Lateral with Tom Scott

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

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Episode 30: The orchestrated in-joke

Published 5th May, 2023

Mark Rober, Virginia Schutte and Jabrils face questions about rigorous racing, perceptive photography, and vexatious vexillology.

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: Francesco Falcone. FORMAT: Pad 26 Limited/Labyrinth Games Ltd. EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: David Bodycombe and Tom Scott.


Transcription by Caption+

Tom:If you heard "Burn one with wax, drag it through the garden, and take it for a walk," where are you most likely to be? The answer to that at the end of the show. My name's Tom Scott, and this is Lateral.

As usual, I'm joined by three people who have volunteered to get weird and wobbly with their thinking. So let's meet them before they fall over. We start with:

From his studio in California where he is building many, many bizarre things for the internet, Mark Rober.
Mark:Hello, good to be here.
Tom:Welcome back to the show. This is your second time here. How are you feeling?
Mark:Good. I'm feeling good. I'm embarrassed I wore the same thing again, but I hope your viewers are okay with that.
Tom:(laughs) It's almost like we film these in recording blocks or something. It's amazing.
Mark:Nah, nah.
Tom:Next up: Still isolating before her trip off to the Antarctic, Virginia Schutte.
Virginia:Hi, Tom.
Tom:What are you hoping to work on out there? What are you planning while you're on the boat?
Virginia:Oh, my most exciting thing that I'm working up is... an editorial style fashion shoot at sea. I'm very nervous about asking for permission to do shots on the ice. I don't think we'll get it, but that's what I'm gunning for. I'm really excited about it.
Tom:And worst case, you're still on the deck of a ship in the Antarctic.
Virginia:This is true.
Tom:And finally, joining us from his mysterious artificial intelligence bunker, we have Jabrils.
Jabrils:What's up, Tom? How you doing? Thanks for having me.
Tom:I'm doing well. I do have a question about the video we collaborated on 'cause I got to guess which of these things were AI generated and which weren't. And I was slightly above chance, but not much. Please tell me I wasn't the worst.
Jabrils:You were not the worst.
Tom:Okay, that's all I needed to know.
Jabrils:But you will find out your ranking.
SFX:(both laughing)
Jabrils:(laughs maniacally)
Tom:I've got a series of clever questions that will hopefully make our guests' brains explode with creative solutions. Not literally, but we did make them sign a waiver. So we start with this.

An audience has arrived to listen to a musical performance. The entire orchestra starts to tune up, and the audience laughs. Why?

I'll give you that again.

