Lateral with Tom Scott

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

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Episode 62: The lifesaving blackout

Published 15th December, 2023

Hannah Witton, Mike Boyd and Geoff Marshall face questions about versatile voting, clever creatures and brick buildings.

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: Albert F., Stuart Forbes, Navek, Matt, Kimchi Tea, Xavier. FORMAT: Pad 26 Limited/Labyrinth Games Ltd. EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: David Bodycombe and Tom Scott.


Transcription by Caption+

Tom:What type of creature are Pritha garfieldi and Filistata maguirei?

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

Welcome to the show that offers so many new perspectives and points of view that we're recording this in a hypercube. First up, joining us, we have...

It was once said to me that a really good idea for a YouTube channel is someone you can sum up as 'the blank that does blank.' So please welcome the Scotsman who learns things quickly, Mike Boyd!
Mike:(snickers) Thanks for having me on.
Tom:I apologise for summarising. Particularly when just before coming on, we described how you're doing so much climbing and so much other stuff now?
Mike:Yeah, I've branched out and fallen in love with something potentially even more than making YouTube videos. And I'm just completely obsessed. So yeah, it's great to be in the honeymoon period of something.
Tom:(laughs) How has it affected you? You said it's kind of changed what you're doing, change how you're exercising, changed everything?
Mike:Yeah, so I went from... I just I went from sort of cycling and just regular cardio stuff to... really hard climbing six days a week. So yeah, and just, I'm in a year into it now, and I'm just starting to look in the mirror and be like, "Oh yeah, this is actually... This is doing something."
Tom:Sometimes on the show, I have three Gen Z people, and I feel old. And right now, these are my people out here. This is great.
Mike:Yeah. You're amongst friends here.
SFX:(group cracks up)
Tom:Also joining...
Geoff:So, I'm now the oldest one here? I think I'm the oldest one here.
Tom:You know what? Let's go in age order. I'm gonna go to Hannah next. We'll hold you off, Geoff.
SFX:(Tom and Geoff laugh)
Tom:I don't actually know how old Hannah and Mike are. I just know that yes, Geoff, you are, unfortunately, the oldest here. So, we'll hold that back.

Also joining us: from the Doing It podcast and her own YouTube channels, Hannah Witton.
Hannah:Hello, yeah. Thanks for having me. I'm also in my early 30s. So, similar to Mike, I think.
Tom:How are you doing? How is everything? The last time we had a proper conversation, I don't think you were even a parent yet. It's been a while since we've sat down and talked.
Hannah:Was I even pregnant the last time we hung out? I don't know, because it was also very pandemic-y.
Hannah:Then too. But yeah, no. My 30s has brought with it motherhood!
Hannah:Which has been great. (giggles)
Tom:And how are you... balancing that with the... (chuckles) the life of a YouTube vlogger that you had a few years ago?
Hannah:Yeah, I mean... even before I got pregnant, I had given myself a four-day work week, which was the dream, and then... I gave myself three months maternity leave, which, you know, is what it is. And then had just been gradually increasing my hours since then. But I'm never working on a Friday again – or at least not doing paid work on a Friday – So, you know.
SFX:(both laughing)
Hannah:You know.
Tom:I was going to say, apart from the whole motherhood thing, which...
Hannah:Yeah, exactly. Unpaid labour. It's fine. But yeah, no. It's interesting. It's definitely given me... more, I don't know, clarity in terms of actually my ideal work setup and schedule and stuff. I love working part-time, it turns out.
Tom:I'm looking forward to being able to do that at some point. Also joining us, the last member of our crew today, and you know what? We've started down this road. Please welcome the elder statesman of Lateral, Geoff Marshall! (laughs)
Geoff:Yeah, thanks for that. I take the accolade. That's fine. Yeah, that's— it's good. It just means I have experience, and— But no gray hair yet, just blond hair. So it's all good.
Tom:Yep, yep. Thank you. Thanks for the reminder.
Geoff:(laughs heartily)
Tom:You're still heading around every train station in the UK reporting on whatever is happening on the network. How... How is everything?
Geoff:Sure, people always say to me, you gotta run out of things to do, and new things keep opening. You know, they keep cancelling HS2, and then they open up a new bit. And there's always stuff going on. So it feels like, yeah, it's a never ending, yeah. I was having a discussion last night. It's a bigger conversation for a podcast. You know, at what point do our YouTube careers all come to an end and sort of evolve into something else? But that day isn't approaching yet. Yet.
Tom:Welcome to what is apparently my parachute show. Good luck to you all.
SFX:(Geoff and Hannah laugh)
Tom:The questions are so twisted that my script is printed on a möbius strip, which is a worry because it means that technically this episode will never end. But luckily, we have all the time in the world, so we start with question one.

Thank you to Matt for sending this question in.

On the 25th of September 2023, the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 25 to 11. Tens of thousands of people celebrated even though they don't support either team or their players, and they didn't bet. Why?

I'll say that one more time.

