Analysis Paralysis

image from upload.wikimedia.org

"During World War II, Winston Churchill, after hearing that the landing craft designers were spending the majority of their time arguing over design changes, sent this message: "The maxim 'Nothing avails but perfection' may be spelt shorter: 'Paralysis.'"

Yesterday LACBA hosted a webinar with a panel of family court judges on Alternative Dispute Resolution now the courts for the most part are temporarily closed. In discussing the dynamics of settlement (and negotiating generally) one of the judges referred to the concept of analysis paralysis from behavioral economics that impairs rationale decision making choices. Is is a perspective that really applies to any situation where we make difficult decisions in life. For more https://lnkd.in/die54_R.

The Adultery Arms Race: Atlantic Monthly

The Adultery Arms Race: Read Article

Technology has made cheating on your spouse, or catching a cheater, easier than ever. How digital tools are aiding the unfaithful and the untrusting—and may be mending some broken marriages.

                                All illustrations by Kristian Hammerstad           

Jay’s wife, Ann, was supposed to be out of town on business. It was a Tuesday evening in August 2013, and Jay, a 36-year-old IT manager, was at home in Indiana with their 5-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son when he made a jarring discovery. Their daughter had misplaced her iPad, so Jay used the app Find My iPhone to search for it. The app found the missing tablet right away, but it also located all the other devices on the family’s plan. What was Ann’s phone doing at a hotel five miles from their home?

His suspicions raised, Jay, who knew Ann’s passwords, read through her e-mails and Facebook messages. (Like others in this story, Jay asked that his and Ann’s names be changed.) He didn’t find anything incriminating, but neither could he imagine a good reason for Ann to be at that hotel. So Jay started using Find My iPhone for an altogether different purpose: to monitor his wife’s whereabouts.

Two nights later, when Ann said she was working late, Jay tracked her phone to the same spot. This time, he drove to the hotel, called her down to the parking lot, and demanded to know what was going on. Ann told him she was there posing for boudoir photos, with which she planned to surprise him for his upcoming birthday. She said the photographer was up in the room waiting for her.

Jay wanted to believe Ann. They’d been married for 12 years, and she had never given him cause to distrust her. So instead of demanding to meet the photographer or storming up to the room, Jay got in his car and drove home.

Still, something gnawed at him. According to Ann’s e-mails, the boudoir photo shoot had indeed taken place—but on the previous day, Wednesday. So her being at the hotel on Tuesday and again on Thursday didn’t make sense. Unless …

In an earlier era, a suspicious husband like Jay might have rifled through Ann’s pockets or hired a private investigator. But having stumbled upon Find My iPhone’s utility as a surveillance tool, Jay wondered what other apps might help him keep tabs on his wife. He didn’t have to look far. Spouses now have easy access to an array of sophisticated spy software that would give Edward Snowden night sweats: programs that record every keystroke; that compile detailed logs of our calls, texts, and video chats; that track a phone’s location in real time; that recover deleted messages from all manner of devices (without having to touch said devices); that turn phones into wiretapping equipment; and on and on.

Jay spent a few days researching surveillance tools before buying a program called Dr. Fone, which enabled him to remotely recover text messages from Ann’s phone. Late one night, he downloaded her texts onto his work laptop. He spent the next day reading through them at the office. Turns out, his wife had become involved with a co-worker. There were thousands of text messages between them, many X‑rated—an excruciatingly detailed record of Ann’s betrayal laid out on Jay’s computer screen. “I could literally watch her affair progress,” Jay told me, “and that in itself was painful.”

One might assume that the proliferation of such spyware would have a chilling effect on extramarital activities. Aspiring cheaters, however, need not despair: software developers are also rolling out ever stealthier technology to help people conceal their affairs. Married folk who enjoy a little side action can choose from such specialized tools as Vaulty Stocks, which hides photos and videos inside a virtual vault within one’s phone that’s disguised to look like a stock-market app, and Nosy Trap, which displays a fake iPhone home screen and takes a picture of anyone who tries to snoop on the phone. CATE (the Call and Text Eraser) hides texts and calls from certain contacts and boasts tricky features such as the ability to “quick clean” incriminating evidence by shaking your smartphone. CoverMe does much of the above, plus offers “military-grade encrypted phone calls.” And in the event of an emergency, there’s the nuclear option: apps that let users remotely wipe a phone completely clean, removing all traces of infidelity.

But every new app that promises to make playing around safer and easier just increases the appetite for a cleverer way to expose such deception. Some products even court both sides: a partner at CATE walked me through how a wife could install the app on her husband’s phone to create a secret record of calls and texts to be perused at her leisure. Which may be great from a market-demand standpoint, but is probably not so healthy for the broader culture, as an accelerating spiral of paranoia drives an arms race of infidelity-themed weapons aimed straight at the consumer’s heart.


Every tech trend has its early adopters. Justin, a 30-year-old computer programmer from Ohio, is at the vanguard of this one.

Justin first discovered CATE on the September 21, 2012, episode of Shark Tank, ABC’s venture-capital reality show. The Call and Text Eraser, pitched specifically as a “cheating app,” won $70,000 in seed money on the program. Justin knew he had to have it.

His girlfriend at the time—we’ll call her Scarlett—was “the jealous type,” forever poking through his smartphone and computer. Not that he could blame her, given that she’d already busted him once for having sex with another woman. “It took a lot of talking and a lot of promising that it wouldn’t happen again,” he told me over e-mail. (I found Justin through a user review of CATE.) “So her wanting to check up on me was understandable,” he allowed. “But at the same time, it was my business and if I wanted to share I would have.”

