I know where to begin. Viriditas (talk) 03:34, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
[PLEASE NOTE this answer was in response to Karenjc's "guerilla praying" post of 18:33, 5 September 2012 (UTC) with a whole lot of interpolated posts since.] I am sorry, Karenjc, but this prohibition-of-displays-of-religion-in-civil-ceremonies notion is just about the funniest thing I have ever heard. I can even imagine the Python sketch with Cleese as the angry magistrate, Chapman as the groom marrying Terry Jones who's in drag, and trying to be really pretty, and Palin and Idle as competing sectarian psalmist-fathers doing a battling banjo sort of bit. μηδείς (talk) 04:12, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
I'm pleased that you find us amusing. We sometimes do things differently here. If it needed changing, we have an elected Parliament. Alansplodge (talk) 09:32, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
In Malaysia (since 1982) in cases where both partners are non Muslim (and otherwise non bumiputera), civil registration of the intention to marry normally has to be carried out 21 days before the soleminisation of the marriage so the wedding banns can be published. The soleminisation itself can be performed by an Assistant Registrar who may be someone at the church or temple (well they can also be the ones to do the registration I believe), if they've managed to get the government to appoint them as such. However for non church/temple Chinese marriages, AFAIK the soleminisation is usually just done at the Registry of Marriages with the traditional ceremony carried out some time after (after for obvious reasons) and having no legal effect (well I don't know whether the failure to perform such a ceremony if it was agreed, would be grounds for annulment as I believe it is in some countries). Of course even in the church/temple case the soleminisation is all that really matters legally AFAIK. I believe the soleminisation if performed at the Registry of Marriages doesn't have any music or anything like that, it's basically just the Registrar talking to the people, them agreeing and signing the documents, although you do have to be adequately dressed (but this isn't an uncommon requirement in Malaysia). I don't think it's likely that an Assistant Registrar will be someone of a non religious angle, i.e. you can have a formal ceremony which includes the formal soleminisation outside of a religious context. [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] Nil Einne (talk) 06:16, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
In NZ you can get married at a registry office or have a marriage celebrant solemise your marriage (legally). Marriage celebrants can be organisational (including religious but not exclusively) or independent. I.E. You can generally get married wherever, provided you can convince a marriage celebrant to agree to it. There are some words that have to be spoken, although even with those it says 'words to that effect'. Civil unions (which can be for same sex or opposite sex couples, unlike marriages which at the moment remain only for opposite sex couples) are similar but celebrants have to be registered separately (but you can be a celebrant for both). [8] [9] However even without a formal ceremony, you will often be considered to be in a defacto relationship which provides similar requirements and responsibilities as to marriage or a civil union, after living together as a couple for 3 years, although there's no formal requirement to break up such a relationship (but you do need to sort out property etc in some way). [10] Nil Einne (talk) 06:26, 6 September 2012 (UTC)

The advance of civilization since the fall of Queen Victoria has seen the retreat of the state in favor of Marriage rights. Soon all regulation in this area will be stripped away. In the United States this will occur with the intersection of the 1st Amendment and Libertarianism. In the UK this will be a backroom deal to win over some backbenchers on some unrelated bill. Hcobb (talk) 14:26, 6 September 2012 (UTC)

Er, what? By 'the fall of Queen Victoria', I presume you mean her death, at a great age, as ruler of an unparalleled empire?
In any case, your speculation is pure (crystal) balls. Marriage is, in legal terms, a contract between individuals for the perpetual amalgamation of their personal estates. Any contract relies on the existence of a neutral third party to adjudicate it in case of disagreement as to the terms; this is a key function of the state in even the most deregulated environments. I see absolutely no pressure here in the UK for marriage deregulation. Virtually everyone who is campaigning for changes to marriage law is campaigning for it to be broadened - not abolished. More people want the state's legal protection for their relationships, not fewer. AlexTiefling (talk) 14:59, 6 September 2012 (UTC)

African Americans in rural Nevada[edit]

Re: File:New 2000 black percent.gif - why are the rural counties of eastern Nevada indicated as so heavily African-American? (talk) 05:31, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

