[Administrative Note: The last SAST post was 19. The one before that was 17. Oops. Consider this a modest nod in the direction of numerical consistency.]

I was pondering the fact that the two stories everyone knows about George Washington both involve wood. That is, of course, that he chopped down a cherry tree and that he wore wooden dentures.

The first, obviously, is a myth. But I wondered if the infamous dentures were made of cherry wood. That would be at least an amusing coincidence–because the tree-chopping legend surely doesn’t predate the real dental appliance–and possibly even a source of the legend.

So, a bit of research ensued. And, annoyingly, it turns out that the wooden dentures story is totally fictional as well.

Okay, not totally. George did wear dentures. Just not wooden ones.

Still, it does leave room for some creative fictionalizing. Anyone want to help spread the story that President Washington’s wooden dentures were made from the very same tree he chopped down as a nipper (sorry)?

Moving on.

Gotta love the rumor mill.

There was a rumor making the rounds that Apple was going to release a new Mac Mini this year. Perfectly logical: the entry level Mini now has an M1 chip, but the high end Mini still has an Intel processor. Gotta have a high-end M1 Mini, right?

Then Apple introduced the Mac Studio. Which is, to all intents and purposes, an ultra-high-end Mini.

So now, of course, the rumor is that Apple is not going to come out with a new Mini this year. It will be next year.

Personally, I don’t see why we even need a high-end Mini. The original Mini was unveiled as a “bring your own peripherals” deal that would let Apple sell you on their hardware and software at a significantly lower price than the rest of their line. It’s still a great idea, and the M1 Mini fits the niche admirably.

Leave it at that, Apple. Keep the Mini low-end and low-rent and let the people who need power go with the Studio.

Moving on again.

Thanks to Eric for pointing me at this article in Politico.

There isn’t much in it that will be new to anyone paying attention to the Oakland As efforts to convince the city to give them a dream platter of goodies–though I’m somewhat amused by the author’s characterization of the Mets as the antithesis of the As.

What struck me while I was reading it, though, was the thought that perhaps we’ve been misreading the situation. The team’s ownership keeps presenting it as “give us what we want or we’re moving to Vegas.”

Totally standard sports team tactics. Except that the Athletics keep moving the fences back. Every time it starts to seem that they’re going to get what they’re asking for, they add something to their demands.

At this point, they’re promising to put $12 billion dollars into constructing their megafacility–if. Given the typical lack of correspondence between construction estimates and actual costs, the bill is likely to be closer to $25 billion than the twelve the team is promising.

What if the As ownership doesn’t want to get handed their dream package? If the city coughs up the land, the tax district, and whatever add-on gets added to the demands next, then ownership is on the hook for those big bucks.

I’m starting to think they want the deal to be rejected. They’re just looking for an excuse to head for Nevada, where they can rejoice in actually being a small market team, rather than having to fake it enough to get those subsidies from the teams in larger markets.

At this point, I’m almost ready to hope Oakland does give the As’ ownership everything they’ve asked for, just so I can see what kind of verbal gymnastics they go through in denying they’d ever promised to build a ballpark…

And, finally, on another baseball related note:

Commissioner Manfred (spit) is trying to butter up the players. He’s gifted every player on a big league roster with a pair of $200 Beats headphones.

Let us not forget that, under the just-signed collective bargaining agreement, every one of those guys is making at least $700,000 this year. I think they can probably afford their own headphones–and probably already have a set or six.

Hey, Rob! Instead of making nice on the players–who aren’t going to believe for an instant that you’re on their side, or even that you like them–why don’t you try making nice on the fans? You know, the folks who contribute the money that lets owners pay those players, not to mention the salary that you used to buy all those headphones.

We could really use a no-local-blackouts, no social-media-exclusives broadcast package.

A Tale With Legs

Last week, I pointed out that it wasn’t time for nude horseback riding. Guess what? Now it’s time. Today, June 10, is the date traditionally given for Lady Godiva’s famous ride. And don’t try to tell me you haven’t heard the story. Really? If you’ve seriously never heard it, check the Fount of All Knowledge. I’ll wait.

You back? Good.

Let’s agree to one thing up front: the story of Lady Godiva is a myth. For those of you who didn’t check the FoAK, the actual Countess Godiva is very well-documented for someone who lived in the 11th century. It’s clear that she died sometime between 1066 and 1086; the first documentation of her supposed nude ride through Coventry wasn’t written until 1215 or so. If you think such a stirring event wouldn’t have been at least mentioned at the time, you may need a skepticism transplant. Face it: a lapse of 200 years is not contemporary.

So, if we’re agreed that it’s a myth, let’s move on. The myth has evolved over time, as myths tend to do. Several attempts have been made to make the story less titillating, with Godiva dressed in a penitent’s shift (an undergarment similar to a modern slip) or even fully dressed, but without the jewelry that would mark her as a member of the nobility. As one might expect, the public at large hasn’t gone for those ideas. Surprisingly, scholars–whose publish-or-perish mentality often leads them to embrace revisionist theories–haven’t been swayed either. The literature is clear that the original account uses a word for “naked” that has only ever meant “without clothing” and that the story’s roots lie in pagan fertility rituals, events highly unlikely to be performed fully dressed.

Other changes: The original story makes it clear that the town folk of Coventry lined the streets to watch Godiva’s ride. The change to the tale in which the public was required to remain indoors with the windows covered seems to date to the mid-1500s. The further addition of “Peeping Tom”, who disobeyed the injunction to not watch the ride and was punished with blindness, came later still, dating from the 1700s.

Why Tom survived when other attempts to change the story failed could probably fuel an endless sociological debate. My own auctorial take–feel free to disagree–is that people like stories where someone learns something, and they like stories where the listener also learns something even better. “Taxes suck” isn’t much of a learning: unless you’re the person receiving the taxes, you probably already believed that before hearing Godiva’s tale. “Breaking the law is bad” and “Looking at naked women is dangerous” are somewhat more controversial. You may not agree with one or both of those messages, but at least there’s some room for discussion.

Regardless, the story certainly has legs (and other body parts). Here we are, 800 years after the story was written (give or take) and it’s still being retold, reworked, and remodeled. Even leaving aside Peeping Tom’s legacy (how many voyeurism-oriented websites are there? I don’t think even Google can count that high), Godiva has made her way into paintings, sculptures, books, movies, popular songs, and even chocolate. Yes, Godiva Chocolates are named for the countess, and she appears in the corporate logo*.

* It seems that Godiva Chocolates looks further ahead than Starbucks. The latter had to redesign their mermaid logo to hide her nipples when they went national; Godiva’s logo incarnation has never had nipples.

And yes, Godiva has spiritual descendents in the realm of political protest: groups using nudity for protest or promotion include PETA to promote animal rights, Breasts not Bombs and Baring Witness in peace and anti-war demonstrations, and FEMEN to protest sex tourism and sexism.

So feel free to honor a great lady who never did what you’re honoring her for. This is one case where the fiction is more inspiring than the truth.

But if you’re going for a bareback ride, make sure you’re the only one with a bare back: you do not want horse hair chafing you there!