Lateral with Tom Scott

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

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Episode 21: The bandit that gives back

Published 3rd March, 2023

Sabrina Cruz, Melissa Fernandes and Taha Khan from 'Answer in Progress' face questions about deceptive dates, brick buildings and baseball baiting.

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: Asger Harpøth Møller, Lewis F.S., Deniz Montagner. FORMAT: Pad 26 Limited/Labyrinth Games Ltd. EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: David Bodycombe and Tom Scott.


Transcription by Caption+

Tom:What's known in Swahili as a kipilefti? The answer to that at the end of the show. My name's Tom Scott, and this is Lateral.

Welcome everybody to this session of Trivia Geeks Anonymous. My name's Tom, I'm a trivia geek, and it has been 23 months since I last played Trivial Pursuit. Today we are joined by the team from Answer in Progress. Welcome back to the show, Sabrina Cruz.
Sabrina:Hello! The cat is also here.
Sabrina:There he is. Meow for the camera.
Tom:No. Now the cat is next to the microphone. The cat is silent.
Sabrina:He's found the celery stick. I'm gonna pull him away from that.
Tom:Also from Answer in Progress, Taha Khan.
Taha:Hello, I am also from Answer in Progress.
Tom:I just said that. Do you have a cat?
Taha:I do not have a cat or pet of any sort. So my audio will be perfect.
Tom:And also-also from Answer in Progress, Melissa Fernandes.
Melissa:Hello. I don't have a cat. I dunno if that's a good or bad thing in this situation.
Sabrina:This feels like a targeted attack, but okay.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:Our show is just like the snacks aisle at a supermarket. It's full of beguiling treats that sometimes are just outside of your reach. But will the questions drive you nuts or crackers? I apologise for that joke!
Sabrina:I liked it. Stand by it, you coward!
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:We start off with question number one. Question number one is short and simple:

