Lateral with Tom Scott

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

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Episode 36: The no-show French king

Published 16th June, 2023

Annie Rauwerda ('Depths of Wikipedia'), J. Draper and Geoff Marshall face questions about sporting schemes, misty mirrors and Boston billboards.

HOST: Tom Scott. QUESTION PRODUCER: David Bodycombe. RECORDED AT: The Podcast Studios, Dublin. EDITED BY: Julie Hassett. MUSIC: Karl-Ola Kjellholm ('Private Detective'/'Agrumes', courtesy of ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS: Ricky James, Ryan G., Jared Pike, Charlie. FORMAT: Pad 26 Limited/Labyrinth Games Ltd. EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: David Bodycombe and Tom Scott.


Transcription by Caption+

Tom:Why do some people celebrate their birthday on the 25th of June, even though that's nowhere near their real birthday? The answer to that at the end of the show. My name's Tom Scott, and this is Lateral.

We've assembled another three agile minds who have an uncanny ability to solve lateral thinking problems while talking at a steady pace. Which means they're passing our lateral flow test. With that and with apologies, we start this week:

from The London History Show and her own TikTok channel, and a qualified London tour guide, J. Draper.
Jenny:Hi, good to be here.
Tom:Welcome to the show. I think you're our first TikToker in a while.
Jenny:Oh, am I?
Tom:You've sorta started out on YouTube a while back, and then kind of moved over to short form. How are you finding that?
Jenny:So I've kind of moved back actually.
SFX:(both laugh)
Tom:Spot me not catching up with what you're putting out. Sorry, sorry.
Jenny:Oh, no worries. I barely keep up, but yeah. So I started out on YouTube years and years ago and had a lot of fun, but never sort of went very far with it. And then in the pandemic, like most people... went on TikTok. And that exploded rather. And now, since things are sort of winding up more in real life now, I'm back on YouTube, and it's doing much better. So I'm really enjoying it.
Tom:Also joining us, from the Depths of Wikipedia, which is not just a literal description, but also the Twitter and TikTok account you run, among many other things in your life, Annie Rauwerda, how are you doing?
Annie:I am doing well, and I'm so excited to be here!
Tom:Thank you very much for coming on the show.
Annie:I hope that the train near my house is not too annoying for everyone to listen to.
Tom:Now, I saw someone else in this call perk up here. Normally I would've asked you a couple more questions there, Annie, but you mentioned 'train'. And Geoff Marshall, you have just perked up, and I assume you're gonna ask what train that is.
Geoff:Well, I'm getting an American accent. I'm assuming you're in New York. So which subway line is it, Annie?
Annie:It is the L. There is a very lengthy Wikipedia article about the L train that gets 5,000 page views every month.
Tom:Geoff, I should probably introduce you as well. A man who has gone to every train station in the UK and Ireland and presumably some other countries?
Geoff:Does the Isle of Man count as a kind of a separate country? We did the Isle of Man as well.
Tom:Oh, I mean, the trouble is, the answer to that is a really technical and complicated one that I can't be bothered to answer right now.
Geoff:I think it's a Crown Colony or something, isn't it? Yes, well, okay. But yes, I've been to a lot of all the railway stations. Not train stations, Tom. Railway stations.
Tom:I apologise sincerely. By which I mean I apologise entirely insincerely!

This show is like a Formula 1 circuit where all the questions are chicanes. Because one thing's for sure, they are going to drive you 'round the bend. And we start with this:

A listener question sent in by Ricky James.

In recent years, various medium-sized roundabouts in rural Scotland have been flattened on one half. However, mini-roundabouts and large gyratories are untouched. Why?

I'll give you that one more time.