Even a not-so-jealous girlfriend might have taken exception to many of the messages on Justin’s phone: “casual texting” (that is, flirting) with other women, “hard core” (explicitly sexual) texting, texts arranging “hookups.” In the past, he’d been busted repeatedly for such communiqués. (Scarlett is not the only girlfriend with whom Justin has found monogamy to be a challenge.) With CATE, all Justin had to do was create a list of contacts he didn’t want Scarlett to know about, and any incriminating texts and phone calls with those contacts got channeled directly into a pass-code-protected vault.

CATE is just one of many tools Justin uses to, as he puts it, “stay one step ahead.” His go-to method for exchanging explicit photos is Snapchat, the popular app that causes pics and videos to self-destruct seconds after they are received. (Of course, as savvy users know, expired “snaps” aren’t really deleted, but merely hidden in the bowels of the recipient’s phone, so Justin periodically goes in and permanently scrubs them.) And for visuals so appealing that he cannot bear to see them vanish into the ether, he has Gallery Lock, which secretes pics and videos inside a private “gallery” within his phone.

Justin wound up cheating on Scarlett “several more times” before they finally broke up—a pattern he’s repeated with other girlfriends. Oh, sure, he enjoys the social and domestic comforts of a relationship (“It’s always nice to have someone to call your girl”). He understands the suffering that infidelity can cause (“I have been cheated on so I know how much it hurts”). He even feels guilty about playing around. But for him, the adrenaline kick is irresistible. “Not to mention,” he adds, “no woman is the same [and] there is always going to be someone out there who can do something sexually that you have never tried.” Then, of course, there’s “the thrill of never knowing if you are going to get caught.”

All of which makes it more than a little troubling that, while laboring to keep one semiserious girlfriend after another in the dark with privacy-enhancing apps, Justin has been equally aggressive about using spy apps to keep a virtual eye on said girlfriends.

Therapists say they’re seeing more spouses casually tracking each other, and lawyers are starting to recommend digital-privacy clauses for prenup and postnup agreements.

Justin has tried it all: keystroke loggers, phone trackers, software enabling him to “see text messages, pictures, and all the juicy stuff … even the folder to where your deleted stuff would go.” He figures he’s tried nearly every spy and cheater app on the market, and estimates that since 2007, he has “kept tabs,” serially, on at least half a dozen girlfriends. “The monitoring is really just for my peace of mind,” he says. Plus, if he catches a girlfriend straying, “it kind of balances it out and makes it fair.” That way, he explains, if she ever busts him, “I have proof she was cheating so therefore she would have no reason to be mad.”

Not that Justin is immune to the occasional flash of jealousy. More than once, he has gone out to confront a girlfriend whose phone revealed her to be somewhere other than where she’d claimed to be. One relationship ended with particularly dramatic flair: “The phone went to the location off of a country road in the middle of nowhere and there she was having sex in the backseat of the car with another man.” A fistfight ensued (with the guy, not the girlfriend), followed later by “breakup sex” (vice versa). One year on, Justin says, “I still don’t believe that she has figured out how I found out.”

Justin knows that many folks may find his playing both sides of the cheating-apps divide “twisted.” But, he reasons, “I am doing it for my safety to make sure I don’t get hurt. So doesn’t that make it right??”

Right or wrong, cheating apps tap into a potentially lucrative market: While the national infidelity rate is hard to pin down (because, well, people lie), reputable research puts the proportion of unfaithful spouses at about 15 percent of women and 20 percent of men—with the gender gap closing fast. And while the roots of infidelity remain more or less constant (the desire for novelty, attention, affirmation, a lover with tighter glutes … ), technology is radically altering how we enter into, conduct, and even define it. (The affairs in this piece all involved old-school, off-line sex, but there is a growing body of research on the devastation wrought by the proliferation of online-only betrayal.) Researchers regard the Internet as fertile ground for female infidelity in particular. “Men tend to cheat for physical reasons and women for emotional reasons,” says Katherine Hertlein, who studies the impact of technology on relationships as the director of the Marriage and Therapy Program at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. “The Internet facilitates a lot of emotional disclosure and connections with someone else.”

At the same time, privacy has become a rare commodity. Forget the National Security Agency and Russian mobsters: in a recent survey conducted in the United Kingdom, 62 percent of men in relationships admitted to poking around in a current or ex-partner’s mobile phone. (Interestingly, among women, the proportion was only 34 percent. So much for the stereotype of straying guys versus prying gals.) On the flip side, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, 14 percent of adults have taken steps to hide their online activity from a family member or romantic partner. Therapists say they’re seeing more spouses casually tracking each other as well as more clashes over online spying, and lawyers are starting to recommend digital-privacy clauses for prenup and postnup agreements. Such clauses aim to prevent spouses from using personal texts, e‑mails, or photos against each other should they wind up in divorce court.

Tech developers by and large didn’t set out looking to get involved. As is so often the case with infidelity, it just sort of happened. Take Find My iPhone. Apple did not create the app with suspicious lovers in mind, but users pretty quickly realized its potential. Dr. Fone is marketed primarily as a way to recover lost data. Likewise, messaging apps such as Snapchat have many more uses than concealing naughty talk or naked photos, but the apps are a hit with cheaters.


The multipurpose nature and off-label use of many tools make it difficult to gauge the size of this vast and varied market. The company mSpy offers one of the top-rated programs for monitoring smartphones and computers; 2 million subscribers pay between $20 and $70 a month for the ability to do everything from review browsing history to listen in on phone calls to track a device’s whereabouts. Some 40 percent of customers are parents looking to monitor their kids, according to Andrew Lobanoff, the head of sales at mSpy, who says the company does basic consumer research to see who its customers are and what features they want added. Another 10 to 15 percent are small businesses monitoring employees’ use of company devices (another growing trend). The remaining 45 to 50 percent? They could be up to anything.

