Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Miscellaneous/2010 September 4

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September 4[edit]

Wrong information taught in grammar school?[edit]

Resolved: When you grow up you think for yourself. Before then people try and help you along. Re-ask if there's a factual point you're curious about. Shadowjams (talk) 04:45, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

Hey all. I understand that sometimes you might tell children things that are simplifications or just wrong because it would take too long to explain otherwise, or the teacher doesn't understand it him/herself. I remember when I was in elementary school they told me pi=3.14, e=2.7 and people thought the world was flat in Columbus' day. But why do people also tell students things that are untrue, but not simplifications? {EDIT] OK, I thought of a better example (you can see the original @). I remember in fifth grade we were taught that communism is all bad and evil, and its dogma advocates killing everyone who does not agree and forcing people to work on collectives and taking everyone's property so that the corrupt governers can be rich. This naturally brought up the question, then why did people support it and even vote for it? In high school, we learned that communism actually advocates creating a perfect society where the public owns everything and works for the good of society rather than for their own good. So this would answer the question of why it was appealing, but my teachers firmly denied that there was anything that could be appealing to anybody about communism. (PS: I didn't walk around thinking this until high school, of course, but a fair number of my peers did (and still do(!))) (talk) 23:29, 3 September 2010 (UTC) PS I read your article lie to children and I found it interesting but (and no offense!) not really satisfying.

Not a question as much as a prompt for debate. Wrong forum.
I think it's like the bit in A Few Good Men:
Col. Nathan R. Jessep: You want answers?
Lt. Daniel Kaffee: I think I'm entitled.
Col. Nathan R. Jessep: You want answers?!
Lt. Daniel Kaffee: I want the truth!
Col. Nathan R. Jessep: You can't handle the truth!
Looie496 (talk) 00:07, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
I think it's like the bit in Scarface:
Al Pacino: I'd kill a communist for fun, for a (reward) I will carve him up real nice !

