Wikipedia:Reference desk archive/Humanities/2006 July 6

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who is the artist[edit]

There is currently a Postsecret postcard that looks like a photograph of two naked women in a restroom with scupltures of snakes and rabbits[1]. I was wondering if anyone knew who the artist was. Thanks for voluteering your time to try to help people, even if you pass up this question. -- Reinyday, 00:27, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

Your description sounded like something that Jan Saudek would do, but the photo in question looks to me to be just an old photo designed to be fetish/stag/girlie stuff from the 1920's or thereabouts. There has been an explosion in nostalgia porn books for the middle class, and it really looks like an adaptation from one of those. Maybe not, but I don't really think it's an art photo. Geogre 03:20, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
It's not a photo. It's a collage from various photos. The floor is separate to the walls. The women are stuck on, as well as the bathroom fittings and the animals. As to who did it, probably someone not very well known. Date, check out bathroom fittings! 1970s or after? Tyrenius 18:14, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

Israel, Gaza, and Palestine walk into a bar...[edit]

All the news that I hear lately here in the U.S. reminds me of something that I've wondered for some time. Why does the U.S. media, and I guess the U.S. gov't as well, care so much about Israel, Gaza, and Palestine? It seems that whenever anyone so much as throws a book to the floor and it goes "Bang!", it gets reported on over here. Yes, people are shooting each other and such but the same things happen in Africa with various conflicts over there and that hardly gets any press. I don't recall hearing this much about the IRA and Ireland and such. Is it all to do with oil? Israel doesn't export any but then they do have refineries. Also, are these places and the continuing conflict a major news item in other countries around the world? Maybe we should have an article on Why the U.S. cares so bloody much about Israel. (Okay, that last bit was facetious but I really am curious.) Dismas|(talk) 01:44, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

Maybe (this is speculation) it's because Israel is one of the most important countries in the theology of 3 major world religions. Mo-Al 01:51, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
Certainly theology makes Israel important to many people for religious reasons, but there are purely practical issues too. Israel has nuclear weapons, of course, and we pay close attention to anyone with nuclear bombs, to say nothing of people with nuclear bombs who are involved in armed conflicts. Further, Israel itself is and has for some time been an immensely controversial topic in the US, what with many people here and elsewhere arguing that it shouldn't even exist and all that. That's not true for, say, Burundi. It's also an ally of the US, one under frequent attack, in an area that has few genuine US allies. And, at the risk of seeming to give voice to stupid anti-semitic arguments, there are many wealthy and powerful Jews in the US who feel personally connected to Israel. --George 03:43, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
Israel is also very important to the U.S. as an ally in a fairly anti-U.S. part of the world. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has broad implications across the entire mideast see the Six-Day War, unlike tribal conflicts in Africa, which while even more brutal don't threaten the stability of an entire resource heavy region. Nowimnthing 04:03, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
The United States has more Jewish people than any nation aside from Israel, yes, but that hasn't much of an effect on foreign policy, as the populations represent a significant voting block only in a few places, and any presidential candidate would gladly lose New York City and Miami to gain Florida and New York State. However, Israel emerged as a paramount concern for US foreign policy during the Cold War, when it was seen as a check on Soviet interest in the middle east. When Nassar was accepting Soviet support and aid, and when Libya did, and when many states seemed to lean Soviet, the US poured resources into Israel. Additionally, Israel is a significant customer for US defense contractors (even though the money may be coming from the US aid). When the Cold War ended, more politicians began speaking out against Israel, but the political poles switched to some degree. "Liberal" US politicians began to be freer in criticizing Israel, while conservatives began coming back to a pro-Israeli point of view. Tom DeLay, interestingly, announced his belief that the US must sponsor the most expansionist Zionist element in Israel because Israel has to be at its Biblical borders for Armageddon to arrive. (I am not making that up.) The current president of the US has agreed with an eschatological support for Israel. I doubt this is moving the general Republican Party in the US, but it has made Israel an issue for some variety of fundamentalists, and that has made it a voting issue for non-Jews (even anti-semitic voters). However, Israel is now a wedge nation against the "terrarists," so, again, the Cold War polarities are getting restored. Geogre 04:16, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
I don't know much about Floridian demographics, but I must say that there are many Jews in New York State outside New York City. Long Island is very Jewish. There are several Hasidic communities in Rockland. Also, most Hasidics are anti-Zionist, believing that only the Messiah can restore Israel to the Jews. --Nelson Ricardo 05:31, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
Many people and much evidence disagree with you, Geogre, that the large wealthy Jewish population in the US has not had much influence on US foreign policy. There is an extensive discussion of this in a recent policy journal and in a recent issue of the NY Review of Books. Sorry don't have precise reference at hand. alteripse 05:40, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
Hmmm, let's try this another way. The thinking since the Southern Strategy used by Nixon has been that the conservatives would write off heavily Jewish areas because those were the same areas that were heavily "liberal." That is, as everyone is pointing out, very different from saying that the Jewish communities don't have an influence on foreign policy outside of presidential elections. The senators and house members who have a significant Jewish constituency are numerous enough that there will be a big legislative effect, and a governing president will want to avoid giving his opponent a stick to beat him with. Furthermore, there are plenty of Jewish people who have been in foreign service, state, etc. The point I was trying to make is that Israel has been supported for realpolitik reasons, and its current support from the far right is electoral political, and, at the same time, the realpolitik reasons are re-emerging in the "War on Terror." Geogre 12:27, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
Regarding "Israel has to be at its Biblical borders for Armageddon to arrive" ... isn't that Palestine? Does whatever he refers to specify who have to live there? Semites? Well, that could mean both Jews and Arabs, ie Palestinians (see the last paragraph of the article). Maybe armageddon will arrive when they make peace and join in one land? I don't know the details of this, but I believe it used to be that they all lived together peacefully. A chain of events (notably the diaspora, the religious split and the holocaust leading to worldwide support for zionism) has made neighbours into enemies. But they're really one people, aren't they? A relative who has been to Israel for some years told me she couldn't tell the difference between the 'two peoples' and wondered how they themselves manage to. DirkvdM 08:43, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
I won't answer for DeLay or those folks. I think they're nuts. I think they're reading a book that was about keeping hope during the persecutions of Nero as a script for the 21st century (The Revelation of St. John). The fringe fundamentalists seem to think that there was an all-Jewish Palestine at the time of Christ, even though they know that it wasn't all Jewish. What they know and what they believe are in sharp enough contrast that their zeal for the position argues, I'd say, for something other than reason being involved. Geogre 12:27, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
They do report other incidents globally. --Proficient 09:43, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
I think one of the reasons that the U.S. cares so much about Israel is because the Arab world cares so much about Palestine. The pan-arabic sentiment that ran strong at the end of the colonial era was nicely co-opted by the Palestinians who found themselves suddenly sold out by their former British overlords; since then, Arab leaders have been caught in between a rock and a hard place because they must support the Palestinian struggle against Israel to be politically viable within their countries, but that forces them into the economically unenviable position of belligerency towards the pro-Israel US. The equation between Islamic jihad, pan-Arabism, and the Palestinian struggle are what cause what is a minor, regional conflict to be blown out of proportion. It seems though, that that equation is eroding as Arabs are becoming jaded with the Palestinian jihad; when Fatah and Hamas duke it out in the streets of Gaza, the Palestinians tend to look much more like common criminals than martyrs. Stay tuned...
In response to Geogre's response to me, it makes sense that, say, 1500 years ago all inhabitants of Palestine were Jews (both genetically and religiously). I don't know what else they could have been. They're one people (Semites) and Islam arrived only later. A bunch of Jews left, those who stayed became Muslims and got to be known as Palestinians. And then some returned and now it is presented as if they're different people. I don't know at all, but this seems logical. DirkvdM 18:21, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