Apps marketed specifically as tools for cheaters and jealous spouses for the most part aren’t seeing the download numbers of a heavy hitter like, say, Grindr, the hookup app for gay men (10 million downloads and more than 5 million monthly users). But plenty have piqued consumer interest: The private-texting-and-calling app CoverMe has more than 2 million users. TigerText, which (among other features) causes messages to self-destruct after a set amount of time, has been downloaded 3.5 million times since its introduction in February 2010. (It hit the market a couple of months after the Tiger Woods sexting scandal, though the company maintains that the app is not named for Woods.)

Once the marketplace identifies a revenue stream, of course, the water has been chummed and everyone rushes in for a taste. By now, new offerings are constantly popping up from purveyors large and small. Ashley Madison, the online-dating giant for married people (company slogan: “Life is short. Have an affair.”), has a mobile app that provides some 30 million members “on the go” access to its services. Last year, the company introduced an add-on app called BlackBook, which allows users to purchase disposable phone numbers with which to conduct their illicit business. Calls and texts are placed through the app much as they are through Skype, explains the company’s chief operating officer, Rizwan Jiwan. “One of the leading ways people get caught in affairs is by their cellphone bill,” he observes. But with the disposable numbers, all calls are routed through a user’s Ashley Madison account, which appears on his or her credit-card statements under a series of business aliases. “The phone number isn’t tied to you in any way.”

Both sides of the arms race have ego invested in not getting outgunned. Stressing Ashley Madison’s obsession with customer privacy, Jiwan boasts that the shift from computers to mobile devices makes it harder for members to get busted. “It’s much more difficult to get spyware on phones,” he told me. But mSpy’s Lobanoff pushed back: “All applications can be monitored. Let me make it clear for you. If you provide us what application you would like to track, within two weeks we can develop a feature to do that.” It all boils down to demand. For instance, he notes, after receiving some 300 calls from customers looking to monitor Snapchat, the company rolled out just such a feature.

Lobanoff admits that iPhones are tougher to monitor than phones from other brands, because Apple is strict about what runs on its operating system (although many Apple users “jailbreak” their devices, removing such limits). Which raises the question: Is an iPhone a good investment for cheaters worried about being monitored—or would it too tightly restrict their access to cheating apps? Such are the complexities of modern infidelity.

Of course, no app can remove all risk of getting caught. Technology can, in fact, generate a false sense of security that leads people to push limits or get sloppy. Justin has had several close calls, using CATE to conceal indiscreet texts and voicemails but forgetting to hide explicit photos. When a girlfriend found a naked picture of him that he’d failed to delete after sexting another woman, Justin had to think fast. “The way I talk my way out of it is that I say I was going to send it to her.” Then, of course, there is the peril of creeping obsolescence: after several months, regular upgrades to the operating system on Justin’s phone outpaced CATE’s, and more and more private messages began to slip through the cracks. (A scan of user reviews suggests this is a common problem.)

Virtual surveillance has its risks as well. Stumbling across an incriminating e‑mail your partner left open is one thing; premeditated spying can land you in court—or worse. Sometime in 2008 or 2009, a Minnesota man named Danny Lee Hormann, suspecting his wife of infidelity, installed a GPS tracker on her car and allegedly downloaded spyware onto her phone and the family computer. His now-ex-wife, Michele Mathias (who denied having an affair), began wondering how her husband always knew what she was up to. In March 2010, Mathias had a mechanic search her car. The tracker was found. Mathias called the police, and Hormann spent a month in jail on stalking charges. (It’s worth noting that a second conviction, specifically for illegally tracking her car, was overturned on appeal when the judge ruled that joint ownership gave Hormann the right to install the GPS tracker.)

Staying on the right side of the law is trickier than one might imagine. There are a few absolute no-nos. At the top of the list: never install software on a device that you do not own without first obtaining the user’s consent. Software sellers are careful to shift the legal burden onto consumers. On its site, mSpy warns that misuse of the software “may result in severe monetary and criminal penalties.” Similarly, SpyBubble, which offers cellphone-tracking software, reminds its customers of their duty to “notify users of the device that they are being monitored.” Even so, questions of ownership and privacy get messy between married partners, and the landscape remains in flux as courts struggle to apply old laws to new technology.

In 2010, a Texas man named Larry Bagley was acquitted of charges that he violated federal wiretapping laws by installing audio-recording devices around his house and keystroke-monitoring software on his then-wife’s computer. In his ruling, the district judge pointed to a split opinion among U.S. circuit courts as to whether the federal law applies to “interspousal wiretaps.” (The Fourth, Sixth, Eighth, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuit Courts said it does, he noted; the Second and Fifth said it doesn’t.) Similarly, in California, Virginia, Texas, Minnesota, and as of this summer New York, it is a misdemeanor to install a GPS tracker on someone’s vehicle without their consent. But when a vehicle is jointly owned, things get fuzzy.

“I always tell people two things: (1) do it legally, and (2) do it right,” says John Paul Lucich, a computer-forensics expert and the author of Cyber Lies, a do-it-yourself guide for spouses looking to become virtual sleuths. Lucich has worked his share of ugly divorces, and he stresses that even the most damning digital evidence of infidelity will prove worthless in court—and potentially land you in trouble—if improperly gathered. His blanket advice: Get a really good lawyer. Stat.


Such apps clearly have the potential to blow up relationships, but the question now may be whether they can be used to salvage them as well. Many of the betrayed partners I spoke with believe they can.