On the 25th of September 2023, the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 25 to 11. Tens of thousands of people celebrated even though they don't support either team or their players, and they didn't bet. Why?
Geoff:I don't even know what sport it is.
Hannah:What sport is this?
Geoff:Yeah, yeah, we don't know!
Tom:Oh, I've done the thing of—
Hannah:Go sports!
Tom:We've lined up an American sports question for the three Brits on the show.
Geoff:(laughs) I'm assuming it's an American football game.
Hannah:♪ Get the ball in the goal

Get the ball in the net ♪

Kick it, throw it!
Mike:What was the score?
Hannah:25–11. I thought it was gonna be something to do with the date, 'cause the date was like 25-9, but the...
Geoff:Well, no, because the Super Bowl was always around February–March, isn't it? Sort of the beginning of the year, so it's not the Super Bowl.
Hannah:What's— Tampa is Florida, right? So we've got Philadelphia, Florida. What's going on with those two? States. I don't know.
SFX:(both wheeze)
Geoff:I love how all of us are just blank expressions right now. We're like, you know, we got nothing.
Hannah:What animals were they again? Eagles and...
Tom:Buccaneers, so not animals, but...
Hannah:Oh, what's a buccaneer?
Tom:Not unless you have an adorable story about rabbit pirates or something like that. Which, to be fair, I would watch.
Geoff:You just know that all the Americans watching are going, oh dear.
Hannah:Right, okay, so I'm just gathering all the information we have, and what of the lack of information is what sport it is. But we've got Eagles, we've got rabbit pirates.
Tom:(laughs) Buccaneers. They're just pirates.
Mike:Something to do with... by Tampa beating... or whoever beat who caused some huge team to therefore win somehow?
Tom:There have been plenty of stories like that in sports where... someone needed to win by a certain amount to knock another team out in the scoring. This is just a regular season game, and I will at least clue you in that it's the NFL. It's American football.
Mike:Okay, cool. We got that. Americans with their sports teams names. I mean, we've just got such boring names compared to them, like Celtic, Arsenal. They've got the Buccaneers.
Tom:I don't know, when you start getting down to the lower leagues in soccer, when you start getting all the way down to the 10th, 11th level to the pyramid, you start having company teams and corporate sponsored ones starting to pop in.
Mike:You know they can just move where they're based, and then they just become the Seattle blah blah blahs? You can't do that in football.
Hannah:The Seattle Rabbit Pirates.
Tom:(wheezes) I sort of regret and don't regret using the words 'Rabbit Pirates' here.
SFX:(group chuckling)
Hannah:Is you telling us what sport it is, does that change anything?
Tom:It does change something, yes.
Hannah:Okay, interesting.
Geoff:And was it like a regular league match, or was it like a cup, a knockout cup match?
Tom:Just a regular NFL league match, mid-season.
Hannah:It's got anything to do with a specific player?
Tom:Uh, no.
Hannah:Okay. Right, good. 'Cause I don't know any of them.
Geoff:Is it anything to do with the coach? Do the coaches swap teams mid season? Is it coach specific?
Tom:No, it is sport specific.
Hannah:Did the commentator say something funny? No, wait.
Hannah:People are celebrating.
Tom:Yeah. Tens of thousands of people are celebrating this. Tens of thousands of sports nerds are celebrating about this.
Hannah:So has it got to do with the score number and the date, or something?
Geoff:Oh, is it the first time that these teams had ever met, and it was the last one to be ticked off in all the configurations that could possibly happen?
Hannah:It's a nerd math thing.
Geoff:Oh—! I'm onto something.
Tom:Between Hannah and Geoff, if you were to somehow combine those two answers in a grisly teleporter accident, you've basically got it.
Hannah:Alright, let's move on.
Tom:Who went with a science fiction analogy for a sports question? Is there a sport metaphor there? Almost certainly, but I couldn't find it in time.
Hannah:Something about the score and the date, like the numbers, because the— So the date was the 25th of September. So 25–9, or 9–25, and the score was 25–11. What does it mean?
Geoff:Right, so somebody worked out that these two teams had never played on this date before, and that— but that filled in the grid of all possible combinations, something like that. Oh, come on. We're so close.
Tom:You are so close.
SFX:(Hannah and Geoff giggle)
Mike:Tens of thousands.
Hannah:Is there a crossover with something? So is it like sports fans and another group of people, and they're venn diagramming something to do with that, or is it just... it's just straight sports fans?
Tom:How much does anyone here know about American football scoring?
Geoff:Very little.
Tom:Okay, right. Okay.
Geoff:(laughs hysterically)
Mike:I don't even know. I just know that the games last forever, and there's two teams per team?
Tom:Yep, they have separate offensive and defensive teams.
Hannah:Oh my god.
Tom:You score three for a field goal, six for a touchdown, and one for converting that. There's a couple of other ways to score.
Hannah:Okay. How did you get— How would you get 11? You'd have to get three, three... This doesn't make any sense! Wait, no, because if you score in a six, you get a six and a one.
Tom:So you nearly nailed it, Geoff. You said something about combinations.
Hannah:Every combination of every kind of score that you can do happened in that one game?
Mike:No, because there could be 200–300, right? There's no...
Geoff:The stats nerds keep track of what scores have happened across all the football games ever. And this— And somebody spotted an anomaly. And when this score came up... No, I've lost my thread, but I'm close.
Tom:Oh you, were so— You started so well! Someone else tap that through. Someone else tap that into the goal, come on.
Mike:Is it just that this score has just never happened before?
Geoff:Never happened before.
Tom:Yeah, Mike, spot on. No NFL game in the entire history of the league and the sport had ever ended 25–11. And so the sports nerds celebrated because that was one more thing chalked off on the little graph of all possible scores. It is technically called a Scorigami, which was coined by sportswriter Jon Bois in 2016. And this is the first time—
Mike:Hold on. There's infinite scores that haven't happened, right?
Tom:You can't... It is— It would be very difficult to get beyond like 70–70 in an NFL game. And you would have to get everything wrong to do that. This is in the cluster where nearly everything's been gotten, and one of those holes got filled.
Mike:Tens of thousands. Tens of— I mean— I don't think tens of thousands of people were parading the streets. Just being like, "Yeah, we got all of the most likely scores!"
Tom:Someone posted about it, and that got more than 100,000 likes. So if you count that as a celebration, (laughs) that is accurate.
Mike:Yeah, I'll give you that, Tom. Yep. (laughs) A like is the equivalent of a celebration now.
Tom:So yes, 25–11 was celebrated by the sports nerds because it was the first time it had ever happened in the NFL.

