Lateral with Tom Scott

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

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Episode 38: Edward's buried paint

Published 30th June, 2023

From 'Jet Lag: The Game', Sam Denby, Adam Chase and Ben Doyle face questions about copyright chicanery, microstate melodies and fruitless flights.

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: Paulo, Tim, Asger Harpøth Møller, Tom, Ben Tedds, Alex L. FORMAT: Pad 26 Limited/Labyrinth Games Ltd. EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: David Bodycombe and Tom Scott.


Transcription by Caption+

Tom:What did William Shakespeare do in 1582 that Adam Shulman did in 2012?

The answer to that at the end of the show. My name's Tom Scott, and this is Lateral.

I've assembled three guests who have mastered the art of pondering so deeply, they make Descartes look like a casual daydreamer. I've been saving that intro for a René day.

First we have, from Jet Lag: The Game, Ben Doyle.
Tom:How are you doing, Ben? Thank you very much for joining us.
Ben:I'm very excited to be here and to show off my apartment to all of the lovely listeners of Lateral.
Tom:So, most of the times you've been on camera before, it has been out there in the world with Jet Lag. Are you okay showing off a little bit of domestic life there?
Ben:It's— There's not much to go off of here. I dox myself all the time. If you wanna know where I live, you can figure it out.

I guess I shouldn't say that. I did it again.
Adam:Don't tell people that! Stop saying that!
Ben:Okay, moving on.
Tom:I was gonna try and save the reveal, but also joining us from Jet Lag: The Game...

is the whole crew. We'll go to Adam Chase. How are you doing?
Adam:I'm doing great, Tom. I don't know if anyone here follows me on Twitter, but if you do, you'll know that I spent the last day trying to sell my couch. And... And for a while nobody wanted to buy it, Tom. But someone has in fact agreed to purchase the couch. So I'm riding high.
Tom:As if this wasn't chaos enough, we also have the final member of the Jet Lag: The Game team, Sam Denby.
Sam:Hi, Tom. I'm sorry, I feel bad. Your premise, your setup premise was very good of revealing one by one that we were each from Jet Lag: The Game. And now I feel bad for ruining it. I wanna apologize.
SFX:(others wheezing)
Tom:It's fine. This is a Jet Lag: The Game special of Lateral. I shoulda led with that.
Sam:We are professional fact knowers. All three of us have worked on Half As Interesting. And when I listened to the podcast this morning as a little refresher to get my brain going, I think I— I think there were four questions I listened to, and I knew three of them. Just so you can get scared about me breaking the game, Tom.
Sam:I know that's the thing that you hate most.
Tom:Oh no, no. It's just lovely that a guest has come in just aiming high and kind of bragging. Because you have just set yourself up as the villain. That's a problem. If we have that narrative structure—
Adam:I think it's a great way to make friends, is to lead with threats of ruining Tom's podcast.
Sam:Sorry, we're gonna do terrible. Except for Ben and Adam. They're going to do great.
SFX:(others wheezing)
Sam:I'm gonna do terrible. I'm the underdog. Ben and Adam are doing great. And they know so much. They went to, you know— They went to Ivy League schools, them, two of them. You know where I went? I went to Scotland. I couldn't even get into American colleges. I know you need to move on, Tom.
Tom:And now, you've insulted Scotland. So on that, let's get on with the quiz. We're gonna start off with the first question!
Sam:Wait! That's a complete mischaracterization of that!
Tom:We start with a question that's been sent in by Tom. I don't know which Tom, but whoever you are, thank you very much. It's not me.

In 2015, Peter Shankman bought a $5,000 return ticket from New Jersey to Tokyo. Soon after the 14-hour flight landed, he got back on the same plane and went straight back home, much relieved. He took only his laptop and phone on the trip. Why?

I'll give you that one more time.

In 2015, Peter Shankman bought a $5,000 return ticket from New Jersey to Tokyo. Soon after the 14-hour flight landed, he got back on the same plane and went straight back home, much relieved. He took only his laptop and phone on the trip. Why?
Adam:He was playing something called Jet Lag: The Game.
Ben:Yeah, I feel like we do this basically all the time.
Ben:We— Adam and I did this once going New York to LA and then back in the same day for a game once, and it was one of the worst days of my life. So shout out to that guy for having probably a terrible couple of days.
Tom:We did kinda skip over what Jet Lag: The Game is. And you know what, we'll fill that in at the end. But there's a lot of travel involved.
Sam:Does this have to do with... points and airline reward programs?
Tom:Why do you say that?
Sam:Because what is often done and something that, to be honest, I have done is you get to the end of the year, and you have a certain tier that you need to pass to get a certain airline status level. And you need to accrue— You need to get a certain number of flown miles or something through the year to get past that. So if you're— If it's December 15th and you're like, "Oh, all my travel plans are done, and I just have this tiny bit more." Some people take these, they call 'em mileage runs.

