Lateral with Tom Scott

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

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Episode 27: Extra-green cat trees

Published 14th April, 2023

Bill Sunderland and Dani Siller (from 'Escape This Podcast') and Amelie Brodeur face questions about troublesome tower blocks, bonkers bookings and factually-incorrect films.

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: Ryan, Peter Ellis. FORMAT: Pad 26 Limited/Labyrinth Games Ltd. EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: David Bodycombe and Tom Scott.


Transcription by Caption+

Tom:Which person has the Guinness World Record for most claps in a lifetime? The answer at the end of the show. My name's Tom Scott, and this is Lateral.

I am joined by three players today for this game. Two are old hands, and one is brand new. So we start with:

returning for several times before and back to the podcast, we're gonna start today with Dani from Escape This Podcast and a lot of other things besides. How are you doing?
Dani:You can't get rid of us.
Dani:We'll be here every episode.
Tom:I didn't even bother introducing you by your last name there. You're just... Yeah, it's Dani. She's back. It's fine. How are you doing? How's the show going?
Dani:Oh, everything is going fantastically. I do worry about how every time I'm returning I'm feeling that little bit less smart. So we'll see how it goes, but...
Tom:Well also joining us and also a regular on the show now. We have been going long enough that we have regulars. We have... You know what? You're not getting the last name either. It's Bill from Escape This Podcast.
Bill:Yeah, hello. It's me. I feel smarter and smarter every time I'm here.
Tom:Thank you both for coming back on the show and subjecting yourself to this again. Joining you is a first time player, Amelie Brodeur, Flautist [fl-ow-tist, flaw-tist]? I don't know which I should use, but professional YouTuber and flute player. Thank you for coming on the show.
Amelie:Nice to be here.
Tom:I need to ask which word I should have used there. Is it flutist or flautist? Which do you prefer?
Amelie:I say flutist, but... Some people say it's flautist, but I don't really mind anyways. but it's more British to say flautist. Yeah.
Tom:And you are definitely not British. So I will take your lead and go with flutist.

Good luck to all three of you. Our questions today are gonna be about turning assumptions on their head and seeing what shakes loose. Then hoping the rattling noise isn't gonna be expensive to fix. You may laugh, but we're still fixing the previous episode.
Dani:(canned laughter)
SFX:(group laughing)
Bill:Hey, you said she may laugh.
Dani:That's how I laugh. What?
Bill:That's on you, Tom.
Tom:We are on... I've lost count of how many shows this is. We're on 20 something. And I appreciate the enthusiasm, but these are only gonna get worse from here! We're gonna start with question one.

This is a listener question that was sent in by Peter Ellis. So thank you, Peter.

In March 2018, soccer player Sanchez Watt was given a "booking." That is, shown the yellow card by the referee. The referee didn't know the player, so a disagreement happened and the player was subsequently sent off. However, the referee relented and allowed Sanchez to stay. What happened?

So I'll say that one more time.

In March 2018, soccer player Sanchez Watt was given a "booking." That is, shown the yellow card by the referee. The referee didn't know the player, so a disagreement happened and the player was subsequently sent off. However, the referee relented and allowed Sanchez to stay. What happened?
Bill:Well, I know where I'm going with this. I know where my head is immediately. And I feel like it's exactly why we're on this episode. Because all I have is like...

"Oh, there's a yellow card. What's it for?"

"Yes, it is for Watt."

"No, what? What is it for?"

"No, it's for Watt."
Bill:"But, what?"

"Yes, Watt."

"I don't understand."

"What am I giving this yellow card for?"

"It's for Watt!"

"I know, but why?"

"Well, Why, well, he plays for the Argentinian team."

That's all I've got.
Tom:Okay, okay. Before you do the entirety of the Abbott and Costello Who's On First routine... You have unfortunately got it immediately.
Tom:That was the correct answer.
Bill:No, that's not unfortunate. This is great, 'cause it means that we've got extra time in the episode to keep going. So my question to everybody else...
Tom:I even pronounced... I even deliberately set up how I read that question to really de-emphasise the name. I really kind of just glossed over the name Sanchez Watt as quickly as I could there.
Dani:I didn't even write it down.
Tom:And yet somehow the master of puns.
Bill:But what is wild about this is, 'cause clearly, right, everyone who's ever listened to Who's On First... You can be like, okay, yeah, but it's a bit. Because if someone— If I was there, if I was in this conversation, I'd just be like, "No, no, I apologise. You don't understand. You see..." You know, like the bit in The Simpsons. He goes—
Tom:I mean, to be clear, the Who's On First routine, which a lot of folks won't know, is an old Abbott and Costello bit about baseball, where the players are called Who, What... I can't remember what the others are.
Bill:There's a What's His Name.
Tom:Because in my head... I can only remember the version that someone did where all the names are swearing.
Bill:(laughs) Don't put that one.
Tom:And that's the parody version of it that's stuck in my head, which I can quote none of right now.
Dani:But yeah. So what you're saying, Bill, is that everyone who hears that routine thinks, no one would ever actually have that be a problem. Everyone has the words and the vocabulary to clarify such a silly misunderstanding.
Dani:And yet...
Tom:So the story goes, the actual conversation, if we take it away from the comedy bit, was the referee gives him the yellow card, walks up, asks for his name.

