September 19th, 2008

Surname change for a Japanese male

I'm writing a story set in modern Japan where the father of a newborn infant decides to take his new son and leave the mother behind.  So she can't track/reunite with them, I was wondering how possible it would be for him to change his name.  They're fleeing from Osaka to somewhere in Hokkaido, so it's less than two hours away, really.
  • The mother was not abusive in any way.  The father is leaving her (without her knowledge) because of her family background.
  • Would the father's family having government connections make this any easier (if it's allowed at all)?
  • The male is in his early to mid twenties.
Thank you in advance to anyone who's able to help!

ETA: The name change is solely to make sure that they're not easily found.  They were not married when the child was born.  I guess you could almost consider it a kidnapping, but not really since the father has custody to begin with.

Getting highland sheep/farm ready for winter

Research: books, Google, sheep-raising forums. Got lots of good information, but looking for specifics.

Setting: fictional, geography similar to Caucasus mountains (story written before the recent political events and not related), an agrarian, pre-industrial society based largely on sheep rearing.

I am not sure of precise altitude, but I think the setting would be in fairly sheltered valleys, so while there will be snow, winter would not normally be very severe, although they will be cut off from the world below.

Question: in late October or so - several weeks before the first snow could be expected, with the prospect of unusually early and severe winter, what would be some essential chores to complete? I just need to be able to say something like "They spent the next three days doing X." It doesn't have to be about sheep, necessarily.
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Realities of lashon hara

My story is sci-fi in nature, set a few hundred years in the future with colony worlds that have started to develop their own cultures. One of the cultures I'm centering on has essentially no sexism or racism, and is more polite/formal than is usual in the contemporary US.

One element of this politeness is similar to the prohibition against lashon hara, or 'evil speech', in Judaism. As I understand lashon hara, people are expected not to say damaging/unkind things, even if true, unless that silence could harm someone else.

Of course, none of us are perfect... and not being Jewish I'd like to have some first-hand perspectives on what happens then. How commonly is the rule broken, and how seriously is it taken when that happens? For a middling offense, what's the social punishment likely to be? Do parents have any particular ways of raising their children to avoid it?

Thanks!