NO! You're fabricating history! 1500 years ago most Jews had fled Palestine in what was called the Jewish Diaspora. Very, very few Jews remained. Meanwhile, the Arabs of the time were pagans, until Islam was established (or re-established as Muslims believe). Muhammed was NOT a Jew! Ask any Muslim or Jew and they'll agree on at least that one thing! According to Islam, Muslims are descended from ISHMAEL, while Jews are descended from ISAAC. They're related in the sense that they're both semites, but in every other sense they're different peoples. There's absolutely NO historical evidence that the "Palestinians" of today were originally Jewish converts. This assertion would be a pure fabrication according to Jews, according to Muslims, as well as according to any historian with any knowledge of that period. Where do you come up with such ridiculous assumptions? Loomis 23:35, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

1500 years ago, the great majority of the inhabitants of Palestine/Israel/Canaan were actually Aramaic-speaking Monophysite Christians. As for why Jews "left", see First Jewish Revolt and Second Jewish Revolt. AnonMoos 14:53, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
Saying that they're all Semites is like saying that England and Germany and France are all Germanic peoples and so should not have fought in WW2. At the time of Jesus, there were Greeks (lots), Romans (lots), and various non-Hebrew peoples (Samaritans, Hitites, Philistines, etc.) living there. The idea that it was a single people with a single religion is something that even a novice fundamentalist should know to be untrue, and yet in eschatology and visions of apocalypse, they can forget all of that. There was even a Christian fundamentalist group in Texas working with some ultra-Orthodox to breed a red heffer to import to Israel so that the conditions described in the Book of Samuel could be recreated. It's strange. Geogre 23:07, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
Well, I'm not sure how it is ethnically, but if you believe in the old testament but not in the new testament nor in the qur'an, you're religiously a jew, right? So they were indeed predominantly jews, I'd say. Not that that says a lot. For one, I didn't mean to suggest that therefore there could not have been any fighting between them - that's about the fact that the returned jews had, well, returned. Or rather their offspring, and that might not seem a solid enough basis for settlement to all, especially the contemporary inhabitants. DirkvdM 07:32, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

NO! Wrong! Once again, Jews and Arabs are separate, yet related peoples. Where do you come up with these ridiculous assertions that there existed any substantial group of non-Jews that believed in the Old Testament but not the New Testament, nor the Qur'an? This is yet another absurd fabrication.

Please, Dirk. Do some reading. Loomis 23:35, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

The American media focuses on Israel a lot because lots of American people are interested in it. Count how many letters your local newspaper gets on the Arab-Israeli dispute and compare it to the number of letters it receives about the civil war in Nepal. -- Mwalcoff 23:25, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

Or, perhaps, (and you can call me as naive as you wish), perhaps, just perhaps, the US has an affinity towards Israel because it happens to be the ONLY DEMOCRACY in a region of authoritarian regimes? Perhaps the Americans kinda like that? Oh well, I'm sure you're all right, America is probably just a self-interested pseudo-democratic regime that in reality, doesn't really give a damn about the spread of democracy and freedom. Loomis 23:35, 9 July 2006 (UTC)


Have "understood tempo speeds" changed much since the 1900's? My grandfather was a composer in the early 1900's and had a song published in 1910 by F.B. Haviland. I have recently tried to transcribe his song using modern techniques. The tempo on the original sheet music is "moderato" (in modern metronomes this is 120 bpm). After I played the song on Finale (I am not skilled enough to play the song on the piano yet), I noticed that the song was slightly faster than I expected it would be. The song is characteristic of the popular music during that era. Could they have used a different system than we use now? Morganismysheltie 01:52, 6 July 2006 (UTC) Thanks, I'll try it! Morganismysheltie 20:32, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

Actually, 120 BPM is considered to be Allegro. You ought to try 100-110 BPM. Political Mind 19:16, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

How do you know the composer intended "moderato" to be a different speed? If the piece was written before metronomes were invented, then it's guess work. Mozart didn't have a metronome. Maybe you could tell us more about the piece exactly, so someone who knows about that kind of music could give an even more accurate guess -- 16:11, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

Death = Get out of jail free card[edit]

Why does the conviction of Ken Lay get voided just because he died? So what if he wasn't sentenced, he was still convicted while he was alive. He was found guilty. That should be that. And yes, I read the abatement article but it has mostly to do with UK law, not U.S. law. Dismas|(talk) 03:16, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

Why does it matter? Why bother wasting the time and effort of lawyers, prosecutors, and judges to sentence him and go through the appeals when he obviously won't care whether he is convicted or not? Crazywolf 03:35, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
I'm not saying that they should sentence a dead man. But why void his conviction? Dismas|(talk) 03:37, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
It was being appealed and thus not final. Someone thought it was more humane/fairer to default a conviction pending appeal to void rather than to convicted. I have to say voiding the unappealed conviction of a dead man makes sense to me, though the trial evidence certainly suggested he was running the corporation in a way that harmed a lot of people-- recklessly destructive if not actually deliberately thieving. Not a good guy. alteripse 05:35, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
Maybe it's time for another Cadaver Synod? David Sneek 07:54, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
If you want to pay the lawyers to find out if a dead man was guilty, thats your money. 23:11, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Let the guy rest in peace, please. Adolf Hitler who had commissioned numerous murders wasn't tried at Nuremberg. On the other side of the spectrum, Ruhollah Khomeini who ordered thousands of executions of dissidents during the Islamic Cultural Revolution, was responsible for the torture and killing of Ali Dashti, and more is actually currently deified and worshiped at his mausoleum.--Patchouli 08:22, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

The guy died. Resources need not be wasted for justice if hardly anything will happen, since he's dead. (But surely this is subjective.) --Proficient 09:44, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
Actually I'm surprised that no sentence will be passed just because he is dead. Sure, a prison sentence wouldn't mean much, but he could still be fined a huge amount of money. Of course if he's really as poor as he claimed that wouldn't mean much too. DJ Clayworth 16:35, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
I don't know why some of you think I'm in favor of getting all the lawyers and judges together to sentence a dead man. I just wanted to know why he was now considered not guilty just because he died before being sentenced. After all, he was found guilty. Thank you alteripse for pointing out that he was appealing the decision and thus it was still not clearly determined that he was guilty. Dismas|(talk) 22:00, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
"When a defendant dies, "the general rule is that if the conviction hasn't gotten past the first appeal, it is supposed to be abated, dismissed, conviction erased," says Stanford University law professor Robert Weisberg. ... The principle is called "abatement ab initio," the Latin portion meaning "from the beginning." It is a "well- established and oft-used principle," the Fifth Circuit court said." source. Need any more information?-- 07:21, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

Ari Setya Ardhi - category: Indonesian poet[edit]

As suggested by Winhunter, I should address my question to this desk. My family is going to write books about my late son, the Indonesian poet, Ari Setya Ardhi who died on February 19, 2006 in Jambi, Sumatra, Indonesia.