The player says, "Watt."

And he goes, "What's your name?"

"Watt." And then he's sent off for dissent. And that is...
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:And it was resolved. Yes, they did the adult communication thing of someone going, "No, my name is Watt" and they figured it out. So the booking was rescinded.
Amelie:I wonder if it ever happened as well with a police officer or in other situations.
Bill:Yeah, it's a very angry name.
Tom:I know there's people out there with the last name Null who have all sorts of problems with computers and databases because...
Tom:if you don't program it correctly, you can put in a query that says, "so-and-so, if is null" and that will give you all the empty ones. So there was someone who had I think that name and just kept getting parking tickets because anytime someone put in a parking ticket but couldn't work out the car or traffic violation or something like that, they would get sent the letter.
Dani:It's like there's a place in America that has something like that that keeps getting tickets or something sent to it, because it's the geographic centre of a certain place. So it's a default location.
Tom:Yes. It is a farm somewhere in... Hah, I should know this. I think it's Kansas, but I'm not sure. It's one of the big plains states. It happens to be near the location that some big company at some point decided that's just where the label "United States" is on a map. When someone types in "United States," that's where it's gonna go. So if you are tracking someone on the internet and trying to track down where their computer's located, and the response that comes back is United States, some computer programs will just go, "That farmhouse right there." So they had angry people turning up.
Bill:Oh, that's fantastic.
Tom:They had all sorts turning up.
Dani:But it's no Sanchez Watt.
Tom:But yes, in this case, a question that was solved very quickly by the first person cutting in on what he thought was a joke, is that the player was called Watt and the referee took that as insubordination.
Dani:Good job, Bill.
Bill:(laughs uproariously) What?
Tom:So after that, Bill, I'm gonna ask for the first guest question to come from you. Because it's gonna give the rest of us a chance. So Bill, whenever you're ready, take it away.
Bill:On a baseball team, there was a batsman, but his name was Who and he was on—
Tom:Don't you dare. Don't you dare.
Bill:Oh, hold on.
SFX:(group giggling)
Tom:For the first section on that, I was like, "Man, they've put two sport questions together. That's an unusual thing."
Bill:That's funny. Ah, here we are.

An everyday item has four tiny numbers, '8', '6', '4', and '2' embossed on it. Each number is more recessed than the previous one. What's the object?

I'll say that again for anybody who didn't catch it the first time.