When you say "so heavily" it is an optical illusion. If you look carefully the legend explains that any African American population from 5% up all the way to 50% is represented by that shade. I would suspect that you are dealing with 5-6-7-8% population counts in those zip codes (immediately this map was way too detailed to be seen as counties). You are correct that it is basically an island for 100s of miles there are major military bases such as Nellis et. al. in central and eastern Nevada and since the military usually fits within a range higher than 5% and lower than 50% that is what you see reflected on the map. Most familiar with central and eastern Nevada will tell you that the vast majority of the population are either military or military contractors (most with military backgrounds), those zip codes have maybe a few thousand hundred people stretched over 10s of miles so even a 10% African American military unit assigned there would impact the total numbers to reflect a population of 5 or above. Marketdiamond (talk) 07:23, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

Possible HK Bone Marrow Foundation article.[edit]

I want to write an article about the HK Bone Marrow Foundation

I have some books that I can research from to write a article about the foundation of the HKBMF, as it was an important component in pre-SAR HK. For example many celebrities got involved, the instigating spark was a mass appeal to save a young Chinese-Canadian boy's life (Save Gordon campaign)which helped define one of many colourful events in the very active HK community, and this was one Patten's wife's patron charities. These and many other reasons, Am I allowed to write this article up? -Samsamcat

FYI, future questions about editing Wikipedia should go to the Help desk. I think you probably mean Hong Kong Marrow Match Foundation (HKMMF), though. Judging from a brief Google search, the foundation seems to easily satisfy Wikipedia's notability guidelines, so it should be fine to write about. I'd suggest starting by reading the advice at Wikipedia:Your first article. -- (talk) 09:48, 5 September 2012 (UTC)


What is the evolutionary advantage in monogamous relationships? Surely, more partners means more offspring? Ankh.Morpork 15:44, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

Prior to researching the question, my first notion is that monogamy is the best way to fix the rights of inheritance. When you know for sure whose offspring is whose (legally, if not biologically), parents will spend more time and energy creating advantages for their children; and then when the parents die there is much less civil strife and it's much easier to run a coherent, internally-peaceful society. Upon basic searching, I find we have a section in the Monogamy article. I'm guessing there's more than that readily available. ☯.ZenSwashbuckler.☠ 16:18, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
Evolution is about more than just the number of children born. To be evolutionarily successful, those children need to survive to adulthood and reproduce themselves. As human children are helpless when born and take a long time to grow to independence, their chances of surviving to reproductive age are enhanced by having two committed parents. --Nicknack009 (talk) 16:26, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
There's two strategies to ensuring that your children survive to have their own children: Either had a shitton of them (think Spiders or many fish) of have a smaller number, but spend time protecting them. They both have their disadvantages, in terms of wastefulness. If you have 1000 babies and expect 4 or 5 to live, that in itself is a huge waste of resources, but it must work to some extent because many animals use that strategy. With those animals, generally both parents are absentee: that is, neither parent sticks around. In animals with a medium-sized brood, like say many birds and mammals, where instead of 1000, a typical generation may consist of 5-10 offspring, generally one parent (the mother usually, since she's the one to lay the egg/give birth) will stick around and protect the brood. These offspring tend to reach sexual maturity within a relatively shorter period of time than Humans do, so they need some care, but not a lot. Humans, on the other hand, take well over a decade to reach sexual maturity, probably even longer to reach full developmental/intellectual maturity. That needs a LOT of nurturing, so biologically it makes sense to have some redundancy in the care system: if both the father and mother stick around, if something happens to one in the 15-20 years it takes for the offspring to reach the age to leave the nest, you've still got one parent around to fend off the tigers. --Jayron32 16:34, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
See r/K selection theory. This book discusses the issue in birds, but Jayron is right that more social factors become involved with humans. (talk) 16:45, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
Consider the life-cycle of the emperor penguin. The chick inevitably dies without the intensive care of two parents. The mating and bonding rituals hardly allow for adultery. μηδείς (talk) 17:56, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
Also monogamy, especially the "one mate for life" type, as opposed to serial monogamy, protects against venereal diseases. I suspect that many species which employ the one mate for life strategy had ancestors ravaged by such diseases (or, more specifically, their ancestors were monogamous, so were not affected, while many others in their species were polygamous, and died out as a result). StuRat (talk) 18:30, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
The way I've always looked at it: It is advantageous for a man to desire his mate to mate with no one else, so she only spends her resources on his children. And if a man is going to spend any of his own resources helping to raise a child, his mate would prefer that he only do that for her children. Someguy1221 (talk) 23:53, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
To echo Someguy1221—humans are constrained by different selection pressures to animals that lack language and culture. In fact, humans have such a super-abundance in societies, that change with such regularity in their preferences, that selection may not be meaningful in relation to human monogamy. Human monogamy is associated with structures of family and social reproduction that are broadly patriarchal. While there are patriarchal societies that are polygamous, there are immediate social and cultural pressures from men seeking to reproduce and acquire property (thus requiring women), and from women who may view monogamy as economically and culturally desirable. Given the economic, social and cultural layers of human conduct separating us from a direct interest in more off-spring, I would suggest that human monogamy is not particularly related to number of offspring per adult human. Fifelfoo (talk) 03:04, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
Many social animals have both language and culture, although their language is simpler than ours and cultural differences between populations may be less. StuRat (talk) 01:33, 8 September 2012 (UTC)

