Lateral with Tom Scott

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

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Episode 24: The coins buried with Sinatra

Published 24th March, 2023

Mark Rober, Jabrils and Virginia Schutte face questions about football faults, soil secrets, and educational eats.

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


Transcription by Caption+

Tom:Why did Elvis Presley's manager sell badges that said, "I hate Elvis"? The answer at the end of the show. My name's Tom Scott, and this is Lateral.

Welcome to the show that turns people into politicians. Because for the next 45 minutes or so, they're gonna have to answer questions they have no idea about. Joining us this time, we start:

From her isolation before going to Antarctica, science communicator, Virginia Schutte!
Virginia:Hello, Tom!
Tom:Hello! How are you doing? How is preparation for the big trip?
Virginia:It's great. It's very Eye of Sauron, this trip. Nobody thinks about it, until all of a sudden everything needs to happen immediately, and it's the only focus. So, it's exciting.
Tom:Also joining us from his magical studio of wonders in California, Mark Rober!
Mark:Hey! You've been to my magical studio, good.
Tom:(laughs) I have been to the magical studio. And the anecdote I want to tell about it, I cannot tell in public! So let's just say I had a great time. I fired a ball from a tennis ball cannon, and got it in the hole. Just not on the shot that would've won me $10,000.
Mark:That's true.
Tom:I'll take that brag.
Mark:That's true.
Tom:And finally, joining us from... what I can only assume is some mysterious AI assisted base... Jabrils, how are you doing?
Jabrils:What's up Tom? How you doing? Thanks for having me.
Tom:Can you talk about what you're working on right now? 'Cause I don't know if your video we collaborated on will have gone out by the time this show airs.
Jabrils:It's top secret. Top secret. Can't talk about it. Sorry. No, I'm working on a— I made an AI game where you play spot the fake, but you're spotting the AI generated image. And it's a lot of fun. Thank you for guest appearing on that.
Tom:I look forward to definitely not being the best person in that group.
Jabrils:(laughs) You might be surprised. You might be surprised.
Tom:Our guests are going to face a series of weird and wonderful questions that they have no clue about, but our diabolical question writers definitely do. So I'll start you off with this:

In an advert from 2001 that was later banned, a young boy is seen buying three cans of soda, but only taking the third one away with him. What is the plotline?

I'll say that again.

In an advert from 2001 that was later banned, a young boy is seen buying three cans of soda, but only taking the third one away with him. What is the plotline?

Good luck, folks. Off you go.
Mark:Here we go. I wonder if 2001 matters.
Jabrils:What's the plot?
Mark:Like, some significant things happened in 2001.
Jabrils:Oh yeah.
Mark:Like early to mid September.
Tom:Just before we go to a dark place on the first question...! My job right now is to shut up and let y'all experiment with this. But I'll tell you right now, this is not about news events in 2001, Mark!
SFX:(group laughing)
Virginia:Are you sure it's not Y2K soda, Tom?
Jabrils:So is it a pressed for time plotline, where... "Oh, I don't have time to grab all three. I'll just grab the third."
Mark:Yeah, but it was— Yeah, it was later banned. So it's like, what's the offensive thing about it, right? I was thinking like Al-Qaeda Cola. Tom already shook his... (giggles)
Virginia:I was thinking charity soda. That they were trying to give it away, and that wasn't allowed. Different tracks here! (laughs)
Jabrils:Mark, you went there.
Mark:I'm just gonna take... I'm gonna go the little-known road.
Mark:Out of the gate.
Tom:If we put this up as a highlight on YouTube now, I now have to tick the box saying, "Does it mention fleet— Does it have fleeting mentions of terrorist attacks?" So thank you for that.
Mark:You're welcome. I'm just gonna try and get this demonetized as much as possible for you. Let's see, so he didn't— He took the third one, but didn't take the first two, you said, right?
Mark:And it was later banned.
Jabrils:And he bought all three?
Mark:Does the setting matter? Like the fact that this is just a grocery store versus a vending machine. The setting is probably pretty important, right?
Tom:Yes, absolutely right. And it was one of those two.
Jabrils:Would the cashier potentially influence the kid's decision to take all three?
Tom:Oh, man. If you knew the answer to that, you would know just how... Oh, I can't give you an answer to that. I can't give you an answer to that without giving away too many clues. Yes, something about the way it was bought is relevant to you.
Mark:Like, was it... Was it with cash? Was it, maybe it was like stolen money. Let's see, he...
Virginia:Yeah, I was still on this charity soda line. And so I'm thinking vending machine, and Robin Hood gives to the poor. So the money for the buying is stolen, which is bad, and banned later, but the deed is good, and so... I can't get off the charity soda idea. (laughs) I'm stuck there.
Tom:Your jump to vending machine is correct.
Virginia:Oh, well, good.
Tom:The rest, unfortunately not, but it was from a—
Virginia:Tom, I'm offended by that. (laughs) I think you cannot be right.
Jabrils:I have to ask, are they all the same branded cans?
Tom:No, they're not. That is a very good question!
Mark:By the way, I feel like through this, I need to be stroking my chin the whole time, as is Jabrils. For those you listening, I feel like I'm gonna be doing that for two hours, and my chin is gonna be raw by the end of it.
Jabrils:I didn't realize it. Thanks for pointing it out.
Mark:Yeah, it's like... The question is why would it be banned? But it's like... He was just trying to get the thing he wanted. So it's oh, it gave me Diet Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, then Coke. And maybe there was— Didn't there used to be laws or something, where it's like, you can't slander other brands?

