Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2014 July 8

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July 8[edit]

Need help identifying a portrait from a movie[edit]

I was just watching Charlie Wilson's War and was wondering who is depicted in this portrait[1] that is hanging in (the fictional version of) Charlie Wilson's congressional office.WinterWall (talk) 04:54, 8 July 2014 (UTC)

I think it's Stonewall Jackson, but I think that about most similar portraits. InedibleHulk (talk) 05:10, July 8, 2014 (UTC)
I think I may be righter than usual. InedibleHulk (talk) 05:11, July 8, 2014 (UTC)
Thank you!WinterWall (talk) 05:13, 8 July 2014 (UTC)

Origin of Kings[edit]

When I was a kid, one of the things I never understood is how someone became a king in the first place. You know when humans first entered Europe, they were all more or less equals living in small huts and what not. How did someone then get everyone to just do their bidding? Whether it's the King of England or France, or the Emperor of Japan.. So how did they first become kings, get everyone to do what they tell them to do, live in castles, and then establish this nonsense about royal blood and how their descendants should rule when they die? ScienceApe (talk) 18:40, 8 July 2014 (UTC)

See Leadership.... ? Ghmyrtle (talk) 18:44, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
Short answer: Neolithic Revolution. AndyTheGrump (talk) 18:46, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
What's your source for "they were all more or less equals"? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:05, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
I agree with your questioning of the premise. I'm pretty sure there were smaller scale chieftains and warlords, as well as whipping boy analogs and lower classes. Tribalism is often patriarchal and has some degree of hierarchy. Problem is, we have some information on Neolithic Europe (i.e. early era of human settlement in Europe), but archaeologists are mainly limited to material culture for sources of evidence, and don't know with certainty how these people lived. (Far outside my expertise, I welcome correction to my vague understanding of the topic.) SemanticMantis (talk) 19:17, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
Regardless of whether it's actually true, the idea that neolithic societies took the form of Primitive communism is fairly widespread and widely-taught. It wasn't an unreasonable assumption to have made at the time the theory was first espoused (the late 19th century). The least technologically advanced societies that European explorers at the time were coming into contact with (in Australia, Arctic Canada and the Brazilian rainforests) tended not to have kings and chiefs, while the more technologically advanced Native American and coastal African tribes had the whole gamut of chiefs and courtiers in place. The theory is hokum, but based on the evidence of the time it was a reasonable guess to make. Mogism (talk) 19:20, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
If there were no leaders, how were decisions made about anything? ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:30, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
The irony of someone asking that question on Wikipedia is not lost on me. (Boring answer; the same way Inuit etc tribes still do today; everyone with an interest in the issue gets together and argues it out until they reach a consensus or compromise. Bear in mind that the decisions to be made in a neolithic society would rarely have been particularly complicated.) Mogism (talk) 19:48, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
Your comparison would be true only if there were no admins or arbitrators or checkusers... and no Wikimedia foundation. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 20:24, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
Overstated. Most of the time, this is exactly what happens, since we don't go running to the nearest admin, and further, when admins are involved, it's just whichever admin decides to get involved, who makes the decision. IBE (talk) 08:27, 9 July 2014 (UTC)
Andy the Grump was on the right track. The construction of massive monuments such as Newgrange and Stonehenge strongly suggests that they were built by hierarchically organized societies in which figures of authority were able to organize and command groups of workers. Neolithic societies that survived into historic times, in the contact-era Americas, for example, all had some degree of hierarchical organization. That said, many did not have what we would call kings. Many instead had clan or tribal chieftains. Even in historical foraging societies, such as the Inuit, there is some degree of social inequality and elements of leadership, though typically these features are much more fluid than in sedentary societies and based largely on an individual's charisma and interpersonal relations. History (for example of such groups as the Mongols or of early medieval Europe) suggests that kings emerged when clan chieftains or local warlords were able to establish dominance over their rivals and peers. Kings were able to maintain their power and bequeath it to heirs by creating networks of dependents and a rudimentary state apparatus to assist them in consolidating control. Marco polo (talk) 20:00, 8 July 2014 (UTC)

@Mogism:, you make it sound as if local governance in northern communities is completely different to the rest of the world but it isn't. We have directly elected mayors and hamlet councils, local education authorities and other organisations. There are no Inuit tribes living out on the land today. CBWeather, Talk, Seal meat for supper? 23:58, 8 July 2014 (UTC)

No, not living. But sleeping, perhaps. Seriously though, a great fictional series about power and weakness. InedibleHulk (talk) 00:24, July 9, 2014 (UTC)
(e/c) [rarely particularly complicated] ... from our 21st century perspective. But they weren't living in the 21st century, so that's a hollow comparison. Power (including the power to make mundane decisions) has always been prized, no less so in Neolithic societies. -- Jack of Oz [pleasantries] 20:02, 8 July 2014 (UTC)

ScienceApe -- Anthropologists have actually worked out a well-defined sequence of leadership roles in various societies at various levels of social organization. In small quasi-nomadic hunter-gatherer bands (where there are no real wealth differences or ability to transmit property or position to the next generation), leadership is based entirely on your individual personality and reputation, and your ability to persuade other people at any given moment that some course of action is the right thing to do. In slightly larger or more densely-settled groups, there often tends to be a formally recognized "big-man" position, but it's still very dependent on individual force of personality, and the big-man being able to give constant gifts to his followers. The next stage of social organization is the "chiefdom", where there is a form of hereditary noble families, and the beginning of leaders exacting taxes or tribute from their followers. Then comes the true state (including kingdoms)... AnonMoos (talk) 02:31, 9 July 2014 (UTC)