Each of our guests has brought a question with them, and we're going to start today with Mike. Whenever you're ready.

Thailand's Khuk Khi Kai is a sturdy, red brick building, 14 feet long and 23 feet high, with two rows of narrow slits for windows. Why did they keep chickens in half of it?
Hannah:Well, chickens have to live somewhere.
Mike:I'm gonna read it one more time.

Thailand's Khuk Khi Kai is a sturdy, red brick building, 14 feet long and 23 feet high, with two rows of narrow slits for windows. Why did they keep chickens in half of it?
Geoff:It sounds as if it was built as a defensive structure, because you'd have narrow slits maybe to fire arrows through. But then, the position of the building meant that it was the perfect amount of sunlight to be let in for chickens to live in or something. It produced the maximum amount of eggs or something. No? (laughs)
Tom:I was with you on defensive fortifications.
Tom:On that, I was like, yeah, you want to fire arrows out, or fire— I don't know why we went arrows—
Hannah:Fire eggs out.
Tom:You can also fire guns out of those things as well. We all went for medieval fortresses, but...
Geoff:Yeah, it sounds like a medieval fortress. Is it a medieval fortress?
Mike:It's not a medieval fortress. But I like your your train of thought with, you know, what the building was purpose-built for something with the narrow slits so your...
Hannah:I can't picture feet. You say it's 23 feet high. I've no idea.
Tom:(snickers) Sorry. We all misheard that as being about the body part, right? All of us...
Tom:It wasn't just me then?
Mike:That's seven metres high.
Hannah:Okay, so quite high.
Geoff:That's the... That's the height of a goal in NFL, Hannah.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:Seven metres by four metres would be the conversion there. Which is actually not that high? I was thinking of it being like a big fortification, but 7 metres is maybe only 2 or 3 storeys high.
Geoff:But it wasn't built for chickens. The chickens came later.
Hannah:Yeah, it's repurposed.
Geoff:It was built for something else. Repurposed, right?
Hannah:An art installation of chickens.
Mike:I would say that... it's not been repurposed.
Tom:Ooh, okay.
Hannah:It was originally intended for half of this building to be a chicken house?
Mike:Potentially. Potentially.
Tom:Or it was useful for half of it to be a chicken house. Okay.
Hannah:What's the other half of it used for? Is that gonna be, if we figure that out, that will—
Mike:That is the key.
Hannah:That will— Okay.
Mike:'Cause once you figure that out, then it's obviously some half chicken, half... 'blank' place.
Hannah:Like a breakfast bar? Like it's a place to get brunch?
Mike:As in... you select your chicken and then it's like, that's—
Hannah:No, it lays the eggs, and you get an omelette.
Mike:Alright, that's much more... yes.
Geoff:When you say half, is it side-to-sidey or top-bottom half? Are you allowed to say which? Is it split by the middle?
Mike:Yeah, so that is a key piece of information, I would say.
Geoff:For some reason I'm thinking that... I'm thinking there's a floor...
Geoff:And the chickens are on top, but not on the bottom for some reason. I don't know why. That's my hunch.
Tom:Oh, I saw it the other way 'round, and I think that's because I was like, maybe it's for heat rising or something like that. But also, I'm not sure – if you were working in that building – you would want the chickens above you? I feel like there's stuff that can descend there.
Hannah:I'm immediately picturing that scene in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with the geese and them laying the eggs, and if it's like a good one or a bad one.
SFX:(Tom and Hannah laugh)
Hannah:You know?
Tom:Just a steady, steady descent for the chicken eggs.
Mike:I'm going to direct you guys a little bit here, because I think Tom and Geoff, you're onto a... trying to figure out where the chickens are is a good—
Hannah:You're saying I'm not onto anything?
Mike:You're perfectly going the wrong direction in that, in that this—
Mike:You're picturing this as a pleasant, happy place. And it is not.
Hannah:Oh. Is this where they go to die?
Geoff:Oh, don't say that, oh no! No, that would be sad.
Hannah:Is it just a slaughterhouse?
Tom:It could be a jail.
Hannah:Bad chicken!
Tom:Not for chickens!
Tom:But if you're building a building that size with small windows that people definitely cannot fit through... then jail is also a thing that would fit that description.
Mike:Pretty good, Tom.
Mike:So, yeah, I mean, yeah. (wheezes) That's it. That's the answer.
Tom:So half of it's a jail. Okay, but why are there chickens in the other half then?
Hannah:To feed them. Or is it part of community service, like looking after some chickens, doing some farming?
Mike:So, Tom, you've got it in the last thing you were questioning, and the jail. So it's a jail. And you were like, "Oh, I feel like it would be bad if the chickens were on top."
Geoff:Oh, they are on top. Oh, what? Oh.
Hannah:And they lay eggs on their heads?
Mike:You're too optimistic, Hannah.
Hannah:They (bleep) on their heads.
Geoff:Mike, is this some terrible torture thing where you put bad humans below on purpose and allow chickens to (bleep) down onto—
Mike:Spot on, yeah. Yep. Some miserable hellhole.
Geoff:Oh no!
Tom:This is a dark question! We don't normally have questions this dark.
Mike:Hannah was like, "Oh, it's like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." I was like, it's not like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:Oh, wow.
Geoff:That's so bad!
Mike:So let me— The building was built as a prison... with only narrow slits in the wall for ventilation. And it had two floors, and the prisoners were kept on the lower floor. Chickens were kept in the upper floor, and the floor was perforated so that chicken dung would seep through the holes onto the prisoners below. As well as being unhygienic, the situation would have been diabolically bad due to the smell of ammonia.