Why is there a 'BAR' symbol on one-armed bandits? I'll say that again. Why is there a 'BAR' symbol on one-armed bandits?
Sabrina:I didn't understand. I understand those words as individual things?
Tom:I don't know why the question is phrased as one-armed bandit. Do any of the three people here know what a one-armed bandit is?
Taha:A criminal with one arm.
Tom:See, I thought this was... This is a phrase that I know from American pop culture from the past, but it's very much out of date. So you know what? Stage one of this question is, what's a one armed bandit?
Sabrina:And you're telling me it isn't a bandit with one arm?
Tom:No, and it has a 'BAR' symbol on it.
Taha:I don't even know what a bar symbol is.
Sabrina:Is it a location? Is it a person?
Tom:It's a thing.
Taha:It's a thing.
Tom:It's a thing with one arm that steals your money.
Sabrina:Is it like the parking, like when you enter and leave a parking lot, and it has like the little arm where it's like, "Ah, you can go in."
Sabrina:Like that?
Tom:That's a lovely guess. It's not, but I can see why you went for that.
Taha:Is it the little cat that comes out of a box and takes the penny in those cheap Chinese toys that you can get from places?
Tom: Ooh. Not quite. Not even close, sorry. But you're coming up with wonderful suggestions for one-armed bandits. The arm—
Taha:You raised my hopes.
Tom:The arm is something that you pull down yourself.
Sabrina:Oh, it's a slot machine?
Tom:Yes. One-armed bandit is an old term for a slot machine.
Sabrina:Interesting, okay.
Tom:Why do they have a 'BAR' symbol on those old-fashioned slot machines?
Taha:Okay, what is a bar symbol? Is it like a drinking bar?
Sabrina:None of us have been to a casino.
Taha:We are all Zoomers.
Tom:This is a wonderfully mistargeted question. Did none of you like play fruit— Well, I mean, we call 'em fruit machines or slot machines in the UK. Did none of you play those as a kid?
Sabrina:As a child?
Taha:As a kid?
Sabrina:What is happening in the United Kingdom?
Melissa:I've seen it before.
Tom:I've only just realised how weird it is that children can play slot machines in the UK.
Taha:I didn't know that was a thing.
Tom:That is actually really, really weird, now I think about it. But it was such a part of my childhood and seaside arcades that I never even thought to question that. That's really weird!
Taha:Yeah, it is. I would've liquidated my assets and put it all into slots. As a four year old.
Tom:There's a limit on the amount of— You can only bet maybe 5 or 10 pence at a time.
Sabrina:You can bet money?
Melissa:You can bet?
Tom:Yeah, and the jackpots are limited to two or three pounds. But yeah, there's no age restriction on those machines. Now I say that out loud, that's bizarre!
Taha:What I'm hearing is you can get a 30x return. Hmm. Good investment.
Sabrina:To all the four year olds listening.
Taha:To all the Boss Babies out there.
Tom:No, hold on, hold on. I'm gonna defend my country and my childhood just a little bit here.
SFX:(others laughing)
Tom:I'm not sure that's worse than those machines where you just put some money in it, and it gives you useless tokens you redeem for prizes. I'm not sure that's actually better or worse?
Taha:But I think the stance that we should have is that both of those things are bad.
Sabrina:For children.
Tom:Agreed... Yes. Like, don't worry, I've read this... There's a great book called Addiction by Design, which is like, this is how bad slot machines are for people and humanity, and it's this really bleak academic book. And I never really connected that to "No, I would go to the seaside as a kid, and put a pound into slot machines and occasionally make a profit." And now I say that out loud, that sounds so bad!
Sabrina:Why is it specifically the seaside? Yeah?
Tom:That's kind of...
Taha:That's where the bandits are.
Tom:The UK has a lot of coastline, and... that's where you would find amusement arcades and things like that, would be where people go on holidays. So traditionally that would be the seaside. This entire thing is so weird, now I say it out loud.
Tom:I've just never made that connection in my head. So imagine if you will, an old timey slot machine.
SFX:(others giggling)
Tom:With the spinny reels on it, and things like that.
Taha:We don't mean to make you feel old.
Tom:And yet!
Taha:We're just youthful, you know? What can we say?
SFX:(guests laughing)
Taha:Oh dear.
Melissa:I feel like I should make us feel better that I have seen one in real life before. Very recently too. So...
Sabrina:Did you see the 'BAR' symbol? Was there a little plaque that it was explaining why?
Melissa:Are you talking about the word 'bar'? Because... like the word 'bar'?
Sabrina: Yes.
Melissa:I've seen that.
Melissa:Don't know why it's there.
Tom:That's the question! Good, we've got to the question!
Taha:We've got to the question.
Melissa:We're there now, we're there.
Taha:We've established all the terms.
Tom:So it's not just numbers and words. What else is on there traditionally?
