The Empress’ new clothes

An advertisement for “Spanish lambswool invisible petticoats,” from 1806:

Mrs. Robertshaw begs leave to inform those ladies that found their invisible petticoats shrunk last winter that she has a kind so much improved that she will warrant them never to shrink even in the commonest wash, at the same time will be found equally as soft, pliant and warm. Everybody that has tried them allows them to be a much pleasanter article than ever before invented, being so very elastic [a word merely meaning at the time having some stretch or give] and of so beautiful a white, and, like all these comforts will add quite as little to size as her patent lambs’ wool so much approved of last winter. Likewise invisibles and stays all in one; well adapted to ladies that are confined; also under waist coats and drawers of the same description.

Of course, what makes these garments “invisible” is the fact that they’re worn between the body and the dress, hence unseen; no H. G. Wells-style trickery here. Interestingly, advertisements of this sort disappeared, so to speak, after 1816:

The year 1816 is known as the Year Without a Summer (also the Poverty Year and Eighteen Hundred and Froze To Death) because of severe climate abnormalities that caused average global temperatures to decrease by 0.4–0.7 °C (0.7–1.3 °F). This resulted in major food shortages across the Northern Hemisphere.

Evidence suggests that the anomaly was predominantly a volcanic winter event caused by the massive 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). This eruption was the largest eruption in at least 1,300 years (after the extreme weather events of 535–536), and perhaps exacerbated by the 1814 eruption of Mayon in the Philippines.

We may perhaps assume that the tendency of women to wear less when it gets warmer goes back at least two hundred years.

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Dead guy loses election

It wasn’t quite a landslide, though:

In Edmond, voters chose to elect Dan O’Neil as their next mayor. On the ballot, O’Neil faced off against deceased mayor Charles Lamb.

Lamb, who died in December at age 72, had filed for another term shortly before his death. His candidacy was promoted by some Edmond residents who opposed other candidates for mayor, with the hope that if he was re-elected, the city council would pick his successor.

O’Neil garnered 4,385 votes, or 67.01%, while Lamb had 2,159 votes, or 32.99%, according to unofficial results.

The late Mr. Lamb’s showing was better than the last dead candidate I recall, circa 1998:

Remember this name: Jacqueline Morrow Lewis Ledgerwood.

The estimable Ms Ledgerwood filed in July to become a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate, hoping to unseat Senator Don Nickles (R-Okla.), the three-term incumbent. To borrow a line from an earlier, more famous, candidate, if nominated she will not run, and if elected she will not serve. The reason for this is simple: she’s dead.

Ms Ledgerwood, it seems, died soon after filing for the office, but not soon enough to meet the deadline for having her name removed from the ballot. So in the Democratic primary on the 25th of August, her name appeared alongside the names of three other wannabes. A chap named Don Carroll garnered about 46 percent of the votes, not enough for a majority, so the top two candidates will face each other in a runoff on the 15th of September — Mr Carroll and the late Ms Ledgerwood, who bagged about 21 percent. Jerry Kobyluk, who finished third, complained loudly and bitterly, but the secretary of the state Election Board would not be moved.

In the general election in November, Nickles won 76 of 77 counties. Haskell County, in the east, is generally reliably Democratic, to the extent that any part of Oklahoma is reliably Democratic; its voters, about three-fifths Democratic, backed the Democratic presidential candidate every year from 1976 through 2000.

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Franchise declined

Every now and, I hear someone asking why they don’t make voting mandatory.

This is why:

There’s a City Council election today. I am not voting. I don’t particularly like any of the candidates and I don’t think any of them will fundamentally make anything better; our city government is pretty broken and I think that’s just how it’s gonna be. I’m also still disgusted over the amount of time (and money) spent to try to suck up to the reality show hosts in the (vain, as it turned out) hope of getting them to name this town their “makeover town.” (Not that that would have done much, I think, other than bring a couple of ritzy and possibly short-lived small businesses to town, and very likely things I would not really patronize.)