An everyday item has four tiny numbers, '8', '6', '4', and '2' embossed on it. Each number is more recessed than the previous one. What is the object?
Dani:Anyone else just looking around their location right now?
Amelie:Eight, six...
Tom:Well, I would, but I can see that Amelie's location is a beautifully appointed, soundproofed music studio and I feel like there aren't quite as many everyday objects as I have in my studio here.
Amelie:Yeah, no. You said '8', '6', '4', '2'?
Bill:Mhm. Eight, six, four, two.
Amelie:When you say recessed, you mean smaller? Or less...
Bill:They're further in. So if they were layered, it's like there's an eight and the six is slightly deeper in. Or it's more recessed, it's further into the object. The four is further in. The two is furthest.
Dani:So I guess one of the questions coming to my mind is, is this recessing on purpose? Is that part of the design or is it just from use? People are pressing certain numbers more than others, and so it's...
Dani:...deepening them?
Tom:I actually got to do the thing a while back where I just walked up to a friend's... They live in a big block of flats. The entry code, there were four numbers on that keypad.
Dani:Oh no.
Tom:That were just completely worn away. And I'm like, I mean, it's gonna be a year. It's four digits and two of them are one and nine. So I've got a 50-50 shot on just walking up and guessing their code while they're with me, and I'm like... I'm gonna get to be this smug once in my lifetime. This is... And I picked the wrong one of the two options.
Dani:Yay. And you were locked out forever.
Bill:And the police came.
SFX:(group chuckling)
Tom:It was... I can't remember what the numbers were, but it was either something like 1975 or 1957 and I guessed the wrong one, and I looked like a complete jackass, so...
Tom:It was worth a try.
Dani:For everybody who was watching!
Tom:No, just to my friend who was like, "Why did you do that?" "I was trying to be clever."
Bill:Is that Tom Scott across the road putting in the wrong code for an apartment door?
Tom:Oh, don't even!
Dani:Because yeah, that was definitely my first sort of thought, but then there would be more numbers that aren't being mentioned. I don't know.
Amelie:And you say it's an... Everyone would have that object?
Bill:Yeah. Yeah. Everyone would have— Well, not everyone, but it's a very common object.
Tom:And it is just one model of this has the 8-6-4— Not everyone's gonna have a version with that on it.
Bill:I will say not everybody will have the 8-6-4-2 version. There are other implementations of the same idea on similar objects. Is that vague enough for you, clue wanters?
Tom:For some reason my head went to an egg timer, but I don't know why you would do eight, six, four, and two for that. That's not a...
Bill:A soft boiled egg, a really soft boiled egg, a not boiled egg, and a raw egg.
SFX:(others laughing)
Tom:Yeah, that's...
Dani:I'm just looking at my calculator now going, oh no. Well, you know, 8-0-0-8-5, but that's about it.
Amelie:Would it be more of a kitchen thing?
Bill:You would not have this in your kitchen ever. This would've never entered your kitchen.
Amelie:Ooh, okay.
Tom:Oh, okay.
Amelie:Never entered...
Tom:Now I'm thinking cars.
Dani:Yeah, that's where I went.
Tom:If something's never entered the kitchen, what is there gonna be in a car that has numbers like that? There's something tickling the back of my head here and I cannot work out what it is.
Dani:Is this how rotary phones worked?
SFX:(both laughing)
Amelie:Is it in a car?
Bill:It is not... in a car.
Dani:That's suspicious. It's on a car or around a car?
Bill:Actually... it is also in a car.
Dani:Oh, come on!
Tom:Oh, come on! You can't do this to us!
Bill:It would be bad practice... and I believe illegal not to have one in your car.
Tom:Okay, this isn't France where you need a warning triangle and a load of stuff in the back of your car for safety, so what... Seat belts?
Dani:I know one thing that I believe we require to have one of in your car, and that's the spare tyre.
Tom:Yeah, but not everyone interacts with that all the time, surely.
Dani:Well, does it say that they have to interact with it or just that they have to have it?
Tom:Oh yeah.
Dani:In which case, I don't know enough about cars to know what numbers would mean.
Dani:Is it telling you how long you have to wait until a tyre gets replaced or something? Is it a lifespan of tyre?
Tom:Oh, because the tread on the tyre will have a millimetre depth gauge or something like that. Is it something that gets eroded away or...
Bill:Look, it does get eroded away. And I will say in terms of what the numbers represent, Dani... and probably Tom, I would say definitely... you'll have never seen '8', '6', '4', '2'. That is not an indication marker that we would've ever seen because... I mean, yeah, you've pretty much hit the nail on the head.
Dani:So does that mean it's an America system?
Bill:Yes, that is an American system for tire depth. You cracked it straight away.
Dani: What? Wait, what are they measuring? What units are these?
Bill:So, okay. Don't get me started on what the Americans are measuring. These are eight, six, four, and two 32ths of an inch.
Tom:Oh my god!
Bill:So don't even get me started!
Amelie:That's logical.
Bill:It's like, "Oh, how many 32ths of an inch do we need?" "Ah, I dunno."
Tom:You can reduce those fractions!
SFX:(group laughing)
Bill:Your final one is two! Why not go 1/16th? "No, no, no. It's 2/32ths."
Dani:The first one is a quarter.
Bill:(cackles) Yeah! But yes, yes, so... So it is the depth of tyre tread, because tread has a minimum depth, and it starts at 8/32nds of an inch. And as it wears away, you wear down to the six, you wear down to the four, you wear down to the two. And then it's like, "Okay, you're gonna change 'em. You're gonna change the tires. You're at the two level."