There's an old boxing truism: "A good big man will always beat a good small man". Not entirely a mind game. A leader should be strong, and of those who want to lead, the strongest naturally prevail. This seems particularly appropriate in more primitive cultures, before even shitty small men could win with long-range missiles and gold. But even since, a good big arsenal and bank beats the good small ones. InedibleHulk (talk) 02:48, July 9, 2014 (UTC)
I like how the Druids handled it. They had kings, but if those kings didn't do a good job, they killed them, tossed them into the nearest bog, and got a new king. Perhaps we should do that with our politicians ? :-) StuRat (talk) 02:48, 9 July 2014 (UTC)
If there's anyone else who read the question in other terms, I think it is said that if you develop agriculture to a certain extent, you can sustain a population where there is a group of people who can survive off of the labour of others, and can then engage in other activities, leading to a more complex division of labour and ultimately organising some people into the administration and management of production, which eventually becomes class, division, hierarchy, the state, etc.
If you're willing to entertain the words of the philosophers, this is a good read as well. Σσς(Sigma) 06:11, 9 July 2014 (UTC)
By the way, the Bible contains a classic anti-monarchy rant at I Samuel 8... AnonMoos (talk) 06:57, 9 July 2014 (UTC)
If we're getting philosophically classic, here is the giant heir to the universe, shrunken by a leaf from the Nirvana tree and contemplating the meaning of the throne, seeking guidance from his own trash heap, whom he'd never heard before. InedibleHulk (talk) 07:14, July 9, 2014 (UTC)
Context. InedibleHulk (talk) 07:19, July 9, 2014 (UTC)
Careful of assuming that monarchy and kingdoms are absent from Africa. Not suggesting that you do assume that, but your original post could be read as assuming that. Anyway, you might find it interesting, from an English point of view, to read about the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, the Witengamot, and so on. Also, consider the English Civil War and the so-called 'Glorious' Revolution, as evidence that the right to inherit has always been somewhat dependent on the will of at least some of the people. (talk) 09:15, 9 July 2014 (UTC)
Why think that there ever was complete equality? If you look at humans' closest living relatives, chimpanzees and gorillas, they too have social hierarchies. It does not seem unreasonable to think that humans inherited hierarchies from previous ancestors.[2] and [3] --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 07:56, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
I wonder if any social animal has total equality. Perhaps coral ? Presumably some have better spots in the colony than others, but do they get those premium spots by bullying others or just randomly ? StuRat (talk) 12:26, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
Not sure about coral, but here are anemones being enemies. InedibleHulk (talk) 00:03, July 14, 2014 (UTC)
Chimpanzees and gorillas have also had thousands of generations to get where they are. We can't draw solid conclusions about primitive apes by watching modern ones. InedibleHulk (talk) 14:20, July 10, 2014 (UTC)

Second most powerful office in America[edit]

Which political office is de facto the second most powerful office(s) in America after the president; or the office where the occupant is able to make to most far reaching decisions? It's likely not the Vice-President (although it is de jure the second highest office). As far as I know the VP doesn't have much pracitial power. Perhaps the Secretary of State, Sec. of Defense or the treasury? House Speaker? Senator? Governor? Mayor? -- (talk) 19:13, 8 July 2014 (UTC)

What do you mean by "able to make most far reaching decisions"? I mean, the decisions and actions of e.g. the Koch brothers and Bill Gates are very far reaching, but I'm guessing "billionaire" isn't the office you're looking for. Mayors have a lot more power over how their city is governed than e.g. the president does. And some big-city mayors could be argued to have more power than small-state governors. I'm sure you'll get plenty of opinions here, but unless you specify your question a bit more, this isn't something that can be definitively answered with references. SemanticMantis (talk) 19:21, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
Also, there is no accepted way to quantify power. Cases could be made for any number of offices, such as Jerry Brown, governor of California, or a person such as Anthony Kennedy, not just because of powers inherent to his position, which he shares with 8 other justices, but also because of his frequent role as the swing vote. But there is no clear way to determine whether Brown or Kennedy, for example, has more power. Marco polo (talk) 19:35, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
Because of America's extensive set of checks and balances, the question probably doesn't have any meaningful answer. The Supreme Court Justices arguably have more power than even the President and can serve for life. ScienceApe (talk) 04:07, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
This question is highly subjective. But just to name a few likely candidates from a Constitutional perspective, the aforementioned Supreme Court Justice, Speaker of the House, House/Senate Majority/Minority leader. In certain contexts some other roles come to mind... governors of major states, a Special Prosecutor perhaps. Chairman of Ways and Means Committee. Maybe the Director of the Congressional Budget Office (although that's a weak one). The Attorney General seems like a likely candidate too. In previous times it might have been something like Directory of the FBI. Shadowjams (talk) 04:49, 10 July 2014 (UTC)
Officially and physically, America's second most powerful man is the non-notable Robert Oberst. I don't know if he has an office, but he's mentioned here. Apparently, he's fueled by "beard power". InedibleHulk (talk) 06:03, July 10, 2014 (UTC)

University of Wales, Islamic Theology[edit]

On Bilal Philips it says he went "to the University of Wales, where he completed a PhD in Islamic Theology in 1988." On his official website it says he completed "a PhD in Islamic Theology from the University of Wales (1994). Interestingly enough, his PhD thesis was on “The Exorcist Tradition in Islam.”" [4]. On his small bio at the Islamic Online University which he founded, it says he "completed a Ph.D in Islamic Theology in the department of Islamic Studies at the University of Wales, UK" [5]. At which college was this department? Which library has his thesis? Does it have a call number? --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 20:13, 8 July 2014 (UTC)

Okay, I found it: [6] Title "Exorcism in Islam", date 1993, from St. David's University College (now Trinity St. David), Lampeter. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 20:30, 8 July 2014 (UTC)