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User talk:Dave souza/Archive 5

Answer to your question, and over-and-out

I'm dropping out of that discussion - a couple folks have too much personal "ownership" ego invested in the "intelligent design" page to acknoweldge that anyone else might have something to contribute, and I have no corresponding ego investment to make it worth expending any more effort. But you asked some good questions, so I'll give sketches of answers.

... I did come across such mind boggling stuff as In the future, we may come to see the second law of thermodynamics (entropy) as a consequence of information theory and not the other way around. and In the discrete and continuous forms, the uncertainty corresponds to the entropy of statistical mechanics and to the entropy of the second law of thermodynamics, and it is the foundation of information theory.

Yeah, neat statements, huh? The first one is close to the way I have started thinking about things, and it gives some neat insights. I'd have to spend more effort on the second to understand its context, so no comment.

...involve a "law" that prevents evolution from developing information and insists on increasing "disorder", I'd be really grateful.

I can't off top of head. But instead, I'll offer you an analogy to the way drugs are discovered. Put quanta of model cells in 1000 wells. Put 1000 compounds in the wells. Wait two days. Use a non-intelleigent machine to observe which wells have dead cells (if your're trying to find a toxin), or live cells (if you're trying to promote the cells). Then vary the compounds that did what you wanted to do, and run the same experiment on another 1000 wells of cells. Eventually you get some information (in the ordianry sense) - you know which compounds have which properties with respect to which cells, with no more intelligence required for this than your detecotr has.

OK, suppose we did it the other way - put the same compound in 1000 wells, and introduce 1000 random mutations in cells. Inject the cells into the wells. Use a totally automated detector to identify which ones survived. use those as the basis for next generation, introduce another 1000 random mutations, and repeat.

Both of these are used commercially. Both are done on a totally automated basis. Both work well. Both create information out of purely random events.

That's exactly how evolotion does it: take a bunch of organisms, expose them to some environmental influence, and breed the ones that survive. Eventually, you get information - this DNA strand works better in this environment than that DNA strand. Think about hwo two DNA strands that have the same ratios of C to G to A to T differ - purely in their information content. DNA is just an information substrate, just like magnetic domains on a disk.

Another way to look at it: if you have these five factors:

(a) characteristics that are heritable
(b) some variation in what gets inherited - sexual recombination, mutations, etc.
(c) more young born than survive to reproductive age
(d) environmental factors that have even a tiny differential effect on (c) in affecting which combinations of characteristics are even slightly more successful than others
(e) time

you HAVE to get evolution.

Why is it that the same folks that have so much faith in commerce and free markets refuse to acknowledge that the same processes work great in biology?

Best wishes. Do good work.

Thanks, fully agree. The difficulty I have is nailing down this peculiar idea that there's a "Law" in "information entropy" demanding increasing disorder, as the creationists claim when trying to claim that complexity needs divine supernatural intervention. The ID page has suffered a lot from ideological attacks in the past, so even benign changes are met with suspicion and have to be tactfully argued for. However the rather combative line taken was very much given credibility when the Kitzmiller verdict came out. Take care, ..dave souza, talk 00:07, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Peer review/Scotland

The Scotland article has just been put up for Wikipedia:Peer review. This is a crucial step in getting this article up to WP:FA status, or at least closer to it, which can only have positive effects on all of Wikipedia's Scotland-related coverage. The best way to get the most out of peer review is to monitor for any comments made and try to respond to them promptly. I hope that you may have some possibility to assist in this task? Thanks. --Mais oui! 16:29, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

Geeza brek! ;) Will try to have a look when I've unwound and time permits, ....dave souza, talk 00:09, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

Re: Pinkerton special

Hey. I don't really know what incident you are referring to with the "Irish racism" person. To be honest, I haven't noticed any Pinkerton-esque tendencies in your edits, but if you say so then there probably is. I think anyone who has read anything on medieval Scottish history written before the Barrow and Duncan revolution in scholarship, and hence anything popular that hasn't been influenced by this, will have a Pinkerton-esque outlook, and indeed Pinkertonism has left many legacies which still haven't been overcome. An article by Hammond in the Scottish Historical Review this year attacks the legacy of the Goth versus Gael debate in modern scholarship (if you need a copy of the article, I can email it to you). Anyways, yes, Caithness and Sutherland, and indeed, the Solway coast of Galloway, were heavily settled by Vikings. Yes, Viking scholarship has ignored Scotland (the main reason for this is that Scottish material in this period is relatively tough to study), the recent work Viking Empires devotes a large amount of attention to Scotland and Ireland, redressing the balance somewhat. Calgacus (ΚΑΛΓΑΚΟΣ) 01:07, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

Thanks, reply on your talk. ..dave souza, talk 00:10, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

Banana Block

That's interesting, I never heard that in 20 years living in Leith. I must try to develop the article beyond a stub but there seems to be very little information on the net about the Banana Flats/Banana Block. Even when it was built would be interesting to know. --Guinnog 22:40, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

Afraid it's only my memory, but I'm sure it was the banana block when I did the Christmas post around there, pre 1970. I think the block was built in the mid to late 60s, roughly about the same time as Leith Fort flats were build on what had been a rather nice parade ground with sort of Georgian buildings, all hidden behind a high stone wall, with large gates and cannons with a cannonball blocking the muzzle half buried upright to protect the corners of the gateway. My aunt still lives in a top floor flat in a Portland Street tenement which overlooked the side wall, then had the view changed to the shoddy flats and "patio houses" that already had huge dampness problems when I was on the post as a student. Not sure where to look, but there'll be a record of these things somewhere. ..dave souza, talk 00:23, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
Thanks very much. I'll give the council a phone tomorrow, make them earn their council tax! I did the Christmas post myself as a student in the early 80s. Hard bloody work, but the guys were profesionals. Not sure it'd be the same today... --Guinnog 00:34, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
Took me a while but I managed. See what you think; I've updated Cables Wynd House --Guinnog 14:48, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
Good stuff. I couldn't resist googling to find a source for "banana block", and have changed the other links to references for "banana flats" as that seemed to be their main purpose. Do you have a source for the other information that could be shown as a reference? "External links" would then be changed to "Notes" if it's not an online source. I've also tried to make it clearer that the ground floor flats have their own front doors: trust that's what you meant, my memory doesn't stretch to that. All good fun. ..dave souza, talk 18:58, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
The source was the guy from the council I spoke to on the phone today. As that is unverifiable, I suppose I would have to accept its removal if challenged. Thanks for your good work. --Guinnog 19:05, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
Seems fair enough to me. Thanks for developing the article, ...dave souza, talk 06:01, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Request for arbitration