A book that we hope not only beautiful but also full of related information on his works such as back ground, analysis, etc.

Since Wikipedia has categorised him as one of Indonesia Poets, I am grateful if you would assist and furnish us with your observation, research, analysis, judgement that eventually reached to the conclusion that his works are appreciated and made Ari Setya Ardhi as one of the Indonesian Poets category.

Only with your permission we will include your comments in the book we are going to publish on his birthday 31 May 2007. Annie Sarino-- 04:10, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia articles fall under the GPL. Which means you can copy anything form them, provided you make a reference to Wikipedia (don't know the details of this, though). As to the research that went into the article, go to its history page (click the 'history' tab above it) and go through the changes to figure out who added him and then ask them on their talk page. I can't find the article, though, so I can't do that for you. Could you place a link here? DirkvdM 08:54, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

Thank you for your suggestion. I'll do my best. Annie Sarino-- 03:19, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

DirkvdM: I failed. I went to Bahasa Indonesia version, yes there is history but I don't know what to do. My guest is Ivan Lanin was the one to answer my question but he is absent at the moment. Annie Sarino-- 07:51, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

Lord Chancellor of Great Britain[edit]

Is the Lord Chancellor the British counterpart of the presiding officer of the United States Senate, that is the American vice president?--Patchouli 06:15, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

Curiously, our Lord Chancellor article has nothing about it, but I read only yesterday that the office has been abolished and ceased to exist earlier this week. JackofOz 07:56, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

The article says, "The Lord Chancellor is the Speaker (presiding officer) of the House of Lords." This is why I think he is like the ex officio president of the U.S. Senate.--Patchouli 08:12, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
As Jack of Oz says this post (which has existed since 605 AD) has now been abolished and replaced by an elected post of Speaker of the House of Lords. Despite our article the Lord Chancellor isn't (hasn't been) the speaker of the HoL in the sense of doing the same job as the Speaker of the HoC. The job of the Commons Speaker has generally been to control the chamber, deciding who is to speak, ruling on points of order, maintaining order during debate, and punishing members who break the rules of the House. The HoL has always been 'self-regulating' and the Lord Chancellor has never had these functions and has carried out a much more ceremonial role that the Commons Speaker. It wouldn't be accurate to compare the function of the Lord Chancellor to that of the Speaker of the Senate (Vice President) in the U.S.A. The main part of the Lord Chancellors job has been acting as the head of the judiciary, keeping the Great Seal and serving as a member of the Cabinet. His 'speaker' duties are (and continue with the title Speaker) to be very limited, consisting mainly of announcing questions to be put to a vote (though usually a deputy would/will do this most of the time).
Charles Falconer's powers as Lord Chancellor are detailed in that article though these are constitutional powers mainly rather than political powers as his position as Lord Chancellor, or Speaker, doesn't grant him any powers of political patronage or influence (beyond what he can make for himself in the position or what is available to say the Chancellor of the Exchequer or Home Secretary - probably the 2 most similarly prestigious non-PM posts).

AllanHainey 08:36, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

"...head of the judiciary." So his position most closely resembles the Chief Justice of the United States.--Patchouli 08:54, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
Possibly, I don't think there is an exact U.S.A. equivalent for the Lord Chancellor as was as as well as being head of the judiciary he was a member of the legislature (House of Lords) and the executive (sits in Cabinet). AllanHainey 13:21, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

As a result of the Constitution Reform Act 2005, the Lord Chancellor is, basically, nothing more than a Cabinet minister who represents the Courts in cabinet - like a minister for justice, without a DEPT of Justice. A Lord Speaker of the House of Lords is becoming elected by that house, and the head of the judiciary is now the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers. In its original form, the bill would have abolished the office completely, but the House of Lords wasn't really up to abolishing the oldest goverment minister in the world. He has just got a bit more modern, because it was completely against the separation of powers. So, he was like the Senate speaker, but he was never elected, and that job has been taken away from him anyway. --martianlostinspace 14:29, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

Basis of the Wikipedia[edit]

Is the Wikipedia based upon communism and if so what form? ...IMHO (Talk) 09:47, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

  • Wikipedia's founder discovered that writing only a small encyclopedia takes an immense amount of time and a lot of expert. He thought that allowing a larger number of people to work on an encyclopedia, it would be more complete and document more views on a subject. Whether that is communism is for you to decide, but the short answer is no. The project has no political background. It simply has the aim to make a good reference work (the best one we possibly can). - Mgm|(talk) 10:45, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
  • I always thought the "Wikipedia is communism" people were joking or vandalizing. Everyone volunteers. No one gets paid. There are no rules except the ones people make by agreement with each other. It's closest to Anarchism in its idealistic state than anything like communism. It's also close to libertarianism (although I wouldn't push that one). Geogre 12:32, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
Further to the question bleow it is quite like communism as there is a continuous revolution going on with many articles. Sorry Pol Sci humour. MeltBanana
Oooh, another occasion to tell my favorite lightbulb joke. How many Marxists does it take? None: the lightbulb has to develop its own revolution from within. Geogre 16:21, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
No, to be blunt. --Proficient 16:13, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
Wikipedia is communism only if you believe that the whole idea of people cooperating and working together is communism. Doubtless there are some people who believe that. DJ Clayworth 16:30, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
If you volunteer to do something useful for the fun of it, rather than for money, you're an evil pinko communist bastard who hates America and hates freedom, and you should rot in jail for the rest of the life. Support our troops by demanding money for everything you do! JIP | Talk 08:42, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

The whole problem here is the definition of communism. Most people think that that is 'what they have in China' or such. But that's state socialism, albeit under a communist party, which probably is the cause of the confusion. Originally, however, communism was defined as 'everyone does what they can and takes no more than what they need'. This means that the Open Source movement (and thus Wikipedia) even betters communism, because there (and here) 'everyone does what they like'. It's ok to be a freeloader. This is possible because we're dealing with information, which can be replicated indefinitely at virtually no cost (the basis of the so-called 'new economy'). So everything needs to be done just once and it's available to everyone until eternity (in principle). And considering there must be at least a billion people online (and rising) everything gets done at some point. And it usually doesn't take too long if there is a need. I bet Marx didn't see that one coming. :) DirkvdM 18:33, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

"From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need" - Karl Marx. Sounds like Wikipedia to me. I think Wikipedia approaches a utopian goal which many political philosophies, including communism, also express, even though the details and methods differ between those philosophies.-gadfium 21:02, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