An audience has arrived to listen to a musical performance. The entire orchestra starts to tune up and the audience laughs. Why?
Jabrils:What does tune up mean?
Virginia:It's when they all play about the same note, so that they can make sure they're all in tune with one another.
Mark:I didn't know they were all playing the same note. I kind of just thought it's like, you know, someone tunes their guitar and they go like, (imitates guitar) They do each thing. Are they all like, "Hey, let's all play a C"?
Tom:I think they generally have a note they aim for, so it sounds pleasing. And so they can hear if anyone is dissonant.
Virginia:So I played musical instruments for a while. There's usually a single person, usually an oboist, that stands up. They play a known note, and a bunch of people come in, in a particular sequence, and they play that same note, and then they go (blubbers) to make sure they're all, you know, good all over. But they start with that one kinda unifying thing.
Tom:So, the audience has arrived to listen. They're in their seats. The orchestra starts to tune up. The audience laughs.
Jabrils:Oh, easy, easy. So the orchestra, they play the (imitates trombone) The audience goes, "Aah."
SFX:(others laughing)
Tom:That would be a hell of a way to tune up. No, they generally play concert pitch, which is, I think an A, if I remember rightly. And— oh, so— (wheezes) Our audio engineer today just gave— just waved a thumbs up from the other side of the room. So I'm gonna assume I got that one right. It's concert pitch.
Mark:Alright, so talking about the thing then... Is it— was it— Are they laughing because of what they heard? Or, I wonder if they're laughing because of something that they saw, right? Or some combination, right? Because it could have been like, yeah, like Jabrils said, they played the Seinfeld riff or something. And so it's like, oh, that's the riff from Seinfeld, and that's just an auditory thing.
Jabrils:Or one of the instruments blew off the toupée of the maestro.
SFX:(Tom and Virginia laughing)
Virginia:That's my question. Is this on purpose and pre-planned, or was it accidental?
Mark:Another good one.
Tom:The tuneup is a standard orchestra tuneup. There's nothing special about it. As you say, the oboe is gonna play a note. Everyone else is gonna join it.
Mark:So yeah, then if it's a normal tuneup, then it must be, yeah, what happened? Did the cymbal guy drop his cymbal or something and it crashed? But Virginia, you had a good question. Did you— Did Tom answer that? If it was a pre-planned thing versus an accidental thing?
Virginia:Not satisfactorily.
Virginia:So... Tom.
Mark:He didn't.
Virginia:(giggles) Tom.
Tom:It is pre-planned. And if you were to take this out of context, as we have done for this question... you would just see a normal orchestra tuneup that for some reason is funny to the audience.
Mark:Right, it was pre-planned though, by the orchestra. They were trying to be funny. It wasn't— So something accidental didn't happen.
Virginia:I mean, this could go so many different ways. Someone came out and tossed pancakes to them, or they're all wearing costumes.
Tom:That wouldn't be a normal orchestra tuneup. Out of context for this question, it is: normal tuneup, and the audience laughs for some reason. But you just look at that tuneup, nothing strange about it at all.