Well, a very cynical view is to say that the role of public school in the United States, for example, is primarily to try and teach people to be "ideal Americans" in a very broad sense, and during the Cold War in particular this involved teaching things about the nastiness of Communists. One might, as well, question the quality of your teachers. Did they have a good reason for disliking it, or were they just going off of what they had been taught? One can't know about your particular situation, but if my American public school education was any indication, high quality teaching is not as common as we'd like it to be. (Though my teachers were not quite so blunt as what you are describing, in part because Communism was mostly a dead-letter question by that point.) If I were teaching elementary school, or high school, I would probably ideally want to show that the world is a pretty complicated place, full of grays rather than black-and-whites, but would that really work, would it resonate, would it get me in trouble? --Mr.98 (talk) 00:54, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
The image about communism in your mind seems to be rather glorified. Where in the world has it created perfect society ? Saying what it "advocates" is rather gullible - this was the way they brought up Nazism, which advocated a perfect society (by killing all the Jews). The promoters of fundamentalism Islam also sell this kind of crap - they can give you a perfect society by putting a forced end to alcoholism, homosexuality, teenage pregnancy and adultery etc. Beware the people who promise you a perfect society. When they taught you that " its dogma advocates killing everyone who does not agree and forcing people to work on collectives and taking everyone's property so that the corrupt governers can be rich" they, I think, were telling you the truth, a bitter truth. Please look at history - the people Stalin has put to death for not agreeing with him ( any unbiased historian will agree he has broken the Hitler's record !) . The kind of industrial scale atrocities they did in China - Great Leap Forward and all that bullshit. Now there are most gruesome killings going on in India by China-supported communist militants.  Jon Ascton  (talk) 02:52, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
Jon, you are soapboxing. Please stop it. Marnanel (talk) 03:53, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
He's right, though. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 04:27, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
Whether he's right or wrong, he needs to stop. Marnanel (talk) 04:33, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
Look carefully, the question itself is a cleverly disguised pro-Communism call ! The OP is not actually concerned with truths told at school or anything, all that is just an excuse so that he could come down to a chance to praise communism which is what his hidden agenda is (it would be soapboxing if done directly). But no one notices it, on the contrary my response (which exposed it) was "soapboxing". Good judgment !  Jon Ascton  (talk) 04:50, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
How deliciously ironic. The OP asks: "So why do grownups think that little children need to have things simplified for them so they tell them that the world is black-and-white, and it's only later in life that these children find out that the world is really all sorts of shades of gray?" and you two go: "What? Gray? How can you say that, it's obviously black-and-white!" TomorrowTime (talk) 06:03, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
Stalin killed around 6 million of his countrymen. The reality of communism was pretty much black-and-white to them. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 06:24, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
Oh Bugs, are you even trying? Come on, just try to be a critical thinker here. Stalinism is not the same thing as Communism, and people don't vote in Communism because they want Stalinism. And yes, they have, in the past, voted in or otherwise been very enthusiastic about Communism. The OP is really saying, "why don't teachers tell us a balanced account?", which doesn't mean "Hooray for Communism!" either. It means, "Well, here is what people wanted out of Communism, here are the wrongs they thought it would redress (Tsar Nicholas weren't no saint!), but here are what the outcomes have been." A perfectly mature discussion, more mature than the one we are having on here, because of you and Jon being so knee-jerk and ridiculously dogmatic. (I've no desire to live in a Communist society, and I think historically the real deficits to its theory and practice are pretty clear, but that doesn't mean I can't understand why people wanted it, or agree that the wrongs of capitalism can be pretty egregious as well.) Just because you can see there are two sides to something doesn't mean you have to agree with both sides equally, and that's what's really at issue here. I'm surprised that both of you could so perfectly repeat the same old dogmas without being critical about them in the slightest. You'd be the worse kind of teacher for someone on this subject, because you would, like the teachers of the OP, give a badly reasoned dogma that, once the student learned to think for themselves, would probably send them in the other direction. --Mr.98 (talk) 11:38, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
See Lies My Teacher Told Me Everard Proudfoot (talk) 02:53, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
The first thing to realize is that the teacher may not even realize what they are saying is wrong. When teaching others, people repeat what they themselves taught, not knowing it's incorrect. A bunch of it is that we (sensibly) don't require a Math Ph.D. to teach Math to elementary school students, and more of it is due to the state of knowledge changing since teachers started teaching. (This will rarely affect core curricula, as teachers take refresher courses, but you'll see it in ancillary information which a teacher recalls from their schooling.) Another part of it is the natural credulousness of children. The teacher may know that pi isn't exactly 3.14, and may even use careful wording when the value is first introduced, but "In this class, we use 3.14 for pi", while not incorrect, may be a subtle distinction which is lost on a 12 year-old. In addition, after answering the same question a dozen times, the phrase gets shortened for convenience to "pi is 3.14". So even if the abbreviation is simply a convenience specifically for the class, after a long time using it, it gets drilled into the child's head as the absolute truth. Regarding communism - that one's pure propaganda, but a widely held one. See Red Scare and McCarthyism. There was actually a period of time in the US where saying *anything* good about Communism could get someone (especially a teacher) fired. Demonizing and dehumanizing "the enemy" is an old practice in conflicts, but has the unfortunate side effect of lasting long after the conflict is over. -- (talk) 02:59, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
What a can of worms this could open. I wonder where the OP got the idea that Lenin had been elected. I'll just stick with the way Will Rogers described what Communist Russia was like compared with the USA: "In Russia, they ain't got no income tax! But they ain't got no income!" And a corollary by Frank Zappa: "Communism doesn't work, because people like to own stuff." ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 03:01, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
Bugs, the OP never said that "Lenin had been elected". I know it's hard for you, but can you please stop lying to support your paranoid fantasies? DuncanHill (talk) 10:03, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
What is need of useless things like income etc. when you are living in a heaven ?  Jon Ascton  (talk) 03:19, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
Communist Russia was heaven? Think again, comrade. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 03:23, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
Bugs, stop trolling. If you don't have anything to add other than "NUH-UH!", don't bother. --Mr.98 (talk) 11:41, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
98, stop trolling. If you don't have anything to add other than sniping, don't bother. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:59, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
No, this is not going to be a trolling event where we get to superficially argue back and forth about whether communism was great or awful or really awful. I don't see a lot of real non-opinion based question being asked here. The book link is excellent though (even though I know nothing about that book, I've only heard about it). Shadowjams (talk) 04:44, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

Quite obviously wrong information is taught in schools, usually through outdated text books who's information has been proved wrong through science, or incompetent teachers. RECYCLED FIRE (talk) 14:57, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