Obviously, we wouldn't have that in Australia. We don't measure things like that. We don't actually have millimetre gauges in Australia usually. We have— And does anyone know another system that people use? A very common thing for tyre tread checking?
Dani:I thought you were supposed to just look at the swirly pattern on it and figure out whether it's flat enough yet.
Bill:Amelie, do you know, is there any— Do you know how to check the tread of your tyres?
Amelie:I don't interact with my tyres myself. Someone else takes care of that for me.
Bill:Not even when they're in your kitchen, just sitting on the counter.
SFX:(others laughing)
Bill:The other common thing you often see is they just have a single ridge unlabelled, but it's just a ridge of rubber that goes across the width of the tyre. If your tread is level with that ridge, then you need to change the tyre. The fun one I found out is that in Australia... The official guidelines are also built around our currency. They say if you take a 20 cent coin... and the bill of the platypus... This is so Australian. If you take a 20 cent coin, and the bill of the platypus is level...
Bill:With the...
Tom:When you say the bill of the platypus, I wanna make it clear to Americans that this is not a bill of money. It's not like a $5 bill with a platypus on it.
Bill:No, the duck bill of the duck-billed platypus.
Tom:And you're also not getting an actual platypus, — a thing which has a bill —
Tom:and sticking it into the tyre.
Bill:The 20 cent coin, which is itself embossed with a platypus, the bill of the platypus.
Tom:There we go.
Bill:If that lines up with the top of your tyre tread when you stick the coin in, then you've got a three millimetre tread and you're fine. But if you can't see the outside ridge of a ten cent piece, well then you gotta replace your tyres. That's official guidelines.
Dani:I feel like we're doing one of those things where they refuse to use proper measurements. So that there is a meteorite. It's just landed on Earth, and it is two and a half camels wide.
Tom:I did burst a tyre going through rural Australia, which was not fun.
Bill:Ooh, excellent.
Tom:By sheer luck, it happened about two kilometres away from where I was staying for the night. So I just decided, rather than try and actually change a tyre in the middle of the bush, I just limped very slowly the last two kilometres on a dirt track and just... and cheated and called roadside assistance, because...
Dani:Hoo boy.
Tom:I did not want to risk driving on my own... frankly shoddy changing a tyre work, however long I had to go.
Dani:What sort of temperatures were you dealing with?
SFX:(others laughing)
Tom:It was like, either I get sunburned or I limp two kilometres to shade. And that's the priority right now. Plus it's a rental car!
Bill:So yes. These are numbers that indicate the amount of tread left on a tyre. The numbers represent 32nds, 32ths – it's so hard to say – of an inch. In the USA, the legal minimum tread depth is... I'm gonna change it to 1/16th of an inch. Hence the message "replace by two" below the numbers.
Tom:Next one's from me. Good luck, folks.

For the 15th anniversary of the film Titanic, James Cameron changed something due to a complaint from Neil deGrasse Tyson. What was it?
Dani:I think I know this.
Tom:Oh, okay. You sit out of this one then, Dani. I'll give the others the question one more time.

For the 15th anniversary of the film Titanic, James Cameron changed something due to a complaint from Neil deGrasse Tyson. What was it?