And the building is now a tourist attraction.
Hannah:Oh, of course it is.
Tom:Of course it is.
Tom:Next one's from me. Good luck, folks.

Thank you to the two people who sent in versions of this question: Kimchi Tea and Xavier.

Varna is a port city on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast. On the night of the 7th of March 1983, why was most of the city's electricity turned off so that a plane could land without further incident?

I'll say that again.

Varna is a port city on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast. On the night of the 7th of March 1983, why was most of the city's electricity turned off so that a plane could land without further incident?
Hannah:Well, there's clearly a light that they want the plane to see. So they turn everyone else's lights off so they can see the light that they want the plane to see. No? Yes? No?
Mike:I mean, that's how— that's— the immediate thing I got to as well.
Mike:But I can't see why... that wouldn't just always be like that.
Tom:And normally if you're flying over somewhere, and you want to find the airport in a city, it's actually gonna be the dark bit.
Hannah:But the Black Sea would be... It's just dark. It's nothing. There's no lights in the sea.
Mike:Does it have something to do with the high salt content of the Black Sea?
Hannah:That's the Dead Sea. Does the Black Sea also have high salt content?
Tom:I think the Black Sea is just a regular sea. I'm not sure about that.
Geoff:I'm gonna go dark again. Had the plane been hijacked, taken over by terrorists or something?
Tom:Yes. Oh, I don't know where that came from all of a sudden, Geoff. Keep, keep talking.
Hannah:It's the Cold War, innit? It's near Russia. It's in the 1980s.
Mike:Jeez, you guys are good. I'm thinking, I'm getting the wrong sea and everything.
Geoff:It's not my first time on Lateral. I can see this is clearly a dark episode. So everything's weird today.
Tom:Well, this has a much happier ending.
Hannah:The plane landed safely. Everyone was okay.
Tom:Yeah, the— I'll say this. This is a story where all the passengers and crew were absolutely fine.
Hannah:Okay, interesting, interesting. Right, okay.
Geoff:So there's some kind of— They want— They tied up a plane, they wanted to land it, and the authorities were deceiving them by saying we can only do it if the lights are on or off or something. That was some kind of strategy to get them to land in a certain place, but the security forces could then apprehend them or something.
Hannah:But then how would the crew on the plane be able to communicate that with the people on the land if their plane was hijacked? To do a little sneakeroo like that?
Mike:Was it to prevent them, you know, seeing large structures in the city and crashing into them?
Hannah:Yeah, no, I think it's the crew and the pass— The turning the electricity off is like a tactic to hijack the hijackers. That's something. So, by making this city, this port city, completely dark... that's then confusing the hijackers who are trying to control the plane in terms of what they want to do with the plane. So what is it they want to do with the plane?
Tom:Right. That's your missing piece. You've got pretty much everything. You even mentioned earlier, Hannah, that the Black Sea is also dark. That's kind of the problem they've got. So why turn the lights off in Varna?
Hannah:Because then they make them think that that's also the Black Sea, or it makes them confused as to their location. (growls)
Tom:Yep. So the— The only thing you're missing, literally the only thing, is what the hijackers were actually asking for.
Geoff:Well, if it's the '80s, it's literally just money or release of a political prisoner, you know, but that's a very clichéd option.
Tom:That tended to be once they're down on the ground. They're still in the air at this point. What does a hijacker normally say when they're taking over the plane?
Hannah:"Take me to Russia."
Tom:Mm, Hannah's nearly there.
Geoff:Oh, hang on.
Tom:It wasn't Russia. But they were—
Hannah:Where else is Bulgaria? What— Where— What's near there?
Tom:Bulgaria is on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain.
Mike:I mean, do they want to go to the west?
Mike:And somehow...
Tom:Yeah. So they've said, "Take us to Vienna." The authorities have instead turned off the lights in Varna, which is where they were meant to be going. So, put it all together. I think you've basically got it, Hannah. Why are they doing that?
Hannah:Is Vienna in the West at this point?
Tom:Yeah, Vienna is in the West. The hijackers believe that they are going to Vienna.
Mike:I mean, are they, are you trying to fool them into thinking that they're going to Vienna by turning off the lights?
Tom:Yeah, yeah.
Hannah:Because, they've got loads of lakes, and so it looks more like the Adriatic Sea or than the Black Sea.
Tom:You basically got it. The Black Sea coastline was really obvious. It would be really clear to the hijackers that they're not actually landing in Vienna... unless you turn off all the lights, so they can't see a thing. The plane lands. The hijackers are still convinced they're in Vienna, up until the moment the plane gets stormed by commandos.
Mike:Wow, that's such a... an interesting tactic to manipulate them.
Tom:To keep up the pretense, the aircraft landed, and was boarded by airport staff who could speak fluent German.
Hannah:Wow. How did they get that message to the ground to get them to turn the lights off?
Tom:I do not have that in my notes, but I assume that someone came up with it on the ground, and the pilot just received it and did not pass that on to the people with the guns.
Geoff:It's very clever. That's like something out of Mission: Impossible that Tom Cruise would do. And they've done that in real life. That's brilliant.
Tom:So yes, the lights were turned off in Varna to fool hijackers into thinking that it was actually where they wanted to go.