Statute of limitations and extradition in Germany[edit]

Last year, Germany denied a request to extradite John Demjanjuk to Spain because, among other things, the German statute of limitations on the alleged "crimes" Spain had accused Demjanjuk of committing had expired. Thus, is it really true that someone in Germany will not be extradited elsewhere if the German statute of limitations on their alleged crimes have expired, even if they are still prosecutable in other countries? (talk) 16:09, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

Here's the form of your question: "X has occurred. Is it really true that X can occur?" What sort of answer are you expecting? Looie496 (talk) 19:16, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
Well he could be asking if that is simply what was ruled in that one case, or if that's the statutory law in Germany. Presumably there is an extradition treaty between Spain and Germany laying around somewhere, but I can't seem to find it on the internet. Someguy1221 (talk) 23:59, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
There doesn't really need to be a specific extradition treaty. The European Union has a simplified extradition process between its member states. Source --Abracus (talk) 21:25, 6 September 2012 (UTC)

What's the main difference between massacre and shooting spree[edit]

I mean, why is the Columbine article titled as "massacre" while the, for instance, Westroads Mall incident is considered a "shooting". There were almost the same amount of casualties in both incidents. What's the main difference?. Thank you. Mark. Alabamaboy1992 (talk) 16:14, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

There's no sharp distinction and a lot of overlap between the terms. The Columbine High School massacre is also described as a shooting. Basically any shooting spree that results in many casualties is automatically also a massacre. A massacre is however broader in that it can also include killings by means other than firearms. So a shooting spree that is not a massacre would be one with few or no casualties and a massacre that is not a shooting spree is e.g. one carried out with a sword. - Lindert (talk) 16:26, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
The word "massacre" just means "killing lots of people". The term can be used light-heartedly (for example, when describing the results of a lopsided sports contest as a "massacre"), ironically (as in Alice's Restaurant, where "massacree" (an intentional mispronounciation and misspelling) is used to describe a littering incident). It can be an emotionally charged term, and as such can often be used to describe events which may not seem all that bloody (like the Boston Massacre, which was pretty light on the death by massacre standards). Also, as noted, one doesn't have to use guns to massacre people. The concept can be used to describe events that occured prior to the widespread use of firearms (as in the Siege of Jerusalem (1099) where some 70,000 people were killed). --Jayron32 16:58, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
Massacre also has the connotation of being one-sided and against more-or-less defenseless or overwhelmed victims. Etymology: μηδείς (talk) 17:52, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
Hmm, that Jerusalem article could use some work...certainly it was a massacre, but 70 000 is a wild exaggeration. Adam Bishop (talk) 20:00, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

Religious Violence[edit]

I read that religious violence is very rare in Sierra Leone. What other nations is religious violence very rare in? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:20, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

Most nations in Europe, the Americas, East Asia, Australasia, southern Africa. It would be easier to list nations where religious violence was common... What I gather from the news, is that there is an increasing problem with religious violence in a belt across Africa stretching from the west coast to the horn of Africa between the Islamic north and the Christian/Animist south; in some countries in the Middle East often between Sunnis and Shias; in India between Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs; and in south-east Asia where Muslims are seeking political independence. It is unfortunate that the cases I can think of all involve Islam in some way and are countries/regions I associate with poverty and low educational attainment. Astronaut (talk) 16:45, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
Then there's the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, which has both religious and nationalistic aspects. Similarly, there's the civil war in Syria. For a non-Muslim example, Protestant vs. Catholic violence was common in Northern Ireland, until recently.
Until last night, that is. --TammyMoet (talk) 18:52, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
I considered these while building my short list, but decided against because I get the impression the Palestinian/Israeli conflict is much more about nationalism and land; the in the civil war in Syria "...neither faction in the conflict has described sectarianism as playing a major role"; and The troubles are much more a thing of the past (though the last few nights might qualify). Astronaut (talk) 19:14, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