A couple of years ago, Ginger discovered that her husband, Tim, was having an affair with a woman he’d met through a nonprofit on whose board he sat. (As Ginger tells it, this was a classic case of a middle-aged man having his head turned by a much younger woman.) The affair lasted less than a year, but it took another eight months before Tim’s lover stopped sending him gifts and showing up in awkward places (even church!).

Ginger and Tim decided to tough it out—they’ve been married for 35 years and have two adult children—but that took some doing. For the first year and a half, certain things Tim did or said would trigger Ginger’s anxiety. He would announce that he was going to the store; Ginger would fire up her tracking software to ensure he did just that. Business travel called for even more elaborate reassurances. “When he was away, I would be like, ‘I want you to FaceTime the whole room—the bathroom, the closet; open the hallway door.’ ”

Ginger’s anxiety has dimmed, but not vanished. She still occasionally uses Find My iPhone to make sure Tim is, in fact, staying late at the office. “And we use FaceTime all the time. He knows that if I try to FaceTime him, he’d better answer right then or have a very, very good reason why he didn’t.”

Jay and Ann, of the boudoir photo shoot, also decided to try to repair their marriage. When he first confronted her with a record of her texts, Ann denied that the sex talk was ever more than fantasy. But when Jay scheduled a polygraph, she confessed to a full-blown, physical affair.

As hard as it has been for Jay, one year later he reports that tech tools are helping. Ann’s affair grew out of her sense of neglect, Jay told me: “She wasn’t getting the attention she wanted from me, so she found someone else to give it to her.” To strengthen their bond, Jay and Ann have started using Couple, a relationship app geared toward promoting intimacy by setting up a private line of communication for texts, pics, video clips, and, of course, updates on each person’s whereabouts. Every now and again, Jay sneaks a peek at Find My iPhone. He also has set his iPad to receive copies of Ann’s texts. “I don’t know if she realizes I’m doing that,” he told me. But in general, she understands his desire for extra oversight. “She’s like, ‘Whatever you want.’ ”

In fact, post-affair surveillance seems to be an increasingly popular counseling prescription. Even as marriage and family therapists take a dim view of unprovoked snooping, once the scent of infidelity is in the air, many become enthusiastically pro-snooping—initially to help uncover the truth about a partner’s behavior but then to help couples reconcile by reestablishing accountability and trust. The psychotherapist and syndicated columnist Barton Goldsmith says he often advocates virtual monitoring in the aftermath of an affair. Even if a spouse never exercises the option of checking up, having it makes him or her feel more secure. “It’s like a digital leash.”

Once the scent of infidelity is in the air, many therapists encourage snooping—to help uncover the truth, but also to reestablish accountability and trust in couples looking to reconcile.

And that can be a powerful deterrent, says Frank, whose wife of 37 years learned of his fondness for hookers last February, after he forgot to close an e‑mail exchange with an escort. “He had set up a Gmail account I had no idea he had,” Carol, his wife, told me. Frank tried to convince her that the e-mails were just spam, even after she pointed out that the exchange included his cell number and photos of him.

Frank agreed to marriage counseling and enrolled in a 12-step program for sexual addiction. Carol now tracks his phone and regularly checks messages on both his phone and his computer. Still, she told me sadly, “I don’t think that I’m ever going to get the whole story. I believe he thinks that if I know everything, the marriage will come to an end.”

For his part, Frank—who comes across as a gruff, traditional sort of guy, uneasy sharing his feelings even with his wife—calls Carol’s discovery of his betrayal “excruciating,” but he mostly seems angry at the oversexed culture that he feels landed him in this mess. He grumbles about how “the ease and the accessibility and the anonymity of the Internet” made it “entirely too easy” for him to feed his addiction.

Frank has clearly absorbed some of the language and lessons of therapy. “As well as it is a learned behavior to act out, it is a learned behavior not to,” he told me. He doesn’t much like his wife’s having total access to his phone, but he claims that his sole concern is for the privacy of others in his 12-step group, who text one another for support. Frank himself clearly feels the tug of his digital leash. “Now that she checks my phone and computer, I have a deterrent.”

Even as he calls virtual surveillance “a powerful tool,” though, Frank also declares it a limited one. No matter how clever the technology becomes, there will always be work-arounds. For someone looking to stray, “absolutely nothing is going to stop it,” says Frank, emphatically. “Nothing.”

Los Angeles Divorce

Woman Sued Over T-Shirt That Says 'My Ex-Husband Is An A-Hole

A Spanish divorcée's purse is somewhat lighter after she posted photos on Facebook of herself wearing a t-shirt declaring "My ex-husband's an arsehole" - and was ordered to pay €1,000 damages for her trouble.

According to local news reports, the 40-year-old slapped up the snaps in 2010. In December of that year, her former other half – they divorced in 2005 – spotted the offending images and filed suit for "dignitary tort".Read article


A Star Trek Divorce

Hinckley Star Trek flat faces uncertain future

From the BBC

Tony Alleyne took BBC Newsnight on a tour of the flat in 2009. A Leicestershire Star Trek fan who turned his home into the Starship Enterprise has said his work could be destroyed by the sale of the flat. Tony Alleyne, 58, has spent 10 years and more than £30,000 transforming the Hinckley flat, but now his ex-wife, who owns the property, needs to sell up. The apartment features a replica flightdeck with full voice recognition technology. Mr Alleyne said the thought of living in a conventional house was "scary". "The more I say it, the more horrible it sounds," Mr Alleyne said. "I try not to think about it as the dismantling of the apartment is scheduled for August time if we don't find a buyer." 'Nightmares' over move In 2006 Mr Alleyne filed for bankruptcy after spending about £100,000 to start up a company which offered Star Trek makeovers. But the scheme was funded by loans and credit cards and he was left with debts of £166,000. "I don't really want to entertain the idea of not living here," he said. "The idea of living in a conventional environment, well I sometimes have nightmares about it and it's really quite scary." In 2004, the flat failed to sell for the £700,000 asking price.