The first question I have for you both is, do you know who Neil deGrasse Tyson is?
Bill: Yes.
Dani:Someone at my university emailed him asking a science question and he replied.
Bill:He replied, he sent an email back that said, "Do not email me again."
SFX:(group chuckling)
Bill:Amelie, what do you know about the movie Titanic?
Amelie:I've seen it a long time ago once, but...
SFX:(both laughing)
Amelie:Did you ever see it?
Bill:I saw it once, a long time ago.
Amelie:Okay, so I guess it's something to do with I don't know, a full moon that couldn't have been on that day, or I don't know. I'm trying to...
Bill:Oh that's... 'cause obviously for people at home who don't know, Neil deGrasse Tyson is... an astrophysicist?
Bill:Is this his best title?
Tom:Professional pedant at this point, I think.
Bill:That's also true. He loves to tweet about...
Tom:Says the person who's running a show about trivia. Never mind, that's glass houses.
Bill:But no, that is true. He does have a reputation for engaging with pop culture and being like, "Well actually, if you were ever that close to that type of celestial body, you'd be ripped up and fall into orbit." And kind of poking holes in the scientific problems with movies.
Tom:Amelie, you are along the right lines there, but the full moon would be a big thing to change
Tom:on a movie like that.
Amelie:Okay, okay. Something simpler to change.
Bill:And do we think it's necessarily 100 percent astronomical? Because he also— A lot of people will also— He might be like, "Well actually, an iceberg of that size would have this sort of crenulation shape on top caused by natural compression forces. Add some— Put some crenulations on there, James!"
Dani:Yeah, it's the interesting balance of something that is finicky enough, Neil deGrasse Tyson picked up on it, but James Cameron cared enough to change it. That's the interesting balance point.
Tom:And given that Titanic was what, 1996? At a guess, it's around then. So 15 years later, we've got decent CGI, but I will say this is not something you would need a huge, huge budget to replace.
Bill:Leonardo DiCaprio.
Tom:Amelie, you are along the right lines here.
Tom:So if you wanna keep thinking of that.
Amelie:So is it something astronomical?
Bill:But we're thinking not the full moon. That was along the right lines, but not the right thing.
Amelie:Like a sunset not on the right side, or...
Bill:That'd be a bit wild.
Amelie:I don't know!
Bill:No, no. That's fair. But it'd be a good one for—
Amelie:I wouldn't pick up on it, but... I don't know.
Tom:That's true. If they were sailing west – which I guess they were, now I think about it – That's where the Titanic was going and...
Amelie:Yeah, yeah, yeah, It would be obvious. A lot of people would've picked up on that. Okay, that was dumb.
Tom:And the sun sets behind them.
Dani:Yeah, you don't need to be Neil deGrasse Tyson to be outraged at that.
Dani:I would be furious.
Tom:I would not have noticed that. I would've completely gone past— I wouldn't have gone, "But the Titanic is sailing west." I wouldn't have spotted it.
Amelie:I don't notice a lot of things, so...
Tom:You're nearly there. It's not the moon. It's not the sun. And thus it is...
Amelie:The stars.
Bill:The stars.
Tom:The stars.
Amelie:It's the stars.
Tom:Absolutely right.
Bill:Was it like a sort of... 'Cause I know that the stars either, surely it's either like... Oh, that time, Venus should have been visible, or this should have been visible, or is it like, things move? The constellations are not in the right places that they were 100 years ago.
Dani:I assumed— I haven't read into this. I've just heard the fact. I assumed that it was, they just used a standard greenscreen sky, but it was of the wrong part of the world.
Amelie:Oh, okay.
Tom:Yeah. It was only half a sky. It was badly reflected on the other side, and it was completely wrong for the time and location that the Titanic sank. And so, Neil deGrasse Tyson, being Neil deGrasse Tyson went, "I think you'll find that's wrong."
Dani:And James Cameron went, "Oh no, you're right. How could I have done this?" Apparently.
Tom:I suspect more of a publicity thing. But it is the sort of thing where you can change it, and it does not really affect the integrity of the author's vision there.
Bill:Because everyone always had one complaint about the end, which was, "Oh, I'm pretty sure Jack could fit on the door." And so, I do like the idea of James Cameron being like, "Hey, for everybody who's always been complaining about that final scene, I finally changed it! Welcome, 15 years later... the stars are fixed!" "D'ooh, James, you got us!"
Tom:So yes, for the 15th anniversary of Titanic, after a complaint from Neil deGrasse Tyson, James Cameron made sure that the stars were right.

Amelie, we go to you for the next question. Whenever you're ready.

In 1966, Yoko Ono devised a chess set called "Play It By Trust." It uses 32 standard chess pieces and an eight by eight square board. What was unusual about it?