True religious violence is very rare indeed. Most of what we see under its banner, either today or in history, is really violence inspired by xenophobia, greed, politics etc. --Dweller (talk) 07:00, 6 September 2012 (UTC)

How can people who were born deaf learn to read?[edit]

How can people who were born deaf learn to read? When people normally learn to read, they look at the glyph "A" and are told that it stands for the sound "A", and so on. But people who were born deaf have no concept of the sound "A". How can they then, for example, deduce that the glyphs "C" "A" "T" mean "cat"? Do they have to be taught with sign language? JIP | Talk 18:47, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

It isn't always clear that people learn to read purely by phonics, that is by associating a letter with the sound that it makes. First of all, there are non-alphabetic languages where there is no connection between a glyph and the sound it makes, like pictograms (i.e. Heiroglypics) and ideograms (i.e. Chinese). Secondly, even among alphabetic writing systems, there are methods of teaching reading known as whole-word methods that de-emphasize phonics (which can be confusing given the myriad of ways a letter can be pronounced). Actual reading learning likely invovles some combination of phonics and whole-word methods, but knowing how a word sounds is not a necessity for learning how to read. --Jayron32 19:00, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
When a hearing person learns to read a language that they already speak, it is almost inevitable that they will map the written text onto the sounds of the language they already have a command of: how hard this will be depends on various factors, including the type of script. But when learning to read a language that one does not already know, it is perfectly possible to ignore the sounds, or substitute arbitrary sounds, and approach the language purely as a written medium (for example the vowels in Ancient Egyptian are mostly unwritten and unknown, so Egyptologists have a conventional way of pronouncing the words, which may not have any relation to how it was really pronounced). A person who was born deaf will not have been able to acquire any spoken language as a mother tongue (they may have a manual language as a mother tongue), so learning the written version of a spoken language is always like learning a foreign language for them, and they may or may not try to make sense of the sounds. --ColinFine (talk) 23:19, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

Preference for sex-based nudity[edit]

Is there a term for people who, when looking at erotic images, prefer to see images of mixed-sex couples, with their own sex fully clothed and the other naked, or the other way around? Is this phenomenon common? I would assume it's more common with men than with women, and people usually want to see the other sex naked than their own sex naked, but does anyone have any idea whether this is true? I also assume this is limited to heterosexual people, as after all, homosexual people aren't erotically interested in the other sex. JIP | Talk 18:52, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

See CFNM and CMNF. --Jayron32 18:55, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
Should retitle that first article Down and Out in London and Paris. μηδείς (talk) 19:59, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

Longest European constitution[edit]

What is the longest European constitution? - Presidentman talk · contribs Random Picture of the Day (Talkback) 21:12, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