In recent years, various medium-sized roundabouts in rural Scotland have been flattened on one half. However, mini-roundabouts and large gyratories are untouched. Why?
Jenny:So specifically medium-sized, not large or mini?
Tom:Yep. We've got this on a question for three people who occasionally do some videos about transit, and I've given you a road question.
Geoff:Wow. But for some reason, I'm thinking of delicate haulage. Is it to do with farmers and cattle or milk floats carrying delicate milk bottles going over bumpy roads or something? That's where my mind's gone. That's completely wrong, obviously. But that's where my mind's going.
Annie:I just think of people racing and trying to skid out. And they flattened it, they flattened the roundabout. Could that happen?
Tom:I love the idea of just a race circuit around roundabouts in rural Scotland. That would— I hope that exists. Geoff's a bit closer there, but there's—
Geoff:Oh, so it's a delicate kind of cargo. But in one direction only. Why would it be in one direction only?
Jenny:Is it something to do with animals being able to get past roundabouts?
Annie:Sheep. It's gotta be sheep. That's what I think of.
Jenny:But why can't sheep use a medium-sized roundabout?
Geoff:I did say farmer, and Tom said that was close. So it might be a farm/sheep thing, yeah.
Annie:I'm trying to think of Scottish things. Is it like bagpipers in kilts marching together?
SFX:(group snickering)
Annie:I've never been to Scotland.
Geoff:Oh, it shows, yeah.
SFX:(group laughing)
Jenny:Is this something that's been done officially, or is this an accident? Just a horrible disease of a blight that's affected medium-sized roundabouts?
Tom:This is a deliberate flattening. It's very professionally done.
Annie:Whoa. That changed everything. It's not the Loch Ness Monster.
Tom:Nope, it's not just— Whoa, we've gone through all the Scottish stereotypes here! No, this is something that has been done. And Geoff... It's not so much delicate haulage, but there's haulage there. And, Annie, Scottish stereotype is kind of going in the right direction, but I think it's one that... It's not an old stereotype, this.
Geoff:Well, in that case, I'm thinking of a low loader, like a truck with a very low... I dunno what you'd call it. In railway terms, gauge. But again, you said it was on one side only. So in my mind, I'm thinking, oh, you're going in one direction. Surely lorries...
Geoff:low loaders would go around both directions.
Tom:Yeah, there was a sudden gasp from Annie there.
Annie:Well I was thinking of things Scotland is known for. Castles, I can think of. We already talked about the Loch Ness Monster, bagpipers. Also I think of sheep, but what about whisky?
Tom:Oh, I thought you were—
Annie:Is that involved?
Tom:(wheezes) I really thought that you were nailing it on the target there. You were— You looked so excited, and you sounded so excited. And I was like, "She's got it, she's got—" No, absolutely not. I realise I'm supposed to yes-and these suggestions. But no.
Annie:(laughs) No!
Geoff:This is a Scottish thing? So this wouldn't happen in England? Is it a Scottish transport thing that's particular to Scotland?
Tom:It happens a lot more up in Scotland.
Geoff:Annie, keep going with your crass stereotypes! Go, come on!
Annie:I'm gonna get canceled for this. All of Scotland is gonna be so angry! All the comments!
Jenny:What are they gonna do to you? You're an ocean away. They could really come and get us if we said it, but...
Tom:Really big, really big trebuchet. Really big, accurate trebuchet. 'Cross the Atlantic.
Annie:Someday I will go to Scotland. I will go to Scotland, and the only thing I'm gonna visit is the medium-sized roundabouts to make it up for all of you Scottish listeners. So the only other thing I can think of are those... I think they're called Shetland cattle. Like the hairy cows. But that's not a recent Scottish phenomenon, I don't think.
Tom:No, and medium-sized roundabouts only. The massive gyratories don't have to be changed. And the tiny little mini-roundabouts don't have to be changed.
Jenny:What else is Scotland known for, golf courses?
Annie:I'm just thinking about some medium-sized things that are perfectly sized to go on the medium roundabouts, like a motorcycle or a horse-drawn carriage.
Tom:Why do you say perfectly sized?
Annie:Uhmm...! Now you're asking me questions I haven't thought about.
Jenny:You said it was professionally done and perfectly sized. Is this like a race? Is it like a road race? Like the Tour de France, but in Scotland?
Geoff:It's not a military thing, is it? There's a lot of RAF bases up in Scotland. It's not a military thing, is it?
Tom:No, no, not military. But I think you're getting closer with sort of logistics and moving things around here. These are on fairly specific routes. Several roundabouts on the same road might have to move this way. They'll have to move signs and trees.
Geoff:They'll have to move signs and trees as well?
Geoff:So, okay. This is some kind of, something's being transported, like a large truck or something. And it's going on a road and it's too wide. So it's something wide that's too big to fit a road. What would you move in Scotland that's too wide for a truck? Why do I feel like I've read this somewhere?
Tom:You all, you probably have. You're gonna kick yourselves on this.
Geoff:No, I think I know. I think I've read a news article about this. Hang on. The back of my head is stirring.
Geoff:It knows this. When you say it, I'm gonna know it. I'm not gonna go, "That's ridiculous." I'm gonna go, "Yeah, I read that last month and I just totally forgot."
Tom:Yep, happens in a few other countries as well, but they're all kind of this sort of region.
Geoff:It's a wide load.
Tom:Yep. It's a very wide, very long load.
Geoff:Jenny, Annie, jump in, 'Cause I've given you wide load. Run with it, come on.
Jenny:I dunno, like a big... cannon? You said it wasn't military.
Geoff:A big cannon?
SFX:(group laughing)
Annie:Oh, it's gotta be those... the green energy windmills?
Tom:It's blades for wind turbines. You're absolutely right, Annie. They are so big, so massive, and the trucks that carry them cannot get 'round certain turning radiuses. So the little roundabouts, they drive straight over or flatten entirely. The massive gyratories, they can just drive 'round. But medium-sized roundabouts, they have to flatten half of it and drive 'round that way.
Jenny:God, that was a workout. My brain is exhausted.
Geoff:That's good. We got there. That was a team effort. Annie, you need to add turbines along with whisky and cows to your list of things.
Annie:Yeah, that's what Scotland's best known for. Nowhere else in the world can you find that.
Tom:Yeah. And it's only half the roundabout, because it's such a massive thing and such a big convoy that they have to stop traffic for it anyway, so they can just go the wrong way 'round if they need to. So yes, 80-metre wind turbine blades are being transported through Scotland, for which they have to half flatten some roundabouts.

Jenny, you said that your mind was having a workout, so we'll give you a rest for this one. Each of our guests have brought in a question. I don't know the question. I definitely dunno the answer. And we'll go to you first, whenever you're ready.
Jenny:So, this listener question has been sent in by Charlie.

After the King of France – Louis X – died on the 5th of June 1316, France had no king. His rightful heir – John I – eventually became king on the 15th of November. There were no legal disputes or pretenders to the throne. What caused the delay?

So I'll read it again.