But this doesn't— The relief makes me think that maybe that's not the case here.
Tom:Yeah, you're right. That's not why he did this.
Adam:I like— That was a very diplomatic way to frame that, which is, you're right, Sam, about having been wrong.
SFX:(Tom and Ben laughing)
Sam:Well, that's half the game. Process of elimination.
Adam:Okay, I have a question for you, Tom. So... And I apologize. You may have mentioned this in the question. How long was he in Tokyo for?
Tom:Not very long at all.
Adam:But, sorry, but if I could push just a bit. Is 'not very long' like a few minutes or like a few hours?
Tom:He went back on the same plane, I'm told.
Adam:Ohhh. Oh wow, okay.
Ben:Does it have something to do with a lost item? Did he forget something? Like his wallet or something like that?
Tom:I think there are cheaper ways of getting your wallet back than a $5,000 flight.
Ben:Well, people are— do silly stuff, Tom.
Tom:That's true.
Ben:That's the whole thing of this podcast.
Tom:This is kind of a— I think a lot of people would describe this as silly. But it was effective for him.
Adam:Is there something he needed to do upon landing in Tokyo? Or was the flight itself... the completion of his task?
Tom:Good question. It was the flight itself.
Tom:Although 'completion of the task' is actually a little bit closer than you might think.
Adam:Wait, wait, wait a minute. Sorry, Tom. This is a real dumb question, but I do feel that I need to ask it. This guy wasn't the pilot of the plane, was he?
Tom:(laughs) No, I think 'much relieved' kinda gives you that. And also he bought a $5,000 ticket. To the best of my knowledge, pilots do not have to buy tickets for their planes.
Adam:Okay, I had forgotten about the ticket thing. But I think you have to admit that it would fit all the parameters that if this guy had to fly this flight, he was like, "Man, I'm real relieved that I flew."
Sam:Yeah, but pilots don't come back on the same flight. They have crew rest requirements.
Adam:Okay, well I don't know that!
Sam:Okay, okay, sorry, so... 'Task', that makes me think, does this have anything to do with... a game show or some sort of competition or...?
Tom:Not this time.
Sam:Damn it. I thought it was gonna be like Taskmaster, where they have to get as far away as possible. And some guy just really committed to the bit, and for some reason, Taskmaster was in New Jersey.
Tom:(laughs) The US version of Taskmaster was in California, and it was terrible. But, not this time.
Sam:Yeah. I'm a bit stumped.
Tom:I mean, what kind of seat would $5,000 buy on a flight like that?
Adam:Oh, you know, that's a great question actually. I hadn't even really clocked that. It was super expensive. So was he in first class?
Tom:Yeah, he would've been up in business class on this.
Adam:Were there other people on the plane?
Tom:Oh, yes, yeah. Standard commercial flight.
Ben:Was he doing an experiment of some sort?
Tom:No, he did have a personality trait that made this kind of necessary for what he wanted to do.
Adam:Oh, okay. Interesting.
Tom:Why might you want to spend 28 hours on flights in a very short space of time?
Adam:Ooh, ooh, ooh. I have one. I have one. I have— Here's a que— Can this dude only sleep on planes?
Sam:(chuckles gleefully)
Tom:Now... The verb in that sentence was wrong. But the rest of it was pretty close.
Adam:Oh, there's something he can only do if he's on a plane.
Tom:It's something that he's helped with enormously in that environment. What is it about that flight environment, about that long trip that meant he could do a thing?
Ben:He can only get boozed up on planes.
Adam:He can only... Okay, wait a minute. What are...
Sam:I know some people ride on trains specifically to write. 'Cause it helps them concentrate. It feels like that's along those lines.
Adam:Tom's nodding. He's nodding.
Tom:Yeah, you've nailed it.
Sam:What, write?
Tom:There are no outside stimuli. No other connections to the world. He is locked in a box with his laptop for 28 hours, and has spent a lot of money to do it. So you are absolutely right, Sam. This guy bought those flights
Tom:So he could get his manuscript done before the deadline.
Sam:Has he heard of trains?
Tom:You still have a mobile phone connection there.
Tom:If you want to— If you want an isolated box— I know some flights have Wi-Fi now, particularly in the US, but transcontinental in 2015, this is a locked, isolated box that you have paid money to be in. That is a very, very good reason to actually start working on your damn manuscript.
Adam:I would like to make an offer that if anybody would like to spend $5,000 to be in a box without their phone, I will personally build a box for them in exchange for that $5,000. And I will take their phone away from them. This is my new incredible business.
Tom:So that's sort of been done before. Douglas Adams, who wrote Hitchhiker's Guide, was once locked in a hotel room with his editor for three weeks, voluntarily, but just so he would actually try and meet the deadline this time.
Sam:I think most writers just get cabins.
Tom:I mean, yeah, this was just a business-class cabin.
Adam:This is the most expensive Walden I've ever heard of.
Tom:Expensive what?
Adam:Oh, Walden? You know Walden? When he went to the woods so he could live honestly?
Sam:Up in Maine, I think, or...
Adam:Henry David Thoreau, I believe it was.
Tom:You've exposed a hole in my knowledge here.
Adam:The Brit doesn't know about the great American authors.
Adam:You should title this episode, "Tom Scott humiliated on his own podcast."
Tom:(laughs) Yes, Peter Shankman bought a $5,000 return ticket to spend 28 hours cut off from the world, so he could finish his manuscript.

