Lateral with Tom Scott

Comedy panel game podcast about weird questions with wonderful answers, hosted by Tom Scott.

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Episode 18: Making cosplay worthwhile

Published 10th February, 2023

Jay Foreman, Kip Heath and Jason Slaughter ('Not Just Bikes') face questions about awkward animals, Indian ingenuity, and a Peter Pan problem.

HOST: Tom Scott. QUESTION PRODUCER: David Bodycombe. EDITED BY: Julie Hassett at The Podcast Studios, Dublin. MUSIC: Karl-Ola Kjellholm ('Private Detective'/'Agrumes', courtesy of ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS: Ben Tedds, Lewis Tough. FORMAT: Pad 26 Limited/Labyrinth Games Ltd. EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: David Bodycombe and Tom Scott.


Transcription by Caption+

Tom:What can have a blood pressure of 301/80? The answer to that at the end of the show. My name's Tom Scott, and this is Lateral.

I invited three likable, well-known people onto the show today to answer some questions. But Green Day weren't available, so instead we have: From the YouTube channel, Not Just Bikes, Jason Slaughter.
Tom:How are you doing today?
Jason:I'm doing great, thank you very much. It's a rainy evening here in Amsterdam, but that's pretty typical, I guess.
Tom:Well, thank you very much for joining us. Next, it's musical comedian, and from his own YouTube channel, with Unfinished London and Map Men, Jay Foreman.
Jay:I should explain that I'm in a car. I'm not normally in a car, especially not when I do podcasts. But the story is there's a sleeping baby in my house, and this is genuinely the only room in the house — if this counts as part of the house — where the baby won't be woken up by podcasting. But also it turns out... the car's got really good acoustics. I might just go in here from now on, baby or no baby. Even though it's really off-brand for my channel that talks about sustainable travel.
Tom:Yeah, we have two sustainable travel channels here, so. It's fine, the engine's not running. You'll be all right.
Jason:No, it's fine, Jay. You know, it's fine. I'm over it.
Tom:And our last guest, virologist and science communicator, Kip Heath.
Tom:Thank you so much for joining us. How are you doing?
Kip:I'm good. I'm taking some time out between pandemics to have fun.
Tom:Oh, oh. Don't phrase it like that. Please don't phrase it like that!
Jay:Just put us in a lovely mood for the quiz.
Jason:Yeah, right.
Tom:Our questions have as many twists and turns as a pretzel. So let's hope our players won't be quite as salty as that when they hear the answers. We start with the first question, which is:

A British man unwraps his sandwich to find that it's been cut into 16 tiny squares. Why?

I'll say that again.

