Back in 1971, Melvin Baker offered a novel defense for why he shouldn't have been charged with drunk driving. He was, he said, too drunk to have made an intelligent decision about whether to submit to the breathalyzer test — the results of which led to him being charged. He apparently argued this case all the way up to the New York Supreme Court.
Santa Rosa Press Democrat - July 7, 1971
Details about this case are hard to come by, but this other brief article offers an explanation for why Baker persisted with his seemingly hopeless argument. Because if he had refused to take the test, he would only have had his license suspended. But having taken the test, and failed it, he also faced criminal prosecution. So it was all an elaborate, legalistic ploy to get the lighter penalty.
A field experiment was conducted in which a single male, a single female, or a male-female couple attempted to hitch rides at four different traffic locations, under conditions in which the hitchhikers either stared at or looked away from oncoming drivers...
In the stare conditions, E stared at the driver of the target vehicle and attempted to fixate on the driver's gaze and maintain this gaze as long as possible until the driver either stopped his vehicle or drove on. In the comparison conditions, E looked anywhere else but at the driver. Thus, on some trials E looked in the general direction of the car; on other trials E looked at his feet, the road, the sky, etc. Es were specifically instructed to neither smile nor frown, and to maintain a casual (neither rigid nor slouching) body postural orientation while soliciting rides.
The two hitchhikers were described as, "both 20 years of age and both dressed in bluejeans and dark coats. The male had short, curly blond hair, and the female, straight, shoulder length blond hair. Both could be described as neat, collegiate, attractive in physical appearance, and of an appropriate age to be hitchhiking."
A hitchhiker in Luxembourg - Aug 1977 (source: wiktionary.org) (not one of the hitchhikers in the study)
Staring is often interpreted as a threat. So the researchers anticipated that staring at oncoming drivers might result in fewer rides. But the opposite turned out to be true. Which is a useful tip to know if you ever need to hitchhike. But what really helped get a lot of rides was being a single female. From the study:
it seems that the effect of attempted eye contact and sex of hitchhikers were such that a staring female got the most rides and a nonstaring male the least, with a staring male and a nonstaring female in between.
Contrary to popular belief and hitchhiking folklore , it was no easier for a male-female couple to hitch a ride than a single male, and a mixed sex couple was less successful at soliciting rides than a single female hitchhiker. Although the generality of this conclusion is limited by the fact that it is based upon results obtained by one male and one female E, it is probably the case that couples are less successful hitching rides because of space limitations in the cars they approach. That is, it is more likely that the driver will have room for one additional passenger than that he will have room for two or more additional passengers in his car.
Incidentally, the experimenters never actually ever got in a car with anyone: "After a motorist stopped to pick up one of the hitchhikers, he was politely thanked and given a printed description of the nature of the experiment. No driver expressed any discomfort when he learned that the hitchhiker did not actually want a ride."
I see Paul's Miss Brake Special of 1951, and raise him Most Glamorous Chassis of 1957, a title awarded to Hollywood star Debra Paget.
Actually, this seems to be another example of the weird thematic synchronicity that we've mentioned before. Having worked on this blog together now for over a decade, the minds of Paul and I seem to have achieved a state of spooky quantum entanglement, in which, without any coordination at all, and separated by a distance of over 3000 miles, we will independently focus on similar subjects at the same time. So, as Paul was preparing his post about Miss Brake Special, I was simultaneously researching a post about Most Glamorous Chassis. I almost posted it yesterday.
Opelousas Daily World - Apr 11, 1957
Anyway, wikipedia notes that in 1957 Paget was at the peak of her career, considered an A-list star, having appeared in The Ten Commandments and headlined Love Me Tender with Elvis Presley. But beginning in 1957 "Paget's career began to decline." Could it be mere coincidence that this was also the year she accepted the title of "Most Glamorous Chassis"?
Although what is arguably Paget's most famous performance was still before her — her snake dance scene in Fritz Lang's The Indian Tomb (1959). Wikipedia says that the scene was "risque (for the time)." I think it's still risque even for 2020.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.