Each of our guests has brought a question along. I don't know the questions. I definitely don't know the answers. Sam, what have you got for us?
Sam:Yeah, so this listener question has been sent in by Tim.

In 1683, why was it vital for scouts to walk through the cellars of Vienna with musical instruments and a bag of dried peas?

So I'll repeat that.

In 1683, why was it vital for scouts to walk through the cellars of Vienna with musical instruments and a bag of dried peas?
Ben:Does it have something to do with pests?
Adam:Yeah, that's my initial thought.
Sam:Like 95% no.
Adam:But 5%, yes!
Sam:Unless you thought of a broader definition of the word pests.
Adam:I'm assuming that you meant, when you said it was 5% right, did you mean, were there people? Was it a thing where there might have been people there, and then musical instruments and peas would help to kind of flush or thrash those people out from where they were?
Sam:About 70% of that is right.
Ben:Yeah, when I hear music and see peas, I'm there.
Ben:You can lure me anywhere. Does it have something to do with... plague or sickness?
Adam:Okay, wait a minute. So, let's just back up for a second though. I just wanna remember all of the question. They were where? They were underneath Vienna, is this right?
Tom:And they were described as scouts.
Sam:Yeah, they were in cellars and stuff like that, you know?
Ben:These pea men, are these bad men or good men?
Adam:(laughs uproariously)
Tom:We're just gonna go with 'pea men', are we? We're just gonna let that one sail up into the aether.
Adam:They're scouts, Ben.
Sam:I think that's a tough question to answer, Ben. Because, you know, history is written by the... whatever the rest of that phrase is.
Ben:Do you personally think that what they were doing was good or bad?
Sam:Listen, I don't want to open up— I don't want to get into my political opinions on—
Ben:I want your opinion on what they were doing.
Adam:I like the idea of a version of the podcast that you can only ask subjective opinion questions about if what happened was good or bad.
Sam:Yeah, I don't want to make a statement on the politics of this era.
Adam:Okay, okay, wait a minute. Wait a minute. I feel like the answer of that 70% of that was right... I'm sure— I wanna figure out what 70% of that was right. Were there people down there that they were trying to interact with in some way, via the peas and musical instruments?
Sam:Yes, sort of. Yeah, yes-ish.
Tom:They were ghost hunting. It's well known that you can attract ghosts with peas and musical instruments. I'm sure that's a thing I've read somewhere.
Adam:Somebody, quote Tom Scott in an article saying that. You are a noted authority on facts. And I want that spread around everywhere.
Sam:Tom, it's just about the opposite of that.
Adam:They were super— They were babies. Babies? Babies. They weren't ghosts. They were babies.
Ben:Wasn't that what the Pied Piper did? He was killing children.
Adam:Oh, that's gotta be what it is, right? Oh no, that's gotta be what his—
Ben:They were killing children.
Adam:There were babies. No, no, no, no, no. This has gotta be what it was. People— Okay, I've got it. I'm about to monologue this whole thing. And then you're gonna be like, "That's exactly right." Okay. In the 17th century, when people would have babies that they didn't want, what they would do is they would throw them below the streets of Vienna.
Adam:To get rid of them. And so to go and check and make sure that there— to get— to gather up the babies to put them in orphanages, you would go around with musical instruments and peas to get them so that you could put them like in orphanages or whatever.
Ben:That's so messed up that they did that.
Sam:I think that is incorrect to an impressive level.
Sam:The level of creativity that that took is impressive.
Adam:(laughs hysterically)
Ben:So there are no babies involved?
Sam:I can confirm there are no babies involved.
Adam:Wait, wait. But Ben and Tom, when I was saying that, did you— were you like, "He's got it"?
Ben:I was 100 percent on board.
Tom:Oh, I was convinced. Absolutely convinced. It's kind of a dark question for this show, but...
Sam:So I think it's worth trying to maybe figure out what musical instruments, what application could be useful when you're underground. And maybe...
Tom:Drums. Big whacking drums.
Tom:Oh, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on. If you are trying to— if you are using a drum, then there's a load of bass. And it's going through walls and ceilings and things like that. So are they trying to find— Are they trying to map something underground, and there was someone above ground listening to the bass and trying to track where the drum is?
Sam:You're getting pretty close, but I think once again, it's kind of, you're kind of at the opposite of what it is, Tom.
Adam:Were there people below them?
Sam:There could be people anywhere.
Adam:(wheezes) There could be people anywhere? Okay.
Sam:There could be people above. There could be people below. There could be people around. There could be people anywhere.
Ben:Were they trying to find people whose locations they didn't know?
Sam:Well, actually, no. I think there's a little bit more detail we need.
Adam:Okay, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Were the people dead?
Sam:No, no, remember. Opposite of ghosts.
Tom:They are tax collectors trying to track down people and— Drums and dried peas! Are the dried peas in the drums? Are they also part of the percussion? Have they got maracas that they're shaking back and forth that are filled with dried peas or something like that?
Sam:The peas are directly interacting with the drums.
Adam:Do you put the peas on the drum?
Sam:Yes, Adam.
Adam:And you bang the drum and it spreads the peas out?
Tom:No, no.
Sam:You got close, and then you went further.
Adam:Oh, oh, oh, oh! I've got one. I've got one. How about this? If I were to... okay. If I were trying to pick up sound... right, and figure out if there's sound happening, what I might do is put a bunch of peas on a drum, and then if there's like a vibration, the peas are gonna rattle on top of the drum, right?
Sam:And what kind of sound would you be trying to find out?
Tom:Footsteps, movement.
Sam:What might be a really bassy sound underground that you're trying to avoid?
Adam:A subway? What, like a monster?
Sam:In 1683?
Ben:Oh, it's a monster. Adam, it's a monster.
Adam:It's a monster. Yeah, that was the answer. It was a monster. In 1683...
Sam:You're so close!
Adam:Was there something important that happened in 1683 in Vienna? Was there a war of some kind?
Adam:Was it a thing where... The enemy was there, right?
Adam:The guns or a cannon or something?
Ben:They were making enemy sounds.
Sam:Sort of, but...
Adam:Tunneling. Were they trying to figure out if they were trying to tunnel?
Sam:Yes, there you go. There you go.
Sam:So basically peas were vibrating on the drum heads, and that was a warning of enemies tunneling in.
Tom:Our next question has been sent in by Ben Tedds. Thank you very much, Ben.