After the King of France – Louis X – died on the 5th of June 1316, France had no king. His rightful heir – John I – eventually became king on the 15th of November. There were no legal disputes or pretenders to the throne. What caused the delay?
Geoff:And then the second thing is, is it a weird calendar issue to wait... What was the year that they swapped from one calendar system to another?
Tom:Did you ever see the article about... spacetime and futuristic sci-fi monarchy problems? That if you have two planets... and you have two heirs to the throne... and the monarch dies, and they are separated in space as well as time... In theory, you could have a different monarch have... What's the word for it? Primogeniture, something like that?
Jenny:Primogeniture, yeah.
Tom:Primogeniture. You could have a different monarch based on where they are in spacetime. And it would be... against the laws of physics, impossible to work that out. I realise that's not a thing that's even relevant in this question.
Jenny:You're correct. That is what happened in France, 1316. You got it in the first time. Nice one.
Tom:Wait, not the spacetime. Just to be clear. That was sarcasm about spacetime, right?
Jenny:No, but your— Geoff, your first idea was a little more on track.
Geoff:Oh, so...
Tom:I was sure you'd got it with the calendar thing, Geoff. I was like, "Oh god, this is gonna be a short question. He's got it immediately."
Jenny:(giggles) So the calendar thing is quite a bit later... where we switched calendars, but...
Geoff:There wasn't until the 15th or 16th century, was it, we swapped from Julian to Gregorian calendar, okay. Then... It's to do with the age of the heir.
Annie:Oh. I thought I knew it, but that was—
Tom:Go for it, Annie, you might— Throw the suggestion in anyway.
Annie:I thought it was gonna be that everyone was quarantining from the bubonic plague.
Tom:I know that—
Jenny:We can't have a king yet. He might die.
Annie:But is the timeline right? Was that 1316? I don't know. I just know it was back then.
Jenny:We're a little early for the bubonic plague. Only a little bit, to be fair. 1316.
Tom:This is a gap— Assuming no calendar shenanigans, this is a gap of about five months, just over five months. So...
Tom:The rules of monarchy say that there is always a monarch. Like at the instant that the old monarch dies, that pass— Hence, "The king is dead, long live the king." There is no moment at which the country doesn't have a monarch. Except... apparently there is for five months.
Geoff:It wasn't something weird that, like they weren't actually born yet, was it? That the child didn't pop out until November. Is that it?
Jenny:You got it. Yeah, that's it.
Jenny:Exactly, nice one. Yeah, so... he died quite suddenly, Louis X, and... Yeah, his wife was pregnant when he died. And they were waiting... for the baby to be born. They were waiting for the king to be born.
Annie:"Oh yes, finally. This newborn can rule the nation!"
SFX:(group giggling)
Jenny:"What is your command, sire?"
Geoff:I can't believe I got it. I got one.
Annie:Yeah, good job.
Geoff:I got something right. Go me.
Annie:A baby coronation? Wohoho! It was crazy enough with adults!
Tom:They put the crown on and the baby just disappears underneath it.
Annie:That's crazy. I wish there was, you know— That makes me want there to be babies of everything. Like a baby Pope.
Annie:Imagine a baby in the Pope garb and the Popemobile.
Tom:(laughs) I was... I was gonna say, Annie, I think you've invented a new movie franchise there.
Annie:Like Cars, like the movie Cars, but everyone's a baby.
Tom:I mean, the Cars universe does have a Pope. As I remember.
Annie:It does.
Tom:I have only seen that based on other people sharing pictures of the Popemobile, which I remember implies a Pope assassination attempt in the Cars universe.
Jenny:And a Pope Jesus, right? A Car Jesus. A Car Jesus who was car crucified.
Jenny:And rose to car heaven.
Tom:The Cars universe does fall apart the more you think about it, but I think that's true of a lot of fictional worlds.
Annie:Well, yeah, I remember almost losing my mind when I saw planes in the Cars universe. I believe they were introduced in Cars 2. I don't know.
Jenny:So John I was not born yet when Louis X died. They had to wait for him to be born a couple months later in November.
Tom:The next one's from me, and this listener question was sent in by Ryan G. So, thank you, Ryan.

Why did Trevor put up a large billboard in Boston that read, "This is Boston"?

I'll say that again.