You know, I remember when Burger King or someone came out with a commercial, and it was like... she actually got sued, whoever was in it. I don't know the story here, but there's some story of an actor was in a commercial, a six year old, and they featured McDonald's, and were like trashing on McDonald's. And she got sued as the child actor. I think that's a thing.

So maybe this is the time period where it's like that hadn't been breached, and so the fact that it was another brand is the thing that was banned.
Tom:You have nailed almost all the points of this. You've nailed almost all the right points. You're absolutely right. That's why it was banned. And you've even guessed the brands involved.
Mark:Oh really?
Tom:It was Coca-Cola and Pepsi. But you're missing one key bit here, which is: what was the plotline?
Mark:Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. So why would you need to buy two...
Virginia:Does it have to do with the different—
Virginia:Because there— at some— I can't remember when, but when did people start doing... I remember there was "Zero" and "Light" and the fake sugar and the... You remember all those varieties of not-the-real soda there were? Was there a commentary there on... or is that too specific?
Mark:Or I think it's the mechanism, though, of why. So maybe it was in a thing where it's— You know how the ones that curl and come forward, and there was two Pepsis, and a Coke was the third in line. So you bought Pepsi, Pepsi, and now the third one was up in line to corkscrew out, and then it was Coke or something. There's something with the mechanism of the vending machine maybe.
Jabrils:I have a Hail Mary. I have a Hail Mary. Here we go. Alright, hear me out, okay?

It's a father and daughter, okay? They're at a vending machine. Here's the plot, okay?

And the daughter simply says, "Dad, I want the good drink."

And he says, "Okay, I'm gonna get you Pepsi." He gives it to her.

She says, "This is not the good drink." She gets mad, she throws it on the ground, and it bursts open.

And he says, "Okay, lemme try again." He goes and gets another one. Coke comes out, gives the dollar.

She's "This is not the good drink!" Throws it down, bursts open. And then he goes for a third try, okay?

The third one, and it's Mountain Dew. Gives it to his daughter, and she's "Yay!"

And the commercial ends just like that.
Tom:You would make an excellent advertising exec. And that's great. It's a great pitch for an advert. There are a couple of words in the question that you all have skipped over.
Tom:Which is that it was a young boy buying three cans of soda.
Virginia:It's for his girlfriend. Young girlfriend...
Mark:Young boy...
Virginia:Which was banned later 'cause it was creepy.
Mark:Yeah, that's interesting. Yeah, he's a young boy. So was it... You said we got the brands right of Coke and Pepsi. Otherwise, I would say he bought two cans of alcohol or something, 'cause he was young.
Mark:What was that?
Tom:Also Mark... I have seen that kind of fake front office that you have in your studio.
Tom:You have a vending machine in there. And admittedly it goes— You pull it open, and it's actually a secret chute to get to the upper floor of your office.
Tom:But... Have a think about a kid standing there. Young kid standing there.
Mark:Oh, I see. I think I got it. So he... The button to hit the soda he wanted was too high. So he bought two of the cruddy ones lower, stood on the cans, to hit the third one.
Tom:Absolutely right.
Tom:And Virginia, I saw—
Jabrils:Oh my god.
Tom:You were half a second behind there. I saw your eyes light up.
Mark:Oh, sorry, Virginia. I'm sorry.
Virginia:No, you got there before me. It's all good. We're a team. Are we a team? Are you competing?
Virginia:Mark, I'm so mad. Never mind, I'm mad!
SFX:(both laughing)
Jabrils:No, I'm trying to beat Mark. I wanna beat Mark.
Tom:I'm always wary when the players realise that they can team up against me. That's always a weird moment.
Virginia:I've seen that from the start, Tom.
Mark:Yeah, same. So we're winning one to zero versus Tom. That's what this comes down to.
Tom:My producer has also told me, Mark, that... After some research, that child actor was Sarah Michelle Gellar, who went on to play Buffy. Not doing the vending machine, but the one who was sued by McDonald's. She was aged five at the time.
Mark:Wow. So that was true.
Jabrils:So is the banned... Is the banned element, like a commentary on how Coke and Pepsi are basically trash to just stand on to get what you want?
Tom:Banned for legal reasons, rather than any sort of government intervention.
Mark:Yeah, I don't think that's true anymore, right? But, I think you can put competitors in your thing. Or at least maybe they tried to sue them, and maybe it didn't hold water. 'Cause now people put other people's companies in their commercials, right?
Tom:They do in America. I think that's still not a thing you can do in the UK. 'Cause I've seen...