From 1947 until his death in 1969, many customers commissioned John Cura to infringe BBC copyright on an almost daily basis. Despite the legal issues, the BBC allowed him to go about his work. What special service did he provide?

One more time.

From 1947 until his death in 1969, many customers commissioned John Cura to infringe BBC copyright on an almost daily basis. Despite the legal issues, the BBC allowed him to go about his work. What special service did he provide?
Sam:So, the first thing that comes to mind is that was the heyday... My understanding is that was the heyday of like pirate radio. But, that doesn't feel quite right.
Adam:Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh. Oh, here's a question for you. I know that... a long time ago... archiving of television was not easy to do. There's a ton of TV that's just completely lost. Was this dude... recording the BBC broadcasts for his own personal archives? Which the BBC was like, "Oh, well, that's fine, 'cause we're not recording them anyway"? So this way, there's a record?
Tom:Yeah, that's a long way to the right answer. It's not quite... that the tapes were being wiped back then. It's too early even for that. But you're definitely along the right lines. This is, I think before the— I don't— It may not be before the invention of videotape. But it's before the widespread use of videotape.
Ben:I mean, was he filming his own television set?
Tom:Close. Very, very close.
Sam:Does this have anything to do with him... bringing the information into an area in which... or context in which it's not normally available?
Tom:Yeah, you've got most of the puzzle pieces here very quickly. He is archiving. He is preserving. But there's one key piece of the puzzle here. We are pre-videotape. And you couldn't have a film camera at home. Those were ruinously expensive. So there's one other thing here.
Sam:So he was recording the audio of... the news, the radio station?
Adam:Was he transcribing it? Was he just typing up all the words? But that wouldn't violate copyright, would it?
Tom:I think technically it would, but I don't think— That wasn't it. There's one bit of technology. And one key thing about television in that era... that you haven't quite hit.
Ben:Was he doing some kind of... colorizing?
Tom:No, you'd need film to record that. You need— He was not recording video.
Adam:Okay, wait a minute. You keep saying he wasn't recording video. But you also said it's not that he was recording audio. And I will say, Tom, that my understanding is that television mostly consists of video and audio.
Adam:This is throwing me for a loop.
Sam:What about Smell-O-Vision?
Ben:They had that back then.
Adam:What if that was the answer? That would rock so hard.
Adam:I would love to hear Tom and his British accent be like, "Yes, he was recording the Smell-O-Vision of the BBC."
Tom:The BBC did once do a charity Smell-O-Vision thing for a charity telethon.
Tom:This was in the '90s, but they distributed scratch-off cards with a dozen scents on them. And they would just put a number on screen during various shows and get you to scratch that off at the right time. Obviously not a common thing. It was just for a charity thing, but it has been done. This is not what he was doing.
Adam:Well, I do wanna tell you, Tom, that that is the most fun thing I've heard all week.
Ben:That is fun.
Tom:You should do it for Jet Lag.
Ben:It would just smell like sweat. It would just be a card with sweat.
Sam:Yes, Smell-O-Vision, what we smell like after three hours of running around or three days of running around trains.
Tom:You're so nearly there. He's not pointed a video camera at the screen. He's not pointing an audio recorder at the screen. But he's— You're so—
Adam:Oh, oh! He's just taking pictures. He's taking little pics.
Tom:He's just taking pictures. Because that was all you could do at home for a cheap price back then.
Adam:(imitates camera clicking)
Tom:Absolutely right. So, why? Archive, preservation, yes. Why are people hiring him to do this?
Sam:Is it when people appear on the news?
Tom:I'll give you that. It's close enough. It is the only record that people had, that they had worked on a show.
Tom:That they had been the director, that they had done the lighting, that they had performed, or done the makeup. The only way that you could get a record of a live broadcast — because this is pre-videotape — there is no archive being made of this. So they took Tele-snaps. And there are shows that have been reconstructed from his Tele-snaps, from audio recordings that other people were doing. This is John Cura, who was commissioned to photograph his television screen.
Sam:I like the bit where Adam does 95% of the work, and then I get the credit for it. Pretty fitting.
Ben:Good job, Sam.
Adam:I will say that it really undermines you though, when you admit that I did 95% of the work. Because then I am getting the credit.
Tom:Next question is from Ben. Whenever you're ready.