A British man unwraps his sandwich to find that it has been cut into 16 tiny squares. Why?
Jay:Did it start out as one enormous sandwich?
Tom:It's a normal sandwich. A normal British sandwich.
Jay:By which you mean two triangles?
Tom:Oh, oh.
Kip:Triangles or squares? Let's start on a divisive topic.
Tom:Oh, I mean, I always think it tastes better in triangles, but that's just...
Jason:But then you don't have to bite through the crust to get to it, right? Like that's the whole thing. You bite along the non-crusty hypotenuse. Of the sandwich.
Tom:That sounds like a mathematical term. I feel like at some point, 3blue1brown is gonna do a video about the non-crusty hypotenuse.
Jason:Sandwich hypotenuse.
Jay:I actually think there must be some sort of science behind it, because if the best part of a sandwich is the bit where it meets the open air, you know, you want to increase the surface area to volume ratio of your sandwich. But then it depends on the fillings. Some fillings want to hide from the air. Some fillings need the extra crunch.
Tom:And also, to be fair, that would be a great way of getting more surface area for 16 tiny squares.
Jason:Yeah, right? You cut it into 16 tiny squares. There, we just solved it. That's great. What's the next one? It's to increase the surface area of the sandwich.
Jay:How long ago did this sandwich event happen? Does that make any difference?
Tom:This is a story from Twitter. So at some point since 2006.
Jason:Okay, so probably not a large Catholic family with 16 children.
Jay:And you say that he opened it to find that it had been cut weirdly. So someone had basically pranked this guy, and pre-sliced the sandwich into 16?
Tom:Yeah, yeah.
Jay:I remember once there was a consumer show for kids on Children's BBC a good 30 years ago. And something like this came up, where someone bought a Breakaway bar, and they complained that something had gone wrong in the factory, and it was entirely solid chocolate all the way through. Now, that I think is a jackpot. That's not worth complaining about. But maybe has something similar happened, where something went awry at the sandwich slicing factory?
Tom:This would be more deliberate than that. It's not a mistake.
Kip:Do they have some kind of aversion to prime numbers?
Tom:Ooh. Again, that's the non-crusty hypotenuse coming back, but.
Jay:Was it a sandwich in a school cafeteria that had been sliced by one of the teachers to demonstrate square numbers?
Tom:Oh, that's— Again, we're— It's sadly nothing mathematical. I love that we keep all—
Jason:Everything's coming back to math, yeah.
Tom:We keep orbiting this kind of mathematical space. And it's just not the right area. I'm sorry.
Tom:It was bought from a cafe that was making them to order.
Jay:Was the person who opened a sandwich and found it being cut, was he the only one to discover the sandwich like that? Or were they all sold like that?
Jay:Just the one?
Tom:Just the one, just especially for him.
Jay:Can we ask who it was?
Tom:Some guy on Twitter. Which means that this might be an entirely fraudulent story made up by some guy on Twitter. But if it is, it's a good story.
Jason:Well, yeah, 'cause I was gonna ask about the name, 'cause I was wondering if maybe at the sandwich shop, you have to call your name so they know to call your order, and the guy's name was 16 Pieces or something like that. And so they misinterpreted it as what to do for the order. But if it's just some guy on Twitter. Some guy on Twitter.
Jay:The story of how crisps got invented was that someone sent back his chips, saying that they weren't thin or salty enough. And so the chef's like, "Fine, I'll show you thin and salty." And he actually, like it was meant to be a joke food, but he liked it, and it became crisps. Did something similar happen in the sandwich shop, where he is like, "You've sliced it too thick." And he's like, "Fine. I'll show you slices."
Tom:Oh, you are very close to that now.
Jay:Oh, so it was a spite slice.
Tom:It's a spite slice, absolutely! I can tell you his name is Darren. If that helps.
Jay:Darren and the spite sliced sandwich.
Tom:This is a photo tweeted by Darren, who got it from someone else. So we're already like several layers deep of how the story could have could have come about. But yes, it is a spite slice. What might the buyer of the sandwich have done to inspire the spite slicing?
Jay:Is it specifically about the number 16, or did the sandwich artist — and that is the correct term — Did the sandwich artist just deliberately slice into as many slices as possible, or...
Tom:Yeah, as many slices as possible.
Jay:Alright, alright.
Kip:Okay. Something to do with... he needed help chewing the sandwich. He was gonna feed it to his child, or...
Tom:Oh no, that wouldn't be a spite slice.
Jason:Yeah, that wouldn't be. That would be on purpose, yeah. That would be intentional slicing.
Jay:That's a kind slice. A nice slice.
Jason:A nice slice. Nice slice. I'm glad we got you here.
Tom:Why did we go for kind first?
Jason:We got a nice slice and a spice slice. Not spice— Spite slice.
Jay:Was it a spicy nice slice?
Kip:We don't know if it was a spice slice. Tom hasn't told us what was in it.
Jason:Oh my god.
Tom:I don't know what was in the sandwich. It doesn't matter what was in the sandwich.
Jason:I dunno, so what do you gotta do to get a spite slice? Like does the person ask, "Do you want it sliced?" And you answer back with something insulting?
Tom:It is apt. Like there are a lot of little things to deal with here.
Jason:I see.
Kip:Was that it? Was it a comment on the size of the sandwich artist?
Tom:Not quite.
Jay:Was it— I'm guessing. Did the customer rudely say, "And slice it neatly this time!" So the sandwich artist went for as neat as possible?
Tom:No, it's very apt here. They had to deal with a lot of fiddly stuff, so now he does as well.
Jay:So there's another important question. Whose side are we on for this story? Who was the arsehole?
Tom:Oh, that's very debatable here.
Jason:Yeah, I get the feeling that the guy bought the sandwich with a bunch of pennies or something like that.
Tom:Yes, absolutely right. It was paid for in 10p pieces.
Jason:So he paid in 10p pieces. So like, "Okay, I'm gonna give you..."
Jay:Ah, that's genius.
Tom:The sandwich artist — 'cause apparently we're using that term — just had to deal with a lot of fiddly change, and allegedly dealt with it by slicing up the sandwich in similar proportions.
Jay:That's amazing.
Jason:That's actually excellent, yes. I think that's exactly what you should do in that case, to be honest.
Jason:I'm honestly with the sandwich artist in this one.
Tom:I'm pretty sure that's trademarked by Subway, by the way.
Jason:I think it is too.
Tom:Yes, allegedly a British man received a sandwich cut into 16 tiny pieces, because he paid with a lot of small change.