Jabrils:So they're not wearing anything crazy?
Jabrils:In their uniform.
Tom:It is about the context around what's happening.
Mark:Yeah, so it's like a concert for the deaf or something. I dunno why you have people playing, but it's like the fact that they're tuning up makes that funny.
Tom:The fact that they have done the tuneup...
Mark:Is funny. a joke.
Mark:Is a joke, right.
Tom:And you're not quite right there, Mark, but you're definitely along the right lines.
Mark:Yeah, so why?
Tom:And don't forget the audience know what they— the audience know what they've come to see.
Virginia:Was it the normal orchestra players in their seats, or was it someone—
Tom:All normal.
Jabrils:Is it like a clapping orchestra, where it doesn't make sense to tune up?
Mark:Tom said it would just be— it would look like a normal tuneup. So they're not clapping, they're not tuning up claps, right?
Tom:But what you said there, Jabrils, it wouldn't make sense to tune up. Why might it not make sense? What have the audience come to see?
Mark:Right, so they've come to see a...
Virginia:A kazoo concert.
Tom:(laughs) Weirdly, Mark you were close with the performance for the deaf, but not quite there.
Mark:Yeah, yeah, yeah. But it's not, it's like a play...
Jabrils:For animals.
Mark:Are they actors? You know, it's like they're actors in something else. So the fact they're tuning up, it's like that's dumb, you're tuning up, 'cause you're not going to be playing later. You don't need to be playing these instruments. So it's ridiculous that you're tuning up.
Mark:Why would it be ridiculous they're tuning up? 'Cause clearly they're not going be playing those instruments.
Tom:Yes. So there is one missing piece here. Pun not intended, which is, what is the piece? The audience have come to see something specific. I'll tell you, in 2011, Gramophone magazine reviewed the piece by running a six inch column of blank space.
Mark:Oh, it was a silent movie?
Virginia:There was no sound?
Jabrils:It's the orchestra of silence or something?
Tom:Has anyone heard of a piece called 4'33" by John Cage?
Tom:No they haven't, so right. I'm glad I gave that hint, 'cause no one would've got that. Can you suspect what 4'33" by John Cage might be?
Mark:It's just silence.
Tom:It's just silence. John Cage as a composer comes out with all sorts of things like that, and 4'33" is instructed that everyone should stay silent. And the ambient noise of the room you are in and the breathing and the sounds and the jostling, that is the piece.
Jabrils:But they broke it. They broke the rule when they burst out in laughter, no?
Tom:They were just tuning up, getting ready to play. At some point, the conductor walks in, raises his baton, and the orchestra plays the piece. So for that tune up, that got the laugh.
Mark:That's funny.
Jabrils:Okay, cool.
Mark:And then the laugh becomes part of the piece. That's like the first second, maybe.
Tom:So it is a reasonably famous piece amongst music nerds, I think possibly in the UK, but I'm not surprised that you all blanked on the name. So I'm gonna give that to all you collectively. Yes, the orchestra tuneup gets a laugh because the piece itself is entirely silent.

