While it might be fairly common for couples to get a divorce in the United States these days, it's certainly not easy. There are questions of support, custody issues if there are children involved, and bitter arguments over who gets to keep what; all of which can drag a divorce into months of stress. But what is it like in other cultures and in other times? In centuries past, in China, a divorce could be granted for any number of reasons, so long as the bride's family agreed to take her back. Aborigine women in Australia can convince their husbands to grant a divorce but if that's not working, then all they need to do is elope with someone else. The ancient Athenians and modern-day Eskimos share an extremely simple divorce process - live separately as though they were never married. In the UK, a man tired of his wife could slip a halter around her neck, lead her into town to the cattle market, and sell her to the highest bidder. Japan had a much more advanced view, however. Marriage was not sacred and divorce was not immoral - it was merely a mismatch between families. Women's dowrys were returned in the hopes of encouraging re-marriage. You can read more on Purple Slinky
, and on Hope's Blog
, and in this review.
I might have mentioned it before, but I'm planning on getting married this summer. To that end, I've been browsing the web, looking for stories about wedding related disasters, hoping to learn from the mistakes of others. Just this evening I found a bit of advice that had not occurred to me - think about what your new name will be, especially if you are considering whether or not to hyphenate. And here's why.
First up, apologies if this post contains more typos than usual, I'm sending it from my new ultra-small netbook and I'm still getting used to its itty-bitty keyboard. Which brings me nicely to my first story. That according to a survey for satellite channel SKY-HD, British consumers waste £52 billion a year on hi-tech features they don't use. For example, half of the people polled did not know their high definition television also required a hi-def signal source such as a blu-ray player or HD satellite receiver – like the ones sold by SKY-HD perhaps (Telegraph
And it's not just the the British, military officials in Russia recently discovered 100 front-line battletanks parked and forgotten by the side of the road near Yekaterinburg in the Urals. Locals say the tanks, which were unguarded and unlocked, have been there for several months and lack only ammunition and the all important starter keys (Reuters
Someone who might have had a use for those tanks were guests at a wedding in New Delhi in India recently. The Hindu ceremony was somewhat marred when an elephant hired for the event went on a rampage after becoming aroused by the smell of a nearby female in heat. The amorous pachyderm then proceeded to crush 20 limousines, smash through a nearby mall and mount a truck before it could be tranquilised (Orange
Also losing it this week was the man on the RyanAir flight who found he had won 10,000 euros on a scratchcard he bought on the budget flight from Poland to the UK. Furious that the airline had not seen fit to equip all their planes with the requisite amount of cash onboard, hence he could not be given his prize there and then as he demanded, the unnamed passenger ate the winning card rather than wait to claim it at his destination (BBC News
They say news travels fast, but in the speed stakes it can’t hold a candle to dumb. Circling the blogosphere like an angry Superman is news that security guard Jason Cooke has managed to sight the Loch Ness monster on Google Earth. The object, which Cooke claims exactly matches the descriptions of Nessie, is clearly visible as a quadrupedal, long-necked plesiosaur-like creature, and in no way could be the wake behind a boat or anything mundane like that. This latest find comes as a relief to many cryptozoologists, who had expressed concerns that the dearth of recent sightings might mean Nessie had fallen victim to Global Warming (Telegraph
Or perhaps this is simply proof that Scottish universities have got the jump on their transatlantic counterparts? In a move nearly, but not quite, totally unlike Jurassic Park, Professor Hans Larsson of McGill University in Montreal has announced that he hopes to de-evolve chickens back into their dinosaur ancestors. Larsson stressed that he is not aiming to recreate whole
dinosaurs at this time, but by switching on or off certain genes in chick embryos he hopes to induce atavistic dinosaur anatomy in the full grown animals (AFP
Not @%#&?! likely! But this post is on a subject close to my heart, pain (must see a doctor about that).
