Lateral with Tom Scott

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

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Episode 75: Annoying Chad

Published 15th March, 2024

Abigail Thorn, Annie Rauwerda and Jordan Harrod face questions about political plaques, coin collection and suitcase sections.

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: Kento DiCaprio, Ólafur Waage, Dylan F., Brian J. Devine. FORMAT: Pad 26 Limited/Labyrinth Games Ltd. EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: David Bodycombe and Tom Scott.


Transcription by Caption+

Tom:According to their letterhead, who lives at 1928 Steamboat Lane?

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

Welcome to the show where we open tiny windows into little-known places and hope to find something surprising inside. Think of it like an advent calendar filled with durian. But better. Hoping not to kick up stink today, we start with:

actress, writer, and producer and creator of Philosophy Tube, Abigail Thorn, hello!
Abigail:Hi, hi, it's wonderful to be here.
Tom:Welcome to the show. You are a first-time player here with a lot of announcements that, as we record this, have just come out. Congratulations on everything you're currently doing.
Abigail:Thank you. Thank you so much.
Tom:What is in store for the next few months for you?
Abigail:I had just written a film called Dracula's Ex-Girlfriend, which has just been greenlit. We'll be filming it, and I will be starring in it in early next year, and so will some other people. I'm not allowed to tell you who they are yet.

But yes, I'm going to be making a fun vampire movie in the new year.
Tom:Well, very best of luck on the show today.

We also have, returning to the show, artificial intelligence expert, and still working on her PhD in medical engineering, Jordan Harrod. How are you doing?
Jordan:I am good. I am still working on the PhD.

It feels like it will never end, but it should end by the end of next year. (giggles)
Tom:(chuckles) Knowing my friends who've done PhDs, how confident are you in that end date at the moment? How's it looking?
Jordan:I would say the window is closing. So, my confidence is increasing over time. But as with all PhD things... Who really knows? If we have another pandemic, that would definitely change my prediction.
Tom:Let's hope that doesn't happen. That feels like a worst case scenario.
Abigail:Yeah, do you know something we don't?
Jordan:Well, no, I do human subjects work. So, if the humans can't come, then...
Abigail:Oh, I see.
Jordan:(snickers) That makes my finishing part considerably harder.
Tom:Also joining us today, returning to the show from the Depths of Wikipedia, Annie Rauwerda. How are you doing?
Annie:Hi! I'm doing well. I apologize if people hear a little bit of the M and the Z trains right now.
Tom:Last time you were here, we were talking about perpetual stew. You were just getting it ready. You sent me an invite to come and taste perpetual stew, and I was not in New York at the right time. How did that go?

I mean, for the audience, first of all, what did you do, and how did that go?
Annie:I cooked a stew for 60 days straight, and then so many people on the internet really wanted to try it.

And so I thought, "Hmm, I don't want you at my apartment, but I'll let you try it at a park."

And so pretty soon, this park in Brooklyn was full of people. We were all eating stew. People were submitting, you know, a carrot or whatever to the pot. And it felt very medieval and beautiful.

And I even have right next to me, my hats I made, which say, "City of New York, Parks and Perpetuation."
Annie:Or "City of Stew York."
Tom:Oh, that's lovely!

Well, good luck to you and to all three of our players.

As this is the first show in a new recording block, I will just remind everyone that questions go on offer to the third person in reverse chronological order, but only if the question asker has rebuffed the final clue for a second consecutive time. So, please keep that in mind as I start you off with question one:

In the 1970s, why did the British food writer and TV chef Delia Smith tell her readers to go to a pharmacy?

I'll say that again.

In the 1970s, why did the British food writer and TV chef Delia Smith tell her readers to go to a pharmacy?
Jordan:I had a thought, but it's definitely wrong.
Tom:(laughs) That's how this show works, Jordan! Go for it!
Jordan:Well, no, I was thinking of the whole...

I don't know if this was, I guess in the '70s, but the whole thing where Lysol used to be a contraceptive, and then the FDA got in and was like, "You definitely shouldn't be spraying that there." And then they moved it into the home cleaning aisle.
Tom:Oh wow!
Jordan:But that's not the pharmacy.
Tom:There's— I have so many follow-up questions on that fact Jordan.
Abigail:Yeah, yeah. I just— Sorry, my mind— (stammers) Entirely separate podcast. What is Lysol? (snickers)
Jordan:The spray disinfecting stuff.
Abigail:Oh, okay.
Tom:I mean, I knew they were advertising it for various... body cleaning things, but I wasn't aware that it was contraceptive as well. That's...
Abigail:Is it?
Jordan:Lysol, the all purpose... Something. Cleaner.
Tom:Everything(!) For the avoidance of doubt, and just in case any of our audience are particularly gullible... That is a bad idea! Don't do that!
Abigail:(laughs) You're like Joe Rogan. You're just like, "Jimmy, can we fact-check that?"
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:I'm just looking at Matt, the producer, and no, no, absolutely not.
Abigail:He's got a can in the booth. He's just...
Annie:Wait, that's what I do. You guys aren't putting Lysol...
SFX:(others laughing)
Jordan:No, I just have the implant. That solves my problem. (snickers)
Abigail:Yeah, it's not a problem I have for other reasons.
SFX:(group laughing)
Annie:Okay, so one thought, similar, sort of... One of the ingredients turned out to be poison?
Abigail:It's a good, yeah.
Annie:Maybe not. (laughs) You don't seem very excited about that. You would probably have to go to the doctor and not the pharmacy.
Abigail:Yeah, I guess maybe if she— If there was a very rich recipe she made, maybe she was... in one step down from poison, if they got heartburn a lot? Did she maybe say, "You should go and you should get this from the pharmacy?"
Jordan:Did MSG used to be sold in the pharmacy?
Jordan:Or something like that?
Tom:That's close, Jordan.