Our next question comes from one of our guests. As always, I don't know the question. I definitely don't know the answer. And we're gonna start this time with Jay.
Jay:So the question is:

To solve a problem at their school, boys at Panchayat Union Middle School use some hosepipe, drainage pipes, and a few water cans that had been cut diagonally. The total cost was just 600 rupees. What had they devised?

So that question again.

To solve a problem at their school, boys at Panchayat Union Middle School used some hosepipe, drainage pipes, and a few water cans that had been cut diagonally. The total cost was just 600 rupees. What had they devised?
Kip:Are they using this for water in some description?
Jay:Let me just scroll down to the bottom of the document and reveal the answer to myself. And then I'll let you know.
Tom:We should spend a while— We should spend a while talking about this first.
Jason:Yeah, okay.
Tom:Hose pipe, drainage pipes, and watering cans cut diagonally?
Tom:So, I mean, it's gotta be water... ...transmission? That feels like the wrong word, but I can't think of a better one. That shows where my head's at.
Tom:Transport, there we go.
Jay:Water movementism. It's a thing that yes, usually involves water movementism.
Kip:I mean, I guess if you cut a watering can in half, it's much less difficult to tip it over when it's very heavy. But that seems a little on the permanent side.
Tom:I'm also wondering which diagonal. I'm like... If you cut it down vertically, that feels like not a particularly useful watering can.
Jay:Unless you're trying to demonstrate how a watering can works with a lovely cross-section.
Tom:This isn't a Steve Mould video.
Jason:They're recreating a Steve Mould video for only 500 rupees.
Jay:I wonder, would it help if if we knew what 600 rupees was, in money we might know about?
Tom:I mean, I'm guessing not very much.
Kip:I assume it's the cost of a few hose pipes and a watering can.
Jay:Something that may help you, by the way. The watering cans were made of metal, but they had a similar shape to large water cooler bottles.
Tom:Huh, okay. So it's—
Kip:Quite a lot of effort to cut a metal watering can in half.
Jason:And what did they cut it with? Did that also get included in the 600 rupees?
Tom:What problem do you have at a school?
Jay:Well, something I will say, this is a problem that is worth solving. This is something, you know, you don't want the problem to not be solved.
Kip:Oh, are they, is it urinals? Are they creating toilets?
Jason:Yeah, that's what I was thinking too.
Jay:It is. Correct answer. It says an ultra low-cost urinal.
Tom:Oh, because, and the clue's in the— The clue's in the question, because it was boys.
Jason:Yeah. And it was cut diagonally like a urinal.
Jay:There's some more detail here. It says the cans were cut from the middle of the base to near the top of one side. The cans were installed upside down. And the final clue we never got to use was the arrangement solved a somewhat embarrassing problem.
Jason:Oh, there you go. I mean, that's about, I see here it's about seven euros. Seven euros for a urinal.
Jay:They've got a photo of it here, which is, I mean, from far away, it looks basically like a perfectly normal urinal. You wouldn't know unless you sort of went up close to it and zoomed in with your face that it was made of anything unusual.
Tom:Jay, you didn't need "with your face" in that sentence!
Jason:Zoomed in with your face to the urinal.
Jay:Well, I mean, if you were there on the day.
Jay:Do you ever use the word— Do you ever use the term "zoom in" when you're just talking about walking closer or further away to objects?
Jason:Never once, Jay.
Kip:It's more that I don't investigate body fluids with my face.
Tom:And that's coming from someone who professionally investigates body fluids sometimes!
Kip:Yeah, but with hands!
Jay:There's a thing I heard is, I dunno how off topic this is, but apparently some of the cleanest urinals in the world are in Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Actually, Jason, you might know this, and you can back up whether or not this is true. And the way they were able to keep their urinals so clean is because each one had a tiny pretend fly, which all the men were trying to aim for.
Jason:Yeah, I thought that—
Tom:There's a long history of like putting little football goals or something in there as—
Jason:Yeah, I just saw— Actually I think it was at Schiphol. I just saw one that had a little golf hole with a little flag coming out of it. So I thought that was an interesting one.
Tom:I'm sorry. Are there two people in this game who know how to pronounce Schiphol Airport correctly?
Jason:Yeah, right? /ˈsxɪp ɔl/
Jay: /ˈxsɪpɔl/, /ˈskɪp ɒl/?
Jason: /ˈsxɪp ɔl/
Jason:Schkip-ple. Yeah.
Tom:Welcome to Lateral, where we try to pronounce airports!
Jay:Yes, it says here in the notes, instead of urinating on the wall of their compound, they used this equipment to install a more conventional men's bathroom. The hose pipe attached to a tap provided clean water. The drain pipe took the nasty stuff away. And sliced through on a diagonal, the water cans look remarkably similar to urinals.
Tom:Next question is from me. Good luck folks.