Hi Dave. I have requested help from both you and Steinsky to arbitrate a dispute at The Root of All Evil? I would be most grateful if you would cast your eye over the "Tidy up" section on the talk page, and then let me know whether or not you are willing to help. With thanks. Laurence Boyce 21:15, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

Will be glad to try to help, though things are a bit hectic so can't promise lots of instant action. Have looked over the talk section, guess the next thing is to review the article and add my own thoughts to that section, in the hope of keeping a useful discussion going. Let me know if you've something else in mind: think I'm a bit too involved to be an arbiter. (Couldn't resist putting in that guid Scots word) ..dave souza, talk 21:38, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
Thanks Dave. Informal arbitration is exactly what I want – I don't see much point in somebody being involved who doesn't know the documentary. I really need you to step in because it's starting to look to all the world like I'm trying to own the article which won't do. Maybe start a new talk section – it might be as well to draw a line under the biggest "tidy up" in history! But you decide. Thanks again. Laurence Boyce 13:41, 5 August 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia:WikiProject Scotland

Pre-script: we are currently undergoing peer review, see: Wikipedia:Peer review/Scotland.

I am beginning to think that the Scottish Wikipedians' notice board is not the best vehicle for pushing up the quality of the Scotland article (we ought to try to get it to WP:FA, in order to get into Wikipedia:Version 0.5, or, failing that, Wikipedia:Version 1.0), and the other key Scottish articles. It is becoming increasingly obvious to me that we really ought to start up the long-mooted WikiProject Scotland.

Most of the stuff at the notice board (at least on the bottom half) is actually WikiProject material anyway, and the Talk page is really being used as a WikiProject talk already! The notice board should be just that: for bunging up brief notices and signposts. I am thinking of launching a Wikiproject and correspondingly radically clearing out, and chopping down, the noticeboard (a re-launch if you like). The Scotland Portal concept is fine (but currently mediocre/undynamic content), but in stasis: it needs a good kick up the jacksie.

For comparison, have a look at:

And, if you are at a loose end, have a look at:

Thoughts? Please express them here. --Mais oui! 18:24, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

Your particular bias

Dave, you recently removed an edit I made to The Origin of Species page. However, according to WP:NPOV and WP:V they should have been left as-is.

It is clear that my edits were not vandalism and actually were much more of a neutral point of view than the original offering.

It is unfortunate that your extreme bias in this matter has caused you to threaten me from being blocked from further editing. Maybe you should take a look at the WP:NPOV again.

Thank you, Erich168

My bias is towards supporting these policies. Repeatedly adding misinformation is vandalism: if you want to invert statements in articles you should meet WP:V in showing Wikipedia:Reliable sources for your position, and in this instance comply fully with the particular requirements relating to science. Your bias appears to be towards pseudoscience, and Wikipedia:Neutral point of view/FAQ covers that in more detail. These are points you can raise on talk pages, but simply making unjustified changes is not the way to proceed. ..dave souza, talk 07:47, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

Dave, I would ask you again to please review the Wikipedia Neutral Point of View policy. After reading this, you will see that the original contribution was opposed to the NPOV policy. Your constant edits fall under the vandalism category.

First, here is an original quote: Although the ideas presented in it are supported by overwhelming scientific evidence and are widely accepted by scientists today, they are still, in some parts of the world, highly controversial, particularly among non-scientists who perceive them to contradict their own view of the facts and various religious texts (see Creation-evolution controversy).

  1. 1. Show me the “overwhelming scientific eveidence”. I can provide “overwhelming” scientific evidence for creationism. There is some evidence. But, it is NOT overwhelming.
  2. 2. The statement “particularly among non-scientists who perceive them to contradict their own view of the facts” is obviously meant to persuade the reader that creationism is not based on any scientific evidence (again, this is opposed the the Wikipedia NPOV)

Second, the statement that Modern DNA evidence is consistent with the idea that all life is descended from an original species from ancient times is also a biased statement (not based on fact). The DNA contribution on Wikipedia does not even suggest that this statement is valid. At best, modern DNA evidence in inconclusive. That is why I made that statement. Thank you, Erich

Fastsission & Dave,

I appreciate the discussions regarding the contributions to The Origin of Species. Fastfission, you stated that my efforts to present statements with a more neutral point of view would be “a waste of my time”. Well, after reading all the past discussions, posts, edits, & reverts on this subject, I have concluded that you are absolutley correct. Your extreme bias in this subject makes it a waste of time to discuss. It also makes it a waste of time to attempt to improve the article when neither of you are interested in NPOV.

It appears that you both have an agenda to promote this theory as scientific law. It also appears that allowing biased comments are fine as long as they agree with your opinion. Thanks for your time. I will no longer attempt to contribute to this subject.

Erich, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

See Talk:The Origin of Species#Opinion / NPOV / Bias..dave souza, talk 08:21, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

The Root of All Evil?

I’m contacting you because I can see from the discussion page of the root of all evil article you’ve been involved with the article and more importantly you’ve been in contact with Laurence Boyce. Laurence claims that I’ve started an “edit war” over the article. What this really means is that he doesn’t like the way I want to lay out the Colorado Springs section. I’m assuming that you’ve seen the programme yourself. If you have you’ll know that in the Colorado Springs section Haggard tells Dawkins that his grandchildren might listen to a tape of him saying “the Earth is 4.5 billion years old” and then laugh at him. If you read Laurence’s version you’ll see it is a tad misleading:

“Dawkins asks if he accepts [sciences] clear demonstration that the earth is 4.5 billion years old. Haggard implies that this age is only accepted by some of scientific community and might seem laughable to future generations, at which an irked Dawkins asks if he wants to take a bet.”