It wasn't MSG, but you're right that she was telling them to go there not to fix something with their bodies, but to find an ingredient.
Abigail:So my guess was gonna be, you know how sometimes you tie up Christmas turkey or a roast with twine? My guess was gonna be, was she sending them out for dental floss to do that?
Tom:I mean, it feels like that's the right era for it. But in this case, no. It's something we'd all find in grocery stores today. But back then...
Abigail:Oh, but back then, it was an ingredient in food that was— Oh, interesting.
Jordan:Hmm, what else would be in the pharmacy?
Abigail:But it's an ingredient for food specifically.
Tom:We're talking British cooking in the 1970s, which doesn't have a great reputation. But what kind of cuisine would be starting to become popular then?
Annie:Not mushy peas.
Abigail:Socialism. (wheezes)
Tom:I feel like there were three simultaneous insults to British cuisine happening there. So you know what?
SFX:(guests laughing)
Tom:We'll go around the table and get your jokes done.
Jordan:I was gonna be like, seasoning? I don't know.
Tom:(laughs) Annie?
Annie:I was just saying, it can't be mushy peas, because those were around before.
Tom:And those were definitely never prescription-only. Although, to be fair, this wasn't prescription only, but it would've been found at the pharmacy.
Abigail:Is it alcoholic?
Tom:It's not, no.
Abigail:No, it's not alcoholic, okay.
Tom:It's not alcohol. In fact, it's something that... honestly has very few harmful properties at all.
Jordan:I'm thinking baking soda, but I don't know why that would be in the pharmacy.
Abigail:Oh, that's a good guess. Some kind of chemical reagent that's used for baking.
Abigail:Something that causes a chem— self— Yeast?
Tom:I'm keeping quiet for the minute. Just... (laughs)
Tom:In the 1970s in Britain, Mediterranean cooking and the Mediterranean diet was starting to come into fashion. These were starting to appear in recipes.
Abigail:Are you telling me that you couldn't get tomatoes except from the pharmacy?
Jordan:Yeah, I was gonna say, olives?
Tom:Oh, Jordan, you're close.
Abigail:What's close to an olive but not an olive?
Jordan:Olive oil?
Tom:Olive oil. Absolutely right.
Abigail:Really? Wow!
Jordan:Why was olive oil at the pharmacy?
Abigail:That's actually a really useful contraceptive. No.
Abigail:Yeah, exactly.
SFX:(group laughing)
Abigail:False! False! Misinformation!
Tom:Please stop giving bad medical advice on this podcast.
Jordan:No, it's, I mean, it's not a good contraceptive. It can be a good lube, I guess.
Tom:(wheezes) It's—
Jordan:You can cut that. (giggles)
Tom:That's not getting cut.

It's also used for one other thing. And I suspect we have three people on this podcast who are a bit too young to remember this being an option. I vaguely remember it. It's the sort of thing my parents or grandparents would've used olive oil for. Why was it in the pharmacy?
Annie:Was it for diapers? Diaper rash?
Abigail:Ooh, yeah, good thought.
Abigail:I was gonna go with hair washing.
Tom:If you don't know, you won't get this.

It was for cleaning out earwax and ear infections. And for indigestion.

If you want to soften earwax, olive oil is a very good way to do that. But it wasn't used in cooking in Britain before about the 1970s.

So when Delia Smith wrote her first cookbooks that used that as an ingredient, they said go to the pharmacy.
Abigail:Oh, so people would— "Oh yeah, olive oil. The thing that we use for softening our earwax." But they wouldn't think...
Abigail:The thing that we use for cooking. What did they eat, just lard?
Tom:Vegetable oil, lard, beef dripping, whatever was around that— The idea that you could have a "healthy" quotation marks, oil to cook in was kinda foreign to Britain before about the 1970s.
Annie:Well in the US too, olive oil used to be in the "international foods" aisle. My grandparents told me about that recently, and I was shocked.
Jordan:Going to the international foods aisle in different regions is one of my favorite pastimes.
Jordan:When you're traveling, and you're like, "What do you consider to be international?"
Tom:The British aisle is always HP sauce and baked beans.