  • Yes. Stalinism. The men are on their way to your house now to escort you to your designated Gulag. --Dweller 22:15, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
Wikipedia (like much of the Open Source movement) is a gift economy: superficially similar to communism, but very different in the details. --Serie 22:45, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
Indeed, as Serie says, it's a gift economy. No one "gets" anything, but all give. There is no actual distribution of goods, merely a donation of services, and therefore there is no socialism or communism. 'All things in common/ all people one' would be a form of primitive communism, but here there is an ownership, there is no distribution, and there are no guarantees of equality of access: no communism, primitive or utopian. Geogre 23:02, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
"What they have in China"? You mean capitalism? -- Миборовский 02:39, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia is not communism as formulated by the Soviet Union and PRC. No one is executed for expressing its thoughts nor are assets seized and distributed to the poor on Wikipedia. It is communism in the sense of collaboration by intellectuals and the common people who have no specialties.--Patchouli 03:16, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

NOTE this is a JOKE question. See below --mboverload@ 03:24, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

No it isn't, it's an ongoing discussion.
Geogre, I presented the 'do what you can, take what you need' as the original meaning, but by that I didn't mean that it was a 'primitive' definition (what ever that means). It's still the ultimate goal of any communist party. The state socialism is meant just as an intermediate stage. So it is ideological. With Wikipedia there is no ownership (what gave yo that idea?), there is distribution (over the Internet) and the lack of guarantee of acces is a matter of the local situation of people. From the viewpoint of Wikipeidia there are no limits to access, and that's what counts here. DirkvdM 07:51, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
I know, it's a "joke" (user has been here awhile) question with a real discussion behind it. --mboverload@ 09:39, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
It is definitely not a joke question. Since the Wikipedia project in particular has at least a 70% chance (90% chance if a keyword is followed by the word "wiki") of sustaining a Google search engine hit a good portion of the public are now aware of the existence of the Wikimedia Foundation and the fact that what it offers is being offered free of charge in a manner that would seem to duplicate doing of an identical online encyclopedia under the former Soviet Union including spying on the comings and goings of other users and the banishment to Siberia by means of the dreaded access block. Many people want to know if the Wikipedia is a vain attempt by some crazed Communist left over from the former Soviet Union to somehow reestablish the practice of Communism by whatever means they can. For this reason the question needs to be discussed by everyone involved in the Wikimedia Foundation projects especially contributors. I make no joke by asking this question and regard each response the result of a serious effort to provide an honest, truthful and meaningful response; including your attempt to discredit and dismiss the question. ...IMHO (Talk) 10:22, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
What kind of person assumes that because something is being provided for free it must be some kind of left-wing plot? DJ Clayworth 15:44, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, I just thought that an established user such as yourself would have settled this debate by now. I offer my apologies. Anyway, I don't find your question very relevant to Wikipedia. Did you mean Is Wikipedia turning into the Soviet Union? Communism doesn't stick people on gulags or torture them, which you seem to have confused. The Soviet Union was a state, not a political ideology. I hope you can see my confusion and suspicion of a sarcastic question. --mboverload@ 10:28, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
  • No I graciously accept your withdrawal of your comment that this question might in some way be a spoof. Since I grew up during the cold war it is possible that this question means a great deal more to me than to anyone else. No one ever expected the Soviets, especially after the Kennedy era, to decide that their children had suffered from deprivation enough unlike North Korea today. Since Wikimedia projects are free many people find them suspicious but the real issue of concern is the focal point of the beneficiary. Under a Capitalistic styled system there are opportunities for abuse which must be strictly regulated by the government in order to protect the public but no such situation exists with a totalitarian state. Not only can abuse go unchecked but the focal point of the beneficiary is the state whereas under a Capitalistic styled system the consumer is inherently the beneficiary of the interaction between the protective state and the "out to please the consumer in order to get more of his dollars in competition with other Capitalistic enterprises vying for the same dollar process" In reference to the Wikipedia it appears that a similar situation exists in which certain groups of article editors are not editing for the benefit of all readers but rather only editing for the benefit of themselves, thus leaving everyone else in the dark. I think this question should be raised from time to time and I do not see any reason for this particular discussion to be interrupted by my intervention until such a statement is requested, demanded, or required by a comment such as you had made. With all this said I hope this question and the discussion which has followed has resulted in a better understanding of the purpose and role the Wikipedia serves and will serve the Wikipedia and its contributors when the time comes to defend the Wikipedia against the forces of Capitalism with which it may compete. ...IMHO (Talk) 13:54, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
In response to several comments here-above: Like I said, there's a lot of confusion about what 'communism' means. The notion of Wikipedia being communism is totally absurd if you interpret the term in the sense of state socialism (ie what is implemented in so-called communist countries). I don't think anyone would suggest a link there. So all that's left is the more pure meaning of communism (that which such countries would like to achieve one day) and the most common definition is that "everyone does what they can takes no more than what they need". So it would be very productive to limit the discussion to that meaning of the word. Unless anyone would like to suport the claim with a different definition, but I doubt it. It's a bit pointless to fulminate against some claim that no-one wishes to suport, isn't it? DirkvdM 19:57, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

Karl Marx's Position on the Iron Curtain[edit]

Why did the Soviet Union restrict travel of its citizens to other nations around the world? Why is North Korea doing the same thing? Was the sealing of borders and hindering global interactions of a country's citizenry an idea Marx espoused or other people? If so, who?--Patchouli 10:15, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

Ideological stance: uh, if people travel outside they may become corrupted by foreign materialistic ideas, or may simply suffer from being in a place which is much less wonderful than the land they left.
Practical reason: they don't tend to come back once you let them leave. Shimgray | talk | 10:19, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
  • But did Marx in his writings specify not letting citizens travel outside the country or was this made up by Lenin, Stalin, or some other politico? (If you know in which piece of writing and where therein Marx made such a declaration, please indicate.) It's one thing for a foreign nation to refuse giving visas, it is another thing for the Soviet Union and North Korea (I think I am right about NK) to not let the citizens travel.
  • I think that curiosity creates undue glamour.--Patchouli 10:29, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
I believe this was simply pragmatism by the relevant governments, and given a veneer of plausibility when needed. I doubt anyone ever cited Marx to justify it. Shimgray | talk | 10:36, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
It wasn't purely something the Soviet Union adopted with communism, even back in the Russian Empire travel outside Russia was restricted (mainly to the aristocracy/rich and to explorers). Russia was the first country to make use of external passports, and I believe that internal passports were used in some cases too. Its not too surprising as up to the 19th c most of Russias population was serfs who were restricted to their master/owner's estate. As such they didn't travel abroad. I suspect once the serfs were emancipated the Russian officialdoms attitude to foreign travel remained in force and was made more obvious, rigid and formal with the rise of the Soviet state. AllanHainey 13:31, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
This also has a lot to do with Socialism in One Country and probably the Domino theory. Actually Marx wrote of the oposite idea. MeltBanana 15:24, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
"The working men have no country. We cannot take away from them what they have not got."
As other people have mentioned, the Russians have apparently always been paranoid about foriegners since pre-Communist times, and to a large extent they apparently remain so. Today, to visit Russia for a holiday, you need to apply for a visa that contains a highly detailed itinerary of your trip. I'm going to visit Latvia soon; I did consider a trip to St. Petersburg as well, but frankly I couldn't be bothered doing the paperwork. --Robert Merkel 23:47, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
Same reason the US are not letting the Mexicans in (or pretty much anyone else as a niece of mine is experiencing). People from poor countries want to move to rich contries. Communism started in poor countries because it took a revolution and it takes a desperate people to revolt. Russia, for example, rose quickly economically after the revolution. But the starting point was so low (the industrial revolution had passed them by) that Western Europe was too hard to catch up with and remained too attractive. Now it's the same, but they're not let in by the EU (except for tourism or when they're rich). Back then, I suppose they were, for political reasons.
Or take Cubans leaving for the US. At first the Cuban government stopped them, but then when poverty struck after the fall of the USSR, they stopped doing that and made it a free for all. After which the US stepped in and started sending them back. Even a huge country like the US couldn't (or rather didn't want to) take in such an influx of poor people. Imagine Russians migrating to Western Europe en masse. If the iron curtain hadn't been there, I wonder which Western European countries would have been willing to take them all in. None probably. So why the curtain was there, I'm not sure, really.
Abut Marx, he dreamt of a united communist mankind, without any countries, so no, I don't think he saw that coming (funny, I used that exact phrase in the previous thread). DirkvdM 18:56, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
The reason communist countries are poor is that communism doesn't work (you get factories making all left shoes, for example) and they also tend to be highly militaristic, spending a huge portion of the national treasure on weapons, and they tend to be highly corrupt, taking large portions of the national wealth for communist officials. And answering the question by saying "the Iron Curtain was there because no other country would take them in" is just wrong. They didn't want their best and brightest fleeing the miserable country they had made, so didn't let them leave. StuRat 21:28, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