Mark, we're coming to you for the first guest question. What have you got for us?
Mark:Okay, here it is.

To prevent hitting his head, Tom put a few UK one pound coins in his shoes. Why?

I'll repeat it.

To prevent hitting his head, Tom put a few UK one pound coins in his shoes. Why?
Tom:I'm gonna start by saying this question is not about me.
Virginia:That was my first question.
SFX:(Virginia and Mark laughing)
Tom:I dunno whether the question writer has just picked a name, or whether this is a specific Tom that did this. But this is not me. Yeah, Tom, why did you do that, Tom?
Mark:Let's just ask Tom while we wait.
Jabrils:I'm gonna go with the Hail Mary of it causes a little pain to step on, so they hunch over a little bit like, "Ah, ah." And it prevents them from hitting their head on something.
Tom:I've heard that used as a method if you want to get around gate recognition cameras. There's artificial intelligence stuff that can recognise the way you walk. So if you wanna get around that, you put something in your shoe, you cause a bit of a limp and change in balance.
Virginia:Oh wow.
Tom:But I don't know why you'd use one pound coins for that?
Virginia:Is it something to do with— I'm thinking like— Okay, so here's where I'm going. We're not in a normal walking scenario here. We're doing something that's like, the elevator is dropping, and you're rising up, and so if you're heavier, then... you won't go as high? Or like a trampoline setting. I'm thinking about weight here. Is this at all...?
Mark:Yeah, so the part you're correct on is it's not a normal walking situation. That's true. I never said anything about walking.
Mark:And it does have to do with weight.
Tom:To avoid...
Mark:I said to prevent hitting his head, Tom put a few UK one pound coins in his shoes. Why?
Virginia:Is Tom underwater?
Mark:Tom is not underwater.
Tom:I'm gonna try a Hail Mary here... Which is that this is about boxing. And that he's cheating on the weigh-in to make himself heavier so he doesn't have to do it?
Mark:Absolutely not.
SFX:(guests laughing)
Tom:You had to start with the word 'absolutely,' didn't you? Yeah, you had to drag it out, and then come in with "Absolutely."
Virginia:I was all in with that one. That was so good.
Mark:For those of you listening in the car, I was really leaning in visually. I'm not even gonna drop that mic. Pick that mic back up, Tom. Not even close. (giggles)
Tom:Damnit. But it is about weight. It's about making yourself heavier.
Mark:I did not say... it's about making yourself heavier necessarily. It does have to do with weight.
Tom:Okay, so what's special about a one pound coin? They are kind of small, about the size of a... Damn. They're maybe about the size of a US nickel, but a bit thicker. And they're also... I think they have nine sides or something like that. They're bimetallic. They've got silver in the middle, gold on the outside, or maybe it's the other way round. I dunno if any of those help. But now you've got some clues about what the one pound coin looks like.
Virginia:(giggles) I liked, Tom, actually, your line of reasoning about how... 'Cause I was assuming that Tom was alone in this scenario about not trying to get head hit by just existing in space. Mark, is someone else hit or something? Yeah, is someone else involved in the hitting of the head?
Mark:No. And that's actually almost a clue, where Tom is alone actually.
Mark:Completely alone.
Tom:Are the coins an important part of this? Does it have to be those coins? Could it be anything small and heavy and round?
Mark:Good question, and you're correct. There's nothing specific about the coins themselves. They were just small and dense enough to get the job done.
Tom:Alright, and it means he's British, I guess. I don't know if that's useful as part of the clue.
Mark:I don't know, you may be jumping to a conclusion there, but...
Mark:I mean, I've used UK one pound coins, and I'm not British.
Tom:Why do you put small, dense stuff in your shoes? To stop hitting your head?
Mark:I feel like you guys—
Virginia:Wait was Tom wearing the shoes on his feet?
Virginia:Oh, okay. I thought I had a thing there.
Tom:I thought you had a thing there.
Mark:So I feel like you guys— Tom matters here. I feel like you guys should be narrowing in on Tom and...
Mark:Like who is Tom? And most people will be familiar. You guys all know, you've seen this... event.
Tom:And it can't be To— Weirdly, my brain has gone Tom from Tom and Jerry. And I don't—
Mark:It's not Tom from Tom and Jerry. But it's an equally famous Tom.
Tom:Is Tom a human here? Can we nail that down?
Mark:Tom is a human, yes.
Virginia:Is it Tom Cruise?
Mark:It is Tom Cruise.
Virginia:Is this in a movie that we're talking about here?
Mark:It is in a movie. It is.
Virginia:Oh, no.
Tom:As an actor or as a character?
Mark:No, it's actually Tom Cruise as the actor in a movie. And it's, why does he have— It has to do with weight. But I will say it has to do with weight distribution.
Tom:Oh, this is gonna be one of the stunts from the Mission: Impossible films. And it's gonna be UK pound coins 'cause they're all filmed at Pinewood or one of the movie studios in the UK.
Tom:So it's gonna be some big stunt that he's done. It's the—! Okay Mark, you know last time I had that big lights-on moment, and you no-sold me on it. It's the stunt from Mission: Impossible 1 where he's dangling in the bank vault on the wire, and they need to balance him. 'Cause that was shot at Pinewood, and they need to make sure he levels out on the harness, and they put pound coins in his shoes. Tell me I'm right!
Mark:You could drop your mic and leave it dropped, Tom. That is correct.
Jabrils:Wow. (claps)
SFX:(others laughing)
Tom:Oh, that was a long time coming.
Mark:That is correct.
Virginia:I have to say. I really just thought he was that good at balancing. I didn't realize that he needed help balancing there. I was just like, wow, that's a very balanced man.
Mark:He totally cheated. Totally cheated. It's no longer impressive, frankly, the fact that he had to put coins in his shoes.
SFX:(Mark and Virginia laughing)
Mark:Yep, that is correct. Tom Cruise was using the coins to balance himself in the famous CIA scene in the original Mission: Impossible.
Tom:Next question is from me. Good luck, folks.