Sabrina:Diamonds, cherries.
Tom:There's a reason we call them fruit machines in the UK.
Sabrina:My favorite fruit: diamonds. Sorry! (giggles)
Tom:Yeah. It used to be cherry, melon, orange.
Tom:Everything like that.
Taha:They have these at service stations.
Tom:And pubs.
Sabrina:They have slot machines in pubs and...
Sabrina:Truly a different country. (giggles)
Taha:That is true.
Sabrina:It is a different—
Tom:I mean, also that's true in Oregon and a couple of other US states. And all of Australia.
Taha:Probably Vegas.
Tom:Oh yeah, obviously, duh.
Sabrina:Probably, maybe. I don't know if there are many slot machines in Vegas. Okay, so they have these symbols.
Taha:No. Do they do gambling in Vegas?
Sabrina:I don't think so. It's the middle of a desert. Why would anyone be there?
Taha:Yeah, that's true.
Sabrina:Anyway. So there are these symbols on these cylinders. The goal is to get them to match up in a certain way. These symbols apparently used to be primarily fruit oriented?
Tom:And then one that just says, "BAR."
Sabrina:Just says the word "bar." It doesn't look like a big saloon sign that says 'saloon'.
Taha:Is it that if all three say 'BAR'... like in a row... you have to go to the bar and be like, "Hey, I just got all three in a row, so you have to give me like a big amount of money." It's like the winner... It's like... I can't dispense this amount of money, so you have to go... to the bar?
Tom:So you are actually fairly close on that. The reason is not because you were in a bar, or that you might have to go to the bar.
Tom:But it is a different definition of that word, yes.
Sabrina:Well, a bar is like a table, right? It's just a location. It's like a high table.
Taha:It's also like "bar none". You could also have "bar none". I don't know what the word 'bar' is doing in that sentence actually, but "bar none" would be like... I'm trying to understand what that definition is.
Sabrina:Like save anything else, right?
Tom:You've not found the right definition of that yet.
Melissa:So it has nothing to do with gold bars.
Tom:That's the right definition of the word, though.
Taha:Oh, it is? Ah.
Tom:It's not gold bars, but it's something like that.
Sabrina:You know those big chunks of cash, like the big stacks? Has a little band around it. I guess those are called bands. (wheezes)
Taha:I was gonna say, it's like... If you get three of them, you've lost too much money, and they're like, you're barred from this machine for a bit, but we're clearly already on gold bars.
Tom:They're never gonna do that!
Sabrina:So it's a bar of something. It's representative of other things. If they match up, it'll spit out coins or whatever. But if you get three BARs at some point...
Taha:Bars of silver, is it just silver?
Tom:Well, you say it'll spit out money at some point. It's not necessarily true for very early slot machines.
Taha:Very early slot machines. They wouldn't spit out coins or money. What did you say? That they wouldn't spit out coins or money.
Tom:They wouldn't spit out money.
Sabrina:Oh. So was it only...
Sabrina:Was it representative— The only winning option was 'BAR'? And that's the only time that you win?
Tom:Yep, so what might you win? Given what else is on those reels.
Sabrina:A basket of fruits!
SFX:(group laughing)
Melissa:A fruit bar?
Taha:A drink? Could you win a drink? No.
Tom:What was that Melissa?
Melissa:Like a fruit... No wait, no.
Taha:A fruit bar?
Melissa:Did I say fruit? A fruit bar? No, that doesn't make sense.
Tom:I mean...
Melissa:They get a fruit salad? You go to a buffet?
Tom:You know what? You're close enough, I'm gonna give you it. It's a bar of chewing gum.
Sabrina:We were not close at all. You were being far too gracious.
Tom:I mean, yes. But we did start at the process where no one really recognised the phrase "one-arm bandit". So I feel like we've blundered our way through a very, very difficult race there.
Sabrina:Well, now it makes sense why it was open for children, if the things that you win is a little piece of gum.
Tom:Yeah, there's a lot of old traditions that the gambling laws haven't quite caught up with. It was originally: you put some coins in, you spin the wheel. Maybe you'll get a bar of gum at a very cheap price. Maybe it will just remind you of the flavours of gum you could win with the fruits on the wheels.
Melissa:This sounds a lot more... child friendly.
Tom:Yeah, yeah.
Taha:Child friendly in sort of like a lifetime of addiction kind of way.
Sabrina:Listen, we're out here using TikTok, Taha. What are you talking about?
Taha:That's also true.
SFX:(group laughing)
Taha:Yeah. I'm judging, but you know... I've wasted a day to TikTok before.
Tom:As ever, our guests have brought in a question as well. And I don't know the question. I don't know the answer. Good luck to all of us. We're gonna start this time with Melissa.
Melissa:Alright. This listener question has been sent in by Deniz Montagner. So, here we go.