So yes, in the 1970s, Delia Smith told her readers to go to a pharmacy to buy olive oil.

Each of our guests has brought a question along with them. And today, we start with Jordan. Whenever you're ready.
Jordan:This question has been sent in by Ólafur Waage.

In August 2019, 100 people gathered in Iceland with the country's prime minister to mourn the sad loss of Ok. A brass plaque was ceremoniously mounted on a bare mountain rock, bearing "415ppm" at the bottom. Why?

I'll repeat the question.

In August 2019, 100 people gathered in Iceland with the country's prime minister to mourn the sad loss of Ok. A brass plaque was ceremoniously mounted on a bare mountain rock, bearing "415ppm" at the bottom. Why?
Tom:Is this something to do with a penguin? (chuckles) And...

There is some Scandinavian country which has a penguin in the military. You, Annie, I know you know this story. This is a full—
Annie:You're thinking of Nils Olaf.
Tom:Olaf, that's it!
Annie:Yes, and I believe that's Scotland.
Tom:Is it? I thought it was Norway or Iceland. Okay!
Annie:Well, oh, his military career is in Norway, yes.
Annie:Sorry, he's living in Scotland now.
Tom:(laughs) Okay.
Abigail:He retired to Scotland, you know, veteran, yeah. Like James Bond.
SFX:(Tom and Jordan laugh)
Tom:No, we think he retired. He was actually shot out of a torpedo tube somewhere and then apparently came back to life. You know more about James Bond than I do, Abby.
Abigail:Yeah, I know far too much about James Bond. The whole podcast about... About the git.
Abigail:So 'ppm' is parts per million, right? So is it something that was... We're memorialising something that died as a result of climate change?
Jordan:In the right direction, yes.
Annie:Ok sounds like something I might name a glacier, if I were naming them.
Abigail:And that's why they put it on the— on a plaque on bare rock, because that's where the glacier used to be. Ahh.
Tom:And 415 parts per million is the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere when it happened.
Jordan:Yep, correct. You got it.
SFX:(Tom and Jordan laugh)
Abigail:Someday, that plaque will be buried under ice again.
Abigail:Long, long time from now.
Jordan:Hopefully. (snickers)
Annie:Everybody get your freezers working and dump the ice cubes on it.
SFX:(others laughing)
Annie:Together, we can bring it back.
Jordan:They are mourning the first loss of an Icelandic glacier.

415 parts per million CO₂ recording that the current level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 415 parts per million.
Abigail:I like the idea that at the glacier's funeral, that the people that knew the glacier were there... There was— A volcano was present.
Abigail:Elsa from Frozen was there, and all the people in the glacier knew.
Tom:The volcano was present, but no one expected it, and it stopped almost immediately after.
SFX:(Abigail and Annie laugh)
Abigail:Everyone was just like, "Did you do this? Did you kill this glacier?" And the volcano's like, "Genuinely, no".
SFX:(Tom and Abigail laugh)
Tom:Thank you to Brian J. Devine for sending in the next question.

The online comedy show Epic Rap Battles of History sees famous figures rapping together thanks to impersonators and digital effects. What special maintenance task did they have to do for the episode 'Stan Lee vs Jim Henson'?

I'll say that again.

The online comedy show Epic Rap Battles of History sees famous figures rapping together thanks to impersonators and digital effects. What special maintenance task did they have to do for the episode 'Stan Lee vs Jim Henson'?
Abigail:I remember liking that one. That was one of their strongest ones, that.
Tom:They're still going. I didn't realise this the other day. I got recommended... 'Henry Ford vs Karl Marx.' And underneath it on YouTube was something like... "Two days ago." I was like, "Are they still going? That's amazing!"
Abigail:Great. Okay, so I remember in that one, it was Jim Henson, Stan Lee, and then Walt Disney was the surprise third mic.
Annie:I can't believe you remember this. Do they have Muppets in there as well?
Abigail:Yeah, yeah. Kermit was in it. Oh, "Kermit" in quotes.
Annie:Okay, so I'm wondering... I'm wondering if you had to install some puppet show type stuff.
Abigail:Maintenance, or maybe the aging makeup on the guy who played Stan Lee. Because was that – I get them mixed up, whether that was EpicLLOYD or Nice Peter who played Stan Lee – had a lot of aging. I think that was EpicLLOYD.
Tom:You know the names, wow!
Abigail:Yeah, I used to watch it back in the day.

Well, because back in the day when I was doing YouTube NextUp, they used to use Epic Rap Battles as a teaching tool.

They'd be like, "This is how you brand your content", and it was like, "This is how you brand a video, and this is how you do a thumbnail and stuff." But they used to be used as the example.

Nowadays, you'd go to MrBeast 'cause he's kind of changed the rules. But yeah, yeah, back in the day, they used to use it as a YouTube class.
Tom:Oh, wow.