I can't remember what it was. I can't remember what the company was or what they did. I just remember seeing adverts on the tube that were advertising some office building or something like that. And, "Sorry, name of other company" in a speech bubble in there, deliberately calling them out. And then I remember seeing a couple of months later, exactly the same ads, but with a fake piece of tape over the name. So someone had clearly got involved and angry about it.

So I think that's still a thing you can't do in the UK.
Mark:Well, I mean there was just a Super Bowl commercial that did this. Where it was two beers. Budweiser and Miller or something, and it's like, "What is this commercial for?" At the end, it was Blue Moon. And it's like... Literally this is just a Super— and this is kinda the point of it, is you thought it was one of these two companies. And in the end it was a third beer company. And now they're getting me talking about it. So it worked. It was effective advertising. Go drink Blue Moon, everyone.
Tom:I was gonna say, if you're— If you're Anheuser-Busch, or one of the big beer companies, and one of your rivals says, "We'd like to use your name in a Super Bowl commercial," they'll probably say yes anyway.
Mark:Yeah, that's true. That's true.
Jabrils:Little did you know they all split the budget.
Mark:Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Tom:So, yes. In an advert from 2001, a boy buys two cans of Coca-Cola from a vending machine so he can stand on them and get to the Pepsi button.

The next question comes from one of our guests. As ever, I don't know the question. I certainly don't know the answer. So, Jabrils, we're gonna start with you. What have you got?

Three metallic items in a row with rubber symbols for Pause, Stop, and Play on them. However, they do not operate anything to do with media. What are they?

I'm gonna say it one more time.