This is designed to purposely misrepresent what Dawkins said. He was “irked” at Haggard telling him his grandchildren would laugh at him, not future generations! My version of that part of the article was reverted again this morning for the umpteenth time. It seems like no other administrators or users are bothered about this but I’ve lost track of how many times he’s reverted my edits. I’m being made to feel like I’m not allowed to edit the page without his permission first. Here are some of the things he said to me:

“George, I've reverted your latest bunch of edits plus an anon edit because they're rubbish!”
“I have reverted your edits again George; they're no better in my view. Please don't edit. Talk.”

I beg your pardon? Don’t edit; talk? Does he have the right to tell me not to edit? To tell me that my work is rubbish? Will you please have a talk with Laurence about this? It’s getting beyond a joke. If you check out the other posts and complaints on his user page they mostly seemed to be linked to Dawkins and his work. Why do you believe this is? Some kind of personal vendetta against Dawkins using Wikipedia as the host perhaps? Miller 12:06, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for raising this discussion, unfortunately you've misunderstood what I've done. Laurence did contact me, I looked over the sections you two have been discussing, reviewed the Colorado Springs transcript and the second programme and made edits that to me more closely reflected the programme, taking points either of you had made that seemed to meet that aim. The section you cite above is my work, not Laurence's, and future generations seemed to me to be a way of expressing the sentiment without getting into the detail: obviously you find a nuance in it that I don't, so I'll rethink that. However, you've reverted it to Haggard doesn't accept that this is true; he says the this is merely an "opinion" within the scientific community, which misquotes Haggard. I'm not interested in previous exchanges between you two, you've a right to edit Wikipedia, but not to insist on reverting other people's contributions to inaccurate or misleading previous versions of your own. You seem to have a problem with Dawkins saying 5,000 years, which he clearly does in the recording I made of the programme: where are you getting 10,000 years from? Another point is the validity of the moon having come from the earth: it's an interesting point which I think should be mentioned, but in a footnote to make it clear that it's not said in the programme, and since NASA don't suggest it came from the ocean it's not quite the same as the story Hawkes tells. In the programme this is less significant than Dawkins finding the idea of a "law-giver" being needed to stop dreadful behaviour a warped morality. I'll go through these again and will be glad to discuss points, but won't welcome unexplained mass reversions. ...dave souza, talk 20:29, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

First of all please don’t accuse me of “reverting other people's contributions to inaccurate or misleading previous versions of your own”. I’m doing my damnedest to do the exact opposite. Rather than argue about what Haggard and Dawkins did or didn’t say I thought I’d watch the episode again and record a short transcript of what they both said to the word:

Dawkins: The scientific method clearly demonstrates that the world is 4.5 billion years old. I mean, do you accept that?
Haggard: Yeah, you see what you’re doing is you are accepting some of the views that are accepted in some portions of the scientific community as fact; where in fact your grandchildren might listen to the tape of you saying that and laugh at you.
Dawkins: You wanna bet?

It seems to me that he is irked about Haggard’s implication that Dawkins own grandchildren might laugh at the scientifically proven age of the Earth. Haggard never says anything about future generations. I will put to you, with all respect, my belief that a passage such as “Haggard implies that this age is only accepted by some of scientific community and might seem laughable to future generations, at which an irked Dawkins asks if he wants to take a bet” is either an accidental or purposeful attempt to misrepresent what was said, regardless of who wrote it. Please change it to mention what Haggard said about Dawkins grandchildren, not about future generations.

I believe that “view” and “opinion” are synonyms (kind of like Ann Coulter believes “create” and “invent” are synonyms!) so I wasn’t purposely misquoting Haggard. Since that was indeed an accidental misquote I suggest that it left out.

When Adrian Hawkes spoke about the moon coming from the ocean I can say with some degree of certainty that he was not taught exactly that at school. The theory that the moon was like a drop of water coming of a spinning shaft due to centrifugal force required that the Earth be molten so the ocean would not come into it. The “big splash” theory of the origin of the moon is the most popular today and is slightly different to that one so you might be right about removing the NASA link.

I watched the section with Rabbi Gluck again and he did indeed say 5000 yeas, not 10,000 years. I was thinking of the Colorado Springs section when Dawkins said something along the lines of “half the country believes the universe is less than 10,000” years old. Sorry about that mistake. Miller 23:26, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

Glad to have your comments, I've tried revising the relevant parts to avoid these problems. Other editors have made some changes, and they appear satisfactory: please let me know if there are any points that still seem problematic. Your transcript of the age of the world exchange looks right to me: I took this as a general point, but your interpretation is just as valid: the current version in the article doesn't go into this particular detail. I've a dim recollection of an old idea that the moon had been knocked off by an impact, leaving a dip filled by an ocean, and though this is long superseded by plate tectonics it may be what Hawkes was remembering. The link seemed interesting enough to me to go in a footnote, but one other editor disagreed: I've restored it, but this can be reviewed. Dawkin's age of earth comment at the ending of the Gluck section was a pretty weak response, and related to an earlier unanswered question we'd not mentioned. I've left out that point, but added a footnote explaining meanings of "theory" and "law" and referred to Dawkins's "but that's in a very technical sense" comment. Hope you're contend with the way things are developing, your advice is welcome. ..dave souza, talk 09:30, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

I’ve made a few more edits to the Colorado Springs article now including the fact that Haggard mentions Dawkins grandchildren. I’ve done my best not to violate the NPOV rule and I tried my best not to portray Dawkins or Haggard in a positive or negative light. I just wanted to put in all the parts of the meeting that were relevant. I’m sure the meeting was much longer than is shown in the program and Dawkins edited it in such a way as to only show the most important parts. What do you think? Miller 15:19, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

I’ve read the sectarian education section again and I would say that it’s very well laid out and in my opinion not in need of further revision. Nice work. Miller 15:24, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

Generally I'm content with the description, though perhaps the section's getting a bit long. The editing comment rings true, except it would be the producers editing it for maximum interest to the TV audience rather than Dawkins getting to control it. The sentences towards the end of the Haggard interview are problematic for me: the programme transcript has this:

Dawkins: Really. You obviously know nothing about the subject of evolution.
Haggard: Or maybe you haven't me the people I have. [laughs] But you see. You do understand. You do understand that this issue right here of intellectual arrogance is the reason why people like you have a difficult problem with people of faith. I don't communicate an air of superiority over the people, because I know so much more. And if you'd only read the books I know, and if you only knew the scientists I knew, then you would be great like me. Well. Sir. There could be many things that you know well. There are other things that you don't know well. As you age, you'll find yourself wrong on some things, right on some other things. But please – in the process of it – don't be arrogant.