The microstate of Molossia once used Albania's national anthem, but now uses one from the former Zaire. Its flag is the same as Sierra Leone's, flown upside-down. What is the identical reason behind both statements?

And then that question again.

The microstate of Molossia once used Albania's national anthem, but now uses one from the former Zaire. Its flag is the same as Sierra Leone's, flown upside-down. What's the identical reason behind both statements?
Tom:Okay, I'm looking at Sam immediately. 'Cause on the geography knowledge, this—
Ben:Sam, you should know every micronation.
Tom:This feels like a Wendover video.
Sam:Was it M— Can we get the spelling of the micronation?
Sam:See, I think I've heard of that one. I'm very not confident, but I think that's one that's along the Danube maybe? Or somewhere around there. But... I have no clue. And so, okay, Zaire, that was southern Africa, right?
Tom:Yeah, I think that's now the DRC.
Sam:Really? I thought it was a little further south. I'm very not confident, but...
Tom:But you're right that it's sub-Saharan Africa.
Adam:Ben, I'd like to go ahead and answer the question. Is the reason they did these things because they're a bunch of silly guys?
Ben:They are not a bunch of silly guys. In fact, these guys are very... not silly.
Adam:Okay. Good to know.
Ben:They, I actually looked up a picture of the guys on Wikipedia. They looked like they scared me.
Tom:Yeah, Zaire is now Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Tom:So, it's that region of Africa.
Sam:So flag upside-down, and Sierra Leone, I think that's western Africa, right? That's along the western coast?
Tom:(laughs) Everyone's blankly looking at you, Sam. I hope that's right.
Sam:I'm pretty sure—
Ben:I just wanna say, there was a time in my life where I could label every African country on a map in sixth grade, and now I can't do it anymore.
Tom:Wow. There is a time in my life when I could recite the entire Animaniacs "Nations of the World" song, and I've forgotten most of that. And also loads of those countries don't exist anymore, but...
Sam:Okay, so flag upside down. That is often used as a distress call, right? The whole idea is if you put the American flag upside down, it's like democracy's in distress, and some people have made political statements off of that. And what was it with Albania's national anthem?
Tom:Used to be Albania. It's now the former Zaire. I assume they changed their anthem when they changed their country name as well.
Adam:Is this micronation recognized by any legitimate entities?
Ben:This micronation has no recognition.
Adam:Okay, how many people are in this micronation? And how big is it? Are we talking a few dozen fellas?
Ben:It has 33 citizens.
Ben:Including dogs... is what my document says.
Adam:Including dogs.
Ben:Including dogs. I don't know how many of those are dogs. They might not all be dogs.
Sam:Now I'm thinking... Okay, I'm 50... No, I'm 30% sure this is the micronation along the Danube. 30% sure it's the one in Nevada, and 40% thinking that I don't know at all. But there—
Adam:I'm 20% luck, 30% skill, 15% concentrated power at will.
Ben:Sam, you said three things. One of them was correct.
Sam:But one of the options was that I don't know what I'm talking about.
Ben:That is correct.
Sam:So inherently... one of those is correct.
Tom:Okay, it's either the Danube or Nevada, then. Is it the Danube one?
Sam:Is it the Nevada one?
Ben:It is near Dayton, Nevada.
Sam:Okay, so now I know the one that we're talking about. This is a fairly famous micronation that gets tons of press coverage. But to be honest, that helps me 0% at all. (nervous laugh)
Sam:All I know is that I know the one we're talking about.
Adam:Let me get this straight. You're telling me...
Adam:that these guys in Nevada are using... Okay, they've got an anthem from African nations. And there's 33 of them, including dogs.
Adam:And you said they're very serious fellas.
Ben:You know, I retract— They might be a little silly. It depends who you ask. I'm scared of most people.
Sam:Well, he wears dictator outfit. Actually, the guy in charge, he wears the outfit almost of a dictator, with all sorts of medals and stuff. Not like a chill democratic leader.
Ben:Yeah, it's like silly scary.
Tom:The question was, what? Why did they change that anthem from Albania to Zaire? And...
Adam:Yeah, yeah.
Tom:Why is their flag Sierra Leone's upside down?
Ben:The reason is, why were they using an anthem from those other countries? And why were they using Sierra Leone's flag? The answer is the same for why they were doing both of those things. Not why they changed anthem.
Adam:Is it a copyright thing? Is it a thing where those were the countries that didn't care if they stole them, and they were too lazy to make their own stuff?
Ben:As far as I know, it has nothing to do with copyright.
Sam:So what comes to mind for me is all these micronations, they do everything possible to assert their sovereignty. 'Cause a lot of them are veiled political statements about... I think it's vaguely aligned with, you know, the sovereign citizen movement and stuff like that. It kind of hits on some of the same themes. So I'm wondering if it has something to do with asserting sovereignty, and in their eyes, doing something with these national symbols helps them assert their sovereignty?
Ben:Adam, could you elaborate on your last point? I think that there was a nugget of something in what you said about—
Adam:That they didn't wanna make their own things?
Adam:Okay. I mean, my thought is... if you've only got 33 people and dogs... the process of making your own flag and composing your own anthem seems like it would potentially be an onerous process, right? So it's like, why do your own thing when you could just steal... from somebody else, right?
Ben:That is correct. You've got it. The answer is to save time, effort, and money.
Ben:So they used the national—
Adam:That feels very straightforward for Lateral.
Tom:Well, I was thinking that!
Ben:That's the answer, okay? Who knows what could happen on this podcast?