Why did Trevor put up a large billboard in Boston that read, "This is Boston"?
Geoff:Now, hang on, hang on. There's a thing here... with people putting up signs. So Max Fosh, YouTube, put up a sign saying, "Welcome to Luton" at Gatwick. And that was based upon somebody in America putting up a sign saying, "Welcome to Cleveland" in Detroit or something. So was this somebody trying to say, "No, this is Boston and you're in the right place"? Is it like an anti— It's like a sign that is truthful as opposed to a lie?
Jenny:A billboard war?
Geoff:A billboard war.
Annie:I won't participate because I know this one, because I wrote the Wikipedia article about somebody involved.
Tom:(laughs) Oh wow, okay! So that's what happens. Annie knows this one. So Jenny, Geoff, this one's on you.
Geoff:Ah, what? Ugh.
Tom:But I, will say, Geoff, that the Max Fosh prank is actually in my notes here as one of the... not really related but one of the extra facts I can add in if the question runs short. So thank you. That's off my list now. It's only very, very vaguely related to that.
Geoff:I'm sorry, was it, did you say it was Boston? Was it Boston?
Tom:It was Boston, and the sign said, "This is Boston."
Jenny:Is it because there was some sort of disagreement about... if it was actually called Boston, or if it was called New Boston or Boston-on-Thames or something?
Geoff:Or was it a border dispute and somebody local went, "No, no, Boston starts here." And they were trying to sort of argue that it was, you know, a hundred metres up the road, and as to where the local authority thought it was or something?
Tom:I love that, 'cause I remember there being a big dispute about where Shoreditch ends in London. Out-of-towners would call Shoreditch anywhere where there's hipsters in East London. And the locals were like, "No, it's here. That bit's not Shoreditch. That bit's not— That's Hoxton." And it got quite heated. But in this case, no. It's just in the middle of Boston. I will say the full text is, "This is Boston. Nice."
Jenny:"This is Boston. Nice."
Tom:Two separate sentences there.
Geoff:Is there a comma? "This is Boston."
Tom:There's a full stop and a smiley emoji between them. Oh, sorry. It's in Boston. There's a period and a smiley emoji between them.
Geoff:Which emoji, emoji expert? Which one is it?
Tom:I don't know, it's just a smiley face.
Geoff:Okay, alright. You're the emoji man.
Tom:I was the emoji man five, six— I've left that shtick behind, the same as I've left a lot of shtick behind, Geoff.
Jenny:I've left more shtick behind than you've had hot dinners.
Tom:(laughs) I haven't heard that in years.
Tom:Finally got someone from the North on here.
Jenny:Ugh. Is this billboard next to something really weird? And the billboard is commenting on, "Hey, you'd only find this in Boston. Nice."
Tom:Not in this case.
Geoff:Hang on, is it an homage to a TV show, like in the opening sequence of Cheers or something? Is there a sign saying, "This is Boston" and someone's replicated it from TV or film?
Tom:No, it's just— It also has his face on it.
Jenny:If they have the— Is it there because they keep— People keep filming Boston, pretending it's other cities, and now they've got this billboard in shot saying, "Hey, it's Boston actually"?
Tom:Oh, that'd be lovely. I wish it was. 'Cause I was in Vancouver a while back, and there's always some film crew taking over one of the civic buildings and pretending that it's New York or LA, or in one case, Vancouver, Washington. Which they just filmed in Vancouver, Canada instead.
Tom:In this case, he's trying to be genuinely helpful.
Geoff:The local road signs are wrong, and so he's put up a correct road sign.
Tom:I know someone did that somewhere. I think that was near LA, someone did... I think they called it guerrilla infrastructure or something like that. Just dressed up in a high-vis jacket, went up and fixed a road sign.

But no, it's also got his face on it. It's his face, "This is Boston. Nice." And he's trying to be helpful. It would only be helpful a tiny, tiny fraction of the time.
Jenny:Is his last name Boston?
SFX:(guys laughing)
Jenny:Trevor Boston? Who is this Trevor anyway?
Tom:His last name is Trevor Rainbolt. And actually, who is he is kind of an important clue here. He is a streamer on YouTube. Or possibly Twitch. I think it's YouTube, but he's a streamer.
Geoff:Is his stream name "This is Boston"? Is that the name he goes by online?
Tom:No, but it is relevant to what he streams.
Jenny:Did he have to do this as a, you know, "If I get to so many subscribers, I'll buy a billboard"?
Geoff:Is that billboard visible as a backdrop on his stream? Is it like he's got a webcam outside his house or something?
Jenny:It's outside his window!
Tom:No, but in a very, very rare circumstance, it might show up on his stream.
Jenny:Does he play the Geoguessr game?
Tom:Yes, he does.
Jenny:Ahh! Finally.
Tom:So why does he put the billboard up?
Jenny:So that he knows if he accidentally clicks on it. If that's where he gets dropped in Geoguessr, he knows where he is.
Annie:Trevor Rainbolt!
Tom:(laughs) Oh yeah.
Jenny:And you did his Wikipedia article?
Annie:I did.
Tom:I forgot to ask about that. You've been staying quiet through all that question. Annie, tell us about Trevor.
Annie:Oh, I love Trevor. So I wrote this article probably a year ago. And he was taking off, and... Sh, I guess one interesting thing that's in the article that's been mentioned in most interviews with him is that before a few months ago, he had never left the country. And then when he quit his job in— I think he did social media stuff as a job. He quit that job once this Geoguessr thing took off. And now he's traveling the world and he lives in Bangkok, as of a post recently.
Tom:I mean, I cannot believe we asked a question to our Depths of Wikipedia person about someone you've written an article about. Thank you so much. I will— I mean— It feels almost unnecessary for me to give the wrap-up now, but... Yes, Trevor Rainbolt is a Geoguessr player, and he put up the billboard so that hopefully one day, it shows up in someone's stream.

Next question comes from Geoff. Whenever you're ready.
Geoff:Okay, the question is:

Around 250,000 Americans will get married this year, partly because Jonathan Badeen forgot to turn on his bathroom fan. How?

I'll read that again.

