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Laws and Customs Trivia

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Impotence is grounds for divorce in 24 states in the United States.

In 1388, English Parliament banned waste disposal in public waterways and ditches.

In 1497 in Scotland, the Declaration of the Education Act was passed, introducing compulsory schooling for all Scottish children.

In 1547, British law was amended to end the practice of boiling people to death as punishment for criminal behavior.

In 1664, Maryland passed the first law that forbid English women to marry black men. Any white woman to intermarry with a slave would herself become a slave until her husband died.

Two Marble Valley, Vermont prison escapees were caught in New York City in 1996. Police found their to-do list, which read, "Drive to Maine, get safer place to stay, buy guns, get Marie, get car Dartmouth, do robbery, go to New York..."

Under Norwegian law, a polar bear may be shot only if deemed a menace.

On some Pacific islands, shark teeth are used to make skin tattoos.

Until 1893, lynching was legal in the United States. The first anti-lynching law was passed in Georgia, but it only made the violation punishable by four years in prison.

On the plains of Xinjiang in China, mounted Kazakh suitors play an unusual courtship game called "Catch the Maiden." The horseback-riding wooer chases the young woman of his choice to steal a kiss. If he succeeds, she turns and runs after him with a riding crop.

In most American states, a wedding ring is exempt by law from inclusion among the assets in a bankruptcy estate. This means that a wedding ring cannot be seized by creditors, no matter how much the bankrupt person owes.

Until about 150 years ago, churchgoing was required by law in England.

One obscure superstition in America is that when moving to a new home, you should put the cat in through the window, not the door, so that the animal will not leave.

In most places, it's illegal to mix different insecticides together.

Until the 1950s, Tibetans disposed of their dead by taking the body up a hill, hacking it into little pieces, and feeding the remains to the birds.

One paradoxical fact about pristine Santa Catalina Island is that, unlike the rest of car-crazy Southern California, the number of cars on the island is strictly limited. Waiting time to get a permit for a car is eight to ten years. Most residents drive electric-powered golf carts.

In New Mexico, it is against the law to ship horned toads out of the state.

Until there was a pay raise in 1814, U.S. congressmen were paid $6 per diem when Congress was in session.

One superstition of the past was that if a person rubbed a crystal ball with mugwort under the light of a full moon, its capacity for igniting psychic powers magnified.

In New York State, it is still illegal to shoot a rabbit from a moving trolley car.

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