In 1966, Yoko Ono devised a chess set called "Play It by Trust." It uses 32 standard chess pieces and an eight by eight square board. What was unusual about it?
Tom:There are so many chess variants. There are...
Amelie:But it's Yoko Ono's version.
Bill:It feels like, it's Yoko Ono. It feels the point is... Is the point that it's an art display, effectively? This is a form of modern art, of performance art in the form of chess?
Dani:Having it called "Play It By Trust."
Amelie:Yeah, you're quick.
Tom:I feel like Yoko Ono would not be designing a commercially copyrighted version of chess here.
Bill:(giggles) She's not pitching it to Hasbro!
Tom:Oh no, I like that though. And there's... Hasbro just has a board with Yoko's face on it and a big production sign. It's just a regular chess set. But it's Yoko Ono's chess set, so they're charging more for it.
Bill:Yeah, it's the stepping stone to Parker Brothers doing Yoko-Onopoly.
Tom:Ohh! (laughs) I heard the brief pause before there as you tried to work out which Os were getting portmanteaued.
Bill:"Where do the Os go?"
Tom:"Yokopoly? No. Yoko-nopoly? Maybe."
Dani:Well, if you've gotta play it by trust, to me, my first instinct is, for whatever reason, you can't see everything. And you just gotta trust that the other person is being honest about what's going on. You're playing chess Battleship of some sort, is how I'm picturing it.
Tom:I saw it like the old... you remember Command and Conquer, the video game? Kind of real-time strategy game where you didn't see the opponent's section of the board until you had a sightline there.
Amelie:You're in the right direction.
Dani:Oh really?
Amelie:But you're not there yet.
Dani:Was the board— We said that it was a normal 8x8 board. Was it definitely in one piece, this board?
Amelie:Yeah, it's a normal board with all the norm— All the pieces are standard.
Tom:Did you see the ChatGPT playing chess thing?
Bill:Oh no. Is it terrible or amazing?
Tom:Oh, so this is gonna date very badly, because in six months, it'll probably be able to do this. But all it's doing is predicting what the next word is. So it sort of knows how chess games work and sort of knows where the pieces might be. But it doesn't understand the rules, so it just cheats. All the time.
SFX:(guests laughing)
Tom:'Cause all it's doing is going, "That looks like a move someone would write there. I'll try that." What have you done? You've taken your own bishop. Well, I guess that's a thing you can do now.
SFX:(guests laughing)
Bill:"But he's mine now. I've kept him safe."
Tom:Okay, so it's something trust-based. It's gotta be about knowledge or something hidden, but...
Dani:Ooh. I've got a cool idea. I have no idea if this is in any way related, but now I want to play it. What if your king is in disguise as another piece? I mean, I know you said that it's all of the normal pieces, but what if your king might not be your king?
Tom:Oh, that's nice. And by trust, you just—
Dani:That'd be a great game.
Tom:You just have to declare at some point, "Oh yeah. No, that's not actually my king. It's actually this one."
Bill:That wasn't my king, yeah. You gotta just trust they're telling the truth. My question was: is it a two-player game? Or are there three, four, more people playing?
Amelie:It's a two-player game.
Tom:If I was coming up with a thing that was about trust, I would say that... one person— No, that doesn't make sense. I was like, one person is just making the moves in their head, but that doesn't make any sense. Plus, that's a game for some chess grandmasters, is just to entirely keep the board in their head and bounce things back and forth.
Amelie:You're in the right line.
Amelie:With the head. You know, you have to memorise a little bit.
Bill:Yeah, are the pieces— You said they were standard pieces. Are they actually on the board moving around?
Amelie:Yes, they are.
Bill:Okay, okay, interesting.
Tom:Are they— This— This sounds like the sort of very late 1960s extremely hamfisted metaphor for what's going on in the world. Are the pieces all the same colour, so they're not black and white?
Amelie:Yes. You're so good. I'm impressed.
Amelie:Yeah, they're all white.
Tom:That feels like exactly the sort of things that— Oh, they went with all white. That is— I would've gone with shades of gray personally.
Amelie:It's 1966. So I guess, because it's to show the futility of war.
Tom:Oh, yeah.
Amelie:And you have to— Because after a couple of plays, you don't remember which are yours and which are the opponent's. So you have to trust the other, so yeah.
Bill:But if you did it now and you did make them all white, oh, Twitter would be onto you straight away!
Dani:The answer was making a statement against war. Whereas my first instinct was: Oh, let's combine chess with Battleship. Let's double the war!
Bill:We're making two wars at once!
SFX:(group laughing)
Bill:We're gonna fight this war on multiple fronts!
Tom:Your king has been checked by... an aircraft carrier, okay. That's a thing.
Amelie:Yeah, so, both players start with a full compliment of 16 white chess pieces. While it's possible to start a game in the usual manner, it becomes harder to remember which piece belongs to which player. The artwork created in 1966 is symbolic of the futility of war.
Tom:Next question then, folks. Here we go.

Many skyscrapers miss out unlucky floor numbers, such as '13' in the West or '4' in China. However, when someone wants to visit the 70th floor of Trump World Tower, they have to press the elevator button marked 90. Why?

One more time.