A quarter of a million, 250,000 Americans, were getting married this year, partly because Jonathan Badeen forgot to turn on his bathroom fan. How is that?
Tom:(laughs) I love questions like this. We've got nothing to go on at all!
Jenny:Is he a character in a sitcom or something? Is this like a joke? That's like a running joke for somebody?
Tom:Okay, how many Americans are gonna get married every year? Is that all the Americans? Like how many... Okay, what's the population of America?
Geoff:300 million, isn't it?
Annie:It's a little more than that, but something like that, yeah.
Tom:So is that all the weddings in America? Or is that just a subset of them?
Annie:That's gotta be just a subset.
Geoff:It's not all the weddings in America.
Geoff:I can tell you that.
Jenny:Can you give us the name of the guy again? David?
Tom:The name is Jonathan Badeen, was it?
Geoff:Badeen, B-A-D-E-E-N. Has Annie, have you written the Wikipedia article on that?
Annie:No, I haven't written the Wikipedia article on this.
Jenny:So if you don't turn your bathroom fan on, you get mould. So they're getting married because he has a mouldy bathroom?
Annie:Ah, that's why I always get married. Whenever I see mold, I'm like, "Oh, just... need to tie the knot." I'm thinking about things that could be a subset of marriages, like courthouse weddings versus weddings in churches, or weddings on the beach.
Tom:Weddings in Vegas.
Annie:Weddings in Vegas?
Tom:Because you don't need much of a licence to do one. So, were weddings... Is the reason that weddings in Vegas are allowed, as snap with no waiting period, is because... is because someone had a mouldy bathroom? I don't know where I was going with that!
Annie:Or you know how you can get certified to marry people online? You like pay $10.
Tom:Oh yeah.
Jenny:But he can't do 250,000 on his own, right?
Tom:Oh no, but I wonder if there are enough— What was that church? The Church of Universal... Something, I can't remember the name. I'm sure my producer will tell me in a minute. There is a church where you can just sign up online, get ordained as a minister, and then, yeah. $10 later you can technically—
Jenny:His bathroom was going mouldy and so his wife left him, and he decided to turn it around and become the head of the Universal Church of marriage licence giving. And now 250,000 people in America get married every year thanks to—
Geoff:I'll give you a clue. It's not mould, but Jenny, you're the closest so far. It's a consequence of something that happens if you don't turn on the bathroom extractor fan. What else happens in the bathroom?
Annie:It gets steamy, steamy.
Tom:It gets steamy.
Annie:Can't see a thing. May— So someone wrote a note to— Did someone write a note to him on the mirror, and it got steamed up? I don't know. Just thinking. But more on those marriages. This is kind of beside the point now, but... Do they, do you have that? Where you can just sign up and get ordained?
Tom:I think that church, what is it? I have it as Universal Life Church. Thank you to David, the producer. Costs about $40, and 84% of all ministers in the world are ordained with the Universal Life Church.
Jenny:In the world?
Tom:In the world. Because their requirements are pretty limited.
Annie:But it's just one of those things where tons of people do it. I have tons of friends that do it so that they can marry— be the officiant at weddings.
Tom:Yeah. I know someone who's done that.
Annie:So he uses a fun fact. But now I feel like it's so mainstream that it's about as fun of a fact as "I like The Office."
Jenny:Well, they do it in sitcoms a lot, right?
Annie:It's cool, but I've seen it before.
Tom:(laughs) We've seen ordained ministers, you know?
Annie:I'm not impressed.
Tom:Come back when you're an astronaut.
Jenny:Come back when you're Car Pope.
Annie:Come back when you're a baby king.
Geoff:Annie, you said mist up. What mists up in a bathroom?
Tom:The mirror. Condensation on the mirror.
Geoff:Tom, you're almost there. So the mirror's steamed up, and then what happens? You wanna brush your hair, check your face, clean your teeth, what do you do?
Annie:Uh-oh. You can't see yourself very well.
Geoff:So what do you do?
Jenny:You wipe it clean.
Jenny:And then you can see yourself alright?
Tom:What are we missing here? There's gotta be something there.
Annie:What do you do? Do you have some procession you do every time it steams up?
Geoff:So what action do you do to wipe a mirror clean?
Tom:I mean, this does not work in audio, but it's a kind of waving sideways.
Jenny:Like a wax on, wax off, sort of deal.
Geoff:It's not Karate Kid. No, it's not waving or waxing. It's another action, which I'm also doing right now. Which on audio, you can't see.
Jenny:Scrolling. Oh, he's swiping left.
Jenny:On people. Swiping on Tinder?
Tom:Is this just the guy who invented Tinder?
Geoff:It is, yes. (wheezes)
Tom:That's where the inspiration for the Tinder swipe came from?
Annie:250 million— I mean, excuse me— thousand Americans
Jenny:get married off Tinder?
Annie:With dating apps?
Tom:Every year?
Jenny:Well, not even just dating apps. Tinder, specifically. Tinder alone.
Tom:And that's, and the guy came up with the idea for swiping because his bathroom mirror was steamed up? Is that?
Geoff:After stepping out the shower one day, Badeen swiped his hands across his misted up bathroom mirror and saw his own face. And they were trying to think of something else other than just a button, like yes or no. And came up with the swiping idea.
Tom:I don't believe that for a second. That's one of those startup stories that some PR agency has come up with months afterwards. Like the story about Google being spelled that way 'cause someone miswrote a cheque. I don't think that one's true. I think I remember seeing someone debunk this. This sounds like one of those myths that they've come up with.
Jenny:Alright, we're all gonna be in a race now. First one to put out a video debunking this.
SFX:(group laughing)
Geoff:But if you want, I have the numbers. Tinder's had 30 billion matches since— of the 2 million American couples that marry in a typical year, 23% of them meet on a dating app, of which 27% of those 23% use Tinder. So there we go.
Jenny:Wow. Courting on an app. That's amazing. I didn't think they worked that well.
Tom:I mean, spot the person who's early millennial. I would never have thought it was that high. Never. I'd have put it at 5-10 percent at most for all dating apps. Wow.
Jenny:Yeah, same. Absolutely.
Annie:Oh, I'm not surprised. But maybe that's because I'm 23.
SFX:(group laughing)
Jenny:I guess, right, like Tom, you and I are sort of aging out of the normal marriage bracket, right? And so it's not us getting married anymore.
Tom:Ouch, don't get me wrong. That's entirely true, but also ouch.
Jenny:I guess? Because I think the same as you. I would've put it way lower than that.
Geoff:Thanks, Jenny, as someone who has used the dating app. But I thought it was just, you know, for people, you know, who'd failed in their relationships later on in life. And then I spoke to 18 and 19 year olds and it's all the rage, just as they use, you know, apps to do everything. They're just like, "Yeah, we're just using apps to do regular dating." And I'm like, but you're 18. Go out and meet people in real life. Don't just use an app. But, they all do.
Annie:I've heard of people that have met somebody in real life, and then because they weren't sure if they were looking for a relationship, would go on the apps and just obsessively swipe to see if they can find them. Which seems like a roundabout way of getting at what you want.
Geoff:I've had an ex-girlfriend of mine appear on a dating app, and she used a fake name.
Geoff:True story. True story.
Tom:I have never used one. And I don't think I ever will? It just... I don't like the idea. It's just, I'm clearly too old for this. I'm clearly just too old for this.
Geoff:Hey, Tom, thanks. I'm older than you. Thanks, that's really comforting.
Annie:I've met people that automate the swiping. Like they write a script to swipe for them. And so they swipe yes.
Jenny:So they swipe on everybody?
Annie:They swipe right on everybody, and then they have better selection. They don't have to waste their time with people that aren't gonna match with them.
Jenny:Yeah, I mean, obviously it works.
Geoff:Yeah, Badeen was the co-founder of Tinder, and when stepping out the shower one day, he swiped his mirror to clean it, and that gave him the idea of having the swipe right to match with a person on the app. There we go.
Tom:Another listener question now. Thank you very much to Jared Pike.