Your summary includes Haggard claims that some evolutionists he’s met have said that; although he fails to cite the people in question. The meeting draws to a close with Haggard claiming that an overdependence on science and a disregard for faith is “intellectual arrogance”: this makes points that don't seem to me to be in the original, so I've tried rephrasing it as implies that some (unnamed) evolutionists he’s met have said that and claiming that expressing knowledge of books and scientists forms “intellectual arrogance”. Hopefully that's closer to the original. ..dave souza, talk 10:28, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

I think that single quote is the best (and funniest) part of the whole series. A 65 year old Oxford professor being told by a 50 year old redneck that he’ll learn how he’s wrong with regard to science as he “ages”! And that point where he says well siiiiiiir and then goes to tell Dawkins not to be arrogant! Classic! What is meant be “intellectual arrogance” anyway? If someone has took it upon them to learn a multitude of scientific facts I don’t believe that makes them arrogant. Oh well. Miller 11:17, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

That and someone who preaches adherence to a book parodying "if you'd only read the books I know... then you would be great like me." Bit complex to get into a précis, have edited the article, and have added this transcript to Talk:The Root of All Evil? so all can consider the best summary of this weird statement. Thanks, ..dave souza, talk 11:38, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
Weird? Fucking hilarious more like! Miller 22:16, 12 August 2006 (UTC)


Ta. --Mais oui! 17:25, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

No problem, some of the old legal training still lingers. ..dave souza, talk 17:49, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Orkney Portal

A Portal I created recently, Portal:Orkney, has been nominated for deletion. If you wish to take part in the discussion please contribute at: Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion#Portal:Orkney

Thanks, Mallimak 18:22, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Having looked at this, I think it should be kept in hopes of future improvement. However at present both the portal and notice board suffer from the kind of attitude I've deplored elsewhere. There's clear evidence of Orcadian identity, but any resentment of neighbours should be impartially explained in detailed articles and not allowed to colour articles, particularly this introduction page. A lot of work is needed on improving Orkney articles: the History of the Orkney Islands has a much poorer prehistory coverage of the area than Prehistoric Scotland - Farmers and monument builders does: how about using that as a basis for an expanded article about ancient Orkney? Also, anyone got better photos of Knap of Howar, preferably with someone in the picture to give a sense of scale? I've some slides in the attic somewhere, but don't have a slide scanner or, for that matter, much time. Good luck with developing Orkney's coverage. ..dave souza, talk 17:14, 17 August 2006 (UTC)


The Orkney Portal has been deleted.

I have tried to contribute articles on topics about which I have knowledge, such as Orkney, but the articles have been subjected to constant destructive editing, and I have been subjected to repeated harassment, mainly by Mais oui!, that I see no point in continuing.

I have now joined the ever-growing category of disillusioned Wikipedians. Mallimak 01:09, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

I'm sorry you feel that way. From a look at the background you do seem to have trodden on several toes and been found likely to have engaged in improper practice by someone much more experienced and versed in these problems than myself. It's appreciated that it can be a bit of a battle at times, but my experience is that the best way to achieve well based improvements in articles is to be determined in carefully following the spirit and letter of Wikipedia policies and guidelines. Perhaps best to take a break and relax a bit, then if you can help with fully sourced improvements that'll be terrific. ..dave souza, talk 18:58, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

Dealing with vandals

Dave, Thanks for your note. I had a look and 'Test 4lm' would seem to be the most appropriate for what I had in mind-dealing with obvious and stupid corruption where 'graded warnings' and 'thank yous' are simply not appropriate. If you look at some of the recent corruption of the Cromwell page you will see what I mean. It's totally infantile, and I use this term advisedly because-from the words and expressions used-I cannot imagine it is anyone other than a child-or a very immature adult. Rcpaterson 03:51, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

Afraid so, response on your user page. ..dave souza, talk 22:30, 24 August 2006 (UTC)


That's strange, because there is no Highland accent as compared with a Lowland accent. Ross accents, for instance, sound similar to south-eastern accents for some reason than they do to Argyll accents, which in turn sound more like Glasgow accents, which in turn sound nothing like south-eastern accents. Seems to me your upbringing was no more Lowland than you decided to make it. Did you read much Stevenson and Scott? Leith, btw, is the name of the river. Inverleith, i.e. "Mouth of the river Leith", is the earliest name for the settlement. "Inver" is umabiguously Gaelic, though it is obviously possible that there was an earlier "Aberleith", "Inver" names are easily coined, witness for instance the mixed Latin-Gaelic foundation charter of the burgh of Ayr.[1] The Inver part was dropped, and hence the river needed a dab, hence "Water of Leith". The same phenomenon happened to Invernairn (Nairn) , Inverayr (Ayr) and Inverirvine (Irvine). Calgacus (ΚΑΛΓΑΚΟΣ) 14:14, 25 August 2006 (UTC)


I've tried and tried and tried to get your point across [2], but, like Jagger, I can't get no satisfaction. If science teachers knew enough about entropy and felt the need to use another word as a descriptor they could at least pick "reorder" instead of "disorder" or "chaos". Aaarrgggh. •Jim62sch• 13:31, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