Cartoon expletives aside, a bit of invective can do you the world of good, or so said scientists recently. A research team from from Keele University asked volunteers to hold their hand in freezing water for as long as they could manage while repeating either an innocuous word or the swear-word of their choice. The swearers held out for an average of two minutes, while non-swearers managed only 1 minute 15 seconds. But while Rohan Byrt of the Casual Swearing Appreciation Society claimed the study demonstrated the benefits of swearing, team leader Richard Stephens warned that everyday swearing would lessen its painkilling effects. "Swearing is emotional language" he explained, "but if you overuse it, it loses its emotional attachment" (BBC News
From this week, pregnant women throughout Britain considering "letting it out" to help with the pain might also want to direct their curses towards Dr Denis Walsh, associate professor of midwifery at Nottingham University in England. In an article in the journal Evidence Based Midwifery
, Dr Walsh claimed last week that the pain of childbirth was useful and a "timeless rite of passage", and women should not be trying to avoid it with epidural anaesthesia. Walsh based his statement on the fact that the use of epidurals has almost doubled in the past two decades, claiming that in 20% of cases, the procedure was unnecessary. While some, like Dr. Justin Clarke of the Birmingham Women's Hospital, rejected Walsh's data, saying it was wrong to characterise modern women as "less stoical", others supported him, such as Mary Newburn of the National Childbirth Trust who spoke of there being an "epidural culture" (Telegraph
But perhaps women might be convinced to trade in the needle for a fancy rubber suit? Baltimore company Under Armour has developed a hi-tech, full length bodysuit that is said to allow athletes recover more quickly after strenuous activity. Under Armour's "Recharge" range gently squeezes the athlete's body forcing excess fluid out of the muscles and back into the bloodstream over a period of hours after a workout, reversing the "pumped" effect of the exercise. Research by the University of Connecticut showed that doing so resulted in subjects feeling less soreness and swelling of the muscles and recuperating faster (Journal Gazette
In Saudi Arabia it is the groom who traditionally bears the cost of the marriage, and often men will put off the event to save for a bigger ceremony. So the prize of an all-expenses-paid wedding by a Saudi charity is quite an offer, even when it does come with a catch. To enter the draw you have to give up smoking. The charity "Purity", who is behind the campaign, will award the grand prize plus 20 runners-up prizes of free furniture in August, with all the winners being drawn from those men who complete a seven-day course on quitting. Hundreds of men have entered, including one who admitted taking up smoking just so he could enter by quitting (BBC News
Mind you, it might be as well to get as healthy as possible before the big day, because according to recent research, marriage puts pounds on you. Lona Sandon, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, claims that newlyweds commonly gain up to 10 pounds in the months following the wedding. But before anyone assumes this is scientific proof that your partner has let himself/herself go, be advised that most often both partners gain weight together (Examiner
Meanwhile, in Japan, most of the weight gain is starting to happen before the ceremony, as it is becoming increasingly common for the bride to be "eating for two". What was a shameful thing in Japan less than a generation ago is now being increasingly celebrated as a dekichatta kon
or "double joy" wedding. According to Chika Hirotani of Watabe Wedding as many as 20% of weddings they supply are so blessed (Telegraph
Another sort of double joy wedding also took place in Russia this week, when twin brothers married twin sisters in a twin ceremony. Alexei and Dimitry Semyonov finally tied the knot with their sweethearts Lilia and Liana after the four of them met at a dance party a year ago (MOS News
). A video of the ceremony
is also available (if you sit through the advertisement).
Just a few days ago, a newly wed couple from Poland had an argument shortly after cutting the cake at their wedding reception and left the party to seek an annulment. Could this be the shortest marriage on record? Perhaps. I suppose it will depend on how quickly an annulment is granted... if they even qualify for one. But at least this couple is in good company. Robin Givens
ended her marriage to Svetozar Marinkovic (who?) on the same day. Did he need a green card or something? Zsa Zsa Gabor's
marriage to Felipe De Alba was a twenty-four hour deal, ruled illegitmate because Zsa Zsa was still technically married to Michael O’Hara. This will teach you all to double-check that the ink on your divorce papers is actually dry. Britney Spears
taught us that you can get divorced in Las Vegas as quickly as you can get married, when she ended her fifty-five hour marriage to Jason Alexander. And who could forget Drew Barrymore's
short-lived marriage (28 days) to Jeremy Thomas? You can read about the Polish couple here.
Aren't you glad to see that the sacred institution of marriage is being taken so seriously?
June, the month of weddings, is practically around the corner. Why not plan for an underwater one, like this couple from 1954, courtesy of the Life
Online Photo Archives...?
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All original content in posts is Copyright © 2008 by the author of the post, either Alex Boese ("Alex"), Paul Di Filippo ("Paul"), or Chuck Shepherd ("Chuck"). All rights reserved. The banner illustration at the top of this page is Copyright © 2008 by Rick Altergott.