During an international soccer match one evening in May 2018, the Tunisian goalkeeper lay down on the ground during the second half so that the rest of his team could run off the pitch to find their dates. Why?

I'll say that one more time.

During an international soccer match one evening in May of 2018, the Tunisian goalkeeper lay down on the ground during the second half so that the rest of his team could run off the pitch to find their dates. Why?
Sabrina:I thought writing things down would help me, but I'm...
Tom:(laughs) Yeah.
Melissa:Do you want me to say a third time or...
Tom:No, no, no.
Sabrina:No, no, no. I'm just... I'm bad. I'm stupid. That's why! (laughs)
Taha:Okay, so he laid down on the ground. So potentially faking an injury of some sort to run down the clock.
Tom:Oh. I was thinking it was some kind of weird strategy or something like that. I was thinking it was just kind of laying down in front of the goal and leaving an open goal, but...
Sabrina:I'm still thrown off by finding their dates. Aren't they busy? Are they not playing a game right now?
Taha:Are they not doing their job?
SFX:(both laughing)
Sabrina:Does 'dates' mean like the... It means somebody that they were seeing for the evening at least? So it was like...
Tom:Not like...
Taha:They didn't have... labelled the fruit... and been like, "This is my one. I need to go find my one."
Melissa:Wait, what was your question Sabrina?
Sabrina:So they were talking about the— they ran— they were going to go find people they were spending some sort of time with?
Sabrina:It's the fruit?
Taha:It was dates. I got it, I've got it. I've got it. Yes.
Tom:He's got it.
Taha:They were lying down because they were fasting and they went to break their fast.
Melissa:Close enough.
Tom:May 2018.
Melissa:That is correct.
Taha:Wait, this was the World Cup. I remember this. Was this, is this correct?
Melissa:I don't know if it— Yes, it was the World Cup.
Taha:Yeah, I remember this.
Tom:And the sun had just set, so...
Tom:And it's during Ramadan.
Taha:I just remembered that from the depths of my soul.
Melissa:That was great. Sabrina, your question... Your question kind of gave the key there.
Sabrina:I'm not gonna lie, I wouldn't have gotten it. I think that it's still—
Melissa:That was good.
Tom:I had a thing in my head saying, "Heh, make a joke about the dates being the fruit." And then I thought, no, I'm not gonna ask that one. You always say the stupid thing. It might actually turn out.
Melissa:That was good. So, yeah. The goalkeeper laid down on the ground, so that the teammates could break their fast, 'cause it was during Ramadan.
Tom:Next question is back to me, and it's a bit of a mystery one, this. This isn't based on real events. This is just a hypothetical for you. A sleeping woman is found at the arrivals lounge at Heathrow Airport, London. She has no possessions or ID with her. However, once security guards saw she was wearing her watch upside down, they knew which country she'd been visiting. Where was she from? I'll say that again. A sleeping woman is found at the arrivals lounge at Heathrow Airport, London. She has no possessions or ID with her. However, once security guards saw she was wearing her watch upside down, they knew which country she'd been visiting. Where was she from?
Taha:This is like a riddle.
Sabrina:Is it like someplace with a 12-hour time difference? So then she remembers the location, but if she wants to call family or whatever, she has to account for that time difference? So she wants to know the local time?
Tom:I mean, a 12-hour time difference...
Sabrina:Is in fact just the same watch.
Sabrina:I'll pass away now. It's fine. (laughs) Six hours?
Tom:Would you like to rephrase that answer?
Sabrina:I'm not fully conf—
Taha:Six hours.
Sabrina:Is it six hours or 24? It's six, right?
Tom:You are actually really close with that one. You are rattling through this, but that's not quite right. That wouldn't really work if you turned your watch upside down.
Sabrina:I'll fish out a watch.
Melissa:What kind of a watch? Was it—
Taha:Was it a digital watch or an analogue watch?
Tom:It was analogue.
Sabrina:This is a riddle. Do you think they have Apple watches in riddles?
SFX:(group giggling)
Taha:Yeah, they were using the smartwatch face on the new Apple Watch.
Tom:Does the Apple Watch have an accelerometer in it? So if you flip it round the other way...
Taha:Probably, I don't know. I don't have an Apple Watch.
Tom:This is an analogue wristwatch.
Melissa:She's got one.
Sabrina:it doesn't flip upside down.
Sabrina:I've just locked my watch.
Taha:There you go. I've got it. Because this is a riddle... the horse's name was Friday.
Taha:We've nailed it. We can go to the next one.
Tom:You are actually almost right, Sabrina. You are in definitely the right area, but six hours would not work for turning your watch upside down.
Taha:Upside down? Because... I don't have a clock face, available to me, but... I just stay in this room, this timeless room of void.
Taha:But... I think that– 'Cause I think that if you turn the watch face upside down, the time will go backwards. Am I wrong?
Sabrina:I found a watch.
Taha:No, yeah, I'm wrong.
Tom:No, it'll still keep going clockwise.
Taha:Yeah, it'll still go clockwise. It doesn't invert.
Sabrina:I really thought that looking at a watch face would suddenly just unlock it for me.
Taha:Was it just—
Sabrina:It means nothing.
Taha:It was just like someone from a Christopher Nolan film.
Sabrina:Would you like to— Okay, so this is the watch right-side up.
Sabrina:And then it does this. I flipped it upside down. And it feels like it's been mirrored on... (snort) ...some axis.
Taha:So the top of the watch would say... six. But it's upside down, so it would say nine.
Melissa:Wait, no.
Sabrina:No, it'd say 12.
Tom:No. Nearly.
Taha:Am I wrong?
Sabrina:This is truly a humiliating episode for the Zoomers on this call.
Tom:(laughs uproariously)
Sabrina:We don't know what a slot machine is. We have not looked at an analog watch face in a very long time.
Tom:To be fair, I realised I've lost the ability to intuitively tell the time. Like, I— In my childhood, I could look at a clock and go, "Yes, I know what time it is now." Whereas now I do have to go, "...Yeah." and just kind of work it out.
Tom:I've lost that ability.
Taha:No, six is at the bottom. I'm not crazy.
Sabrina:Yeah, six is at the bottom, but when you flip it upside down, six moves to the top, and then 12 moves to the bottom.
Taha:No, no, no. I understand that. But isn't the actual symbol of '6' turned around?
Sabrina:Oh, '6' upside down becomes '9'. You went deep into the riddle.
Taha:So what I'm saying is that maybe... it was nine in the other country, and 12... and six in the normal country. So three hours.
Sabrina:But it would only work for that one number, wouldn't it?
Taha:Yeah, that's what I mean. But you only need the one number to tell the time.
Sabrina:A broken clock is always right twice!
Taha:As in, I dunno. I mean the—
Tom:You're definitely on the right line, Sabrina. What is that movement doing to the time? When you turn that watch upside down, what happens?
Sabrina:So, this truly is just us unable to parse this clock!
Tom:(laughs uproariously)
Taha:Okay. So it's six.
Sabrina:All of our brain cells together.
Taha:So it's three— So it's six hours. The difference is six hours.
Tom:No, it's not.
Sabrina:Because it rotates on a weird axis though. 'Cause it's by minutes as well. It's a half hour. So it's one of those, is it one of those countries with a half hour difference as well?
Taha:So it's six and a half hours.
Tom:Oh, so... you are nearly right on six and a half, but not quite. And completely, utterly wrong on Newfoundland.
Sabrina:Damn it!
Taha:Five and a half hours.
Tom:Yes, you're right there.
Tom:If you turn that watch upside down— You have to nudge the hour hand a bit in your head, but it's roughly five and a half hours by changing that.
Taha:Okay, I have a question. Does anyone know the time difference to Australia? 'Cause I know Australia has half-hour time differences, because one of the time zones uses the Korean time zone. So maybe they were either in Korea or in Australia. 'Cause I know they both have half-hour time differences.
Tom:There is one other major country with a half-hour time difference. And if you don't know it, you don't know it, but...
Taha:And I know the other two? That's crazy.
Tom:Yeah, you unfortunately know the other two.
Tom:There is one very major country that is about five hours east. You're in the right area. You're not quite there with China.
Melissa:And not Korea, not Australia.
Sabrina:So what's in that region, like Mongolia? Kazakhstan, Uzbeks. I'm moving this way.
Taha:I'm just gonna guess this... so that I don't feel shame. Is it Pakistan?
Tom:Not quite.
Tom:India is absolutely the right answer. India has a five and a half hour time difference.
Tom:So there is a trick Which apparently Narendra Modi told to the entire Wembley Stadium audience when he was perf– I was gonna say performing.
Tom:Holding a rally there. You can turn the watch upside down, and that will convert you between Indian time and UK time.
Taha:That is so cool.
Tom:The next question comes from Sabrina. Go for it.
Sabrina:Alright. This is a listener question that's been sent in by Lewis F.S.