In China, why are large, rectangular pieces of cardboard given to people dressed as bears and pandas, among other costumes?

I'll give you that one more time.

In China, why are large, rectangular pieces of cardboard given to people dressed as bears and pandas, among other costumes?
Jay:I've had a depressing thought. Is it so that they can pretend to be a video of a sneezing panda, hold up the rectangle in front of them and go, "Look, I'm in the video frame."
Tom:I mean, that would be a great Halloween costume.
Jay:Specifically sneezing panda?
Tom:Yeah, yeah. Just have a big, big frame with some play buttons on it. Panda costume, occasionally sneeze. That would've killed 10 years ago.
Jason:Yeah, exactly.
Tom:15 years ago?
Tom:A lot of years ago now.
Jason:You've been around for a long time, Tom.
Kip:Is this Halloween themed, or is it people who just enjoy dressing as pandas for various... sexual and non-sexual reasons?
Jason:How big is furry culture in China?
Tom:The same way that Jay did not need to use the phrase, "zoom in with your face." You didn't need to add the words "sexual or non-sexual" in there. It could have just been reasons.
Jason:We just want to get to the answer here, Tom.
Tom:This is not for, how shall I phrase this, for entertainment purposes.
Jay:Well, why would you be dressed as a panda if it wasn't for entertainment purposes? I'm trying, I'm struggling to think of a serious way to dress as a panda.
Tom:All sorts of other costumes, but it's often pandas.
Jay:Is it something to do with— and I'm sorry to, you know, bring it back to sex— but is it something to do with trying to encourage pandas—
Tom:Hold on. I could just say no now, but it's gonna be more funny if we let him say this, so. Go on, Jay, go on.
Jay:Well, I saw a thing. And when I say saw a thing I can't remember whether it was a documentary on BBC Four, or whether it was a thing in The Mighty Boosh, where you dress as a panda in order to encourage pandas to mate in the zoo. I think that was The Mighty Boosh, and not a documentary.
Tom:I think you're getting kind of hung up on the word pandas here. Like, that's one of the common costumes. It's big costumes.
Jason:I mean... yeah. He did say bears as well.
Kip:Is there anything on the rectangular piece of cardboard?
Tom:Yes. More than that, I'm not saying right now! But that is a key part of this question, is the rectangular piece of cardboard.
Jay:Am I allowed to ask, does the rectangular cardboard have words on it?
Tom:You are absolutely allowed to ask that, yes.
Kip:Are you going to answer that?
Tom:Not yet, no.
Jay:Animal costume autocue?
Tom:Oh, you wouldn't hand it to the person in the costume if it was that.
Jay:Unless they're dressed as a panda or a bear, and they're operating the autocue for somebody else. And the costume's just for fun.
Kip:Is it against any kind of law? Is it a notice that they're being handed?
Jason:It feels like they're being forced to dress like this as some sort of punishment?
Tom:You're both skirting around the thing here. There is a law involved, a requirement here. And the costume helps them sort of get around that a little.
Jay:Is it in places where you're not allowed to protest? If you dress as a panda, or indeed any other large mammal, you can walk around holding placards without fear of the CCTV catching you?
Tom:You're getting quite close in terms of preserving their identity and their secrecy. Yes, that's right. It's not quite for that reason. That's not the rectangular bits of cardboard.
Jay:It's for bashing themselves on the head.
Kip:Is it paper with words on for them, or do they fill it out and return it? Like a form, I'd just say a form.
Tom:Oh, it's for them. It's very much for them.
Jay:Is it particularly large piece of cardboard?
Tom:Yeah. Yeah. Big, big. Novelty piece of cardboard you might even say.
Kip:So a sign, possibly?
Jason:Was it at some sort of sporting event? No, okay.
Jay:Can we get another juicy clue?
Tom:They would be delighted to receive these pieces of cardboard. It's life changing.
Kip:Are they cheques?
Tom:Yes. Yes, they are. The big novelty cheques. So what's the missing piece in this puzzle? Why might you want to keep your identity a secret by putting a big old mascot costume on?
Jason:Because they've won the lottery, and don't want their family coming after them.
Tom:It's a condition of the lottery that you collect your prize in person, and you take part in publicity. But if you rock up in a giant costume, whatever that happens to be, your face is not gonna be on screen. So everyone isn't gonna know to come to you for money.
Jason:Right. Oh, that's good. That's good.
Tom:That includes Baymax from Big Hero Six, Mickey Mouse, which is presumably all copyright infringement. Someone's turned up in a Transformers outfit. All of which is still good publicity for the lottery. So they allow that.
Jason:Winning the lottery is quite life transforming.
Tom:So yes, the people being handed giant pieces of cardboard while wearing mascot costumes are Chinese lottery winners.