Who is J. E. Hoover?[edit]

The only information I have on him is that he served in the pacific front during WWII. J. E. Hoover --Arima (talk) 05:30, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

Well, that isn't the only information you have, is it? I googled for the set of names listed in that picture, and found them all at this list of 1940 Navy commanders, where his position is described as "Chief of Staff, Commander Aircraft, Battle Force", although his name is listed there as John H. Hoover. I'm pretty sure it's him because the other names in the picture are there up to and including the initials. This article says that he was a Rear Admiral and gives more information about what he did. Looie496 (talk) 06:41, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

Help Required on Humanitarian Ground[edit]

I being a retired man, will be highly obliged if you could kindly arrange me to get some ONLINE DATA ENTRY or DATA EDITING or FORM FILLING JOBS etc. If yes pl. let me know, then I will come back with the details. V N Krishnaswamy, INDIA. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:47, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

[Deleted extraneous opening space to reformat your text to fit the page.] (talk) 09:11, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
Sorry, Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia compiled by online volunteers. It doesn't offer any jobs of the type you describe, and it has no relationship with any employers seeking staff. Your best bet is to check employment agencies nearer home or Google for job vacancies. Good luck. Karenjc 15:42, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
I could provide exactly the job you are looking for. Please contact me at: IF you really need it - check page history, actual email removed It is a honest job and you will be secured on payment part. But not many hours per week. (talk) 22:20, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

Birthers Evidence[edit]

Birthers seem to focus on Barack Obama's birth certificate to prove he was born outside of the United States and thus ineligible to be President. Wouldn't his mother's passport be all that is needed to show he was born in Kenya? Ostensibly she was present at his birth. Are passports part of the public record? Hemoroid Agastordoff (talk) 17:50, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

There are many things that can affect eligibilty using birth location. John McCain, for example, was not born in the US, yet was qualified for the presidency. Even if Obama was not born on US soil, he still could have qualified, so the whole debate is silly. So even if her passport showed that they were in Kenya, that wouldn't necessarily mean he wasn't born a US citizen, as long as she herself was a US citizen under the appropriate condtions. [aaronite =] (talk) 18:25, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
It's an interesting question, in the abstract, whether a person born outside the US to parents who are US citizens meet the "natural-born citizen" requirement. Of course it doesn't apply to Obama. But it's also never actually been tested. The McCain case was a bit different because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone, which was US territory at the time (though there have been claims that he was actually born in an off-base hospital in Panamanian territory).
Even so, even the McCain case has never actually been tested. The Senate voted unanimously that he met the requirement, but it's not clear that they have the authority to make that finding. In fact it's not clear (at least to me) who does have the authority to make it, nor how you would even proceed to bring a challenge against a candidate on those grounds. Maybe you'd have to wait until he had been elected, and then challenge him in Congress, when the electoral ballots are being counted. --Trovatore (talk) 20:32, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
There's at least one similar case to McCain in modern history - Barry Goldwater, born in the Arizona Territory pre-statehood, ran for president in '64. I believe it passed entirely unremarked upon at the time; no-one seemed to think it might cause a problem. Shimgray | talk | 21:03, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
The birthers are a bunch of reactionary conspiracy theorists who masquerade their racism as concern for the law. I doubt they would accept that Obama was born in Hawaii even if presented with a time machine and an opportunity to witness the event. TomorrowTime (talk) 18:31, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
gawd, please don't give them a time machine! --Ludwigs2 18:46, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
Only if it's locked on "fast-forward". ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 19:46, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
Passports are relatively transient documents; once replaced, they're usually destroyed (or stuffed away in a drawer by the owner and forgotten about). It's relatively unlikely that someone's passport from the 1960s would still be in existence and available - and I am sure that even if it were to be found and produced, the people demanding evidence would come up with some explanation as to why it didn't mean anything. (fake passport stamps! or somesuch.) Shimgray | talk | 20:01, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
As I learned from dealing with the "Apollo Moon Landing Hoax" article, conspiracy theorists will never, ever, admit they've got it wrong, no matter what facts are put forward. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 20:13, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
Some birthers claim that even though Obama's mother was a US citizen, she had not been 18 years old for a full year, therefore, somehow, that meant that he wasn't by default a US citizen. Can't say I understand that logic myself, but there you go. So it doesn't matter where he was born, since she wasn't a legal citizen for a year as being a minor, he isn't either. Then there are those who claim that you can't be a US citizen if your father isn't, which is an odd argument that has never been upheld anywhere. Everard Proudfoot (talk) 23:34, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
Remember when the republic and everything for which it stands totally collapsed because there was a Canadian-born president? Adam Bishop (talk) 00:10, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
Our article claims that Arthur was born in Vermont. --Trovatore (talk) 00:36, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
Our article claims Obama was born in Hawaii!!! Adam Bishop (talk) 02:03, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
Surprisingly enough, this latter case was actually quite common. I don't know if the United States ever used it, but many countries differentiated until quite recently between citizenship descending from the father and citizenship descending from the mother; likewise, there was in many cases a presumption that a wife would take her husband's citizenship but not vice versa. Shimgray | talk | 00:20, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
My understanding is the age of his mother would potentially have an effect if he were born outside the US. E.g. see [1]. Note that this has nothing to do with it being his mother but a IMHO poorly worded law which is clearly seeking to prevent people gaining US citizenship due to the fact one of their parents was born and grew up in the US but then later moved overseas and never came back but because of the way it was worded does seem to potentially exclude people who are born overseas just because their American parent was too young at the time even if their American parent only spent a day overseas Nil Einne (talk) 11:52, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
That's a very long sentence, Nil. I've read it a few times but I keep on losing my way and not really getting what you're saying. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 11:56, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
Sorry. My point is that the law was likely intended to prevent a parent who is a US citizen but if they did ever live in the US had emigrated when young, either with their parents or may be by themselves in their late teens, passing on their US citizenship by themselves (the law only applies if only one of the parents is a US citizen). This sort of thing isn't that uncommon and I can somewhat understand their desire to prevent it. However the law as worded seems to mean that any US citizen who had a child overseas (the other parent not being a US citizen) would not pass on their citizenship if they were too young at the time of the birth of the child. This would apply even if it was the mother who was only ever overseas on the day they gave birth. Or if it was the father and he had never, ever left the US. And ditto even though said parent had always intended to return (if necessary) to the US, bringing their child to live their lives together in the US. Of course they could still take their children back to the US with them as dependents I presume and their children would gain US citizenship after having lived in the US for long enough (I don't know the precise laws) but they wouldn't be a US citizen from birth. Nil Einne (talk) 09:28, 7 September 2010 (UTC)