If you look at a British home constructed in the late 18th century, it is likely that its bricks are larger than those in a house from the early part of that century. Why?

I'll say it again.

If you look at a British home constructed in the late 18th century, it is likely that its bricks are larger than those in a house from the early part of that century. Why?
Tom:I mean, the comedy answer is inflation, but that's, you know.
Sabrina:(laughs) Somebody was outside blowing air into a brick.
Melissa:Would it just take less time?
Taha:To build?
Melissa:To construct 'cause they're bigger pieces? Less time to put it together? From her facial expressions, that was a no.
Sabrina:No, no, no. It's not a no per se. It's like, you're on the right track, but it isn't necessarily answering the question of why.
Taha:Is it because they invented some... building tool that allows them to move larger bricks? So they could build faster, 'cause they're bigger bricks. And they had the ability, like a crane, like a rudimentary crane to build houses.
Sabrina:They had aliens.
Tom:You can move a brick by just...
Sabrina:Picking it up.
Tom:Picking it up.
Taha:Yeah, but—
Tom:Unless people got stronger...
Taha:Yeah, everyone just started working out.
Sabrina:No, there was no technological reason for this shift.
Tom:Oh, okay. So the only bit I know about old buildings back then is that there was a window tax. There a place where... I can't remember the name. There's a big old mansion, stately home somewhere in the Midlands that was known as more glass than wall because it was ostentatious. They were putting windows everywhere to show off that they had money, because you were charged by the window, by how much glass you had in your building. I dunno how that would affect the size of bricks though? I'm just trying to vaguely... If we're talking about non-technological reasons that change why buildings look this way.
Taha:'Cause I was thinking... In my head, you know, there's massive bricks that go on the inside of a building, and then they put the nice outside bricks up. So I was thinking—
Tom:Breeze blocks, yeah.
Taha:Breeze blocks, yeah. Maybe I was thinking that they invented breeze blocks.
Sabrina:I'll say that, Tom, you're not right... but you're inching. You're getting there.
Tom:It's a legal change then. It's some...
Taha:Is it literally as straightforward as... the legal requirement for a brick increased?
Tom:Oh, did the tax on the brick increase per brick?
Taha:(gasp) So good.
Tom:There was a half— You were charged a penny per hundred bricks tax, and the solution was just to make really big bricks.
Taha:That's has to be it.
Sabrina:It absolutely is.
Melissa:Oh my gosh!
Sabrina:Do you guys wanna know why there was this tax that was implemented?
Taha:Money. They wanted to make more money.
Sabrina:Well, that is usually why you would implement a tax!
SFX:(group laughing)
Taha:I love being right.
Tom:Did it specifically target some group who were building big brick places or something like that?
Sabrina:It was more so for a specific cause. Think about the era. It's the late 18th century. What's been going on?
Tom:Was this— Oh, this is where my history knowledge shows up wrong. Is this King John and the Crusades, and the— I'm just thinking Robin Hood, and I think that was centuries earlier now.
Sabrina:Not quite, it wasn't quite that time, but it—
Tom:No, that was centuries earlier, wasn't it?
Sabrina:Should I just tell you? You guys figured out that it was a brick tax. And it was to pay off the American Revolutionary War.
Tom:Oh. That— yeah— (stammers)
Taha:That's a random tax to add.
Tom:Sometimes in my head, the dates... Despite the dates being the same, yeah, of course, late 18th century. Late 18th century does not feel like American Revolutionary War to me. For some reason, that doesn't feel like the right definition of there. Late 18th century feels like, "Oh, that's centuries ago. That's medieval."
Tom:No, it's not. That's the American Revolution.
Sabrina:Yeah, there's also the fact that all of us were born around or before the '90s. We were born in the late 20th century, y'all. What's it like?
Tom:Yeah. I used "turn of the century" in a video a while back, without really thinking about it to mean the turn of the 21st century, and that confused a lot of people who just haven't kind of internalised that yet.
Taha:That's fair.
Sabrina:But to answer, to get it all together, this tax for these bricks was introduced to recoup the cost of the American Revolutionary War. The word 'excise' on the brick showed that tax had been paid on them. And from 1803, an act was introduced that charged double duty for bricks over 10 by 5 inches. So you couldn't keep scamming the system. Yeah.
Tom:What we've done is we've taken one massive brick, and carved the rest out from inside it.
Sabrina:Yes. But interestingly, bricks used in constructing or repairing churches were exempt from this form of taxation.
Tom:My last big question of the show then.