Next question comes from Kip. Ready when you are.
Kip:J.M. Barrie's story Peter Pan was originally a play and then a book. Over the years, Barrie made various improvements to the story. However, one change — the addition of fairy dust — was required for a non-creative reason. What was it?

So J.M. Barrie's story Peter Pan was originally a play and then a book. Over the years, Barrie made various improvements to the story. However, one change — the addition of fairy dust — was required for a non-creative reason. What was it?
Jay:Before they decided to make it fairy dust, which I guess, you know, performing it on stage just involves a broom every night. Was it fairy liquid?
Kip:I mean, this is quite an old play.
Jason:Well, she said it was a play first, and so the liquid would've been a problem at the beginning then.
Tom:I didn't realise it was a play first. I feel like I should have known that.
Jason:Yeah, I feel like I should have known that too.
Tom:I know it's still in copyright in the UK. That's— It's got a special law, J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan has, which is that the copyright on it is perpetual, and the proceeds go to...
Jay:Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Jay:You actually, if you watch Disney's Peter Pan, it's there in the credits right at the beginning. It's quite jarring to see such a, you know, a local British thing in such a Disney film.
Kip:And it's only copyrighted in the UK. They haven't got it elsewhere.
Tom:So you can absolutely make any Peter Pan thing you want in the US. But if you wanna publish it in the UK, then you still need to clear it. I imagine that's not remotely relevant to this question, but I just thought I'd throw a fact in.
Kip:No, but you actually can't find out how much it is,
Jay:because J.M. Barrie said
Kip:that they were never allowed to disclose it, and they have never disclosed it.
Tom:All of which makes no difference to fairy dust.
Kip:No, but does it?
Jay:Does it count as a Peter Pan story if it's like a sort of gritty origin story, like a prequel just called "Pan" about where he came— That's been done, hasn't it?
Tom:It must have been. I know you can copyright char— Sorry, we've got onto one of my favorite subjects, which is like niche copyright law, and I apologise— and I say "we've" got onto that. I've just pulled us onto that topic.
Jason:Let's go, Tom.
Tom:But there was a case settled in the intellectual property courts in the UK, I think it was last year, about one of those sitcom dinner shows. It was Only Fools and Horses Dining Experience.
Jason:Oh yeah.
Tom:So like actors unlicensed, just actors playing the characters from the TV show, and just with a new script. And that was ruled copyright infringement. Like the idea of a character was held to be something that could be infringed, which was touch and go for a while. Again, not relevant. I'm just throwing facts about copyright, because I'm just stuck on fairy dust!
Jason:Just stuck on fairy dust.
Kip:It's fine. If I say Sherlock Holmes, will that send you down a copyright hole as well?
Tom:Yes, absolutely! There's a whole n— I won't do it now, but yeah, I've got a good solid 5-10 minutes on the Baker Street saga.
Jay:Hang on, Kip. When you say Sherlock Holmes, is that because you wanna get Tom excited about copyright, or is that a juicy clue for the fairy dust?
Kip:It's always fun to get Tom going on copyright, isn't it?
Tom:No! No, it's not!
Jason:That didn't answer the question.
Kip:It's nothing... The copyright is absolutely nothing to do with the question. It's just one of the things I know in great depth.
Jay:The improvement to the story, was that made for the purposes of performing it as a play, or was it improvement... you know, is it still improved in book form?
Kip:So it was to do with both the play and the book.
Tom:But not the film and not the animation.
Kip:So it's the story of Peter Pan.
Tom:What does fairy dust do in Peter Pan?
Jason:It makes people fly, right?
Jay:I mean, embarrassingly... It does, but embarrassingly, I only know that from the Disney version, which is the only version I know well, and Walt Disney was famous for chewing up and disrespecting and reimagining his source material.
Kip:I would go down Jason's train of thought. It's always much easier when you've got the answer in front of you. But I would go down Jason's train of thought.
Jason:Oh, wait, what was my train of thought again? That it makes people fly. And... If it's for practical reasons, maybe they couldn't make people fly on stage at the time, and so it was the only way to get it across.
Tom:Or maybe they could make people fly, but it created dust. Like they were like... As the person flew across the stage, they were just kind of knocking plasterboard out of the ceiling. "That's fairy dust."
Jason:"Yeah, it's fairy dust. Don't worry about it."
Kip:I think there's more of an idea of... these days, it's kind of the dis... television disclaimer of the Victorian era.
Jay:Do you mean that before they settled on it being fairy dust, it was something that wouldn't go down well nowadays? Is it fairy something else?
Tom:Oh no, it was don't try this at home! Like it was stopping kids from jumping out of windows saying, "You can fly if you think happy thoughts." It's, you can fly, but you need magic fairy dust. So it stopped kids going, "Yeah, I'm gonna fly."
Kip:And conveniently you couldn't buy glitter in any random shop.
Jason:That's good.
Tom:Did that get added to the book... Like, did that happen, and it was like second edition included that, or was it just J.M. Barrie being like really careful?
Kip:Apparently children were injuring themselves by jumping off their beds and trying to fly unaided. So it was health and safety of the...
Jay: Wow.
Kip:Previous point.
Jay:I like to think that in the original J.M. Barrie script, you know, there was actually a bit that says,