Remember when we used to scan the ballot looking for the lesser of two evils? These days, often as not, you wind up with the evil of two lessers.

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Little jewel

Papa John Phillips, known as such by dint of being one of the Mamas and the Papas — to my knowledge, he’s never been in the pizza business — sired five children, of which Bijou Phillips, who turned 39 yesterday, is the youngest. She’s been described as a “wild child,” probably because she quit school at 14 and moved into a Manhattan apartment. She had a brief career as a model, which she apparently didn’t like, and in 1999, at nineteen, she cut an album, I’d Rather Eat Glass.

Bijou Phillips gives you That Look

Bijou Phillips semi-formal

Bijou Phillips dresses down

She sustained an acting career for better than a decade; after a brief stint on Fox’s Raising Hope, she reported that she was going to devote herself to her family and her health. She and Danny Masterson — they were wed in 2011 — have a five-year-old daughter; in 2017, she had a kidney transplant, presumably not because of eating glass.

And from that one album, this was the single, “Wnen I Hated Him (Don’t Tell Me),” which did not chart:

Phillips has co-writer credits on 11 of the 12 songs, including this one, and wrote the last one herself.

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Fark blurb of the week

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The one that almost got away

For a moment, it looked almost easy: the Thunder had run a four-point halftime lead up to sixteen points after the third quarter, and the Lakers were seriously depleted, with Lonzo Ball, Tyson Chandler and, yes, LeBron James epoxied to the bench. But the rest of the squad had something to prove, and the Lakers clawed their way back to within five before the Thunder realized that they could lose yet another game to yet another sub-.500 team and battened down the hatches. With 1:04 left, both sets of reserves were deployed — except for Russell Westbrook, who was kept in perhaps for statistical purposes. (Less than half a minute later, the needs of the record-keepers were satisfied: Westbrook’s triple-double ended up at 20-20-21, the first time he’s pulled off that particular feat.) Oklahoma City 119, Los Angeles 103, a 2-1 win in the season series, and the Karma Police saw to it that at least two Thundermen finished higher than Westbrook in the plus/minus. (Jerami Grant +28, Steven Adams +26; Westbrook +24.)

And anyway, the game-high scorer was a Laker: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was 9-16 from the floor for 23 points, an admirable display of pure Kentaviousness, though he still wound up -14 for the night. The Laker bench produced 44 points, versus 30 for the Thunder second unit. And L.A. outshot OKC by a percentage point and a half, not to mention 16-39 on the three-ball, while the Thunder was bricking to the tune of 13-44. The 50-39 rebounding edge clearly helped the Thunder, and any day in which Jerami Grant knocks down 22 points has to be considered a good day.

Last game on the home stand will be against the Pistons on Friday. Detroit is half a game over .500; more important, they’re half a game ahead of the Nets.

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This old man, he played none

As opposed to some others we could name, who possibly never stopped playing:

To accuse an old man of making an “unwanted sexual advance” is redundant, because any sexual advance made by an old man is “unwanted.” The number of people — male or female — who want to have sex with David Boren is exactly zero. Certainly there was no reason for him to imagine that his sexual advances toward a 21-year-old college boy would be welcome. Rumors about Boren’s sexuality have circulated for decades; during his 1978 Senate campaign, he quite literally swore on a Bible that he was not gay. This latest accusation is perhaps not completely surprising, and the question is whether it will trigger a #MeToo avalanche of accusations by other men with whom Boren has been intimate, “unwanted” or otherwise. And I suppose some people will blame this situation on “homophobia,” arguing that if it weren’t for the repressive and intolerant forces of hate, David Boren never would have been forced to conceal his attraction to men, blah blah blah.