In 1892, the American football team of Gallaudet University hit a snag when they played a team with the same student profile as theirs. Their solution was copied by other teams who did not need it. What was the problem and the solution?

I'll say that one more time.

In 1892, the American football team of Gallaudet University hit a snag when they played a team with the same student profile as theirs. Their solution was copied by other teams who did not need it. What was the problem and the solution?
Geoff:I'm not sure what you mean by profile.
Tom:This question is very carefully phrased. And I'm not sure I want to clarify that all that much right now. I will say that they have an unusual intake of students. The profile of those students is different to your regular university.
Jenny:Did they all have the same last name?
Tom:I love the idea of a university with— (laughs) A University of Smiths.
Jenny:I mean, somewhere where there's a very common last name. Where almost everybody's got the same one. Or maybe no last names. But obviously not.
SFX:(ladies laughing)
Geoff:Sorry, Annie. I know you're from there. I spent some time living in the USA too, but I used to cover university and college stories where... You know, students would go to particular universities so that they could play for that football team on purpose. So it wasn't what, you know, academics, they were good at. It was what it was like, what physical attributes they had, and they signed to a particular college just so that they could play sport there. I'm wondering how does that go back to the 1800s, and was that a thing back then? Might that be a reason?
Annie:Well, one thing I can think of with sports is how you have your normal jerseys for home, and then you have different jerseys for away games. And when I heard student profile, for some reason I was like, oh, they have the same school colors... even though that's probably not what profile means, but... Is that it?
Geoff:Have they used the word profile so as not to say kit or team shirt, and that's what it is?
Tom:No, it's definitely something about the players.
Geoff:A physical attribute. Their height or their build or their muscular—
Annie:Yeah, do you think it's a military university type of thing?
Geoff:Military university? Is that a thing?
Annie:Yeah, like you can go to the Navy school or the Army school.
Jenny:Were they all deaf? And they had to have a different kind of buzzer?
Tom:Straight in there. So...
Geoff:How did you know that?
Jenny:Annie sparked it off in my mind.
Annie:Well, I would've never thought of that.
Jenny:Hearing you work through it.
Tom:You've got the first bit of the question. The unusual profile of the students is that yes, Gallaudet University is for deaf students. So what was the problem when they met and played another team of deaf students?
Jenny:Yeah, that they wouldn't normally get when they're just playing on their own.
Tom:Have a think about American football. I dunno how much each of y'all know about American football. Or for you, Annie, football. How... Have a think about how the teams play, what they have to do.
Geoff:They shout orders at each other?
Tom:Mmh... do they?
Jenny:But they must have had a way of doing that without playing another team.
Geoff:Do they use a lot of symbols, you know, with their hands and fingers to represent certain moves? Is that a thing?
Tom:They would've done, yes. Other teams wouldn't have had to do that.
Jenny:Oh, they each had come up with their own symbols for the referee to use. And the referee needed to use both of them at the same time.
Tom:Oh, not quite. But they had come up with their own symbols. Or at least they were using sign language.
Geoff:So did they have to invent new bits of sign language that had never been used before to play football?
Tom:They invented something that every American football team now uses.
Jenny:The... Like this for touchdown. That sort of thing?
Tom:Oh, the holding the hands above the head?
Annie:Or like referee signs, like 'out', 'blah.'
Tom:Why would they not have wanted to use sign language with another deaf team around?
Jenny:Because you use, you indicate what kind of play you're gonna do, right?
Annie:So they invented some sneaky inside code.
Tom:They invented something, and now every team uses it. You see it in every NFL game.
Annie:I'm worried that I don't know enough about football to answer this question.
Geoff:We are totally judging you, Annie.
Tom:You've basically got all the points. So yes, Jenny, they're a deaf team who met another deaf team. And so they didn't want the opposing team to read their sign language as they performed it. So I think you're close enough, and y'all don't know enough about American football to identify the specific things, so... They invented the huddle. They all got together in a closed group, backs to everyone else, signed their plays like that. And every other team went, "Oh, that's a good idea. We should do that before plays." So, they were the team—
Annie:No one huddled?
Tom:No one huddled back in 1892. The idea that there was gonna be that moment before the play when they figure out their strategy like that, that was Gallaudet University, 1892.
Geoff:Wow, that's great.
Jenny:So before that, they all just sort of stood around loudly, you know, non-deaf teams just stand around loudly shouting their plays at each other or...?
Tom:Yeah, obviously there were other approaches for hiding your plays. Like you could have just gone to the other side of the pitch and had a chat. You know, you could have kept the voice away, but the idea of there is a symbolic huddle, and everyone's there and you're gonna work out your play there, that was... I mean, I'm sure some historians will have some notes to attach to it, but that was put down to Gallaudet University, 1892.