Three metallic items in a row have rubber symbols on them for Pause, Stop, and Play. However, they do not operate anything to do with media. What are they?
Mark:Interesting. Well, I think the biggest thing— The first time you read it, I was, in my head, I was thinking buttons. And I think the fact that it says items and not buttons is very important here.
Tom:Oh, you are getting good at metagaming this immediately.
SFX:(both laughing)
Mark:I do love these kinda lateral thinking puzzles. I love, it's fun to work through. So yeah, items.
Tom:That's good. You're on exactly the right show for it.
Mark:Yeah! (laughs) Items. I feel like if we crack that... I bet we've got it. What could the items be?
Virginia:Metal with rubber makes me think of old-timey stamps. So I'm thinking like some king at a jousting tournament is like, "Pause, I need to pee." And then, "Stop, someone died." And then, "Play, we're all good to go anyway." That's where I'm going, with the rubber on the metal.
Mark:And why—
Tom:So the king is— Hang on, so he's kind of holding them up to stop the action or...
Virginia:Yes, I haven't thought this through that far. But now that I'm going with this, I'm thinking those signs where you rate people by holding up 10 outta 10, only it's, "Pause, the King's peeing" or something like that. For sure.
Mark:I like that. And it's like the reason you would need to do that is because not everyone— Those are universal symbols, right? So there could be a thing here where not everyone speaks the same language, which, like in the jousting tournament, if they're all from different places, right? Those are icons that everyone knows. So I wonder if there's an element here where you need it to be kind of universal. Which is why it's helpful.
Tom:I'm assuming you mean like Medieval Times, the restaurant jousting tournament that... This is not something that magically happened in the 17th century, where they happened to have our current Play and Pause button.
Virginia:Oh I was absolutely going there.
Tom:We're thinking Renaissance fair.
Virginia:I was going all the way there. But sure, we could do Medieval Times. That's also good.
Mark:Tom, though, you don't know when those symbols— That's where they originated, from this tournament, and it's just held over to this day. That's the real question.
Tom:I've... See the thing is, I could believe that. If you had your music in the background of the video, Mark, and you were at a Medieval Times and saying, "These symbols actually go back four centuries." You know what? I would just believe that.
Mark:You'll believe it, yeah. With the right background music and the right voice. "These symbols originally came from..." The YouTube voice.
Tom:Oh, I could hear you switch the voice on! Jabrils, are these... Are these symbols actually intended to mean Play, Pause, and Stop, or are they just symbols?
Jabrils:They are symbols that are close enough. They're correlated enough to its actual functionality.
Mark:And the metal items... Are they bigger than a breadbox, or smaller than a breadbox?
Tom:Back when you first read the question, my thoughts went to jewelry for some reason.
Tom:I went much, much smaller. I was thinking it was some little bracelet or necklace. And I don't know why my brain went there, but metal thing with rubber on it, went to something on your body.
Mark:Rubber seems like it matters too, right? Otherwise, why not? If it's jewelry or something, why not just, it's painted on or it's engraved, right?
Tom:I'm trying to think of things made of metal and rubber, and all I've got are tyres? But I don't know why you would put... That was clearly a stupid idea, but never mind.
Virginia:Alright, I have another, story we can run with. So the other reason to put rubber on metal, if you're not stamping things with it, is to protect someone who might smash into it to provide a little buffer. So now I'm thinking that... You know those game shows where people just throw themselves into things and it's like a big obstacle course? What if—
Virginia:There's some kind of... Yeah, where you have to hurl yourself against the Play button to start a timer or... and pause it for yourself and stop it for someone else or something like that. And then the rubber is the padding, so you don't just conk yourself out on the metal.
Mark:So, yeah. So that's a great— I love that. So Jabrils, is the rubber there as a protective measure? Is that why they're in rubber?
Jabrils:Okay, so it's not actually rubber padding. But, Tom, you're in the right direction when you mentioned rubber tires.
Mark:So is it, I wonder if it's a traction element. Oh! Is it maybe— is it— So the rover on Mars has a unique feature in the wheel. In fact, it's actually JPL spelled in Morse code. Long story, fun story, actually. Good one for this podcast. But basically it's an odometry—
Tom:I knew that you had to get the Mars rover in there somewhere that you worked on. Just gonna slide that in.
Mark:Did I work on that? Did I mention it? Here nor there, here nor there. So basically as it rolls in the sand, it's an odometry feature. So you can look at the prints and say, "Oh, if I see seven of that unique feature, you know the circumference of the wheels, you know how far the rover went." So all that's to say, Jabrils, is there some, is it— So going back to Virginia's thing of it being a stamp, is this so that it leaves behind some mark, because it's on some kinda wheel or anything like that?
SFX:(others laughing)
Jabrils:Allow me to drop a hint. Allow me to drop a hint, okay? It's a really simple hint. These items... a large percentage of the population... interacts with almost on a daily basis.
Mark:But he says it doesn't have to do with media. I mean, there's a lot of things that...
Tom:Is it something in a car then, or is it something around transit?
Tom:What has... It's metal, it's got rubber symbols on it for Play, Pause, and Stop, and it's somewhere near a car. The audience are gonna be screaming at us!
Mark:I know.
Virginia:I know. Does it modify the car in some way? Are we talking sun roofs and moon roofs or convertible top things?
Jabrils:It's a very important feature to the car.
Mark:Let's try narrowing in on the location. I bet that would help. Is it... if you're sitting in the car, in the driver's seat, are these within reach, these buttons?
Virginia:It's not the turning on button for the car, right? The new ones where you just push the button?
Tom:If you take those symbols and you put them some other direction or something, can you make a different symbol outta them? Am I on the right lines there?
Jabrils:I would stop.
Virginia:(laughs uproariously)
Tom:Alright, fine.
Mark:It doesn't have to do with media. You can touch it from your car seat, like your seat adjustment?
Tom:Yeah, but most people don't interact with that every—
Mark:Does it have to do with the comfort of the driver, where it's like, hey, if I push these, my experience is better in some way?
Jabrils:Not directly, no.
Tom:This is infuriating!
Mark:Yeah, this feels like—
Jabrils:You guys are so close. You're so close!
Virginia:Someone's listening in their car right now, touching the thing, being like, it's right here.
Tom:Oh yeah, someone's listening to this podcast. If you're driving, please keep your eyes on the road! Please do not look around for weird play symbols on metal and rubber! Is there a final hint you can give us or something?
Jabrils:Okay, okay. Here's the final hint. This should give it to you, okay? So the rubber symbols. Their purpose is to stop from slipping.
Mark:Yeah, so it's a grip thing.
Virginia:Did you say that should give it to us?
Mark:This is maddening. Because it's...
Virginia:Do you touch it with your feet, instead of your fingers?
Jabrils:That's correct.
Tom:I mean, do the pedals have these symbols on? I didn't...
Jabrils:Tom, Tom, you got it.
Mark:It's just on the pedals?
Jabrils:Tom, you got it.
Virginia:On the pedals?
Mark:I'm confused.
Jabrils:It's on the pedals.
Jabrils:So from the image that I see, it is a image of three pedals. Pause, Stop, and Play. Play's obviously accelerate. Pause is brake— I'm sorry. Stop is brake. I assume that Pause is clutch in this image.
Tom:Is this just one guy's video game car? We were assuming it was all cars. This is just one person's car, isn't it?
Mark:Someone said Americans interact with this every day. I have no experience with it.
Jabrils:I said a large population. I didn't say Americans.
Virginia:Oh, come on.
Mark:I'm still calling BS on this. Hold on a second. So is this a regulation in some countries where you have to have that on the pedals?
Jabrils:The actual source is a guy in Russia. He modded his car to add the Pause, Stop, and Play button to his pedals. You did good though. You did really, really well.
Tom:I feel like you should have told us at some point that it's one guy's car!
Mark:Yeah, I agree.
Tom:I realise you never said it was everyone's car. We just kind of assumed that.
Jabrils:So yes, a guy in Russia modified his car, so his pedals read Pause, Stop, and Play.
Tom:The next question is from a listener. Thank you to Vishy Iyer.