There has been only one, so long that I doubt anyone has ever bothered to read it in its entirety, but it has never entered into force. — Kpalion(talk) 22:02, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
I suspect the OP means the longest constitution of a European country. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 23:40, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
You are correct, JackofOz. - Presidentman talk · contribs Random Picture of the Day (Talkback) 00:07, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
The claim is generally awarded to the Constitution of San Marino, which dates to about 1600. Of course, countries that lack a single written instrument of Government can rightly claim to have a constitution that dates to Time immemorial, for example the Constitution of the United Kingdom isn't a single document, but as the state that is today the UK has evolved more or less continuously since the Norman Conquest, each law and practice incrementally changing how the state is organized, one could claim that as among the oldest (small-c) constitutions. However, the oldest written instrument of government is likely San Marino. --Jayron32 05:20, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
Oh, scratch that. I thought the OP meant the oldest. If he didn't, you can ignore what I wrote. --Jayron32 05:21, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
If? I can't imagine why you'd think there'd be even a remote chance he meant the oldest when he asked for the longest. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 06:01, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
Funny, oldest was my first thought too. You can't imagine having seen similar sloppy usage before? —Tamfang (talk) 06:30, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
Oh sure, but usually there's some sort of (possibly remote) connection between the 2 things. That ain't the case with oldest vs. longest. The world's oldest book is not the world's longest book, the oldest film is not the longest film, the oldest opera is not the longest opera, etc. But it's interesting that more than one person here read it that way. I wonder what they're putting in the water over there. Maybe it's a case of reading what we expect to see; we're often asked about the oldest written constitution, but I don't remember being asked about the longest. Until now. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 08:53, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
Google makes the same assumption. Searching for 'longest written constitution' provides a plethora of links for the longest-standing constitution. - Cucumber Mike (talk) 09:42, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
On that basis, FDR was America's longest president. -- ♬ Jack of Oz[your turn] 11:01, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
Eleanor was a lucky lady. --Jayron32 13:10, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
I don't think anyone could argue Franklin was a long-standing president - Cucumber Mike (talk) 13:46, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
He was the longest sitting President. --Jayron32 16:47, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
You win today's best-punning-situation award. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 18:44, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
Anyway, back to the question. Firstly, be aware that it's rather difficult to quantify the longest constitution, and it will depend on what you mean by longest. Do you mean the largest number of characters (in which case something written in Chinese would be shorter than something in English), the largest number of pages (where font size and spacing would be factors), or the number of articles?
All of that notwithstanding, it seems to be popularly understood that the Indian Constitution is the world's longest, at least in its English version. I did find that the 1974 Yugoslav Constitution was said to be longer, but that is now defunct.
As for Europe, there doesn't appear to be any agreement on what is the longest current constitution. My completely unscientific research, consisting of a brief scan of all the articles in Template:Constitutions of Europe, suggests that the longest might be the Constitution of San Marino, with 314 articles. There are serious problems, though, in that for a large number of the countries (>50%) the number of articles is not listed, suggesting that length isn't a notable feature. Also many of the constitutions are not arranged into articles in the same way, making such a measure somewhat meaningless. - Cucumber Mike (talk) 09:42, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
By number of words. - Presidentman talk · contribs Random Picture of the Day (Talkback) 14:45, 8 September 2012 (UTC)

Papal influence[edit]

I have a few questions concerning the Papal States:

  1. Why weren't the Papal States, say during the 1450s and 1500s, more expansionist when it came to possessions in Europe and maybe North Africa, almost like Genoa or Venice?
  2. Say a Pope during that time period was born, and he was very expansionist, wanting to create possessions in Sardinia and maybe even Tunisia. Would he be very popular with the citizens of the Papal States, or could it potentially conflict with their religion?
  3. If it was economic trouble that concerned the States, wouldn't they see increased value in having possessions throughout the Mediterranean?

Thanks, (talk) 21:14, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

Well, as a very brief answer, they were expansionist...but they were surrounded by other states that didn't really appreciate being encroached upon. It's not really a question of being popular with people who lived in the Papal States, it was whether everyone else would be happy about it. As for your specific examples, Sardinia was already contested between other Italian states (Pisa, Genoa, etc) and, at this point, Aragon. Tunisia was Muslim but certainly within Sicily/Naples' sphere of influence. And this is simply taking into consideration the Pope as the leader of a secular state. The issue was certainly confused by his position as a religious figure. For some Wikipedia articles, I might suggest Papal States of course, and also Patrimonium Sancti Petri. Adam Bishop (talk) 21:56, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
The Papal States tended to grow and shrink like any other state during the history of Europe. The articles Patrimonium Sancti Petri and Duchy of Rome cover some of the early Papal States. The area later occupied by the Papal States had been the Exarchate of Ravenna a vassal of the Byzantine Empire. When the last Exarch was deposed by the Lombards. Prior to the 750s, the Pope only had temporal control over the Duchy of Rome. In exchange for giving his blessing to Frankish Mayor of the Palace Pepin the Short to overthrow the last of the Merovingian Frank kings and seize the throne, Pepin returned the favor with the Donation of Pepin which granted the Pope control of the Lombard lands that the Franks had recently conquered, basically transfering the land of the old Exarchate of Ravenna to the Pope for direct control. The Papal States themselves came under the control of the Counts of Tusculum, several of whom became Pope themselves directly, and the Papal States themselves grew through war and conquest of various petty Italian states of the time. Other expansionist periods in the history of the Papal States includes the rule of the House of Borgia. Like the rest of Europe, the Papal States were essentially obliterated during the Napoleonic Era (see Roman Republic (18th century)). After the Congress of Vienna, the Papal States were reduced to just the immediate area around Rome (Latium), which was their extent until they were absobed during the decade-long Italian unification in the middle 19th century. --Jayron32 03:47, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
1. The Papal States was expansionist.
2. Popes weren't born, they were elected when they were old men. The inhabitants of the Papal States didn't matter, they could be kept under the iron heel of mercenary armies if need be.
Sleigh (talk) 09:08, 6 September 2012 (UTC)