In the days before digital cameras, a photographer would write something down on a piece of paper and take a photo of it. He'd then send the film off for processing. What was the clever trick?

I'll say that again.

In the days before digital cameras, a photographer would write down something on a piece of paper and take a photo of it. He'd then send the film off for processing. What was the clever trick?
Virginia:Is this a specific thing like a marriage proposal, or is this a general trend among photographers?
Tom:Several photographers would use this trick. I'm not saying every photographer would do it, but it'd be the sort of thing where someone would go, "Hey, you know, this is a good idea. You should try doing this."
Mark:I took photography in high school, and so we had to develop our own film. And I could see it being like... Is it like a message to the developer, where it's like, you dunno if there's 24 pictures or 36, so it's like, take a picture, and, you're trying to communicate something to the person who's developing the pictures.
Tom:Yep, you're homing in on the right area very quickly there.
Tom:Are you coming in with a suggestion there, Jabrils, or are you just kind of giggling in the background?
Jabrils:No, it's just a thanks to Mark Rober!
SFX:(group laughing)
Mark:So that's the question then. What would be beneficial? Is it specifically the person developing the film that they're trying to communicate with?
Tom:Yeah, personal company, yeah.
Virginia:Is it as simple as date and time or— and location, or are we talking something different here?
Tom:It is something simple. It's not quite there. You're getting closer.
Jabrils:So we are making the assumption that what he writes down has some sort of benefit to the photographer.
Mark:That's right. To the developer?
Tom:To both of them really.
Jabrils:Or both? It had to be both, right?
Mark:Is it like, "Develop this in color, develop it in black and white?"
Tom:It's instructions, certainly. But you wouldn't see that until the film was developed, really. The film comes into the developer. They're just gonna put it in the magic machine that does it, I assume.
Mark:No, you haven't. No, Tom. No, Tom. That's not how this works. You have the negative, right? So you see the light, and so you need to know— Well, I don't remember everything. All of the things we developed was black and white, but you have the negative in the dark room that...
Tom:Because growing up, you just took a load of photos on a camera. You took the roll of film, you put it in an envelope, you sent it off to the developing company, and at some point later, you got prints back. Now, I assume professionals work a little bit differently there, but it's not like... I'm not sure someone will be manually developing every single frame individually here.
Jabrils:Is it fair to assume that this is not the only image that they send to be developed? There's other images in the series?
Tom:You are all steadily working through the hints that I've got on my sheet in front of me.
Tom:You've got most of them already.
Mark:Is it to keep them separate from the next batch? It's a good point that it would be a company. So you don't want your confused with the next person's stuff. So you say, "last print" and take a picture of that so they know, okay, this isn't, yeah.
Tom:You're getting there. It is the last thing in the roll of film. When they've got one shot left: write it down, take a picture, send that off.
Jabrils:Last, so then...
Mark:Does it have to do with the quality of the last print? Like maybe the last print sometimes is a half print, 'cause in your camera it's— So it's a wasted roll anyways, so you don't wanna... It's not that, right? It's as good a picture as any of the rest of them?
Jabrils:Does it have something to do with maybe shipping and packaging? Special instructions for that, or...
Tom:Ooh, you're getting very close!
Virginia:Oh. Is it to make sure your film doesn't get lost? So it's just like an ID tag, so if they develop it and then they're like, who do I send this to? It's like, oh, this is John Smith's in Virginia.
Tom:Absolutely right. It's the name and address.
Tom:Spot on.
Virginia:That is—
Tom:In case the film gets separated from the order form you send in with it.
Tom:Absolute worst case, the prints come out like, "Oh no, we've lost the form. What do we do?" It's fine. They've put their address on the last frame. Because at that point, the only copy of that film has headed off to the developer, and if they lose it, there is no way of getting that back.
Mark:Very cool. Very cool.
Virginia:How many disasters had to happen for this to become standard practice? Oh gosh.
SFX:(Jabrils and Mark snickering)
Tom:It only has to happen once. And then you are gonna be giving that tip to every single one of your friends.
Tom:Yeah, Virginia, you got the last bit there. The clever trick is taking a photo of your name and address as the last picture. So if all else fails, the developer will still send your prints back to you.

Jabrils, the next question is from you. Take it away.
Jabrils:Okay, so... An advert consists of a very large word search. The letters are all in blue, except for one answer – the name JAMES – which is orange. What is the advert's message?

I'll read it again.