I don't know if it was one of the channels that YouTube funded. There was some like Vsauce that started because YouTube decided we need some professional looking channels here. And they just put money at production companies. And most of those didn't survive, but a few did.

I don't think Epic Rap Battles was one of them.
Abigail:I didn't know YouTube did that. I never got any of that!
Tom:(laughs) There were a dozen of them, ten, twelve years ago, something like that.
Abigail:Oh, wow. Did you ever see it? Did you ever see a slice of that YouTube money?
Abigail:I didn't.
Tom:I didn't come along until well after—

Well, no. I didn't get an audience until well after that had happened.
Abigail:We succeeded in spite of YouTube, not because of it!
SFX:(Abigail and Tom laugh)
Tom:My brain thought that sentence was going to be, "We succeeded in spite of you." I just thought you were just getting angry at me there.
Abigail:No, no, no! Okay, so maintenance on Epic Rap Battles of History.
Jordan:So I've never seen this. (laughs)
Annie:I have not seen the video, but I've seen other ones.
Abigail:They're good, they're good. Some of them are genuinely quite funny and cleverly written.
Tom:Jordan, you were... stumbling around something a while back.
Jordan:I was?
SFX:(Annie and Tom laugh)
Jordan:Clearly, I was stumbling around it.
Tom:Didn't mention it at the time.
Annie:Yeah, you fell on your face. We all saw.
Tom:Annie, you kinda talked about what the videos were like. Do you wanna talk through what a regular episode of this would be like?
Annie:Okay, so I haven't seen these in years.

But, they pit two historic figures or random... I mean, fictional characters sometimes even. And then they have a rap battle.
Tom:From a production point of view, what's it like?
Annie:Abigail, you should answer. I'm scared of saying the wrong thing.
Abigail:A lot of green screen, a lot of effects, really good editing. Subtitles always, so you can, I guess, rap along if you want to. Did they have a hole in the green screen?
Jordan:Wait, who— Stan Lee and Jim Henson?
Jordan:Stan Lee did Muppets, right?
Tom:No, Jim Henson did the Muppets.
Jordan:Okay, either way, Kermit the Frog, green screen.
Annie:(gasps) He's green!
Tom:There we go. So what did they have to do?
Abigail:Use a blue screen?
Tom:They had to paint the wall blue.

And they had for that one episode to use a blue screen instead of a green screen, so Kermit the Frog could appear.
Abigail:Ah, okay.
Annie:Wow. I gotta tell you guys, I went to the Museum of the Moving Image recently, which has a big Jim Henson exhibit.
Abigail:Oh wow.
Annie:And... You know, if you had asked me this before, I would've probably known that there are multiple Kermits. There are many, many different Kermits.

But it was kind of like a Santa moment, where I was like, "Oh, no!"
Annie:"There are a lot of different ones? I thought it was just one!"
Abigail:I guess he is looking a bit different than he did back in the '70s. He's definitely had some work done.
Annie:He used to be made by hand.
SFX:(Tom and Jordan snicker)
Abigail:He's definitely had a bit of Botox, you know.
Annie:He looks great. Great surgeon.
Tom:I do know the Muppets are always in-character if the puppet is out of the transit case and being seen by other people. In-character, 100%, all the time.
Abigail:Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.
Tom:I have also once seen a puppeteer who I will not name not follow that rule. Not from the Muppets, just... another character with another known person.

And on-camera, great, fully in-character. And then they cut. And he drops his arm. And the puppet is just... (babbles) just kind of...
Tom:Head slung to the side, everything limp.

And it honestly was just a little bit of a gut punch of, "Oh yeah, that's not a real thing."

My brain had fully agreed that that thing on the end of a hand was a talking, living creature, and suddenly it was dead!
Abigail:Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Abigail:I did puppeteering training in drama school, and it's an incredible skill.

When you watch a puppeteer who has properly trained and is so good at it and can put the breath and the life into that, it's honestly beautiful.
Tom:Abigail, we're coming to you for the next question. Whenever you're ready.
Abigail:Why does the musician and animal rights campaigner Moby have a very large letter 'L' and 'S' tattooed on the back of his hands?

Why does the musician and animal rights campaigner Moby have a very large letter 'L' and 'S' tattooed on the back of his hands?
Tom:I am desperately trying to think of a pun that is something like, "So he can tell his left from his sight" and it's just not—
Jordan:I was also thinking that. (chuckles)
Tom:It doesn't quite resolve, does it?
Abigail:Bonus points, unconnected, does anyone know who Moby did the theme music for?
Jordan:I don't know who Moby is.
Tom:He did a remix of the James Bond theme that was used in Tomorrow Never Dies, I think?
Abigail:I didn't know that, but you might well be right. I was thinking of Jason Bourne. He does the credits music for Jason Bourne.
Tom:Yes, he does.
Abigail:Now every time James Bond does some James Bond stuff, you get ♪ da-da da-da! ♪
Abigail:Where Jason Bourne does some Jason Bourne stuff, you get something like, ♪ Bwaaah! ♪
Abigail:(imitates guitar riff) That's Moby.
Tom:I know that not from the Bourne films.