Understanding Intelligent Design/Creationism?[edit]

Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium assumes that the population is not evolving and that there are no selective pressures in the environment. I have a hunch that this type of situation is exactly what Intelligent Design proponents/Creationists want, right? If you have no natural selection, then there would no point in evolution of the gene pool. Things would be pretty happy the way they are in their present form. Are Intelligent Design proponents just upset that the equilibrium cannot be observed in nature, and they desperately want the equilibrium to be undeniably true in order to justify that their beloved sacred scripture is true? What are the Intelligent Design proponents disagreeing upon anyway? 22:19, 5 September 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

First, we have an featured article on Intelligent design for you to read. But to your question, ID proponents don't actually say anything about Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. The claim of both creationists and ID proponents is not that organisms aren't evolving, but that they can't evolve (on their own). ID supporters do actually believe that populations can fail to be in equilibrium, they simply add that random mutations cannot give rise to meaningful evolution. A young-Earth creationist wouldn't really care what your fancy equations mean, since there hasn't been enough time for them to matter. Someguy1221 (talk) 22:34, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
That's not really correct. They say that evolution cannot give rise to a new species. They don't say that evolution can't mae meaningful changes -- at least, the ones I have heard from don't. Looie496 (talk) 22:46, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
Just define "meaningful change" as "speciation" :p Someguy1221 (talk) 22:58, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
Just to clarify why it matters, even ID proponents generally don't dispute that it is possible to shape the characteristics of plants and animals by selective breeding. Most people would naturally say that the differences between dog breeds, for example, are meaningful. Looie496 (talk) 00:08, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
As far as I know, many also don't dispute the spread of antibiotic resistance (although the concept of species is particularly iffy in bacteria anyway) and it seems strange to not say it's a meaningful change. Nil Einne (talk) 05:00, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
You say "even ID proponents" as if they are the really conservative ones. They're not. They're actually one step below "natural selection actually occurs." ID is not YEC; they are generally old earth, they generally do believe in some form of evolution. They just think that God has guided or "helped" along the way in some very significant ways, that there are certain patterns of biology that can't be explained by purely naturalistic explanations alone, yadda yadda yadda. That's a big difference from "all species were popped into existence 10,000 years ago." The real YEC people think the ID people are just as bad as the evolutionists for this reason — the ID people are not Biblical literalists on the whole. --Mr.98 (talk) 13:38, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
If you equate God to Mother Nature, it could work. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 18:42, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
It doesn't, though, unless by Mother Nature you mean some sort of conscious entity, which is distinctly non-naturalistic. The whole point of natural selection is that there is no conscious entity making decisions or helping critters along the way — it's random variation plus completely unguided selective processes. ID still requires a conscious entity doing clever tricks here and there. They don't see God as a metaphor. --Mr.98 (talk) 15:46, 7 September 2012 (UTC)

Written record[edit]

What is the oldest written record ever? Also give me the source when you found the information please. "Written record" here is not numbers but actually writing words. (talk) 23:32, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

That depends a rather a lot on what constitutes a 'written record' for your purposes. As noted in History of writing ancient numbers and History of writing, systems for recording numbers preceded systems for recording language by several hundred years. The transition from 'no writing' to 'full-blown prose' wasn't instantaneous; there were a lot of gradual changes, some of which are touched on in proto-writing. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 23:51, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
Any written record that has words in it count. So when was the first written record that has word in it? And what I mean by "number" earlier is number that simply a mark like / that cavemen did instead of number like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5... So any records like that don't count as written record. (talk) 23:58, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
There isn't always a clear line to be drawn between an artistic representation and what became writing. People could draw a picture of a sheaf of wheat as mere artwork, or could draw the exact same sheaf in an accounting ledger, and it isn't clear that the usage represents a hard distinction. The use of pictures next to cuneiform numbers, noted below, probably represented the earliest "written words", but it isn't something that happened instantly. As noted at Egyptian hieroglyphs, "Hieroglyphs emerged from the preliterate artistic traditions of Egypt." That is, a painting of a scene eventually evolved into a story about that scene, and it isn't clear sometimes what marks that transition. --Jayron32 04:07, 6 September 2012 (UTC)