An advert consists of a very large word search. The letters are all in blue, except for one answer – the name JAMES – which is orange. What is the advert's message?
Tom:I started writing this down, and it didn't help. (chuckles)
Mark:It's either— I bet, it's either like a pun, like Orange James among blue letters, and it's like that's a pun of a thing or... Maybe it's— Does it have to do with colorblind at all? It's like an eye doctor who does colorblind stuff?
Tom:I was thinking colourblind test, but I don't think blue orange is a common type of colour blindness?
Jabrils:It doesn't have anything to do with colorblindness, but you're on the right track with visibility.
Virginia:Word search makes me think that if you're targeting the search idea, find who you're looking for? So like a person finder or... I dunno if it's a dating service, but it could be like a look up your old auntie?
Tom:It could be a recruitment thing. Like you need the one person that they look for. But I can't think of any companies that have that blue and orange colour scheme that fit in any of those groups.
Mark:Yeah, I bet if we nail down the company... Is it true, Jabrils, if we knew the company and what they do, this would be way easier? That's a big part of it?
Mark:Like it's a dating app or it's a recruitment firm, like Tom and Virginia said?
Jabrils:It's not ne— it's not a company. It's more of an organization.
Mark:I see. James, James and a bunch of blue letters. This is a good one.
Virginia:Or is it a privacy scrubbing thing? So don't be found? No, but that's still a company.
Tom:Are there also the letters, "Giant Peach" in there somewhere, and it's for literacy, or...
Jabrils:I'm gonna give you the first clue, okay? This advert is not selling anything.
Tom:Is this like a missing children's poster or something like that? That they are find— You've found James among all the other people's names that are in there.
Jabrils:You're in the right direction.
Mark:Is it for child abuse? I've seen those ones that from a certain angle, you hear, see it and it's like, For kids can see it, but adults can't or something.
Tom:I mean, I feel like if we've got a question like that, our question editors are slightly off the mark in the tone.
SFX:(guests laughing)
Tom:But it's about trying to track down someone that's missing or that is lost.
Mark:But it's clever. It seems like it's a clever— It's not a pun, right?
Mark:Is it the answer, if you— Is it a pun?
Jabrils:I would not classify this as a pun. I'm gonna read the question for you one more time. So an advert consists of a very large word search. The letters are all in blue, except for one answer – the name James – which is in orange. What is the advert's message?
Mark:Does James matter? Is James a very specific person? And if we knew that, like that would help? And then like Tom Cruise?
Jabrils:So James is an example. So in the examples context, James is very important.
Virginia:I am no closer to anything that matters.
SFX:(Virginia and Mark laugh)
Virginia:I don't know the answer here!
Mark:But is it an ad that's on the side of a highway, or is it a bus stop or doesn't matter? Or newspaper? It doesn't matter.
Tom:Oh, in my head, this was a newspaper, 'cause it was a word search.
Mark:In my head, it was a billboard on the side of the freeway.
Jabrils:This advert is to raise public awareness of something.
Jabrils:Both of the colors mentioned are relevant.
Tom:Blue and orange.
Jabrils:And if you can figure out the importance of the blue, the orange should make a lot of sense to you.
Mark:This doesn't have to do with a Russian, and it's not a car, right?
Tom:Oh, it's the—! It's... it's the ocean. It's finding people at sea.
Tom:It's lifeboats or—
Tom:It's someone wearing a life preserver in the ocean. Orange James in the middle of blue ocean of words and other things. So it must be for the... I'm guessing UK lifeboat organisation?
Jabrils:You are correct, Tom. You're not correct on the actual organization. It is the National Sea Rescue Institute of South Africa. But, the advert message is you are more visible, assuming in the ocean, wearing a life jacket.
Tom:That is very clever.
Jabrils:So the advert reads: "There are 20 names in this word search, but you only saw one. Wear a life jacket."
Mark:Got it. Got it.
Tom:That is clever.
Jabrils:And so the blue letters surrounding James, it represents the sea, and then James in orange represents someone wearing a life jacket.
Tom:Next one's from me. Here we go.

In the 1966 Le Mans 24 hour race, the car that crossed the finish line second was judged to be the winner, even though the driver ahead of them wasn't disqualified or sanctioned. Why?

One more time.