I once asked a middle-aged Czech person how the Communists rationalized preventing people from leaving the country. He said my question proved I didn't understand what life was like under Communism. The Communists didn't rationalize the policy, because they didn't have to. What the Party said was law, and no criticism or questioning was allowed. -- Mwalcoff 23:20, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

Weird, because I thought most authoritarian regimes still wanted to manipulate people into thinking most of what they are doing is for their own good. Look at all those propaganda postersEvilbu 23:37, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

You get factories making all left shoes? Is that because other types of shoes are a right deviation? Seriously, I'm astonished at how comfortable people feel about simply making things up when it comes to this kind of topic. Perspective is an interesting thing too. The description "tends to be highly corrupt" and "highly militaristic, spending a huge portion of national treasure on weapons" sounds a lot like the United States to me. Mattley (Chattley) 08:14, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
The Soviet Union consistently spent a much larger percentage of GDP on the military than the US. They had a much smaller GDP, yet managed to keep pace (and even surpassed the US on conventional weapons), this shows that they allocated an enormous portion of their wealth to the military. Democracy has an anti-corruption effect, that the most corrupt officials tend to be voted out of office. Under communism, the only time you get officials removed for corruption is when there is a purge and those in control use charges of corruption to remove their enemies, whether the charges are true or not. StuRat 18:06, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
As for the "left shoe factory", read this account: [2]. While there was also a "right show factory", and the goal was to make matched pairs between the two factories, the obvious issues of mismatched production make such a plan seem idiotic to anyone but a communist. StuRat 18:18, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
That would be a very convincing piece of supporting evidence, were it not for the clear statement in the document itself that it is a joke. Mattley (Chattley) 18:58, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
It said no such thing. It did say people told jokes about the Soviet Union, then related a true story. There is nothing funny about that story, so it's obviously not a joke. Read it again, more closely this time. What could possibly be funny about two factories that formerly each made right and left shoes refitting to each produce complete pairs ? Here is the relevant text:

Armenians never seem to get tired of telling interesting jokes about bad planning during soviet times. It seems that one important factor in soviet planning was that no one place completely manufactures any product completely. It will be partially manufactured in one place, then shipped to another place to be finished. Nobody seems to know why the soviets adopted such inefficient practices. I include one story for your amusement:

1. An Armenian who emigrated to the USA long time ago was visiting his brother in Yeravan just after the breakup of the soviet union. His brother was the manager of a shoe factory in Yeravan. The visitor asked his brother how the production at the factory was holding up in these difficult times. The brother said ``last year our target was to make 40,000 shoes per month. Last month we made 20,000 pairs. ``What is the reason for the 50% drop in production level?"

``No, you misunderstood me. Last year we were the ``Left shoe factory. We made only left shoes, and shipped them to the ``Right shoe factory in Baku to complete the pairs. We stopped that practice after the breakup, now we make shoes in pairs. Last month we made 20,000 pairs of shoes, which is much better than making 40,000 left shoes.

