Texas license plates currently display the slogan "The Lone Star State." But before that became the license plate motto, state residents had to fight off a number of attempts to display slogans that weren't quite as manly.
In 1985, Texas highway commissioners voted to display "The Wildflower State" on Texas tags. The phrase would have been printed over a faint outline of a bluebonnet. The idea prompted 57 state lawmakers to sign a letter of protest. Critics complained that the slogan "dealt a blow to the Texas mystique." So the commissioners backed down.
Then, in 1989, the commissioners wanted to display "The Friendship State" on plates. After all, the state motto is "Friendship." But again, popular protests complained that the phrase was "too wimpy."
It was only in 1992 that the commissioners finally gave in to popular demands and started printing "The Lone Star State" on plates.
Our own Chuck Shepherd, longtime resident of Tampa, Florida, can salute his city's improbable flag as one of the ugliest banners in the history of banner-dom. He modestly suggests that more people should know of it, to induce further laughter and insults.
And yet, surprisingly, neighboring burg of St. Pete has a halfway decent ensign--if you like pelicans.
Marlin Hawkins served as an elected official in Conway County, Arkansas for 38 years — for most of that time as sheriff. He built up a legendary political machine, being able not only to win reelection for himself (19 times) but also to deliver votes for other candidates. He often boasted that he could accurately predict the outcome of every election in the county.
It was long suspected that he was rigging the elections, especially since absentee voters would always vote for him by a wide margin, but no one could ever prove anything.
After he retired in 1978, Hawkins eventually wrote his autobiography, which he brazenly titled How I Stole Elections (available on Amazon). He joked that he "stole" them by "treating my neighbors right."
But no, he stole them by ballot fraud.
His book came out in 1991. The year after, some people who were remodeling their house discovered a whole stash of marked ballots from a 1968 election hidden in their attic. The house had previously been owned by one of Hawkins' deputies.
Hawkins got away with it because the statute of limitations had expired in 1974. He died in 1995.
In 1977, the head of the National Peach Council, Robert K. Phillips, sent the following letter to the U.S. Department of Labor protesting their proposed ban on the pesticide DBCP, which had been found to cause sterility among male agricultural workers who handled it. Phillips noted that some men might actually want to become sterile, so for them infertility would be a welcome benefit of the job.
To: Dr. Eula Bingham, Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health
Recently we received the interesting DOL news release concerning worker exposure to DBCP.
It appears to us that you and Secretary Marshall may have overreacted, or at least that is your public posture.
While involuntary sterility caused by a manufactured chemical may be bad, it is not necessarily so. After all, there are many people who are now paying to have themselves sterilized to assure they will no longer be able to become parents.
How many of the workers who have become sterile were of an age that they would have been likely to have children anyway? How many were past the age when they would want to have children? These, too, are important questions.
If possible sterility is the main problem, couldn't workers who were old enough that they no longer wanted to have children accept such positions voluntarily? They could know the situation, and it wouldn't matter. Or could workers be advised of the situation, and some might volunteer for such work posts as an alternative to planned surgery for a vasectomy or tubal ligation, or as a means of getting around religious bans on birth control when they want no more children.
We do believe in safety in the work place, Dr. Bingham, but there can be good as well as bad sides to a situation.
Above all, please don't try to get a ban on the manufacture and sale of the chemical DBCP, because that would cause some losses of agricultural production which would be serious.
Robert K. Phillips
Executive Secretary, National Peach Council
Despite Phillips's appeal, DBCP got banned anyway, because in addition to the sterility it was linked to various cancers. More info: NY Times, Multinational Monitor.
A classic example of "officialese," which came to light in 1951. Text from a Royal Navy instruction manual on the proper storage of torpedo warheads:
It is necessary for technical reasons that these warheads should be stored with the top at the bottom, and the bottom at the top. In order that there may be no doubt as to which is the bottom and which is the top for storage purposes, it will be seen that the bottom of each warhead has been labeled with the word TOP.
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Who We Are
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
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.
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.
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