Our last guest question of the show then comes from Annie. Take it away.
Annie:After the writer John Leavitt added smashed avocado to his bacon, lettuce, tomato sandwich, what small protein item did he add next?

I'll read it one more time.

After the writer John Leavitt added smashed avocado to his bacon, lettuce, tomato sandwich, what small protein item did he add next?
Tom:I don't wanna be the person who goes, "Oh, I think I've solved this." So I'm gonna take a risk here. I'm gonna back out of this question and say, I think I've got this. And I'm gonna let Geoff and Jenny figure it out. And if I'm wrong, I will take the ribbing and humiliation that follows. I think I've got this one.
Jenny:So did he invent smashed avocado on toast? But with bacon and lettuce and tomato? Is that...
Annie:I'm pretty sure other people had eaten the sandwich before.
Geoff:I've never heard of anyone adding avocado to a BLT, let alone a fifth ingredient.
Tom:Have you not? Okay, this is a really common thing, I think in Australia. I've had this a couple times. I've heard it in a few places.
Geoff:In Shoreditch, yeah.
SFX:(both laughing)
Tom:Yeah, yeah, it is.
Annie:We could be talking about literally anything, And you could be like, "This is really common in Australia," and I would be like, "Oh, okay, sure."
SFX:(group laughing)
Annie:I dunno.
Tom:I know this because— Alright, are you ready for a long, rambling story that goes nowhere?

I was in Australia many, many years ago for the eclipse that was there. Which must have been 2012, 2013, something like that. And I missed the eclipse by two kilometres. The next beach over had a break in the cloud, and they saw it. And we just got a lot of darkness and didn't see a single thing. And I remember being quite frustrated about that. And then I remember the sandwich I had afterwards, because I remember sitting on a beach cafe up in the northeast of Australia, and having a moment of going, "Oh, life's not so bad, is it?"

As I sat back and had a BLT with avocado, which they call a BLAT. B-L-A-T.
Geoff:Anything else, Tom? Was there a fifth thing? Anything else in that?
Tom:No, but I think if we are talking about adding letters to a BLT like that, I think I might have solved it. If, however, it's not about adding letters to a BLT, I'm entirely wrong and I'm back in the question. Annie?
Annie:You should keep sitting out.
Tom:Okay, okay. I'm gonna have that clue and say that Australia—
Annie:Bye, Tom! Banished!
Tom:Australia calls it a BLAT. And I'm gone, I'm gone.
Geoff:Jenny, Jenny, what other things could we add? For example, I wanna say peanut butter. I don't know why.
Geoff:(laughs) BLAPT.
Jenny:Yeah, if you made it— if you added something with an S, it would be BLAST or BLAAST.
Geoff:Things that begin with this, go.
Annie:(stifled laugh)
Jenny:Sushi, oh, no. But I mean, I was thinking, yeah, prawns or something, but that wouldn't be good and wouldn't make a good acronym either. Bla...
Annie:I'll give you a little tiny hint, if that's okay. It doesn't have to be in BLAT order.
Jenny:Okay. Oh, right, an anagram. Cool. Let me anagram on the fly without writing anything down.
Tom:Actually it probably helps, I had a pen and paper for this.
Annie:And remember that the smashed avocado... There are different names for that.
Jenny:Smashed avo— Ooh, are there different names for that? So smashed avocado?
Annie:Well, sort of.
Jenny:Mushed avocado.
SFX:(both chuckling)
Geoff:Trouble is, I'm not big on avocados. What I mean is, I don't like avocados, so I'd never do this or eat them.
Jenny:I dunno of any other names for smashed avocado.
Geoff:I wouldn't know what you call smashed avocado.
Tom:I didn't anagram this, so I've not got it all the way.
Annie:Okay, what's a... with chips? You definitely know this thing. It's an avocado thing.
Jenny:Mushy peas?
Annie:No, that was— Oh, you guys are being so British right now.
Tom:Oh, come on, come on. This is— Okay, no. Okay, I'm gonna say my solution then, and I don't think I've got it right. I assumed that the small protein item was an egg. Which would give you B-L-E-A-T, which would give you BLEAT or if you anagram that, you get TABLE. And I assumed that was the pun.
Tom:So am I wrong there?
Annie:You were wrong. It's not—
Tom:Oh! Oh, I was so confident.
Geoff:Tom, you're back in the room. Back in the game, come on.
Tom:I'm back in the room.
Jenny:Yeah, gimme a TABLE sandwich.
Tom:It's humiliating. I'm wrong. Well, you put— You eat a sandwich off a plate that's on a table. It's a plate. It's gonna be plate.
Annie:I need all my food to spell out the items near me in life. That's such a funny thing. No, it's not. It does not spell out table. The idea of an egg isn't totally wrong, but it's not a normal egg. And we're going for a different acronym or word.
Geoff:And it's definitely a protein. You did say protein, right?
Annie:It is a small protein item.
Geoff:Small protein, like tiny nuts?
Annie:I didn't say it couldn't be an egg, but don't think about eggs when you're trying to get to the answer, because you wanna think about the letter.
Tom:And is it A for avocado?
Annie:No, it's— You still haven't gotten...
Tom:S for smashed avocado?
Annie:The smashed avocado dish? No, there's like a thing.
Tom:Oh, guacamole, guacamole.
Tom:Okay, right.
Annie:I thought you all didn't know what guacamole was for a long time!
Tom:Oh my god, it's LGBT!
Annie:What did he add?
Tom:It's either a Q or a plus. So is it like—
Jenny:Quail's egg?
Annie:Yes, yes!
Jenny:Oh no, I stole it from you, Tom. I'm so sorry.
Tom:No, I was going for quinoa, which says a lot about
SFX:(group wheezing)
Tom:what I've been eating!
Jenny:I'm so sorry, Tom, that's entirely yours.
Tom:No, it's not. I was nowhere near— I got— I solved for BLAT and then found TABLE. I was so confident. I was completely wrong.
Annie:You were leaning back in your chair, looking so smug, thinking, "Oh, I know, table."
Tom:How did none of us get guacamole?!
Geoff:Yeah, yeah. I'm worried that a lot of the internet are shouting guacamole at their screen right now.
Tom:A lot of the internet— There's a lot of people on commutes and in cars who have just been screaming guacamole for the last two, three minutes. I cannot believe we didn't spot...
Jenny:I'm so sorry, guys.
SFX:(group giggling)
Annie:You thought it was peas!
Tom:(laughs uproariously)
Jenny:I didn't think it was peas, but I just—
Tom:There was some American publication that claimed that mushy peas and guacamole were basically the same thing. And they're really not. They're really not!
Jenny:Every time— so part of my job involves— part of my job as a tour guide involves bringing Americans to pubs, and I say to them, "Oh, you must get the fish and chips while you're here." And then very often it comes with mushy peas.