Next question is from Geoff. Whenever you're ready.
Geoff:This has been sent in by Navek. The question is:

In 1964, how did US Senator Clair Engle help to dramatically change the lives of over 20 million Americans by pointing to his face?

I'll say it again.

In 1964, US Senator Clair Engle helped to dramatically change the lives of over 20 million Americans by pointing to his face. Why was that?
Hannah:Is this got anything to do with the Civil Rights Movement?
Tom:'64, feels like it should have.
Geoff:Yes. Very, very good.
Hannah:Is he black, or— I don't know if they would've had a black senator. I've no idea when the first black Senator or Congressperson was.
Geoff:Doesn't say, I don't know. It's nothing to do with the colour of their skin as far as I'm aware.
Mike:It's a really German name, isn't it?
Hannah:Pointing to their face. Are they Jewish?
Tom:Pointing at his face. That's a—
Hannah:And that specific act did a thing?
Geoff:Hmm. I sort of thought of maybe motion pointing at my face, but it might give it away.
Tom:Alright, so 20 million Americans. Population of the US back then, that's like maybe 10–15% of America at a guess? That feels like the right sort of numbers.
Hannah:I've no idea.
Geoff:I mean, Hannah, you're right. It is the Civil Rights Act. So that bit you've got absolutely correct. But there's just a bit, but you've just got it straight.
Tom:Wait, the Civil Rights Act, specifically?
Geoff:I can't give you another clue without really giving it away.
Tom:We've got some time to think about this one.
Geoff:Uh-huh. (wheezes)
Hannah:Did he have something written on his face, or drawn on his face?
Geoff:He did not. But it was... It was his way of voting.
Tom:Okay, hang on.
Hannah:Were they a Republican or a Democrat? Were they pro-Civil Rights? Is that a clue, what their stance was on it?
Tom:Oh, 'cause it could be, 'cause they do... voice vote sometimes. I seem to remember that the US Senate, I think... I can't remember whether it's the Senate or the House, but sometimes they vote literally by saying aye or no. Or yes or no, aye or nay, or something like that.
Hannah:Is pointing to your face a way of abstaining or something?
Geoff:Not abstaining, but...
Mike:Voting for yourself?
Geoff:Go on.
Hannah:So, were they the final vote that passed the Civil Rights Act?
Tom:Or they crossed the aisle, or they were meant— Their party was meant to be against it, and they actually swapped and then they decided to say yes, to allow it to be passed.
Hannah:And they pointed at their face like, "Yeah, it me."
Tom:(laughs) —And your eye! They pointed at that eye, because they're saying aye.
Geoff:You got it! Eye!
Geoff:Yeah! (laughs)
Geoff:But, you are 90% there. Do you want to—
Mike:Is he deaf?
Geoff:Yes, Mike, there we go! Right, you're pretty much there, okay.
Hannah:Oh my god, okay. So we were thinking Civil Rights along the line of race, but was it disabilities?
Geoff:It was absolutely the... It says here, the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, which was very protracted, and it was— The other, one of the houses was trying to filibuster it by making it last a long time. And it came down to this final vote. However, the key thing which you're missing is that Clair Engle was present in the chamber but he had a brain tumour which had caused him to lose speech, so he couldn't verbally vote. So he literally pointed to his eye to say aye, and the vote went through.
Hannah:There you go.
Geoff:That's how he voted. (laughs)
Tom:Next question's from me. Good luck, folks.

A campaign for the charity Quit UK inserted pieces of paper that were roughly 5 by 8 inches in size. People would typically find them after a few hours. Where were they placed, and what two-word phrase was at the top?

I'll say that again.