French Parenting

We've had helicopter parenting, tiger moms and now french parenting. Link to article  Here is a clue it is all about delayed gratification. Haven't we heard this before. 

This from NPR: "Druckerman decided to write a book about her experience, called Bringing up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. She tells Weekend Edition's Rachel Martin that the idea for the book came to her in a sort of "epiphany" when she was eating out with her husband and her daughter, who was 18 months old at the time."[My daughter] was refusing to eat anything but sort of pasta and white bread. And I suddenly looked up and I realized that the French families all around us were having a very different experience — that their kids were sitting in their high-chairs, enjoying their meals, eating their vegetables and fish and all kinds of other things and talking to their parents. ... They weren't being seen but not heard. They were enjoying themselves," Druckerman says." 

I saw some interesting comments on various sites. Here is one: "Perhaps the French children repress their anxieties and hostilities until they participate in their mass labor strikes and demonstrations?" The main theme from American media  seems to be that french parent's emphasis on developing a child's independence may explain why they yearn to become dependants of the state when they grow up. 

What next why English parenting is better -- e.g. English children force fed an inedible diet of foodtsuff's e.g marmite, weetabix, lucozade found nowhere else in the developed world and then shipped off to loveless boarding schools, have learnt the lesson not of delated gratfication but no gratifcation. 



Nagging, Divorce, Witchraft & the Lottery


            Last weekend, I finally embarked on the monumental task of cleaning out the garage, one of the many pending "requests" from my beloved a.k.a my weekend shift manager. To be fair, it was a reasonable request and it was long overdue.  After a couple of hours, while I was on a break, I came across the following article from the Wall Street Journal with the title, "Meet the Marriage Killer" by Elizabeth Bernstein." The piece was about how nagging by wives was as potent a cause of divorce as adultery. It defined nagging as the interaction in which one person repeatedly makes a request and the other person repeatedly ignores it and both become increasingly annoyed. Some people I know, might characterize this as the definition of marriage?  At first blush, it sounded like something you might read in the Onion. The article went on to say, "Nagging can become a prime contributor to divorce when couples start fighting about the nagging rather than talking about the issue at the root of the nagging, says Howard Markman, professor of psychology at the University of Denver and co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies."  The same expert also published research in the Journal of Family Psychology indicating "that couples who became unhappy five years into their marriage had a roughly 20% increase in negative communication patterns consistent with nagging." Oh really, Dr. Markmam. Finally, the article suggested various ways to curb the nagging problem and gave the example of one wife whose solution was to write her requests on post it notes with a smiley face. Based on my experience with my college room mate I can attest to the fact that this is not a solution.

            As an experienced divorce attorney in Beverly Hills, I decided I needed to know more about the nagging and its relationship to divorce. That's a lie. I was procrastinating. I was not ready to go back to cleaning the garage. I decided to do some google "pseudo" research.

            I first turned to the Onion to find out whether "nagging" was, in fact, listed as a prime contributor to divorce. Apparently not.  The Onion cited a study which found that 31% of those divorcing said they wanted to resume having sex.  

            More google "pseudo" research" led me to an editorial in a 1899 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association with the title            "Nagging Wives and Nervous Husband's" which briefly considered the effects of nagging on the nervous disposition of husbands. In Shakespeare's time, it apparently led to nervous prostration and even insanity. The editor defined modern nagging as "an expression of an ill regulated and ill balanced nervous system which led to motor restlessness and egotistical inability to see the rights of others."  I wondered whether this editor's marriage had made it to the end of the century.

            Next, I searched "history of nagging" and came across some more highly polemic material. A web site called a "Brief History of Struggle" had a rather original page called a "Brief History of Nagging," which attributed nagging to the utter powerless of married women in patriarchical societies starting with Socrates whose wife was such a nag that he was forced to take up philosophy in the city squares and gymnasia of ancient Greece.  

            Another web site had a rather more sinister take on nagging. It reviewed the "Scold's Bridle," a book by Jenny Paul, which set out to dispel the myth that nagging wives or "scolds," as they were called in the middle ages, were forced to wear a bridle to shut them up. The author found that the historical record did not support such a punishment. The bridle, often with spikes, was usually reserved for witches. Punishment for scolds was only a "ducking stool." Well there's a relief.

            Anyway, it was time to get back to work, so I searched to see what the Bard, always good for a quote, had to say about nagging. There was nothing even from Taming of the Shrew, the greatest work ever written about a nagging wife. Instead, I found this gem with the title," Nagging wife, sausage help man win $4.2M lottery"  It claimed that a wife in New Zealand nagged her husband to buy a lottery ticket which he finally did with minutes to spare before the ticket sales closed on Saturday night. "My wife had been nagging me all week to get a ticket, so I when saw the Lotto sign ... I sprinted in to get the ticket before they closed," said the man. The couple who live in Auckland had fallen on hard times. The husband discovered that he had won $4.2 million when he went out to buy a barbecued sausage at his wife's "request." The man said he didn't have enough money to buy his wife the sausage. So he decided to check his Saturday lottery ticket in case he'd won a small prize. "I could not believe it when they said I was actually the big winner," he said. Note how the wife now requests the sausage after he's won the lottery.

            It was time to go back to the garage. What had I learned? Was nagging a medical condition or the inevitable consequence of the gender struggle in a patriarchical society?  Was it inherently a subjective term that said as much about the lack of responsiveness of the "naggee" as it did about the persistence of the "naggor." Did it invariably lead to a nervous disposition, divorce or other cruel and inhuman punishments.  And what was the solution? Would we have to change the power structure of society or could it be banished with post it notes plastered around the kitchen?