StuRat 22:01, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
It is an 'interesting joke' - a 'story' told 'for your amusement'. It didn't cross your mind that it was an exaggeration for comic effect? The fact that it isn't true doesn't have any bearing on the question of the efficiency of centralised planning of course, but it does suggest you're a bit too keen to believe what you want to believe... Mattley (Chattley) 23:36, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
The "It is an" is your addition, the text only says Albanians never get tired of telling does say this is "a story ... for your amusement", but nothing about that says it's made up. Also, you originally accused me of making it up, which I clearly did not, the story existed long before I repeated it here. StuRat 00:05, 9 July 2006 (UTC)
StuRat, mention just one so-called communist country that started off in a good economic position. Well? Then I'll give you dozens of dirt poor capitalist countries (check the bottom of this list). You were saying?
If you look at poor countries in the world, there is one thing they have in common - they were all poor to start with. The big difference is who caught up with industrialisation. To do that you need money, but if you're not industrialised, you don't have the money. Catch 22. The reason that Russia managed to pull this off was, I suppose, the size of the country (plus worker exploitation, except to a much lesser degree than in Europe in the 19th century). Despite stupidities like the 5 year plan. The big mistake of China was to reject industrialisation and even go the other way. That, however, has nothing to do with the communist ideal. And in case you're going to throw North vs South Korea at me, that's just one example (a very slim statistical basis) and how much money did big USA poor into little South Korea?
Having said all that, I should mention that I don't wish to promote neither communism nor state socialism. I just hate hearing people repeating the same bull over and over again. The ideal 'middle of the road' is socialism. Socialism killed the communist revolution. And rightly so. DirkvdM 08:21, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
East and West Germany is a good example, where both started out with similar economies, but the East German economy remained stagnant due to communism, while the West German economy skyrocketed. Your example on China is wrong; under Mao, they did try to industrialize, with the Great Leap Forward. However, by rewarding people for making steel, without any training, equipment, or quality testing, they got farmers to abandon farming, create backyard smelting operations, and melt down good steel so they could produce crap, which nobody would buy. This resulted in the starvation deaths of millions. In recent decades, China has largely abandoned communism for capitalism and seen it's economy grow dramatically as a result. Perhaps you were thinking of Cambodia under Pol Pot, who thought farming was the ideal way of life and forced everyone out of cities to become farmers. Something similar happened in Cuba, but on a much smaller scale. Cuba, incidentally, was relatively well off compared to many other former Spanish colonies in the Americas. The wealth was rather unevenly distributed, true, but existed due to the large plantations and tourism industry in place until Fidel Castro took over. Since then, the Cuban economy has gone nowhere. StuRat 16:44, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
Cuba was well off? My parents there in the early 50's and they hated it for the filth and the beggars. Or to prove the nonsense of your reasoning, I've read somewhere that Fidel Castro is one of the richest people in the world, so Cuba must be even richer now than it was under Al Capone. :) DirkvdM 20:12, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
I said "was relatively well off compared to many other former Spanish colonies in the Americas" and I believe this is true. While most of this wealth was in the hands of a few rich individuals, now, what wealth remains is largely in Castro's hands. Even the poorest countries have enough wealth to enrich the few who control the means of production, under capitalism or "communism". StuRat 17:19, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
Castro's wealth is reported based on his control of state-owned companies. See Fidel_Castro#Wealth.-gadfium 02:11, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
I already thought as much. The argument still holds, though. The money is there and that was StuRat's argument. DirkvdM 06:56, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
That's an absurd argument, you say because one person in a country is rich then the entire country is rich, too ? In a country with a population of over 11 million, even if Castro only claims 10% of each persons average income of $3500 as his own, that makes him filthy rich, and doesn't make the country rich at all. StuRat 18:40, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
Yes, it's an absurd argument, and that was my point. Once again, reciprocity. I was just re-applying your argument that Cuba was rich and that it didn't matter that that wealth was unevenly distributed. If you'd evenly distribute this wealth there wouldn't be much per capita and the same was true before the revolution (at least, that seems a safe assumption). DirkvdM 07:21, 9 July 2006 (UTC)
One rich man doesn't mean the country is rich, but many rich men do tend to indicate that. Before Castro there were many rich businessmen in Cuba. Ironically, communism has concentrated what wealth remains in fewer hands (those of Castro himself), than under capitalism. StuRat 14:38, 9 July 2006 (UTC)c
Ah, so you admit it's a matter of 'how much'. We'd have to establish that first. Can you? Also, do you think they left empty-handed? Sure, they couldn't take their factories with them, but the money was probably in US banks anyway. DirkvdM 19:28, 9 July 2006 (UTC)
I agree that hotels, casinos, and plantations they couldn't take with them remained, while many of the more liquid assets were removed. Not all, however, as it wasn't immediately clear that Castro would seize assets when he gained power, so not everybody left with their money on time. Castro managed to ruin much of what remained, however, by mismanagement (trying to grow coffee in an unsuitable climate, against the advice of the farmers, for example). StuRat 21:02, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
And he tried to reach an impossible sugar cane production, just to show off. As Castro said, just like they had to learn how to start a revolution, they had to learn how to run a country. In both instances they made many mistakes at the start. But once again. I don't see the relevance. Take a stab, any stab, never mind if it has anything to do with the question at hand. DirkvdM 07:17, 13 July 2006 (UTC)
As for socialism being the ideal, I would put the ideal perhaps midway between socialism and capitalism (I believe the average income per person is higher in countries which have a degree of capitalism). StuRat 16:44, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
Practically all countries in the world are capitalist. Even, say, Sweden. Except that they have a very strong socialist correction. And that's really what I meant. Maybe they took it to far, but most countries (among them the US) have way too little socialist correction. China, by the way, is still a socialist state, contrary to what many people seem to think these days. It's just that they have added a bit of capitalism. It'll be interresting to see if that system will work out well. Cuba has done something similar (funny, people don't suddenly see Cuba as a capitalist country) and it's working reasonably well there too, it seems. Maybe a socialist basis with some capitalism thrown in will become a viable alternative to the European capitalist base with some socialism added. DirkvdM 20:12, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
I would say China is mostly capitalistic these days. However, capitalism without democracy seems unworkable in the long run to me. Communism, democracy, and unions are three ways to "look out for the little guy". Without any of those, I predict that the poor rural workers in China will be so abused they will revolt (signs of revolt are showing up already). StuRat 17:52, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
Let me explain again. Communism means everyone is nice to each other (and thus looking out for each other). Government 'looking out for the little guy' is called socialism (be it state socialism or democratic socialism). And I suppose democracy would then be 'giving the little man power to look out for himself'.
However you define the terms, nobody in power (either political or economic) in China cares about the poor anymore, and the poor have no power to defend themselves from the government or the capitalists, short of a revolution. StuRat 14:38, 9 July 2006 (UTC)
So you predict a revolution. Let's see what happens. For once we can settle a dispute through fact. When do you predict this revolution will take place? DirkvdM 19:28, 9 July 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps around 2040, when the demographics bubble hits. Note that not all revolutions are bloody, however. Tiananmen Square had the potential to bring about a peaceful democratic revolution, until it was brutally suppressed. Perhaps once the current leadership dies off a new group will gain power which will not brutally suppress the next democratic movement. If not, then there may be a violent revolution. StuRat 21:02, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
Demographics bubble? Cuba is quite unique in that its population has hardly grown in the last half century. Or aren't you talking about overpopulation? DirkvdM 07:17, 13 July 2006 (UTC)
Capitalism without democracy is what 19th century Europe had and that led to either a 'communist' revolution (and state socialism) or a socialist evolution (and democracy). However, if you provide a basis for people to live on (which the 19th century industrialist didn't do) people will not be desperate and not revolt. Socialism is really a form of bread and games, which, ironically, stops socialism itself from progressing any further. DirkvdM 07:21, 9 July 2006 (UTC)
I suppose we pretty much agree here. Most of early 19th century Europe was controlled by monarchs (excluding England, which was rather democratic by then) and industrialists. This is very similar to what is happening in China now, with the ruling communists deriving their power base more and more from rich industrialists and less from the proletariat. So, just as something had to change in 19th century Europe, something will have to change in China. Hopefully China can reform itself without spawning two world wars, but I'm skeptical that it can be done completely peacefully. I see a second communist revolution coming. StuRat 15:04, 9 July 2006 (UTC)
Aaaaarghhh, we agree on something? :) Well, not on the revolution bit, because state socialism will provide the economic basis that will stop people from being desperate enough to revolt. So we still disagree. Phew, you had me worried for a sec. :)
By the way, are you suggesting capitalist exploitation spawned the two world wars? I suppose not, but it sounds like it. DirkvdM 19:28, 9 July 2006 (UTC)
In a way, yes, in that communism and fascism were results of imperialistic, feudalistic, capitalistic excesses. StuRat 21:02, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
Communism and socialism, yes, but fascism? I must admit I don't know as much as I should about the rise of fascism. But then who does? There is loads of info (on tv and such) about the war itself, but much less about what brought it about, which is much more important. DirkvdM 07:17, 13 July 2006 (UTC)
One easy case study is that of East Berlin, which originally had free flowing access to West Berlin. After thousands of people fled Communist rule, the GDR and the Soviets cut access and put up the Berlin Wall. When there are better places to be than you own country, you will always have brain drain (the U.S. has been draining most of the world for decades now, though in the last few years Europe and Asia have started to become autonomous enough to avoid this)—it is quite a different thing to have even the laborers trying to flee the country as well, taking capital and economic power with them. It is a real irony, I think, that if the Soviets had allowed free immigration, I have little doubt that Western Europe would have begun sending them back, same as with the U.S. and Cuba. However since the Soviets capped immigration, the occasional refugee who escaped was not much of an impact on the economy of the states they entered into. --Fastfission 15:06, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