"Really, it's as simple as that? Do I not need some sort of fairy dust?"

"Nope, go for it."
Jason:"Nah, just jump." "Go nuts, man. Jump out the window. You'll be fine."
Kip:So, J.M. Barrie was constantly updating the story, and when he found out that children were injuring themselves by jumping off beds, he added fairy dust to try and stop it.
Tom:Next question's from me, although it was sent in by Ben Tedds, so thank you very much for that. Here we go.

Lara fancies getting a pet, so she visits her local pet store in Geneva. She says, "Do you have a guinea pig? I'd like to buy one." The shop owner refuses. She asks to buy a parrot or a chinchilla the same way. Again, she's denied, even though they're in stock. Why?

One more time.

Lara fancies getting a pet, so she visits her local pet store in Geneva. She says, "Do you have a guinea pig? I'd like to buy one." The shop owner refuses. She asks to buy a parrot or a chinchilla the same way. Again, she's denied, even though they're in stock. Why?
Kip:Does the pet shop know anything about her? Background, where she lives?
Tom:Lara could be basically anyone at this point.
Kip:Would they have given her a pet at all? Right is it, are the particular animals part of the clue?
Tom:Yes, absolutely. There are other pets she'd have been fine with. A cat, absolutely fine.
Jay:So they had those pets in stock, but refused to give them to her?
Jason:Did a law change recently? They've still got old stock of guinea pigs that are now illegal?
Tom:Ooh, you are right. This has been a feature of Swiss law since 2008.
Kip:How old is Lara?
Tom:Old enough to buy a pet.
Jay:Do you need to buy them two at a time? And they've only got one of each?
Tom:I mean, Jay, you just nailed that immediately.
Jay: Wow!
Jason:They need to be adopted in pairs.
Tom:Look at that. So why is that? Why would it be—
Jay:So you're not allowed to buy a lonely chinchilla?
Tom:Yeah. Chinchillas, guinea pigs, parrots are all social animals. Since 2008, Swiss law has required that you cannot have just one of them as a pet. So in theory, if Lara had already had a chinchilla somehow, she could have bought another. If she'd have had two, perhaps three. But you cannot buy a lone chinchilla or guinea pig or parrot if you're in Switzerland.
Jay:So does that mean that the shop wasn't able to sell it to anyone unless they already had one? Or would the shop have to sort of, you know, go into cahoots with another shop? And by the way, Cahoots is a brilliant name for a bird pet shop.
Tom:I would suspect the shop would not be allowed to stock only one guinea pig.
Kip:What do they do if you have two and one dies? Like, they come and do routine inspections?
Tom:I do not know the answer to that?
Jason:You have to bring your guinea pig certificate.
Jay:I guess it's like the China one-child policy. What happens if you accidentally have octuplets?
Tom:I also don't know the answer. I'm not sure it's quite like that, Jay!
Jason:It's kinda the opposite of that actually, but.
Tom:I think it's kinda the opposite of that! Yes, the 2008 Animal Protection Ordinance states that social animals must be permitted interaction within their species. I don't know if that means you have two guinea pigs and one dies, you are required to take another. More than that, it's not in my notes.
Jay:Are there any animals for which the opposite applies? Where it is like China's one-child policy, and you're not allowed more than one, because of the chaos that might ensue? I'm trying to think what animal is there that you really don't want more than one of.
Jason:Yeah, I mean, I can think of lots of animals you wouldn't want any of. Like, you wouldn't want an alligator in your house. But I can't think of any that you'd want only one of.
Tom:I mean, presumably there are animals which are solo and will attack other members of the same species, but my trivia brain is not remembering any of those right now.
Jason:It feels like there must be.
Tom:Also it's probably covered under like anti-animal-fighting laws 'cause...
Tom:This went to a dark place fast.