I know that from a Korean show called The Genius which used that same sound as their punctuation for "Someone has just realised something incredible, and we're going to reveal it now", to the point where—
Abigail:Ooh, using it on this episode from now on!
Tom:Well, it became a cliché in the show to the point where people were referencing it on later episodes.

They were like, "Oh yeah, he's clearly mugging up for the camera here so he gets Extreme Ways played at him."
Tom:Which is the name of the song. Anyway, sorry. We got distracted by Moby facts there.
Annie:The Korean show sound effects are great. So I could talk about them all day. But 'LS', I just am thinking 'lives saved'.
Abigail:Ooh, I mean...
Annie:Maybe he has a tally. I don't know.
Abigail:It is about, you know, preserving life. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Annie:'Cause he's an animal rights activist.
Abigail:Yeah, it is about preserving animal life. You're right. You're on the right track.
Jordan:Is it 'LS' on the back of both hands?
Abigail:No, one hand has 'L', and the other has 'S'.
Jordan:Does he have any other tattoos?
Abigail:He does. He has one on his neck.
Tom:The neck?
Abigail:Well, yeah, totally off, yeah. No, well, similar message, but they don't— It's not like one thing.
Tom:It's for 'lemur' and 'snake', because he saves lemurs with his left hand and snakes with his right. And if he ever gets those mixed up, it's gonna be a disaster.
Abigail:I mean, I don't think he has a preference. I think it's kind of all animals.
Annie:With one hand, he sings. With the other hand, he loves animals.
SFX:(Tom and Jordan laugh)
Annie:In case he forgets, he just has his mission right there.
Abigail:Oh yeah, yeah.
Tom:Yeah, always.
Abigail:Maybe I could give you a hint. So, the 'L' and 'S' are the ones that are visible, but the tattoo goes on.
Jordan:Ohh. It goes up his arms?
Jordan:But it's not connected to the neck one.
Tom:Alright, so it's... So my first question is, is this something for him to read, or is this something for someone else to read?

Because if you look at your own hands, you've got words going up one arm and down the other.
Abigail:So from his point of view, the letters are all upside down. So it's for someone else to read.
Abigail:So he can be like "Ptchoo!"
Annie:"Lateral podcast is amazeballs."
SFX:(others laughing)
Abigail:Yeah, yeah, weirdly, he got that done like 30 years ago.
Jordan:Well, now we need a Z at the end.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:Yeah. For reference, I will not be getting that tattoo.
Jordan:Oh god.
Annie:Okay, words that start with 'L' and end in 'S'. I'm... Not much is coming to me.
Tom:That's something to do with animal rights.
Jordan:Well, if someone else is supposed to read it, words that end with 'L' and 'S', no? Because you'd be...
Abigail:Uh-huh, uh-huh.
Tom:Oh, I was thinking it was all the way across, but it's like, if he's got— puts two arms down, you've got one word on each that ends in...
Tom:Oh, is it just 'animal lives'?
Abigail:So close!
Jordan:Or 'animal rights' or something?
Abigail:It is in fact 'animal rights'. Well done.
Abigail:I was gonna be like, so when Tom, you were like, "words that end with 'L' and 'S'?" I was like, "You just said it."
Tom:(laughs) I literally just said it.
Abigail:You just said them.
Tom:I literally just said it. Yeah.
Abigail:Yeah. No, he does. He's been a vegan for over 30 years. And he has 'animal rights' on his arms, and he also has 'vegan for life' on his neck.
Abigail:He's very dedicated to animals and Jason Bourne. Those are his two things.
SFX:(Annie and Tom chuckle)
Jordan:Where's that tattoo?
SFX:(group laughing)
Annie:I feel like we gave him some more tattoo ideas if he wanted some inspo.
Annie:'Lives saved' with a tally. You can have that idea for free.
Abigail:I mean, I'm looking at the picture. There's not a lot of room. They're big, bold. It's not tiny little— It's like, "Ka-choom! 'Animal rights'."
Abigail:It's very cool. There's one where he's in a suit, and he's doing up his tie, and he's just got 'L' and 'S'. It's cool. He looks like a Hitman villain. It's very cool.
Tom:Thank you to Dylan F. for sending this question in.

In 1989, Romania officially stopped using a communist emblem. Why did this annoy Chad?

I'll say that again.

In 1989, Romania officially stopped using a communist emblem. Why did this annoy Chad?
Annie:Okay, so... I don't know if you're a flag person.

I bet so many listeners are flag people, but... I don't remember the exact colors, but Romania is one of those three-bars ones.