To answer the request for a Communist country that started rich, I've read that Czechoslovakia, or at least the Czech part of it, was one of the world's wealthiest countries before WWII. Under Communism, it fell way behind places like Austria. -- Mwalcoff 23:42, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

Yeah, I've been thinking about East/West Germany too. Of course, Europe was in ruins and the Western countries got substantial aid from the US, which must have helped a fair bit. The Marshall plan constituted about 12 billion US$ at 1940's dollars (what's that in present day dollars?), and that wasn't the only aid. From the article: "The years 1948 to 1952 saw the fastest period of growth in European history." I don't suppose Russia gave quite as much aid since they were themselves still building up the country and also themselves recovering from the war, which had been particularly devastating there (about 1/3 of the WWII deaths were Russians).
But another thing is, like I said before, that a lot of stupid things were done under state socialism. In retrospect, that is. The whole concept was one big experiment. And of course, mistakes are made then. This does not prove that the economic concept itself is wrong. Just that it takes more time and perhaps a milder, less massive implementation. And then there's the political problem that it was implemented in the form of an oligarchy and too much power in the hands of too few people is never a healthy situation. But I don't see why state socialism and democracy couldn't go hand in hand.
In stead of putting state socialism down let's learn from the mistakes. China seems to be doing that. With success. DirkvdM 06:56, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
I believe it does prove the whole system was wrong. Let's look at The Great Leap Forward in China and what would have happened had the equivalent been tried in a capitalist country. Under capitalism, the means of production are held by companies and individuals, not the state, so any decision to move rapidly from agriculture to industry would have been made by them. Let's say a large agricultural corporation decided to suddenly abandon agriculture and move to steel production, and didn't feel the need to train anyone or buy any equipment, but just told all their agricultural workers to go build smelting operations in their back yards. First, I would expect the shareholders to fire everyone involved in making such a stupid decision and reverse it before it was even implemented. But, let's say the corporation somehow manages to lie to the shareholders and make them think it's really a good idea. Then, in short order, the company would go bankrupt, and other companies would buy out their agricultural equipment and land and restore agricultural production. Other companies and shareholders would learn from this example, and only a small portion of the country's agriculture would have been disrupted for a short period of times. And if food was insufficient during this period, it could be freely imported from other countries, unlike in China, which was too "embarrassed" to admit failure and import food. Thus, millions would not have starved to death, as they did in China. StuRat 17:07, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
Even if state socialism was combined with democracy, that would still mean everybody would make decisions about agricultural and steel production, as opposed to just those with expertise in each area making the decisions. I suppose that's better than one idiot making the decision (Mao), but still not the best way to decide things. StuRat 17:38, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
Just like creating the dust bowl was a stupid idea (not to mention war). Countries do stupid things, some for short term gain, others for a long term ideology. In a country with a billion inhabitants that means many deaths. A reason to make smaller regions more autonomous, I'd say, but that's something different. DirkvdM 07:21, 9 July 2006 (UTC)
The dust bowl was created primarily by a drought. While soil erosion from farming was also a factor, this was not known before that time. This differs from the case in China, where it was well known by everyone in the steel industry that backyard smelting operations would never produce any useful steel. StuRat 14:42, 9 July 2006 (UTC)
Communism tends to have an anti-intellectual component which distrusts, or even kills off, those people who are needed to guide the economy. In Cambodia under Pol Pot, for example, everyone with glasses was executed, because they "looked intelligent", a sure sign that those making the decisions were both stupid and genocidal. In China, during the Cultural Revolution. much of the intelligentsia was also executed. StuRat 16:28, 9 July 2006 (UTC)
Soil erosion was more than just a factor. How long had that soil taken to accumulate and how long did it take for it to disappear? Hardly a coincidence (someone on the talk page also comments on that). But you say 'this was not known before that time'. And that is a key thing. When you try something new in a massive way, be it industrial, agricultural or economical, you plunge into the deep and you don't know what consequences it might have. Five year plans (and plan economy in the west) may look stupid in hindsight, but still 'seemed like a good idea at the time'. And if yo udon't try anything you'll never progress.
But producing steel WASN'T NEW ! All they had to do was ask any expert to find out their plan was idiotic. It's the anti-intellectualism of communism that caused them to ignore (or kill) the experts. Other totalitarian systems tend to favor intellectuals, so would not make a similar mistake, even if they tried to control the economy to the same extent as communists do. StuRat 21:02, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
Steel production is a lot newer than agriculture, so who is the dumbest here. If the US had the intellectuals and expertise and such, why didn't they use them to prevent an ecological disaster? As they are doing now on an incredibly much larger scale by contributing about 1/4 of the world's production of greenhouse gasses (for a country with just a few % of the population)? China is starting to catch up in this respect, though. DirkvdM 07:17, 13 July 2006 (UTC)
When you say 'communism' you mean an oligarchy or even a dictatorship. Which is indeed a dangerous thing because it leads to excesses. But that's not what this discussion was about (at least, I didn't intend it to). What is it with people that whenever socialist states are discussed all they think of is gulags, Stalin, Pol Pot and such. Whether that is relevant or not. Sounds like brainwash to me. Even nazi Germany was more than the holocaust and did some good things. Not being alowed to say that is stupid. Next thing I'll be called a nazi. This discussion is just between you and me now (can't imagine anyone else reading this anymore), so its safe to say this because you know I'm not a nazi. Ah well, tired now (bit late). Nite. DirkvdM 19:28, 9 July 2006 (UTC)
The Iron Curtain is in the title of this question, so they were, at least in part, asking about Stalin and the so-called "communist" countries, not just the purely theoretical communism of Karl Marx. I think true communism is even more flawed, as people simply will not work for nothing. Unless they get paid more for working than not, they won't. And if they do get paid more for working hard, that's capitalism, not communism. StuRat 21:02, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
It has a mild relevance to the original question (well, no, not really). This spin-off discussion, however, is about the success of the various economic systems. Not the justice or lack there-of in the countries that use them. Why did you introduce that? I'm not bitching about Guantanamo Bay, am I? That would instantly be recognised as totally irrelevant. Why is it that the same does not hold when it comes to socialist states? DirkvdM 07:17, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

Someone above said that Soviet Union was preventing people to go into capitalist countries because the would have been exposed to "materialistic ideas", but alone Karl Marx's is highly materialistic. The theory of Karl Marx has never been really implemented anywhere. Especially North Korea. Creating contemporary state borders is mostly due to capitalist policies and Karl Marx was fighting against this. I believe that the Soviet Union and the rest, of the so called Eastern Block, was preventing people to travel of economical and political reasons. The highly protectionist/interventionalist policies were a global trend at the time. Only that in the Soviet Union (and the rest) it was pretty much stronger. Stalin is considered to be creator of the command economy, so you might see him as a reason as well. So don't mistake socialism and command economy. The global trend now is the opposite - the neoliberalism. Still highly neoliberal countries are preventing the free movement of people. The reason is purely economical as well. They want to keep the cheap labour outside and be able to import the production without tariffs. -- 10:35, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

Preventing people from leaving is entirely different from limiting the number of people who can enter your country. StuRat 21:02, 11 July 2006 (UTC)

garnetted stock in relation to textile[edit]

can anybody help me what 'garnetted stock' means in the field of textile? - reply to (email address redacted to prevent spam)