After a serious incident that happened in 1963, singer Frank Sinatra always kept a roll of dimes with him. He was even buried with them. These days, they wouldn't be necessary. What's the story?

One more time.

After a serious incident that happened in 1963, singer Frank Sinatra always kept a roll of dimes with him. He was even buried with them. These days, they wouldn't be necessary. What's the story?
Mark:It's a payphone. He got stranded and he needed to make a call.
Mark:And so—
Tom:Sometimes, someone comes in immediately with most of the right answer, and you have just done that, Mark! You've skipped through most of the hints I've got. Yeah, absolutely for a payphone. But I didn't ask what he was gonna put them into. I asked, what's the story?
Mark:Oh no! Does that ruin it? I'm sorry!
Tom:Not at all! Not at all.
Tom:You still got a lot to work out here.
Mark:Okay, okay, okay, okay.
Jabrils:He had some medical condition. He always needed to have money for the people.
Mark:That's interesting.
Virginia:Oh, well what kind of serious? This depends on who's serious we're talking about here. I was thinking like, oh no, his love was going to the airport, and there was a miscommunication, and he had to stop them from leaving, serious.
Tom:You are closer there, Virginia. It was a serious incident that involved someone else, and it was someone close to him. How much do you know about Frank Sinatra's life story here?
Mark:Yeah, not much.
Jabrils:I know so much. I'm a historian.
Mark:He was a singer, I know that. So Tom though, would it be fair to say it's for safety reasons? He needed the ability to make a call if needed, right? For safety. So someone had a medical condition, who has a medical condition. Tom's nodding his head, or he was on safety. Oh no, no, no!
Tom:I was on safety. I wasn't on medical condition.
Mark:I think I might know this. Wasn't his son abducted or something and taken ransom?
Virginia:Oh my gosh!
Mark:I dunno where that came from in my brain. But yeah, his son was abducted, and they held him ransom, and... I forget the rest. I think I listened to a podcast narrated by John Stamos about this or something. But why would he need the dimes?
Mark:In case... But why would he need— And it happened once, so it scarred him so much that in case he ever had to call someone to make a call to free them, he would be able to do that.
Tom:Or if he was kidnapped himself or anything like that. Kidnappers used the payphones to communicate, so he always kept the dimes on his person for that reason.
Virginia:Mark, you really carried this one. You just busted right in, put it all up. Oh, this is incredible.
Mark:Yeah, I do like to have these—
Jabrils:I thought I was the Frank Sinatra historian.
Mark:I was gonna say, I do like how these are based in real-life stories. If you did remember from way back when, it can help you, in the things you know, as opposed to being completely obscure.
Tom:Also, the reason there's a podcast about the whole thing is that it's a bizarre set of events. The kidnappers rejected $1 million.
Tom:And sent back a counter offer of $240,000. They sent back a lower offer for some reason. All the money was recovered because as he was about to drop off the money, one of the kidnappers got nervous and released Frank Sinatra, Jr. anyway.
Tom:The whole thing was a disaster start to finish. They got most of the money back. But yes, Frank Sinatra always kept a roll of dimes on him just in case.
Mark:Yeah, from what I recall, they weren't necessarily the sharpest tools in the tool chest.
Mark:These guys who kinda cooked up this kidnapping plot. It was pretty wild.
Tom:You're completely right, Mark. Frank Sinatra always kept a roll of dimes on him, just in case he needs to use a payphone for being kidnapped or other emergencies.

Our next question comes from Virginia. When you ready.
Virginia:This listener question has been sent in by Norman Liang.

On certain days, kids in Hong Kong are given a breakfast such as two eggs with a sausage, or sweetcorn with a couple of dumplings. Why?

I'm gonna give it to you one more time.