How did you know the Stones played Glasgow last night, reminding me to pop into my local record shop and pick up a copy of Goat's Head Soup in memory of seeing them when they brought that out? Well I actually went in for It's Only Rock and Roll, but that never seems to be in stock. Will probably end up getting it online sometime. Anyway, glad to see that edit hasn't been reverted so far. It actually came about as I was idly browsing /. and in this rather scary article found the odd argument that "Machinery errors are caused by entropy []" so had a look and found the old nonsense in the intro. Article seems ok now as far as I can tell. Does the 2nd law imply a tendency of Wikipedia towards nonsense unless constantly resisted?, ...dave souza, talk 17:26, 26 August 2006 (UTC)

Scotland in the Late Middle Ages

Dave, I must ask for your help for one last time. I would like to nominate Scotland in the Late Middle Ages for deletion. All the work is mine, so I think my request is justified. I would be grateful if you could let me know how to go about this, or if you would submit it yourself. Many thanks for all your past advice and assistance. Regards, Rcpaterson 00:35, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

I can see why you're fed up, this business with templates seems to be an easy way to discourage interesting writing without giving any constructive assistance. The article itself is inappropriate for deletion, it's a valid part of the series on history, and your writing has been contributed: as far as I know there's no way to really take it back. The best thing is to take a break, look in again in a few weeks if you like and I'll try to improve the situation for then. If you could point to one or two sources for the article first that would be of great assistance. As I may have said before, my advantage in this project is that I'm not an expert, and write about things out of interest. However the difficulties for experts need to be reduced, not exaggerated. Your contributions have been very much appreciated for adding to people's knowledge and understanding of Scottish history in a lively and interesting way, and any concerns about style should be aiding rather than detracting from such contributions. ...dave souza, talk 09:32, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Vote concerning Scottish monarchs

There is a vote going on concerning the correct naming of early Scottish monarchs at Talk: Cináed I of Scotland. Your input would be appreciated.--Nydas 20:14, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Re Northern Ireland

Dave, re the constituent country on Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland, both communities use language to promote agendas that both validate their community's agenda while undermining the other's. Both communities try to play their wordgames on WP — they are so notorious that I have read articles about it in the Irish Times, the Sunday Independent and I forget if it was the Guardian, the Times or the Telegraph. The tone was that the Northern Irish have stopped fighting on the streets of Belfast and have moved their "War" to the pages of internet encyclopaedia Wikipedia! DJ, Demiurge, myself and others spend much of our time fighting off Unionist and Republican attempts to highjack language in this and other Northern Ireland articles. (Some months ago, one republican, Lapsed Pacifist became such a problem I had to refer his behaviour to the ardcom. He did a runner as soon as he found out they were going to review his behaviour.)

For that reason, Wikipedia avoids using any term in the hypersensitive context of Northern Ireland that is only used by one side and rejected, of seen as offensive, to the other. So we don't use the "Six Counties" (as you can see in the Northern Ireland article, where a user's attempt to put in the words in Irish were removed repeatedly tonight), British Occupied Ireland, Occupied Six Counties, North of Ireland or any terminology used exclusively by the Republican community but which is not merely not used by the Unionist community but is seen by them as offensive. Similarly we don't use Unionist terminology like "Ulster" because it too is only used by one community and rejected as offensive by the Nationalist and Republican communities. "Constituent Country" in the Northern Ireland context is another of these "exclusive to one side" terms which the other side rejects.

The key word is use. Yes we mention such terms. But we don't use them, because using one community's terminology is by definition indicating that we accept one side's viewpoint and by implication reject the other. Under NPOV we cannot take sides. So it doesn't matter if a term is used 1 time or 1 million times. If the usage is on one side of the community then it is too divisive a term to use. All we can do is mention that "x defines Northern Ireland as such-and-such, whereas y rejects that definition."

One research tip: parliamentary questions are universally rejected by researchers as unreliable sources of language usage. The reason is simple. If someone asks a question (known as a PQ — Parliamentary Question — in Britain, or a Dáil Question in Ireland) in parliament, the question gets passed down the line in the department until a junior civil servant gets the task of researching the answer. Ministers arrive into the chamber with a large A4 ring binder full of answers. So when "Question number 115" is asked, the Minister opens up the answer he or she has to 115 and reads it out. In theory they should be able to spot language usage mistakes, but often they don't. Language errors are notorious.

I heard a minister in the House of Commons once answer a question about a Boris Yeltsin in which Yeltsin, years after the abolition of the USSR, was described as "President of the USSR". Luckily the Foreign Office Minister was sufficiently awake to say "hold on. That can't be right. My apologies. There is an error in this answer." If you are a junior civil servant, and you are asked to research a question, you may not be au fait with the nuances of language. In the case of Micheál Martin's civil servant, they probably took down a book from a shelf that was published by HMG, copied the text and because they weren't aware that "constituent country" is a term only used by HMG and Unionists, used it. And the Minister just read what was in front of him and either didn't spot it or did but didn't want to have to correct himself, hoping instead that no-one noticed it. PQs are littered with such errors. The Republic of Ireland has been called Southern Ireland (a term scrapped in law in 1922) by accident in PQs. US Secretaries of State have issued press releases written by a civil servant in which they mixed up the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China. Answers have wrongly used old names like Zaire or Rhodesia, etc. South Africa in 1952 accidentially proclaimed its new queen, Elizabeth II, in the format used for her father in 1937, oblivious to the fact that the titles had changed. They spotted that she wasn't Empress of India and culled that in time, but accidentally proclaimed her "Queen of Ireland". The Irish state had to point out "em . . . we isn't our queen. We've been a republic for three years." South Africa responded in effect "oops. Sorreee about that."

So quoting individual PQs and Dáil Questions is pointless. They are famously littered with errors done by junior civil servants which either the minister didn't spot, or if s/he did, they said nothing lest they draw press coverage to the faux paux, then went back to the Department and gace the author of the answer a right bollicking. (I heard of one case in the UK of an angry minister, who had been landed with such an error, throwing the file at the civil servant. It was a very large heavy thing. It hit them in the face and broke their nose! They left the minister's office covered in blood, to questions of "Jesus. What did the Minister do to you?").

