The Dodge La Femme

Dodge introduced an alluring new option package in 1955: For $143, you could have the Custom Royal Lancer feminized, with rose paint, gold script, and a pink interior complete with rosebuds.

“The first car ever exclusively designed for the woman motorist” came with a rain cape, rain hat, and matching umbrella, plus a pink purse with a compact, lipstick, comb, and cigarette lighter. The marketing brochure read, “By Special Appointment to Her Majesty … the American Woman.”

It went nowhere. Fewer than 1,500 La Femmes were sold, and the model disappeared in 1957.

A Geometry Problem

A poser from 1821:

Mathematicians affirm that of all bodies contained under the same superficies, a sphere is the most capacious: But they have never considered the amazing capaciousness of a body, the name of which is now required, of which it may be truly affirmed, that supposing its greatest length 9 inches, greatest breadth 4 inches, and greatest depth 3 inches, yet under these dimensions it contains a solid foot?

What is this body?

Click for Answer

Land of Opportunity
Image: Flickr

There are only two places on earth where diamonds can be found at their original volcanic source. The first is South Africa … and the second, improbably, is Arkansas, where visitors to Crater of Diamonds State Park unearth more than 600 diamonds each year.

More than 25,000 have been found to date — including the 40-carat “Uncle Sam,” which Wesley Bassum sold in 1924 for $150,000.

“Let us not be too particular,” wrote Mark Twain. “It is better to have old secondhand diamonds than none at all.”

Wet Vendetta

On May 3, 1849, God emptied his washtub over Gloucestershire. The Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal reports that “during a storm of thunder, lightning, and hail, an enormous body of water was seen to rush down a gully in the Bredon Hill, and direct its course to the village of Kemerton,” where it flooded the house of the Rev. W.H. Bellairs.

When Bellairs rode up the hill two days later, “[f]or more than a mile the course of the torrent could be easily traced, from twenty to thirty feet in breadth, every wall being broken down, and the whole, or greater part, of the soil removed.”

He traced this course to a barley field on the northwest shoulder of the hill, “the greater part of which was beaten down flat and hard, as if an enormous body of water had been suddenly poured out upon it. Beyond this field and on higher ground, there were no signs of the fall of water to any great amount.”

The general depth of the torrent seems to have been 6 to 7 feet; it had broken down a stone wall at Bellairs’ house, burst through the foundation of another, carried off a brick wall 6 feet high, and “flowed through the house, to the depth of nearly three feet, for the space of an hour and forty minutes.” No explanation was found.

Switching Polarity

BEST and WORST are synonyms when used as verbs:

he bested his opponent, he worsted his opponent

But they’re antonyms when used as adjectives, adverbs, or nouns:

the best player, the worst player

it best suits his skills, it worst suits his skills

I am the best, I am the worst

William James wrote, “Language is the most imperfect and expensive means yet discovered for communicating thought.”

Physical Education

At Bradford, England, a girl, aged 16, met death in an extraordinary manner. While in the playground of her school she was caught by a veritable tornado which carried her into the air. … [A] witness who was waiting for a car in front of the school said he saw the girl in the air, her skirts blown out like a baloon. She was 25 to 30 feet in the air, just above the school balcony (the latter, the coroner remarked, was 20 feet high). … The physician who was called found the girl unconscious and pulseless, suffering from severe concussion of the brain and compound fractures of the lower jaw, right arm, wrist and thigh. It appeared that she was wearing a pair of bloomers with an ordinary skirt but without petticoats. The jury returned a verdict of ‘died as the result of a fall caused by a sudden gust of wind.’

Journal of the American Medical Association, quoted in Medical Sentinel, June 1911

05/24/2010 I’ve found some confirmation of this in William Corliss, Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, 1983:

“February 25, 1911. Bradford, England. A letter to the editor called the report of a girl being killed by a gust of wind preposterous and asked for an investigation. The editor replied: ‘Acting on this suggestion, we communicated with Mr. H. Lander, the rainfall observer at Lister Park, Bradford, who kindly sent us a copy of the Yorkshire Observer for February 25th, in which there was a fairly full report of the inquest on the school-girl who was undoubtedly killed by a fall from a great height in an extremely exposed playground during very gusty weather. One witness saw the girl enter the playground from the school at 8.40 a.m., and saw her carried in three minutes later. Another witness saw the girl in the air parallel with the balcony of the school 20 feet above the ground, her arms extended, and her skirts blown out like a balloon. He saw her fall with a crash. The jury found a verdict, ‘Died as the result of a fall caused by a sudden gust of wind.'”

He cites Godden, William; “The Tale of — a Gust,” Symons’s Meteorological Magazine, 46:54, 1911.