And according to List of languages by first written accounts. The Sumerian writing was the earliest written record but doesn't has in source to prove it so I'm not sure if it is accurate or not. (talk) 00:03, 6 September 2012 (UTC)

The earliest known writing system that meets your definition was Cuneiform, as you surmised. Proto-forms of Cuneiform go back quite a ways as a means of recording numbers, but by 3000BC pictograms were added to indicate what had been counted. These pictograms later evolved over the next few centuries until they no longer bore any obvious resemblance to their original form. The source you're looking for is Empires of the Plain: Henry Rawlinson and the Lost Languages of Babylon, New York, St. Martin's Press (2003) ISBN 0-312-33002-2. Someguy1221 (talk) 00:05, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
Clay amulet, one of the Tărtăria tablets unearthed near Tărtăria, Romania, attributed to the "Vinča script" and dated to ca. 5300 BC

This is by no means universally accepted, see the Vinča script. μηδείς (talk) 01:05, 6 September 2012 (UTC)

It seems very doubtful whether this was true writing of language as such (as opposed to some other type of symbolic system). Even supposing that it was true linguistic writing, then according to the Kurgan hypothesis predominantly accepted by linguists, the language involved would have been a now-extinct non-Indo-European language, so that the chances of decipherment would be extremely remote. AnonMoos (talk) 04:01, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
Saying it is not "written" begs the question. Can you give an example of what sort of symbolic system you mean? Something was obviously recorded here, and it is not a simple tally. I cannot imagine the symbols weren't glossed by words (like the symbols of the zodiac) even if they may not have constituted transcriptions of full spoken sentences. Nor am I quite sure what the point of noting it is (obviously) not IE is. Here is a more helpful article Tărtăria tablets. μηδείς (talk) 05:44, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
Medeis, you actually remind me of fire diamonds, and similar systems for conveying warning information. Or, hell, the little symbols on my shirt tag that tell me how to wash it without having to read it (how lazy do they think I am?). Symbolic systems we use today that convey meaning, in which each symbol has a precise definition, in which symbols are reproduced faithfully in many places, but completely lacking any ability or intent to form sentences. You wouldn't call that a writing system. Someguy1221 (talk) 06:12, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
You are simply defining a writing system, without saying it outright, as an alphabet or syllabary. But these symbols are clearly something recorded, not drawn as in portraiture, but written as symbols (do you draw, or write an ampersand?) and meaning to convey information. You are simply looking to argue, and frankly not very serious, if you think each of the symbols on this disk are meant to convey things like "do not bleach", or "ladies' room". No one 7000 years ago was baking inscribed clay tablets without having some very serious purpose. Even if the symbols are magical runes meant for divination, each symbol will have a name. In any case, any answer to what the oldest writing is that does not mention these symbols is academically negligent. μηδείς (talk) 06:56, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
Medeis, read the first few chapters of Writing Systems: A Linguistic Introduction by Geoffrey Sampson (ISBN 0-8047-1756-7) for a definition of what writing is, and why not all structured symbolic systems are writing. (By the way, it's far from solidly-established that early Germanic runes had a magical function...) AnonMoos (talk) 07:48, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
Are you familiar with the word "gainsaying", AnonMoos? Why do you start with new objections, without answering my previous questions on types of symbolic systems you mean, and why it matters that these symbols aren't associated with Indo-European? The simple fact is that this artifact is of importance in any discussion of the origin of writing. You don't actually deny that statement, do you? I am not particularly interested in just one person's definition of writing. It's called stipulation and if you want to stipulate that these are "symbol carvings" rather than "writing", feel free. It doesn't change their importance: these symbols are used repetitively, are not obvious pictures, and do obviously convey meaning.
And why in the world do you find it necessary to point out that runes didn't start as divination tools? They were used for that purpose, which was what I was illustrating. Again, that's just gainsaying. Nowhere have I argued that the symbols on the disk are syllabic or alphabetic. But to deny they are an abstract visually recorded symbolic system is absurd. μηδείς (talk) 08:34, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
Whatever -- you can sling any rhetoric you feel like, but it's simply not accepted among linguistically-minded scholars that the "Old Europe" inscriptions are writing in any linguistically meaningful sense. Judging from the Tărtăria tablets article which you linked to, even Colin Renfrew (a non-linguist who has frequent disputes with linguists) substantially agrees. Reading the first few chapters of ISBN 0-8047-1756-7 with attention would give you a good feel for many of the issues involved with respect to the nature and definition of writing (which you seem to lack now), regardless of whether you ended up agreeing with everything that Geoffrey Sampson says...