Last guest question of the show then. There's one more that I asked the audience at the start, but the last guest question comes from Jason. What do you have for us?
Jason:Alright, I have here:

A viral video shows an astronaut in a space suit, walking slowly on a rugged surface. He is holding a Mexican flag. Suddenly, the illusion is broken when a car drives past. What was the video's purpose?

And I'll read that again.

A viral video shows an astronaut in a spacesuit, walking slowly on a rugged surface. He is holding a Mexican flag. Suddenly the illusion is broken when a car drives past. What was the video's purpose?
Tom:All I've got in my head is like the idents for MTV. Which starts like...
Jason:Yeah, that's right.
Tom:The Apollo thing. I'm like, did they launch MTV Mexico, and the filming just went badly wrong?
Jason:No, that was—
Kip:Was the car a part of like, was the car intentional? Do we know? Was it supposed to have a car break the illusion?
Jason:The car was supposed to break the illusion, yes. That's actually a very good guess.
Jay:Is this anything to do with those people who believe the moon landings were a hoax?
Tom:Oh, so it's a fake-fake moon landing?
Jason:In this case, no.
Kip:Is there anyone who has a vendetta against Mexico? Large orange politicians?
Tom:Or against astronauts?
Kip:Or both?
Jason:Not in this case, but I'm sure somebody does have a vendetta against Mexico. I'm sure there must be someone out there.
Tom:And someone will just have a vendetta against Mexican astronauts. I've got nothing to go on here. I'm just stuck on moon landing hoaxes and like... Also, why is it viral? What are they promoting?
Jason:Yeah. I have to say when I read this question, I was also like, I'm glad that I'm the one reading it and not the one guessing it.
Jay:Well, also, when you say viral video, do you mean video that went viral, or do you mean they were trying to make a viral video? Which, you know, usually...
Tom:Oh, those are two very different things, aren't they? The number of times, back when "viral video" started to be a thing. The number of times I sat in some meeting where they were like, "We need a viral." I'm like that's not how it works. That's not how this works.
Jason:Come on, Tom. Make me a viral.
Tom:I've literally been in meetings where, like 2008, 2009, that was the term used. They just call them "virals", and just assume that you made a thing, and that's what happened.
Kip:It's so many grammar issues with that phrase as well.
Tom:Oh, yeah, says the virologist!
Jason:Well, this was intending to get a large audience and it did. So I guess that would be how I would answer that, I suppose.
Jay:Did it get a larger audience than they'd intended because of the car?
Jason:I would say... No, the car was part of the point in the first place.
Tom:Is this advertising a specific thing?
Jason:It is not advertising.
Tom:Oh, okay. Public service announcement?
Jason:Not from a government agency anyway.
Jason:I'll tell you that here, that the astronaut is really a performance artist.
Jay:Performed in slow motion to make it look like reduced gravity, and then the car went by very, very, very, very fast.
Jason:That is not in my notes. But it was made by a performance artist who was trying to make a point.
Tom:Were they making a point about cars being everywhere? About there being too many cars in Mexico, and now we can find them on the moon? No, that doesn't make sense.
Jason:That's not it, but that's an idea for a Not Just Bikes video. Let me just write that one down.
Kip:Gotta make you a viral.
Jason:I need some more virals.
Kip:Yeah, that phrase hurts me deep in my soul.
Tom:I mean, that also, that phrase has stopped being a thing since the pandemic. Like, we're not calling them that anymore.
Jason:No, right?
Jason:What do you call a viral video post-pandemic then?
Jay:A TikTok.
Jason:Anyway, go ahead. I will be quiet now. It's not my turn to guess.
Jay:What kind of car was it, and does that make a difference?
Jason:I have no idea what kind of car it is, and it does not make a difference. The only thing important is that it was a car that went by.
Kip:Is it important that it was a Mexican flag?
Jason:It is important that it was a Mexican flag, because it was specifically targeting a Mexican audience.
Jay:Was it something to do with the elections?
Jason:Not to do with elections, but he... Close, 'cause he was trying to target the local authorities with the video.
Tom:Is this potholes? Is this just someone angry about potholes, that they're like the surface of the moon?
Tom:And I've got a Mexican flag and there's a car going by?
Jason:That is literally the answer, Tom. Well done.
Tom:Get in!
Jason:The answer here is to highlight the poor state of the city's roads.
Jay:You think they're bad in Mexico City? You should see what they're like on the moon.
Tom:It's just kicking up dust and that's just getting in people's lungs and killing them.
Jason:No, no, it's fairy dust. It makes them fly.
Tom:Oh, of course. You don't wanna get those mixed up. You don't wanna get your fairy dust and your moon dust mixed up.
Jason:No, you do not. Anyway, that's why the astronauts were able to jump so high on the moon, is because of the fairy dust.
Tom:Of course.
Jason:So, so here it says: At first, it seemed like the rugged surface of the moon, but then we understand that it's actually a very badly maintained road. The stunt was performed by... Oh, I'm not gonna get these Spanish name, the Mexican names right. By Boveda Celeste in Pachu— Pachuca, the capital of Hil— Hidalgo State, Mexico. It was based—
Tom:Do you wanna try that one more time?
Jason:No, let's not try that again. I'm not doing a second take, because I know the second will be just as bad as the first.
Jason:It was based with permission—
Jay:Why don't you make up your own names and put them in?
Jason:Sure, exactly. It was based with permission on a near identical video performed by an Indian artist from Bangaluru. After the initial video went viral, it had the desired effect. The local civic agency began repairs to the road.
Tom:I kind of assumed that it was staged somewhere that was just even rockier, but it was literally just on a potholed road.
Jason:Yeah, that's pretty great actually, that it was.
Tom:Our last question then is the one I asked at the start of the show, which is:

What has a blood pressure of 300/180?

Any suggestions from the panel before I give the answer?
Kip:NHS staff when the new health secretary starts to talk?
Jay:Can I ask what blood pressure's normally measured in, what's the unit?
Kip:Millimetres of mercury.
Tom:And 300/180 is a ludicrous, a life-ending blood pressure.
Jason:So it must not be a human. I mean, it cannot be a human blood pressure then. It has to be something else.
Jay:So just to explain for someone who is phenomenally bad at maths, is it because it's tremendously high or tremendously low? As soon as my brain hears more than one number at a time, it goes (crackle)
Kip:Standard is 120/80. That's quoted as normal.
Tom:Yeah, 180/120 would be a hypertensive crisis for a human. So this is 300/180. This is enormously high. What might have a blood pressure that high?
Jay:Probably some sort of elephant.
Tom:Oh, you're nearly there.
Tom:Yes, absolutely right. Specifically the heart of a giraffe needs that much blood pressure. The pressure up at the head is more like a human, but the pressure down there where it's having to pump it up is 300/180.

So congratulations on getting that, and thank you very much to all our players. Tell us what's going on in your lives. Let's start with Jason.
Jason:Well, I mean, I am busy most of the time if with my kids. And if I'm not, then I'm working on my YouTube channel, Not Just Bikes. And I mean, that's my life these days, and enjoying myself in Amsterdam.
Tom:Kip, where can people find you?
Kip:On Twitter, @miceheath. If it's still there by the time this goes up.
Tom:That's touch and go at the time we're recording.
Kip:I'm a freelance science communicator and public engagement trainer, so come hire me.
Tom:And Jay.
Jay:I've got my YouTube channel, Jay Foreman, and I'm also on Twitter if it's still there at @jayforeman. And I'm also on Mastodon, but I dunno how it works.
Tom:I'm not sure anyone does.
Jason:I'm, also on Mastodon. I'm actually running my own server. So you can do
Jason:Easy to remember.
Tom:I thought about doing that, and then realised I didn't care enough.
Jason:I paid somebody else to do it, and we'll see how long it lasts, but I had to give it a try. I'm big on open-source stuff in general, so, yeah.
Tom:Well, thank you very much to Jason.
Jason:Thank you, Tom.
Tom:To Kip.
Kip:Thank you, Tom.
Tom:And to Jay.
Jay:Thank you for having me.
Tom:If you wanna know more about the show, you can find out at You can see us at @lateralcast pretty much everywhere, and there are video highlights every week at I've been Tom Scott, that's been Lateral. We'll see you next time.
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