A campaign for the charity Quit UK inserted pieces of paper that were roughly 5 by 8 inches in size. People would typically find them after a few hours. Where were they placed, and what two-word phrase was at the top?
Geoff:You haven't said smoking, is it smoking?
Hannah:My first thought was smoking, but—
Tom:Yep, Quit UK is an anti-smoking charity.
Hannah:Yeah, okay.
Geoff:So you put them inside the package of cigarettes. But why would you take your while to find it?
Hannah:Because it all has to be folded up. Because a 5 by 8 inches, is that like an A4 piece of paper? Hold up. Hold up.
Geoff:(chuckles) Hannah, I can— I sense your query. Trying to measure again.
Hannah:Is this five— That's about maybe— Is that eight inches?
Tom:5 by 8 is about A5 size. It's smaller than that.
SFX:(paper ripping)
Geoff:It wouldn't have been A4. 5 by 8 is smaller than A4.
Tom:I appreciate the sacrifice of a piece of paper there. Maybe a little smaller than that.
Hannah:And this is folded up inside a cigarette packet. Do you know what? This is ringing bells to me. I feel like I've heard about this.
Mike:Yeah, this is ringing bells as well.
Hannah:And it says, "You scumbag! Stop smoking now!"
Hannah:"You're gonna die!" I don't know. Anti-smoking campaigns are super aggressive.
Mike:But that wouldn't take you a couple of hours if you were a smoker, 'cause you would smoke... and you would notice it straight away.
Hannah:Maybe it's hidden. You have to have smoked through all of it. It's right at the bottom, you have to have smoked all of it.
Geoff:And it's at the bottom.
Hannah:You have to have smoked through 20 cigarettes.
Geoff:Is it a picture of some decaying lungs, and it says "Your lungs" and this gross picture?
Hannah:Wait, is it two words did you say is printed on it?
Tom:Yeah, two words.
Hannah:"Quit now!" "Quit UK!"
Tom:By the way, we should absolutely have put this in an episode that had a load of Europeans or Americans, 'cause they would've made a load of Brexit jokes by now. There's a whole separate alleyway that our question writers hoped people would go down here, but didn't happen.
Hannah:My first thought was smoking, and my second thought was Brexit.
Tom:(chuckles) You just summed up the entirety of Britain in 2016 there.
Mike:Yeah, totally.
Hannah:Oh, I don't know. Is it in the bottom of the cigarette pack?
Tom:Nope, it's nowhere near a cigarette pack.
Mike:I think there were— Were they not slipping it into people's jackets and briefcases on the train and stuff?
Hannah:Oh my god, were they putting it in kids' school bags, and then the parents would find it later, and it would be like, "Mommy, I don't want you to die." Or something horrendous like that? You know how all the speeding, anti-speeding ads now are all focused on the kids' perception of the parents speeding? Is it about— Is it anything to do that?
Tom:It's not, but you're right that this has an air of mischief about it.
Tom:Quite like... angry, ranting, telling people off mischief, but it still falls into that.
Hannah:Ooh, I like me some mischief.
Tom:I think I've oversold the mischief quantity of this. I couldn't think of a better word than mischief.
Hannah:So people sneak and get into places.
Hannah:Tom, what should we be focusing on? Where they're found, or what the words are?
Tom:Size of the paper.
Hannah:Oh, right! I was focusing on that!
Geoff:Oh, 5 by 8. Ooh, ooh!
Tom:5 by 8 inches. It's actually a little smaller than A5.
Geoff:Was it tucked under car windscreen wipers? People often put flyers there, don't they? No?
Tom:Definitely inserted here, not tucked.
Geoff:There's a vinyl record, but no, not if it's recent, okay.
Tom:You are sort of branching slightly closer with that.
Hannah:With, like, music?
Tom:Well, not necessarily music, but that... If you draw a line from cigarette packets to the answer, I'll tell you that CDs and LPs are closer.
Hannah:A book.
Tom:A book.
Hannah:A book.
Tom:8 by 5 is your normal size for a paperback book.
Hannah:And so people sneak in these notes into people's... Oh, in books and just bookshops and libraries and stuff?
Tom:In, yep, bookshops, coffee shops, vending machines, book clubs, anything like that.
Hannah:And they would find it later and it would say...
Tom:And it would say two words.
Hannah:"Stop smoking!"
Mike:The worst thing about this is I've heard about this.
Tom:Why might it take a few hours for people to find it?
Mike:Would they remove the last page of the book and replace it with—
Hannah:"The end."
Tom:Correct, "The end."
Tom:Yeah, Mike, they didn't remove the last page of the book. They didn't replace it. They weren't quite that evil. But next to the final page of the book was an anti-smoking ad snuck in there with "The end" saying that if you smoke, your story will end sooner.
Hannah:They are aggressive, these anti-smoking campaigns.
Tom:Yeah, they really are. I feel like I oversold the mischief on that one.
Mike:I mean, I think that's reasonably mischievous.
Tom:I like, Mike, how you stayed out of that question and then just dove in precisely with the answer at the end. Congratulations.
Mike:I think "The end" was the hardest, really. Like the actual words, that's the hard bit. Have you guys heard about the... crazy "spoilers" for Harry Potter novels?
Hannah:What, people sneak in like, "Dumbledore dies"?
Mike:No, so a bunch of books got somehow... leaked 24 hours before the sale. Then, people would speed read it, hop in their car, drive past Walmart... where thousands of people are queuing with megaphones and just blurt out... These people are diehard Harry Potter fans.
Hannah:I've heard about this.
Mike:Blurt out the ending. And it would just be complete chaos.
Tom:I feel like that's where you get past mischief and just into being a dick.
Hannah:That's not mischief. Yeah, that's not mischief.
Geoff:Scott Mills on Radio 1 did this every year after about the fourth Harry Potter book. On the radio, he'd be like, "Hey, we've been leaked an advance copy. Let me read you the last page. And Harry was dead." And he'd do this joke five years in a row! And people would write into Ofcom and complain. And he's like, "We do it every year!" (laughs)
Tom:That's mischief. That falls into mischief.
Hannah:That's mischief.
Tom:Yes, it's "The end." And it wasn't quite the last page of the book. It's not like they ripped that out, Mike. But it was near the end. About sort of 15% from the end of the book. They would sneak an extra page that said "The end" and a warning that said if you smoke, statistically your story will end 15% before it should.
Mike:Only 15%? It's not that bad.
Tom:(laughs) Actually, it's not that...
Mike:You know, all the really old people I know are just chain smokers their whole life. All the evidence I see for smoking is just like, yeah, it's just, don't think it's that bad.
SFX:(both crack up)
Tom:Do you want us to leave that in the show, Mike? 'Cause I just feel like that's going to come back to haunt you at some point. Mike Boyd: "Smoking, it's okay kids."
Hannah:The beginning.
Mike:I think drinking is definitely, it's got to be worse.
Hannah:I mean, socially. Smoking doesn't change your behaviour, but drinking, mm. Anyway.
Tom:Last big question of the show is from Hannah. Take it away.
Hannah:Okay, so... This question has been sent in by Stuart Forbes.