Are you sure you don't mean the mineral? The first thing on google was this preview report: --Proficient 16:18, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

In search of a Poet[edit]

A long time ago I read a poem that started "If I had known that you could die / I wouldn't have cried for you" and then went on about how he never conceived his lover to be mortal (or so I recall). Those first lines are not literal, I'm afraid, but that was the overall idea. I can't remember the author of that poem - does that ring a bell to anyone? Thanks. :)--RiseRover|talk 18:00, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

sounds like stupid john donne shit if you ask me. probably a sonnet too. vomit. At any rate here are some rhymed couplets to your specifications:

I like it, 82. You got me giggling. Thanks for brightening up my day. --Richardrj 07:33, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

number of copies sold[edit]

How does one find the total number of copies sold of any given book title, i.e. The Devil Wears Prada, The Good Mother, Bridget Jones Diary—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

With difficulty. Publishers don't normally make this information public unless a book has sold millions of copies, in which case that might be a selling point. You could try asking the publisher. Even then, a title is often produced by different publishers in different editions in different countries, so even they can't be sure how many copies have been sold in total. There are charts for the biggest selling books, based on surveys of a selection of bookshops, much like the music charts, but these figures are estimates only.--Shantavira 19:20, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
edit conflictI'm not sure that is publicly available unless the publisher releases their print run numbers, but that isn't actual copies sold anyway. Don't rely on any of the bestseller lists, most are determined by survey rather than sales; see Bestsellers. Your best bet is to check out each book's page here. I notice the The Devil Wears Prada mentions a figure of million of copies in hardback. Nowimnthing 19:37, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
  • Slap! Please don't mix those up. It's hardcover an paperback. Not papercover or hardback... - Mgm|(talk) 05:01, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
(Aside) I'm not quite sure what the above comment means. The article cited specifies hardback and paperback. That is what they are always termed in the UK. The term hardcover is used in the US to mean hardback. (As a publisher) I haven't come across the term papercover.--Shantavira 05:52, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
Early paperbacks were generally sold as "in paper wrappers" or "in paper covers", so... Shimgray | talk | 13:36, 9 July 2006 (UTC)
Yes, since there are so many publishers, only estimates are possible. But I'm sure if they tried hard enough to network themselves, they could give you an exact count. --Proficient 05:44, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

Views on "No Child Left Behind".[edit]

Hi, what are the Democratic and Republican views/opinions on the "No Child Left Behind Act"? For example: Are Democrats/Replublicans for it, against it, or is there a mix of opinions? Thanks! --Purple Cat 19:45, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

Teachers hate it, especially in California where they got screwed on a technicality, and they tend to be Democrats. Unsurprisingly, details are at No Child Left Behind Act. Melchoir 20:07, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
Other than the knee-jerk reaction of "everything the other party does is wrong", I haven't seen much from Democratic politicians. What I have seen is a constant fight against the law from teacher's unions. Why would they like a law that tells them they have to prove on paper that they are qualified to teach? Also, there is a little clause that requires schools to give student contact information to military recruiters. But that is a completely different topic. --Kainaw (talk) 20:26, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
The article covers the objections fairly well, including the "unfunded mandate" aspect, where the Federal Government forces the states to do things, then fails to provide them with the necessary funds to do as they are told. StuRat 21:17, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

Well Ted Kennedy who is a quite famous democrat was an advocate of that,so....

Of "that" what? User:Zoe|(talk) 02:25, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
It's kind of a school fails the standards, it's funding is cut, instead of getting assistance. As the standards become harder to attain, the schools lose more funding, so their condition deteriorates. Eventually, the people with money in the neighborhood go to a private school, or move. That's why it's been considered by some people to be an effort to privatize the American educational system.
Plus, part of the bill calls for everyone to be reading on grade level by fourth grade (ten years old). This includes people who have down syndrome, high maintenance autism, severe mental disabilities (including kid with an IQ below 75). I don't see how any school with special needs kids could meet the standards without the teachers, as well as these Learning-disability students, breaking their backs.--The ikiroid (talk·desk·Advise me) 01:31, 8 July 2006 (UTC)
Ikiroid is entirely correct. The system has two huge flaws, plus several minor ones. Flaw one being funding - Schools that are failing need more money, not less. Flaw two is the standards. Standards are very high, and schools that are getting their funding cut have trouble reaching those standards with limited resources and teachers. Without personalized attention and excellent resources, students that are very concentrated can even fall behind. Also, the standards are a problem with learning disabled, as stated above. Political Mind
While not a fan of No Child Left Behind, I do like the concept of cutting funds for schools that can't meet standards. These schools will eventually be shut down, as they should be, with the students going to better schools in the area. Thus, the incompetent teachers and administrators will eventually be purged from the system. Alternatively, by increasing funds for schools that can't meet standards, it will always be in a school's interest to fail miserably. StuRat 21:34, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

Looking for Fictional Vampire Book[edit]

Can someone please help me? I have been searching for this book for years & have had no luck.

It is a fictional book about a man who is a nighttime bartender. He later finds out he is a descendant of Dracula. I don't remember much else about it, other than that Dracula is resurrected towards the end. I swear "BLOOD" was in the title, but I could be wrong.

Please email me at <email removed to prevent spam> Thanks!!

Try an advanced search on Amazon. I tried, but you could probably come up with more details than I could. Can you give me more details? About how many years ago did you read it? Would it be in the horror section?

Historical GDP statistics[edit]

I've been looking for this for a long time... Does anyone know where can I find, for example, a list displaying the 20 biggest economies in 1936, the GDP per capita of the US and USSR in the 1960s along with European powers and Japan and so? Thanks. GTubio 22:48, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

Have you tried [3]? looks like most of what you want is there, if with a bit of digging. Nowimnthing 23:45, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
More directly, try this [4], scroll down to historical statistics and open the excel file. Nowimnthing 23:49, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
Wow, big table! I don't know what you specifically want the 1936 and 60's data for, but if you're interrested in the USSR, a comparison between 1913 and 1960 would be more interresting, to see what effect the revolution had. That changed from roughly 1500 to 4000. For the Netherlands (an example of a stable already industrialised rich western european country) those figures are 4000 and 8300. So the USSR lagged behind about half a century, but the relative increase was about equal. For comparison with the tsars there are few data, and none specifically for Russia, only figures for 1820 for the former USSR, when it was 688, while for the Netherlands it was 1838. This surprises me. I thought that Russia had completely stagnated under the Tsars, but both have about a doubling over that period. Then again, these figures include Easterm Europe, which had also industrialised. Also, the Netherlands wasn't quite at the forefront of industrialisation, so let's look at the UK. There, the progression was 1838 > 4900 > 8600. Compared to the former USSR (688 > 1500 > 4000) you get a nice illustration of the pros of industrialisation (much faster rise for the UK in the 19th century) and the cons of being stuck with old machinery - the USSR rose 266%, against the UK just 175%. So the Netherlands took the best option - not too fast (UK) nor too late (Russia). Just nice and gradual. By the way, I'm Dutch. :) DirkvdM 09:08, 7 July 2006 (UTC)