I've never actually understood why a nation that has historically proclaimed so loudly its welcoming approach to the poor and oppressed from elsewhere has the "born in the USA" requirement for its President anyway. Can anyone explain? HiLo48 (talk) 00:29, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

In my opinion it would be better scrapped. It's the one case where we say to citizens-by-choice, you're full citizens of this country, except in this one way.
To answer your question, though, I suppose the idea is to avoid some sort of Manchurian Candidate. Doesn't seem like a very serious concern, nor a very effective barrier, but I imagine that's the reason. --Trovatore (talk) 00:39, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
According to Natural born citizen of the United States#Possible sources, the provision sort of crept in by accident; it was never explicitly debated or discussed until later. It makes a degree of sense in context; a lot of the constitution was aimed to prevent the problems that had characterised the colonies relationship with Britain. Less than a century earlier, a coup d'etat had toppled one British monarch and replaced him with a foreigner; the subsequent political manoeuvrings had basically involved importing a dynasty of foreign monarchs, who were not always entirely popular. If the problems of the crown were perceived by whoever wrote it as being linked to the "foreignness" of the king, this could be an explanation for the caveat. Shimgray | talk | 00:54, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
Oh, right, that rings a little bell. I seem to recall there was a concern that some anti-republican faction would come to power and offer the presidency to some royal from Europe, who would then establish a royal line here. Maybe that was actually a genuinely reasonable concern at the time; I don't know. But it seems silly now. I'd love to remove that provision. But I doubt it'll happen anytime soon — three quarters of the states is a high barrier. --Trovatore (talk) 00:59, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
I've read speculation (somewhere) that it got stuck into the Constitution in order to make sure that Alexander Hamilton couldn't be President. He had made a few enemies in his day. Everard Proudfoot (talk) 01:05, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
The thing is, at the time of writing there were no "natural-born citizens" by a strict reading - or, at least, none old enough to be running for office! There was an explicit grandfather clause granting citizenship to anyone already a citizen of one of the member states, to avoid this problem. Shimgray | talk | 01:13, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
Actually, that's not true. he colonies had been settled for 100+ years by the time of the revolution, so there were plenty of people born on this soil. Part of the issue, I think, is a question of loyalty. Someone born and raised in a foreign country may have mixed loyalties. e.g., a president who was born and raised in London might have an innate preference for British practices and ideals, or have other foreign attachments that cloud his judgement in potential conflicts. People often have a bias for their perceived home, and we want to make sure the nation's leader's bias is in our direction. I'm not sure that it really makes a difference in these days (most of our president are wealthy and cosmopolitan, and have nothing like the attachment to the land that a gentleman farmer in an agricultural economy would have. Heck, the Bush's have closer ties to Saudi royalty than to their own neighbors in Texas, so... --Ludwigs2 01:41, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
Sure, there were plenty of people born in the colonies. There were none, old enough to be president, who were born in the states.
No doubt they could have found wording that would work around that, but instead they grandfathered in everyone who was a citizen at the time of adoption of the constitution, which does appear to refute the theory about Hamilton. --Trovatore (talk) 03:36, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
There were Kings of England who were really Germans, and the founding fathers wanted to be sure our President didn't get "outsourced" that way. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 06:15, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
This is why (IMO) they put the emphasis on land. someone born in the colonies would still have loyalty to the land he was born on, even if that land belonged to a different nation at the time of his birth. This is land in the simple, physical sense of the word. --Ludwigs2 15:06, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