So perhaps when it took off the emblem, it just looked a little too similar to Chad.
Abigail:Oh? I don't know what Chad's flag looks like.
Jordan:Neither do I.
Abigail:It's the guy in the red T-shirt with, "Ouch." That's the Chad flag.
SFX:(Abigail and Jordan snicker)
Abigail:Sorry, I couldn't resist.
Tom:The thing is, Annie, you've...

You've nailed it. You have absolutely nailed it.
Annie:Oh, I'm sorry! I ruined your podcast!
Tom:First time! (laughs)
Annie:I'm so sorry! That wasn't fun at all! You should kick me out of here!
Abigail:Yo, really?
Tom:Which means, you know what? We're gonna unlock the shiny bonus question that I have in reserve for just a moment like this.

Yeah, you're right. Romania has a blue, yellow, and red tricolour. They used to have an emblem in the middle of it, but after Ceaușescu was ousted, they removed that. And that left the exact same flag as Chad, just with tiny variations in colour.

But Romania has still been using that for longer, so they got priority.
Jordan:Is there no international flag... "You gotta check your flag by the UN before you can make it your flag so that it doesn't copy off of a different flag" situation?
Tom:Chad literally asked the United Nations to do that in 2004. They asked for an investigation.

Romania had used the plain tricolour for centuries, and Chad's design dated back to 1960. So, there are now two almost identical flags out there.
Abigail:Oh, okay, I thought Chad just had to— I mean it would have been quite fun for Chad to come up with a new flag, but I guess maybe they were attached to the one they had. (laughs)

They must be tense at the Olympics.
SFX:(Tom and Jordan laugh)
Tom:Yeah, but they have to buy one less flag.
Abigail:Yeah, yeah, true. (laughs) Yeah. All the people from Chad are like, "Bloody Romania's back there copying our flag!"
Tom:Annie, we will roll straight on to your question. Take it away.
Annie:Alright. This question has been sent in by Kento DiCaprio.

In 1999, a major incident happened at a fuel facility near Tokai village, Japan. Thankfully, there were incredibly low casualties and almost no rebuilding. Why were locals asked to contribute 5 yen each shortly afterwards?

In 1999, a major incident happened at a fuel facility near Tokai Village, Japan. Thankfully, there were incredibly low casualties and almost no rebuilding. Why were locals asked to contribute 5 yen each shortly afterwards?
Abigail:I'm trying to think, has there ever been an episode of Well There's Your Problem on this?
SFX:(Tom and Jordan laugh)
Jordan:So there was a fuel incident?
Annie:A major incident at a fuel facility.
Jordan:Okay, so was it a nuclear power plant?
Tom:There's some heavy lifting being done by those words in that question.
Jordan:Okay, I feel like anything in that time period is usually a nuclear power plant situation.
Tom:5 yen is not much though. 5 yen is about 5 US cents, I think?
Abigail:So, maybe they were buying something small, so my guess is did some kind of animals like cats or dogs break into something and eat someone's lunch, and then they just bought a padlock with the yen? Is that what it is?
SFX:(Tom and Jordan laugh)
Tom:Yeah, the wording in these questions can be tricky, and 'fuel facility'...
Tom:I'm not sure that extend fuel facility would be a sandwich bar. I feel like that's a bit too far.
Abigail:Petrol station.
Abigail:That's a fuel facility with a sandwich bar. I wouldn't necessarily want to eat the sandwiches, but...
Jordan:What would cost 5 yen for this? I also don't know how 5 yen contributes to... Did they... I mean, it's not the US, but... was it a GoFundMe for someone's healthcare?
SFX:(Jordan and Tom crack up)
Annie:No, it wasn't that.
Jordan:No? Okay.
SFX:(group laughing)
Abigail:Was it— Okay. Is the entire town being fined for something? But then the fine is split between everyone, so it's 5 yen each?
Annie:No, it's not a fine on the town.
Tom:It's just a community kind of gathering round to fix whatever the problem was?
Annie:One thing to pay attention to is that they're contributing 5 yen. They're not necessarily paying anyone.
Jordan:Are they contributing it to a... memorial, altar, religious... spiritual ceremony of some sort?
Tom:Or it could be something like Big Ben in London.

They weight the clock using pennies. The pendulum as it goes back and forth. So if they need to add or remove a second or two from Big Ben over time, they will just take an old-fashioned penny off.

So there could be some tradition with... five yen coins or something like that, that mean...
Annie:You're right to pay attention to the physical coin.
Abigail:Did something fall over, and then they need to prop it up with a set of coins?
Tom:(laughs) Every chair in that facility just ever so slightly wonky now.
Abigail:Or the screws came loose, and you've got to— We didn't have a screwdriver, so we had to use a coin.
Annie:Remember that the government can— I mean, the government can't truly print their own money, but in this situation, they potentially could. Why would they want it from people?
Abigail:I think I know! I think...

