July 28th, 2008

Vlad the Impaler

Organizational Breakdown

In a modern day setting, how would a mystical, charitable organization (such as the Freemasons or Shriners) react to the total destruction of its financial backing? Would such a group file for bankruptcy or would it be handled another way? I have tried searching through Google and Wikipedia, and though Wikipedia had some information on the subject, I was hoping to find more detailed information. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Edit: To explain further, assume that the country in question is the United States, though the organization also exists in Europe. Additionally, while the organization is similar in structure to the Freemasons, it is most assuredly not the Freemasons. Finally, as previously mentioned, the total financial collapse of such an organization is unlikely. What would be a more likely scenario for such a group's dissolution, other than the individual members simply disbanding the group?
  • natane

Freak shows

Some rather vague questions, I know. I've googled some things, but I'd rather ask on here than trust my luck.
At what point in time did freak shows (as in, two-headed pigs, dead mermaid, other deformed or faked creatures) become widely known as fakes?
Or, to state this another way, would carnivalgoers at the turn of the century (maybe 1902-05) actually believe in the things they were shown, or would it be more of a amusing fake to them, like it's generally treated today?
How early ahead of time would the shows be advertised? I've read that they were generally advertised as the circus moved into town, relying on word of mouth.
When a circus came to town, wht was the religious response? Would churches preach against it?
Would a nine or ten-year-old (girl) be considered too young to look at the freak show part of the circus? I know today we would think young children would be scared, but the social standards were different.
If anyone knows where I could find more information, I'd be forever grateful.

Permanently disabling leg injury in a teenage boy

I want my lead character (sixteen at the time the story begins) to have suffered some kind of severe leg injury that has, after a lengthy recovery period, left him with a permanent limp. (I can work with him walking with a cane/crutches if necessary, but just the limp will do.) The main catch is that this story is set in the near-ish future and he has access to extremely high quality medical care, so the simplest solution of having an injury not heal properly is not necessarily viable.

I was thinking a badly shattered kneecap, but I'm having trouble figuring out the prognosis on that with the best possible healthcare. (Most of the personal accounts I can find online seem to be people with extra problems caused by limited access to PT and/or delays getting surgery or seeing doctors.) Is it reasonable, even with near-future technology and excellent aftercare, for a shattered kneecap to leave a teenager with a permanent limp? If not, what kind of extra or alternative injury would I need to throw in there?

A ballpark estimate of how long he might spend in the various stages of recovery - bedridden, using walking aids, undergoing PT - would also be fantastically useful.

I've tried Googling "permanent limp" with many permutations on 'leg/knee injury', 'shattered kneecap', 'fractured patella', but that's netted mostly personal injury lawyers and stuff about animal injuries. Had a bit of a poke around on www.mybrokenleg.com and www.kneeguru.co.uk too, but I think I need more of an idea what I'm looking for first.

Any help and/or suggestions greatly appreciated!

Two queries about executions

First query; England, 17th century, (Sorry, originally said 16th; it's too hot to think here! :-)
I want to know about hanging, drawing and quartering, or rather, I want to know specifically about quartering; I've googled for it, and found lots of information, but none gives me the specific detail I want to know. When a criminal was hanged, drawn, and quartered, they were hanged (without a long drop, so the neck wasn't broken), then their guts were drawn out, and then they were usually beheaded and their body was cut into pieces. My question is exactly how this was done; were the limbs removed from the torso (resulting in five pieces plus the head), or was the tosro itself quartered, resulting in four pieces, each including a limb with a bit of torso? Or something else? I've disovered that earlier, in France (and possibly other places), quartering was done by tying the limbs to four horses and whipping the horses, so tht they would tear the body apart; presumably this would result in three of the limbs being torn off, with the remaining one still being attached to the torso, but it seems that by the 16th century, in England, quartering was done by people rather than horses. Most of the accounts I've seen are non-specific, but do tend to mention cutting the body into quarters (which may be being used metaphorically rather than precisely). However, a contemporary woodcut of the execution of Guy Fawkes looks as though the legs were removed from the torso. Any pointers?

Secondly; mid-to-late 19th century, England (London specifically). I'm interested in how the corpses of hanged criminals were disposed of. The Warburton Anatomy act of 1832 made it legal to sell unclaimed corpses to anatomists (in an attempt to prevent the Resurrection men violating buried corpses or indeed murdering people in order to sell their bodies), and this would presumably include criminals, but I can't seem to find anything about how these sales were carried out; who sold the bodies? How much would one pay for a fresh corpse? Was the demand still outstripping the supply by, say, 1880? If my character wants to get his hands on a corpse, and is not attached to any medical school, how easy would it be for him to do so legally? And if he were able to buy a recently-hanged body, how fresh would it be by he time he got it? Would he collect it from the scaffold, as it were, or from the prison, somewhat later? Or would it take a day or two before he could claim it?

Any help much appreciated!

Effects of Being Culturally Relocated at a Young Age

Setting: Beginning in the late 1800's, ending in the early 2000's.
Location: Predominantly the French countryside.