Right, but that was assuming your own interpretation of the reason for the thing, rather than responding to what Shimgray had said. And it very specifically does not explain the grandfather clause. --Trovatore (talk) 19:03, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
One of the best kings England had was a a frenchman. Richard Avery (talk) 07:29, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
Best? He was a vile, murderous bastard who died the death he deserved, alone and unmourned. DuncanHill (talk) 12:22, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
Hmm — one of the best kings England had; vile, murderous bastard — someone tell me why you can't both be right? --Trovatore (talk) 19:05, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
Neither is 'right', because they're both personal opinions, and we don't do opinions here ... except sometimes. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 20:42, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
Yikes, I hate explaining my jokes. The implication is that vile, murderous bastard is about the best you can expect from an English king. It's not totally a joke; whenever I read the history of the royals I come away with the sense that they were almost uniformly slime. They've been better behaved since they lost their effective power. --Trovatore (talk) 20:58, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
Since he gave instructions about his legacy and pardoned some political rivals on his deathbed, then there must have been at least one person there to hear him. See for example the third paragraph of Odo_of_Bayeux#Trial.2C_imprisonment_and_rebellion (talk) 14:29, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
And in a fitting bit of irony, Vile Bill's descendants continue to occupy the British throne. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 14:34, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
True, but they're descended from a lot of other vile, murderous bastards as well - as are we all. (talk) 15:26, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

I hate to do this, because I really think the birth issue keeps a lot of people occupied on useless trivia, people who otherwise might do something dangerous, like get involved in serious politics. Still, in the interest of accuracy. . . Our article about Neil Abercrombie says this former congressman and current gubernatorial candidate was a friend of the President’s parents while they lived in Hawai'i, and at the time Barack was born . . . in Hawai'i. DOR (HK) (talk) 07:17, 8 September 2010 (UTC)


How do you change your password? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Annieslappy (talkcontribs) 19:54, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

Click on My Preferences and then on Change Password. Rojomoke (talk) 21:22, 4 September 2010 (UTC)
Just for future reference, questions about how to use Wikipedia are more appropriately asked at the Help Desk, But we'll also try our best to help you here. hydnjo (talk) 21:52, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

That's assuming OP was talking about Wikipedia passwords. Quadrupedaldiprotodont (talk) 13:56, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

Purple gum at Albertsons[edit]

In the late 80s/early 90s I used to get this purple gum at Albertsons in Florida. It came in only one flavor — presumably grape, although I only remember it being the color purple. There were maybe six little tapered/rounded hexahedrons in the package… sort of like modern Bubblicious packages, only the pieces were slightly smaller, I think, and tapered/rounded at the edges, like they were cut apart with something slower or less sharp, etc.. It was different from gum in texture and flavor and shape, and that's probably why I haven't seen it in ages. Does anyone know what this product was called? :) TIA ¦ Reisio (talk) 20:06, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

I think you mean Chewels gum. Here is an advertisement for it. Battleaxe9872 Talk 21:25, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

Ooooh, I'm not sure if it's Chewels, Tidal Wave, or Freshen Up, but I do think it's probably one of those, or at the very least a competitor of that era — thanks, Battleaxe9872. :) ¦ Reisio (talk) 22:14, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

How does the "3rd cousin, twice removed" thing work?[edit]

I'm intrigued by English's system for naming relationships between distant family members, but I have a question about the whole "Xth cousin, Yth removed"-thing.