Except that’s actually irrelevant. Society never forced Joe Biden to conceal his heterosexuality, and yet Biden is now having a #MeToo moment because he was too stupid to realize that the number of women who want to be groped by an old politician is exactly zero. And having seen photos of David Boren in the 1970s, I’m not sure that anyone — male or female — ever found him sexually attractive. Maybe when Boren was in his 20s or 30s, he could have scored with a college guy, but probably not. However, if he did, it would have been easy for Boren to keep it secret, because no guy would ever want to admit that publicly.

There was a brief discussion on Twitter yesterday about some article or other that described Biden as “touchy,” which to normal people means “the equilibrium of the apple cart is constantly threatened.” Perhaps they meant “handsy.”

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Stolen basis

Message boards are just jam-packed with people who want to know, down to the dollar, how much it cost to build the car they’re considering, so they know what to offer to get the best possible deal. Of course, this depends on your definition of a good deal; the definition I generally fall back on is “Any deal where your drunken uncle isn’t motivated to drawl ‘You paid too much’.” Few accept that, and I suspect even fewer will go along with this:

Nobody knows what it costs to build and sell a car. Which means, in turn, that new cars cannot be priced on any kind of cost-plus-profit basis. As old Polonius said, it follows therefore, as night doth day, that the pricing of new cars must be set almost entirely by marketing considerations. You don’t sell a car for what it costs to build; you sell it for what people will pay. Those of you who made it through ECO101 in school will nod your heads condescendingly at this point: “Yes, dummy, that’s how it works.”

Ah, but it’s not as simple as ECO101. There’s no simple demand curve. There was a year in human history where the Mercury Villager was the hottest minivan on the market, with most examples staying in dealer inventory for just a week or two before finding buyers. The mechanically identical Nissan Quest was showroom poison, even though:

  1. It was cheaper
  2. At the time, Nissan was understood to have a LOT more brand equity than Mercury.

Riddle me that, armchair economists, because there’s no rationality in this rational market.

And toxic as the Quest may have been, Nissan kept it in the lineup through 2016, and built a handful of 2017 models for fleet sales.

So I’ve been telling people to buy Tesla, since they have no dealers to draw four squares or engage in other dubious practices.

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Pronounced “bucket,” I suppose

And if not, why not?

Hyacinth Bouquet, it says

(Via Overheard in Waitrose.)

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I have to admit, this was sort of amusing: You’re a cop and you pull someone over for running a red light. However, the driver claims that due to the Doppler Effect, the red light appeared green from his point of view. How much should you charge for the driver’s speeding ticket?

Wow. Just wow. Fortunately, the math is doable:

Let’s start with red light being about 630 nm and green at about 530 nm wavelength. That’s a shift of (630 – 530)/530 = 0.189 which means that the car’s velocity v has to be such that v/c = 0.189 so v = 0.189c = 35,000 miles per second or 126 million mph. A rough rule of thumb is $20 for every 10 mph over the speed limit, so I would figure the ticket should be about $250 million or a quarter-billion dollars. That would pay for a nice new fleet of police cars, with money left over.

In case you were wondering if people studied physics anymore.

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Surely you congest

Congestion charges, familiar to big-city dwellers in the Eurozone, are about to hit the City of New York:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said: “I believe conceptually we have an agreement, but now we have to go through the details.”

State Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-Queens), who chairs the committee that oversees the MTA, said the congestion fee would be imposed starting in January 2021, after the infrastructure is set up — and after the 2020 legislative elections.

A panel is supposed to be formed to determine the fee for vehicles entering Manhattan below 61st Street.

What does New Jersey think of this? What do you think?

“By all accounts, and again, this [is] a plan that is being put together still as we speak, it looks like the Holland and Lincoln Tunnel will be included and the George Washington Bridge will not be and that’s unacceptable,” New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said. “It’s double taxation which we can’t envision, so that needs to be included and I hope somewhere in here, when they whack all of this money out, some of it gets invested to relieve the burden New Jerseyians have.”

Gov. Murphy is clearly serious: there is no word in New Jerseyian that resonates as much as “whack.”

Where will all these dollars — perhaps a billion a year — go?