The national anthem was based on the tune of Albania, but after some complaints from Albanians, it was changed to the one which is used by the former Zaire. And then similarly, to save having to spend money designing and manufacturing their own flag, they took Sierra Leone's and just turned it upside down.
Tom:Next up, we have a listener question. Thank you to Alex L.

In 1968, NASCAR driver and race team owner Smokey Yunick found a way of allowing his cars to refuel significantly less often. He did so without making any efficiency improvements, nor breaking the regulations on the maximum fuel tank size. How?

I'll give you that one more time.

In 1968, NASCAR driver and race team owner Smokey Yunick found a way of allowing his cars to refuel significantly less often. He did so without making any efficiency improvements, nor breaking the regulations on the maximum fuel tank size. How?
Sam:They drove slower.
Tom:(laughs) Okay. That would— You know what, Sam? It's a genius answer, but I'm gonna rule that out as an efficiency improvement.
Sam:(giggles) Okay.
Adam:It was specified this was a NASCAR driver, right?
Adam:So I do think that driving slower would've been potentially an issue. But no, that's not a bad thought. 'Cause I guess if you drove slightly slower, it might be made up for, in the lack of refueling.
Sam:Yeah. I mean, I don't think it would be a winning strategy.
Ben:Sam, you should know this. You love your race cars.
Sam:I love Formula 1. NASCAR is just circles. Don't @ me.
Adam:A fun fact about me is that I grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where NASCAR is very popular. And at my high school, the two largest buildings at that high school are both named after NASCAR drivers.
Ben:Is that interesting?
Adam:I thought it was kind of interesting.
Tom:Did you see the guy who in NASCAR drove like... blasting his car into the edge of the circuit around the curve?
Adam:That rocks.
Sam:Oh yeah.
Tom:It's the same sort of thing. This is a loophole that was closed later that was technically allowed in the rules at the time. Yes, occasionally someone comes up with a strategy like just on the last lap, ramming your car into the boundary and you know, speeding around the final corner that then gets outlawed. This is that same kind of hack.
Sam:Did he find a shortcut?
Adam:No, I think the question specified he was able to drive for longer.
Sam:So same speed.
Tom:Yep, this is not an efficiency improvement. The only change from the outside, if you like, is the cars go for longer.
Adam:This is kind of what the answer would be if this guy lived in a Looney Tunes cartoon. But I'm gonna put it out here and hope that it maybe gets us closer.