Let's say my name is Alice, and I have a cousin named Bob (that is, Bob is my aunt or uncle's son). We would be first cousins, right? Now lets say I have a child named Charlie, and Bob has a child named David. Charlie and David would be second cousins, right? But what is my relationship with David. Are we "first cousins, once removed", or are we "second cousins, once removed". Because I'm first cousin with his father, but my son is his second cousin, so you could make an argument for both.

In the same manner, what is the relationship between my son Charlie and my cousin Bob? Are they "first cousins, once removed" or "second cousins, once removed"?

Is there a general rule here, so you know what the deal is? (talk) 23:57, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

There are charts in the cousin article, do they help? Adam Bishop (talk) 00:06, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
Ahh, didn't see that. Yes, that does answer my question, "first cousins, once removed" it is. Thanks! (talk) 00:09, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
And here's a short answer in words. If one of you is X+1 generations from your nearest common ancestor, and the other is X+Y+1 generations away, then you are Xth cousins Y times removed. In other words, the "Xth cousins" part is based on whichever of you is fewer generations from the common ancestor (if you're not of the same generation). --Anonymous, 00:40 UTC, September 5, 2010.
Actually, it works both ways. In the OP's example, David is Alice's first cousin once removed downwards, and Alice is David's first cousin once removed upwards. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 00:49, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
  • Yes. I hope "actually" doesn't mean you think I said something wrong, because I don't believe I did. --Anon, 20:44 UTC, September 5, 2010.
No, it was an infelicitous word choice on my part. But looking at this a little more closely, I think we need to place a condition on your formula: both X and Y need to be non-zero (you probably assumed that all along), because:
  • if X=Y=0, you get siblings.
  • if X=0 and Y=1, you get parent - child or uncle/aunt - nephew/niece
  • if X=0 and Y=2, you get grandparent - grandchild or granduncle/grandaunt – grandnephew/grandniece
  • if X=1 and Y=0, they‘re plain 1st cousins, or they could just be siblings
  • if X=2 and Y=0, they’re plain 2nd cousins, or they could just be siblings. -- (Jack of Oz=) (talk) 03:54, 6 September 2010 (UTC)
Right. In my family we occasionally say "cousin-uncle" or "cousin-nephew". Don't know if those terms have any currency anywhere else. --Trovatore (talk) 00:50, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
I always thought that that 'Bob was your uncle'. (talk) 06:12, 5 September 2010 (UTC)
Wikipedia has an article on Bob's your uncle. Cuddlyable3 (talk) 13:48, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

While we're on this topic, is there a simple title for my nephew's wife, in the same style as sister-in-law? HiLo48 (talk) 21:03, 5 September 2010 (UTC)

Niece-in-law sounds perfectly reasonable to me. ~ mazca talk 08:00, 6 September 2010 (UTC)
Maybe it does, but it's a made up name so you won't find any lexicographic support for it. Also, it's ambiguous, since it could also refer to your spouse's niece (cf. father in law) or your child's niece (cf. son in law). -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 08:32, 6 September 2010 (UTC)
I think the meaning is pretty clear. You usually refer to your spouse's niece as simply your niece (at least in the States; not sure about elsewhere), so it's unlikely that meaning would be heard; your child's niece is your "great-niece" or "grand-niece". It seems sufficiently canonical that I'm sure lots of people have "made it up", all with the same meaning. Similarly for "cousin-in-law", which we use in my family. --Trovatore (talk) 20:53, 6 September 2010 (UTC)
It is also not uncommon for two persons to be related in multiple ways, as when related persons get married. This is common in backwoods families with a limited breeding pool and in royal families. Edison (talk) 18:23, 8 September 2010 (UTC)