On certain days, kids in Hong Kong are given a breakfast such as two eggs with a sausage or sweetcorn with a couple of dumplings. Why?
Mark:Did you say on certain days? Sorry.
Virginia:On certain days.
Mark:I see.
Tom:So that could mean specific days, like it's Christmas, or it could be Saturday and Sunday, so...
Mark:My first instinct is this is some kind of cultural appreciation thing. I don't feel like this is functional, like they need it for energy for a thing. It's like, remember our heritage? I feel like if we knew why these things were something that was in Holland or, you know what I mean, something along those lines.
Tom:And eggs and sausage, I was thinking it's some— it's a very American breakfast. But... then we got sweetcorn and dumplings, and I'm not convinced. I'm not sure there's any particular country that that's...
Mark:My brain went to Holland on that one, for some reason.
Mark:That makes no sense. I feel like the exact items matters less than— I bet if we figured out the days and why the days, that would mean, maybe it would give us more clues. And you got an interesting fill, Tom, of is it, yeah, Christmas type of days? Oh, here's a question. Are those days the same every year? Like it's on the 25th of a thing? Do you know what I mean?
Virginia:I do not know the answer to this question, but my guess... No. I'm going to say no. Because I think it would be more helpful to you all if the answer is no. The days are somewhat consistent year to year, I would imagine, but they are not... "Hello, we have arrived at this calendar date, boop."
Mark:Yeah, yeah.
Tom:Is there, okay, so that rules out one thing. Both the breakfasts had two of something and then something else. So I was thinking it might be important that it was a number two or something like that, but...
Virginia:You are on a good track. I would continue—
Mark:It's not a great track.
Virginia:It's not the best track, but it might become a best track if you keep going.
Mark:Okay. So the numbers of— Tom keyed in on the numbers of things, and you're saying that's not insignificant that it's one egg versus two eggs.
Virginia:Correct. Not insignificant is correct.
Tom:I started so well, and now I'm like, I've found a thing in the— No, I can't work out what to do with that.
Mark:And is it fair to say that this is not a typical breakfast in this area of Hong Kong? On most mornings, this is different for them, right?
Virginia:They may have something similar, but this is a notable breakfast that they receive. It is not the same as the other days.
Jabrils:Does it have anything to do with pro-democracy... You know, Hong Kong?
Virginia:Nope. We're just gonna say no to that one, and encourage you to move on. (chuckles) We do not need to touch that!
Tom:Could it be for good luck or something like that? That it's before they are... Before they're off to do exams or something like that? And the number two is for luck? That's not right, it's the number eight, for luck, I think. Am I even vaguely close then?
Virginia:You are half correct. You are half correct.
Mark:There's a superstitious element to it?
Virginia:Well, so should I tell you which half is correct? I think I should unless you wanna keep going.
Mark:You just gave it away, you just gave it away. Is this kids all across the country, or does it matter that actually, this is a specific school in the specific city... And that's part of the importance of this?
Virginia:More about kids everywhere.
Mark:Got it.
Tom:Is it for good luck? Is it a superstitious thing? Were we right there?
Virginia:It is for good luck, but it's not superstitious.
Mark:Ah. (laughs)
Virginia:(laughs) It's not like— 'Cause I'm going with— I know Mark, you started with a cultural something. It's not "If you eat two eggs on this day, then the sun will shine down upon you." There's no backstory here or anything like that. So it's meant to be for good luck, but there's a very practical...
Mark:So Tom mentioned the thing about exams. Is it— does it have to do with if— Is it tied in some ways to kinda exams and like brain food?
Virginia:Yes, that— Well, so yes to exams, not to brain food.
Mark:Oh, is it there is this one guy, Albert Einstein, or the smartest person in Hong Kong. He aced his exams, and this is what he ate on this day. No?
Virginia:Not at all. (giggles)
Mark:Are there numbers in Hong Kong that are considered lucky numbers and then that goes back to one egg versus two? In that sense? In this, for this story, is it the number of things that matter, and that's tied to the good luck?
Tom:Oh, it's so they can share it!
Tom:It's so you can give someone else— Oh damn it! I had a full lightbulb moment there, and it went nowhere! Dammit!
Mark:Tom, Tom! What just happened there is you just dropped the mic, and Virginia's like, go ahead and pick your mic back up.
Virginia:You were so excited, and I need to shut that down. No. Mark, you are on the right track. It has to do with numbers, but not in the way you're currently thinking.
Jabrils:And then you said it's not on a specific calendar date as well?
Virginia:Correct. Well, I mean it's on a specific date, but it's not tied to a calendar of any sort.
Mark:Right, okay, is it— Maybe that would help us, if we narrow in on the exam potentially. Is it a test that happens once a year? Or is it five times a year, or that doesn't matter?
Tom:It's whenever they go in for this exam, presumably, or... Are we right with exams?
Virginia:Yes, you are right with exams. I don't have any information about how many times a year this exam happens. So yes, exams.
Tom:Oh, I was so happy with sharing. I was like, oh, you have to give one of these to your examiner for good luck or something like that. To bribe the examiner.
Virginia:You know, as the originator of the charity soda storyline, I think you— I like where your energy was at, but it's just not right for this question.
Mark:Okay, so it's Medieval Times. There's a Medieval Times, he's holding up egg signs.
SFX:(group laughing)
Mark:Hitting all your storylines, Virginia.
Tom:Okay, we're gonna need a hint here, Virginia. We're gonna need something.
Virginia:Think about the way the food looks on the plate.
Mark:100 percent!
Virginia:Yeah, your sausage and your two eggs.
Virginia:Or your dumpling and your corn fritter. Yeah, that's right.
Mark:Of course! And good luck.
Tom:It's to inspire the kids by showing them a 100 symbol in the breakfast.
Virginia:Let me give you a little bit more information. These breakfasts literally look like the number 100. It's meant to be motivation to get a hundred percent in your exam. So sort of lucky, but not like a backstory tied to some elaborate things. There are other presentations too, like a hot dog with two piles of rice, or a banana with two donuts. So you can go nuts with the kind of food, just as long as it looks like 100 to give that like, "You can do it, kid."
Mark:That's cool.
Mark:And just arrange it in the right order, otherwise it might be like 10.
Virginia:(laughs uproariously)
Mark:Good luck. You're getting ten percent.
Virginia:You're gonna get a one!
Mark:You're gonna get a 1% on your exam!
Virginia:A key point. A key point, Mark.
Mark:That's critical, that's critical.
Tom:My last big question of the game, then.