Now what I'm envisioning, Tom, is... What if I wanted to not have to ever refuel? Here's what I would do. I would put a big old tank of gasoline right in the middle of the track, and I would get a real long hose. And I would connect that hose to my car, and I would drive around the inside lane, and it would always be pumping new fuel into my car, and I'd never have to stop.
Ben:That's it.
Adam:Did I get it?
Tom:You're actually close. You're actually close.
Adam:(laughs uproariously)
Sam:Okay, here we go. Here we go, here we go. I got it, I got it. It's a reverse Hacienda 172. You know what I'm talking about, Adam?
Ben:That's the plane. That's the airplane.
Sam:Yeah. Ben gets it.
Ben:Yeah, yeah.
Sam:That was the plane that stayed in the air for like 50 days, 'cause they drove a pickup truck under it.
Adam:'Cause they drove a different plane to refuel it.
Sam:No, no, no. They drove a pickup truck, and then they would fly low, and then take a line from the pickup truck. Here, airplane down to the NASCAR.
Sam:Give it to me, Tom!
Tom:You are both really close. But both of those would've broken the regulations on fuel tank size.
Adam:Wait, why would it have? I'm saying the fuel tank can be the same size. You just keep refilling it with fuel.
Tom:Not if you connect it to another bigger fuel tank!
Sam:Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh. I got it. I got it.
Adam:Not to a fuel tank, Tom. To an airplane!
Sam:I got it, I got it. So there's another car, right?
Sam:And the other team's car... it's pushing this car from behind.
Tom:Oh. That is further away from— Again, I love all the hacking that's going on here. But honestly, y'all are so close!
Adam:Okay, wait a minute. You keep saying that we're close here. So... Was there some mechanism by which the tank was able to refuel without stopping?
Ben:Were they siphoning fuel? So they weren't siphoning fuel from anywhere else?
Tom:No, it was all within the car.
Adam:Oh, oh, oh, oh. I've got one. Another thing that I could do is... what if, right, if I'm in a car... if there's some space next to me, I could put a big fuel tank in the passenger seat.
Sam:That's fuel tank regulations.
Adam:No, but it's not a, it's not a larger fuel tank. It's just a different fuel tank that I switch out.
Sam:That is a larger fuel tank.
Tom:That's a larger fuel tank!
Ben:No, it's different. It's not larger, it's different.
Tom:Here's the thing.
Adam:No, it's a— It could even be a smaller fuel tank.
Tom:You could have this argument about this loophole, but it's not a separate fuel tank. It is a little bit more clever. You put a second fuel tank in your car, everyone goes, "That's clearly against the rules." This is just a little bit more clever than that.
Ben:Were they using the same amount of fuel?
Tom:They were able to fit more fuel in there.
Adam:Did they compress the fuel so that there was more in the same sized tank?
Tom:No, fuel's pretty incompressible.
Sam:Was the composition of the fuel any different? Or was it the same fuels?
Tom:Yep, exactly the same. When you get this, you're all gonna complain at me that this is in fact a bigger fuel tank. But according to the regs, it wasn't.
Sam:They just have water bottles of fuel that they would chuck in the back or something?
Adam:No, that's what I was suggesting. But then Tom said that's a bigger fuel thing.
Sam:But maybe it's not a tank. Maybe the fuel's going somewhere else.
Tom:Now we're getting there.
Sam:See, he's nodding!
Tom:But there's actually two separate hacks. There's a whole set of notes here on another thing this guy tried. If you also find that, I'll give you it as well, but this is really specifically... some hack that made this work.
Adam:I would argue that this probably is a bigger fuel tank. Maybe this wouldn't work, but... Where is a fuel tank kept, right? In an area of a car? What if I filled that whole thing with fuel?
Tom:It wasn't the fuel tank. Where could you put more fuel without having—
Adam:The hose. Oh, super long hose! Super long hose for the fuel!
Tom:There it is!
Tom:There it is. Not just a super long hose, but a super wide hose. He managed to fit an extra five gallons, so 19 liters of fuel... in a super long, super wide hose. That was six feet of pipe, half an inch wide... originally. It became an 11 foot pipe that was two inches wide. So... it wasn't the fuel tank. It was just the pipe that got the fuel in there.
Sam:What was the other hack?
Tom:He put a basketball in the fuel tank that could be inflated when they were doing the test for fuel capacity, and then deflated afterwards.
Adam:(snort) That feels like not, that's not a hack. That is cheating.
Tom:Yeah, it's a fine line. It's always a fine line.

Adam, over to you then for your question.
Adam:This question has been sent in by an anonymous listener.

In 1881, British visual artist Edward Burne-Jones was hosting a garden party. Suddenly, he rushed into his house, grabbed a metal tube of brown paint, and buried it in his lawn. His work was never quite the same again. Why?

I will read it one more time.