            I preferred to look at the positive. Sometimes it just gets things done. We got western philosophy, a couple in New Zealand won the lottery and we finally cleaned out all the crap from the garage.  



Nagging, divorce, witchcraft and the lottery

I was cleaning out the garage out last weekend at the behest of my beloved, which has been an undertaking that has been festering for too long. I took a break and I came across this article in the WSJ. At first it seems like something from the Onion.

The WSJ article states: "Nagging can become a prime contributor to divorce when couples start fighting about the nagging rather than talking about the issue at the root of the nagging, says Howard Markman, professor of psychology at the University of Denver and co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies." See the full article.   I am a divorce attorney so I need to know about these things. I investigated further for professional reasons and not to procrastinate, you understand.

 I first turned to the Onion to find out whether "nagging" was, in fact, listed as a prime contributor  to divorce. Apparently not. 31% of those divorcing said they wanted to resume having sex. See Onion stats. 

More google "pseudo research" led me to a google article analyzing nagging in an old 1899 medical journal.

Another web site has a brief history of nagging starting with Socrates wife who forced him out of the house and into philosophy. Thanks Mrs. Socrates. 

Another site reviews a book the Scold's Bridle which examines the history of using a bridle to silence a nagging wife in the middle ages.

One definition of nagging is "To annoy by constant scolding, complaining, or urging." 

Finally, I looked for a good quote from the bard to round things off but instead found this gem. 

After all the negativity related to nagging, I was beginning to wonder, there must be some evolutionary purpose.  I found this story under the headline "Nagging wife, sausage help man win $4.2M lottery" A "nagging" wife who pushed her husband to buy a lottery ticket helped scoop the $4.2 million ($7.7 million New Zealand dollar) first prize -- with only minutes to spare. The man from New Zealand's biggest city, Auckland, bought his ticket just two minutes before ticket sales closed Saturday night. "My wife had been nagging me all week to get a ticket, so I when saw the Lotto sign ... I sprinted in to get the ticket before they closed," said the man, who asked not to be identified -- normal practice among lottery winners in New Zealand. "I must have been their last customer of the night," he said, adding that the young married couple had had a "rough" couple of years, reduced to one income after having children. "I have never been so glad to listen to my wife's nagging," the man said Tuesday.He discovered their newly won fortune Sunday thanks to his wife's request for a barbecued sausage. Out shopping for bargains, the man said he didn't have enough money to buy his wife the sausage she'd asked him for. So he decided to check his Saturday lottery ticket in case he'd won a small prize. "I could not believe it when they said I was actually the big winner," he said. When he showed the printout to his wife, she initially thought they had won $4,200 (NZ$7,700). "When she realized how much it really was, she fell to the floor, and then said: 'but all I wanted was a sausage.'" 

So what is the function of nagging, its causes, its symptoms? Is it a bad habit which should be banished with post it notes plastered around the kitchen? Does it invariably lead to divorce or cruel and inhuman punishments. Or could there be some benefits? It seemed that there were pros and cons. On the plus side, we got western philosophy and in New Zealand a man won the lottery. On a personal level, my wife and I ( she did help -- it was a collaborative effort) finally cleared out our crap from the garage and now we have have more space to accumulate our children's crap in the future.

Los Angeles Divorce


What is the definition of hypocrite

Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich in 1999 asked his second wife for an “open marriage” or a divorce at the same time he was giving speeches around the country on family and religious values, his former wife, Marianne, said Thursday.In an interview with The Washington Post, Marianne Gingrich said her former husband called her on May 10, 1999, as she was having dinner with her 84-year-old mother and said, “I want a divorce.” Read article in Washington Post

The WSJ also has a great article on Newt's lack of academic credentials, all the while professing to be the only candidate with a firm grasp of history. WSJ article


Oh My Gosh

The ingredients sounded innocent enough – two boys aged one and three and a bag of flour. But it was a recipe for disaster.

A mother in the U.S. emerged from a visit to the bathroom to find her entire living room covered in flour, with the guilty culprits – her two young boys – happily playing in the mess even as she expressed her shock.

She uploaded a film of the scene to YouTube and it’s already been watched nearly 750,000 times.


Not all white on the night: The two toddlers are oblivious to the carnage they've caused

Not all white on the night: The two toddlers are oblivious to the carnage they've caused

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2064462/Flour-power-Mothers-shock-toddlers-cover-living-room.html#ixzz1eSVMkTGl


Only in France

This from the UK Telegraph about the aftermath of a french divorce. The report claims that a 51-year-old man was fined under article 215 of France's civil code, which states married couples must agree to a "shared communal life". A judge has now ruled that this law implies that "sexual relations must form part of a marriage".

The rare legal decision came after the wife filed for divorce two years ago, blaming the break-up on her husband's lack of activity in the bedroom. A judge in Nice, southern France, then granted the divorce and ruled the husband named only as Jean-Louis B. was solely responsible for the split. But the 47-year-old ex-wife then took him back to court demanding 10,000 euros in compensation for "lack of sex over 21 years of marriage". The ex-husband claimed "tiredness and health problems" had prevented him from being more attentive between the sheets. But a judge in the south of France's highest court in Aix-en-Provence ruled: "A sexual relationship between husband and wife is the expression of affection they have for each other, and in this case it was absent. "By getting married, couples agree to sharing their life and this clearly implies they will have sex with each other."

Weddings In the Sky:Couples could marry in mid-air under new easyJet plans

Thanks to Judith Middleton's blog for bringing this to my attention. This is form the Telegraph:

" Couples could marry in mid-air under new easyJet plans

Couples could marry in mid-air after the budget airline easyJet took the first steps towards on board weddings.