In a Japanese street, two nearby kiosks sell the same item. Every few months, one has a queue of about 70 people, the other has just a few. What is the item, and why the difference in queues?


In a Japanese street, two nearby kiosks sell the same item. Every few months, one has a queue of about 70 people, the other has just a few. What is the item, and why the difference in queues?
Geoff:Well, it's either food or drink or magazine or newspaper kiosk is that, isn't it?
Tom:I don't know, I'm trying to think what I know about Japanese streets. And the only thing I've got is that you can't park cars on them. Large amounts of Japan, you can't own a car unless you have a place to park it.
Mike:I think you're onto something there, Tom. So, they're regulated in Japan.
Mike:So, is it like some—
Hannah:I can tell you, you're not on to something.
Mike:Just bear with me. Just bear with me a second, hon.
Geoff:(laughs heartily)
Hannah:Okay. Alright.
Mike:Is it some sort of... thing that everyone wants, but to keep both kiosks in business, there's some sort of law that only one... The stock intake for one...
Geoff:Or I'm thinking there are two rival businesses, but society in Japan is so polite, they've sort of come to some agreement where they go, you have the business for six months, and I have the business for the other half. And it's— And they're having a... just a gentleman's agreement between the two otherwise rivals. Maybe, no? (laughs)
Tom:Although, that wasn't necessarily in the question. We say— You said that one of them was popular, and one wasn't. But not that they're taking turns. I think we both implied that from the question, Geoff. It might just be that one of the kiosks is just terrible. It's just bad.
Geoff:(laughs heartily)
Tom:They both sell the same thing, but one of the owners is just a complete jerk.
Mike:Seventy people, though.
Hannah:I mean, now you might be onto something, sort of?
Mike:What do kiosks sell?
Geoff:Newspapers, food, and drinks.
SFX:(Tom and Geoff laugh)
Tom:I was trying to find some kind of counter-example, some weird kiosk I've once seen in Japan. But honestly, I can't think of anything outside those groups.
Hannah:There are other things that you can think of that kiosks sell.
Tom:Could it be anything to do with their position? Like, one is on one side of a road and is just much more accessible than the other?
Geoff:Or to do with the sunlight? You get the sun shining in from the right angle, it just makes it more attractive to go to that side of the street. No?
Mike:Could it be some seasonal thing? Because every couple of months, you know, they stock some exotic fruit that... comes into season at different times.
Hannah:So, it's not... So, there's something that Tom said that's onto something, and there's something you just said there, Mike, that's also onto something. Which is about what is happening every few months that creates these queues?
Tom:I was gonna say every year or something like that, because it could be the—
Hannah:In the question, it says every few months.
Hannah:And then, Tom, you were saying about... people preferring one over the other.
Mike:Is it something like what do Japanese people... They've got a really big love for... I'm going to get hate for this 'cause I don't know the right word. Comics and manga and things like that. Is there some one that stocks one and one type?
Hannah:It's the same thing.
Mike:Same thing?
Tom:Every few months. That's what gets me. It's not an annual thing. It's something that happens every few months. Is it twice a year? Is it when the clocks change or something like that? Or when the seasons change? Or it's equinox or solstice or something... that's on a regular calendar thing?
Hannah:It's not a natural phenomenon.
Geoff:Is it a political thing?
Hannah:No, no.
Tom:Some new thing. Something that's released.
Hannah:Is it new?
Tom:Oh, something—
Hannah:There's clues in some of the previous questions that we've done, which might help or might not help at all.
Geoff:What, in today's show?
Hannah:Yeah, there's just some connections.
Tom:It's either books or torture by chicken dung. So...
Hannah:(giggles) Okay, no, that's not gonna help you guys at all.
Geoff:(slow cackle)
Hannah:Okay, well there's a clue in something that we were previously talking about that help— that will help to add to the list of things that are sold at kiosks.
Tom:Well, I've got hijackers and NFL games in my questions, so...
Mike:I mean, the thing we were talking about before was books.
Tom:And cigarettes.
Hannah:Okay, the answer isn't cigarettes. But obviously you can also get cigarettes at kiosk stands, and what else? There's so many things that you can also get at kiosk stands! Come on, people!
SFX:(group cracks up)
Tom:How are we all blanking on things you can buy from kiosks?
Mike:I know what it is. It's because none of us go to kiosks, 'cause they don't sell anything that I want. And I assume that's the same thing.
Tom:Are you sure, Mike? Apparently smoking's not that bad(!)
SFX:(group laughing)
Mike:I always just walk straight past the kiosk section in the supermarket and think, there's nothing there that I want. Not a single item is something I want.
Hannah:Picture it, picture it. What do you see there?
Mike:It's lottery stuff. It's something to do with gambling or scratch cards or lottery stuff, and it comes out every while.
Mike:There's a huge lottery culture in Japan, isn't there? I think there is. Or gambling culture.
Hannah:I mean, you've figured out the item.
Mike:Yeah, it's a lottery ticket.
Tom:It's a queue for lottery tickets on one side and not the other.
Geoff:Because they believe there's, because fortune. It's a superstitious thing.
Geoff:Yes! Is it? Yes! (laughs)
Tom:Did one of those kiosks sell a winning lottery ticket once, so more people went to it, so it kept selling winning tickets, so more people went to it, and so on and so on and so on, and now that's the booth that sells lucky lottery tickets?
Hannah:Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!
Hannah:Absolutely smashed it, yeah.
Geoff:Brilliant. Oh my god.
Hannah:"Maybe I helped you too far along, because as soon as you've got a lottery ticket, you've got it.
SFX:(Tom and Geoff laugh)
Geoff:No! That took us— That took us far too long to get. That's gonna require editing down. That's embarrassing.
SFX:(both laugh)
Hannah:These kiosks, they sell lottery tickets. And in Japan, especially for the big "Summer Jumbo" and the "New Year's Jumbo" draws, many people line up to buy their tickets from lucky sellers who have recently sold winning tickets. But Tom, obviously, like you said, it causes a feedback loop, because the more tickets that they sell, the more likely it is that someone will have a winning ticket from that kiosk.