Many skyscrapers miss out unlucky floor numbers such as '13' in the West or '4' in China. However, when someone wants to visit the 70th floor of Trump World Tower, they have to press the elevator button marked 90. Why?
Amelie:Okay, so 70 is replaced by 90?
Dani:Is there actually also a 90th floor leading to all sorts of shenanigans?
Tom:There may well be, I think. I don't actually have the floor count on here, but it is a big tower.
Amelie:Isn't a thing with... Because I think. Isn't a thing with like, He wants it to sound— to look like it's taller than it actually is?
Bill:Yeah, 'cause this was my thought as well. I love the idea of him being like, "Oh my tower—" I'm not gonna do a Trump. "My tower isn't—"
Tom:You're not gonna do a Trump accent. You doing a Trump. I dunno what that is, but...
Bill:I'm not gonna do a Trump accent. Because Dani hates my Trump impression. But yeah, someone's like, "Oh, the liberal media is telling you that my tower is only 100 stories tall. But it's actually 150! And here's the proof. Look at all the—" And he just keeps exaggerating the floor numbers. And so by the time you get to floor 100, it's actually, you're only on floor 50. And he's like, "Don't worry about it. Just keep going." I love that image of Trump.
Tom:You are entirely right. Amelie, you're spot on.
Bill:Good work, Amelie.
Tom:There are just floor numbers missed out all the way up. It's not specifically about 70 and 90. It's just that if you count up on the outside, there's 70 floors. But on the inside, you push number 90 to get there.
Bill:That is so insane.
SFX:(ladies giggling)
Bill:Like if you—
Amelie:It's not surprising.
Dani:That's the problem! I went immediately to, okay, how much is this going to be due to an odd Trump neurosis? And I was going, no, you know what? Maybe it's somehow something perfectly reasonable. Let's try giving it the benefit of the doubt. There was no point doing that.
Tom:Yep, one of the justifications is that his buildings often have commercial units on the lower floors with very high ceilings, so those count double.
SFX:(guests laughing)
Bill:Ah, sure.
Amelie:I see. Yeah, maybe Yoko Ono could take a picture of the board and make it an art piece called Ego Inflation or something. I don't know.
Tom:Oh, that's a good name! That's a really good name! The buyers actually sign paperwork that includes the disclaimer that their floor number is not the actual floor.
Dani:At least they're not being tricked.
Bill:Yeah, at least they know.
Tom:Yes, if you push the '90' elevator button in Trump World Tower, you will actually get taken to the 70th floor, because some of the numbers are skipped.

Our last guest question comes from Dani. Take it away.
Dani:Alright. You're not gonna get this one right away. Not this time.

Feandra are a manufacturer of cat trees – a play tower for domestic cats. Once the purchaser has self-assembled the cat tree, the manufacturer provides two pages of extra instructions for a realistic reason. Why?

And one more time.

Feandrea are a manufacturer of cat trees – a play tower for domestic cats. Once the purchaser has self-assembled the cat tree, the manufacturer provides two pages of extra instructions for a realistic reason. Why?

Anyone here a cat person?
Tom:No, apparently just silence from everyone here.
Bill:No cat people here.
Dani:Not only are you not cat people, you're apparently terrified of them.
Amelie:No, I like cats, but I don't have a cat at the moment. But...
Tom:I've got nothing against cats.
Amelie:Yeah. I like them.
Bill:I'm not a cat person. But I am very jellicle.
Tom:Oh my word.
SFX:(group giggling)
Bill:No, you have to keep that one in.
Tom:We're on Andrew Lloyd Webber references now. My word. My immediate thought was that there is an instruction that says to leave the boxes out for the cat to just curl up in instead.
Tom:But that's not two pages of instructions needed.
Dani:It would be pretty wild to take two pages to say, "Do not discard this box."
Tom:Yeah, the cat is going to sit in the box and ignore the cat tree for a long while.
Bill:But what if that's it? What if it's a two-page instruction of "Look, I know you bought a cat tree. I know you're disappointed, 'cause the cat's just playing with the box. Here's how to extricate a cat from a box and get it to play with a tree instead to justify your purpose— your purchase."
Dani:Troubleshooting your cat.
Bill:(chuckles) Exactly.
Amelie:It's like a tree that...?
Dani:Supposedly, how would you describe these? They are sort of tree-like, but just sort of like a play centre for cats.
Amelie:So he can do his nails on it? Like his...
Dani:It's got those. It's got places for them to sit. Maybe a little sheltery looking one that they can climb inside.
Tom:I would describe as looking like a tree house almost without the tree.
Tom:They call them cat trees. You've just got a scratching post with boxes on the side they can jump on and in and around and...
Amelie:Is it to tell people not to sit on it? That they are for cats, that an adult should— Is it stuff like that? 'Cause sometimes, you know, people are surprising.
Tom:"Do not let your child play in the cat tree."
Dani:I have definitely seen those ones around.
Bill:We have a tiny staircase for our dog. It's a little staircase to help an old dog get up to certain levels. And you'd think you'd understand, this is a staircase for a dog. But my younger brother, still in his mid 20s went, "That's a staircase for a human" and put a huge hole straight through it. So maybe we could've done with the extra instructions.
Dani:And I've definitely seen instructions like that. It is not... In that case, it is not a safety thing.
Tom:I'm trying to think of stereotypes about cats now.
Dani:I mean I, think you've already arranged yourself around the perfect stereotype of cats right from the start.
Amelie:Is it something to do with to give you... instructions on how to make your cat play with it?
Dani:It is not.
Bill:I have an idea. I think I know what this is now. And I'm gonna put it out here. But let's— I'm not gonna ask Dani. 'Cause I don't want her to confirm until we've all decided together.
Dani:I'll go to sleep then.
Bill:About whether this is true. Because we were on it early on with the like, "Oh, cats just play with the box."