Close up of bride and groom's hands with wedding rings: Couples could marry in mid-air under new easyJet plans

The company has asked authorities if pilots could be authorised to officiate weddings in the air. A spokesman said they had written to Luton Borough Council - the body responsible for registration in the area where easyJet's London Luton Airport headquarters lie - to make preliminary inquiries about the feasibility of marrying people on board.The move would appeal to a growing number of couples looking to get married somewhere out of the ordinary, and the company said it had already received numerous requests from couples.Paul Simmons, easyJet's UK regional general manager, said: "We're excited about these plans. If there is the opportunity, our pilots could soon be marrying couples in the air."If our request is replied positively, then so called 'floating on cloud nine' would get a new meaning for people in love - and we can offer another special service to our passengers."A spokesman said they were willing to take any necessary steps to help the airline become the first anywhere to hold wedding ceremonies in the sky.He said that if plans were given the go-ahead they would be able to tie in ceremonies at 30,000ft with taking couples to their dream honeymoon destination.EasyJet captain Jeffery Husson added: "To officiate a wedding is a special honour for me."It would be exciting if I could marry couples above the clouds."But today a spokesman for Luton Borough Council said although the airline had made early enquiries, no decision could be made until it received full details of easyJet's proposals.A spokesman said: "We have only just received a letter from easyJet and will be responding in due course."While there are clearly laws governing marriage ceremonies, we are not yet aware of the full details of what easyJet are proposing to do, therefore, it would be inappropriate to comment further."The spokesman said rules governing where marriages could be conducted included that they must take place in a permanent building which was licensed for marriages and conducted by an authorised person, essentially a superintendent registrar or a minister of religion."

Imagine if Southwest get hold of the idea. You get married on the way to Las Vegas and get divorced on the return flight. There could also be some interesting issues regarding choice of law and enforceability of prenuptial agreements signed mid air. What if you sign the Agreement while flying over Texas but get married when you enter California airspace. Does the seven day waiting rule apply.

Los Angeles airborne divorce attorney

Two Florida women go to court in a bitter feud over ownership of an escaped parrot

This from the London Times reporting about a case in Florida. April 17, 2009. 


“Oh my God, that’s him!” So Angela Colicheski exclaimed as the young subject of her custody battle with Sarita Lytell was brought into court. Both women knew that only one of them would be leaving the court in Florida with the youngster each had, at different times, nurtured and doted on. The judge looked on gravely as he realised that in deciding which desperate woman should win custody, he would have to exercise the wisdom of Solomon.

The custody clash was similar to many other previous cases except for the fact that it was about a 13-year old African Grey parrot.

For ten years, Colicheski had loved and cared for the parrot she called Tequila. Then, three years ago, he flew away over her garden fence. Colicheski ran frantically all over the district but could not find him. She was distraught and heart-broken. Three long years passed. Then one day Colicheski was sitting in a local Dunkin Donuts chatting to Lytell, whom she had just met, when they started to talk about parrots. Lytell said she had one called Lucky that she had found three years earlier. It quickly became clear that he was the one Colicheski had lost. Lytell refused to hand him over, having formed a bonded relationship with the bird.

The judge heard a lawyer for Lytell argue that as she had cared for the bird for three years it had become hers. Colicheski’s lawyer, however, argued that the parrot was a chattel (a piece of legal property) and must be returned. The judge agreed, saying that the parrot was treated, under state law, as personal property. “If the plaintiff had lost her automobile somehow along the way,” he asked rhetorically, “would it be any less her property when she found it?” He ruled that Tequila was the property of Colicheski as she was his original owner and carer for ten years.

Tequila did not give sworn testimony but he did give squawk testimony. As soon as he was brought into court and saw his previous owner he emitted what witnesses said was a loud call of recognition.

This is not the first such dispute. In 2006 in Argentina, in litigation between Jorge Machado and Rio Vega, the court ruled that a parrot called Pepo, which each man claimed was his, should be imprisoned until it uttered the name of its owner. Five days later it squawked “Jorge” and sang the anthem of his favourite football team, San Lorenzo. The evidence of another parrot caused problems in Leeds in 2006. Chris Taylor discovered his partner Suzy was having an affair when his parrot, kept saying, in a perfect mimic of her voice, “I love you Gary”.

Child Custody Los Angeles

Economists predict fall in median housing price

From New York Times, August 25, 2007

Economists say the decline, which could be foreshadowed in a widely followed government price index to be released this week, will probably be modest — from 1 percent to 2 percent — but could continue in 2008 and 2009. Rather than being limited to the once-booming Northeast and California, price declines are also occurring in cities like Chicago, Minneapolis and Houston, where the increases of the last decade were modest by comparison.

The reversal is particularly striking because many government officials and housing-industry executives had said that a nationwide decline would never happen, even though prices had fallen in some coastal areas as recently as the early 1990s.

While the housing slump has already rattled financial markets, it has so far had only a modest effect on consumer spending and economic growth. But forecasters now believe that its impact will lead to a slowdown over the next year or two.

“For most people, this is not a disaster,” said Nigel Gault, an economist with Global Insight, a research firm in Waltham, Mass. “But it’s enough to cause them to pull back.”

In recent years, many families used their homes as a kind of piggy bank, borrowing against their equity and increasing their spending more rapidly than their income was rising. A recent research paper co-written by the vice chairman of the Federal Reserve said that the rise in home prices was the primary reason that consumer borrowing has soared since 2001.

Now, however, that financial cushion is disappearing for many families. “We are having to start from scratch and rebuild for a down payment,” said Kenneth Schauf, who expects to lose money on a condominium in Chicago he and his wife bought in 2004 and have been trying to sell since last summer. “We figured that a home is the place to build your wealth, and now it’s going on three years and we are back to square one.”