Scottish soccer club Inverness Caledonian Thistle decided to use an AI camera system to livestream one of their matches. However, viewers were left disappointed when the camera kept shifting its focus away from the ball. What went wrong?

One more time.

Scottish soccer club Inverness Caledonian Thistle decided to use an AI camera system to livestream one of their matches. However, viewers were left disappointed when the camera kept shifting its focus away from the ball. What went wrong?
Mark:So Jabrils, I feel like this is all you buddy. You're the AI master here!
Jabrils:I feel it's something like the referees holding the ball or something like that. And so if it's trained to track a ball, it is tracking the wrong ball or something in this direction.
Virginia:I was thinking it's gonna track a non-ball for this question to be brought up in this setting. It's gotta be something weird and funny. So I'm thinking a bald head, or someone bends over and their pants accidentally fall a little too low, and it's round or— That's where I'm going.
Tom:I mean, you've nailed it. It was one of those things.
Tom:Which one do you think is

A) funniest, and

B) most likely in a Scottish soccer match?
Mark:I feel like those are different.
Virginia:(laughs) I know!
Mark:Most likely is the bald head. Funniest by far is someone bending over.
Tom:Yeah, you got there right away. The linesman's head was bald... and the AI system just kept zoning in on that instead of where the ball was actually on the pitch.
Mark:That's hilarious.
Virginia:Amazing performance by the AI there.
Tom:A statement from the company that provided the camera read: "We are aware of the issue with the linesman, and we are already working on improving this for the next game. We hope this will not happen again." This was while Scotland was under COVID restrictions, so they were minimising the number of people in the stadium. They were using AI systems instead of actual camera operators, and it just didn't quite work well.
Virginia:My question is, are they gonna say, "It's our fault, we'll fix it"? Or do they say, "Linesmen, you must wear a hat"?
Mark:Oh, true.
Jabrils:Or a toupée.
Tom:How would you fix this, Jabrils? You're the AI person here. How do you fix something like that?
Jabrils:I turn it into A League of Its Own where the camera's just distracted by a bald head.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:Yes, Inverness Caledonian Thistle's match was disrupted for viewers when the AI system tracked the linesman's bald head instead of the ball.

Our last guest question of the show then comes from Mark. When you're ready.

The famous Pantheon in Rome was built by filling the space between the walls with earth. Once the dome had been built, how did the authorities encourage the enthusiastic locals to take away the earth for them?

And I'll repeat.