Is it a nuclear power thing, and it's something about metal being irradiated? And so we need an uncontaminated sample of the metal in the coins?
Tom:Oh wow!
Annie:The answer is to test the coins for radiation.
Tom:Oh, that's clever. Like the ships they pull up from the bottom of the ocean to— for the low-background steel.
Abigail:Yeah, 'cause I like scuba diving, so I know that about some wrecks have lower levels of radiation in the steel, and so they're quite valuable for that reason. So I was like, "Oh yeah, metal and radiation."
Annie:The coins are made from 37% zinc.

By measuring the amount of zinc-65 isotope that was in the coins, researchers were able to detect how far the neutron dose from the nuclear fuel processing facility had travelled.
Jordan:Oh, that's so cool.
Abigail:Did they get the 5 yen back?
Annie:We actually don't know. It doesn't say here.
Tom:(laughs) Also, I was completely wrong when I called this question out on being tricky.

It was literally a major incident at a fuel facility. I thought that was gonna be a euphemism for a fire at an animal feed facility or something like that. But no, it was literally a nuclear incident.

Okay, cool. I'll stop trying to be tricky on this.
Jordan:I was about to say, I just went straight on at the top, where I was like, "Nuclear something, probably?"
Abigail:Yeah, you were right. You were right. It's just straight in there.
Annie:I can't believe that you thought they were gonna prop up chairs with it.
Abigail:I don't know. I was thinking some sort of physical use of a coin.
Jordan:It's like when your table at the restaurant is a little wobbly, they just... (giggles)
Abigail:Fold the napkin off. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Annie:I just would think that the government would be able to figure something out without going around with an upside-down hat. Like, "Please, please."
Jordan:Yeah, exactly.
Abigail:I don't know, maybe time pressure? I don't know.
Annie:Yes, exactly. The reason that the government collected five yen from citizens was because it was testing the coins for radiation.
Tom:We have unlocked the shiny bonus question, folks, because that was some very fast play. So good luck with this.

Why was Marco Polo airport paid to divide one of its baggage carousels into 37 sections?

And one more time.

Why was Marco Polo airport paid to divide one of its baggage carousels into 37 sections?
Abigail:Economy, premium economy, business, premium business.
SFX:(others laughing)
Annie:Gold medallion!
Abigail:Zeroth class, how many...
Annie:Oh, 'cause it's like Marco Polo, you're looking like, "Oh, it's lost. Try to find me." Marco Polo Airport is in Venice.
Tom:Yes it is.
Annie:I know that.
Annie:Okay, 37 different sections. 37 is kind of a random number for them to choose. Prime number. I don't think that matters.
Jordan:37 different... Was it still... Did they physically take it apart?
Tom:No, I'll give you that.

And 37 does sound like a random number, but it is important here. There wouldn't be another number like this that would work.

I guess, technically, they could make it 38, but 37 is what they went with.
Abigail:Is the baggage carousel a special shape? Maybe it's got, I don't know, 37 sides or something? I don't know. (laughs)
Annie:Were they trying to do a 150 divided by 4 situation? So it's 37.5? I don't really know why they would be doing that, but when you said 37 or 38, that's what I thought.
Tom:Oh, it would have to be one or the other. And most people would just go with 37 for this.
Jordan:Did they have... 37 companies wanna run ads on the belt?
Abigail:Oh, good thinking.
Jordan:I don't know why it would be 37, but...
Annie:Okay, so the baggage claim... I'm just speaking out loud. The baggage claim is where it's like a parade for all the pack— for the bags, and you pull them out. Was there a lot of theft?
Tom:I love that phrasing. It is a baggage parade, yes.
Annie:Was there a lot of— I wonder if there was a lot of theft, because it's a touristy area. And so then they were guarding them somehow. None of my ideas are good right now. I'm just speaking.
Jordan:Was it like Wheel of Fortune? (giggles) You get to pick up the thing.
Tom:Oh, Jordan, you just keep coming in with things on this question that are close. Not quite right, but close. You've said a couple of things that were in the right area.
Abigail:Adverts and Wheel of Fortune.
Tom:Adverts and Wheel of Fortune.
Abigail:You get a random ad on your bag.
SFX:(Tom and Jordan laugh)
Annie:(gasps) Wait.
Tom:Oh, they'd totally do that. They'd add an extra sticker on everyone's bag as—
Tom:How has no airport done that yet?
Abigail:Copyright— Patent pending!
Abigail:You can't— Original idea, do not steal!
Annie:Is that— Okay, so, depending on which of the 37 different bags your... or 37 different corrals your bag lands in, that's which Venice riverboat person you get to take you to your hotel?
Tom:Oh, that would be amazing! It's not that... but you're dancing around it! And Jordan, you're right. This is an advert. That's why they were paid. It is an advert.
Abigail:Is there a special hotel in Venice that's called the Hotel 37 or something?
Annie:Oh, isn't 37 a gambling thing?
Abigail:Roulette wheel?
Tom:Roulette wheel.
Jordan:What was it advertising?
Tom:Put it all together. You're nearly there.
Annie:Okay, okay, so it's an ad for the casino.
Tom:It's an ad for the casino. So, why 37 sections?
Annie:Oh, because one of you wins something.
Tom:Oh, no—
Annie:Depending on where your bag goes?
Tom:No, the people waiting weren't going to get anything from here. This is just an advert.
Abigail:They just painted it to look like a roulette wheel and...
Tom:They painted it to look like a roulette wheel as an advert for the local casino. Why is it 37?
Abigail:Does a roulette wheel normally have 38?
Tom:A roulette wheel has 0 to 36. So it is 37 sections. There is a zero on which everything loses unless you specifically bet on it. That's the house edge.
Annie:If you— If— Okay, so I'm just imagining an alternate scenario where your bags landed in red or black. It'd be so sad if your bag landed in the zero, and then you had to swim to your hotel.
SFX:(others laughing)
Annie:They should do that. That would get way more press.
Tom:I like the idea that there was actual betting going on, on where the bags landed.

