Friday, October 16, 2009


The Huntsville Times says: A Marshall County (Alabama) woman is in the city jail here for having her 13-year-old daughter ride in a cardboard box atop her van. When asked about the child's safety, Smith said Knott told the officers that she had the box secured to the van with a clothes hanger.

The Straight Dope has undertaken a survey of street numbering systems around the United States. Some highlights:
Atlanta: Every street is named Peachtree. (HA!)

San Francisco: Streets are numbered from wherever they were thought to start, so that you can parallel streets numbered in opposite directions. Thus numbers on Central Avenue increase from south to north, whereas numbers on Masonic Avenue, one block away, increase north to south. (Really?)

Pittsburgh: The street surveying system in this city--Pittsters freely admit it--consisted in its entirety of the following: (1) Follow cow home. (2) Pound stakes. (3) Build street. (I thought that was Boston)

Boston: All the streets converge on a single point, where motorists crash into each other and die. This explains Boston's high mass transit use and low population.
Mussolini was a paid British agent during World War I. He led Italy's "fight" against the Allies in World War II. Perfidious Italians.

There are a bunch of cities in the Chicagoland area that have changed their names. Some of the changes make sense without even knowing the issues. Joliet was initially names Juliet. A neighboring town named itself Romeo. When Joliet changed its name, so did Romeoville. Really. The story is here.

The interesting thing is that a bunch of cities changed their names for similar reasons at similar times. They were trying to hide in plain sight. Shermerville became Northbrook in 1923. West Hammond became Calumet City in 1923. Tessville became Lincolnwood in 1936. You might also note that the XIX Amendment was in place from 1919 to 1933. Which one is XIX? The one that probited the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol for consumption in the United States.

So, what ties these cities together? All three of them (among others) gained reputations as "sin cities" during Prohibition. They mostly passed some liquor regulation, but they all changed their names.

"Cabbie, I want to get a drink and a hooker. Take me to Shermerville immediately!"

"Uh, sir, I know a Shermerville Road, I know a kid named Ferris Bueller who lives in Shermer, but I don't know any Shermerville."

"Damn. Well, take me to church, I guess."
Seems like it would work.