So far, I've Googled "child psychology and removal", but to be honest, I have very little idea how to go about looking for this one. If anyone can give sources in addition to their answers, that would be greatly appreciated.

So, we have this character. He's a young boy who has been raised as a Roma for all of his life. Around the time that he turns twelve, his parents, desperate for food and money, end up selling him to an extremely wealthy French aristocrat. He is bought to be a companion for the aristocrat's daughter and is generally treated as the man's son. He continues to live within until he is roughly twenty-five, whereupon a horrible accident happens and he and the daughter are forced to flee the estate. Roughly a hundred years goes by between when these events take place and when the story begins (the afforementioned horrible events led to him becoming immortal, though that's of little consequence in regards to this question), and has done enough travelling in that time to drastically alter his concepts of the world.

My question, now, is thus: given the situation, how likely is he to still retain any of the codes and teachings of the Roma? It would seem by the time that he reaches twenty-five that he's given up on them, but given what little I know about child psychology, my thoughts are that a small part of him might still be trying to follow those codes. Is this true? What can anyone tell me about this?

ETA: This question is actually for a post-canon fanfic for the show Blood +, so the above explanation is a summary of the canon events.

fatherhood, avunculism, matrilineal descent

So far I've Googled/Wiki'd

Generative Uncle Nephew Relationships
Matrilineal Descent
Kinship and Descent (Iroquois Kinship, Eskimo Kinship, Hawaiian Kinship, Crow Kinship, Omaha Kinship, Sudanese Kinship)
Nuclear Family

Also followed links on a couple matriarchal and matrilineal groups.

What I'm trying to get at is hard for me to set down concretely.

This is a fantasy -- or at least, not-the-world-as-we-know-it -- setting. (No one is throwing firebolts or anything.)

I have two social groups grudgingly interacting with one another. One has a fairly run-of-the-mill definition of nuclear family -- mom and dad and kids, adults look after grandparents. There are some tweaks to this, but they aren't relevant to my question.

In the second society, matrilineal descent is the order of the day, and men bond far more with their sister's children than they do with their own blood children, whom they may never meet. (There is a fair bit of traveling.)

So I've got the social organization aspect down, more or less. But right now I am trying to get inside the head of a fellow from Society 2 who has actually met his son (who is being raised by mom from Society 1), and likes him well enough, but feels a greater responsibility to his sisters' kids "back home," and actually feels quite guilty he's been playing house with Society 1 mom for so long. Mom and son, firmly ensconced in Society 1, feel that they are married and a family and do not get this at all. I'm trying to get across the fact that Dad is not a deadbeat, but the situation still pretty much sucks.

I think what I'm after is recs of anecdotes or reading material, fiction or non, involving fathers who are not that emotionally attached to their biological kids, but to different kids. I realize it's a hard situation to replicate exactly, in modern-day Western society at least. (Heh -- I could also just avoid the whole thing by never writing anything from his point of view.)

Edited to add: I realized how extremely vague I was being after the fact, so to address a couple of things I'm seeing in the comments: Collapse )

Ack. I hope that made even a little sense.

Your speediness and knowledge continue to impress!
John Locke

Consequences of a character's disappearance (2 questions)

I have two somewhat related questions. This is a somewhat unusual and very specific situation, so I'm unsure even how to do a search for information. Setting: modern day small town in Ohio. Both questions involve the unexpected disappearance of my main character. He is gone for over two weeks. He has not told anyone where he was going or how long he would be gone, or even that he was leaving at all, and his roommate and his family and his employers are all fearing the worst. Eventually, he returns to his normal life. My questions are:

1) Since a missing persons report will probably be filed by his family, what legal consequences will he face upon returning suddenly? Will the police question him?


2) Right before he disappeared, his car died in the middle of a residential area and wouldn't start. He left it there intending to have it towed and fixed, but for certain reasons never ended up doing this. Obviously the car would eventually be towed while he was away. What are the steps he needs to take upon returning in order to get his car back? How long do towing companies hold cars, and if they are unclaimed for too long, what happens to the car? How long would a vehicle have to remain unclaimed for it to be resold (or whatever else would happen to it)?

Questions about a witness to a crime


My google-fu is failing me. I'm getting a lot of info about the U.K. (apparently there was a bill about witness anonymity in the news there), but not really any about the U.S.


Setting: Modern day, U.S. suburbs
Google/Wiki: Witness responsibility, witness procedures, witness privacy, witness anonymity

Situation: Man A is getting into his car when Man B walks up and asks him for a lift, hinting that he's in trouble. Man A refuses, and several days later learns Man B has been murdered.


1) Is Man A required to contact the authorities and mention the encounter? He'll have an alibi for the time of death, but is uncertain about stepping forward. If he does, I'm assuming he'll be put into contact with the investigators and asked to come in and give a statement.

2) How likely is it that Man B's family/friends would find out Man A's identity? Is that info part of the public record when it's an open investigation, or does it remain undisclosed until/unless someone's caught and there's a trial? Does Man A need to worry about being confronted about why he didn't help?

Updated: Thanks to everyone who replied!