The key questions are not how many sources in general using google searches use a term but

  • which sources? (eg, the ones you listed were from the likes of DEFRA and the Dept of Constitutional Affairs, etc. That indicates British usage. But in the context of Northern Ireland, just British, or just Irish, usage is not adequate. There has to be evidence of both to show broadbased usage.)
  • how broadbased are they? (e.g., in Northern Ireland, are they exclusively Unionist, exclusively Nationalist, exclusively Republican, exclusively loyalist? If they are just one, or just Unionist/Loyalist or Nationalist/Republican then that indicates a lack of cross community acceptability for a term)
  • how much usage within each type of source? One or two examples of usage in the House of Commons or the Dáil is worthless. It may be unpresentative errors in answers, etc. But 50 to 100 examples proves widespread usage in the House. One edit is only useful if one is saying "a term exists". But a far higher threshhold is needed to be able to say "a term is widely used".

Finally, regarding documentary evidence of opposition to a term: in the Northern Ireland context documentary evidence is difficult. The reason is that both communities often don't say on the record "we don't accept such-and-such a term". What they do to indicate their rejection of it is to blank it and refuse to use it. I'll give a practical example. Some years ago I was part of a group of people who visited Northern Ireland to meet people from all sides. The youth wings of all the parties (bar DUP who wouldn't take part) met in the Crown bar in Belfast. Some members of the Young Unionists and Sinn Féin were each trying to goad each other by using terms the other wouldn't accept. Each played the game the same way, by ignoring the offensive term but using their own provocative term in response. So the conversion was in the form

SF member — the Six Counties was an apartheid state. Catholics were second class.
YUUP member — The Province was a fair society. What happened to Southern Ireland 's protestants? The finger should be pointed down there.
SF — Republicans weren't responsible for the Free State. But Unionists ran Occupied Ireland.
YUUP — Ulster practiced no discrimination.

You can see their game. Neither side said "we reject Six Counties/Occupied Ireland/Ulster/The Province etc. They responded in a verbal manner by using a term they knew the other side would be offended by, in effect giving a verbal "fuck you" response. And got a "fuck you" response back through use of other controversial names.

In the context of WP, getting evidence that says "x is unacceptable to my community" is difficult. That isn't how Northern Ireland work. Instead what you will get is terms that are exclusive to one community and which you will never ever find the other lot using. Ian Paisley will never call Northern Ireland the "Occupied Six Counties". Gerry Adams will not call Northern Ireland "Ulster". (He won't even call it "Northern Ireland"! But all Nationalists and some Republicans do, so it passes the cross-community threshhold.) So it is important here to know the relevant nuance of language. Luckily WP has some users who spot immediately when one side or the other try to push their language in articles in a way that makes their language appear accepted by WP (indicating that WP is on "our" side, not "your"side!) WP has been extraordinarily lucky to have the likes of Demiurge and Djegan to stop people from both communities sneaking in their language as part of an effort to use Wikipedia to allow their community win and have the other side lose. The success of Demuirge and Dj is shown in the fact that one week they can be demonised by Republicans as "Westbrits" and pro-Unionist for stopping Republican POV-pushing. The next week for stopping Unionist POV-pushing they get attacked as Republican fellow travellers. In fact they are nothing but damn good editors who do an amazing job keeping articles as sensitive as ones on Northern Ireland topics neutral, one helluva task.

The problem re constituent country on the Northern Ireland page is that Mal is unwilling to accept that a controversial feature in the article in a way that is explanatory (via a footnote with a neutrally worded link) and demands usage (which would indicate WP approval that the term is accurate, and so ipso facto those who oppose it are wrong).Where a term clearly lacks cross community support we cannot use it. Republicans went ballistic when DJ, myself and others defended its mention in a footnote (they say bias in its existence on the page!). Now Unionists like Mal are going ballistic because WP won't use it and so ipso facto validate it. As it is not a cross community term we can no more use it than we can Six Counties or Ulster. They are mentioned, not used, in the text. (Apologies for the great length. I don't think you understood the context of the issue here. As a credible Wikipedian you needed to be briefed on it.) FearÉIREANN \(caint) 04:43, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for the briefing, I do appreciate the complexities and haven't rushed into commenting on this. Your backing in having these terms properly mentioned and explained in the article is appreciated, and you'll have noted that I was not suggesting unqualified usage which some users might want. Oddly, given the sensitivity, "six counties" appears in the second sentence of the intro. The "constituent part" bit is labelled "(dubious assertion—see talk page)", so clearly work is needed to achieve proper NPOV in the lead. The Variations in geographic nomenclature section would seem a proper place to provide an explanation, as would Alternative names for Northern Ireland, both of which properly discuss even more contentious terms. Will try to have a go at this when time permits, ..dave souza, talk 09:40, 31 August 2006 (UTC)
A request for mediation has been filed with the Mediation Committee. It doesn't list you as a party, but you may wish to add yourself. Please review the request at Wikipedia:Requests for mediation/Northern Ireland and, if you wish, add you name and indicate that you agree to mediate. If you are unfamiliar with mediation, please refer to Wikipedia:Mediation. There are only seven days for everyone to agree, so please check as soon as possible. --Hroðulf (or Hrothulf) (Talk) 18:20, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia:WikiProject Scotland

Following a successful period of consultation WikiProject Scotland has now been launched. As a participant in the Scottish Wikipedians' notice board I wonder if you may be interested in this new endeavour too? If so, please sign-up here. The WikiProject will be replacing some of the functions of the notice board, especially those in the lower half.

While I am here, please also have a look at the new Wikipedia:WikiProject Deletion sorting/Scotland and give it a "Watch". It was started up by User:Visviva a few days ago, after long being mooted at the notice board, and effectively replaces all the AfD listings at the notice board. Being a transclusion of all the on-going discussions it is a much more useful tool.

Even if you do not want to spend too much time on the WikiProject, please give it a "Watch" and feel free to contribute to Talk page discussions: the more contributors the merrier.