I wonder if the other thing cats love to do, because has anyone ever tried to read a book when there's a cat in a house? If you try and read a book when there's a cat, it comes over and it's like, "Oh, what's going on here?" And it pushes the book outta your hands, and it sits on you and it's like, "Hey, here I am." And it plays with the— and it just wants to ruin that.

I wonder if that's a problem with instructions as well. And the extra instructions are like: Give this to your cat while you're reading the real instructions. They're gonna be playing with this paper and ignore you completely and not try and steal the paper out of your hands. Are they instructions for the cat to play with?
Dani:(laughs) I don't think that you can extrapolate our cat-like dog's behaviour onto all cats that exist.
SFX:(both laughing)
Tom:There's just a set of instructions that just say, "Meow, meow, meow, meow" and it's just written in cat.
Bill:It's for the cat. That's a very practical reason.
Dani:No, you were definitely towards the start, you were definitely very much in the right zone.
Tom:What, with the cat curling up in the box, that sort of thing, or...
Dani:Definitely not too far away.
Bill:For box setup? Are they like, "Here's how to prepare the box for a cat to play with"?
Dani:Essentially, yes.
Dani:It was, you can turn this cardboard box, you can just manipulate it, do some folds, maybe some tapings, and you can make another little cathouse.
Tom:Oh, that's lovely.
Bill:Oh, that's so cool!
Dani:The two pages of extra instructions were for how to turn the cardboard box itself into a little house for the cat.
Tom:Finally then, at the start of the show, I asked the audience:

Who has the Guinness World Record for most claps in a lifetime?

Now, I don't think this panel of two Australians and one Canadian are going to know the answer to this. 'cause it's a very American question, but I will throw it out there. Thank you to Ryan for sending this in. Does anyone want to take a guess?
Bill:Quickly! Who's an American who loves to clap?
Dani:I was going to assume that it could not possibly be a human, 'cause humans can't hold physical records compared to animals. But now that you've said it's American, is it one of those really old-fashioned people who'd slap their knees a lot?
Bill:It's a hamboner!
Dani:That's the one.
Tom:I'm sorry, a what?
Bill:A hamboner. They hambone. They go...
SFX:(rhythmic slapping)
Bill:It's an ancient art, Tom.
Amelie:An ancient art!
SFX:(group giggling)
Amelie:Sorry. I love it.
Bill:Do any of your orchestras that you play in... Do you do any hamboners?
Amelie:No, that would be more in Yoko Ono's orchestra, I guess.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:This might be shown in Canada. This is someone on television. But I suspect that it's not gonna be in your sphere of knowledge. I'll give you one last shot.
Amelie:So, the person who clapped the most?
Tom:Yes. It is the hostess from Wheel of Fortune, Vanna White.
Bill:Oh, it's Vanna White! She's always clapping!
Amelie:Wheel of Fortune.
Bill:That's all she does! She claps and turns!
Tom:She doesn't even turn anymore. She now pushes buttons underneath the monitors that they use instead of the spinny things. And anytime someone guesses a letter, she gets a small round of applause. And thus, she is almost certainly the person who has clapped most in their lifetime.

So thank you very much to all our players. Let's hear what's going on in your lives. Where can people find you? We will start with Amelie.
Amelie:So you can find me on my YouTube channel, The Flute Channel, where you can listen to some flute, or even learn the flute, where I give a lot of tips on how to play the flute with more ease. But I also play a lot of pieces.
Tom:And so normally, Bill and Dani, when you're on, I hand it to one of you to do one of your podcasts and one of you to do the other. We're gonna start with Dani today. What's going on with your life?
Dani:So if you wanna find some of our audio versions of escape rooms, you can find that at
Tom:And Bill.
Bill:Yeah, and our other big show is Solve This Murder. We would've recently wrapped up A big Agatha Christie murder mystery that you can check out and hear and me try and solve.
Tom:So that is our show for today. If you wanna find out more about what we do, or send in a question yourself, you can do that at There are video highlights on YouTube at, and we are @lateralcast pretty much everywhere. Thank you very much. It is good bye from Dani Siller.
Dani:See you next time. There will be a next time.
Tom:To Bill Sunderland.
Bill:See you next time...!
Tom:That sounded threatening. And Amelie Brodeur.
Amelie:Thanks for having me.
Tom:I'm Tom Scott. This has been Lateral.
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