So, yeah, to picture it, it is just a big, round baggage carousel, and they have just split it into sections, painted big old numbers on, made it look like a roulette wheel.

And, unfortunately, that's as far as they took it. Because wherever your baggage landed, that was it. It was just the ad.
Abigail:They didn't also roll a big ball down the baggage claim
Abigail:and let that land somewhere?
Jordan:I feel like that would make baggage claim worse.
Jordan:Baggage claim is already not very fun! (laughs) And now there's this added factor of everyone trying to figure out what's happening.
Abigail:Not only are my bags late, I've also just lost $20,000.
SFX:(group laughing)
Tom:At the start of the show then, I asked:

According to their letterhead, who lives at 1928 Steamboat Lane?

Does anyone want to take a shot at that before I give the answer?
SFX:(Annie and Abigail raise hands)
Tom:(laughs) Okay, yeah. I thought this one might go. All together now.
Abigail:Mickey Mouse.
Annie:Mickey Mouse.
Tom:Mickey Mouse is absolutely right. I will ask you why. 1928 and Steamboat?
Abigail:Steamboat Willie.
Annie:Steamboat Willie.
Tom:Steamboat Willie was the first published Mickey Mouse cartoon in 1928. You're absolutely right.

And if you go online, and you are someone taking the kids to Disney World, you can print out a letter from Mickey Mouse on headed paper that says he can't tell you how excited all his pals are that you're coming to Disney World.
Jordan:Aw, cute.
Abigail:I got to meet him last time I was at Disney. He's nice.
Tom:(laughs) He talks now! It's weird! Out loud!
Abigail:He didn't talk to me!
Tom:Oh?! Okay. Some of the Mickey costumes for the meet-and-greets now have—
Annie:There are multiple?!
Tom:(laughs uproariously)
Abigail:What are you saying?
Tom:They have moving mouths and an operator in the back with a soundboard that can kind of cue in various phrases for the kids.
Tom:The plan was that they were going to give everyone the magic bands in Disney World that let them track you around the park and act as charge cards. And you could put the kid's name on that, so Mickey would recognise them and say hi.

And I don't think that ever actually got published.
Abigail:Oh, that's clever, though.
Tom:It is. I think they just found it a bit too creepy.
Abigail:Yeah, Disney do have some amazing animatronic and sound control stuff.

I was on a... (laughs) Disney TV show this year that I can't tell you what it was yet, where they did have characters with animatronic heads and people remote controlling them. The tech they have for that sort of thing is amazing.
Tom:With that, congratulations to all our players for getting through another episode.

We will start with the new person, Abby, where can people find you? What are you up to?
Abigail:You'll be able to find me on Philosophy Tube. My movie will be on Nebula next year.

You will also be able to see me in a couple of TV shows. I can't tell you what they are yet, but I can tell you I have stuff coming out with Disney and also with HBO next year.
Jordan:You can find me by googling my name. I am also on Nebula.

And then you can find me somewhere in Boston attempting to convince my committee to let me leave.
SFX:(others laughing)
Tom:And Annie.
Annie:There's a lot of platforms, but I'm on Instagram a lot. Also Mastodon, Twitter, @depthsofwikipedia. And I'm Annie Rauwerda.
Tom:And if you want to know more about this show, you can do that at We are at @lateralcast on basically every social network, and you can catch video highlights multiple times a week at

Thank you very much to Annie Rauwerda.
Annie:Uhhh, thank you!
SFX:(others laughing)
Annie:You're welcome! I don't really know what to— What do I say?
Tom:I threw to you without any warning there. And you know what? We'll stick with it. Jordan Harrod!
Jordan:(laughs) Thanks for having me.
Tom:And Abigail Thorn.
Abigail:Thank you for having me.
Tom:I've been Tom Scott, and that's been Lateral.
Annie:(speaking over Tom) You guys nailed it. I don't know what...
SFX:(group laughing)
Abigail:He had to go first.
Jordan:That was not obvious...
Annie:That was not an obvious response for me.
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