All the best. --Mais oui! 10:31, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for the heads up: it looks a bit too organised at dishing out tasks for me to sign up, but appears very worthy and I've added it to my watchlist. ..dave souza, talk 21:42, 11 September 2006 (UTC)


If you get a second, could you have a quick look at my comment and suggestion here and let me know what your thoughts are? Cheers! Lianachan 16:16, 6 September 2006 (UTC)


That case was closed a while ago due to inactivity. Æon Insanity Now!EA! 19:46, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Ta. ..dave souza, talk 19:52, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

British Isles History

Hi, I have revised the British Isles history, which I think you have had a large hand in. It's not because I thought the original version was terrible, but I have tried to focus in on some things, as described on the talk page (which is currently blissfully quiet). Any road, I'd be very interested in any comments you might have, and obviously steam in and make whatever improvements you think necessary. I hope I have not made a sow's ear out of a silk purse MAG1 22:31, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Not quite so quiet now! At first glance there's a lot I like, though some omissions which I'll try to fix such as HenryVIII's role in Ireland and the reformations in England and Scotland. My intention was as brief as possible an overview of multt-national devlopments: there's a case for expanding sections into separate main articles with just a summary at BI. Your news about Microcosmus is very interesting: I've gone over development of terms at British Isles (terminology) and that's an area that needs expanding. Am a bit busy just now, but will try to get back onto the BI, and revise the history of the terminology there too: at present it sets out to show how British means UK so BI is wrong, the history section should be a neutral statement. By the way, the association of Brit with the main island seems to have started with the Romans using the term for their province: an early case of a term being used to claim territory not actually under their control! So it continues... dave souza, talk 23:44, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Hi, Thanks for the comment. I cut down the material on Henries VII and VIII from my draft, so that was probably a cut too far. What I found striking was the degree of centralisation imposed by the Tudors. Not so sure about the reformations: they are complicated, and I think they can be accommodated well within national histories. Yes it did get noisy again, didn't it, but the quality of debate has improved a great deal just recently. I think a lot of heat is generated because people forget that the nation state is quite a recent invention. From what I have seen, in the past people were happy to separate politics from ethnography, and Heylyn was probably right in saying that Britannia=lands where you find Britons. MAG1 12:05, 10 September 2006 (UTC)

Ta, too many other diversions at the moment but will try to have a look at it fairly soon. The point about the reformations was simply to briefly draw attention to the inter-nation impact, with Henry making Ireland a kingdom then aiding Scottish Calvinists (in a struggle that also involved France and hopes of both England and France of getting a "united kingdom" under their control, both ambitions being opposed in Scotland, but that's rather too detailed). A lot of the problem is that following development of the nation state terms were reimagined to suit nationalist arguments: examples being Briton and Celt. Which seems to make showing all viewpoints a rather touchy subject. ..dave souza, talk 16:48, 10 September 2006 (UTC)


Hi Dave, sorry to trouble you again but you're the only admin I know! My user page is being vandalised and I would appreciate some protection. Ideally I would like my userpage and all its subpages (present and future) to be protected from any edits apart from my own. But failing that, I would appreciate whatever level of protection is available. With thanks. Laurence Boyce 10:24, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

And please may we protect the Peter Hitchens article from anon edits too? Laurence Boyce 12:47, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

And please may we also shut down this account for impersonation? Laurence Boyce 13:45, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

Seems to have calmed down a bit by the time I'd looked into these problems, will watch out for any further flare ups, keep in touch. ...dave souza, talk 19:38, 14 September 2006 (UTC)


Hi Dave. I'm writing a Russian translation of Greenock and seeing you uploaded a lot of Greenock pictures, wondered if you could tell me when the Waterfront campus of the Watt College was opened, and maybe even upload a pic of any college building? --Saaska 14:53, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

Waterfront Campus residences
Here's all I've got to hand - the perspective's a bit wonky and it's the residences rather than the college. Will try to find the opening date and get some pics someday, but I'm not a wet weather photographer so timing's in the lap of the gods! ..dave souza, talk 21:01, 14 September 2006 (UTC)
That's one wish speedily granted. Thanks a lot! --Saaska 02:49, 15 September 2006 (UTC)
The weather, unpredictable as ever, was no bad the day. From verbal enquiries (and hope of an email) the Waterfront Campus opened in 1996 after delays to part of it meant it couldn't open in 1995. I saw and photographed the Prospectus 1996/97 cover and page headed From the Principal – Welcome to James Watt – which includes the statement that "Our new purpose built development, the Waterfront Campus, is now operational..." Hope that suffices, will get a more accurate date if the email gives enough detail to be worth checking the back issues of the local paper which are in the Watt Library (no connection with the college) but not catalogued. ...dave souza, talk 23:56, 15 September 2006 (UTC)


Concur with your removal of the disambiguation template - I've tried to do that before. Unhappy about giving credence to the "acronym" origin, though. I maintain that there are no Latin acronyms. Talk:Spa -- Ian Dalziel 17:23, 17 September 2006 (UTC)

Debunking the acronym origin's fine by me: see the talk page. Have a look at the sources google scholar turned up and let me know what you think. ..dave souza, talk 17:29, 17 September 2006 (UTC)
N.B. is not an acronym - neither is SPQR, which even earlier. The distinction is not hairsplitting in this case. Creation of words from initials, not abbreviation,is the modern phenomenon. -- Ian Dalziel 22:58, 17 September 2006 (UTC)
Nice point. My concern is that the "S.P.A." is not wholly improbable, but as the sources show it's not the likely option and a Walloon word for spring is much more plausible. ...dave souza, talk 00:05, 18 September 2006 (UTC)
I think I've left it suggesting it's possible, haven't I? The explanation does seem to be disturbingly widespread. I emailed Michael Quinion for his opinion - he replied, describing it as "egregious tosh"! Thanks for tidying the references, by the way. -- Ian Dalziel 09:48, 18 September 2006 (UTC)
Yes, you did. The source you found with the motto has a good history section, so I've changed the link to it and made things more explicit. Many thanks. ..dave souza, talk 09:56, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

Duplicate railway talk


Moved from article:

In the late1970s and 1980s stations on the line were equipped with automatic ticket barriers, similar to those used on the London Underground. Single tickets, return tickets and season tickets could be purchased. The ticket barriers were turnstiles. Above the barriers were red and green illuminated entry/no entry signs, plus an additional sign which was illuminated when a child fare ticket had been used.