On the night of October 5th, 2001, people in a motley assortment of boats, inflatables, kayaks, and canoes waited in McCovey Cove, a small inlet of San Francisco Bay, hoping to catch a possible fortune. What was that fortune?

I'll say that again.

On the night of October 5th, 2001, people in a motley assortment of boats, inflatables, kayaks and canoes waited in McCovey Cove, a small inlet of San Francisco Bay, hoping to catch a possible fortune. What was that fortune?
Taha:So, I know that at some point, because you made a video on it, they spilled Lego into the sea.
Tom:Yes, a lot of Lego.
Taha:A lot of Lego. So was there a limited edition Lego that they're all trying to find?
SFX:(others giggling)
Tom:I love that. Unfortunately not.
Tom:That plastic tends to get washed in with the tide onto a beach. So you'd have to be kind of sifting through sand for that. You'd also somehow have to track a single piece of Lego from a container ship accident a hundred miles away, which would be a little bit tricky.
Sabrina:So does it have anything to do with something spilling out into the ocean?
Tom:In a very, very vague sense, yes.
Sabrina:Is it like, is it— I don't know why my head immediately went to this, but is it something visual? Is it a sunset or something settling in? You know those big moons, when people are like, "Oh yeah, it's the big moon day. Look outside, the moon is so big!" Is it like one of those? (giggles)
Tom:Weirdly for the questions in this show, it's actually less metaphorical than that.
Tom:They're not just trying to hope to catch the sunset. They're not catching the sunset, and that's their fortune that they've earned in their hearts. No, this is very much trying to catch a fortune.
Taha:So this is 2001.
Tom:2001, October.
Melissa:And something spilled these up.
Taha:Spill is something we came up with.
Melissa:Oh, okay.
Tom:Spill is something you came up with. I'm saying very, very vaguely. It's something that's spilling into the ocean.
Taha:A small fortune. Did they mint the first Bitcoin that was in the sea?
Sabrina:(snickers) I hate you.
Taha:Because all I'm thinking is San Francisco is Silicon Valley, and I'm just, I dunno. I feel like it's something technological in nature. Maybe.
Tom:It's artificial, it's not necessarily technological.
Sabrina:Oh, interesting. Is it alive?
Tom:No. Well, the people in the Bay are, hopefully, but...
Taha:The small fortune isn't alive.
Tom:The small fortune is this turtle.
Taha:(snickers) Yeah.
Tom:But this actually happens fairly regularly. This one was special. There was a reason there were so many people there. But fairly regularly, there's people in this cove trying to find something. Hoping to catch something.
Melissa:Like microchips? Was there like a...
Taha:Nvidia graphics cards.
SFX:(group laughing)
Sabrina:Going fishing, yeah. The reason I asked if it if there was anything alive was maybe it's like some sort of sea creature that lives in that area that would be particularly valuable. But apparently not. It is Nvidia graphics cards, Melissa. (wheezes)
Melissa:There we go.
Sabrina:It's Silicon Valley. They need it for the Bitcoin mining.
Tom:Yeah, they are trying to catch a small fortune here.
Taha:And you said— Am I just making this up, or did you say $1.2 million? Is that something?
Tom:You are entirely making that up I've said no numbers at all!
Taha:Oh, okay. In my— yeah.
Taha:I guess that's what I think of as a small fortune, I guess?
Melissa:1.2 million!
Tom:What do you see this cove as looking like? 'Cause it's McCovey Cove, which honestly sounds like someone doing a Boaty McBoatface, but I swear that's the name.
Tom:What are you picturing this as?
Sabrina:Like a bowl. Like an inverted bowl of stone. (giggles)
Melissa:I'm picturing a beach.
Tom:This is the San Francisco Bay. And it's not necessarily by the beach here.
Sabrina:Is it like Alcatraz?
Taha:Is it like a piece of the Golden Gate Bridge?
Tom:You're closer to the right area of the Bay there.
Taha:I don't know enough about San Francisco.
Sabrina:I wish we had recorded this a week from now.
Sabrina:I'm going to San Francisco a week from now.
Tom:This is right next to a building. A lot of buildings, but one specific, very large building. And there are just a lot of people floating in the ocean next to it.
Melissa:What's a large building?
Sabrina:The treasury.
Melissa:A big bank.
Sabrina:They're just throwing out bags of money.
Melissa:Leaking coins.
Tom:I mean, there is something coming outta that building at speed. If they catch it, it's gonna be worth a lot of money.
Sabrina:At speed?
Sabrina:Oh! (imitates baseball hit by bat) "Wow! Caught it! Yeah! Somebody's famous home run ball!" Sorry, I was doing a lot of sound effects!
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:I appreciate the sound effects!
Sabrina:Oracle Stadium.
Sabrina:Oracle Stadium looks out into this beautiful view of the Bay. I imagine boats were there because somebody was gonna hit some big number, some legendary number.
Tom:Yep, Barry Bonds' 71st home run in a season.
Taha:And it's a small fortune to—
Sabrina:Barry Bonds, Taha?
Taha:Who is that?
Sabrina:He was mentioned in a Kanye song.
Melissa:I don't know who that is. I know Kanye is the other one.
SFX:(guests laughing)
Sabrina:He's one of the all-time greats. I think he has the record.
Taha:Yeah, but it's still baseball.
Tom:He got the record. He took the record from Mark McGuire, who got 70 home runs in a season. That ball was sold for 3 million dollars. So you are almost right with 2 million there, Taha.
Tom:So all these people in kayaks and canoes and inflatables were kind of just waiting there in case the ball comes out. And there's a regular crew of people who do this, but it's very rare that's gonna be a ball that could make someone a fortune if they catch it.
Sabrina:Yeah. Similarly, so I'm a relatively large fan of baseball. I went to 15 Blue Jays games this year. And so one of the games that they played was against Aaron Judge, who was set to break the record for the American League... Some region, I completely forgot the division that they play in. And so he was set to break that record. And so there was this section of seats that was just empty. And everyone was hypothesizing, like somebody had bought it out to make sure that they could catch the ball, 'cause it was where he was more likely to hit it. So that's fun. It was— I'm sorry, the vacuum is so loud. Somebody had said that they would buy that ball for $2 million.
Sabrina:And it wasn't even a good record. It was like a mid record.
Tom:$2 million is what it cost for about 10 seats at a baseball match as well, so you know.
Sabrina:I love "baseball match."
Taha:Net neutral.
Tom:As it turned out that home run was actually caught by a fan inside the stadium. So, they were sadly disappointed outside, but...
Taha:They didn't even get to watch the game!
Tom:No, no, but they got a lovely float out on the Bay, so there's that.
Sabrina:They're in it for the money. Not for the love of the sport. (snickers)
Tom:Yeah. So yes, the inflatables, kayaks, and canoes on the San Francisco Bay on that day were there to try and catch a record baseball.