The famous Pantheon in Rome was built by filling the space between the walls with earth. Once the dome had been built, how did the authorities encourage the enthusiastic locals to take away the earth for them?
Tom:Does anyone know what the Pantheon in Rome looks like? I feel like I should. I'm kind of embarrassed to admit I don't.
Virginia:Is it a rectangle thing? It's not the round stadium.
Tom:The stadium's the Coliseum.
Tom:The Pantheon... I don't know?
Virginia:I think it's a rectangle, with columns, but that's very generic.
Tom:But you said dome, Mark.
Mark:Did I say dome? Oh, yeah, once the dome had been built, that's right. How did the authorities encourage the enthusiastic...
Virginia:Was there only dirt buried between the walls, or was there something sprinkled inside the dirt that people wanted to get?
Mark:You're— This is— You're on the right track. You're definitely on the right track.
Tom:Oh that'd be a great plan, wouldn't it? That'd be lovely. You just throw a load of coins in there, and... Oh man, that's a great idea to get some cheap construction work done.
Virginia:But no, this is the worst. Because then you're just paying people. It's like you could've just paid them, I guess. Oh no, you're paying them less, 'cause you're like, you would've had to give them a wage.
Virginia:But instead you're like...
Tom:Somewhere in these walls.
Virginia:"Well, there might be something there!"
Mark:And capitalism is born! There it is.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:Somewhere in these walls are 10,000 Roman dollars.
Virginia:Oh gosh.
Jabrils:Is that the answer?
Mark:You guys got it right on. That's exactly—
Mark:Literally, they—
Mark:The answer says word for word: They scattered gold coins in the soil. Virginia, drop your mic and leave it dropped. So there you go. That's how you do a mic drop, Tom! That's how you do a mic drop.
Tom:Yep, yep. No, that's fair. I was like, oh, maybe we do something with the donut. Nope, Virginia just comes in And takes the mic drop moment.
Virginia:(laughs) I'm thinking, listen, I don't wanna dig up any dirt. The only thing that makes me dig up dirt is like money or food. And it's like you can't put food in there. So are you gonna get me money?
Tom:I do wonder though. 'Cause how would you get people to take it all the way offsite? Because if you did that today and you said, you know, there's gold in them thar walls, people would tear the walls apart... and then just kind of leave the debris scattered on the ground until they found the gold coins.
Mark:Yeah, the famous— Yeah, that's a good—
Tom:On the other hand, the Roman Empire did have a somewhat different approach to personal freedom. So possibly just pointing spears at people until they took the dirt.
Jabrils:There you go.
Mark:Yeah, maybe it was like, Hey, you can't sift it here on site. Take all the dirt away. And then once you leave site, then, you know.
Virginia:So if we go back to money and food as motivators, maybe there's a free buffet if you cart your dirt offsite to the buffet, then you get to sit and eat. I would... that would get me. So I'd got my money, I'd have my food, I'd be good.
Mark:So that's right. That's the answer. They scattered gold coins in the soil.
Tom:One last thing to do, then. At the start of the show, I asked the question:

Why did Elvis Presley's manager sell badges that say "I hate Elvis"?

Now, you may have heard this story. Has anyone heard this one before?
Mark:I haven't.
Jabrils:Mark's gonna say he hasn't, and he's gonna remember at the last minute and then give us the answer.
SFX:(others laughing)
Mark:I do have a guess though. I do have a guess. But there's a good chance that... Should I say it or someone else can guess?
Tom:Go for it. This is the last question of the show. This is the kickaround.
Mark:I know he was very like... He was very much an entrepreneur. I do know that about him. That's what I've heard. Like he basically made Elvis, so he was thinking. So my guess is he was just cornering the market, and he knew someone was gonna make this kinda merch. He was like, why don't I be the guy to make that? And then he wins on the upside, he wins on the downside.
Jabrils:That'd been my guess.
Tom:And this time, you get to drop the mic, Mark. 'Cause that was exactly the right answer. It was Colonel Tom Parker, who had a very good eye for business and just decided, you know what, someone's gonna sell these, so I will as well.
Mark:That's amazing.
Tom:Although, honestly, Mark, I think that's— If you wanna sell "I hate Mark Rober" shirts at some point, that is also an option for you.
Mark:I was thinking "I hate Tom Scott" shirts, to be honest.
Mark:On a red shirt.
Tom:Don't corner the market on my merchandise!
Mark:Yes, that's right!
Jabrils:I will tell you which line I'll be first in.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:That is our show for today. Thank you very much.

We'll start off with Jabrils. Tell us, where can people find you, and what's going on in your life?
Jabrils:Hello everyone. My name is Jabrils. I am on the internet. You can find me at J-A-B-R-I-L-S. I have a bunch of fun computer science, artificial intelligence stuff over there. Come over and have some fun.
Virginia:I am @vgwschutte, and that's S-C-H-U-T-T-E, pretty much everywhere. And I, like you said, I'm going to Antarctica in two weeks. I will be at sea for 60 days. So if you follow me, I will point you to all the things we are making about that.
Tom:And Mark.
Mark:And I'm Mark Rober on Google, I guess. And I started a toy company to get kids stoked about science and engineering called Crunch Labs. It's also an actual place. It's like a Willy Wonka factory for engineering.
Tom:Only with less people dying horrifying deaths.
Jabrils:As far as you know, as far as you know.
Virginia:Oh, you have!
Tom:I just decided to throw in some dark Charlie and the Chocolate Factory knowledge there.

If you'd like to know more about our show, or you wanna submit— I've gotta do that again now!
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:I can't imply... that you're breaking labour laws, Mark, sorry!
Mark:I think you should leave that. That's good.
Tom:If you wanna know more about this show, or you wanna submit an idea for a question, you can do that at We are at @lateralcast pretty much everywhere, and you can watch video highlights at

Thank you very much to Mark Rober.
Mark:Good to be here, yo!
Tom:To Virginia Schutte.
Virginia:Yay, thanks for having me, Tom!
Tom:And to Jabrils.
Jabrils:You're very welcome, Tom.
Tom:I'm Tom Scott, and this has been Lateral.
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