In the 1966 Le Mans 24 hour race, the car that crossed the finishing line second was judged to be the winner, even though the driver ahead of them wasn't disqualified or sanctioned. Why?
Mark:Hmm, that's interesting.
Jabrils:It had no driver. The driver fell out.
Tom:I feel like that would be a disqualification.
Mark:Yeah, I agreed.
Tom:I dunno if it would be, but I feel like if your Formula One car has an ejector seat and you use it, that's probably not gonna get you the win.
Virginia:Was the car ahead officially part of the race, or was it like a movie making car?
Tom:They were part of the race, yeah.
Mark:Was it— Is it two laps, and therefore it was like, Hey, that car was just really, really slow, and finished right in front of them.
Mark:But it was like, "Hey, that was lap one"?
Tom:Mm, not quite. Because the— Because that happened— People get lapped in Formula One all the time. And when I say crossed the line, I mean crossed the finish line.
Mark:Jabril, are you googling 1966 Le Mans race?
Tom:I can hear typing! Someone's clearly googling
Jabrils:I apologize.
Tom:Le Mans 24 hour race here.
Mark:It was a very suspicious time to hear a keyboard.
SFX:(group laughing)
Virginia:Did the first car take themselves out? So even if they weren't disqualified, did they voluntarily withdraw?
Tom:Weirdly, in the story, there is... there was a bit of sportsmanship going on. But no, they did legitimately cross the finish line first.
Mark:But Virginia's point is, that's a really good point, in it's sportsmanship, so that the person conceded that like, hey... It was a voluntary giving it to the other person, is what she was saying, and that's right.
Virginia:I'm just sticking with the charity storylines just throughout our podcast here.
Jabrils:Wait, you said this is what, a vehicle race or a bike race?
Tom:Yeah, so the Le Mans 24 Hour is a vehicle race.
Jabrils:Okay, okay, 'cause I know there's the classic clip of the bi— I think Tour de France of the bicyclist that fell on a turn or took the wrong turn or something. And then the cyclist that was behind him allowed him to come first place. But that was on bicycles. I don't know if there's something similar.
Mark:But that could work on cars too. Was it something like that? It's a good point, Jabrils. Someone totally deserved it, but they made some blunder at the end, and the other person was trying to be cool and be like, it wasn't something like that?
Tom:No, 'cause in that case, they still crossed the finish line first. They just weren't judged to be the winner. Have a think about the name of the race, Le Mans 24 Hour.
Mark:They did it in... In 23. It's supposed to take 24 hours. They did like 23 hours and 58 minutes?
Tom:No, it is an exactly 24 hour race.
Virginia:Oh! So I think I know it. So you are supposed to take exactly 24 hours to cross the finish line, and the person who is closest to the 24 hour mark exactly wins the race. And so the first person was too fast.
Tom:Oh. Nearly— hmm.
Virginia:That's not right, Tom! Your question is bad.
Tom:It certainly has non-standard rules. Formula One is about as fast as possible. Le Mans 24 Hours is technically about that, but it's kind of scored differently.
Mark:Hmm. Like who can finish also with... The other person was missing a wheel, or they had incurred some damage that then points wise, they weren't the winner. Because they were deficient.
Tom:How would you score a race that must last 24 hours? What could you put up on the leaderboard?
Jabrils:Driving hours.
Tom:You're very close, Jabrils.
Tom:Which would be measured how?
Mark:In freedom units, feet.
SFX:(both laughing)
Mark:Not meters, that's for sure. I don't feel like that was what you were getting at. You would measure... Yeah, you'd measure distance...
Jabrils:Tires. The amount of tires you go through.
Tom:Mark, you're closer.
Mark:Weird way to measure distance. Yeah, like markers, mile markers. Like maybe there's mark... How would you measure distance? You'd measure it in a standard unit of—
Tom:It's the number of laps. Up on the scoreboard is the number of laps.
Jabrils:So then the person behind them had more laps when they crossed the finish line.
Tom:Uh-mm... n—
Mark:Which is what I first said.
Virginia:Tom! Tom!
Tom:They both had the same number of laps.
Mark:Okay, they both have the same number of laps.
Tom:At the end of the race, the scoreboard is the same for both of them. So we're thinking about how the rules could work here and who gets declared the winner.
Mark:Man, this feels like I should know this. If I know what the Le Mans race is, I guess I'm not that familiar with it. Would this be super obvious? Are people screaming their car who know how this race works?
Tom:If I've seen the movie Ford v Ferrari, then yes, but I don't think many people have seen the movie Ford v Ferrari.
Mark:My buddy really wanted me to see that, and I haven't seen it yet. (giggles)
SFX:(Tom and Virginia laugh)
Jabrils:Same laps. But the person behind takes the cake.
Tom:And you're right, it's judged on distance. So in the event of the same number of laps, what's the tiebreaker?
Jabrils:So then they default to another variable, which is distance, to determine who wins.
Tom:And there's one key thing you're missing there.
Virginia:Are they on the same course, but one of them took a longer route by going on the outside of the track or something?
Tom:You're so close. There's one thing in the rules. You are so, so close. That means that one of them just took a little bit more distance than the other. So by the rules, if you've got the same number of laps on the board at the end, that's the person who gets the victory.
Mark:Where they start in the pole position? Got it. So if you started back, then it's technically a little bit longer. Right?
Tom:That was the tiebreaker rule that Le Mans used, yes.
Mark:I see. I see.
Jabrils:I see. I see.
Virginia:Oh, that was so unsatisfying, Tom.
Tom:And the sportsmanship part is literally, if you've seen the movie, the guy in front slows down, so it is a close race so they can all try and get... I think it's Ford that won that race. I think they tried to get a 1, 2, 3 finish by kind of everyone working together. But yes, the winner was the second across the line because they had the same number of laps, but he'd started further back.