So one big question left in the show, and it's from Taha.

In 1920, some US juice manufacturers would sell their wares as a brick. People could add the brick to a gallon of water to reconstitute the juice. On the packaging was a warning that virtually all their customers would ignore. Why?
Tom:I've gotta sit outta this question. I know this one, so I'm gonna sit out. Sabrina and Melissa, this one's on you.
Sabrina:"Do not bite the juice bar!" (giggles)
SFX:(others laughing)
Sabrina:I would be tempted immediately. Take a little crunch.
Tom:Yep. Well, they still sell that frozen juice concentrate. And I had to be talked out at one point, the first time I saw, that they were like, "Oh, what do you do with this?" And someone's like, "Oh no, it's just like a frozen dessert. You just kind of lick." And I kind of got to here and they're like, "No! Don't do that. Don't do that."
Taha:Love that.
Melissa:That must be—
Tom:I still wish I had. I still wish I'd experienced that. I might go and buy some frozen juice shortly and just live out the dream.
Sabrina:Life is too short not to eat the forbidden snack.
Sabrina:This is terrible advice. Cut it!
Taha:Tom Scott plus a juice bar.
Tom:(laughs) Which incidentally is something you can win outta the slot machine, so...
Taha:There you go.
Sabrina:Okay, Melissa. What do you think?
Melissa:Well, what else do people do with it other than... Okay, hold on.
Sabrina:What type of warnings do we usually ignore? I ignore ones that are like, "Wait." "Use this specific..." If it's like, "Use bread flour," I'm like, "I'm sorry, I only have one flour available. It's called all-purpose."
SFX:(group giggling profusely)
Tom:Sorry, this is an entire distraction, but I've wondered this question for a while. What the hell is all-purpose flour? The British definitions are 'plain' and 'self-raising', which is just we've added baking powder to it. I don't know what... Is all-purpose flour just like plain flour?
Taha:I believe it's just plain flour.
Tom:Okay, okay.
Taha:I had— We have an episode that we ended up scrapping. It's gonna be a Patreon exclusive, where we make bread, and I had this exact problem. 'Cause we did this episode in Canada, and none of the names of flour made any sense.
Taha:It's terrible.
Taha:I was at a disadvantage.
Sabrina:The desperation and pain!
SFX:(guests stifling giggles)
Sabrina:I'm sorry! Back on it. Okay, so there was a warning that was ignored. What follow up questions do we have?
Melissa:Just, well, Sabrina, using this logic... you ignore the directions. Because why? You just wanna be rebellious?
Sabrina:Because I'm an impatient monster. I want my juice now. (giggles) I don't even like juice. I'm not gonna lie. I'm one of those weirdos.
Taha:Okay, so the warning was written like... with a nod and a wink. Not actually, they didn't have an emoji, but you know what I mean.
Sabrina:"Don't drink this. This is not safe for human consumption." Oh, "don't mix it with alcohol."
Taha:It was during the Prohibition. You're so close. I'm tempted to give it to you, but...
Sabrina:Okay, Melissa, we're so close. Let's get there.
Taha:So it was grape juice, if that helps.
Melissa:Oh, this whole time I thought it was orange juice.
Sabrina:I was thinking orange juice.
SFX:(both giggling profusely)
Sabrina:This changes everything.
Melissa:Glad to know, shared that thought.
Melissa:Okay, so it was grape juice. Don't ferment it? I don't know.
Taha:Yes. Basically the warning was telling customers how not to turn their grape juice into wine.
SFX:(Sabrina and Melissa laughing)
Taha:So it was like, "Oh no! If you follow these instructions, you might accidentally have wine. That would be terrible!"