Having moved to Gourock in 1980 and used the line a fair bit, I've no recollection of such turnstiles: they'd be completely impractical at Gourock, Fort Matilda and Greenock Central for starters. Evidence is needed of where and when such turnstiles were added and removed. If you really want photo evidence that they're not here, that can be supplied. ..dave souza, talk 20:21, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

They were installed on the line, without question. That leaves two questions, when were they installed and when were they removed?

I moved to Paisley during Easter (April) 1979 and I don't think they were installed at that time, as the season ticket was green card about 1" x 2.5"; but they were installed soon after that. I commuted five days per week down the line from Gilmour Street until about 1987/1988 and they were installed and used in that period. I'm certain they were on all stations between Glasgow Central and Bishopton, and I suspect all stations Langbank to Greenock Central. I can't answer for Fort Matilda and beyond.

I moved to Bishopton in 1988, but left in 1991 so I'm happy to accept that they were not present after about 1988. Several bolt holes were visible in the floor at Gilmour Street until the station was refurbished, as the barriers were relocated several times. Glasgow Central and Bishoton were also refurbished, so there is no evidence at these stations. I'm not sure when they were removed, possibly about the time the trains were painted Strathclyde Orange/mat black. Someone else mentioned APTIS and the train ticket inspectors had PORTIS, so the barriers probably went about the time APTIS/PORTIS was installed - but I cannot put a date to it. Gimour Street booking office was refurbished at that time and has also been refurbished since.

Returning to your comment about photographic evidence for 1980 onwards, what stations are you offering to provide evidence for? I'm adament they were installed on all stations from Glasgow Central to Bishopton and possibly Langbank & Greenock Central. Pyrotec 21:31, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

When I started at Paisley College in October 1980 they were not present at Gilmour Street or at Platforms 9 to 13 at Glasgow Central. I believe the system started to be taken out of use when the Transcard and Raillink family of tickets came into use around the time of the opening of the Argyle Line. In fact it was possibly the refurbishment of the Argyle Street entrance and installation of escalators that resulted in the removal of the automatic barriers to platforms 12 and 13.
Stewart 22:46, 22 September 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. I commuted from Easter 1979 to about 1988 so I know they were present sometime during that period. I've tracked down a definitive reference to APTIS/PORTIS: project authorised in 1983 and introduced in 1986. So they would have been removed, at the latest by 1986.

Incidently I walked passed Paisley College every morning to get to the train at Gilmour Street from about Oct 1979 to 1987/1988 when I moved to Bishopton. I assume you did a 4-year degree, so are you saying they were not present between Oct 1980 and when you graduated?

The old BR season ticket (1 month, 3 month, 12 months) did not suit me, as I only travelled 5 days per week and they were costed on a 7-day week. These machines did singles, returns, 5 or 10 journey tickets, but I used to buy somethink like 25 or 30 or 50 journey tickets as it saved money versus smaller demoninations. Perhaps these were Transcards - I can't remember. I never used the Argyle line until after 2000.

Incidently do you have a picture of the etched glass windows on the central island platforms at Gilmour Street? I half remember them as G&PJR, which if so would make them possibly original 1840's windows. Would go great in the wikipedia Glasgow & Paisley Joint Railway articlePyrotec 23:49, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

APTIS/PORTIS are described in Gourvish, Terry (2002). British Rail 1974-97: from Integration to Privatisation. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-926909-2, on pages 225, 226, 311 and references on page 594. He states (p225) that the origins of the project lay in the search of Automatic Revenue Collection or ARC, which began in 1970 with an experiment in Scotland, proceeded in rather leisurely fashion, and embraced a pilot scheme in the London area by the end of the decade. Ref 237 (P225) states "The Scottish experiment involved 'stored ride' ticketing on the Glasgow-Gourock-Weymess Bay line. See documents in Chief Executive's files, AN156/449, PRO: RE Minutes, 12 February and 22 October 1979. Campbell was particularly sceptical about the ARC pilot scheme on Southern Region. He told Reid, 'this seems to be comming a dodgier project almost every time I look at it': Cambell-Reid, 4 July 1979, AN156/449, PRO."

Not there yet, but I will prove that they were there - even better if I can find a Gourock photograph in my collection.

I suggest you check Anthony cfc 's page, he states on his home page 4th Year at St.Aloysius College, Glasgow, i.e. he was not born during this period, so much for objective evidence!!!!! Pyrotec 08:22, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

My memory from occasional train journeys is probably dodgy, and this is a bit over my head, suggest moving these recent comments and the discussion to the article talk page.. about 08.44, .forgot to sign dave souza, talk
Agreed, it would help to bring this discussion all together in an appropriate place. -- Stewart 08:46, 23 September 2006 (UTC)
I'm happy for the decisions to be moved. My real objection is the way the article was reverted twice (three times if you include me). The whole article is unreferenced, but the information about turnstiles was accurate within its context and it was a collective memory, not simply mine - it said they were there in the 1970s & 1980s, but they were probably only there from about 1980 to 1986. It never claimed they were there now. I find it total unacceptable that a school boy can sensor the information in the way it was done, i.e. "information is totally wrong" and revert it and then have you revert me after I reinstated it. The information appeared accurate to me as a commutor on the line in the 1980s. Anthony cfc was not born then, so he has no memory of the 1970s/80s; you had a memory and expressed it. There must be several tens of 1000s people who used the line daily and the tickets. I provided information to you as I discovered it to prove you both wrong. It turns out this information is in the Public Record Office, and in railway journals of the time. As far as I discovered wikipedia has little or no information about BR tickets, APTIS, etc,Pyrotec 17:03, 23 September 2006 (UTC)
Glad this seems to be getting sorted, sorry you've found the sequence unacceptable. Unfortunately edit summaries, while useful, don't convey such convictions very well, and as you appreciate memories are a useful starting point for research but aren't a relaible source as is needed. Looks like there's plenty to do about railways, but it's on its way to being an excellent resource. ..dave souza, talk 22:58, 23 September 2006 (UTC)
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