And the 2022 New Year's draw had 23 top prizes of 700 million yen, which is about $4.7 million each.
Mike:I know two people that have won the lottery.
Geoff:Yeah, but like five, six numbers or just £10, so it doesn't count?
Mike:About £100,000. So I don't know. Is that winning the lottery? I think that is winning the lottery.
Tom:It's good enough.
Mike:So I know two people that have won £100,000 or more on the lottery.
Geoff:I want to be your new best friend, Mike.
Tom:That's how this works, right?
Hannah:It's contagious. He'll be next.
Mike:Is that a statistical anomaly, or is that like, do you guys also know?
Tom:I genuinely can't tell if you are sort of lucky by association, or if it's one of those statistical things where eventually someone was bound to know two people who've won the lottery.
Hannah:Or is it a demographics thing? Are these Scottish friends of yours, and are Scottish people more likely to buy lottery tickets? I don't know.
Mike:I think that's probably true. Yeah, anything bad, us Scottish people will do that. And the lottery's bad.
SFX:(Tom and Hannah giggle)
Tom:Geoff, just before we go into the final bit, how did you get a tube sign that says 'Lateral' behind you?
Geoff:Yeah, it's a light box. You buy them from the London Transport Museum. There's a big one, small one. That's a small one. But the blue bit in the middle, you can— I just printed out my own words. You can just slide the blue bit in, and it then lights up. They're about... I don't want to sound like I'm an advert for the London Transport Museum, but they're about 40 pounds. Just buy them online from their shop. They're great.
Tom:Does it say 'Lateral' right now?
Geoff:It does say 'Lateral'.
Tom:Okay, that's nice.
Tom:Thank you very much.
Geoff:You can have that as a thumbnail. (laughs) Click.
Tom:At the very start of the show, I asked:

What type of creature are Pritha garfieldi and Filistata maguirei?

Before I give the answer, anyone want to take a quick shot at that?
Hannah:My first thought is that that cat called Garfield and then Lizzie McGuire.
Tom:You've picked the names out. It's Garfield and Maguire. But we don't have any film buffs here?
Mike:(gasp) Is it a goldfish?
Tom:(laughs) No, but why did you say that?
Mike:In Jerry Maguire, he takes his goldfish with him when he gets fired.
Hannah:Oh, Jerry Maguire.
Tom:We have film buffs, but we don't have superhero fans. Does Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire mean anything to people?
Hannah:Oh, Spider-Man.
Tom:And so they are?
Mike:Spider people.
Tom:They, well, they're spiders, which were named after the actors from the Spider-Man movies. That is Pritha garfieldi, Filistata maguirei, got their name because researchers needed some new Latin names for spiders.

Thank you very much to all of our players. We're going to start with Mike. What's going on with you? Where can people find you?
Mike:You can find me on my YouTube channel. It's called Mike Boyd. And yeah, I upload a bunch of cool stuff about me learning new skills as quickly as possible. So come check it out.
Tom:And Hannah Witton.
Hannah:Yeah, you can find me on my podcast, Doing It Podcast. We've just released the newest season, deep diving into lots of different taboo topics around sex and relationships.
Tom:And Geoff Marshall.
Geoff:Thanks, so yeah, Geoff with a G my name. My channel, I travel to new stations or, you know depots, see new trains that are coming in, just travel and transport around the country and worldwide in some cases.
Tom:And if you wanna know more about this show or send in your own guest question, you can do that at You can find us at @lateralcast basically everywhere, and you can watch video highlights a few times a week at

With that, thank you very much to Hannah Witton.
Tom:Geoff Marshall.
Geoff:Thank you Tom, thank you.
Tom:And Mike Boyd.
Mike:Thanks very much.
Tom:I've been Tom Scott, and that's been Lateral.
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