So in the Prohibition era, vineyards turned their produce into bricks of grape juice, which were entirely legal to sell. Two such warnings included, "Warning, after dissolving the brick in a gallon of water, do not place the liquid in a jug in the cupboard for 20 days, because then it would turn into wine." Which is hilarious.
SFX:(others laughing)
Taha:Or the other warning that they put on it was, "To prevent fermentation, add a 10th of a percent of Benzoate Soda." Benzoate of Soda.
Sabrina:So in case you actually wanted juice, is what I'm hearing. (giggles)
Melissa:You could just eat it.
Tom:There's one guy who just really likes grape juice, and is just confused. "What? I don't wanna do that."
Taha:Yeah. "Why would I ever?"
Sabrina:"I'm so drunk right now. What is happening?"
SFX:(group giggling)
Taha:I love that first warning. It is so blatant. I thought it might be something a little bit more cloaked, but it was genuinely like, "Oh no! It would be terrible if you did this!"
Sabrina:I think it's just— It was the use of the word 'jug' that did it for me, where I was like, is this a real warning?
Melissa:For me, it was that Taha said that he knew the answer, so then I was like, "Ah. Must be about oranges."
Taha:That's actually true. My favourite... I love orange juice. I consume about a liter a day. I have a bag of Clementines a day. I love oranges.
Tom:Have you tried putting it in a jug uncovered for 20 days?
SFX:(group laughing)
Taha:I was told not to do that!
Tom:One final thing, then. We had a listener question to the audience at the start of the show. Thank you to Asger Harpøth Møller.

What is known in Swahili as a 'kipilefti'?

Anyone wanna take a guess at that before I give the answer?
Taha:I just instinctively think football.
Sabrina:Oh... I heard the word lefty... and then something at the front, so I was just like an ambidextrous person.
Tom:It's kipilefti.
Melissa:Is it derogatory?
Tom:Not at all.
Taha:Why would that be in the show?
Melissa:I don't know!
Taha:Why would Tom decide to put it in the show?
Tom:I don't tend to ask questions about slurs. The question writers don't tend to put those together. I'm sure we could come up with some if we really wanted to.
Taha:Oh my god.
Tom:For getting... banned on the internet.
SFX:(guests laughing)
Tom:You know what, the last episode of the show, when I just want to get cancelled, we'll just have a whole section.
Taha:That's so funny.
Tom:No, it's not.
Taha:I— I—
Tom:Sorry, Melissa's just sat there...
Melissa:I'm only asking!
Tom:Head in hand. I'm sorry for rinsing you for that suggestion. It was hilarious and thank you for saying it, but no.
Melissa:I can't even explain that, but okay.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:Kipilefti is something that drivers would encounter.
Sabrina:Is it an animal?
Taha:"No left turn."
Sabrina:Mm. A U-turn. A roundabout.
Tom:A roundabout is the right answer. Yes, a roundabout or a traffic circle in Swahili. The word for more than one of them is vipilefti, because in Swahili, plurals change the start of the word.
Sabrina:Very neat.
Taha:Love that.
Tom:So that is our show. Thank you very much to the entire Answer in Progress team. Last time it was Taha that did the outro for you all. Sabrina, Melissa, I'm gonna leave this to both of you. Good luck.
Sabrina:We are Answer in Progress. We make YouTube videos where we ask questions and stumble our way to the answer. Melissa, what should they do?
Melissa:They should watch the videos and watch us stumble and sometimes get the answer. But usually stumble. It's a fun journey. Watch videos like... "Wow, look at these fake buildings. That's so interesting."
Melissa:That's all the last—
Taha:You guys are so bad at this. This is...
Melissa:This is why we leave it to you!
Tom:Melissa, where can they find you?
Melissa:You can find us at A-N-W— answerinprogress. I'm not gonna spell it.
Melissa:I was going for the URL and I stopped. I stopped immediately.
Tom:And if you wanna know more about this show, or send an idea for question yourself, you can do that at We are at @lateralcast on pretty much every bit of social media. And you can get video highlights every week at Thank you very much to Sabrina Cruz.
Tom:Melissa Fernandes.
Tom:Taha Khan.
Sabrina:We are our own studio audience.
SFX:(group giggling)
Tom:I'm Tom Scott, and this has been Lateral.
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