I mentioned the Kurgan hypothesis because it would indicate that the "Old Europe" inscriptions were written by people who spoke extinct languages not closely related to any currently-understood language, so that even supposing that the inscriptions may have had some writing-like aspects, the decipherment and confirmation of such would almost certainly now be impossible.
As for runes, there's a passage in Tacitus' Germania that "signs" were written on wood-chips and used for divination purposes, but it's far from clear that such "signs" were actually runes. AnonMoos (talk) 13:40, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
It is hard to take you in good faith, or even seriously, if you refuse to answer simple yes-no questions, such as, is mentioning this tablet a proper part of a comprehensive answer to the OP's question, or refuse to give an example of what you meant by "some other type of symbolic system". Again with the runes. Runes for divination were offered as an example of a possible sort of symbolic system. No argument was made that Germanic runes are indeed used for divining, yet you continue to attack that straw man. I did read Sampson about 10 years ago. He says nothing about the Vinca script or Tartaria so far as I am aware. The fact that he defines writing system for his purposes in the book is fine, but even if I were to write a book on Animal Biology and define animals as Metazoa, I would still begin with protists as their forebears. So far as I can see, the Tartaria tablets are either random scratchings, drawings, decoration, or symbolic. I discard scratching and decorations. If they are drawings, they are abstract to the point of symbolism. If you have a link to some other suggestion as to what they may be, that is something that would actually be interesting. μηδείς (talk) 18:15, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
You're certainly highly indignant about something or other, but your sputtering rhetoric doesn't amount to much of substance that I can see -- nor does it change the fact that if you claim to know that the "Old Europe" inscriptions are definitely writing of language, then you're embracing a fringe theory. Therefore your answer of "01:05, 6 September 2012" above was not a very useful reply to the original question. AnonMoos (talk) 02:03, 7 September 2012 (UTC)
"Indignant"? "Sputtering"? "Whatever"? "Something or Other"? Is it really unlcear to you that I want to know what "other type of symbolic system" it is you are talking about? You are the one using this emotional language instead of silence in your refusal to give a source. Nothing I have done has prevented you from suggesting other references as to what sort of thing the tablet might be. Your only consistent point has been that everything I say is wrong (including what I haven't) and that my requests for you to provide your own answers are "Rhetoric". That's called psychological projection. Instead, please answer a question, provide a source. Or just drop it. I have provided my sources, and am enjoying reading the articles they link to. μηδείς (talk) 02:33, 7 September 2012 (UTC)
The Colin Renfrew quote in the article you yourself linked to adequately represents the current skeptical quasi-consensus among scholars, and I provided a highly-specific source by means of which you could improve your understanding of what linguists generally mean by "writing". (The Sampson book also gives an example of an elaborate non-writing symbol system, Yukaghir "letters".) AnonMoos (talk) 08:18, 7 September 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I am aware that Colin Renfrew is skeptical, but he doesn't offer an argued alternative in the article. Does he do so elsewhere? I am familiar with Yukaghir letters. Here is a good link with images of a Yukaghir letter. These are much more obviously stylized drawings, with trees and houses and braided hair. The Tartaria tablets may indeed contain pictograms (all writing I am aware of that originates de novo comes from pictograms, and the Chinese still use theirs) but at a much higher level of abstraction than the Yukaghir letters. μηδείς (talk) 17:24, 7 September 2012 (UTC)
The opinion of Colin Renfrew is not necessarily of overwhelming significance in and of itself, but Colin Renfrew is a non-linguist who has had many disputes with linguists, so you know that if Colin Renfrew is somewhat skeptical, then a lot of linguistically-oriented scholars are going to be very skeptical. For non-writing symbol systems with somewhat abstract sign shapes (i.e. without obvious pictorial interpretation), see the family property marks and craftsman's marks of central Europe (discussed briefly in Rudolf Koch's "Book of Signs"), many religious symbols, many features of mathematical notation and musical notation, etc. etc. AnonMoos (talk) 06:37, 8 September 2012 (UTC)

See Proto-writing, Gradeshnitsa tablets, Dispilio tablet. μηδείς (talk) 19:36, 6 September 2012 (UTC)

I just came across an interesting article on gang grafitti in the Sep 2012 issue of Discover magazine. μηδείς (talk) 17:29, 8 September 2012 (UTC)