And the look of disgust that they give me. "What is this?"

And I'm like, "Oh, it's just peas. It's just peas. They're just smashed up."

And they pick at it, moving it away, so it doesn't touch the fish. It's just peas.
Annie:You did a really good California accent there. "What is this?"
Jenny:"What is this?"
SFX:(group laughing)
Annie:Yes, in 2017, Leavitt tweeted that he had made an LGBT sandwich by taking a standard BLT and adding guacamole. And he later expanded on the idea by adding a quail's egg to make an LGBTQ. And in 2019, the British retail company M&S released their own LGBT sandwich in their food outlets in support of Pride. Some of the proceeds even went to charity, supporting homeless LGBT youngsters.
Tom:Which brings us to our last bit of business for the day. At the start of the show, I asked

why some people celebrate the birthday on the 25th of June, even though it isn't anywhere near their real birthday.

Before I give the audience the answer, anyone else wanna take a shot at that?
Geoff:Is this the calendar thing that came up earlier? Or not?
Jenny:I will be vindicated!
Tom:This is not a Julian/Gregorian thing.
Geoff:Okay. Doesn't the Queen have two birthdays, and one of 'em is June the 25th? When— Queen's no longer alive, sorry.
Tom:Unfortunately, these days, Geoff, The Queen doesn't get any birthdays anymore! And I probably shouldn't say that while laughing. That's probably treason.
Geoff:But doesn't the reigning monarch have two birthdays? Sorry, is it something to do with that?
Tom:This is an official birthday versus a actual day when you were born, but there's a very different reason behind it.
Geoff:But that's what the monarch does. They have their official birthday and their actual birthday, okay. Is it—
Annie:Is it because they did not have an official birthday? Because they don't know it, and so that's the default?
Tom:Oh, they do. They know their real one. It's very far away from the 25th of June.
Geoff:Is it a security risk? They don't want their sort of identity being given away with their actual birthday, so they have a fake birthday?
Tom:No, it's a more materialistic reason.
Annie:Is it to get more presents because their birthday's on Christmas?
Tom:Yep, 25th of June is six months away from the 25th of December. So, quite a few people hold their birthday six months later.

With that, thank you very much to all our panelists. We'll find out what's going on with you in your life and where people can find you. We will start with Annie.
Annie:Hello. You can find me at @depthsofwikipedia on most social media. I'm on TikTok, Bluesky, Mastodon, Twitter, Instagram most of the time. I'm writing a book about Wikipedia, and sometimes I do live shows.
Geoff:It's eponymous, just a YouTube channel in my own name, Geoff Marshall. I'm on Twitter, @GeoffTech as well. I've applied for my Bluesky account. I haven't got it yet. I make transport and travel videos though, predominantly on YouTube. Have a look.
Tom:And Jenny or J, where can folks find you?
Jenny:I'm @JDraperLondon on YouTube and TikTok, and I make videos about London history and British history.
Tom:Thank you very much to all our players. You can find out more about this show at We are at @lateralcast pretty much everywhere, and there are video highlights every week at You can also send in your own question through the form on our website. With that, thank you very much. It is good bye to Geoff Marshall.
Geoff:Thank you, Tom, bye.
Tom:To J. Draper.
Jenny:Good bye.
Tom:And to Annie Rauwerda.
Annie:Bye, thank you!
Tom:I've been Tom Scott, and that has been Lateral.
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