On an inflation-adjusted basis, the national median price — the level at which half of all homes are more expensive and half are less — is not likely to return to its 2007 peak for more than a decade, according to Moody’s Economy.com, a research firm.

Unless the real estate downturn is much worse than economists are expecting, the declines will not come close to erasing the increases of the last decade. And for many families who do not plan to move, the year-to-year value of their house matters little. The drop is, of course, good news for home buyers.

It does, however, contradict the widely held notion that there is no such thing as a nationwide housing slump. A 2004 report jointly written by the top economists at five organizations — the industry groups for real estate agents, home builders and community bankers, as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the large government-sponsored backers of home mortgages — was typical. It said that “there is little possibility of a widespread national decline since there is no national housing market.”

Top government officials were more circumspect but still doubted that the prices would decline nationally. Alan Greenspan, the former Fed chairman, said the housing market was not susceptible to bubbles, in part because every local market is different.

In 2005, Ben S. Bernanke, then an adviser to President Bush and now the Fed chairman, said “strong fundamentals” were the main force behind the rise in prices. “We’ve never had a decline in housing prices on a nationwide basis,” he added.

But Global Insight, the research firm, estimates that the home-price index to be released Thursday by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, a regulatory agency, will show a decline of about 1 percent between the first and second quarter of this year. Other forecasters predict that the index will rise slightly in the second quarter before falling later this year.

In all, Global Insight expects a decline of 4 percent, or roughly 10 percent in inflation-adjusted terms, between the peak earlier this year and the projected low point in 2009. In California, prices are expected to decline 16 percent — or about 20 percent after taking inflation into account.

The government’s index, which compares the sales price of individual homes over time, is intended to describe the actual value of a typical house. Since the index began in 1975, it has slipped from one quarter to the next on a few occasions, but it has never fallen over a full year.

Another index dating back to 1950, calculated by Freddie Mac, has also never shown an annual decline. Price data published by the National Association of Realtors, based on the prices of houses sold in a given year, have also never declined. According to the association, the median home price is now about $220,000.

Mr. Schauf and his wife, Leslie Suarez, put their condo in the Sheridan Park neighborhood of Chicago up for sale shortly before moving to Texas last year so he could take a new job. They bought the two-bedroom unit in September 2004 for $255,000, with a 5 percent down payment. They redid the floors, installed new window treatments and repainted the walls.

They said they expected the condo to sell quickly. Instead, they have cut the price several times and have yet to receive an offer. The current list price is $279,000, though they expect to settle for less.

Without the money for a new down payment, they are renting an apartment in Austin. They also expect the monthly payment on their adjustable-rate mortgage to go up $200 in October.

Ms. Suarez, who grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, says she is not as surprised because she remembers home prices falling after the oil bust in the late 1980s. “Growing up in Texas, real estate has never been a windfall,” she said. “For me, I always just wanted to break even.”

Housing prices have previously declined for long stretches in various regions. Most recently, prices fell in California and in the Northeast during the recession of the early 1990s.

The current slump is different from that one, though, in both depth and breadth. In fact, the national median price rose only slightly faster than inflation from 1950 to the mid-1990s.

But as interest rates fell and lending standards became looser, prices started rising rapidly in the late 1990s, even in places like Chicago, which had rarely seen a real estate boom. The result was a “euphoric popular delusion” that real estate was a can’t-miss investment, said Edward W. Gjertsen II, president of the Financial Planners Association of Illinois. “That’s just human nature.”

Many families are clearly richer because of the boom. In the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago, the town house that Ian R. Perschke, a technology consultant, and Jennifer Worstell, a lawyer, bought in late 2004 has appreciated more than 30 percent, they estimated. The gain was big enough to allow them to take out a larger mortgage and renovate two rental units in the house. But Mr. Perschke said he understood that he was “not going to see that appreciation over the next three years.”

Prices in Chicago peaked in September 2006 and have since dipped 1.7 percent, according to the Case-Shiller home-price index, which is tabulated by MacroMarkets, a research firm.

For all the attention that the uninterrupted growth in national house prices received, some economists argue that it was misplaced. The Case-Shiller index, which many experts consider more accurate than the government measure, did show a drop in prices in the early 1990s. (Unlike the government’s measure, it includes mortgages of more than $417,000, which are not held by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.)

After adjusting for inflation — the most meaningful way to look at any price, economists say — even the government’s index fell in the early 1990s.

Dean Baker, an economist in Washington who has been arguing for the last five years that houses were overvalued, said the idea that house prices could go only up had fed the bubble.

“It was very misleading,” said Mr. Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a liberal research group. There are a lot of people, he said, who bought “homes at hugely inflated prices who are going to take a hit. You also have a lot of people who borrowed against those inflated prices.”

Perhaps the most prominent housing booster was David Lereah, the chief economist at the National Association of Realtors until April. In 2005, he published a book titled, “Are You Missing the Real Estate Boom?” In 2006, it was updated and rereleased as “Why the Real Estate Boom Will Not Bust.” This year, Mr. Lereah published a new book, “All Real Estate Is Local.”

In an interview, Mr. Lereah, now an executive at Move Inc., which operates a real estate Web site, acknowledged he had gotten it wrong, saying he did not fully realize how loose lending standards had become and how quickly they would tighten up again this summer. But he argued that many of his critics have also been proved wrong, because they were bearish as early as 2002.

“The bears were bears way too early, and the bulls were bulls too late,” he said. “You need to know when you are straying from fundamentals. It’s hard, when you are in the middle of the storm, to know.”