In 1881, British visual artist Edward Burne-Jones was hosting a garden party. Suddenly, he rushed into his house, grabbed a metal tube of brown paint, and buried it in his lawn. His work was never quite the same again. Why?
Ben:Did he use the paint after burying it ever at any point?
Adam:I do not believe so.
Sam:Did he use the color at all after?
Adam:That's what you could infer from the question.
Tom:My first thought, because this is 1881, is that this is some magic radioactive stuff that he'd been sold, and someone had just come along to him and gone, "Oh, that's not safe anymore." He's like, "Oh, I must bury this away from where it can be found." But that wouldn't be radium.
Tom:That'd be glowing green paint or something like that.
Adam:The paint was not dangerous, so far as— The paint was not a danger to his health.
Sam:So, I mean, I do know that back then, a lot of paint colors were made of very creative ingredients, and so some paints were really, really expensive, because the ingredients were rare. It's like some specific colors and other— So it was not as easy as today when you had you know, I think simpler techniques.
Tom:There was mummy brown, which was made from ground-up mummies.
Tom:From Egyptian tomb looting. But I doubt that that was this. I dunno why he'd suddenly feel like he had to rush in and put that back in the ground.
Adam:Tom, I'm gonna be honest with you. You've nailed it, my friend.
Ben:Oh my god, it's mummy brown.
Tom:What? Really? I didn't think that was gonna be a thing.
Adam:You've hit the nail directly on the head.
Tom:Okay, why is he suddenly burying mummy brown?
Ben:Did he feel guilty? He was like, "I gotta put the mummy back."
Tom:The only reason I know that is I once filmed at the pigment library in Harvard. And it is just a library of rare colours for testing antiquities and things like that. So if someone comes along and says, "Oh, we've got this pot that's made of this blue," they can do analysis on a sample of the pigment and a sample of the antiquity. And the curator there happened to mention mummy brown as a thing, that just stuck in my head.
Adam:Wait, oh, Tom, is this where you filmed the video about the Pinkest Pink?
Tom:No, no. That's some guy in the UK. That's Stuart Semple. And he's lovely, but— And I'm sure they have a sample of his paint somewhere in there. But it's a separate thing.
Sam:I think this game is fundamentally unfair, considering Tom has been to everything everywhere.
Tom:Says the person who runs a channel about interesting facts and a channel about travelling the world!
Sam:Yeah, but you've been there!
Tom:(laughs) Okay, so, what? Did someone just suddenly tell him what the paint was made of? What's the story?
Adam:A long time ago, there was a pigment called mummy brown, which literally was ground-up Egyptian mummies. Which this dude, who was a visual artist, did not realize it was literally that. And when he found this out at his garden party, he insisted on giving his last tube of mummy brown a proper burial.
Sam:And why was his work never the same?
Adam:Presumably because he never used mummy brown again.
Tom:It was apparently a really good brown.
Sam:Wow, yeah, I mean, clearly if they dug up the mummies for it, yeah.
Tom:The last part of the show then. At the very start, I asked:

What did William Shakespeare do in 1582 that Adam Shulman did in 2012?

Does anyone wanna take a quick guess at that before I give the answer?
Adam:Who's Adam Shulman?
Tom:If you knew that, you'd know the answer to this.
Ben:Wrote Romeo and Juliet.
Adam:Oh, that's a fun one, yeah. Did— staged a production of Romeo and Juliet or something? Was Adam Shulman a director?
Tom:No, not quite. Any other Shakespeare facts, biographical facts that come to mind?
Adam:Died. Did they, did he die? Shakespeare died at some point. Did this guy also die?
Sam:Shakespeare's a myth.
Adam:Oh, oh oh oh ooh! Marry Anne Hathaway? Is Adam Shulman, Anne Hathaway's husband.
Tom:Yes, he is!
Sam:Ah, dammit.
Tom:Adam, congratulations. The final, non-existent point of the show goes to you.

And you get to be the first person in the group that's plugging everything you are working on. Tell us what's going on in your world.
Adam:Wow, well, my plugs are gonna be really different than Ben's and Sam's.

I'm on a show called Jet Lag: The Game. It's a fun show that's on YouTube, and also every episode goes up one week early on Nebula. Where we play travel competition games.

And at the time at which this podcast comes out, I believe we'll be in the middle of releasing our sixth season, which is Capture the Flag across Japan. We are very, very excited about it. I think we all think it is potentially our best season yet. So go check it out. It's fun. And it's with Scotty from Strange Parts, who's great. If you know him or his channel.
Tom:Ben, over to you. You need to plug something that is not Jet Lag The Game.
Ben:Sometimes I bake really good cookies. But you can't have any.
Ben:'Cause they're just for me and sometimes Adam and Adam's girlfriend.
Tom:I thought you were gonna plug Half As Interesting or something like that. Something else you wrote for.
Adam:Sam can plug that.
Sam:Yeah, Ben you also bake good Doritos Locos Tacos, right? For Half As Interesting.
Ben:No, I've really messed that one up, honestly. That was all Amy.
Sam:That's true actually, yeah.
Tom:Sam, over to you.
Sam:We also have two other channels, one of which Ben had every opportunity to plug, because he works on it: Half As Interesting. And made me have to pull double duty. And the other one, of course, is Wendover. That's the one I work on most, and it's about things.
Tom:And if you wanna know more about this show or send in a question yourself, you can do that at We have video highlights at, and we are at @lateralcast pretty much everywhere.

With that, thank you very much to Sam Denby.
Sam:I'm waving.
Tom:To Ben Doyle.
Tom:And Adam Chase.
Adam:I'm saluting, I'm doing a salute.
Tom:I'm Tom Scott, and that has been Lateral.
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