Virginia, last big question of the show. Take it away.

As a protest against their parents, a young adult put up a mural of over 300 flags. Greenland, Albania and Hong Kong were in the top section, while Somalia, Kosovo, and Greece were near the bottom. What were they banned from doing?

I'm gonna read it a second time. And I'm just gonna say that I'm so glad I'm asking this question.
Mark:I know!
Virginia:Not answering it.

As a protest against their parents, a young adult put up a mural of over 300 flags. Greenland, Albania and Hong Kong were in the top section, while Somalia, Kosovo, and Greece were near the bottom. What was this young adult banned from doing?
Tom:So I need flag knowledge here.
Mark:I have a guess. I have a guess.
Mark:Are the colors— Are the first three you mentioned more red? And the last one you mentioned more purple?
Tom:Yes, they are. 'Cause Greenland, Albania and Hong Kong, those are the ones I know, and they're all— Greenland is red and white. Albania is red with an eagle on it. Hong Kong, I can't remember the details. I know it's red. And then Greece is blue and white. The other two, I don't know. I feel like Kosovo is probably blue or purple.
Mark:So my guess is it's a pride flag. And they're using the nations, and it's like red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple.
Virginia:You get it. You took the cake right there.
Mark:Is that right? Yeah!
Virginia:Right there. That's exactly right.
Mark:And thanks to Mark Rober!
SFX:(group laughing)
Virginia:So... Their parents did not allow them to put up a gay pride flag in their room. In protest, they were – this is my own edition here – extremely clever and arranged the flags in six approximate bands of colors that from the other side of the room, it resembled a huge rainbow flag altogether. The Reddit user sharing that eventually left home and took all the flags with them. It's a beautiful picture.
Tom:Which means that our final order of business is the question asked right at the start.

If you heard "Burn one with wax, drag it through the garden, and take it for a walk" where are you most likely to be?

Anyone want to chime in from the panel before I give the give the answer for this one?
Mark:I don't know.
Jabrils:What are the other two? You said burn one with wax, drag it through the garden, what?
Tom:Take it for a walk.
Virginia:It's like a pest control thing where you have a pest and you're controlling it.
Jabrils:Is it all in relation to the same thing?
Tom:Yep, absolutely. And after the 1970s, you've only really heard this used ironically.
Mark:It's at the horse track or something. It's something super obscure, yeah.
Tom:Weirdly if you know your SpongeBob Squarepants references, you may be able to get this one, although the words are a bit different. And what I like is that Mark and Virginia just went, "Ha, I don't know that." And Jabrils just kind of cocked his head and went, "I should know this."
Tom:You would be in a diner. This is American diner slang from the 1920s to 1970s, which... So orders could be yelled over a busy room. "Burn one" will be put a burger on the grill. "With wax" is with cheese. "Drag it through the garden" means add salad, and "take it for a walk" is takeaway or to-go. That is diner slang from the 1920s to '70s. Very well done if you got that at home. 'Cause I wouldn't, and I don't think any of the panel did either!
Mark:Please shoot me.
Tom:Speaking of the panel, we start with Virginia. Tell us what you're up to.
Virginia:I am headed to Antarctica. I will be on a deep sea research vessel for 60 days. You can find me at @vgwschutte – that's S-C-H-U-T-T-E – everywhere there's social media, and I'll tell you about what we're doing.
Mark:I'm on YouTube just making crazy engineering builds to get the young folks stoked about science and education.
Tom:And Jabrils.
Jabrils:I am over at, just hanging out, making some coding projects, and having fun, come join me. It's nice and cozy over here.
Tom:And if you wanna know more about this show or send in a question idea yourself, you can do that at You can find us at @lateralcast pretty much everywhere, and there are video highlights at

With that, it is good bye from Jabrils.
Jabrils:See y'all. Love you.
Tom:From Virginia Schutte.
Virginia:Yay, bye!
Tom:And from Mark Rober.
Tom:I've been Tom Scott, and this has been Lateral.
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