Sources said 80 percent of the congestion revenue will go to the MTA’s capital plan for the city’s subways and buses, 10 percent to Metro-North and 10 percent to the LIRR.

Among the hardest hit: people who actually eat:

Every truck delivering food and goods into Manhattan south of 61st Street will be slapped with the new fee, expected to be about $25 for commercial vehicles of all sizes.

Well, yeah, you could have seen that coming.

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The triumph of humor, maybe

Ukraine may be electing a professional comedian to its presidency:

A comedian with no political experience has won the most votes in the first round of Ukraine’s presidential elections, according to exit polls.

They say Volodymyr Zelenskiy — who played the president on TV — received 30.4% of the vote, with current leader Petro Poroshenko second on 17.8%.

The two — who have expressed largely pro-EU opinions — are set to take part in a run-off election next month.

Ex-PM Yulia Tymoshenko appears to have been eliminated on a projected 14.2%.

(Previous coverage here.)

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The 100th problem

From the “Did I miss something?” files: What year did Jay Z die???

No, really:

i’ve been looking on google and various sites but can’t seem to find an answer, it’s like his death doesn’t matter.

Um, admittedly Beyoncé came down hard on his ass, but let the record show that Jay Z is not dead.

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What kind of fools?

“Someone painted ‘April Fool’ in big black letters on a Dead End sign,” Kenny Rogers sang back in the day. Now if you’ve been paying attention, you already know that we have fools 365 days a year, more in Leap Year, and today merely gives them the recognition they crave.

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Strange search-engine queries (687)

Time once again for another dip into the Big Box O’ Search Strings and see if we can find anything amusing therein. Really. No fooling.

Daisy and Violet Hilton, unloved:  And undeservedly so.

which of the real world attempts at “invisibility” is most like lois doberman’s? why?  Any that work. (In the Charles Sheffield short story, Dr. D has a bodysuit which feeds the image behind her to in front of her.)

mazda 6 jatco transmission failsafe:  Which, one may expect, is more fail than safe.

meg and rachel each have bowling balls with the same mass. they both roll them as hard as they can and then measure the speed of the balls. meg’s ball and rachel’s ball were measured to have the exact same speed. what do you know about the forces applied by the girls?  Um, did they knock any pins down?

a songwriter gets paid monthly at a rate of $150:  Which, I need hardly point out, is not enough to live on.

the girl with something extra:  Of all the TV series since ever, this is the one whose title sounds most like a Tumblr blog.

milf bimbo tumblr:  Not a TV series. Yet.

“amifampridine”:  Bernie Sanders wants to know how come it costs so much.

kieranravib:  Were this a drug, Bernie Sanders would want to know how come it costs so much.

promulent:  This year’s Spring Fling at Springfield High School.

artisan dwarf cabbage:  Size not guaranteed.

“the hacker exert” techoffice or “hacker news” or hack or leaked or “hack google”:  Where have all the script kiddies gone, long time failing?

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Pass the bread

I found this on Quora, and I have to admit, I never thought of that:

Here’s a secret from my time as a server: bread has a very specific and very manipulative purpose.

At an Italian restaurant I worked at, we had to have the bread at the table within two minutes of their arrival. We had to calculate the amount (one loaf per three people), brush them with oil and sprinkle them with salt.

After taking their order, we needed to check on the bread and bring refills within five minutes of them finishing the bread, until their meal came.


Because customers are pains in the ass when they’re waiting.

Bread is a distraction mechanism. When you’re waiting at the table, everything feels like it’s taking longer. As soon as you have some bread to occupy yourself with, you’re not going to be bothering me for entertainment and demands while I take care of my other tables. You’ll experience time in a much shorter, less intrusive way, and you won’t be complaining to me that your food is taking forever to come out, when really it’s only been ten minutes, and the kitchen is busy.

So, to recap: bread is offered to you because you are impatient.

Obviously I’ve never waited tables.

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